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(Some Guy)   "The first rule of write club is no one talks about write club" isn't one of Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules for Good Writing but "if this is your first time here, you have to write" should be. This is your Fark Writer's Thread, breaking the rules edition   (writingclasses.com) divider line
    More: CSB, Literature, Elmore Leonard, prolific writers of our time, genre writers, New York Times article, Leonard's secret, dozen novels, Writing  
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552 clicks; posted to Main » and Discussion » on 23 Sep 2020 at 12:13 PM (5 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2020-09-23 12:02:16 PM  
1.      Never open a book with weather.
2.      Avoid prologues.
3.      Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4.      Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said"...he admonished gravely.
5.      Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6.      Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7.      Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8.      Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9.      Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

This list of rules came up on Twitter recently and was commented on by a couple of writers, one of whom made the obvious but necessary point that even if you follow these rules religiously, you can still produce very bad fiction.  There are obvious exceptions to each one (1984 for #1 right off the bat) suggesting something more along the lines of a Pirates of the Caribbean quote than Fight Club: they're more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. I'll admit I break rules all the time, notably the "Writer's threads must be submitted each Wednesday" one so I apologize for that.  Sorry!

Fark Fiction Anthology Update!

Good god I have been buried under work, so I am behind where I expected to be.  The crack team of editors behind the Anthology has scored all of the entries, and we've put together a table of contents, and I am supposed to be sending out acceptance and rejection letters, not to mention doing the final line edits and prepping the manuscript.  Uh, I'm just gonna say that not enough has been done on that front.  I may be forced to come down with acute eye issues this week or next to get things done ("Sorry, boss, but I just can't see my working today") although I'd like to avoid that if possible, so I may just quarantine myself this weekend and get as much done as possible.

Writing Question of the Week:

What rules do you consciously and purposely break?  What do you follow as rigidly as you can?
 
2020-09-23 12:28:37 PM  
I wish I could say I'm purposefully smashing through grammar walls like the koolaide man.

I do try to avoid prologues when writing.  John August or Craig Maizen on thier scriptnotes podcast years ago meantioned starting the story in the right place.  This has kept me from writing a prologue on several projects which was probably for the best as they typically were info dumps.
 
2020-09-23 12:31:17 PM  
King breaks 8 & 9 all the time.
 
2020-09-23 12:38:28 PM  

toraque: 1.      Never open a book with weather.
2.      Avoid prologues.
3.      Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4.      Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said"...he admonished gravely.
5.      Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6.      Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7.      Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8.      Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9.      Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

This list of rules came up on Twitter recently and was commented on by a couple of writers, one of whom made the obvious but necessary point that even if you follow these rules religiously, you can still produce very bad fiction.  There are obvious exceptions to each one (1984 for #1 right off the bat) suggesting something more along the lines of a Pirates of the Caribbean quote than Fight Club: they're more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. I'll admit I break rules all the time, notably the "Writer's threads must be submitted each Wednesday" one so I apologize for that.  Sorry!

Fark Fiction Anthology Update!

Good god I have been buried under work, so I am behind where I expected to be.  The crack team of editors behind the Anthology has scored all of the entries, and we've put together a table of contents, and I am supposed to be sending out acceptance and rejection letters, not to mention doing the final line edits and prepping the manuscript.  Uh, I'm just gonna say that not enough has been done on that front.  I may be forced to come down with acute eye issues this week or next to get things done ("Sorry, boss, but I just can't see my working today") although I'd like to avoid that if possible, so I may just quarantine myself this weekend and get as much done as possible.

Writing Question of the Week:

What rules do you consciously and purposely break?  What do you follow as rigidly as you can?


Right. The problem with this list is that it isn't particularly useful. Following these rules would only negligibly if at all improve someone's writing.

/ I frequently, intentionally begin sentences with conjunctions.
// Even though I think "whom" sounds stuffy and silly, and even though in theory I want to stop because it's become archaic, I'm pretty conscientious about "properly" using who/whom.
 
2020-09-23 12:39:17 PM  
You can't let rules get in the way of a good story. As soon as you adopt a rule about spelling dialogue properly, you'll get someone who insists on saying "I ain't gonna do it." Having said that, don't break your own rules unless there's a good reason. And don't be afraid to give advice to other writers. And don't be afraid to ignore advice from other writers.

I tend to break the rule about starting with your widest POV. For one thing, it conflicts with the rule about starting small and building. For another, I try to introduce characters before the plot gets into gear.

I try to follow the "rules" as laid out by the Turkey City Lexicon. It's really a laundry list of things not to do: tell don't show, attribute dialogue with "said," and so on. My main rule is "What Would John D. MacDonald Do?"
 
2020-09-23 12:44:43 PM  
Hey, so, I apologize if I've asked this before (I've been meaning to ask, and may have asked and forgotten), but my wife is writing her first book and looking at self-publishing. I think she has it mostly written and she's working on editing the thing now. For those that have self-published, what do you suggest in terms of editing? I'm under the impression that the online or free-to-use programs are... questionable, but most professional editors charge on a per-word basis.

/Trying to help her with what she's writing
//Not sure what genre
///She won't let me see it.
 
2020-09-23 12:49:46 PM  
8.      Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

This one I understand if you're going for the Everyman character. However, if you're writing an alien character or some monstrous other, most of the fun is in the description!
 
2020-09-23 1:00:10 PM  
I've had an adversarial relationship with grammar going on over 40 years now, dating back to the Noun lie in First Grade. Nouns are "persons, places, or things," right? So what's a verb? A verb is a word, ergo it is a thing, and therefore a noun.

And yet it's not just verbs, it's adjectives, adverbs, even pronouns! Like somehow a capitalized "thing" stops being a "thing" and becomes instead this other *checks notes* "thing?" Yeah, I think not.
If grammar can't even get its shiat together with naming things, I see no reason to bow to its opinion on fark all else.
 
2020-09-23 1:02:59 PM  
I actually sorta break rule #3 all the time. most of my saids are body movements 'he slammed his fist on the table, "This will not stand!' " (Then again, I am Italian)
 
2020-09-23 1:07:59 PM  

Sim Tree: I actually sorta break rule #3 all the time. most of my saids are body movements 'he slammed his fist on the table, "This will not stand!' " (Then again, I am Italian)


That's often better than a dialogue tag as it shows who is speaking and gives an action that can modify that speech. I try to use that in place of "he said, slamming his fist on the table"
 
2020-09-23 1:11:50 PM  

Bootleg: I'm under the impression that the online or free-to-use programs are... questionable, but most professional editors charge on a per-word basis.

Editors charge for a reason.

I'd approach this by asking your wife how big she realistically imagines this getting.  And by "realistically", I mean at some point you're going to have to invest on a scale similar to your target RoI.  If she's OK with this being a side project for funsies (there is NOTHING wrong with that), a professional editor is serious overkill.  OTOH if she's aiming to become the Next Big Thing, ambitions are fine, but then you guys shouldn't waste a second deliberating the cost of a professional editor.  Odds are before the end, you'll be hiring a lot more help than just that, anyway.  In a way, you'd be starting your own business.  (If that sounds intimidating, that's. . . kind of the point, I guess.  You'd be spending money with no assurances of making any of it back, so I don't think I'd be doing you a favor by dancing around the issue.)

Writing tends to be visualized only in terms of pulp and success stories because technically, the cost of entry is so low.  So it might help to compare the "post-production" to that of a movie.  There's your Manos: The Hands of Fate and your Ben-Hur (1959), of course.  A cheap project will show it.  An expensive one will look it.  (There's also the risk of making Battlefield Earth but that's life.)  This comparison opens up a new path -- the low-budget hit, like that of Clerks.  Which was essentially self-edited, and Kevin Smith suffered from extreme sleep deprivation.

I guess what I'm getting at is there's no right answer so much as a decision to make:  aim low, spend high, or work your tails off.
 
2020-09-23 1:23:56 PM  
As a screenwriter with less wordcount at his disposal, I will turn nouns into verbs if it saves space. Ed smashes his thumb and helicopters his hammer across the backyard.

I'm also a stickler for writing okay instead of OK, but I'm not sure why.

And I have a habit of writing things assplode instead of explode, but only in comedy.
 
2020-09-23 1:25:23 PM  
It's one thing when you're writing a tech manual and they're editing for length and clarity, but when it's fiction I am frustrated when editors mess with the character voice, when you're trying to capture a certain flavor of dialect to add realism.

Any recommendations on finding an editor who can "hear" your voice and style?
 
2020-09-23 1:42:41 PM  
As a fanfic writer...  #3 & #4 seem to be problematic.  Repeating 'said' every few lines during a conversation gets repetitive, so I generally use a variant (stated, commented, admonished, yelled, complained...) every other paragraph.

/I published a chapter today.
 
2020-09-23 1:57:44 PM  
What rules do you consciously and purposely break?  What do you follow as rigidly as you can?

Adverbs are actually useful. It's absolutely possible to go overboard, like in this sentence, but when carefully placed they can definitely enhance the effect you're precisely aiming for.

Using them to modify 'said' is risky, but they are particularly valuable when they indicate a character is saying something in an unexpected or unusual way. "I guess we're pretty well farked now," she said cheerfully. When context is leading the reader to expect something, a single adverb can subvert it and help characterization at the same time.

Details about characters and settings should only be there if they further the story. That said... the more alien, unexpected, or abnormal they are, the more details they'll need to bring the reader along.
 
2020-09-23 2:31:03 PM  

toraque: 1.      Never open a book with weather.
2.      Avoid prologues.
3.      Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4.      Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said"...he admonished gravely.
5.      Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6.      Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7.      Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8.      Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9.      Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

This list of rules came up on Twitter recently and was commented on by a couple of writers, one of whom made the obvious but necessary point that even if you follow these rules religiously, you can still produce very bad fiction.  There are obvious exceptions to each one (1984 for #1 right off the bat) suggesting something more along the lines of a Pirates of the Caribbean quote than Fight Club: they're more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. I'll admit I break rules all the time, notably the "Writer's threads must be submitted each Wednesday" one so I apologize for that.  Sorry!

Fark Fiction Anthology Update!

Good god I have been buried under work, so I am behind where I expected to be.  The crack team of editors behind the Anthology has scored all of the entries, and we've put together a table of contents, and I am supposed to be sending out acceptance and rejection letters, not to mention doing the final line edits and prepping the manuscript.  Uh, I'm just gonna say that not enough has been done on that front.  I may be forced to come down with acute eye issues this week or next to get things done ("Sorry, boss, but I just can't see my working today") although I'd like to avoid that if possible, so I may just quarantine myself this weekend and get as much done as possible.

Writing Question of the Week:

What rules do you consciously and purp ...


I generally follow those rules.  They are similar to Stephen King's advice.

I've also read four Elmore Leonard books in the last six months.  He tends to keep me in the right head space when I myself am writing.

However, now all my protagonists are likable ex-cons looking to better themselves in a more acceptable business using their ex-con skills.  (kidding)
 
2020-09-23 2:39:22 PM  

AtomPeepers: It's one thing when you're writing a tech manual and they're editing for length and clarity, but when it's fiction I am frustrated when editors mess with the character voice, when you're trying to capture a certain flavor of dialect to add realism.

Any recommendations on finding an editor who can "hear" your voice and style?


I don't have advice about the editor part, but I will say this about dialect: it is extremely hard to pull off well, which is I would imagine why Leonard advises against it. And it often comes across as offensive.
 
2020-09-23 2:41:19 PM  
I'm more keen to follow Ursula K. LeGuin's advice on writing. Particularly something that she said in a lecture, not in print. She was giving a talk at Powell's Books and said something to the effect of that there were a lot of books on writing at the store with a lot of rules, but the only rules that mattered are the rules of the story that you write. I took that to mean right down to shaping even the eloquence of your writing voice, and hang the current rules/trends.

Of course you need to satisfy someone else's standards, or else you aren't going to go very far except into self-publishing. But I think I can quibble a bit over why I think a prologue or epilogue doesn't have to be forbidden, or whether I can use an adverb or not.
 
2020-09-23 4:00:08 PM  
If I have dialog between two characters I tend to bend 3 and 4 at least at the start, agreeing with the idea of using an action between the dialog to indicate who is talking.  I end up having the characters take turns after that, not even using any words outside of the dialog, until the conversation ends, I need someone out of turn, or a third character to show up.

I haven't published anything yet.  I just like writing as a hobby.
 
2020-09-23 4:10:12 PM  
8.      Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9.      Don't go into great detail describing places and things.


These are two things that make Douglas Adams so fun to read and/or listen to. If I were to quote him, it would almost certainly involve at least one of those.

/Ditto for Stephen Fry.
 
2020-09-23 4:31:58 PM  

BretMavrik: 8.      Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9.      Don't go into great detail describing places and things.

These are two things that make Douglas Adams so fun to read and/or listen to. If I were to quote him, it would almost certainly involve at least one of those.

/Ditto for Stephen Fry.


Well, having recently recently read several Elmore Leonard books, note how he says "avoid" and "great detail" (both very subjective terms).  Let's just say that he, for the most part, follows these guidelines, but when he feels like it, he doesn't.  One thing he doesn't do is slow down the action by getting carried away with description.  (both rules 8 and 9 involve description)

Do all writers need to be the same type of writer?  Not if you're a master of the form.  Not too many masters out there, however.

Elmore Leonard and Ernest Hemingway both demonstrate how so much can be done when you don't assume the reader is a total moron.
 
2020-09-23 5:11:45 PM  
[*snurk* I'll share something I wrote after reading some similarly unhelpful rules on Tumblr:]

You know what, I love a challenge.

You can hit up my Tumblr and read the post just prior to this for context, but I have just been told by a voice on the internet that arbitrary rules will help me grow as a writer. As an example, these are rules from a workshop that people apparently paid money to follow:

No fantasy, supernatural, or sci-fi elements.
No guns.
No characters crying.
No conflict resolution through deus ex machina.
No deaths.

There are actual technical reasons, like wanting the students to focus on character building and use their personal experiences, but apparently that's too technical. The arbitrary rules about content serve a purpose. They will force me to pay attention to technical matters.

Let's find out if that's true! I will try not to proofread. My spelling is usually atrocious, but the internet is pretty good at correcting me, so this may be better quality than I intend.---

Brad and Jessica were walking out of a movie theater. They were both very plausible people. Not in the archaic sense that they were friendly, but narratively so. They had ordinary experiences and live ordinary lives just like you and me. In fact, they were exactly like me. Except plausible. so they weren't agender or autistic and they hadn't done peyote in the desert trying to cure their depression or even visited England that one time. Mainly they sat around the house and read things on the internet. And they were both women. Brads real name was Bradilina, but that didn't seem plausible or ordinary enough so she changed it to "Brad" and also her pronouns.
Also they had never started a fire making a cheese sandwich, because that would be silly.

They had just seen a movie where nobody did anything more exciting than drinking a cup of coffee and they both agreed it was very plausible and relatable. They had both drunk coffee and many people did. It tasted like coffee, a flavor not dissimiler from and yet totally unlike tea.

"Do you remember that we read in the newspaper this morning that a maniac had escaped from the asylum, thus foreshadowing his existence and establishing him as a narrative element before his appearance?" said Brad.

"Yes, and I believe he is also a woman, like the author."

"Well, a maniac can't be epected to make sense in his use of pronouns," Brad said. "That is also extremely plausible!"

Just then, the maniac jumped out of the alley! Being a maniac, he laughed maniacally. "I have schozotypical disorder accompanied by delusions! I have ghosts in my blood! But not really! It is a delusion, which people do have!"

"You have misspeeled 'schizotypical,'" Jessica said.

"I'm a maniac with delusions, what's your excuse?" said Froot Loops. "Also, my name is Froot Loops. And I have a gun!" He stuffed his hand in his pocket. "The author's mother was once accosted by a man with a gun, thus making it a personal experience. Fortunately, he just wanted a job. But I want your wallets!"

"The police are looking for you and I think we should establish that," Brad said.

"Of course the police ar looking for me, they know I have escaped and there was a story about me in the paper," sad Froot Loops. "Nevertheless, thank you for establishing that fact for any readers and for the ghosts in my blood, who can be quite dense sometimes."

"They are not real ghosts," Brad reminded the readers.

"I'm not certain 'Froot Loops' is a plausible name for a person," said Jessica. Perhaps you should change it to 'Brad' as well."

"It would confuse the readers, Jessica," said Froot Loops.

"I am wearing a personalized sweater and that is how you knew my name," said Jessica. "There are no supernatural elements in thsis story whatsoever."

"Of course not," said Froot Loops.

"I find this experience very stressful and I believe I may cry," said Jessica.

"There will be no crying in this story, Jessica!" said Froot Loops, threatening with his hand jammed in his pocket. "It will force the author to find a more subtle or emotionally-compelling way to express your grief."

Jessica had a bicycle horn in her purse and she honked it mournfully. "Oh, what grief I am experiencing right now. Boy, howdy."

Just then, the police arrived in a squad car.

"My name is officer Godfrey and I have just arrived in this machine," he said, patting the car. "However, we have already established that the police were looking fro Froot Loops, and now we are here."

"Look out, he has a gun!" cried Brad, thereby participating in the resolution of his story.

"THERE WILL BE NO CRYING IN THIS STORY!" said Froot Loops, in a loud voice. He removed an unbreakable comb from his pocket and gestured empatically.

"Well, that takes care of the gun," said Officer Godfrey. "I am also a woman like the author, but maybe my pronouns are a typo. Come along, Froot Loops."

"Am am experiencing a stroke brought on by my established maniacal state!" said Froot Loops, falling to the pavement and twitching. "I believe I am entering a persistent vegetative state, and I will stop talking."

"Just so long as you don't die, froot Loops," said Officer Godfrey. "That's a good girl." She picked up Froot Loops and stuffed him into the trunk of the squad care. "Criminal apprehensions be police officers happen every day and are quite plausible!"

"Quite so," said Brad.

"Let's end the story right now before Froot Loops suffocates in the trunk of your car!" said Jessica.

---Well?

If following the arbitrary rules is completely divorced from actually producing anything like good writing, we don't need to accompany our technical advice with arbitrary rules. It's not the rules but the technical advice I need to improve my writing, along with a teacher who can look at that hot mess and apply it.

[I went on to do a series on technical advice, if you're interested. I'm not done with it yet and I may never get through all Vinny's rules, but I did try to be helpful.]
 
2020-09-23 5:23:19 PM  
There was a chain letter* going around in high school that had advice for writers and I'm so frustrated because I've been looking for a copy of it for decades.

I just remember it included: 
- Name your character Derf

- You can only write stream of consciousness once you've learned all the rules of grammar. You're not ee cummins; you need to earn the right.

And my personal favorite:
- If you get horny, don't stop to masturbate. Keep writing until you're no longer horny.

* the internet wasn't really a thing to the general public at the time
 
2020-09-23 7:38:17 PM  
Find an alternative for "rang out" when describing the sound of a gun shot. Rang is a silly metaphor for a gunshot.
 
2020-09-23 8:39:21 PM  
Just listened to (part of) an interview with a relatively prominent author, so I am really getting a kick out of some of these replies.
 
2020-09-23 8:49:33 PM  

sorceror: What rules do you consciously and purposely break?  What do you follow as rigidly as you can?

Adverbs are actually useful. It's absolutely possible to go overboard, like in this sentence, but when carefully placed they can definitely enhance the effect you're precisely aiming for.

Using them to modify 'said' is risky, but they are particularly valuable when they indicate a character is saying something in an unexpected or unusual way. "I guess we're pretty well farked now," she said cheerfully. When context is leading the reader to expect something, a single adverb can subvert it and help characterization at the same time.

Details about characters and settings should only be there if they further the story. That said... the more alien, unexpected, or abnormal they are, the more details they'll need to bring the reader along.


I try and avoid modify "said" with adverbs by structuring the paragraph so it is obvious who is speaking. There are occasions, though, where I think modifiers are appropriate and stress the emotion or danger of a situation. For example:

" Ice formed in her stomach. It blasted away the remaining fog and left her feeling hard and brittle, preternaturally aware. Damn, but they were on edge. She swallowed, throat suddenly dry. "Hello, David! Hello, Paul! Everything is fine here," she said brightly. She paused and collected her thoughts, trying not to give into sudden panic. She slowly said, "Please tell Wallace that the Westminster file is in the Tesla's glove-box. Tina has the car key." This was that week's safety phrase. It had been drilled into her by Paul Cartier before she had left for Copenhagen. She said the sentence very carefully, to get it exactly right."

Overkill? Or not?
 
2020-09-23 8:50:49 PM  

PaulRB: generally follow those rules. They are similar to Stephen King's advice.


Except, as pointed out, King breaks rules 8 and 9 all the time.
 
2020-09-23 9:06:17 PM  

Kasmiur: I wish I could say I'm purposefully smashing through grammar walls like the koolaide man.

I do try to avoid prologues when writing.  John August or Craig Maizen on thier scriptnotes podcast years ago meantioned starting the story in the right place.  This has kept me from writing a prologue on several projects which was probably for the best as they typically were info dumps.


Counterpoint: https://vdocuments.mx/code-of-the-lif​e​maker-5881d8dbe8b97.html

IIRC, the Prologue all by itself either won a Hugo or was nominated for one,

In a way, it was an info dump, but of the kind that is a setup/context for the main story.

Also, at 4,775 words, it was kinda long.
 
2020-09-23 9:09:05 PM  

mrs john amber: I'm more keen to follow Ursula K. LeGuin's advice on writing. Particularly something that she said in a lecture, not in print. She was giving a talk at Powell's Books and said something to the effect of that there were a lot of books on writing at the store with a lot of rules, but the only rules that mattered are the rules of the story that you write. I took that to mean right down to shaping even the eloquence of your writing voice, and hang the current rules/trends.

Of course you need to satisfy someone else's standards, or else you aren't going to go very far except into self-publishing. But I think I can quibble a bit over why I think a prologue or epilogue doesn't have to be forbidden, or whether I can use an adverb or not.


That kinda goes along with the rule that a story should be exactly as long as it needs to be.
 
2020-09-23 9:13:35 PM  

theresnothinglft: If I have dialog between two characters I tend to bend 3 and 4 at least at the start, agreeing with the idea of using an action between the dialog to indicate who is talking.  I end up having the characters take turns after that, not even using any words outside of the dialog, until the conversation ends, I need someone out of turn, or a third character to show up.


I do this as well, but occasionally throw in a "X said" or "the X did Y" in the same paragraph as the quote, just to reassure the reader as to who is talking.
 
2020-09-23 10:17:04 PM  

Harlee: PaulRB: generally follow those rules. They are similar to Stephen King's advice.

Except, as pointed out, King breaks rules 8 and 9 all the time.


As noted, I "generally" follow those rules, except when I don't.
 
2020-09-23 10:47:46 PM  

PaulRB: Harlee: PaulRB: generally follow those rules. They are similar to Stephen King's advice.

Except, as pointed out, King breaks rules 8 and 9 all the time.

As noted, I "generally" follow those rules, except when I don't.



My remark was directed at King. But I guess he does the same thing (follow, except when not). So, yeah, POTC-type guidelines.
 
2020-09-23 11:06:41 PM  
Slight change of subject from guidelines, if I may.

I'd like some writing advice. Due to all the crap going on (politics, pandemic, climate change, probably Giant Meteor), my mind is going to a very dark place. I find myself losing interest in continuing on the novel, and find myself revisiting (of all things) my "vampire fiction" phase of about 25 years ago, when I was similarly depressed.

Basically, my head is turning away from a "helpful rules of life" space towards a "kill them all horribly" space. I'm writing about the aliens and their assorted screwups, and suddenly don't have the vision anymore. It's like a spigot was turned off. I'm out of ideas right now.

But I'm suddenly getting all kinds of engrossing ideas for some short stories about some protagonist bad-ass bloodsuckers (no, they don't sparkle).

So: tough it out with the novel? Or set it aside for a month, or two, or three, and kill off a few of the Human Herd?

What do the writers here on Fark do? Do you get these shifts in obsessions? What do you do about them? Soldier on? Or give in to them?

I'm afraid that if I soldier on my writing will be even more crappy than it usually is.

Thanks.
 
2020-09-23 11:25:26 PM  

Harlee: Slight change of subject from guidelines, if I may.

I'd like some writing advice. Due to all the crap going on (politics, pandemic, climate change, probably Giant Meteor), my mind is going to a very dark place. I find myself losing interest in continuing on the novel, and find myself revisiting (of all things) my "vampire fiction" phase of about 25 years ago, when I was similarly depressed.

Basically, my head is turning away from a "helpful rules of life" space towards a "kill them all horribly" space. I'm writing about the aliens and their assorted screwups, and suddenly don't have the vision anymore. It's like a spigot was turned off. I'm out of ideas right now.

But I'm suddenly getting all kinds of engrossing ideas for some short stories about some protagonist bad-ass bloodsuckers (no, they don't sparkle).

So: tough it out with the novel? Or set it aside for a month, or two, or three, and kill off a few of the Human Herd?

What do the writers here on Fark do? Do you get these shifts in obsessions? What do you do about them? Soldier on? Or give in to them?

I'm afraid that if I soldier on my writing will be even more crappy than it usually is.

Thanks.


I would say your brain's "core" is in a different place than it was 6 months ago (pretty much everyone's would be after all this)

I would take four steps, in order:

Take a break from writing entirely for about three days, and let everything resynch.

Read through the entirety of your "happy" book and see if that doesn't get you back in the groove for that one again. If so, there you are.

If not, put it on hiatus for a while; you no longer have a "source" for that emotion ready.

But above All Else, come back to the Happy book every once in awhile and see if you can't bang it out. Don't let it sit on the back burner for all of time. Start writing a couple pages of it and see if you can't get the flow going again. If not, try it again next time, but keep that momentum going for when you're ready.
 
2020-09-24 12:08:57 AM  

YabbaDabbaDouchebag: I'm also a stickler for writing okay instead of OK, but I'm not sure why.


Because it's the right thing to do.
 
2020-09-24 12:12:36 AM  

You Die!: YabbaDabbaDouchebag: I'm also a stickler for writing okay instead of OK, but I'm not sure why.

Because it's the right thing to do.


Both are now out of date. We've moved on to...

Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2020-09-24 1:28:43 AM  

Harlee: Slight change of subject from guidelines, if I may.

I'd like some writing advice. Due to all the crap going on (politics, pandemic, climate change, probably Giant Meteor), my mind is going to a very dark place. I find myself losing interest in continuing on the novel, and find myself revisiting (of all things) my "vampire fiction" phase of about 25 years ago, when I was similarly depressed.

Basically, my head is turning away from a "helpful rules of life" space towards a "kill them all horribly" space. I'm writing about the aliens and their assorted screwups, and suddenly don't have the vision anymore. It's like a spigot was turned off. I'm out of ideas right now.

But I'm suddenly getting all kinds of engrossing ideas for some short stories about some protagonist bad-ass bloodsuckers (no, they don't sparkle).

So: tough it out with the novel? Or set it aside for a month, or two, or three, and kill off a few of the Human Herd?

What do the writers here on Fark do? Do you get these shifts in obsessions? What do you do about them? Soldier on? Or give in to them?

I'm afraid that if I soldier on my writing will be even more crappy than it usually is.

Thanks.


If forcing it doesn't work (it's about 50/50 for me) I always switch tracks, even on a deadline. Even if it's just a few pages. If you keep banging your head against something when it's not working you're just reinforcing the block. Do something you're excited about and sometimes you have enough juice left to do some work on the thing you're not excited about. And eventually you'll get through the rough patch and you won't have to push it so hard.

Crappy writing isn't a deal breaker in and of itself, you can always go back and clean it up, but if you're hating every instant of it, change to something you like.
 
2020-09-24 2:17:12 AM  

BretMavrik: You Die!: YabbaDabbaDouchebag: I'm also a stickler for writing okay instead of OK, but I'm not sure why.

Because it's the right thing to do.

Both are now out of date. We've moved on to...

[Fark user image image 245x285]


I haven't learned how to incorporate GIFs into my short stories yet.
 
2020-09-24 10:20:40 AM  
The "said" rule became easier after taking journalism classes. I think I have used "laughed" once in an article. I'll occasionally use an adverb in short stories, but I avoid relying on them.

But the thing about not over-describing characters reminds me of some bad advice I got - and I've gotten plenty. Sometimes people don't know the difference between "advice" and "find something to nitpick, anything".

So I was writing a fictionalized version of my daily routine, stopping for coffee at my friend's shop on the way to the library. I had the character meet a friend there, and exchange backstory info with the barrista. Mostly it was just showing the day was routine and ordinary - up to that point.

Somebody insisted on reading something I was working on. I mistakenly let them. They stopped and asked, "What was the barrista like?"
"A minor character. Just there for his coffee?"
"But what were they wearing? We're they tall? Short? Do they have tattoos? I want to SEE my characters!" On and on, really worked up about it. And they wouldn't read the rest of the story.
"You're right. That character is totally unnecessary. I should cut that whole scene."
They got really mad, and started yelling at me that I don't know how to take advice.

When people's feelings get hurt, it isn't their advice they are shoving down their throat.

And nobody likes being told their advice is bad. Whatsa matter? Can't take a little criticism?
 
2020-09-24 11:01:56 AM  

Sim Tree: Harlee: Slight change of subject from guidelines, if I may.

I'd like some writing advice. Due to all the crap going on (politics, pandemic, climate change, probably Giant Meteor), my mind is going to a very dark place. I find myself losing interest in continuing on the novel, and find myself revisiting (of all things) my "vampire fiction" phase of about 25 years ago, when I was similarly depressed.

Basically, my head is turning away from a "helpful rules of life" space towards a "kill them all horribly" space. I'm writing about the aliens and their assorted screwups, and suddenly don't have the vision anymore. It's like a spigot was turned off. I'm out of ideas right now.

But I'm suddenly getting all kinds of engrossing ideas for some short stories about some protagonist bad-ass bloodsuckers (no, they don't sparkle).

So: tough it out with the novel? Or set it aside for a month, or two, or three, and kill off a few of the Human Herd?

What do the writers here on Fark do? Do you get these shifts in obsessions? What do you do about them? Soldier on? Or give in to them?

I'm afraid that if I soldier on my writing will be even more crappy than it usually is.

Thanks.

I would say your brain's "core" is in a different place than it was 6 months ago (pretty much everyone's would be after all this)

I would take four steps, in order:

Take a break from writing entirely for about three days, and let everything resynch.

Read through the entirety of your "happy" book and see if that doesn't get you back in the groove for that one again. If so, there you are.

If not, put it on hiatus for a while; you no longer have a "source" for that emotion ready.

But above All Else, come back to the Happy book every once in awhile and see if you can't bang it out. Don't let it sit on the back burner for all of time. Start writing a couple pages of it and see if you can't get the flow going again. If not, try it again next time, but keep that momentum going for when you're ready.



DoBeDoBeLurk: If forcing it doesn't work (it's about 50/50 for me) I always switch tracks, even on a deadline. Even if it's just a few pages. If you keep banging your head against something when it's not working you're just reinforcing the block. Do something you're excited about and sometimes you have enough juice left to do some work on the thing you're not excited about. And eventually you'll get through the rough patch and you won't have to push it so hard.

Crappy writing isn't a deal breaker in and of itself, you can always go back and clean it up, but if you're hating every instant of it, change to something you like.


Thanks, both of you. Excellent advice. I will try both (they work together).
 
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