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The Workshop - Tips, Tricks, and Theory

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Posts

  • Sunday_AssassinSunday_Assassin Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Sheri wrote: »
    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.

    Note I did not say to check your revisions... yes, that's it.

    Anyway, about your points... I think my response came off a little more extreme than I intended. When I think of 'having an ending in mind' I merely mean having an awareness of where the story will end up, be it a location, a point in time, a particular emotional response etc. I am not talking about knowing every element of the final scene and working your way through the story trying to make that happen. To be honest I cannot imagine how anyone could write a story without an idea about where it will go by the end, unless it is intended as merely an exercise or something.

    How else can you know which characters to focus on, which details are important enough to dwell upon, or what themes deserve exploration within the product text?

    As for the writing workshop thing... yes, it was exagerration on my part. While I did encounter a fair number of fantasy pieces in my various writing circles, many of which were poor, they didn't exactly dominate. I guess I just assumed others would have had a similar experience. Oh, and the part about women was a joke, in all but the fact that I did encounter a number of stories of the type, and found a couple damn near traumatising.

    Maybe they were putting something in the water around my uni?

    On the whole, I'd say that my comments weren't aimed to be a 'this is how you write' style treatise, rather they were meant as a reminder of sorts that these elements are important (or at least I feel they are). There is a strong presence of 'I just write' writers on these boards. I am not one of them (practically the opposite. After a brief 'and then this could happen, then this...' session in my head, I plan every detail, every nuance so that it fits.)

    It's actually not as in-organic a process as it sounds. If anthing, it is a more immediate form of writing. I choose to work on what is clicking for me at that moment, unrestricted by the idea of working start to finish to see where it leads (which would be an extreme version of the opposite, I know). When an idea or emotion grabs me, I am free to order it to the best advantage of the narrative as a whole.

    Anyway, my purpose was to provide a reminder of this 'other side' of writing that ought to be taken into account. I apologise if it came out as though I were telling you you were all wrong in how you were doing things.
    Sheri wrote: »
    People write differently.
    Yes. Some people write well. Others don't.

    S_A (typed, but not checked ;-) )

  • Sunday_AssassinSunday_Assassin Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Sheri wrote: »
    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).

    Going to address this seperatly, since I have hidden myself from the boss's usually vigilant eyes all day and so have nothing better to do.

    While I agree with the sentiment, I do not agree that both dangers are of equal standing. It is very easy to deviate from one's intended path when one writes sequentially, with no compass to guide them but the will of their characters. While such deviations may in fact become the story (and more power to those who have accomplished it), the concept of a character is so fluid that it must be a dangerous path to tread. It is not as if there is a fixed character that exists outside the text by which actions might be analysed. A character - in most fiction at least - exists only in his actions within the narrative. A character is determined by the reader in what they read.

    In this way it is, as far as I can see, far easier to manipulate events to make their characters seem 'natural', as whatever natural might be is entirely subjective (as long as the absurd is avoided) based on how your character is delineated.

    Again, I'm not saying either approach is right and wrong. If anything, I'm looking for discussion upon this point. I'm sure I won't easily be swayed from my actual approach (just as most of you won't either), but it is never a bad thing to be aware of the pitfalls ahead.

    [Going to have to go back and diagree with your 'end-in-mind writers use rewrites' point as well actually. An end-in-mind writer is far more likely to have become aware of his problems before he has set pen to paper. The first draft will take a lot longer, but if he's studious, he won't need to re-read page one quite as often.]

  • zenpotatozenpotato Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    There's a fairly significant middle ground in the character vs. plot debate. I suspect it's where most of us hang out when we do our writing. For instance, I just started a short story based on a conceit ("those who died in battle rise and continue their fighting when the moon is in the sky.") that isn't all that fancy. It's certainly not an ending. It's just a situation I find interesting. I then take a character, polish it up a little, and drop it in. What happens next? I don't know.

    But then I do. I figure out what happens next, not by writing meandering text, but by coming up with the idea and using the text I've written to get there. So I've got a goal (a better word than ending I think, since this process is repeated a dozen times or more in a longer work) and I'm writing to reach it. As I write, themes develop (or are recognized) and as I write and draft, I consciously enhance the themes I see in my text.

    There are times when I have an ending in mind. I have another story like this. I know exactly the situation I want the story to end with. Now I need to work backwards and figure out how I get there. I've for lots of tools to do this (starting in medias re for instance) but I've still got to let the characters react to the situation I've given them. I just need to be sure I create characters that will likely find themselves in the desired position by the end of the story.

    I think if you examine your own work, you'll find yourself using both techniques even if you only consciously focus on one.

  • ZsetrekZsetrek Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    My take: Most writers are, from reading, watching and listening to stories, familiar enough with story structure to be able to make one up as they go along without breaking much of a sweat. Most people who claim to write totally without planning, I imagine, cannot help but think to themselves "where is this going?" as they write - even in the back of their minds. Writing is partially about thinking ahead - even if it's only to the end of the sentence. More power to those who really are honestly and genuinely surprised by what they write.

    Whether relying on one's own story sense as opposed to a plan is wise or not, or can be sustained over the course of a fantasy trilogy is another question (why the fuck would you want to write a fantasy trilogy in any case?), but I'm guessing that the answer to that question is totally dependent on the individual and his or her own storytelling instincts, determination, and imagination.

    Also, this is a really stupid debate. Stop sullying my beautiful thread!

  • Sunday_AssassinSunday_Assassin Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Zsetrek wrote: »
    My take: Most writers are, from reading, watching and listening to stories, familiar enough with story structure to be able to make one up as they go along without breaking much of a sweat. Most people who claim to write totally without planning, I imagine, cannot help but think to themselves "where is this going?" as they write - even in the back of their minds. Writing is partially about thinking ahead - even if it's only to the end of the sentence. More power to those who really are honestly and genuinely surprised by what they write.

    Whether relying on one's own story sense as opposed to a plan is wise or not, or can be sustained over the course of a fantasy trilogy is another question (why the fuck would you want to write a fantasy trilogy in any case?), but I'm guessing that the answer to that question is totally dependent on the individual and his or her own storytelling instincts, determination, and imagination.

    Also, this is a really stupid debate. Stop sullying my beautiful thread!

    'Fantasy Trilogy': I imagined many people would have wanted to write one of these at some point in their lives, and it is a genre in which I have seen the most examples of 'shallow' fiction. It was an example. I am honestly sorry I mentioned it.

    Stupid Debate: I disagree. Worthwhile, but could have done with being much shorter. I apologise again.

    Beautiful Thread: Pfft! Did you plan where it was going to go in the end? No? It's worthless, then! You should have made more effort to shoehorn it down the path you wanted... or is that what you're doing now?



    Back to tips: - Less adjectives, more verbs. The former are the main offender in cluttered unwieldy prose. The latter are often highly evocative on their own.

  • blackholebrewblackholebrew Registered User
    edited December 2007
    ruzkin wrote: »
    Characters should not be restrained by plot

    Plot = What The Characters Do. Saying characters should not be restrained by plot is like saying Sense shouldn't be restrained by grammar and punctuation. Or some better example I'm not privileged too.

    As for your other comments, obviously each person has a different experience writing, I won't deny that. I would still posit that backward design in writing does not mean shoehorning and can be just as fun and exciting an experience as anything else in the same way Memento was still a mystery to viewers: the writer still has to figure out how his characters got in that situation. I mean...there's no avoiding knocking boots with the muses. I'm not kidding myself. Can a person write a story and 'let the characters write the story'? Sure. I'm not at all a proponent (yet) of overly planning a plot (See: Operation Bozo Drop). But it won't be a fun one to edit, because chances are there're a thousand things you didn't know were happening in your novel until the end of the story and now the majority of your novel contradicts itself. It seems to me you will then be forced to shoehorn on a much grander scale.

    Edit: Sure, a Goal is just as good.

    Edit: Those who write from a blank slate would, I would also argue, be doing the exact same thing as me in the end: it's just called a second draft in that case. Hey--if you like 50,000 words of brainstorming to figure out your Goal or Ending, so be it. But you better draft like a mofo.

  • MuncieMuncie Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    You get it right the first time, huh? That's a rare gift.

  • blackholebrewblackholebrew Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Muncie wrote: »
    You get it right the first time, huh? That's a rare gift.

    Weak. At least make an attempt to give the benefit of the doubt to a man, man! You're a writer; you're probably a better reader than that.

    No, no one gets it right the first time. But when you know what you're trying to do when you start, you come a lot closer and have less to change in subsequent drafts. No, anyone who doesn't change anything from their first draft is basically writing for fun. Which is fine. But that's what they're doing.

    Can we start over?

    hugs_new2.jpg

  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Well,plot is not found on your first draft. Structuring plot is for the editing process where you can separate yourself from your work and look at the plot from a bird's-eye point of view, so to speak.

  • syrionsyrion Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Uh, I've usually found that when I write, I'm writing to the plot. I don't see how you can "structure plot" in the second draft--that sounds silly.

  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited December 2007
    I'm Munacra

  • syrionsyrion Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Heh, be that as it may, I don't understand how you can structure a plot out of a lot of unplotted prose. What purpose do the characters' actions serve if they aren't already considered in the context of a plot? How do you decide what to write?

  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    syrion wrote: »
    Uh, I've usually found that when I write, I'm writing to the plot. I don't see how you can "structure plot" in the second draft--that sounds silly.

    It makes perfect sense to me.
    In the first draft, you let characters wander about, say things that don't make sense, make decisions that don't lead anywhere. You ignore these mistakes because it's your story and it's the worlds best story and it's gonna sell a million.

    Then you settle back and re-read it a few months later and go what the hell? Who wrote this? Sure as hell wasn't me. These people aren't going anywhere. The story takes too long. Why did Cheryl do THAT? And what's the point of it all?

    You look, and you look, and then you start to make links. You say... well, maybe this course was the original intention, but if I tweak and cut this and rearrange this and kill this character altogether and maybe add in a few encounters here and here and here, I can make a comment on a social/environmental/moral/philosophical theme. And maybe it would make more sense if it ended like this, and the middle went like this, and then the plot would make more sense...

    And you start to insert a skeleton piece by piece into a floppy fleshy mass of text, and by the end you have an ugly little hobbit-man, but atleast he's recognisable as a man.

    And then you revise yet again, and sculpt him a little bit more. Unless, of course, you are building a lady-script, in which case EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT.

    KqOm9Bt.jpg
  • Sunday_AssassinSunday_Assassin Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Thing is, that all just strikes me as terribly inefficient. If you begin with a goal in mind, you're not going to resort to much of that 'characters wandering about, saying things that don't make sense' nonsense in the first place. Things like that, in my opinion, shouldn't make it any further than an initial brainstorming phase, before serious pen has been put to serious paper (available from all good stockists now!)

    There will always be an element of... deviation, poor decision making etc. in writing. And so editing is vitally important. but to begin with no structure at all in mind because you will do these things anyway seems horribly counter-intuitive.

    To adopt your own metaphor, I construct a crude skeleton first. It is beautiful; unconventional and inspired. The I begin to drape thin sheets of text across it. It takes a firmer shape. Then I start snapping limbs off.

  • RazjmlRazjml Registered User
    edited December 2007
    I think where someone comes down on this issue is largely due to their intended scope and where their passion for writing lies. As the scope for a story gets wider (short short to short story to novel to series) it naturally becomes more complex, with a blueprint of where everything is going becoming more and more necessary. In other words, there are many people (but definitely not everyone!) who can make a birdhouse without any premeditation, but only the very foolish would attempt to build an entire house without a blueprint in hand.

    The less obvious part of this equation - where the writer's passion lies - is more interesting to me. To make an awfully contentious claim, I think the primary concern of genre writing as a whole - be it scifi/fantasy, mysteries, etc - is often to express a fundamental world or conceptual idea, with characters and aesthetic style of secondary importance. That's not to claim that genre writing by default is inferior in its characters, style, etc than "literary" writing, it's just that those elements tend to function as conduits for actualizing the concept (the plot or driving idea of the work) that the writer is really concerned with. It's because of this that genre writers are far more apt, I think, to have in mind the basic skeleton of the work before they even begin writing it.

    On the other side of things, people who write "literature" with a capital L are often less concerned with trifling concerns like plot and characters than with how character's interact and the story itself expressed, usually in relation to some sort of aesthetic process or ideal the writer is concerned with. It's because these kinds of writers are primarily concerned with the telling of the work that I think they often have little more than a faint idea of what they're actually working towards, the plot and other elements subservient to the writing itself. They consequently might suffer through more stylistic revisions, too.

    Of course, I think the whole thing is more opposite poles on a spectrum than a black and white split neatly falling one way or the other. Personally, I only write poetry, so I'm a bit exempt from the whole debate. However, my process generally comes down on the "genre" side of things, with my poems almost always triggered by a single image or conceit, and the subsequent writing of the the poem serving as the process by which I discover the world that idea or image inhabits. I like to think of my writing sometimes as literary-certified genre poetry :P

  • Sunday_AssassinSunday_Assassin Registered User
    edited December 2007
    I was with you right up until the third paragraph, when you suggested that great writers of 'Literature' don't have an idea of what they are aiming towards when they are writing. The notion that they place far more importance on how the story is being told than the story itself is, I believe, a valid one, but I cannot agree that such writers will not have built up an awareness of that style - based on their goals -beforehand.

    The method by which a story is told can be as deliberate as any sequence of events, and in the works of many of the great writers, was far more so.

  • blackholebrewblackholebrew Registered User
    edited December 2007
    ruzkin wrote: »
    syrion wrote: »
    Uh, I've usually found that when I write, I'm writing to the plot. I don't see how you can "structure plot" in the second draft--that sounds silly.

    It makes perfect sense to me.
    In the first draft, you let characters wander about, say things that don't make sense, make decisions that don't lead anywhere. You ignore these mistakes because it's your story and it's the worlds best story and it's gonna sell a million.

    Then you settle back and re-read it a few months later and go what the hell? Who wrote this? Sure as hell wasn't me. These people aren't going anywhere. The story takes too long. Why did Cheryl do THAT? And what's the point of it all?

    You look, and you look, and then you start to make links. You say... well, maybe this course was the original intention, but if I tweak and cut this and rearrange this and kill this character altogether and maybe add in a few encounters here and here and here, I can make a comment on a social/environmental/moral/philosophical theme. And maybe it would make more sense if it ended like this, and the middle went like this, and then the plot would make more sense...

    And you start to insert a skeleton piece by piece into a floppy fleshy mass of text, and by the end you have an ugly little hobbit-man, but at least he's recognizable as a man.

    And then you revise yet again, and sculpt him a little bit more. Unless, of course, you are building a lady-script, in which case EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT.

    Yeah, that's like...the quintessential example of what I was talking about. I'm glad you wrote it and not me, because I would have been told I was exaggerating the point.

    If that's how you like to do it, more power to you, but...I mean...it sounds like you yourself are admitting to its complete inefficiency at storytelling and absolute purpose only as an inspiration for the real story. Which is exactly what I said it would be. Which is fine, if that's what you want to do. But Jesus, it's not much more than getting your rocks off bumping uglies with the muse.

    I really think you'd have just as much fun writing from a skeleton of an idea, and it would require a lot less of what sounds to me like Major revision-work for you in your drafts. Like...everybody drafts: not everybody's second draft is to their first as Hollywood adaptations are to their source material.

  • IriahIriah Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I heard this tip about writing today from a friend who is very knowledgeable about these sorts of things.

    The tip was: almost any story can be made better by the inclusion of wood ducks, who look like wood ducks but act like wood elves.

    Can anyone else furnish some useful tips for the thread's benefit?

  • DarkHawkeDarkHawke Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Some people write better standing up.

    I seem to remember hearing that Hemingway used to do just that, but every image of a Hemingway desk I've seen (and it seems pretty much every table he ever scrawled onto a napkin on is encased in glass and has a neat plaque) was low and equipped with a chair.

    Maybe he was just really short.

  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited December 2007
    If you like writing to a pre-determined plot line, that's cool. However, don't be surprised if it comes out formulaic.

    A useful tip: Shut down your modem/router while writing.

  • blackholebrewblackholebrew Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Munacra wrote: »
    If you like writing to a pre-determined plot line, that's cool. However, don't be surprised if it comes out formulaic.

    I've never even considered coming up with an entire plot line, nor have I suggested that here. Just a purpose, a focus, or--the tip I gave--an idea for an ending.

    Although, I would add that writing to a pre-determined plot line would only come off as formulaic if the plot you pre-determine is formulaic. It's like when a little kid (or someone equally ignorant of how stories work) watches a movie and says, "Oh my Gawd! So...that guy just HAPPENS to run into THAT GUY. How stupid!" Like...nobody just happened to do anything: the story is about these two characters meeting; it's not random chance that the movie opened with introductions to the two characters who meet later on. You do know that you're watching a scripted movie and not walking around outside, right?
    A useful tip: Shut down your modem/router while writing.

    Good tip. I try to get myself out of the house before trying to accomplish anything.

  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited December 2007
    I used to do plot outlines and had notes and page after page of character bios.

    It's all a bunch of shit, trust me. Just write something, anything, and make sense of it later on, when you can look at what you wrote with a distant eye. What you're talking about is basically editing before even putting a word on paper.

  • Sunday_AssassinSunday_Assassin Registered User
    edited December 2007
    And what's wrong with editing yourself before you start writing? Surely the words do not need to be physically on the page before you can decide "That's stupid", or say "This has nothing whatsoever to do with anything."

    I personally find that writing within a set of pre-determined boundaries actually helps my writing in a creative sense. When I am aware of a set of limits for a story, I feel I can explore my possibilities more thoroughly, more efficiently.

    Rubbish example: I have two guys in a supermarket. I've decided I ought to get them to a pub. Do I have them confronted by a man offering to drive them to a fun fair? Nope, instead I explore ways in which they could be driven (in the other sense) to a pub. Because that's what's going to be of benefit to the story.

    No one is suggesting that all writers should come up with every detail of their plots, characters and settings before writing their first sentence. What we are suggesting is that having a set of goals in mind when beginning any piece of writing can be very helpful.

  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Well then, I suppose we subscribe to different schools of writing.

  • RazjmlRazjml Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Rubbish example: I have two guys in a supermarket. I've decided I ought to get them to a pub. Do I have them confronted by a man offering to drive them to a fun fair? Nope, instead I explore ways in which they could be driven (in the other sense) to a pub. Because that's what's going to be of benefit to the story.

    But what if taking them to a "fun fair" turns out to offer more possibilities to explore the characters and the internal conflicts of the story than finding someone to take them to the pub? And if going to the pub was really necessary, couldn't they go after the fair? It seems like you're limiting your own creative possibilities by rigidly sticking to what you originally set out to do.

  • Sunday_AssassinSunday_Assassin Registered User
    edited December 2007
    While perhaps the fun fair might offer some unique oppurtunities to explore characters that other places might not, it's more likely to be an unnecessary diversion. Even if it does allow further exploration, does that exploration necessarily serve a purpose? If an element of a character is truly vital, surely it will come out in the course of the story's central narrative.

    Of course, a trip to the fun fair might be a nice little excursion. Nothing says we can't go there at some point, but it'd be best if we got our homework done first, right? And only if we didn't have enough fun doing that homework, and said homework didn't take too long. [Translation: Only work in the unnecessary when the necessary does not tick all the boxes, and isn't really bloody long in the first place]

    If I love the fun fair so much, I can always go there in another story.

    Okay, yes, as I said it's a rubbish example. Again let me say that what I'm talking about is not a cast iron mould into which you pour your story (God what's with all these crummy metaphors today?), but a logical framework around which your story can be sculpted. Having a set of goals can help some writers make the most of their ideas (telling one story instead of telling every story they can come up with at the time).

    Are you honestly telling me that there is no benefit to this process in your eyes? Because the difference I'm noticing in our arguments right now are that while I'm allowing that your 'write whatever I feel like and think about the consequences later' thing can work (not my thing, but whatever), you seem to say that my method does not work full stop, and that deciding anything before the words are actually written is a bad idea.

  • Baron DirigibleBaron Dirigible Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    you seem to say that my method does not work full stop, and that deciding anything before the words are actually written is a bad idea.
    Hell, I just disagree with blackholebrew's thing about having to know how it ends. I absolutely cannot see any merit in that approach. Otherwise, as I think someone else mentioned, my own writing habits are themselves fairly inconsistent; while one day I'll get a solid piece done off-the-cuff, another day might find me scrawling notes for future conversations and plot-points in my notepad.

    The thing is, I pretty much never use those conversations or plot-points, except in the most general sense. I've found that story, plot and character all comes to me much more naturally while I'm actually writing, and while it definitely does help to know the basic direction of the narrative, I never try to adhere to any strict path. I write for the same reason as Flannery O'Connor, "to find out what I know". And, yes, a story emerges, with plot points and motifs and, with any luck, some sense of cohesion. I'd personally find it very difficult to reach that same end-point before opening Word, just because so much of the story comes through the discovery in actually writing it.
    Even if it does allow further exploration, does that exploration necessarily serve a purpose? If an element of a character is truly vital, surely it will come out in the course of the story's central narrative.
    You seem to be assuming that any digression from the main plot will be arbitrary, but that's hardly ever the case. I mean, for me. Maybe other people here light main characters' bedrooms on fire at night just to see how they'd react. But generally there's a certain logic to where my characters go and when. I've learned to trust my subconscious.

    (Also: more material is always useful. While I'm not of the school that thinks knowing how your characters will react to zombie invasion will really help your story about time-travelling botanists, there's no reason to skip over an idea because it might not "necessarily serve a purpose". Write it! You're not a foreman working on a multi-million dollar bridge, here. You can afford to experiment a little.)

    PS. Love your avatar, by the way. Looking forward to my yearly play-through over the Christmas break.

    Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    All I'll say is that you should never set anything in stone. Feel free to plan out every single possible aspect of your plot, the characters and their interactions, but to hell with your original outlines if you come up with something that you feel is better.

    cBY55.gifbmJsl.png
  • tastydonutstastydonuts Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Edcrab wrote: »
    All I'll say is that you should never set anything in stone. Feel free to plan out every single possible aspect of your plot, the characters and their interactions, but to hell with your original outlines if you come up with something that you feel is better.

    I agree with that... sometimes the best method lies in the gray area. Bios and outlines are great, but letting it just flow gives good results as well. It's a combination of both things that really seems to work out, in my opinion. :O

    “I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”
    ― Bill Cosby
  • Captain HeavysteinCaptain Heavystein Registered User
    edited December 2007
    On twisted grammar:

    I have a terrible misbehavior when writing, and when speaking, of creating my own words from stray bits of English. Usually this entails prefixes and suffixes tacked onto words or roots of words which they commonly are not paired with. Some who have read my work say they enjoy the flavor of it. Others cringe at the idea of twisting tongues so freely. Shakespeare and Caroll were praised for it. However, in the modern age, people more often shun such acute use of license. What do you think?

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • RazjmlRazjml Registered User
    edited December 2007
    On twisted grammar:

    I have a terrible misbehavior when writing, and when speaking, of creating my own words from stray bits of English. Usually this entails prefixes and suffixes tacked onto words or roots of words which they commonly are not paired with. Some who have read my work say they enjoy the flavor of it. Others cringe at the idea of twisting tongues so freely. Shakespeare and Caroll were praised for it. However, in the modern age, people more often shun such acute use of license. What do you think?

    Give examples.

    Anything that works is a justification of itself (I stole this from somewhere and google won't tell me where).

  • Captain HeavysteinCaptain Heavystein Registered User
    edited December 2007
    His name was still neatly calligraphed at the top
    reclosing the fissures every few seconds.
    Marty watched for a hint of afterwash laughter.
    He sighed and ran a hand trough his tossled red curls.
    Canopies over canopies rose and soared into the blistering sun as swarms of wings and squawks and chipes circled them at each level.
    Empty eyes remained open, gazing in an unspecifiable direction.
    and the pieces of their bodies were unsiftable.
    He was drifting in a state of prospection, and his forecasted image reeked with conquest and unparalleled godhood.
    The aspirational corner of his brain expected her to wander up to his room and get rid of that dress.

    As you can see, the words may not really be defined, accepted English, but they make sense in context. I am able to consult alternative wordings, but I don't know if it would interrupt my style of writing.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    As you can see, the words may not really be defined, accepted English, but they make sense in context. I am able to consult alternative wordings, but I don't know if it would interrupt my style of writing.

    I'm confused... because several of your example are in fact words. Calligraphed, tousled (you just misspelled it), prospection, and aspirational are all words found in the dictionary. Chipes just looked like chirps to me (or cheeps?) which are both words.

    The others I agree are easy to infer word-seeming constructions.

  • RazjmlRazjml Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Marty watched for a hint of afterwash laughter.

    I suppose it can be debated if "afterwash" is a real word or not - googling it just gives you a lot of skin care results - but what's more important here is that you seem to be using it figuratively. You need to be careful about that, as description is meant to explicate, not obfuscate, and figurative language of this kind can easily become lost in hopelessly (as opposed to excitingly) mixed metaphors.
    Empty eyes remained open, gazing in an unspecifiable direction.

    This is more of an imaginative conjugation of a word than actually a neologism, so you just want to make sure it's actually better used this way, rather than conventional phrasings like, say, "an unspecified direction."
    and the pieces of their bodies were unsiftable.

    I think this one's actually pretty strong. The word seems to have an absolute sense of things to it, so I wouldn't recommend using it for small pocket change or something. But considering you're describing "pieces of their bodies" the sentence seems to have an appropriate weight to it.

    As a side note, people are generally more tolerant of unusual phrasing when it's describing something with a strong emotional power, as it implies the way the emotion itself is impossible to put into words. Examples: "Now I am become death," "let be be finale of seem." If the things you're describing are more mundane and ordinary, then talking about them in unusual ways often comes of as ostentatious or being cute.

  • AlienMastermindAlienMastermind Registered User
    edited January 2008
    Tip:

    If you write, you're on your way to writing something. Anything. That last sentence was written. As was this one you're reading now. See? I almost have a paragraph, and all I've managed to do is state the bald faced fact that writing is incremental.

    Remember that, and you too can write one of those labyrinthine novels you've heard so much about! One step after another takes you a long way. I've finished a novel, and while it's okay, I would even hazard a 'pretty good', it's not the best thing I've ever written. However, it's a completed, no foolin' novel, and when people ask me how do you write a novel, I answer with the paragraph above. Start writing, it's good to have an idea of the story, and most of the successfully completed stories are somewhat whole as imagined, I think.

    Also, give yourself the gift of E.B. White and Strunk's Style Manual and borrow from the library or a friend 'On Writing' by Stephen King. If that doesn't get your gumption up, and your homefires lit to begin the writing or at least keep at it, nothing will.

    AM

  • RazjmlRazjml Registered User
    edited January 2008
    Tip:
    Also, give yourself the gift of E.B. White and Strunk's Style Manual

    I don't mean to nitpick, but White & Strunk's has so many problems with it (worthless examples and nitpicks, contradictory information, White babbling about "style" at the end like a judge trying to define pornography) and is so outdated that I'm slightly appalled that people continually recommend it like it's the only book of its kind ever written. Instead of learning how to judiciously split infinitives or add a redundant possessive s to nouns that end in s (Thomas's), most people around here would be better served by a comprehensive reference book that has a strong focus on practical grammar. I really like The Everyday Writer by Lunsford, but there are dozens of them out there.

  • snapsnap Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Raggety wrote: »
    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

    this is some really good advice mixed in with some of the worst advice I have ever heard.

  • RazjmlRazjml Registered User
    edited January 2008
    snap wrote: »
    this is some really good advice mixed in with some of the worst advice I have ever heard.

    Switch "advice" with "writing" and you've just described everything Bukowski has ever done :P

  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    snap wrote: »
    Raggety wrote: »
    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

    this is some really good advice mixed in with some of the worst advice I have ever heard.

    Yeah, WTF? Pretty much every successful professional author I know has said in interviews that writing is often very, very hard. That they have to force themselves to sit down every day and tap out 3000 shitty words that they hate, and they do that every day. That writing is the hardest job they've ever done.

    But in the end they come to love the words, and they turn the shitty ones into good ones, and then they have a book. And then it gets published and they dread starting the next one, because it was SO FUCKING HARD. But they sit down every day regardless, because if you just wait for inspiration to hit then you'll be waiting a very long time.

    5% inspiration, 95% perspiration, all that jazz.

    KqOm9Bt.jpg
  • Goose!Goose! Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Is there a proper manuscript/novel sort format, and is there a way to make openoffice write in that fashion? A plugin or something?

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