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magnificent1rascal
Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012 12:40:10 PM

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Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.


http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/03/12/john-steinbeck-six-tips-on-writing/



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magnificent1rascal
Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012 12:43:12 PM

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Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Tips on How to Write a Great Story

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.


http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/04/03/kurt-vonnegut-on-writing-stories/


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DirtyMartini
Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012 2:12:20 PM

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Let me go finish that story before it gets pneumonia, or the cockroaches eat it...

And here all along I thought it was dogs that ate stories...oh wait, that's homework...my bad...happy8

I once knew a drinker who had a moderating problem...

magnificent1rascal
Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012 3:51:38 PM

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George Orwell's Rules for Writers

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.


http://www.listsofnote.com/2012/03/orwells-rules-for-writers.html


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magnificent1rascal
Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012 4:10:55 PM

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DirtyMartini wrote:
Let me go finish that story before it gets pneumonia, or the cockroaches eat it...

And here all along I thought it was dogs that ate stories...oh wait, that's homework...my bad...happy8


To avoid story pneumonia, just be sure you're only writing to one cockroach, or something like that... drunken

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Dreamcatcher
Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012 5:15:12 PM

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DirtyMartini's Tips on How To Write A Great Story

1. Keep Vodka in freezer with a chilled shot glass
2. Take a shot
3. Sit at Corona typewriter with plenty of carbon paper
4. Go to freezer.. take another shot
5. Sit back down at typewriter.. light up a filterless Camel
6. Go to freezer.. take another shot
7. Sit back down at typewriter.. call adult chat line and ask for Wendy
8. Go back to freezer.. take another shot
9. Sit back down at typewriter.. look down and notice you're not wearing any pants and your socks don't match..
10. Go back to freezer.. take another shot
11. Go copy someone else's story.. add some sex with aliens scenes and call it your own..
12. Oh yeah... almost forgot.. Go back to freezer.. take another shot



gypsy
Posted: Saturday, May 19, 2012 2:39:29 AM

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Thank you for posting those tips, Ms. Rascal. They're very helpful.

As for the cockroach question, as long as one of them went by the name of archie, it wouldn't be a problem, I don't think.

Lwinking



The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. Junius



Rumple_deWriter
Posted: Saturday, May 19, 2012 8:23:02 AM

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That roach should be named, Kafka.

The following is submitted for your consideration.

glasses8

---

Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing
Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle

from the New York Times, Writers on Writing Series.


Being a good author is a disappearing act.

By ELMORE LEONARD

These are rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.


1. Openings

Never open a book with weather. If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.


2. Avoid prologues.

They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.

There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s “Sweet Thursday,” but it’s O.K. because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. . . . figure out what the guy’s thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . . Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. . . . Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language. That’s nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don’t have to read it. I don’t want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story.”


3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated,” and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.


4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . .

. . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs.”


5. Keep your exclamation points under control.

You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.


6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use “suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.


7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won’t be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavor of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories “Close Range.”

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

Which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.


9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
Unless you’re Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language or write landscapes in the style of Jim Harrison. But even if you’re good at it, you don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

And finally:


10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. It’s my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing. (Joseph Conrad said something about words getting in the way of what you want to say.)

If I write in scenes and always from the point of view of a particular character—the one whose view best brings the scene to life—I’m able to concentrate on the voices of the characters telling you who they are and how they feel about what they see and what’s going on, and I’m nowhere in sight.

What Steinbeck did in “Sweet Thursday” was title his chapters as an indication, though obscure, of what they cover. “Whom the Gods Love They Drive Nuts” is one, “Lousy Wednesday” another. The third chapter is titled “Hooptedoodle 1” and the 38th chapter “Hooptedoodle 2” as warnings to the reader, as if Steinbeck is saying: “Here’s where you’ll see me taking flights of fancy with my writing, and it won’t get in the way of the story. Skip them if you want.”

“Sweet Thursday” came out in 1954, when I was just beginning to be published, and I’ve never forgotten that prologue.

Did I read the hooptedoodle chapters? Every word.


Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwords.[/ - ROBERT HEINLEIN

Schemers Scheme -- young women talking about young men

OF WAR, AND PEACE, AND MARY BETH: my contest winner, honest

For Whom the Good Tolls an 'RR' and it's short, no kidding

DLizze
Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013 9:27:40 AM

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gypsymoth wrote:
Thank you for posting those tips, Ms. Rascal. They're very helpful.

As for the cockroach question, as long as one of them went by the name of archie, it wouldn't be a problem, I don't think.

Lwinking


archie, as I recall, was good at avoiding hooptedoodle.

"Any book not worth reading twice was not worth reading the first time." Oscar Wilde
magnificent1rascal
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 9:21:59 AM

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Let me reiterate...



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magnificent1rascal
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 9:41:24 AM

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Elmore Leonard wrote:
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.

You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.


Maggie's amendment: ...the way Tom Wolfe and Lee Goldberg do... icon_smile

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Circle_Something
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 10:53:05 AM

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I'm pretty sure someone like Stephen King said something like "don't ever be a writer". I can't remember the exact quote, but it was something of that ilk.

Here's a tip from me, even though I'm not "a great": on occasion, switch your mind off, get out of your own mind, take a step back and just enjoy writing; it shines through when a creator enjoys their craft. Actually, that's pretty much good life advice.

Ghosts, flamingos, guitars and vodka. Don't forget Kitty and Kitten. Eclectic subjects, eccentric stories:

Humorous guide & Recommended Read =^.^= How To Make a Cup of Tea
A flash fiction series :) A Random Moment in Time
A love poem <3 Kitty & Kitten
Editors' Pick! :D I Am The Deep, Dark Woods
And another EP!: The Fragility of Age
=^.^= <3 ^.^

DLizze
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 8:56:46 PM

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Joined: 11/4/2012
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"You asked me about writing--how I did it. There is no trick to it. If you like to write and want to write, you write, no matter where you are or what else you are doing or whether anyone pays any heed. I must have written half a million words (mostly in my journal) before I had anything published, save for a couple of short items in St. Nicholas. If you want to write about feelings, about the end of summer, about growing, write about it. A great deal of writing is not "plotted"--most of my essays have no plot structure, they are a ramble in the woods, or a ramble in the basement of my mind. You ask, "Who cares?" Everybody cares. You say, "It's been written before." Everything has been written before." E. B. White, Letter to "Miss R..."

"Any book not worth reading twice was not worth reading the first time." Oscar Wilde
Survivor
Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013 1:42:36 PM

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To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write.....Gertrude Stein



All I'm saying is you've never seen me crying and eating tacos at the same time.
magnificent1rascal
Posted: Saturday, June 1, 2013 10:42:40 PM

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20 Quotes on Writing by Stephen King

1. “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”

2. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

3. “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

4. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

5. “In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it ‘got boring,’ the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling.”

6. “Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”

7. “So okay – there you are in your room with the shade down and the door shut and the plug pulled out of the base of the telephone. You’ve blown up your TV and committed yourself to a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want.”

8. “When asked, ‘How do you write?’ I invariably answer, ‘One word at a time,’ and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time. But I’ve read you can see that [thing] from space without a telescope.”

9. “Running a close second [as a writing lesson] was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

10. “You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”

11. “If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

12. “Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. It’s not just a question of how-to, you see; it’s also a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only by doing.”

13. “Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

14. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

15. “I’m a slow reader, but I usually get through seventy or eighty books a year, most fiction. I don’t read in order to study the craft; I read because I like to read.”

16. “If you’re just starting out as a writer, you could do worse than strip your television’s electric plug-wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it back into the wall. See what blows, and how far. Just an idea.”

17. “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

18. “I have spent a good many years since–too many, I think–being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction or poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.”

19. “I am always chilled and astonished by the would-be writers who ask me for advice and admit, quite blithely, that they ‘don’t have time to read.’ This is like a guy starting up Mount Everest saying that he didn’t have time to buy any rope or pitons.”

20. “The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.”

http://azevedosreviews.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/stephen-kings-20-quotes-on-writing/

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DirtyMartini
Posted: Sunday, June 2, 2013 4:03:23 AM

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I guess my days as a member of polite society are long over...some would argue that were over before they started, but no mind...

Anyway...good post Maggie...and yeah, Stephen is usually good for some sound advice...and this article is no exception...who am I to argue with Stephen anyway?

I once knew a drinker who had a moderating problem...

gypsy
Posted: Sunday, June 2, 2013 4:53:18 AM

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Maggie, these are great, especially the following:

Stephen King wrote:
10. “You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”

11. “If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

14. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

15. “I’m a slow reader, but I usually get through seventy or eighty books a year, most fiction. I don’t read in order to study the craft; I read because I like to read.”

19. “I am always chilled and astonished by the would-be writers who ask me for advice and admit, quite blithely, that they ‘don’t have time to read.’ This is like a guy starting up Mount Everest saying that he didn’t have time to buy any rope or pitons.”

20. “The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.”





The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. Junius



magnificent1rascal
Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 8:25:28 AM

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Perhaps my favorite advice yet, from Anne Rice:

Anne Rice wrote:
I've often said there are no rules for writers. Let me share the WORST AND MOST HARMFUL ADVICE I was ever given by others.

1) Write what you know.
2) You'll have to polish every sentence you write three or four times.
3) Genius is one tenth talent and nine tenths hard work and
4) You're not a real writer if you don't write every day.

--- ALL OF THAT WAS HARMFUL TO ME. ALL OF IT. IT HURT AND IT SET ME BACK. -----

So I say again, there are no rules. It's amazing how willing people are to tell you that you aren't a real writer unless you conform to their cliches and their rules. My advice? Reject rules and critics out of hand. Define yourself. Do it your way. Make yourself the writer of your dreams. Protect your voice, your vision, your characters, your story, your imagination, your dreams.


https://www.facebook.com/annericefanpage/posts/10152380787665452

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Starfallfantasy
Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 12:01:37 AM

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Here's a few things i found helpful when writing,
1) if your story is going faster in your head than you can type in all the details just draft the key points in small outlines.
2) When your stuck at one part of your story but really want to write another part of the story that is much later then write it down as an individual note and put it aside until the time comes it's ready to be added into the story.
3) Not sure where to go next? retrace your steps and remember how you got there in order to give you clues as to where to go next. Maybe even quickly jot down a few surprises for a not to much further down the road and test them out in your mind see how they play out and if it fits in well with what you're doing.
Hope this helps :)
AvrgBlkGrl
Posted: Saturday, January 17, 2015 6:02:59 PM

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Best advice I ever received was from my favorite graduate school Writer's Forum Professor and Writer in Residence:

Don't rely on some self-sacrificing, invisible angelic power of creativity to visit you, rescue you from yourself, control your eyes, control your thoughts, form your words, move your fingers and create your art. You see, if you do that then "it" will have to sign its name at the bottom. "You" didn't really do anything, did you? At some point, you are going to have to put in the hard work all by your little lonesome. Then, you can call yourself a writer.

Second best advice was at a lecture given by a visiting writer:

Every word should be necessary. Ask yourself why it is there. If you can remove it and it changes nothing, than remove it. It was a waste of energy to write and a waste of energy to be read.

~ Toni Morrison


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AvrgBlkGrl
Posted: Sunday, January 18, 2015 10:30:47 AM

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One more. It's great too.

Make me care.
--Andrew Stanton

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Guest
Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015 5:47:50 AM

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Joined: 7/1/2010
Posts: 25,639
AvrgBlkGrl wrote:


Every word should be necessary. Ask yourself why it is there. If you can remove it and it changes nothing, than remove it. It was a waste of energy to write and a waste of energy to be read.




This sort of unctuous pronouncement really galls me!

Every writer - be they a bestselling author or rank amateur - has a writing style or 'voice'. It's what defines them as a wordsmith. As someone who enjoys words and enjoys using them in my writing to read the sort of self-serving b.s. like the quote above reads as though my style of writing is somehow inferior because it does not conform to someone else's definition of what is 'right' or 'wrong' in writing. I'm sorry, but that sort of attitude is extraordinarily patronising!

If I was to edit my own work and cut out all the (so-called) extraneous words I have used not only would my works be considerably shorter, obviously, but they would also lose that special ingredient that made it MY work. I would, in effect, be losing my writing voice for the sake of a fashion statement by someone whose opinion doesn't really matter one way or another!

One of the big issues around being a writer is the deluge of (allegedly) helpful information out there for beginners. In my opinion most of it can be ditched along with the empty snack packet and chocolate bar wrapper, for that's about as much use it is. My personal advice would be to take and utilse the advice that best serves your needs. You cannot be all things to all people in life so not everybody is going to love what you write. You will, though, establish your own fan-base in time and it is to those readers and fans that your work should be addressed, not the smug, the pompous and the oh-so ful of themselves authors who seem to believe that they are God's gift to literature!
Circle_Something
Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015 7:58:23 AM

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authorised1960 wrote:
AvrgBlkGrl wrote:


Every word should be necessary. Ask yourself why it is there. If you can remove it and it changes nothing, than remove it. It was a waste of energy to write and a waste of energy to be read.




This sort of unctuous pronouncement really galls me!

Every writer - be they a bestselling author or rank amateur - has a writing style or 'voice'. It's what defines them as a wordsmith. As someone who enjoys words and enjoys using them in my writing to read the sort of self-serving b.s. like the quote above reads as though my style of writing is somehow inferior because it does not conform to someone else's definition of what is 'right' or 'wrong' in writing. I'm sorry, but that sort of attitude is extraordinarily patronising!

If I was to edit my own work and cut out all the (so-called) extraneous words I have used not only would my works be considerably shorter, obviously, but they would also lose that special ingredient that made it MY work. I would, in effect, be losing my writing voice for the sake of a fashion statement by someone whose opinion doesn't really matter one way or another!

One of the big issues around being a writer is the deluge of (allegedly) helpful information out there for beginners. In my opinion most of it can be ditched along with the empty snack packet and chocolate bar wrapper, for that's about as much use it is. My personal advice would be to take and utilse the advice that best serves your needs. You cannot be all things to all people in life so not everybody is going to love what you write. You will, though, establish your own fan-base in time and it is to those readers and fans that your work should be addressed, not the smug, the pompous and the oh-so ful of themselves authors who seem to believe that they are God's gift to literature!


I think you've misunderstood the spirit of the quote. It isn't saying that you shouldn't write in your own style, but merely saying to remove unnecessary wastes of space. For example:

"The knife was dull, so he got out his sharpening stone and sharpened it" is an okay sentence, but it doesn't exactly grab you, and it does, in fact, trip over itself because of the repetition of the sound "sharp".

Consider "The man smiled as he listened to the sound of the sharpening stone on his favourite knife."

That's more interesting because I'm showing, rather than telling, that the knife is dull and needing sharpening. There are no wasted words there, no repetition of sounds, and gets the point across rather well, I think.

If you don't like some advice given, the simplest thing to do is to ignore it, not attack it. Those "oh-so ful of themselves authors who seem to believe that they are God's gift to literature!" have worked hard to get to where they are. They have the respect of their peers, publishers and readers. What do you have? Hypocrisy, is what you have. You're sitting there lambasting people for being full of themselves, yet you seem to think that your advice is the best advice in the world.

I'm not perfect, and I admit that in several musings and forum posts, but at least I don't go attacking fellow writers when they give advice.

Ghosts, flamingos, guitars and vodka. Don't forget Kitty and Kitten. Eclectic subjects, eccentric stories:

Humorous guide & Recommended Read =^.^= How To Make a Cup of Tea
A flash fiction series :) A Random Moment in Time
A love poem <3 Kitty & Kitten
Editors' Pick! :D I Am The Deep, Dark Woods
And another EP!: The Fragility of Age
=^.^= <3 ^.^

gypsy
Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015 11:07:20 AM

Rank: Forum Facilitator

Joined: 10/13/2010
Posts: 1,649
Circle_Something wrote:
authorised1960 wrote:
AvrgBlkGrl wrote:


Every word should be necessary. Ask yourself why it is there. If you can remove it and it changes nothing, than remove it. It was a waste of energy to write and a waste of energy to be read.




This sort of unctuous pronouncement really galls me!

Every writer - be they a bestselling author or rank amateur - has a writing style or 'voice'. It's what defines them as a wordsmith. As someone who enjoys words and enjoys using them in my writing to read the sort of self-serving b.s. like the quote above reads as though my style of writing is somehow inferior because it does not conform to someone else's definition of what is 'right' or 'wrong' in writing. I'm sorry, but that sort of attitude is extraordinarily patronising!

If I was to edit my own work and cut out all the (so-called) extraneous words I have used not only would my works be considerably shorter, obviously, but they would also lose that special ingredient that made it MY work. I would, in effect, be losing my writing voice for the sake of a fashion statement by someone whose opinion doesn't really matter one way or another!

One of the big issues around being a writer is the deluge of (allegedly) helpful information out there for beginners. In my opinion most of it can be ditched along with the empty snack packet and chocolate bar wrapper, for that's about as much use it is. My personal advice would be to take and utilse the advice that best serves your needs. You cannot be all things to all people in life so not everybody is going to love what you write. You will, though, establish your own fan-base in time and it is to those readers and fans that your work should be addressed, not the smug, the pompous and the oh-so ful of themselves authors who seem to believe that they are God's gift to literature!


I think you've misunderstood the spirit of the quote. It isn't saying that you shouldn't write in your own style, but merely saying to remove unnecessary wastes of space. For example:

"The knife was dull, so he got out his sharpening stone and sharpened it" is an okay sentence, but it doesn't exactly grab you, and it does, in fact, trip over itself because of the repetition of the sound "sharp".

Consider "The man smiled as he listened to the sound of the sharpening stone on his favourite knife."

That's more interesting because I'm showing, rather than telling, that the knife is dull and needing sharpening. There are no wasted words there, no repetition of sounds, and gets the point across rather well, I think.

If you don't like some advice given, the simplest thing to do is to ignore it, not attack it. Those "oh-so ful of themselves authors who seem to believe that they are God's gift to literature!" have worked hard to get to where they are. They have the respect of their peers, publishers and readers. What do you have? Hypocrisy, is what you have. You're sitting there lambasting people for being full of themselves, yet you seem to think that your advice is the best advice in the world.

I'm not perfect, and I admit that in several musings and forum posts, but at least I don't go attacking fellow writers when they give advice.


Excellent reply, Andrew.

I've outlined in bold a particular part of the previous poster's comment. I'm not sure he is aware that the writer he is referring to, in those words,

authorised1960 wrote:
smug, the pompous and the oh-so ful of themselves authors who seem to believe that they are God's gift to literature!

is Toni Morrison, whose credentials, amongst others, include the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Quote:
Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford; February 18, 1931) is an American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved. She was also commissioned to write the libretto for a new opera, Margaret Garner, first performed in 2005. She won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for Beloved and the Nobel Prize in 1993. On May 29, 2012, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


But in fact, that should not even matter, because the reaction was taken as being personal, which it was not. Far from it. No one in particular was addressed, so there was no need for such umbrage to be taken.

And as you stated, Andrew, do not attack it. In no way was the quote addresed to anyone in particular.

It is also quite out of place, because AvrgBlkGrl was relating advice that was, to her, quite personal and meaningful.

So yes, it would really be nice if some people didn't take everything personally, when that is not the intent.




The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. Junius



AvrgBlkGrl
Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015 11:26:06 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/17/2014
Posts: 84
Location: In the window seat, United States
Circle_Something wrote:
authorised1960 wrote:
AvrgBlkGrl wrote:


Every word should be necessary. Ask yourself why it is there. If you can remove it and it changes nothing, than remove it. It was a waste of energy to write and a waste of energy to be read.




This sort of unctuous pronouncement really galls me!

Every writer - be they a bestselling author or rank amateur - has a writing style or 'voice'. It's what defines them as a wordsmith. As someone who enjoys words and enjoys using them in my writing to read the sort of self-serving b.s. like the quote above reads as though my style of writing is somehow inferior because it does not conform to someone else's definition of what is 'right' or 'wrong' in writing. I'm sorry, but that sort of attitude is extraordinarily patronising!

If I was to edit my own work and cut out all the (so-called) extraneous words I have used not only would my works be considerably shorter, obviously, but they would also lose that special ingredient that made it MY work. I would, in effect, be losing my writing voice for the sake of a fashion statement by someone whose opinion doesn't really matter one way or another!

One of the big issues around being a writer is the deluge of (allegedly) helpful information out there for beginners. In my opinion most of it can be ditched along with the empty snack packet and chocolate bar wrapper, for that's about as much use it is. My personal advice would be to take and utilse the advice that best serves your needs. You cannot be all things to all people in life so not everybody is going to love what you write. You will, though, establish your own fan-base in time and it is to those readers and fans that your work should be addressed, not the smug, the pompous and the oh-so ful of themselves authors who seem to believe that they are God's gift to literature!


I think you've misunderstood the spirit of the quote. It isn't saying that you shouldn't write in your own style, but merely saying to remove unnecessary wastes of space. For example:

"The knife was dull, so he got out his sharpening stone and sharpened it" is an okay sentence, but it doesn't exactly grab you, and it does, in fact, trip over itself because of the repetition of the sound "sharp".

Consider "The man smiled as he listened to the sound of the sharpening stone on his favourite knife."

That's more interesting because I'm showing, rather than telling, that the knife is dull and needing sharpening. There are no wasted words there, no repetition of sounds, and gets the point across rather well, I think.

If you don't like some advice given, the simplest thing to do is to ignore it, not attack it. Those "oh-so ful of themselves authors who seem to believe that they are God's gift to literature!" have worked hard to get to where they are. They have the respect of their peers, publishers and readers. What do you have? Hypocrisy, is what you have. You're sitting there lambasting people for being full of themselves, yet you seem to think that your advice is the best advice in the world.

I'm not perfect, and I admit that in several musings and forum posts, but at least I don't go attacking fellow writers when they give advice.


Well said and thank you CS. I always look forward to reading you comments. flower

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AvrgBlkGrl
Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015 11:56:22 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/17/2014
Posts: 84
Location: In the window seat, United States
gypsy wrote:
Circle_Something wrote:
authorised1960 wrote:
AvrgBlkGrl wrote:


Every word should be necessary. Ask yourself why it is there. If you can remove it and it changes nothing, than remove it. It was a waste of energy to write and a waste of energy to be read.




This sort of unctuous pronouncement really galls me!

Every writer - be they a bestselling author or rank amateur - has a writing style or 'voice'. It's what defines them as a wordsmith. As someone who enjoys words and enjoys using them in my writing to read the sort of self-serving b.s. like the quote above reads as though my style of writing is somehow inferior because it does not conform to someone else's definition of what is 'right' or 'wrong' in writing. I'm sorry, but that sort of attitude is extraordinarily patronising!

If I was to edit my own work and cut out all the (so-called) extraneous words I have used not only would my works be considerably shorter, obviously, but they would also lose that special ingredient that made it MY work. I would, in effect, be losing my writing voice for the sake of a fashion statement by someone whose opinion doesn't really matter one way or another!

One of the big issues around being a writer is the deluge of (allegedly) helpful information out there for beginners. In my opinion most of it can be ditched along with the empty snack packet and chocolate bar wrapper, for that's about as much use it is. My personal advice would be to take and utilse the advice that best serves your needs. You cannot be all things to all people in life so not everybody is going to love what you write. You will, though, establish your own fan-base in time and it is to those readers and fans that your work should be addressed, not the smug, the pompous and the oh-so ful of themselves authors who seem to believe that they are God's gift to literature!


I think you've misunderstood the spirit of the quote. It isn't saying that you shouldn't write in your own style, but merely saying to remove unnecessary wastes of space. For example:

"The knife was dull, so he got out his sharpening stone and sharpened it" is an okay sentence, but it doesn't exactly grab you, and it does, in fact, trip over itself because of the repetition of the sound "sharp".

Consider "The man smiled as he listened to the sound of the sharpening stone on his favourite knife."

That's more interesting because I'm showing, rather than telling, that the knife is dull and needing sharpening. There are no wasted words there, no repetition of sounds, and gets the point across rather well, I think.

If you don't like some advice given, the simplest thing to do is to ignore it, not attack it. Those "oh-so ful of themselves authors who seem to believe that they are God's gift to literature!" have worked hard to get to where they are. They have the respect of their peers, publishers and readers. What do you have? Hypocrisy, is what you have. You're sitting there lambasting people for being full of themselves, yet you seem to think that your advice is the best advice in the world.

I'm not perfect, and I admit that in several musings and forum posts, but at least I don't go attacking fellow writers when they give advice.


Excellent reply, Andrew.

I've outlined in bold a particular part of the previous poster's comment. I'm not sure he is aware that the writer he is referring to, in those words,

authorised1960 wrote:
smug, the pompous and the oh-so ful of themselves authors who seem to believe that they are God's gift to literature!

is Toni Morrison, whose credentials, amongst others, include the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Quote:
Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford; February 18, 1931) is an American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved. She was also commissioned to write the libretto for a new opera, Margaret Garner, first performed in 2005. She won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for Beloved and the Nobel Prize in 1993. On May 29, 2012, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


But in fact, that should not even matter, because the reaction was taken as being personal, which it was not. Far from it. No one in particular was addressed, so there was no need for such umbrage to be taken.

And as you stated, Andrew, do not attack it. In no way was the quote addresed to anyone in particular.

It is also quite out of place, because AvrgBlkGrl was relating advice that was, to her, quite personal and meaningful.

So yes, it would really be nice if some people didn't take everything personally, when that is not the intent.


Gypsy, you definitely speak with knowledge and I appreciate your wisdom. I was simply responding to the thread topic in the same manner as so many others. You are so right. I was speaking of advice that I've benefited from and any advice from Toni Morrison is definitely worth listening to for me--specifically in regards to my writing goals and the reason I'm here. She has proven herself worthy. It may or may not benefit some one else based on their personal objectives. And like you, I can respect that.

My goal is always to encourage the positive in writing and life, share and keep smiling, never to inflict myself on anyone. I hope that my SS friends know this.

Thanks so much for your comment Gypsy.



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frogprince
Posted: Saturday, February 7, 2015 5:28:25 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 9/15/2012
Posts: 510
Location: Bliss, United States
I have stayed out of this long enough. There is a very small book that was written a long time ago. Every potential serious writer should carry in his or her bag of tricks. I refer to what I lovingly know as "Strunk and White." Its real title is "Elements of Style. Anyone who has taken a serious writing cours should have it. I was trained as a computer enginer. My very first English class was a writing class. Believe me I was surprised that an engineer would need such a book. But it helped me in my 47 years as an engineer. I also have a very nice list of other books that I personally use and give to writers as reference material. Guess whay they are all *free*.

I just keep hopping from place to place.
I never stay too long.
I just keep moving singing a song.
So you better stop me if you want to chat.
Or you will never know where I am at.
AvrgBlkGrl
Posted: Saturday, February 14, 2015 10:57:25 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/17/2014
Posts: 84
Location: In the window seat, United States
frogprince wrote:
I have stayed out of this long enough. There is a very small book that was written a long time ago. Every potential serious writer should carry in his or her bag of tricks. I refer to what I lovingly know as "Strunk and White." Its real title is "Elements of Style. Anyone who has taken a serious writing cours should have it. I was trained as a computer enginer. My very first English class was a writing class. Believe me I was surprised that an engineer would need such a book. But it helped me in my 47 years as an engineer. I also have a very nice list of other books that I personally use and give to writers as reference material. Guess whay they are all *free*.

***************


OMG! "Elements of Style" is a necessity. I still highly recommend it to my students and I cut my teeth on it in high school. Excellent reference Calvin. ❤️

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AvrgBlkGrl
Posted: Saturday, February 14, 2015 12:23:25 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/17/2014
Posts: 84
Location: In the window seat, United States
I both hate and am obsessed with revising.

William C. Knott, in The Craft of Fiction, cogently observes that "anyone can write--and almost everyone you meet these days is writing. However, only the writers know how to rewrite. It is this ability alone that turns the amateur into a pro."

I constantly remind myself of that quote.
I don't want to be a person that just writes, I want to be a writer that happens to be human (imperfect). That helps me appreciate the value of the rewriting process and not ignore it.

Janet Burroway suggests asking yourself these questions to unearth your weaknesses, in her book Writing Fiction. She also suggests having someone you respect as a writer answer these questions for you as well. These are quite general pitfalls:

What is my story about?

Are there irrelevant scenes?

Why should the reader turn from the first page to the last?

Is it original? (I'll elaborate here. "Almost every writer thinks first, in some way or the other, of the familiar, the usual, the given...comb the work for clichés and labor to find the exact, the honest, and the fresh.")

Is it clear?

Is it self-conscious? [I call this self-indulgent] *see note

Where is it too long?

Where is it underdeveloped in character, imagery, theme?

Where is it too general?

*note: Probably the most famous piece of advice to the rewriter is William Faulkner's "kill all your darlings." When you are carried away with the purple of your prose, the music of your alliteration, the hilarity of your wit, the profundity of your insights, then the chances are that you are having a better time writing than the reader will have reading. No reader will forgive you, and no reader should. Just tell the story. The style will follow of itself if you just tell the story. (p. 338, Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft)


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magnificent1rascal
Posted: Friday, May 31, 2019 12:23:55 AM

Rank: Administration
Moderator

Joined: 10/12/2010
Posts: 2,352
Location: On the ragged edge of disaster
Zadie Smith’s Rules for Writers

1. When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.

2. When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.

3. Don’t romanticise your “vocation”. You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no “writer’s lifestyle”. All that matters is what you leave on the page.

4. Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth doing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.

5. Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.

6. Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.

7. Work on a computer that is disconnected from the ­internet.

8. Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.

9. Don’t confuse honours with achievement.

10. Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.


https://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2013/06/10/zadie-smiths-rules-for-writers/

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