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The Workshop - Tips, Tricks, and Theory

1246710

Posts

  • Captain HeavysteinCaptain Heavystein Registered User
    edited August 2007
    Thank you all very much. I needed more oppinions on this, since the people I have consulted in beta perspective read often, but do not write. As a scientist, I am not fond of one-sided observations, and I appreciate the gamma. (Three dimensions gives my basis volume!) I will work to minimize my wordiness on this one.

    Again, many thanks.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • MuncieMuncie Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    It's not about big words or little words, it's about having the right word. Prose need a rhythm to work. This rhythm can be established with short, terse sentences like Hemingway and it can be established with the long, flowing, dense prose of Faulkner. Next time you're at a book store read the first paragraph of Farewell to Arms and then read the first page or so of The Sound and Fury. They are vastly different, but with both there is not a word misplaced.

    A big part of this is finding a voice, which in a sense is the same thing as finding a style. If you artificially reduce your word choices for the sake of following some modernistic ideal your writing is going to come off insincere at best, artificial at worst.

    I find that a lot of people who work in fields with a lot of professional jargon tend to let it shape their everyday language. This can work for you by giving your prose a particular feel but it can also make it impenetrable. You'll be able to spot the differences if you can make yourself be a critical reader and you can keep it from destroying your story if you can be honest with yourself, the writer.

    You can love your words, but you must love your sentences more, your paragraphs more still, and your story most of all. Always forsake your lesser love for the benefit of your greater.

    Melkster
  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Ditto what Ruzkin said about using short words. Don't push yourself to use long words becuase you know them (or think you do*) when a shorter word will serve just as well. The time to use longer words is when shorter words won't serve just as well - longer words often have more nuanced meanings and can help convey exactly what you are trying to say. If your meaning can be conveyed just as well with shorter words, use them.

    *Above all, don't use a word unless you are absolutely sure of its meaning, and completely comfortable with its usage. I know a few people who try to inflate their own perceived intellect by using $5 words incorrectly - don't be one of those people. Just from your two posts i'm guessing that you meant "massive proportions" and "I appreciate the gamut." Just something to watch out for.

  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited August 2007
    use words your readers will understand.

  • ReznikReznik Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Does anyone have any tips for writing action sequences? Specifically fight scenes. I'm a very visual person, if that makes sense. Big fan of martial arts movies and video game-y, over the top fights and it tends to come out when I write.. I throw in every little flip and spin and it makes the fight tedious to read, but I can't seem to figure out what to do otherwise.

    Do... Re.... Mi... Ti... La...
    Do... Re... Mi... So... Fa.... Do... Re.... Do...
    Forget it...
  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    My first instinct would be to intersperse dialogue where you can to keep the reader engaged with the characters as well as the action.

  • snapsnap Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Here is what works for me. If I get an idea for a story, I will write it down quickly and not concern myself with how I say it. I just make sure it gets down. I very much use an outline, if for no other reason than to get the ideas flowing and down on paper.

    I try to get the basic plot down--that way I can add plenty of symbolism and foreshadowing for plot devices that will be revealed in the end. People usually like plot twists more if they reread the story and realize that you pretty much told them the ending from the start. Think: fight club.

    When I'm writing the rough draft I write it in longhand and very loosely use the outline, leaving plenty of room for inspiration. When I re-type it, I do the same thing. By the time a typed rough draft is produced, the story has already undergone 2 previous forms. Also, remind yourself constantly that no one but you has to read the rough draft. If you have an idea but you can't seem to get it to come out on paper the way you want it to...write it like shit and come back to it later. Don't let good ideas be forgotten.

  • dlsnelldlsnell Registered User
    edited August 2007
    Reznik wrote: »
    Does anyone have any tips for writing action sequences? Specifically fight scenes. I'm a very visual person, if that makes sense. Big fan of martial arts movies and video game-y, over the top fights and it tends to come out when I write.. I throw in every little flip and spin and it makes the fight tedious to read, but I can't seem to figure out what to do otherwise.

    KalTorak's suggestion is right on the mark. Action scenes need to be paced, and dialogue can help with that. Also, less is more. You might want epic fight scenes like you see in films, but chances are it won't translate to the page; the reader will just be overstimulated. By all means, have fight scenes with flips, kicks, and karate chops, but avoid carrying it on for pages and pages. And make it simple. Summarize parts of it instead of detailing every punch and kick. (Summary works especially well for transitions.)

    rosesbanner.gif
    “Violent and visceral…beautiful and erotic”--David Moody
  • lofalofa Registered User
    edited August 2007
    Speaking from experience of bad reader who used scratch his head while reading, thinking,I still do not get it.O_o
    Here are some of the ways , Consistency you should never leave the reader in doubt as to who speaking to whom and about what. Avoid shifting from one construction to another before the first construction has been completed. Try to maintain the tune of your language usage, I prefer Slang in action because it is imaginative, strong and colorful .

    Good luck .:)

  • ProhassProhass Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I honestly couldnt find the right place to post this q, but is there any sort of program or tutorial that helps you format your writing in a 'novel' format, like ready to be printed into a book.

  • ZsetrekZsetrek Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Prohass wrote: »
    I honestly couldnt find the right place to post this q, but is there any sort of program or tutorial that helps you format your writing in a 'novel' format, like ready to be printed into a book.

    I don't know if it's what you mean, but word has a function in the "view" settings that let you view a document in book format.

    Or are you asking "what format do publishers want manuscripts submitted in?"

  • LuxLux Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Does anyone have any advice on conceiving & writing short stories? I mean 1 to 3 pages long.

    I have trouble coming up with some story arc or theme that I could convey in such a small format. I could brainstorm a longer story arc, since there's lots of room to change settings and time and characters, but short stories have always seemed harder to me.

  • ConceptConcept Registered User
    edited September 2007
    One description of short stories I once read was that it's a fleeting glimpse of something from the corner of the eye. If you're aiming for 1-3 pages, that's all you're going to want to write. You're often writing situations rather than scenarios.

    Think of when you look at a photograph, it's self contained but of course something happened before the moment the picture was taken and something happened afterwards. A short story is the same, there's characters, themes and a narrative spiraling all around it, but you just focus on one frame in that whirlwind.

    As for ideas, in general, the most valuable thing I can recommend is a notebook. Write down anything interesting you think of in there, and do it as soon as you possibly can. This is where the old adage comes in that all writers are good readers and good observers. You need to develop a thought pattern that analyzes and evaluates everything you encounter as worthy of a story or a part of a story, however minute. Mix and match all these things with your imagination and your own experience.

    Then more or less anything can trigger a story. I've written a 10,000 word story that started from one word in a song. Watch strangers, watch friends, watch their expressions and how they act and try and think of reasons why they do it that particular way. Invent backstories, explanations and motivations for strangers. When you read a book, think of what motifs interest you, figure out why. Whenever a friend tells you a story, however trivial, think how it could be worked into a short story. Think of a scenario, and then think of it from the point of view of someone other than the obvious protagonist -- there's a million things you can do to create a story, be creative, and don't give up on any of them until you've thought them through all the way.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • ZsetrekZsetrek Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    To repeat something I've trotted out a lot - an idea for a story is an idea for an ending. That's especially true in the short story format where you just don't have the space to meander towards an evolving conclusion. That's what makes them so hard to write, and the measure of a good author IMO - you need to know exactly what you're saying.

  • DirtyDirtyVagrantDirtyDirtyVagrant Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I have a question, and I'm sure it's been asked before.

    I'm in the middle of writing a novel. It's kind of sci-fi, kind of fantasy, with action and romance. (And desire)

    . . .Anyway. Will sex in a book throw off the rest of the story? What is the line between tasteful and no? Or is it impossible to say, really? I'm not talking about full on romance novel two and three page scenes, nor am I talking about a paragraph giving the very brief gist of it. But what about anywhere from 2 to 3 or maybe even 4 paragraphs? Nothing flowery, just the important details and maybe some dialogue.

    I'd post an example but I'm pretty sure that's against the rules.

  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited September 2007
    Sex is perfectly fine in a story, as long as it makes sense in context. The best sex scenes I've read aren't graphic unless they need to be. If the only point you need to get across is that two people fucked, you can cut off narration at them entering the bedroom, or at them pushing each other to the mattress, or something. You don't need to describe each thrust unless it's important.

    Lots of mainstream authors have sex scenes in their books. King does them all the time, and he seems to get by fine. Koontz, too, and his are pretty graphic. Then again, Koontz is a goddamned hack who writes for shock value and his shitty prose.

    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • naporeonnaporeon Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I have a question that I don't think merits its own thread, but I'm curious about nonetheless.

    For those of you who use computers to write, do any of you disable spellcheckers? I got into the habit of doing so, back when I was a younger, snobbier, stupider fellow, on the pretense that it would force me to keep my spelling faculties at peek sharpness. I have continued to do so over the ensuing decade, mostly out of a sense of tradition. It can be a pain for sure, and is often more trouble than it's worth, but I think that it actually has helped me maintain a decent orthographic standard.

    How often do you fellas fly blind like this?

  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited October 2007
    Fuck I can't even spell rigth rigth. I depend on that spellchecker for those kind of mistakes.

  • Grid SystemGrid System Registered User
    edited October 2007
    naporeon wrote: »
    I have a question that I don't think merits its own thread, but I'm curious about nonetheless.

    For those of you who use computers to write, do any of you disable spellcheckers? I got into the habit of doing so, back when I was a younger, snobbier, stupider fellow, on the pretense that it would force me to keep my spelling faculties at peek sharpness. I have continued to do so over the ensuing decade, mostly out of a sense of tradition. It can be a pain for sure, and is often more trouble than it's worth, but I think that it actually has helped me maintain a decent orthographic standard.

    How often do you fellas fly blind like this?
    I think my spellchecker offed itself after years of never being used.

    Also, "peak' ;)

  • naporeonnaporeon Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    naporeon wrote: »
    I have a question that I don't think merits its own thread, but I'm curious about nonetheless.

    For those of you who use computers to write, do any of you disable spellcheckers? I got into the habit of doing so, back when I was a younger, snobbier, stupider fellow, on the pretense that it would force me to keep my spelling faculties at peek sharpness. I have continued to do so over the ensuing decade, mostly out of a sense of tradition. It can be a pain for sure, and is often more trouble than it's worth, but I think that it actually has helped me maintain a decent orthographic standard.

    How often do you fellas fly blind like this?
    I think my spellchecker offed itself after years of never being used.

    Also, "peak' ;)
    I was...errrrrr...illustrating my point.

    Since, you know, that wouldn't have been caught by a spellchecker.

    No, uhhhhh. Seriously. For real.

  • SheriSheri Resident Fluffer My Living RoomRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I leave spell check on because I have a tendency to dot his.

    Of course, in that case it wouldn't've helped me, but it often does.

    Grammar check, however, should be stricken from the face of the planet.

  • Baron DirigibleBaron Dirigible Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I turned spellcheck off because it refused to change from the American dictionary, and having so many false positives was annoying. I proofread stuff before I do anything serious with it, anyway, and since most mistakes are due to my piss-poor typing skills they're easy enough to spot.

    Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited October 2007
    Grammar check is terrible stuff. Little green marks all over the place.

  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited October 2007
    So let's talk about the etiquette of critiquing stories since that seems to be the hot topic.

    How do you give criticism? How do you receive critique? What's proper feedback and what's proper followup? Should you compliment sandwich?

    What's up WB what do you think?

  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Munacra wrote: »
    So let's talk about the etiquette of critiquing stories since that seems to be the hot topic.

    How do you give criticism? How do you receive critique? What's proper feedback and what's proper followup? Should you compliment sandwich?

    What's up WB what do you think?

    Hi Munacra, I really enjoy reading your crits.

    However, the cheap trick of compliment sandwiching might help reduce our rate of critting-the-crit posts and suicides. This can be a pretty intimidating forum, and even the tiniest bit of positive feedback can mean the difference between actually improving your craft and running back to your fanfic circles.

    Aside from that, your crits are insightful, precise and to the point. Keep up the good work!

    Er...

    But yeah, I notice I compliment sandwich almost all the time. I don't know if you should do that, but on the other hand there's rarely nothing good to say about a piece, so why not say it? Cases where the writer himself doesn't take the piece seriously are the exception, but why should I crit that shit anyway?

    In my opinion the proper way to receive critique is just to accept it, whether you agree with it or not. Ask for clarifications or suggestions if you want, but don't try to correct the crit. If you feel like explaining what you were trying to do, phrase it as a question, because you clearly didn't succeed, and this is your opportunity to ask for advice on how to do it in a way that works.

    The proper way to give crits? Try to focus on the areas that need improvement the most. Be concise; make your points and get it over with. Use examples. Don't talk down to people. Don't be unnecessarily harsh unless the person in question clearly has it coming. If you are harsh, make sure you're also amusing and entertaining.

    Also, people shouldn't be afraid of giving crits even if they don't consider themselves very skillful or experienced writers. I certainly don't see myself as either. I feel it's one of the best ways to learn.

    MSL59.jpg
  • yetanothersdekpryetanothersdekpr Registered User
    edited October 2007
    Munacra wrote: »
    What am I trying to say?
    What words will express it?
    What image or idiom will make it clearer?
    Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

    and he will probably (the writer) ask himself two more:

    Could I put it more shortly?
    Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

    George Orwell

    Politics and the English Language

    I agree, anyone who hasn't read this essay definitely should.

  • lofalofa Registered User
    edited October 2007
    Muncie wrote: »

    A big part of this is finding a voice, which in a sense is the same thing as finding a style. If you artificially reduce your word choices for the sake of following some modernistic ideal your writing is going to come off insincere at best, artificial at worst.

    I find that a lot of people who work in fields with a lot of professional jargon tend to let it shape their everyday language. This can work for you by giving your prose a particular feel but it can also make it impenetrable. You'll be able to spot the differences if you can make yourself be a critical reader and you can keep it from destroying your story if you can be honest with yourself, the writer.

    You can love your words, but you must love your sentences more, your paragraphs more still, and your story most of all. Always forsake your lesser love for the benefit of your greater.


    GREAT STUFF ! :^:

  • RaggetyRaggety Registered User
    edited November 2007
    if it doesn't come bursting out of you
    in spite of everything,
    don't do it.
    unless it comes unasked out of your
    heart and your mind and your mouth
    and your gut,
    don't do it.
    if you have to sit for hours
    staring at your computer screen
    or hunched over your
    typewriter
    searching for words,
    don't do it.
    if you're doing it for money or
    fame,
    don't do it.
    if you're doing it because you want
    women in your bed,
    don't do it.
    if you have to sit there and
    rewrite it again and again,
    don't do it.
    if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
    don't do it.
    if you're trying to write like somebody
    else,
    forget about it.

    if you have to wait for it to roar out of
    you,
    then wait patiently.
    if it never does roar out of you,
    do something else.

    if you first have to read it to your wife
    or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
    or your parents or to anybody at all,
    you're not ready.

    don't be like so many writers,
    don't be like so many thousands of
    people who call themselves writers,
    don't be dull and boring and
    pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
    love.
    the libraries of the world have
    yawned themselves to
    sleep
    over your kind.
    don't add to that.
    don't do it.
    unless it comes out of
    your soul like a rocket,
    unless being still would
    drive you to madness or
    suicide or murder,
    don't do it.
    unless the sun inside you is
    burning your gut,
    don't do it.

    when it is truly time,
    and if you have been chosen,
    it will do it by
    itself and it will keep on doingit
    until you die or it dies in you.

    there is no other way.

    and there never was.

    Charles Bukowski - So You Want To Be A Writer

  • bebarcebebarce Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I'm looking for resources that help with the structure of writing. I am so out of practice that I am afraid my ability to compose sentences properly or punctuate is severely eroded. I know there are a lot of resources out there but I was wondering if anyone can recommend one over the other. I'm hoping for something that provides an extensive refresher, composed well, and easy to read/practice with. A book set up more like a a series of lessons rather than a dictionary of rules.

    I know the best advice for "picking up the pen" is to write, write, and write. Without a resource for fixing my faults I will just be repeating the same mistakes over and over.

  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I'm trying to critique a friends screenplay... what makes a good screenplay and what makes a bad one? What should I look out for?

    | Steam & XBL: Shazkar | 3DS: 3110-5421-3843 |
  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Clarity.

    Structure.

    Not wordy whatsoever or too much dialogue unless it's there for stylization.

    Character arcs.

    Basically, critique the story as you would any other story. But keep an eye out for structure. Structure is very important, especially in a screenplay.

  • Sunday_AssassinSunday_Assassin Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Plan everything*

    Every element in your story's structure should be significant. When writing a novel - or something or a comparable length - deviations from the main plot should only exist if they contribute to a greater understanding of other areas of the narrative: the characters, themes, world etc. and then only if those specific areas are - and you have to be honest with yourselves in this - truly important to the piece.

    And vice-versa, of course. If an element of the story contributes nothing towards an understanding of the characters therein, or does not explore the central themes in some way, or seems to take place in a location entirely alien to the rest of the piece without due cause, you must ask yourself whether it is truly worthy of inclusion.

    This is for novels, of course. For short stories, this is doubly vital. No word should be wasted.

    *Not necessarily beforehand. Plans and analysis can be undertaken long after a first draft is complete. Somewhere in your process, however, you should be aware of the purpose of your piece, and what effect each element has.

  • blackholebrewblackholebrew Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Start with an ending. It's been said before, I know. But start with an ending.

    It may be fun to just start writing and "see what happens," but that's a writing exercise; that's practice; it's not what you do when you get to the big game, if for no other reason than the fact that nothing is more unsatisfying than reading a story with loose ends wafting about in the conclusion like a yarn squid. As Poe and others have said, there needs to be a unifying element and drive to the story, which can only happen if you're aware of where you are going.

    Anyway, the trick is the ending. So...What do you want to say about the world? You've been in the shit for some time now, yeah? Any opinions? Any observations? Anyone you want to see baked into a pie and eaten?

    As far as the story arc and whatnot...I mean...I'm not the guy to ask about that. As far as I'm concerned, do your drunken free-association all you want and drop fucking clowns and ninjas in from the heavens all day as long as you've got your ending and know from word one exactly what those wizards and sirens and pirates will be charged with accomplishing when they hit the dirt.

  • Baron DirigibleBaron Dirigible Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    It may be fun to just start writing and "see what happens," but that's a writing exercise; that's practice; it's not what you do when you get to the big game
    Everyone writes differently, and I think you'll find more than a few "big game" authors who write precisely like this. Personally I find writing toward an ending incredibly stifling. If I do have an ending in mind, I'll rarely actually reach it -- either because the story goes off in a more interesting direction, or because the thrill of writing quickly vanishes without that aspect of discovery.

    Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
  • OrikaeshigitaeOrikaeshigitae Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2007
    blackholebrew's post is a good reminder to take everything in this thread with a grain of salt. everyone writes differently, and what works for other people might or might not work for you.

  • IriahIriah Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    blackholebrew's post is a good reminder to take everything in this thread with a grain of salt.

    I'm not sure that's entirely correct.

  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    It may be fun to just start writing and "see what happens," but that's a writing exercise; that's practice; it's not what you do when you get to the big game
    Everyone writes differently, and I think you'll find more than a few "big game" authors who write precisely like this. Personally I find writing toward an ending incredibly stifling. If I do have an ending in mind, I'll rarely actually reach it -- either because the story goes off in a more interesting direction, or because the thrill of writing quickly vanishes without that aspect of discovery.

    I know of many professional authors who say that writing towards a fixed ending is a terrible way of writing a book; whenever a crisis situation arises, instead of letting your characters solve the problem themselves you shoehorn them into a solution that suits the ending you already have in mind. It makes everything very sterile and predictable.
    Characters should not be restrained by plot, and often the characters will determine the ending better than you could possibly do.

    KqOm9Bt.jpg
  • Sunday_AssassinSunday_Assassin Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Just because you are writing to a specific ending or have a fixed story does not mean that 'shoehorning' will occur. A good writer will - through careful analysis of his own work - analyse areas in which motivations seem sketchy, or reasoning flawed, and rework them accordingly. Just because you have a plan, does not mean that plan cannot be adapted.

    I do believe it is important to have a plan. What it essentially comes down to is this: Are you writing to play with characters, worlds and situations (not necessarily a bad thing in itself) or do you have a story to tell?

    While it may be fun to let your characters dictate the course of events, you can easily fall into a trap of losing focus on what is truly important to the story as a whole. It is, obviously, very important that the actions of your characters seem believeable, but characters - much like plans - can be adapted. A character is not a sacred, untouchable thing, and does not exist beyond the events that it is portrayed in. It's purpose is to serve the story, and you shouldn't feel obliged to pander to what your original vision of it might have been.

    Allow me to digress slightly.

    I saw a lot of works of fantasy during my stint in university, in which I spent a great deal of time in student writing workshops and reading groups. Anyone who has been in a similar situation will have no doubt found the same (unless their groups were dominated by lady-folk, in which case most of the stories would have been about ghosts, rape, and the terrible fact that their daddy didn't love them... only half kidding). The majority of these stories, to one degree or another, were on one level about a hero (or one-day-hero), saving something or other from something for some reason: typical fantasy fare, but they were never really about anything. It was always a case of a character being given an imaginative sandbox to explore and behead people in.

    It is not enough, I believe, for prose fiction to simply express a sequence of events. It must stand for something greater. The Lord of the Rings: the book that no doubt inspired half those people to write what they did (the other half being inspired by the movies), was not really about some little folk throwing a ring into a volcano. It was about innocence corrupted, the terrors of war and all that jazz. At its heart were themes that resonated with its audience, and that's what make it a worthwhile work of fiction (I'm actually not that much of a fan, it's just an example that fit my personal experience).

    Do not throw out your fantasy trilogy just yet, my friends (you know we all have one). Instead, look at it, and think about what you are expressing through your characters and settings and situations. Manipulate the story and characters to better serve your underlying purposes. You needn't be overly overt, bashing readers over the head with your agenda, but consistency in theme is as important as consistency in character in literature, and is something that is all too often missing in the work of aspiring writers.


    One last thing. Saying that 'the characters will determine the ending better than you could possibly do' is, in my mind, an entirely unhelpful thing to say. For one, it will be you that comes up with your ending regardless, since the character don't exist apart from your creative mind, and you created the little buggers anyway. The burden is on the writer to give birth to his vision, and cannot go into a project believing that it will all be worked out for him if he hopes to create something truly worthwhile.

    [/personal opinion]

    edited for mistakes; which is another thing I'd suggest. After finishing a daft of writing, go over it once to check for errors. When you return to work on the next part and read over it to 'get in the zone', a tidy manuscript free of niggling errors prove far more encouraging than something you have to spend 15 minutes correcting.

  • MuncieMuncie Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I don't have a fantasy trilogy.

  • SheriSheri Resident Fluffer My Living RoomRegistered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I saw a lot of works of fantasy during my stint in university, in which I spent a great deal of time in student writing workshops and reading groups. Anyone who has been in a similar situation will have no doubt found the same (unless their groups were dominated by lady-folk, in which case most of the stories would have been about ghosts, rape, and the terrible fact that their daddy didn't love them... only half kidding). The majority of these stories, to one degree or another, were on one level about a hero (or one-day-hero), saving something or other from something for some reason: typical fantasy fare, but they were never really about anything. It was always a case of a character being given an imaginative sandbox to explore and behead people in.

    There are so many things I find abhorrently wrong with this, not the least of which is your gross implications about student female writers.

    I have been in a very similar situation, having taken a number of creative writing courses in my time at my university, and I'm not sure I read one fantasy (let alone bad fantasy) piece the entire time. The writers in my classes wrote about a lot of different things, and my magical realism stories (none of which included ghosts, rape or the fact that my daddy didn't love me) were the closest anything got to fantasy.

    Most of their stories were, in fact, about something. And while I know each of us constructed stories differently, I also know that my professors were of the 'start writing and the story will get to where it's going' mentality, so many of us wrote that way. No, none of us are pros yet, but a number of us have been published, so clearly it works for some people.

    What some people seem to be failing to realize is that different things work for different people. Maybe you and blackholebrew write best when you have an ending in mind, but many of us do not. I would never say that writing a story with the ending in mind will necessarily pigeonhole your writing and make it unbelievable, stagnant or predictable. I would say that it's possible. Just like I'd say that it's possible that starting without an ending in mind could lead to your story being tangential, disorganized and without a unifying theme -- but it's not necessarily going to happen. Just like ending-in-mind writers have to practice at making their characters' behaviors seem natural (often through rewrites and edits), no-ending-in-mind writers have to practice at keeping their stories organized and thematically strong (often through rewrites and edits).

    People write differently.
    edited for mistakes; which is another thing I'd suggest. After finishing a daft of writing,

    Heeheehee.

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