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mr_bungle700
08-04-2008, 12:54 PM
Okay folks, in this thread we're going to talk about writing. We can do critiques if anyone is up for it, but I'm more interested in discussing the writing process itself. I want to get into the nuts and bolts of what makes a good story. How do you develop an effective protagonist/antagonist? What goals should a story accomplish? What's more important: delivering a message or providing entertainment? How do you develop your ideas into finished products?

We can also discuss specific story and character ideas, and help each other turn basic concepts into fully fleshed story elements. I don't know if anyone else will want to do this, but I'm more than willing to offer up some of my developing characters and stories to see if you all can help me fill in the gaps I might be leaving in them.

So, to get this started, I'll ask the first question: what do you think makes a good lead character? I'm not talking about personality, specifically, but rather the purposes that the character should serve within the story.

Here are a few of the basic rules that I like to follow:

-The character should not be perfect.

-The character should change over the course of the story.

-The character should embody the message of the story, or grow to embody it over the course of the story.

-The character should be challenged, and should overcome those challenges with his/her own power, or fail to overcome them on his/her own and learn a lesson as a result. The character should never be saved from danger by a plot contrivance.

-The audience should be able to identify with the character in some way, even if the audience does not agree with his/her beliefs or actions.

-The character should always make decisions based on his/her own interests and needs, or the interests and needs of others within the story. The character should never make a decision with the sole purpose of advancing the plot.

So that's a start, at least. Anything to add? Do you disagree with any of these points? Naturally, there are ways to break any of these rules and still make a good story, but I think that they apply to most successful stories. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know!

Let's talk about writing!

shivam
08-04-2008, 12:55 PM
For whatever reason, i tend to visualise the entire text in my head before i can put even the title of a piece down. And if i don't have a title, i can't write. I don't know why--it's like the lynchpin of the whole thing for me.

Brickroad
08-04-2008, 01:09 PM
I think your list is pretty good, bungle, although it's not hard at all to think of excellent reasons to break any given rule.

My favorite stories involve at least mild mindfucks; I hate being able to predict a plot as I'm watching it. I love being surprised, I love it when a story shows me something and then gradually reveals it's not that thing at all.

The plot has got to be logical, though. If a plot point doesn't follow from a previous place in the story, it makes a cracking sound in my brain and gooey stuff starts leaking out my ear-holes. I'm willing to forgive a little of this in most cases, and a lot of this in a very select few, though.

Stories that play fast and loose with point-of-view are the best. This is the only way you can effectively have a pure, unbiased view of a story, outside of the omniscient third-person (which I tend to dislike for a variety of reasons). I've played around a bit with this in some of my stuff, albeit not very effectively.

One of these days I'll get around to going from "writing as hobby" to "actively trying to get published", but who knows when that will be. My crazy head can't decide whether I'm just too lazy to get moving or I'm too terrified of rejection to try, and either way I'm pretty pathetic. So!

KCar
08-04-2008, 01:15 PM
I've had an idea for a story forever, where a girl attempts to fall in love for the first time, and winds up contracting herpes. The end of the story will involve the outside world disappearing, or healing like wounds. I've been meaning to write the story for years now, but just haven't.

On the plus side, I won some money for a poem this year! That's pretty boss.

Dizzy
08-04-2008, 01:34 PM
I too, like authors that fuck with my mind and give me a hard time trying wrap my head around their stories. Usually because their style is unconventional and off-putting. Fortunately, my exposure to these kinds of stories are of no medical consequence.

KCar
08-04-2008, 02:31 PM
On Mr. Bungle's question RE: main character. It's a superstition of mine that you should love your main character - that is, their combination of traits and deficiencies should be such that you appreciate who they are, and what they're trying to do, whatever their failures.

And then you should make his/her life hell. A writer should be an asshole of the utmost degree.

Brickroad
08-04-2008, 02:44 PM
And then you should make his/her life hell. A writer should be an asshole of the utmost degree.

I am not very capable of this. I find myself more likely to twist the story so the Bad Stuff doesn't have to happen.

I need to force myself to invent a likeable character and then kill him off in a story, even if that lump in my throat never goes away, just to force myself through it.

KCar
08-04-2008, 02:47 PM
I need to force myself to invent a likeable character and then kill him off in a story, even if that lump in my throat never goes away, just to force myself through it.

The best examination of "the writer" I've seen recently is Capote - it's one of the most harrowing treatments of the cruelty of the writer I've ever seen.

Paul le Fou
08-04-2008, 02:55 PM
That's a pretty solid list for main characters, Bungle. I would go so far to extend it to "characters" though. Just because someone is a supporting character doesn't mean they shouldn't be consistent - indeed, if a character has a smaller role and is also purely a plot contrivance or behaves towards the story, it could stand out even worse than if the main character slips up now and then.


Also, one of my biggest stories is very much an ensemble cast, and I tend to find those far more interesting while reading as well. For instance, if you have multiple people you're following, sometimes you're not really sure who the hero is if there is one at all, and that's not only more realistic but more interesting to me. Following one guy who you know is going to save the day or learn a lesson is less engaging to me, sometimes. This isn't to discount single-protagonist stories at all, just to throw in a different angle. Of course, I also love massive narrative shake-ups like killing the hero halfway through, especially in a relatively minor way, although it's a lot harder to pay off something like that and do it well in the context of the story instead of appearing as a contrivance for the sole sake of shaking up the plot.

I find that in some ways, ensembles tend to be harder to write because it's like having four (in this case) main characters all at once, although the supports have to be just as fully realized so really the only difference is that you're spreading the focus around to more characters than one. I've been toying around with the P.O.V. to make it work for me - currently I'm telling the story as a gathered history after the fact, i.e. through old documents, interviews, diaries, etc. This lets me get into different characters' heads further than before, where I felt it was too plot-oriented. Now instead of a fantasy epic, it's a girl trying to find out who her real parents were (her parents were heroes of the revolution, as it turns out!). Same story, different angle. Not that telling it straigtforward is out of the question, but I think I'd rather do it as a comic than as prose. I first went into film school because I preferred visual storytelling as a personal style, and I still do to some extent, but different media for different stories, a whole different discussion.

I guess this just goes back to how P.O.V. plays with expectations and characterization. For some reason I don't tend to like my own omniscient 3rd-person writing. Either limited 3rd-person or first person tend to be my preferred modes. I also tend to like viewpoints on main characters instead of just the characters themselves - I once wrote a story about a man who knows everything, but told it from the perspective of an old girlfriend of his. Not to mention the above, reconstructing a story from old accounts instead of telling it straight-forward.



Story logic is a big thing for me too, and when I say story logic I mean character logic to some degree. But even though a good amount of my own stories are speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, or magical realist), I still demand a lot out of internal coherence, especially in the world, from a story.

I think the biggest example that stands out in my mind was Spider-man 2. I have absolutely no problem with a guy having spider-powers, or even robotic arms fusing themselves to a person and driving him crazy. I am willing to suspend my disbelief pretty far, I'd say. But extinguishing what they present as a miniature sun in a nuclear fusion reaction by dunking it into a river - that's not consistent any way you look at it, and it really stood out to me as lazy storytelling. If you write yourself into a corner, you go back and start over to avoid getting into the corner in the first place. You don't get out of the corner by kicking down the wall and leaving the building.

I guess to try and boil it down to a single sentence: when it comes to doing things like violating the laws of physics or presenting magic, if you're going to break the rules, you must establish that the rules are breakable first.

Another was Daughter of Twenty Faces - as I mentioned before, I have no problem with things like a dashing thief and his band pulling ridiculously elaborate heists, a guy with cybernetic claws, disappearing blimps or massive tanks or any of that. But there was a lot of obviously plot-motivated inconsistent manipulation happening there. Not only did you have things like "malnourished 11-year-old girls throwing full-grown men five feet after 2 months of martial arts training tops," but more egregious plot illogics. Cheesy ones, and classic examples at that. People living just long enough to be found and say their last words; a guy who'd been shot lying still just long enough before picking his gun back up to let someone sacrifice himself to save the protagonist. Pacing is a big part of this too, with slow gunfights. People who take a shot at the person they're trying to kill once every ten seconds or so, or who can't hit an opponent until they're done delivering a short monologue. This isn't limited to the show, of course, it's something I see a lot and felt represented there.


I hereby promise that I will never write a mexican standoff; if two characters really want to kill each other, one of them is simply going to pull the trigger first. In fact, I will impose strict limits on any and all dialogue during a fight scene. If someone is going to die on the scene of some greivous wound, they have one (1) minute from the infliction wound to live and they will be in too much pain to form half a coherent sentence. For what it's worth, I think these should be rules.

Secret Punch
08-04-2008, 02:55 PM
I am not very capable of this. I find myself more likely to twist the story so the Bad Stuff doesn't have to happen.

I need to force myself to invent a likeable character and then kill him off in a story, even if that lump in my throat never goes away, just to force myself through it.

The general guiding principle of my writing -- at least novels -- is that things get worse and worse and worse until the end. Then they end on a note that is hopefully completely horrifying, bleak, heartbreaking, and beautiful all at once. This is the theory. I'm told it's pretty punishing but people usually get into it.

The next one is not going to be so harsh! Not all the time anyway. I am hoping it will still be good.

Brickroad
08-04-2008, 02:59 PM
If you write yourself into a corner, you go back and start over to avoid getting into the corner in the first place. You don't get out of the corner by kicking down the wall and leaving the building.

This is a problem I had with one of my pet stories; I came up with an interesting premise, a few interesting characters, an interesting setting... and then I got towards the end and realized "oh crap I don't have much of a plot well I guess I'll just end it any old way".

I seriously need to go back and re-work that one. Maybe I will, now.

Secret Punch
08-04-2008, 03:06 PM
I hereby promise that I will never write a mexican standoff; if two characters really want to kill each other, one of them is simply going to pull the trigger first. In fact, I will impose strict limits on any and all dialogue during a fight scene. If someone is going to die on the scene of some greivous wound, they have one (1) minute from the infliction wound to live and they will be in too much pain to form half a coherent sentence. For what it's worth, I think these should be rules.

Yes. Violence should generally be brutal and extremely fast, unless your writing is action-oriented, in which case it should still probably be but maybe not.

Dizzy
08-04-2008, 03:08 PM
Any of you writers have a special approach to depicting fist fighting or small battles? I'd imagine it'd be a lot like writing about sex--very boring, tedious, and unnecessary.

Mightyblue
08-04-2008, 03:09 PM
I don't have much to add personally, except that as a generally optimistic fellow most of my stuff ends on a hopeful note, even if I do put my characters through the ringer in the story.

Well, scratch that not much to add actually. A good story has a rhythm that it follows, and while it varies on the story the good ones all have it. That rhythm can take the form of the way the story is written, in how the plot unfolds and so on.

Dizzy
08-04-2008, 03:12 PM
What's everyone's approach to romance? Do you mix in a little melodrama or do you base it off of your own experiences because it touches you so deeply?

Mightyblue
08-04-2008, 03:13 PM
Melodrama is overrated, unless you're writing bodice rippers. The stresses put on any sort of romantic relationship by the events of plot and character development are more than enough without artificially adding crap to "spice" things up.

Pajaro Pete
08-04-2008, 03:25 PM
I always feel bad whenever I try to write an unlikeable protagonist, only to have multiple people tell me how much they liked it because the protagonist reminded them of themselves.

Phat
08-04-2008, 03:33 PM
I am going to write a story about Rock and Roll music.

It is going to be good.

Mazian
08-04-2008, 03:35 PM
shivam reminded me of Steven Brust earlier today. He has some theories on writing that work for me.

First theory: "The Cool Stuff Theory of Literature is as follows: All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what's cool. And that works all the way from the external trappings to the level of metaphor, subtext, and the way one uses words. [further examples deleted]

Second theory: "The novel should be understood as a structure built to accomodate the greatest possible amount of cool stuff."

Phat
08-04-2008, 03:38 PM
This is why I am going to write a story about Rock and Roll music.

It is going to be good.

Secret Punch
08-04-2008, 03:45 PM
Any of you writers have a special approach to depicting fist fighting or small battles? I'd imagine it'd be a lot like writing about sex--very boring, tedious, and unnecessary.

I tend to go for the broad strokes and describe the resulting wounds -- just like sex?

But I also prefer characters who hit hard enough that there are about four punches anyway. Just reads better to me.

Sprite
08-04-2008, 04:25 PM
I need an idea for a play to present to my writing group. We're writing a sequence to produce in the Fall, and I'm utterly stuck.

The only guideline so far is that the theme is communication. One person is doing a play in which a would-be salesman-god goes door-to-door trying to convince cavemen he's worthy of their worship. I was thinking of exploring the author-audience relationship (sparked by the authorial intent debate a while back) but I'm having a ton of trouble coming up with a premise. Once I have a good premise the rest usually just flows.

I guess my question is, how do you guys find your premises?

Dizzy
08-04-2008, 04:35 PM
I guess my question is, how do you guys find your premises?

"Today in the news..."

*elbows everyone* Eh? Eh? Eh?

Ample Vigour
08-04-2008, 07:10 PM
What about the stories like Scorsese tells; ones that have action and change but no plot? Anyone ever try something like that?

Growing up Indian you hear nothing but stories like that. In my family there are very few narratives that you can plot linearly.

Dizzy
08-04-2008, 07:29 PM
Crap, what about Beckett? Doesn't he just do away with everything?

estragon
08-04-2008, 08:45 PM
Crap, what about Beckett? Doesn't he just do away with everything?

That's mostly late Beckett. He gradually became more and more minimalist over time.

mr_bungle700
08-05-2008, 08:53 AM
I guess my question is, how do you guys find your premises?

I know that not every writer does this, but I always draw my premise from my message. The message gives me a basic framework for my story, as my stories usually involve the characters learning, defending or contradicting the message. For instance, if I want to write a story about how you should never give up hope today because you never know what's going to happen tomorrow, then I'm going to create a story in which the characters have increasingly less reason to be hopeful. They will then either continue to feel hope regardless of their situation and will be rewarded by the story, or will give up hope and be punished by it.

I also like to craft my setting around the message, as I like to have every aspect of the world be involved in telling the story. This is another way to find a story premise, because if I build a world that physically represents the conflicts inherent in the message I can then ask myself how the characters would deal with living in such a place.

For example: say I want to tell that story about hope. I could set that story on a planet that is rapidly deteriorating due to some massive environmental catastrophe. With that setting in mind, I can then ask myself how various types of people would handle the issue of hope that situation. The answer is my story.

So that's two ways in which I come up with a story premise. There are plenty of others, but I find that I use those two the most often.

And now some questions of my own:

How do you organize your thoughts and notes about your stories? Do you just start writing and let the story take shape as you go, or do you create documents for storing your ideas so you can refer to them later? I ask because I tend to create several documents with basic story notes in them. I create a cast overview, a world design overview, and a general story overview, and I also write up outlines for stories and episodes. I feel like I need to do this so that my ideas won't get away from me, but I also feel that doing all this stuff can be used as an excuse to avoid actual writing.

So what do you do, fellow Tyrants? Maybe your approach can help me refine my own methods.

Brickroad
08-05-2008, 09:01 AM
My approach is RADICALLY DIFFERENT from Sr. Bungle's in that I don't want my stuff to have a message. I got into a pretty heated argument with my English teacher in high school because she wanted me to read all kinds of symbolism into a story and I was like "Why can't it just be a story?" She gave me an F out of spite which I fought to get turned into a D because I was able to prove that I had met the minimum requirements of the assignment and BLAH BLAH BLAH this anecdote is too long, what ended up happening is I vowed I would never attempt to layer symbolism or meaning into anything I wrote. Just tell a story, and if someone gets "hope" or "despair" or "it's an allegory to Christ" out of it, more's the better.

So what I start with is the main character, and then flesh out the setting a bit. Sometimes all I have to work with is a premise: "a dryad whose tree gets turned into a coffee table" or "the fat-assed grunt who Forrest Gumped his way to becoming King of All Goblins Everywhere".

The problem with having an interesting premise is that plot doesn't always necessarily follow. The goblin king story was good for a few laffs, but the plot was too meandering. The dryad one turned out even worse because the ending is so tacked on as to be essentially meaningless. I'm convinced these things could be fixed, but then we just come back around to "too lazy/terrified of rejection".

Pombar
08-05-2008, 09:06 AM
When first approaching a story, I refuse to let the protagonists out of one bad situation until it's either escalated to such a degree that getting out of it presents problems of its own, or in the process of trying to escape it, they've encountered or set themselves up for several other bad situations.
That way, if it's feeling too convoluted, I can remove and rejigg the set pieces as needed, and possibly even come out of the full text with so many unused ideas that they inspire my next project.

I'm also more in the Brickroad school of "writing to entertain" rather than "writing to moralise".

Ample Vigour
08-05-2008, 09:26 AM
Shit, you guys think hard about this stuff.

Mostly I retell weird shit I heard about when I was a kid.

Pombar
08-05-2008, 09:37 AM
I dunno. Certainly my above tiny post is more me thinking back on how I've written in retrospect. I don't generally think that hard about setting/plot/character balances and all that stuff. At least not on the first few drafts.

Mightyblue
08-05-2008, 10:29 AM
I usually do a lot of prep work in my head at least. Getting me to write all of it down can be a challenge sometimes.

Paul le Fou
08-05-2008, 02:45 PM
I do prep work in my head. I occasionally jot down some notes and don't get far.

The only way that not writing stuff down has really inconvenienced me is that in my one fantasy piece, I cannot for the life of me remember the name of any given town or place, save one. So every time I write, I refer to a given town by a different name. I mean, I know which one is which, just not what to call them. I also have several different sets of notes from over the years, and each actually has different names within it. My one attempt at writing a final, formal glossary for the invented words ended when the computer and flash drive containing it was lost.



As for where I get my ideas, sometimes - more often for past/older stories - I take inspiration from some other story I've encountered and over long periods of time work it around, change it, combine it with other stuff, look at it from a different angle or my own personal take on the underlying trope, etc. until it becomes something of my own. These days, they kind of just... come to me, or sometimes I take seeds from dreams I remember.

Merus
08-05-2008, 07:11 PM
I like putting misleading symbolism into my writing. There's something perverse to me about doing this - knowing winks for those people who've read a lot, except wait it's turning out exactly the opposite.

Dizzy
02-26-2010, 04:17 PM
How To Write Badly Well (http://writebadlywell.blogspot.com/2009_09_01_archive.html)

Choice bits:

Describe every character in minute detail, taking no account of narrative pacing

Terrence Handley shifted his weight, the weight that had been steadily increasing for the last ten years and showed no sign of diminishing, at least while his wife Marie continued to excel as she did at the design and production of delectable gourmet meat pies, and shuffled his feet restively as he waited. His feet had always been a source of irritation for him, imbued as they were with a mysterious capacity to ache seemingly independently of circumstances. This had been the case since the age of about ten, when he first noticed that his feet had a reluctance to settle in one position (or he supposed, two positions nearby one another) for any length of time before sending signals up the nerves that ran through his legs informing his brain that, if it was all very well, they’d rather not be set in the aforementioned position for too much longer. At last, the door opened.

‘Package for you,’ he said, thrusting the object into the waiting hands of Alfonso Delany, hands which, over time, had become not only minutely hardened to the rigours of the world in which they worked, but subtly tainted by the chemicals with which Alfonso spent the majority of his days.
’Thank you,’ said Alfonso, his rich chestnut hair (which tended towards a dryness he found frustrating and did his best to remedy by use of a range of expensive poultices) falling across his borderline brown-green eyes, which were only slightly larger than the average eyes of a man of his age and ethnicity.



Elaborate on your metaphors

She stood out in the crowd like a bird of paradise among a flock of crows, her bright, elaborate feathers instantly catching Dave's eye like the ornamental flank plumes of the Paradisa apoda. Unlike this particular bird, however, she was not native to Indonesia and did not have a diet consisting mainly of fruit, seeds and small insects; rather, she dined on the finest culinary creations at exclusive restaurants and lived in her luxurious central London townhouse which, as Dave was about to discover, was not constructed from fern fronds and moss.

As soon as he saw her, Dave could tell that they were about to engage in a highly ritualised mating dance, as is common among the sexually dimorphic birds of the genus Paradisaeidae, although hopefully this would not involve him competing with other males in displays of plumage, gymnastic prowess and bill strength, in the manner of the Curl-crested Manucode (Manucodia comrii).

Start your novel at least three chapters before the first significant event of the plot

Alan picked up his slice of toast and bit into it thoughtfully. The crescent shape left by his teeth was like a smaller version of the shark bite Julia would suffer next week, but at the moment, Alan knew nothing about that. Wiping the crumbs from the corner of his mouth, he reached for his coffee. As he lifted the mug, the surface of the drink rippled like a deceptively calm ocean which, any moment now, sharks would come leaping out of. He slurped it, completely unaware.

So far, today had been disappointing. The arrival of the post hadn’t brought the parcel he’d been waiting for – the new scuba mask with anti-fog coating which would eventually (although not for some days) save his life. There wasn’t even a postcard from Julia, despite her still, at this point, having enough fingers to write one. He wanted to know what the weather was like out on the west coast before he set off to join her there on Thursday.

Of course, today was Monday, so there was still plenty of time. Maybe a postcard would come tomorrow, or the day after. Until then, reflected Alan, he just had to get through his last few days at work, which promised to be mind-numbingly repetitive and predictable, exactly unlike a shark attack.

Allow your day job to inform your prose style
(With thanks to Andrew Trumper)

1. All of a sudden, there was
(a.) a resounding crash,
(b.) the sound of breaking glass
(c.) and then an eerie silence.
2. I glanced nervously at Mary.
3. ‘Did you hear that?’
(a.) I said.
4. Mary [hereafter referred to as “the love interest”]
(a.) nodded
(b.) and whispered
(i) ‘What was it?
(ii) It sounded like a window;
(iii) will you go and check?’
5. I listened to the silence [see 1.c, above] for a moment.
6. ‘I’ll be right back,’
(a.) I said.

Sanagi
02-26-2010, 11:10 PM
As it happens, I recently came across this big list of tips from various writers. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/ten-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-one) It will probably come in handy the next time I decide that I haven't failed at long-form writing enough already. I'm already thinking it will be this summer.

I particularly like-
Neil Gaiman: "Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."
And this one gives me pause-
Margaret Atwood: "...ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up."

Silent Noise
02-26-2010, 11:42 PM
While coming up with a storyline for my game, one thought that came to mind was, "things change, people die, you may end up better off or you may end up worse off, but even in true despair you can find something that could improve your life regardless of what happens, be it finding a true friend or making your worst enemy, things happen and the only thing you can do is adapt." However I'm going for "show not tell" on the moral, because I can express things with my actions better then I ever have with words

Flint Ironstag
02-28-2010, 12:05 PM
I'm by no means a special writer; and I'm reluctant to contribute to this really beautiful analysis of what makes for a great protagonist.

I do have a question though: What medium do y'all use to expose your stories? The butt of all jokes is Fanfiction.net, but surely there's a more... "respectable" site to distribute writings?

I ask because every so often I jot down what's in my head (an old habit my mother instilled in me), and I do get curious as to what someone would think of it.

Alex Scott
02-28-2010, 01:00 PM
I've submitted a couple of stories to some publications (I have one waiting on a response from DaiKaijuZine, but I haven't heard back), but I've thought for a while that it might be nice to set some up on a blog w/ a Creative Commons license, and maybe put up some drawings to go with them. I just keep putting it off.

nadia
03-02-2010, 06:26 AM
I haven't done much creative writing in a while (sigh), but I had some (very) short stories published in now-defunct mags and on websites.

Whenever I manage to piss something out, I put it on Deviantart. I'm working on a novel, and sometimes excerpts go on my LJ account.

Luana
03-02-2010, 08:13 PM
I've been publishing every now and then on Ficly (http://www.ficly.com) of late. You're limited to 1024 characters, and while dirty cheaters circumvent that limit by writing countless sequels, I think it's a fun little time-waster due to the challenges.

Just so you know, there are a distressing amount of teenagers on there. Hopefully I'm not offending any of the Talking Teens here, but teenage writers can be some of the most pretentious people around. Oh, I'm including myself at this age in this generalization.

Flint Ironstag
03-03-2010, 07:06 PM
I haven't done much creative writing in a while (sigh), but I had some (very) short stories published in now-defunct mags and on websites.

Whenever I manage to piss something out, I put it on Deviantart. I'm working on a novel, and sometimes excerpts go on my LJ account.
Hmmm... Deviantart, I forgot they host literature, too. What's their character limit?

locit
03-03-2010, 09:50 PM
Wow, this is really interesting stuff. I'm so used to writing true stories that fiction is like a completely foreign concept to me, at least from a writerly perspective. And I originally got into journalism because I want to improve my fiction writing.

(Please keep it up!)

Alex Scott
03-24-2010, 06:06 PM
So last week, I finally put my story online (http://keromaru.blogspot.com/2010/03/story-perdition-lost.html), hopefully to be the first of many.

ThricebornPhoenix
03-25-2010, 10:23 AM
"Why can't it just be a story?"
Out of curiosity, have you read The Neverending Story? If not, have you given much thought to the nature of stories? What they are, what they represent, why we tell them, why we listen to them? Doing either may give you the answer. (Seriously, anyone who wants to tell stories ought to read The Neverending Story.)

The problem with having an interesting premise is that plot doesn't always necessarily follow.
In this case what you need is direction - that is, a theme. Don't worry, a theme doesn't need to be particularly meaningful. If you're good enough, you can probably get away with as little as a quarter-Pombar of meaning. :)

(That is a correct use of the Pombar, right?)

Falselogic
03-25-2010, 10:56 AM
I'm incapable of carrying any kind of narrative for longer than couple thousand words. Anytime I've forced myself to, my stories have devolved into incoherency.

So, I stick to poetry, which I've managed to get published in local literary venues. I haven't attempted anything wider than that.

Writing for me, and this is bad as a writer, requires a certain mood, one which I have a hard time inducing and therefore I can only write occasionally. I can edit at anytime, and I can write non-creatively at will. But putting myself into work requires... well, I don't know what it requires, which is why I'm a bad writer. Stephen King talks about how writing is a job and you just have to sit down and write for hours everyday, like any other job. I can't do this.

Luana
03-27-2010, 11:00 AM
I'm incapable of carrying any kind of narrative for longer than couple thousand words. Anytime I've forced myself to, my stories have devolved into incoherency.

I can't write too much more than that as well of late, but I know I'm capable of it. You may want to try out writing some really brief short stories, though. Even if it does end up being only two pages, two really clean and well-written pages are way better than twelve meandering ones.

Writing for me, and this is bad as a writer, requires a certain mood, one which I have a hard time inducing and therefore I can only write occasionally. I can edit at anytime, and I can write non-creatively at will. But putting myself into work requires... well, I don't know what it requires, which is why I'm a bad writer.

I share a lot of your issues. For me, it's not necessarily the fact that I can't induce, but mostly that I overthink things as I write and end up editing as I go. I know I'm an excellent editor -- I probably should pursue editing versus writing, to be honest -- but having that part of myself be on constantly really hurts my writing.

In order for me to get into that happy writing medium, it requires alcohol and low feelings, and while I've got the latter in spades, I will not let myself get used to writing while inebriated. Sure, most (if not all) of the MFA/DFA folks I know are arguably ("arguably") alcoholics and very strong at their craft, and a few have suggested that a few drinks to loosen me up will help the process along, but... I don't know. I feel like it would be cheating.

mr_bungle700
03-27-2010, 09:29 PM
I actually scares me how many self-motivated writers seem to use alcohol/drugs/caffeine to get the job done. I hate the idea that stimulants are a necessary part of the writing process, because I refuse to use them.

Really, though, the trick to writing is exactly what King says (On Writing is such a useful book!). You have to make it part of your daily life. If you set aside a time period every day in which you do nothing but write, it eventually becomes a routine. Settling into the writing groove becomes much easier when you do it at the same time every day.

Another thing that helps break through the writing barrier is to just write, no matter what the content is or how terrible the writing comes out. This not only helps you ignore your internal editor, but it gets your creativity flowing. Oftentimes I find that the biggest obstacle stopping me from being creative is momentum. If I can just get started working, no matter what it is that I'm working on, then I'll usually build up the energy to continue.

One last method that I use is something that might not work for everyone: I like to listen to music when I write. I pick one or two albums to listen to each day, and while they are playing I do nothing but write. This not only helps me to set aside a specific time period for writing, but the music occupies the parts of my brain that would otherwise be easily distracted by other things.

But then again, I tend to doubt my own methods because I can't write a dang thing. I keep trying to get something finished, but I've been doing this for years and have never succeeded. Something is missing and I'm not sure what it is. I have a feeling that a different creative environment (i.e. not sitting alone in my apartment) would help. More importantly, though, I think that it would be nice to have some form of external motivation.

mr_bungle700
03-27-2010, 10:09 PM
Also, I had totally forgotten about this thread until Dizzy de-necrotized it, and even then I didn't remember what my initial plan for the thread was until just now. Maybe I should try getting back into it!

To that end, here's something that I've been thinking about quite a bit lately. Perhaps we can have some discussion about it?

All good stories are about characters first and everything else second.

This is something that I believe very strongly in, but is it, in fact, true? I find that any story with any premise can work as long as it focuses on the characters, on their strengths and weaknesses and needs and wishes, on how they interact, and on how they react to what happens to them. Just look at, say, any sports manga ever for an example of how characters trump premise. Mitsuru Adachi doesn't tell stories about baseball, he tells stories about people, and he is great because of that. And through his characters and their conflicts, the readers become interested in baseball, at least within the context of the story, because baseball is meaningful to the characters and important to how the story plays out.

Conversely, I find that an interesting premise cannot save a story that doesn't have characters to back it up. I really don't care about how clever a story idea is. If that idea is all the writer has then the story will cease to be interesting almost as soon as it begins. Anyone can come up with a neat premise, but to actually turn it into a story you need to infuse it with characters to give it life.

The best thing about the characters > premise situation is that when you have good characters then your story can be about anything at all and still be interesting. You can make your premise as wacky or as mundane as you want and it will work.

So, Talking Time, do you agree or disagree with this argument? Can you give examples of good stories that do not focus on their characters?

Bergasa
03-28-2010, 04:52 PM
So, I tried out that Ficly thing that Luana mentioned earlier. It's kind of fun! Here is a story I wrote (http://ficly.com/stories/16454).

ThricebornPhoenix
03-28-2010, 05:23 PM
Can you give examples of good stories that do not focus on their characters?
Is Lovecraft good? Some of his short stories barely even have characters. Or logic. Or events.

Loki
03-28-2010, 05:32 PM
Not really no.

Dizzy
03-28-2010, 06:08 PM
The old character vs. plot debate. It really doesn't matter at all and as Mr Bungle shows, everyone has their preference. Some people find plot-driven novels truly engaging while others do not. What matters most if the author succeeds at what he or she was trying to achieve--or what you think the author is trying to achieve--before judging them on whether they suit your personal tastes. For me to criticize a Sherlock Holmes tale for not having characters as rich as any character in a Dostoevsky novel would be totally beside the point.

Sprite
03-28-2010, 06:47 PM
One last method that I use is something that might not work for everyone: I like to listen to music when I write. I pick one or two albums to listen to each day, and while they are playing I do nothing but write. This not only helps me to set aside a specific time period for writing, but the music occupies the parts of my brain that would otherwise be easily distracted by other things.

QFT a thousand times over. Philip Glass's opera Einstein on the Beach is my favorite piece of music and I listen to it anytime I need to partition a large portion of time to write/draw/otherwise create. It puts me in a trance mode where I can actually focus on what I'm doing. Since that particular opera is four hours long, I can usually maintain that state for quite a while.

Another method I find very helpful is a corollary to your "just write" one. If you know you're going to be working on something for a long stretch, sit down first and write at least a full page (single space) of whatever is on your mind, and I mean whatever. This isn't even meant to be writing, per se; I always delete the page when I'm done. What it does is get your brain into create mode while simultaneously throwing out most of the distractions that can and will put a premature end to your productive time. I call it mind purging, and it helps more and more the more I do it.

Alex Scott
05-04-2010, 08:01 AM
I've posted another story. (http://keromaru.blogspot.com/2010/05/story-ikid.html)

EDIT: And revised it. I promise I won't go all George Lucas on my stuff and never stop updating. Oh, and yes, I did name the girls in the story after Touhou characters.

Belmont
06-03-2010, 01:41 AM
Fuckin' writing. How does it work?

I wrestle with my thoughts for hours on end trying to get the right words so I can effectively articulate whatever the hell it is I'm trying to say, and end up reworking my sentences and interchanging words so often that I end up making convoluted paragraphs that are hard to follow. I'm always using this goddamn passive voice and I want to know how to avoid doing that and, and, goddammit. It seems the more I try to better myself the more distain I develop for the craft.

I think, maybe, I need to ease up a bit and stop worrying so much about making everything "perfect". Because really, I can keep going back and reworking that same fucking review for months on end until I get it to where I'd like it to be.

Paul le Fou
06-03-2010, 06:18 AM
I think, maybe, I need to ease up a bit and stop worrying so much about making everything "perfect". Because really, I can keep going back and reworking that same fucking review for months on end until I get it to where I'd like it to be.

Basically.

Oh and guess what, it's never perfect. You can write the best goddamn whatever you've ever put out, and if you go back in three months and look at it again it's going to be shit and you'll hate it and go over it again and again and again forever if you let yourself. (This is an exaggeration, of course, but something I've found useful.)

Just slam it all out and THEN go back and edit it. If you need to, put it away for a while and work on/think about something else, and THEN go back and edit it so it's not fresh in your mind and you can look at it objectively. Just don't do that too much or you'll chase your tail around it forever without actually finishing anything.

Wolf
06-03-2010, 09:59 AM
It's already been mentioned, but Stephen King's book On Writing is equal parts useful, insightful, instructive and entertaining. Even if you think King is a hack, I'd still recommend it, if only because someone who's made as much of a career out of writing as he has probably has at least one or two useful things to say about writing professionally.

Also...

I do have a question though: What medium do y'all use to expose your stories? The butt of all jokes is Fanfiction.net, but surely there's a more... "respectable" site to distribute writings?

I ask because every so often I jot down what's in my head (an old habit my mother instilled in me), and I do get curious as to what someone would think of it.

You can always try FictionPress (http://www.fictionpress.com/). It's handled by the same people who run fanfiction.net, only it deals in original fiction, so that might be more respectable. I have a story up over there, though it's unfinished (and has been so for a while now, unfortunately).

nadia
06-03-2010, 01:17 PM
I think, maybe, I need to ease up a bit and stop worrying so much about making everything "perfect". Because really, I can keep going back and reworking that same fucking review for months on end until I get it to where I'd like it to be.

"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." -- Margaret Atwood

"Fool! Your hate only makes me stronger!" -- Also Margaret Atwood (in the Kate Beaton universe)

Sprite
06-03-2010, 02:52 PM
Anyone have suggestions on books about writing comics? I have stuff on drawing comics, and stuff on writing books, but not on writing comics, and the process (at least for me) is pretty different. I do mostly newspaper strip-y stuff, but anything could be useful.

mr_bungle700
06-03-2010, 03:30 PM
As far as I'm aware, the standard books on comic theory are still the ones written by Will Eisner and Scott McCloud.

From Eisner:

Comics and Sequential Art
Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative
Expressive Anatomy for Comics and Narrative (This is an art book but you may as well complete the set and it's good for your art skills anyway.)

From McCloud:

Understanding Comics
Making Comics
Reinventing Comics

Those are the best books about creating comics that I know of. I'm sure there are others though. Looking around, I see that Alan Moore has a book about writing comics (http://www.amazon.com/Alan-Moores-Writing-Comics-1/dp/1592910122/ref=pd_sim_b_4), but considering the enormous, cluttered masses that his scripts are I'm not sure how much of his advice you'd want to take!

Of course, the best way to learn how to write good comics is to learn how to write good stories, as good storytelling can be applied to any format or medium. However, seeing as you're focusing on newspaper-style strips, I can understand how it would be useful to get some advice on how to craft those specifically.

mablem8
06-03-2010, 04:50 PM
I have all three of McCloud's books, and they are excellent. Those books are definitely the place to start, and I find that they apply just as well to media outside of sequential art. As a gamer, it is hard to step away from Understanding Comics without feeling like it can be secretly about video games.

nama
06-03-2010, 08:47 PM
Incidentally, I just started reading Understanding Comics a few days ago. It's all about the subliminal and ambiguous visual messages in comics. That may make it sound more intended for drawing tips, but it stresses how everything - including an icon like a letter - is represented strictly visually.

Of course, it also seems to be the single most popular book for Comicers, so Sprite may have already read it.

I like this thread alot, by the way. Makes me want to write! As seems to be common, I have so many stories in my head but rarely write them down, even for notes/documenting. That's all changing, though. I'd sooner want to be a comic artist/author than a novelist, but I intend to do creative writing exercises to build my storytelling and dialogue abilities.

Overall, the most useful and practical advice I've seen in this thread is to set aside a time each day specifically for writing. This is something I could see applying to writing, drawing, even exercise. And the more you do, the more you naturally improve. So, do that, everyone!

Paul le Fou
06-04-2010, 01:50 AM
I'm interested in the technical aspects of writing comics, like how one scripts a comic that they can't/won't draw themselves. I'd really like to take a stab at it but have no idea where I'd even begin.

mr_bungle700
06-04-2010, 06:46 AM
The frustrating thing about trying to learn how to write comic scripts is that there are a ton of different methods for it. It's not like movie and TV scripts, which generally stick to one format. In Western comics, at least, every writer chooses their own style, or uses an in-house style like the Marvel Method (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvel_method).

I kind of hate that! I wish there was more of a general consensus on which format is best. As it is, the most useful thing you can do to learn about how to write comic scripts is look for actual scripts written by people whose work you like and see how they approach it. I personally like Warren Ellis' scripting style, and he does have some sample scripts floating around that you can check out.

Of course, when I think of comics I also think of manga, because I read a lot more manga than I do Western comics nowadays. Unfortunately, I honestly have no idea how manga is scripted. Considering the fact that the vast majority of manga is both written and drawn by the same person, I'm not sure if it's common practice for manga creators to use regular scripts at all. I don't know why I haven't done more research about this!

Anyway, I just realized as I was writing this post that I do actually have a couple of very useful .pdf files on hand that show two common comic script formats. I don't remember where I got them from, so I tossed them in a .rar and uploaded them to MediaFire (http://www.mediafire.com/?dyznymzijz2) for the sake of convenience.

Sprite
06-04-2010, 08:00 AM
Thanks, Mr. Bungle. I have gone through the McCloud corpus and found it meh, but I'm sure Eisner will be really helpful.
I'm interested in the technical aspects of writing comics, like how one scripts a comic that they can't/won't draw themselves. I'd really like to take a stab at it but have no idea where I'd even begin.
Harvey Pekar draws thumbnails with crude stick figures, which is an approach I like. If you're writing for a visual medium you'll find it much easier to figure out your timing if you're being visual yourself.

I would personally recommend a combination of that approach and an Alan Moore/Neil Gaiman screenplay-esque approach, leaning towards one or the other depending on how detailed you need to be. Personally I like comics because of the level of control I have over everything, so I'm going to stick to trying to draw them myself (I still suck so much wooooooe). Alison Bechdel wrote a neat little autobiographical thing where she described comics as the perfect art form for control freaks.

Alex Scott
06-04-2010, 09:28 AM
There's also a series of books called "Panel One," "Panel Two," and so on, which reprint scripts from various writers, in a number of different styles. Jeff Smith used the Pekar method when he wrote the "Rose" miniseries for Charles Vess.

Then there's the Sandman "Ramadan" story, which Gaiman just wrote as a short story, which P. Craig Russel could adapt as he saw fit.

Alex Scott
09-13-2010, 04:09 PM
It's been a while since I've hyped my storyblog around here, and since I just posted a new story, I figured now is as good a time as any. (http://keromaru.blogspot.com/2010/09/story-time-drill-or-liveblogging-dwight.html)

As the link says, I originally wrote it for a local contest. It had to be very short, which made it a fun challenge. At first I tried writing it as a fake news article, but then I realized I didn't actually have much journalism experience. So I went with a fake liveblog instead.

Mainly, I just wanted to use the name "Time Drill."

At some point, I'd like to add a donation box or something, so I can potentially make money off this thing. I'm just not sure what would be a good way to go about that. I'm not even sure how to properly promote myself except posting on Facebook every time I publish.

Alex Scott
10-22-2010, 09:41 AM
It's self-promotion time again!

This time, it's a creepy story (http://keromaru.blogspot.com/2010/10/story-short-meditation-on-death.html).

Alex Scott
11-09-2010, 07:17 AM
So I'm thinking I should make a separate thread for my story/blog updates.

This time, it's something I've been working on for a while. Part one of Rina (http://keromaru.blogspot.com/2010/11/story-rina-part-1.html), about a transfer student from the Realm of Faerie. Everybody else is doing NaNoWriMo, I'm doing this.

Alex Scott
11-26-2010, 06:07 PM
Hey, my serial's finished!

Part One (http://keromaru.blogspot.com/2010/11/story-rina-part-1.html) has Rina, the exchange student from Faerie, begin class and immediately begin annoying everybody with her magic.

Part Two (http://keromaru.blogspot.com/2010/11/story-rina-part-2.html) has everybody get sick of her crap, and introduces some other elf exchange students.

Part Three (http://keromaru.blogspot.com/2010/11/story-rina-part-3.html) sends the kids to the Realm of Faerie to settle things with Rina.

I have illustrations, but I'm waiting until the third one is done before I post them.

So... should I make a thread for my stuff? I mean, Deptford has one for his comics.

ThornGhost
11-26-2010, 06:19 PM
I don't know man, I've kind of been struggling with the same thing. Been trying to pimp a project I've been working on here lately; trying to get some reviews and critiques but no one's really bitten yet.

I think the problem with writing is that it's just such a huge time investment for anyone to read and digest it. Maybe we could consider making a structured thread for reading and reviewing written stuff, where writers post their own projects and then review each other's stories.

Falselogic
11-26-2010, 07:05 PM
I don't know man, I've kind of been struggling with the same thing. Been trying to pimp a project I've been working on here lately; trying to get some reviews and critiques but no one's really bitten yet.

I think the problem with writing is that it's just such a huge time investment for anyone to read and digest it. Maybe we could consider making a structured thread for reading and reviewing written stuff, where writers post their own projects and then review each other's stories.

Like a Talking Time Writer's Group?

Paul le Fou
11-26-2010, 07:40 PM
That's something I'd be nominally interested in participating in. It could actually get me writing again!

Alex Scott
11-26-2010, 08:24 PM
That could be a nice supplement to my regular real-life writing group.

locit
11-26-2010, 08:47 PM
That's something I'd be nominally interested in participating in. It could actually get me writing again!
Me too! Writing more, anyway.

HEY YOU!

Are you going on a long trip anywhere soon? You are? Perfect! Keeping a travel log is a fun way to practice your storytelling skills and make a permanent record of your journey to refer back to if you ever want to draw on real life experience to tell a true story or as a jumping off point for believable fiction. After passing up many chances do to this right, I finally set down some hard rules for myself. Here are the big ones!

-Write while you're on the road. Not my rule, but definitely the most important one. Stake out time every night in advance to write down an account of what you did that day. It can be hard, but trying to remember days or weeks worth of people and places after the fact is harder.

-Put it all down on paper! Everything you can remember, you should write. It's better to have too much information than not enough. Once you're done with your first pass at day's events based solely on memory and your notes, take a look your pictures or videos to see if you've missed anything and to corroborate wherever you can. If you're in a group you can also ask other people to help you fill in the gaps, but be sure to note your sources! Which reminds me...

-Get your story straight. Did you leave at five this morning, or six? Was that one woman's family name Zhang or Zhao? Was that really pork you thought was served with lunch today, or something, shall we say, more exotic? If you feel uneasy about a detail or sentence but think it's important enough to include, set it apart with non-standard punctuation at both ends. ///This lets you keep writing while providing visual cues for bits that need a second look./// Remember: ensuring the veracity of your entries--even the little stuff--keeps you grounded in reality; without that, you're not really writing from experience.

-Keep a parking section up top. Parking is a space where you can put ideas, details or flashes of inspiration that come to you while you're in the middle of writing something else. This keeps you from forgetting the ideas that often strike in the middle of a writing session thanks to all the great stuff percolating in your brain. They won't all be winners, but enough of them will that it's worth your time.

-Always keep a notepad or two on hand. Think of them as parking on the go. Does something look like something? Remind you of someone? Write that down, because this is how your mind works. Your mind makes connections for a reason, and oftentimes important themes lurking beneath the surface of your writing will reveal themselves as you refer back to your notes during composition. They don't have to be masterpieces of descriptive prose; just detailed enough to show why something caught your attention; e.g. "X always glances toward Y before answering my questions," or "old men swing bird cages during morning strolls, one in each hand." These are also great for non-visual details, like sounds, smells or flavors. Speaking of flavors...

-Keep a ledger of your expenses, particularly what you eat. This will help you sequence a narrative for the day by giving you natural starting and stopping points. Thanks to their non-visual qualities meals also make an account more visceral and stir up related memories from the day that would otherwise lie dormant.

-Write down telling quotes: who said them, when and why. Trying to transcribe entire conversations is challenging without experience or a recorder, but a solid quote can speak volumes* about someone. You can write about how X didn't show any concern for group Y who you met today despite Z and indeed seemed quite angry about them. But a quote of her saying "Those guys rock, they eat koalas!" will get the point across with more economy and style. Of course, you'll need to provide the proper context as well. Maybe koalas ate her parents! Or something.
*completely unintentional.
-If you're already actively gathering material for a non-fiction story, keep two notepads: one for everything related to that story, and one for unrelated observations. The first is obvious, but the second will provide flavor and atmosphere which can get lost in the pursuit specific information.

So those are my rules! If you guys have your own, whether for travel logs, poetry or long-form fiction, pipe up! I wanna hear 'em.

Merus
11-27-2010, 07:53 AM
I just had the best idea: a story about a steampunk Orwellian dystopia called Eighteen Ninety-Four. (I also want to write a satire of Atlas Shrugged with Black Lightning; I like the idea of a city under the sway of the God of Objects being slowly undermined by people asking 'Who is Veronica Roper?')

reibeatall
11-27-2010, 03:27 PM
I usually write a few hours Saturday and Sunday, but nothing really substantial (I'm writing two movies and a novel, you see). But I guess I could put some of my work up here.

Elements
11-28-2010, 01:57 PM
I would enjoy perhaps something akin to Fun Time, in which we tried to write a theme or such as a group. Mainly because my main writing downfall is my difficulty in coercing myself into doing it regularly. But I imagine no one would want to regularly propose such things.

In other news, I think a lead difficulty I have when writing is wanting to focus too much on smaller scenes and details. At least I'm aware of it, but it's annoying when I want to have a scene at location A, a brief snippet of traveling, then a scene at location B, and after writing it all, and reading over it all, I realize with annoyance that I need to totally cut out the paragraphs on getting ready to leave location A, arriving at location B, the irrelevant train-of-thought on people the character passed in-transit, and so-on. I kind of like little things like that, and I write them in what I think is an interesting way, not a boring description.... but its just hell for pacing. This is reflected also in my much-less of a problem in plot of wanting to dwell on each segment of the plot for far too long so that I can explore every element of it and not find myself regretting uses for it (less a problem because I usually successfully resist this). So I find myself deleting so much of what I write. Counter-productive.

reibeatall
11-28-2010, 04:38 PM
Ohh man, a theme would actually probably be the best thing. Like, somebody picks an idea, and we all just write a short story about it.

OR, we could do one of those revolving author things where one person writes a chapter then somebody else writes the next one.

Flint Ironstag
11-29-2010, 08:00 AM
I just had the best idea: a story about a steampunk Orwellian dystopia called Eighteen Ninety-Four. (I also want to write a satire of Atlas Shrugged with Black Lightning; I like the idea of a city under the sway of the God of Objects being slowly undermined by people asking 'Who is Veronica Roper?')
Very nice. :D

Tying into my comments for the pen & paper thread, I think I'll begin writing short stories once I finish my campaign setting. I'm trying to build a dark fantasy/horror world reminiscent of Demon's Souls, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, God of War, and a little bit of Etrian Odyssey. Low-magic and somewhat steampunk, where civilization is a frontier amidst savage beasts, capricious fey, and demonic lords. Lots of terror and brutality, but also focusing on society trying to retain their humanity. A lot of mythology ancient Europe.

ThornGhost
12-01-2010, 06:16 AM
I put a new Fat Riker (http://www.fatriker.com) entry up yesterday. I talked about it a little in the Nanowrimo thread, but if you are unaware, it's my story-blog, told in pieces, about an old, terrible and storied band with a high tendency for member turn-over.

It's told in a variety of different ways; journal entries, album reviews, interviews and more. It jumps around in time between entries so they're all pretty self contained so far.

Alex Scott
12-01-2010, 08:23 AM
I love Fat Riker. I don't care who knows it.

ThornGhost
12-01-2010, 01:43 PM
I love Fat Riker. I don't care who knows it.

You, sir, are an enlightened individual.

ThornGhost
12-06-2010, 02:19 PM
The new Fat Riker post (http://www.fatriker.com/?p=38) looks back at a time over 30 years ago when the members were reckless madmen.

Alex Scott
12-08-2010, 09:10 PM
My new story is "The End of the Rainbow, Starring... (http://keromaru.blogspot.com/2010/12/story-end-of-rainbow-starring.html)" As you might guess, it's inspired by a lifelong fondness for bad movies.

Figure Four
12-08-2010, 09:32 PM
Blarg... Got to the end of the second draft on the comic book script I've been writing. Now I've got a few days to edit it before sending it off to Kinkos so I can hand copies over to my friends for review.

As much fun as I've had writing this (especially the second draft, I had forgotten how much funner writing gets once you hit the second draft) I can't wait to send it off and be done with it for a little while.

ThornGhost
12-21-2010, 07:27 PM
Will I drag this thread out of the grave every time I write a new Fat Riker entry (http://www.fatriker.com/?p=46)?

You're damn right I will. :cool:

Paul le Fou
12-21-2010, 07:59 PM
A friend of mine is starting to write, so I sent him my older stories to read and got some good feedback for if/when I revisit them someday. Then I read a story of his and spent the better part of last night workshopping it with him over AIM. It felt pretty good! I like tearing into stories (not tearing them down, of course, but getting really in there and throwing some constructive criticism at it) and talking about storytelling/writing. I should do it more!

I'm like two paragraphs away from finishing the not-even-a-story short I've been working on for started... lots of months ago. I will finish it tonight. Yes I will.

Paul le Fou
12-23-2010, 04:24 AM
I'm like two paragraphs away from finishing the not-even-a-story short I've been working on for started... lots of months ago. I will finish it tonight. Yes I will.

Oh hey so it turns out I did this (http://paulscheible.livejournal.com/3222.html). It's not a story-story, more like an explorer's log of a fantastical ruined city. It was meant to be an exercise to get me writing again. (I started it ten months ago; it's the only thing I've written since then. Not that I actually sat down to work on it more than, say, 5 times in those months. Remember how I said I needed to write more...?)

I broke my own convention and tried to use pretty stylized prose as an exercise, instead of my normal simple, invisible style, so it might get kind of awkward. And my architecture terminology is kind of unlearned. And, well, it's a lot of description and no actual story. And I'm still not sure about the ending. Oh well. Please to be reading and letting me know that things that you are thinking!

Kevin
12-27-2010, 04:46 PM
Oh hey so it turns out I did this (http://paulscheible.livejournal.com/3222.html).

I enjoyed this. It reminded me of Lovecraft without monsters, though I've been thinking about Lovecraft a lot lately so that may have colored my perception. The environment was complex enough that it was a little difficult at times to keep all the details straight in my head, especially inside the citadel, but most of the time it painted quite the picture.

Do you think you'll ever try to turn it into more of a complete story? I think all the architectural description could serve as a rich backdrop if you pushed the mystery aspect more. Maybe raise more questions earlier about who inhabited the city and what happened to them, and sprinkle in some clues throughout.

I liked how the ending implied a fate for the inhabitants of the city, though I'll admit that up to that point I didn't realize I was supposed to be wondering about it. If you went the mystery direction, you could build this question up sooner and more strongly, although after that the ending might not be entirely satisfying in its current form.

Kevin
12-28-2010, 08:22 PM
All right, I'm writing something too. I've been reading this book (http://www.commonplacebooks.com/p/book.html), which made me decide to try my own take on an entry in H. P. Lovecraft's Commonplace Book (http://www.commonplacebooks.com/p/list.html). This was actually a great way to get some inspiration--I haven't written fiction in years probably, but after randomly picking my entry, a story essentially wrote itself in my head the next morning. It's about done, but I want to do some editing, so I'll try to get it up here later this week.

Kevin
12-29-2010, 08:43 PM
And it's done (http://home.comcast.net/~coggerk/blackship.html). It's been a while since I've done this, so feedback is welcome.

mr_bungle700
01-07-2011, 09:46 AM
I wrote a story (http://mb700.blogspot.com/2011/01/yuyuko.html)!

A couple of warnings if you're going to read it:

1) You will probably not like the writing style. I anticipate this and I accept it. The thing is, I have been trying, and failing, to write stories for thirteen years. Since my eighteenth birthday, in fact. And only now, with this style, have I been able to succeed.

Not only that, but I can do it again and again, and I already have a ton of other stories waiting to be written. So I'm going to keep using this style because it works for me.

I think it was Neil Gaiman who said that anything that helps you write is good and anything that doesn't is bad. This style helps me write.

2) This is a fan story. A Touhou Project fan story, in fact. I tried to make it accessible even for people who aren't familiar with the series, but if I didn't succeed at that then you should let me know.

If you are familiar with the series and aren't interested in reading a story based on it, then you should read it anyway.

Alex Scott
01-07-2011, 10:45 AM
I think the sparse style does help, and you do a good job with it. However, now that it's all done, it can't hurt to put the lines back into paragraphs. Especially the dialogue: having it go from line to line makes it look like there's more than one speaker, and can get confusing. At the very least, you can make an exception for the dialogue.

mr_bungle700
01-07-2011, 01:39 PM
I'll give it a shot and see how it looks. I've tried a couple of times to consolidate the text into paragraphs and it never reads right to me, but maybe that's just because I'm used to seeing it a certain way.

I'll try changing the format of the entire story and give it a chance to grow on me. If it works, then I maybe I can write in the sparse style and then squeeze it all together afterward.

Elements
01-08-2011, 05:05 AM
I know very little of Touhou, despite wanting to get into it for some time, but I very much enjoyed the story. For someone that claims to not have successfully completed a story in over a decade, it seemed well done to me. The style of it didn't bother me at all, but I could easily imagine it doing so for others.

Paul le Fou
01-10-2011, 07:22 AM
I enjoyed this. It reminded me of Lovecraft without monsters, though I've been thinking about Lovecraft a lot lately so that may have colored my perception. The environment was complex enough that it was a little difficult at times to keep all the details straight in my head, especially inside the citadel, but most of the time it painted quite the picture.

Do you think you'll ever try to turn it into more of a complete story? I think all the architectural description could serve as a rich backdrop if you pushed the mystery aspect more. Maybe raise more questions earlier about who inhabited the city and what happened to them, and sprinkle in some clues throughout.

I liked how the ending implied a fate for the inhabitants of the city, though I'll admit that up to that point I didn't realize I was supposed to be wondering about it. If you went the mystery direction, you could build this question up sooner and more strongly, although after that the ending might not be entirely satisfying in its current form.

Hey, thanks for the feedback. Yeah, I'm trying to find better architecture terminology to get some more accurate description going; the citadel especially seemed hard to read.

As for a complete story, maybe. Originally it was just an exercise, describing a location from the world of my larger story, but I might write a few other places up as a kind of mini-collection. If I do follow this, I'll probably write mini-stories or threads about the locations into them to make them more interesting. I was going to do The White Tower next, see what happened.

And yeah, the idea for the ending came about some time after I wrote most of it, and it shows. I'll have to go back and write it more into the actual body.

Wolfgang
01-15-2011, 11:53 PM
You know what's hilarious? Disney Wishing Songs. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IWantSong)

I know that wishing on a star will make your dreams come true
But I don't know just what to wish, so this is what I do...

I wish for a dream for a wish
And I dream that my wishes come true
'Cause a dream is a wish on a magical star
So I wish for a dream starring you

Oh, I know that a magical wish
Is a dream that you wish in your heart
So I wish on a star for a magical dream
And I wish that my dreaming will start

I wish on the stars through the night
So I sleep in for most of the day
I wake up at one, and I wish on the sun
'Cause the sun is a star that's not so far away

So I wish for a dream for a wish
And I dream that my wishes come true
'Cause a dream is a wish on a magical star
So I wish for a dream starring you
I wish for a dream starring you!

Karzac
01-16-2011, 08:38 AM
You know what's hilarious? Disney Wishing Songs. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IWantSong)

I know that wishing on a star will make your dreams come true
But I don't know just what to wish, so this is what I do...

I wish for a dream for a wish
And I dream that my wishes come true
'Cause a dream is a wish on a magical star
So I wish for a dream starring you

Oh, I know that a magical wish
Is a dream that you wish in your heart
So I wish on a star for a magical dream
And I wish that my dreaming will start

I wish on the stars through the night
So I sleep in for most of the day
I wake up at one, and I wish on the sun
'Cause the sun is a star that's not so far away

So I wish for a dream for a wish
And I dream that my wishes come true
'Cause a dream is a wish on a magical star
So I wish for a dream starring you
I wish for a dream starring you!

I don't think I've ever heard that song, and yet a melody still came into my head as I read it.

Wolfgang
01-16-2011, 09:08 AM
I don't think I've ever heard that song, and yet a melody still came into my head as I read it.

Of course you haven't heard it, I wrote it. But I'm not a musician, so.

Evil Dead Junkie
01-18-2011, 10:29 PM
So fifty thousand words into my first draft and suddenly I've fallen in desperate hate with my new novel.

These bouts of hatred have come on me before, but normally I can recognize them as me just being hyper critical and insecure.

I'm not shaking it off so easily this time.

I'm inclined to soldier through another 25,000 words and hope I can solve my antipathy in the second draft. But I feel as if nothing good can come from basically hate fucking my book into existence.

The worse part is that is is easily the most commercial thing I've ever written. And the first long form thing that I feel could make it past a reader at a publishing house without them considering calling the men in the white coats. I know that's a shitty reason for me wanting to finish the book. But there's no getting around the fact that it's a reason for me wanting to finish the book.

Any advice?

mr_bungle700
01-18-2011, 11:54 PM
The best advice I can think of (and I am no expert) is to take a break from it. Shelf it for a while, several weeks if needed, and either work on another story or nothing at all. Eventually the hate should wear off, and after taking a break you'll be able to see the story with fresh eyes again. At that point, you'll either:

A) Rekindle the spark that got you interested in the story to begin with.

B) See some flaws in the story that made it stop working for you and figure out how to fix them.

or

C) Realize that the story really isn't something you want to do and move on.

I think that if you try to hate the story into existence you'll probably get a severe case of writer's block anyway, so taking a break might not even be optional.

Paul le Fou
01-19-2011, 01:21 AM
I was going to say what Bungle said. Putting some distance between yourself and your work usually lets you see it differently than you've been feeling it, which is often just what you need to make it through a tough spot.


What about it do you hate? Is it something small, big? Inherent? Character, story, setting? Is it something changeable or fixable? Even if you said no to the previous, is it changeable/fixable anyway (even if that does take a lot of work or a major rewrite)? Would getting feedback on it help? (Not the whole 50,000 words of course, but y'know).

Lucas
01-19-2011, 01:22 AM
Hate the book, love the paycheck. I'll probably be in the minority here, but I will note that there's a lot of good actors who take horrible roles purely to put food on the table; I get that writing is a different and generally more personal art than acting, but I'd argue that it's worth doing this once just to see if you have it in you and could make good money off it.

Evil Dead Junkie
01-19-2011, 01:58 AM
It's tough to explain, But in short, I feel like I've taken a generally creepy presence and made it about as scary as a cardboard vampire popping up and going "Blah" at a Carnie Spookhouse. And have taken a character who was supposed to be smart ass masking pain, to glib asshole who occasionally over emotes.

All while I was running today I realized that the premise that I thought was fresh was basically The Frighteners (not so much in the major plot but in the concept).

Now in all fairness inconsistencies tone are exactly what I usually use drafts to smooth over. And realizing that (The equivalent of we'll fix it in post) is usually enough for me to keep going. This time it's just proving a bit harder to shake.

Dizzy
01-22-2011, 09:33 PM
I think I like this Nick Mamatas (http://nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com/) character:

Here's an excerpt from a self-published mystery. It contains bad writing:

Even packaged as she was, in an ultra-conservative gray ensemble, Coventry couldn't help but notice the sway in her step and found himself fighting not to stare. She wore her hair down and long, as if she might be someone caught up in a world just a little too stuffy for her basic nature. For some reason he pictured her as one of those pent-up weekend warriors, maybe with a little tattoo of a rose on her ass or shoulder. No, not the shoulder, it would be the ass, where it wouldn't jeopardize her job.

Inside the office the women sat down while he stood for a second to get his bearings. Diplomas, bar admissions and awards jammed the walls, all very sterile and politically correct.

What is bad writing? (http://nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com/678705.html)


Amazingly, this crisis in the workshop continues despite it being a very simple one to solve. Exclude dummies who can't friggin' read from the classes. If I wanted to take a music performance class in school, I'd have to audition. If I wanted to take advanced studio art classes, I'd need a portfolio. But really, any moron can wander in to most creative writing classes, and a fair number of MFA programs, thanks to both demand and competition, have thrown open their doors to anyone with the ability to write...a check. One might ask how it is possible to tell the cosmopolitan from the conventional, and the answer is that like knows like: if one's MFA program is full of nitwit conventionals, look to the instructors and you'll find King High Nitwits, generally of the P.Q. Obamavote hand-wringing variety. So first kill all the workshop instructors...

MFA: Not Quite Right (http://nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com/1565818.html)

Billy Mays Is AWESOME
01-26-2011, 05:32 PM
I'm trying to write a general plot outline for a comic book idea I've had brewing in my head for awhile now. But I have no idea where to start, and I'm not an artist. Any suggestions?

Evil Dead Junkie
01-26-2011, 06:47 PM
Outlines are needlessly constricting and/or for pussies. Just google the format and start writing script pages while you look for an artist. Let the characters tell you were the story is going, not a needlessly straight jacketed narrative.

I'm being a little bit glib (big surprise). But for serious, outlines aren't for everyone. I understand that for some people they're a useful tool, but they run almost directly counter to my creative process.

Usually I start with a character, or a voice, coupled with a general idea of what the plot is and usually some idea of the where to end up. But even this I find best to keep loose. An ending should be a target, but if it hits somewhere else then where you were intending it to go, well that's not a bad thing.

Anyway, this is just my roundabout way of saying that ten pages of script or manuscript is more valuable to a writer then ten pages of outline any day of the week.

Karzac
01-26-2011, 07:03 PM
Yeah, outlines don't really work for me. I can't generate ideas unless I'm writing in the voice that I expect the finished product to be in. I'm actually in the middle of changing my writing process (so far I've only tried it for essays), so I don't know how useful my advice will be, but here it is:

Start by writing an extremely condensed version of what you'd like. Still keep it the same format, but make it rough and something that you can finish quickly. This way you know you'll get to the end. Once you've got that, look at it and see the parts that you want to develop. Think about what you want the story about, who the characters are, etc. In my opinion, this is more useful than an outline because it's more of a seed to start from, ratehr than a design to follow.

I'm not sure how well it would work for a comic script though.

Evil Dead Junkie
01-26-2011, 07:29 PM
For me the only real strength of the outline is consistancy of tone, which is what the majority of my draft work is about.

For example I'm going to have to do a fuck ton of editing on this Fantasy I'm working on again off again with because it started out as a light mild parody in the Discworld vein until I became genuinely interested in some of the concepts I was offhandedly introducing and it turned into a "straight" Fantasy novel.

Now if I had used an outline I wouldn't have to worry about retconning the tone of the early chapters. But if I had used an outline then it's possible I it never would have had the opportunity to evolve into what it turned out to be.

Billy Mays Is AWESOME
01-26-2011, 09:02 PM
If I designed a really solid idea/outline for a comic book series, how likely would it be that I could sell it for profit, the way people sell movie scripts to studios for a large sum of money up front? Does that happen ever? Or is that just a really '90's comic book thing?

ThornGhost
01-27-2011, 05:51 AM
If I designed a really solid idea/outline for a comic book series, how likely would it be that I could sell it for profit, the way people sell movie scripts to studios for a large sum of money up front? Does that happen ever? Or is that just a really '90's comic book thing?

I don't know for sure, but knowing a little of how the industry works through talks at conventions and just a general interest, I'd say it would be highly unlikely.

First off, I'm pretty sure the big two publishers (Marvel and DC) don't accept outside submissions for review. That alone would knock you out of getting any kind of immediate large payoff. Some smaller publishers MIGHT, but expect a lot of legal paperwork. Unsolicited submissions can be a legal nightmare for publishers, as they have to be very careful not to publish similar material in the future or risk getting sued.

Your best bet would probably be to team up with an artist, get an issue written and drawn and then shop it around a bit; see who bites. A completed work is always going to draw more attention than an idea.

nunix
02-04-2011, 06:28 PM
Things learned about the writing process over the last (oh god how did it go this long?! this was all supposed to be so simple) nine months:

* it is important to write every day. even if you only do a few lines! don't skip.
* it is important to have comfortable tools and writing environment. it can make a big difference!
* it is important to keep writing and just get stuff done and then go back and edit.

Writing fiction is hard, guys!

Figure Four
02-06-2011, 10:44 PM
Just finished the second draft of a short story I've been working on. Clocked in at a little over 7,000 words. Longest prose piece I've written in a while (I was about a third of the way through the second draft when I realized, "Shit, I can us a narrator!").

Figure I'd print it out at work tomorrow and give it a once over. Try to decide if it's something I want to put more polish on and maybe send out or file it away and work on the next thing.

I'd really like to do another draft of the Comic Book script I finished at the end of last year but I'm still waiting on feedback on it from some friends of mine.

Prinnydood
02-08-2011, 09:35 AM
I actually just finished part of a story I'd been working on off-an-on for the last three years. Over the last year or so, I've had a serious bout of inspiration and have been pumping out 4000 words per week for it. It's an absolute monster at well over 150,000 words. I guess I should see what can be safely cut out or something.

I can say it's a nice feeling to cap off a story, even if it is only part of it.

Alex Scott
03-19-2011, 06:49 PM
General question for the writing Tyrants: Do you ever find that what you read has an effect on what you write? Sometimes, if I'm writing, say, a Pratchett novel, I'll notice my style start to resemble Sir Terry's a little. If I'm reading Bradbury, I'll start to add a little more color and flavor. Murakami might add a bit of dreaminess to the style.

Then there's The Fountainhead. I can't put my finger on why, but in the few weeks I spent reading it, it got harder to write. It was harder to motivate myself to do any writing, and when I did, it was a lot drier and less dramatic than my usual stuff. Most telling is how I've done since I got to the end. I was working on a story (about werewolves!) the entire time I read The Fountainhead. I agonized through it and only got to the end when I finished the book. In the two days since finishing Fountainhead, I blasted through the second draft, and can probably get a third one ready in the next few days.

Karzac
03-19-2011, 06:59 PM
General question for the writing Tyrants: Do you ever find that what you read has an effect on what you write? Sometimes, if I'm writing, say, a Pratchett novel, I'll notice my style start to resemble Sir Terry's a little. If I'm reading Bradbury, I'll start to add a little more color and flavor. Murakami might add a bit of dreaminess to the style.

Then there's The Fountainhead. I can't put my finger on why, but in the few weeks I spent reading it, it got harder to write. It was harder to motivate myself to do any writing, and when I did, it was a lot drier and less dramatic than my usual stuff. Most telling is how I've done since I got to the end. I was working on a story (about werewolves!) the entire time I read The Fountainhead. I agonized through it and only got to the end when I finished the book. In the two days since finishing Fountainhead, I blasted through the second draft, and can probably get a third one ready in the next few days.

I don't actually write enough to know if what I read has an effect on me, but I assume that it would. My grandfather was a writer and I know that before he started writing a book he would read something in a style he wanted to emulate. That might work for you too.

Prinnydood
03-19-2011, 10:40 PM
General question for the writing Tyrants: Do you ever find that what you read has an effect on what you write?

Yeah, definitely. Whenever I write something, one of the things swimming around in my mind is the recent book I've read. Usually, it's more for technical reference, but mentally skimming through it does affect the style of my writing slightly. Though, I find the more often I write, the more solid my own personal style is.

Aquadeo
03-19-2011, 10:45 PM
Every single time I've ever sat down to try my hand at a novel, I've been influenced by whatever I read the month previously. It's really not that bug a surprise, considering I tend to talk like the novel I most recently read, too...

mr_bungle700
03-20-2011, 01:02 AM
I don't find myself influenced by exact content so much as mood. If I read something upbeat and pleasant it makes me want to write something with the same feeling, and if I read something dark and violent, then I might feel like trying that. This can be very useful actually, because if I ever forget the mood I was going for when I created a story, I can always read other stories with the same mood to remind me.

caviar.n.cigarettes
03-28-2011, 02:19 PM
Anyone else giving ScriptFrenzy (http://www.scriptfrenzy.org/) a whirl this year?

Luana
03-28-2011, 04:04 PM
Anyone else giving ScriptFrenzy (http://www.scriptfrenzy.org/) a whirl this year?

I know that reibeatall and I are. I've already got my idea all laid out and ready to go!

Paul le Fou
03-28-2011, 04:46 PM
Hmmm... I think it's time to dust off the ol' Final Draft and finally finish this screenplay.

Ooh it includes graphic novels! HMMMMMMM

Luana
03-28-2011, 08:51 PM
I'm writing a graphic novel! It's about CLASSIFIED

Issun
03-28-2011, 10:31 PM
General question for the writing Tyrants: Do you ever find that what you read has an effect on what you write?

For a writer, the main point of reading is to influence your writing.It's why you should read as diversely as possible (so as many good writers as you can, and some bad ones so you know how not to write).

Evil Dead Junkie
03-28-2011, 11:00 PM
General question for the writing Tyrants: Do you ever find that what you read has an effect on what you write? Sometimes, if I'm writing, say, a Pratchett novel, I'll notice my style start to resemble Sir Terry's a little. If I'm reading Bradbury, I'll start to add a little more color and flavor. Murakami might add a bit of dreaminess to the style.

Then there's The Fountainhead. I can't put my finger on why, but in the few weeks I spent reading it, it got harder to write. It was harder to motivate myself to do any writing, and when I did, it was a lot drier and less dramatic than my usual stuff. Most telling is how I've done since I got to the end. I was working on a story (about werewolves!) the entire time I read The Fountainhead. I agonized through it and only got to the end when I finished the book. In the two days since finishing Fountainhead, I blasted through the second draft, and can probably get a third one ready in the next few days.

Yes to a certain extent. It's funny when I'm writing I never read the virtuso's but the journeymen. The ones who are really good at linking one word to the next. Lots of Michael Connelly.

bobbywatson
03-29-2011, 05:29 AM
Anyone else giving ScriptFrenzy (http://www.scriptfrenzy.org/) a whirl this year?

I am. I have a very faint idea of what I'm going to write. It probably won't turn out very good, but I don't really care. It should be fun, and that's all that matters.

Karzac
03-30-2011, 09:45 PM
Alas, I haven't even been able to complete a NaNoWriMo yet and script writing seems a lot harder. Not to mention that my dialogue skills are so very penis.

mr_bungle700
03-30-2011, 11:08 PM
This is a man committed to his quest.

Dizzy
03-31-2011, 10:49 AM
Get piss drunk and slam away at the keyboard non-stop. Don't stop until you collapse.

Then get back up, take another swig and write some more.

Drunkenness is the key here.

Alex Scott
03-31-2011, 11:46 AM
I think I'll give this a shot. I've thought for a while that my story "Rina" would make a good comic, so this is a chance to see how far I can take it.

fugu13
03-31-2011, 12:25 PM
You know what, I think I shall do ScriptFrenzy (though my goal won't be to complete anything so lengthy). I've been meaning to do a stage play version of the Cabinet of Dr Caligari for a long while. Of course, someone's done it before, but mine will be different.

Luana
03-31-2011, 01:32 PM
Get piss drunk and slam away at the keyboard non-stop. Don't stop until you collapse.

Then get back up, take another swig and write some more.

Drunkenness is the key here.

... is your name Kyle? Or Nate? Or pretty much all of the people I know who either possess or are in the process of earning a graduate degree in creative writing?

I do really good work when drunk, but I want to possess a liver when I'm 40, so I can't rely on that method.

Evil Dead Junkie
04-03-2011, 11:25 AM
Really?

I've always been amazed by people who can write drunk/stoned. Not that I'm knocking it. I like being drunk/stoned, but it's total carrot and the stick principle for me. I HAVE to be sober when I write, or else the most complex thoughts I'm capable of are

A) Cupcakes! (Both)

B) I love you man! (Drunk)

C) That thing on TV is pretty (Stoned)

Evil Dead Junkie
04-03-2011, 11:39 AM
So I've been forcing myself to take a break from my main writing projects. I sat down last night with no more intention then to write up my monthly Book Column at TTDS and instead this really weird. REALLY WEIRD. short story popped out with no warning. More or less one sitting.

Like I said it's strange, and I've barely drafted it, but I it's actually a pretty good representation of my style so I thought I'd post it for some feed back.

So come on TTer's be brutal. Get your knives out and Tell me what I'm doing wrong.

......


Playdate

I let Stark out to play today.

For months now I could feel him coming closer and closer. For a week he had been just beneath the surface of everything I did in my day to day life. Like a reef concealed only by six inches of mirror clear water.

I eventually decided to let him out, on my own recognizance. The only other option was to wait for him to grow more and more impatient and burst out like steam from a kettle. Taking control at some inopportune time. It had happened before and the results were… unpleasant.

So like a functional alcoholic meticulously planning a bender, I mapped out a time to indulge myself that wouldn’t get in the way. A gray Wednesday afternoon during which I would not be missed. I sat down in my office chair at 1:14 PM. I closed my eyes. And Stark opened them.

The first order of business was grooming. I tended to let it go for days at a time, when I didn’t have to be seen and Stark couldn’t stand it. He shaved, first with a scalding hot water and a strong soap he worked into a harsh lather, then he wrenched the tap to the other side as cold as it could get, and then finally dry scraping the now dull blade against my skin until it was raw and pink. Punishing me for my laxness.

Next he took a pair of ordinary scissors and began to cut my hair, which had reached almost shoulder length. It took him awhile; he was methodical about it, leaving barely a half inch of hair between my scalp and the air. You’d of thought it would be crooked. It certainly would have been if I had been the one to cut it. But Stark was nothing if he wasn’t neat. When he was finished the hair looked as if it had been cut with a razor.

Next he shed my clothing. Shirt spotted with a bit of grease from lunch, pants covered in the crumbs of breakfast. He replaced them with a crisp white linen shirt, a pair of pressed black pants I forgot I owned and a neat black tie, not too long, not too short, not too thick, not too thin. He replaced my comfortable broken sneakers with wingtips. Heavy and polished.

He put on his coat. Not my comfortable Pea Coat, worn to a second skin with pockets built into pockets but the black slicker, sleek as the skin of the seal, only a step away from being a poncho. He gathered a few essentials into the pocket. Zippo and heavy gloves and then walked out the garage. My tool box was a mess. I tend to leave whatever tools I happen to be using most near the top and that is the beginning and the end of my organizational acumen. Stark dug through until he found an awl and a hammer small enough to fit in my pocket but sturdy.

Afterwards he couldn’t help but organize the toolbox. After he was done Stark turned and walked back into the house and then out the front door. Taking care to lock it behind him.

He rustled in the slicker pocket and put on a pair of aviator shades in disuse since then when out of style. His first place was the corner store where he bought a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes and some fluid for his zippo. I had quit smoking four years ago and even when I had smoked they were Parliaments, which Parker dismissed as below contempt.

After filling the lighter and walking outside, Stark lit a cigarette, and gave a long pull. My relatively virgin lungs rebelled. Went into hacking spasms at the unexpected returned of an old enemy. They were so strong that they sent him to a crouch. After recovering himself, Stark glared and took an even longer drag, holding in the smoke until the count of five. The bastard was punitive.

He ducked into a bar four blocks away. A cheerless cinder block place I usually avoid. He ordered himself a large tumbler of whiskey, and stuck his nose deep inside of it before he drank. He smelled the whiskey. Not sniffing it delicately the way a wine connoisseur would, but inhaling it with desperate wet snorts like a man hoovering up a line of coke. The bartender stopped his conversation with the wino at the other end and looked at him.

Stark pushed himself up and stared back. It was a good thing the bartender couldn’t see Stark’s reflective shark eyes behind Stark’s glasses or else he may have called the policy. Without breaking Eye contact Shark drained the large tumbler in a single swallow. He threw the heavy glass tumbler in a sharp baseball pitcher’s throw. The Bartender ducked and the wino pushed himself back falling off his stool onto the filthy floor, with a dismay cry that sounded more like the call of a falling bird then a man.

The tumbler struck the floor at the other end of the bar, shattering with some violence. The glass fragments reflecting the lights of the neon jukebox, which had just begun to warble “Don’t You Step On My Blue Suede Shoes” through its detuned speakers.

Stark straightened himself and stepped over the cursing drunk, who threatened to dig up our mother and do things to her of a sexual nature not condoned by society at large and most of the major branches of Christianity. Stark let him taste his wingtips. Then gave him a second kick to ribs for good measure.

The Bartender had recovered from his shock and began to assail Stark with threats and curses that Stark didn’t even bother to acknowledge with a glance. He left the bar and the Blue Suede Shoes while the bartender came around the bar to help up the drunk. Who had begun quietly sobbing, not so much from the pain as from the exhaustion. Later that night the bartender would cadge tips telling the story of this weirdo he had had to throw out earlier in the day.

Stark made his way three blocks south to a shopping center. He was happily buzzing with the alcohol and nicotine in my bloodstream. Both were much more foreign to my body then the last time he had visited so it took much less time for him to get to where he wanted to go. The buzz made him feel sharp, dangerous, as though he were riding a dark current and all he had to do was not get in the way.

Stark didn’t even notice he was in the grocery store until he felt the cool recycled air hit his face. It was thick, the air was. Almost like falling into a pool. It was stuffy, despite being temperature controlled. Nothing could disguise the fact that the air had been breathed too many times. He hated this air. It made him feel thick. It made him sweat no matter how cold it was.


He hurried to the butcher counter as quick as he could. Feet scuffing the tile floor, stumbling, shuffling, almost shambling until he made it to The Butcher’s counter. Beads of sweat were on his forehead, some trickled down his cheeks. Stark could smell the cheap whiskey coming through his pores.

Stark bought half a pound of ground beef. The good kind. The lean kind without all the fat. He handed the startled clerk a twenty and then hurried out of the store, before he could get change.

Stark hoped he would feel better as soon as he reached the fresh air. But he didn’t. The light and space got to his head; he could feel the tilting of the Earth. The heat came off of the parking lot and the smell of tar and sweat, not just his own but suddenly that of everyone around him made him so sick he thought he might just crumple to the filthy ground and begin weeping like a child.

It was only the thought of his treat that sustained Stark. He clutched the meat to his chest, like a jealous child afraid someone would take his toy. As though the meat was a puppy that needed his warmth and attention to survive. He walked as fast as he could to the other side and after checking the sight lines crept in between two idle delivery trucks.

Stark set his treat gently on the ground, kicking a few cigarette butts out of the way in order to make a little clearing. Then he untied his tie, took off his slicker and linen shirt and hung them together on a yellow cement pole of about hip height meant to keep the trucks from backing through the loading door.

Taking one last look around Stark took the white paper wrapped package from the plastic bag. Tore the masking tape with shaking hands, and took a great handful of the meat and stuffed it greedily into his mouth. He gave a low moan of pleasure that was muffled by the meat. It filled his mouth. Stuff out his cheeks like a chipmunk. As he chewed the blood pushed between his lips and began to dribble down his chin. He took no notice. Eyes closed raptously. He gulped trying to force the meat down so he could get some more. The meat stuck in his throat and for a moment panic broke through the bliss as he was sure he was going to choke. But then at the last second it dislodged itself and slid down the rest of the way as smoothly as down a greased slide.

Never the less, Stark took the next bite slower, forcing himself to savor it.

Evil Dead Junkie
04-03-2011, 11:41 AM
By the time Stark was done his right hand was red and the juice had dribbled down his chin, onto his neck, and even down to the uppermost parts of his chest, were it mingled with the hair there (a few grays now, that was new, along with a protrusion of belly that hadn’t been there before, Stark noted) among some flecks of discarded cow flesh, red and white mixed in with the fish belly pale of the skin of his chest and the black and gray of the hair.

The girl had put in a few napkins at Stark’s request. He began to brush himself off with them, though he had made more of a mess than he had anticipated, and the job was hard going. What he wouldn’t have done for a couple of those wet naps. The kind they gave at the KFC.

After a minute’s diligent work, Stark was presentable. Or as close to it as he was going to get. His chest still had a vague pinkish stain to it but it was hard to believe you’d be able to tell what it was unless you were looking for it. It was his right hand, which had continuously gripped at the meat, which was the problem. It had been stained red, and no amount of rubbing that would bring it clear.

Stark sighed, oh well there was nothing to be done about it. At least not here. Carefully, making all adjustments with his left he slid his hand through his sleeve, buttoned the shirt and shrugged on the slicker. The tie he left loose across the shoulders. No reason to ruin it.

He walked aimlessly away. Lighting a cigarette once he had cleared the parking lot. They were always best right after a meal. He felt good. No longer riding the cocky buzz of the whiskey, the panic that had gripped him in the supermarket and the ecstasy behind it both distant memories. He felt good. If Stark could ever walk with a spring in his step he would have. He felt ready. It was time for the next course.

He wound his way through the residential streets until he came to an apartment building that had left its outer door propped open. He made his way to the second floor. Second or third floor always. Far enough into the warren to insulate yourself. Close enough to the ground floor to reach it quickly.

The inside of the place was predictably dreary. Short non color carpeting that couldn’t even properly be called brown and walls so dirty they couldn’t even be called white. But the doors had peepholes. And that was the important thing.

He closed his eyes and walked for a while. First counting up making it to thirty seven before he stopped, and then humming tunelessly under his breath. Just as randomly as he started he stopped. The door in front of him had the number 21 in it. He leaned forward. Knocked on the door. Heard the sound of his rapping echo in the apartment behind it. Stark gripped the awl and the hammer in my pocket.

There was nothing. No sounds of shuffling steps. No attendant groan or “I’m coming or coming.” Silence. The tenants must be out.

Stark turned on his heels and walked the two paces across the narrow hall to the door directly behind him. He waited a moment. This time heavily shuffling steps did approach. Wearing slippers, sliding across the floor not striking it. They approached the door. Stark’s left hand was white knuckled around the awl as he drew it from his pocket. His right gripped the hammer.

This was the moment of truth. If the dead bolt just clicked, and the chain was unlocked it was no good, and you were left faced with a bewildered person and a lot of questions you couldn’t answer. But if you jumped the gun went too early then you were equally fucked. You had to wait for the exact moment, for the exact-

He heard it, the telltale pause. The absence of movement as the person on the other side peered through the keyhole.

As quick as he could Stark brought the steel point of the awl to the keyhole and struck the back of it with the hammer as hard as he could. He felt the first plate of glass shatter, a short slide, then the second. And then the point of the awl stuck in something soft.

There was a short moment of silence while the person on the other side of the door drew in a sharp intake of breath. This was Stark’s favorite part.

Before the scream could leave the lungs. Stark drew back the awl, having to work it a second first. And started down the hallway at a run. The shriek followed him, echoing off the walls, more a scream of indignation and shock then pain, though that would come later. No doors flew open, at least none that Stark saw before he reached the stairwell. At which point he forced himself to walk.

Stark’s reached feet hit the cement of the sidewalk and when he was three blocks away he began to whistle. Not the tuneless and atonal sound of his hum, you could almost call it jaunty. Five blocks away from the apartment building he heard what might have been sirens.

About a half mile way from home Stark left. Immediately my knees buckled and I vomited in the bushes. The red raw meat, covered in a fine whiskey glaze stared up at me accusingly. That was almost the worst part of it. The meat. I had been a strict vegetarian since 2002.

I pushed myself to my feet, glancing around and thanking Christ that no one had been out walking their dog. I reached my shaking hand into my jacket and withdrew a Pall Mall, after a few tries I got the zippo to light and took a deep drag. The Pall Malls were harsh on my throat. They had been when I smoked habitually. The smoke was coarse on my throat and I knew I would hate myself in the morning.

But fuck the morning this was now, and at least it got my hand to stop shaking. Almost.

I made it home without much more incident. Taking care to throw the pack of smokes in a trashcan after taking one more. I burned that one down to the filter, and by the time I made it home I was dizzy as a school kid smoking behind the seven eleven for the first time.

I walked into the hall and glanced nervously at the clock. Five fifteen. I frowned. It wasn’t bad, but what I wouldn’t have done for another half hour. Quick as I could I made my way to the garage and replaced the awl and hammer. Then I went to the closet of disuse and hung the slicker and black tie.

I was cutting things close. I went into the kitchen filled, a pot of water and set the burner on high. Then made my way to the bathroom where I tried to scrub the stain from the ground meat off of my hand and the smell of vomit from my breath. I was successful with one of them.

I made my way back into the kitchen. No time to change clothes. I reached into the refrigerator and began to pull whatever was in arm’s reach out. I rinsed the lettuce, and put a container of pesto on the stove at low next to the boiling pot of water. I began chopping the vegetables. Making a mess out of the tomatoes, but calming down in time to give the peppers and the carrots the time and care they deserved. I had just finished chopping up the Cucumbers when the front door opened.

I peered around the edge of the kitchen into the hall. My wife stood there. A bag of groceries balanced on one hip. Our daughter balanced on the other.

“Hey babe.” I called, coming forward to take the grocery bag, “You’re just in time.” I leaned forward and gave her a peck on the cheek as I took them.

She looked me up and down appraisingly “Look at you.” She said cocking one of her dark thick eyebrows fondly, “All in people clothes.”

“Yeah,” I said with a sheepish grin, “That was my big project of the day. Getting dressed.”

“And a haircut,” she said, approvingly.

I ran my free hand through my hair, “Well you’ve been nagging me about it for a month. Now?”

“Nagging?” she said, with faux outrage, “C’est Moi?” my wife is Mexican but she insists on interjecting French.

“How was your day?” I asked.

She smiled warmly and nodded towards our sleeping daughter. She was starting to get too big to carry like this; I could see my wife straining with her weight, not that she would ever admit it. “Good, Sarah’s a little tuckered out. We had a play date at Karen’s today.”

“I remember.” I said, and leaned forward to kiss my sleeping daughters forehead.

As I pulled back my wife, stared at me strangely. She wrinkled her nose and frowned “Have you been S-M-O-K-I-N-Ging?” she asked, more genuinely puzzled then nagging. Another one of her quirks insisting on spelling “objectionable” things out whenever our daughter is in earshot. Even if she’s unconscious.

I gave my best sheepish grin, “Yeah, I ran into someone from the old days and he talked me into it for old time’s sake. It was weird anyway. I think it’s safe to say the thrill is gone. C’mon, I was about to put the pasta in.” I said, and before she could ask me anything else, I was halfway down the hall.

Evil Dead Junkie
04-03-2011, 10:13 PM
ouch...

Nyarlathotep
04-03-2011, 10:45 PM
I'm going to read it, I promise. I've just been a little busy.

mr_bungle700
04-04-2011, 01:59 AM
Yeah, it's not so much "I have nothing to say" as "I haven't read it yet." But I will! I can't promise any useful advice though.

Paul le Fou
04-04-2011, 05:09 AM
No one commented on my song in the other thread either. I've come to accept that "talking about creating" actually just means "talking about pictures and we don't care about anything else."

Karzac
04-04-2011, 11:34 AM
Okay, I read it.

I liked it quite a bit. It's creepy and horrifying and the matter-of-fact way you describe everything really emphasises that.

It's hard for me to offer feedback without knowing exactly what your going for with the story, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

First of all, what sort of feedback are you looking for? Do you want big picture stuff, or more specific things? I'll give my impressions for both for know.

On the specific side, there are quite a few typos and stuff, but I'm sure you'll notice those on a re-read. You also have some quirks with your punctuation, namely with putting periods where it looks like there should be a comma and vice-versa. This is something I've noticed on your blog as well, so maybe it's a purposeful stylistic choice, in which case, ignore me. If it's something you do without noticing, I can point out some specific instances if you'd like.

Onto bigger stuff. Are you trying to emphasize the differences between Stark and the narrator, or their similarities? If it's the former, try to differntiate the tones in the sections more. If it's the latter, make those sections more tonally similar. There are points where the narrator seems detached from Stark's actions and points where he seems more connected to them, but there doesn't seem to be a pattern to that. Make it more clear which side he's leaning towards.

Also --and this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine-- vary your paragraph lengths more. For me at least, reading the same length paragraph over and over can get tiring, especially whent they are short. It be becomes difficult to connect ideas and events to each other. It also makes the rhythm of the story get monotonous. Ths comes back to what I was saying about tone: maybe Stark's section should have longer paragraphs to emphasise the sort of trance he's in. The beginning and the end could provide a contrast, with shorter paragraphs that indicate the narrator's fractured consciousness. Like I said, it depends on what you want to do with the story.

That's about all I've got to say. Like I said, if you want more specifics I can give them. Also remember that you've got way more writing experience than I do, so a lot of what I said might be complete bullshit. But it's honest bullshit.

And I did really like the story. I think there's a lot there that you could work with. You got some really cool ideas and you seem to have a pretty good command of your style, especially since this is an early draft and a lot of the stuff I noticed would probably be fixed by you anyway.

I hope I've been helpful.

Paul le Fou
04-04-2011, 07:01 PM
Some assorted jotdowns as I read through:

Spelling/usage/grammar errors or clunky lines; easy enough to fix. Awhile, you'd of, deep inside of it, call the policy, dismay cry, raptously, etc. Strange comma placements abound.

Reference to a girl (put in some napkins) that isn't referenced beforehand; changing earlier reference to girl or later to clerk would connect better.

The repetition of Stark is getting to me. It might be a stylistic thing but since you're writing in a pretty stark (heh) direct style it comes up in almost every sentence; I (think I) see what you're going for with it but the effect gets pounded in a little too hard.

Seeing some sections that seem overwritten. A glass shattering with some violence; descriptors on dialogue (cocking... fondly, said sheepishly, with faux outrage, approvingly - these are usually unnecessary, as good dialogue can convey them on its own. My biggest takeaway from Steven King's On Writing: avoid adverbs and dialogue modifiers when at all possible.)

Actually, descriptors could be cut down in general: a little too much detail/too many unnecessary words in the personal grooming section and beyond, fishing for synonyms and unsual/writerly vocab. Things like "began to" do something (e.g. 2nd post 1st paragraph) are usually unnecessary - just let them do it. A lot of similes that I'm not sure are necessary - one each in the first three paragraphs, perhaps a few too many. Spelling out too many details can work as a style point, but it also bogs down the story and is more often than not a detail that we didn't need to see or could put together on our own.

In keeping with the above, I see a lot of sentences that kind of run on too long or try to cram too much in. "began to (see above) assail Stark with curses that..." could be broken up and simplified. "As quick as he could... hit it as hard as he could." Besides the repetition, we don't need to know how fast he could do it - we're going to assume he's working quickly. "without much more incident." Much more? Was there some little incident? Just a bit? Why not take the opportunity to add some flavor/story? Or nothing at all - why not just say that? The first paragraph in the second post is one long sentence. They get kind of twisty and awkward on their own, and more importantly, they clash with the otherwise stark, direct style you seem to be aiming for.


I'm assuming Our Hero is cognizant of Stark and what he's doing, which is how he's describing everything. And he's probably used to this, having dealt with it before, which is how he describes it in such calm detail. We don't really see any of his own thoughts until the end (actually, we don't see his thoughts at all, just his actions); we get first person narration which turns mostly third person, but it seems like Stark has full control ("I closed my eyes and Stark opened them"). The lack of reflection or horror while Starked or afterwards makes it seem like Our Hero is basically willing to undergo all this, complicit in his own possession, which is an interesting angle. As you said, "like a functional alcoholic meticulously planning a bender." If that's the twist, the key to the story, you might want to punch it up a bit, both with our expectation of horror/revulsion early on and then subverting it with a feeling of relief/release for Our Hero at the end. The simile should probably be removed from the beginning of the story to avoid putting too fine a point on it.

Pajaro Pete
04-04-2011, 07:26 PM
No one commented on my song in the other thread either. I've come to accept that "talking about creating" actually just means "talking about pictures and we don't care about anything else."

Images are easier to process than words and music.

Also, totally agreeing with the "Kill all adverbs" thing.

Dizzy
04-04-2011, 07:29 PM
All art aspires to the condition of music.

nadia
04-04-2011, 08:02 PM
General question for the writing Tyrants: Do you ever find that what you read has an effect on what you write? Sometimes, if I'm writing, say, a Pratchett novel, I'll notice my style start to resemble Sir Terry's a little. If I'm reading Bradbury, I'll start to add a little more color and flavor. Murakami might add a bit of dreaminess to the style.

Yes. I've been, uh, picking at a fanfic for 11 years or so, and it's kind of funny/sad because you can clearly see the points in my life when I was influenced by certain writers.

I amazed the shit out of myself last weekend and managed to work some more on my (UNDER CONSTRUCTION FOREVER) novel. I thought I'd paste an excerpt here. I'd also post context, but I'm too hungry to bother. You don't have to read or comment if you no wanna, but if you want to hit my prose with a wooden spoon, I am always up for that shiiiz.

Oh, I'll give you this much context: This thing is from my second draft.

**

Fade out, Moira willed herself. Fade out.

Schaeffer sat beside her. He gripped her wrist under the picnic table with his left hand, and used his right to peck at his cellphone. He was a small, shaven black man with a gold canine tooth. He was also predisposed to quick, sharp movements and, as Moira thought she detected at least once, shivering. He always gripped himself before she could be sure, though.

The picnic table he'd chosen was chipped, grey, and flecked with knots. It was inconspicuous, a number of paces away from the main concrete path and under the embrace of a weeping willow. Traffic on the Island was far from thick given the season and events going on on the mainland. When Moira thought about those events, about the bomb out east and the rest of it, it felt unreal, something she would have rolled her eyes at if it had been presented to her as the sub-plot in a cheap thriller movie. But it was all real to Schaeffer, the trembling, superstitious chihuahua who held her captive.

The rim of her vision began to go black.

"Hey."

Moira jerked awake. Schaeffer was staring at her. His dark skin was misted a little with sweat. "You OK?"

"No," Moira said quietly. "The bomb was just the start. The world is on the verge of some very bad shit. What we're going through, you and I, this is nothing."

Schaeffer cringed. "Don't swear," he muttered, turning away. "Girls shouldn't swear."

"Soon enough, it won't matter what I do."

"Shut up." Schaeffer gripped her wrist harder and Moira felt her hand start to go numb. Her heart dropped into her stomach and for a second she fought a nauseating wave of fear. Navigating around Schaeffer's moods was like probing around quicksand one step at a time; she didn't know how far was too far.

He had wanted to rape her, she knew, back when they were back in the house, back in that bedroom. Something had stopped him. The kick she'd delivered when he'd gotten too close had been a major deterrent, to be sure, but there was something else. Fear of reprisal from Jake, maybe? More than that: Schaeffer was scared of her.

That wasn't entirely a good thing. It was at least part of the reason for the bruise he'd laid on her cheekbone before they'd left for the Island. Moreover, he was on edge, brimming with adrenaline. He wouldn't let her go, not for a second. Her cellphone was long gone; it had been the first thing Schaeffer collected from her, even though Jake had returned it earlier. Amazing how neutered that made her feel. Her muscles coordinated a fantasy wherein she broke away from Schaeffer and ran, ran, ran. There was a firehouse on the Island, even a cafe or two that was open at this time of year. People lived on the Island. It was far from deserted, even in the off-season. Even in a city that was currently addled with fear and confusion.

But her brain drew up a cruel conclusion to her escape: A crippling
stitch in her side that wouldn't allow her to breathe. Trying to suck in enough air through a throat that was tight with terror. Footsteps slapping on the concrete, louder and louder. A hand closing around her arm, nearly jerking it from its socket. She had nightmares like that. She couldn't live it. She couldn't even face the possibility.

"Your boy is looking for you," Schaeffer said. He was looking at his phone. "He's on this island."

"Oh?" Moira's voice cracked and she cursed her eagerness.

"Maybe this will be over soon. Behave yourself and I won't have to hurt you again."

Moira felt heartsick. Behave yourself and I won't hurt you. How many girls had heard those very words just minutes before a blade bit their throats?

Suddenly, Schaeffer laughed. The sound was like a seal's bark, impossibly big and jolly. "You ever met Jake's second wife, Wren? Nah, I guess not; she's dead. Anyway, you're a bit like her."

"What?"

"Yeah, and I didn't like her much."

The sickness squirmed in Moira's belly again. "Why?"

"Creepy bitch," Schaeffer frowned. "She could see things. Talked to God, saw faeries. You're a bit like that, aren't you? I can tell."

"Did she say she talked to God and all that?"

"Nah, not really." Schaeffer half-stood and slipped his phone back into his pocket. "She was just strange--a bit like a kid. I'm surprised Jake fell for her. I'm more surprised she figured out sex and had a baby."

nadia
04-04-2011, 08:04 PM
(EvilDead, I'll help j00 out in a bit, but I'm pressed for time riiight this second!)

mr_bungle700
04-04-2011, 08:07 PM
No one commented on my song in the other thread either. I've come to accept that "talking about creating" actually just means "talking about pictures and we don't care about anything else."

I think that it's just a lot easier to critique art. It only takes a moment to look at it, and any flaws it has are immediately obvious (to people unlike me who actually know how to art). Stories are a much bigger time commitment and require thorough analysis. And songs are just such a base expression of who a person is that it's hard to critique them.

There have been lots of times when I've wanted to comment on someone's work but either didn't feel like I had anything useful to say or didn't feel like I could make the time commitment necessary to find something useful to say. I imagine that there are other folks around here who feel the same.

EDIT: Hey, Turnip said basically the same thing.

Karzac
04-04-2011, 08:31 PM
Nadia, that was good stuff. I can't really offer advice on something so out of context, but I liked it. Keep it up.

nadia
04-04-2011, 08:54 PM
Nadia, that was good stuff. I can't really offer advice on something so out of context, but I liked it. Keep it up.

Thank you! The formatting was a bit effed, so I went back fixed that up.

Let's help Evil Dead!

First, congratulations on starting and finishing a short story. Not being sarcastic; I despise writing short stories, and I'm awful at it. They are hard to write.

Second, congrats on penning a fun and readable story. I enjoyed it!

I agree with Paul's excellent advice. To add my own, you go a bit nutty with the similes. You know, "like," and "as." I can't say much: I fucking love using similes and metaphors. But in some instances you have two crammed into a paragraph, and that's jarring.

Strip your prose naked and believe in it. You have some beautiful descriptors even without the similes, like the bit about the half-digested lump of meat and whiskey. That's disgusting. I love it.

Paul le Fou
04-04-2011, 10:43 PM
OK so, I thought I'd repost my little song/poem thing here and see if we can't keep this workshop train a-rollin'. (Nadia I'm comin' back for you don't you worry. I'm in too deep to stop now!)

This is supposed to be/resemble an Irish folk song; I wrote it to match a game idea I worked out from a dream a while back. I had a vague idea for the actual tune (It's supposed to be fast and bouncy, kinda light-hearted; think just a fiddle or two and maybe an Irish flute to accompany). But, turns out it somewhat too closely resembles an energetic "Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms," at least in the refrain. Not sure how OK I am with that (Oh it's, Y'know, a pastiche. Homage. Yeah, that's the ticket.)



The Bells of Kilgarren

Refrain:
OH, the bells of Kilgarren are ringin', they're ringin'!
The bells of Kilgarren are ringin' away!
With the sweetest of voices they sing, how they're singin'!
With the sweetest of voices they bring the new day!


How pure and how clear are those bells, can't you hear 'em?
They wing o'er the dells, like birds taken flight!
No song half so sweet as the bells of Kilgarren!
Last song o' darkness 'fore mornin's first light!

Refrain

Oh, whence comes the song of those bells of Kilgarren?
From the deepest of vales or the heart o' the sun?
For we hear those bells ring every day before mornin'
But in eight hundred years we ha'nt ne'er seen a one!

Refrain

Oh my love left to find those sweet bells of Kilgarren
To ring 'em herself, she walked valley and plain
And I think that she did find those bells out somewhere'n,
For after that day she was ne'er seen again!

Last refrain:
OH, the bells of Kilgarren are ringin', they're ringin'!
The bells of Kilgarren are ringin' away!
With the saddest of voices they sing, how they're singin'!
With the saddest of voices they bring the new day!

Karzac
04-05-2011, 08:21 AM
I like it Paul! It's got a really great rhythm to it, and I can already hear an Irish voice singing it in my head. My one question is: does Ireland actually have any plains?

Evil Dead Junkie
04-05-2011, 11:39 AM
Thanks for the feed back everyone. I'll be taking you on one at a time.



You also have some quirks with your punctuation, namely with putting periods where it looks like there should be a comma and vice-versa. This is something I've noticed on your blog as well, so maybe it's a purposeful stylistic choice, in which case, ignore me. If it's something you do without noticing, I can point out some specific instances if you'd like.



Actually I'd like that very much. It sucks because I know my grammar is holding me back in certain cases, but it's not something I can see unless I'm proofreading like a month later. Which really isn't an option in blogging.

I have been working on my usage issues (its/it's where/were/wear then/than) and I've gotten those mostly sorted through the last year. I can learn, I just need constant negative reinforcement.

Onto bigger stuff. Are you trying to emphasize the differences between Stark and the narrator, or their similarities? If it's the former, try to differntiate the tones in the sections more. If it's the latter, make those sections more tonally similar. There are points where the narrator seems detached from Stark's actions and points where he seems more connected to them, but there doesn't seem to be a pattern to that. Make it more clear which side he's leaning towards.

Yeah this is probably the sort of thing that I would have ended up fixing on my own. The way I saw it was that the narrator is in the passenger seat while Stark's in the drivers. He can see what's going on but often finds it better to ignore it. Either way there's always a bit of him there.



Also --and this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine-- vary your paragraph lengths more. For me at least, reading the same length paragraph over and over can get tiring, especially whent they are short. It be becomes difficult to connect ideas and events to each other. It also makes the rhythm of the story get monotonous. Ths comes back to what I was saying about tone: maybe Stark's section should have longer paragraphs to emphasise the sort of trance he's in. The beginning and the end could provide a contrast, with shorter paragraphs that indicate the narrator's fractured consciousness. Like I said, it depends on what you want to do with the story.


Good advice.


That's about all I've got to say. Like I said, if you want more specifics I can give them. Also remember that you've got way more writing experience than I do, so a lot of what I said might be complete bullshit. But it's honest bullshit.


On the contrary I found this remarkably bullshit free.

Evil Dead Junkie
04-05-2011, 12:06 PM
Strange comma placements abound.


I know this is about as basic as it gets but can someone explain why I suck so hard at this. I know I tend to comma splice, but that's what I've always thought of comma's as for, to separate one idea inside a larger one.



Reference to a girl (put in some napkins) that isn't referenced beforehand; changing earlier reference to girl or later to clerk would connect better.



Yeah I actually knew this one. But when I was finishing the story it was three and I was too tired to go back and put the detail in and then I was trying to get it on TT before work and just went "Ah no one will notice." Thanks for proving me wrong.



The repetition of Stark is getting to me. It might be a stylistic thing but since you're writing in a pretty stark (heh) direct style it comes up in almost every sentence; I (think I) see what you're going for with it but the effect gets pounded in a little too hard.




Yeah this is over correction. On my first read through I thought I left it at he too often, so I went back and added his name a bunch of times. Given a bit more time I probably would have been able to find the balance.


Seeing some sections that seem overwritten. A glass shattering with some violence; descriptors on dialogue (cocking... fondly, said sheepishly, with faux outrage, approvingly - these are usually unnecessary, as good dialogue can convey them on its own. My biggest takeaway from Steven King's On Writing: avoid adverbs and dialogue modifiers when at all possible.)



Yeah I usually go after the adverbs much more vigorously. Just a handful per book. I don't know why I let so many slip through.


Actually, descriptors could be cut down in general: a little too much detail/too many unnecessary words in the personal grooming section and beyond, fishing for synonyms and unsual/writerly vocab. Things like "began to" do something (e.g. 2nd post 1st paragraph) are usually unnecessary - just let them do it.



Yes this is something I need to work on. Frankly my descriptive passages are the parts of my writing that I'm most insecure about. I can rattle off pages of good dialogue in my sleep it's the stuff inbetween that's trikcy. So any specific advice here is very much appreciated. I haven't received any formal training outside of screenwriting, and that training on descriptive passages is to eliminate and simplify wherever possible.

So in away I have to fight against my own training to write the passages at all it's tough to know when I'm over or under compensating...


A lot of similes that I'm not sure are necessary - one each in the first three paragraphs, perhaps a few too many. Spelling out too many details can work as a style point, but it also bogs down the story and is more often than not a detail that we didn't need to see or could put together on our own.


Which results in me over relying on similes and metaphors.



In keeping with the above, I see a lot of sentences that kind of run on too long or try to cram too much in. "began to (see above) assail Stark with curses that..." could be broken up and simplified. "As quick as he could... hit it as hard as he could." Besides the repetition, we don't need to know how fast he could do it - we're going to assume he's working quickly. "without much more incident." Much more? Was there some little incident? Just a bit? Why not take the opportunity to add some flavor/story? Or nothing at all - why not just say that? The first paragraph in the second post is one long sentence. They get kind of twisty and awkward on their own, and more importantly, they clash with the otherwise stark, direct style you seem to be aiming for.


Point taken.


I'm assuming Our Hero is cognizant of Stark and what he's doing, which is how he's describing everything. And he's probably used to this, having dealt with it before, which is how he describes it in such calm detail. We don't really see any of his own thoughts until the end (actually, we don't see his thoughts at all, just his actions); we get first person narration which turns mostly third person, but it seems like Stark has full control ("I closed my eyes and Stark opened them"). The lack of reflection or horror while Starked or afterwards makes it seem like Our Hero is basically willing to undergo all this, complicit in his own possession, which is an interesting angle. As you said, "like a functional alcoholic meticulously planning a bender." If that's the twist, the key to the story, you might want to punch it up a bit, both with our expectation of horror/revulsion early on and then subverting it with a feeling of relief/release for Our Hero at the end. The simile should probably be removed from the beginning of the story to avoid putting too fine a point on it.

Yeah my idea was that Stark is something the hero is just kind of resigned to at this point. Something he can't control so he just kind of grits his teeth and gets through it. The deadened horror, aside from the physical revulsion, was purposeful. The first time something terrible happens, you're horrified. Something terrible happens a couple of dozen times you've either gone insane or you've learned to deal.

I purposefully wanted to keep the nautre of Stark vague. But whatever he was he's something the narrator has been dealing with for a long long time.

Evil Dead Junkie
04-05-2011, 12:14 PM
Thank you! The formatting was a bit effed, so I went back fixed that up.

Let's help Evil Dead!

First, congratulations on starting and finishing a short story. Not being sarcastic; I despise writing short stories, and I'm awful at it. They are hard to write.

Second, congrats on penning a fun and readable story. I enjoyed it!

I agree with Paul's excellent advice. To add my own, you go a bit nutty with the similes. You know, "like," and "as." I can't say much: I fucking love using similes and metaphors. But in some instances you have two crammed into a paragraph, and that's jarring.

Strip your prose naked and believe in it. You have some beautiful descriptors even without the similes, like the bit about the half-digested lump of meat and whiskey. That's disgusting. I love it.

Thanks Nadia I really appreciate it. I liked your work, had a little hard time getting a bead on Schaffer as a character (showing concern and while obviously being an aggressor, wincing at a curse word then letting his own fly), but I'm sure context would help.

Evil Dead Junkie
04-05-2011, 12:16 PM
OK so, I thought I'd repost my little song/poem thing here and see if we can't keep this workshop train a-rollin'. (Nadia I'm comin' back for you don't you worry. I'm in too deep to stop now!)

This is supposed to be/resemble an Irish folk song; I wrote it to match a game idea I worked out from a dream a while back. I had a vague idea for the actual tune (It's supposed to be fast and bouncy, kinda light-hearted; think just a fiddle or two and maybe an Irish flute to accompany). But, turns out it somewhat too closely resembles an energetic "Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms," at least in the refrain. Not sure how OK I am with that (Oh it's, Y'know, a pastiche. Homage. Yeah, that's the ticket.)



The Bells of Kilgarren

Refrain:
OH, the bells of Kilgarren are ringin', they're ringin'!
The bells of Kilgarren are ringin' away!
With the sweetest of voices they sing, how they're singin'!
With the sweetest of voices they bring the new day!


How pure and how clear are those bells, can't you hear 'em?
They wing o'er the dells, like birds taken flight!
No song half so sweet as the bells of Kilgarren!
Last song o' darkness 'fore mornin's first light!

Refrain

Oh, whence comes the song of those bells of Kilgarren?
From the deepest of vales or the heart o' the sun?
For we hear those bells ring every day before mornin'
But in eight hundred years we ha'nt ne'er seen a one!

Refrain

Oh my love left to find those sweet bells of Kilgarren
To ring 'em herself, she walked valley and plain
And I think that she did find those bells out somewhere'n,
For after that day she was ne'er seen again!

Last refrain:
OH, the bells of Kilgarren are ringin', they're ringin'!
The bells of Kilgarren are ringin' away!
With the saddest of voices they sing, how they're singin'!
With the saddest of voices they bring the new day!

I like it Paul. Unfortunately I know absolutely nothing about song craft, but to my untrained eye it looks fine. Wish I could offer something more constructive.

nadia
04-05-2011, 01:55 PM
Context would probably help on my piece, but I will say this much: I knew a guy who went crazy if I swore because I was a girl, but he was allowed to be as foul-mouthed as he wanted.

Takes all kinds of misogynistic types to make a world, I suppose.

Karzac
04-05-2011, 02:30 PM
I know this is about as basic as it gets but can someone explain why I suck so hard at this. I know I tend to comma splice, but that's what I've always thought of comma's as for, to separate one idea inside a larger one.


Comma splicing is when you use a comma to seperate two independent clauses.
For instance:

Jane went to the store with her dog, the clerk behind the counter asked her what she wanted to buy.

The comma there should a period, because each clause can stand on it's own.

In your quote above, the comma in "as for, to separate" is also misplaced. That should probably be a colon or a dash.

Unfortunately, I can't remember all the arcane uses for commas. Generally, you use them a) after opening words in a sentence (like in the beginning of this one), b) between nouns or adjectives in a list (apples, oranges, pears; or tall, dark, handsome), c) to add non-essential information (David, the paramedic, loved ice cream) and d) to introduce a subordinate clause (The dog is nice, unless you anger him).

There's probably a ton more uses, but the think about traditional grammar and punctuation especially is that there are so many goddamn rules and exceptions that you're never going to be able to remember or properly use all of them. Nobody can. Most of the time, people pointing out mistakes are just on the lookout for their own personal pet peeves.

So don't sweat it too much. If anything, ere on the side of caution. If you don't feel comfortable using a specific punctuation mark, just don't use it.

locit
04-05-2011, 05:47 PM
The Bells of Kilgarren
It took me a while to make up my own tune to fit it, but I really enjoyed this. The last refrain balances the tone really well. The line "For after that day she was ne'er seen again!" sounds kind of off in my head, but that may be due to "ne'er," which reads to me like it has two syllables.

To follow Paul's lead, here's a poem I've been tinkering with:

Hong Kong alleyway
city of bridges
the personal visceral
public
permissible
a backdoor tango
where dancers can stomp
to a jazz
_____syncopation
each swerve
of their hips
pens a subtler story
while whirling red skirts
capture hundreds of eyes
at the crack of wet stone each shoe signs for its maker
drumming ramshackle rhythms
they dance through the night

I'm compelled to try and tweak it, but it usually ends up unsatisfying in a new and different way. I'm sure it could be better, but I don't know how. Poetry is hard.

sraymonds
04-06-2011, 05:04 PM
So hey, I expanded my pen and paper RPG character's backstory, and then I decided to go full on and try to write a novel about him. However, being a robot and not programmed for human emotions, I'm not sure if I'm hitting the right notes. Would any one be willing to give the intro a look through?

Prinnydood
04-06-2011, 05:34 PM
So hey, I expanded my pen and paper RPG character's backstory, and then I decided to go full on and try to write a novel about him. However, being a robot and not programmed for human emotions, I'm not sure if I'm hitting the right notes. Would any one be willing to give the intro a look through?

Sure, though I'm not sure how much of a help I can be on the story front. I can help with grammar and punctuation and that sort of thing.

sraymonds
04-06-2011, 05:40 PM
Sure, though I'm not sure how much of a help I can be on the story front. I can help with grammar and punctuation and that sort of thing.

Ah, it was the story bit that I need help on.

Prinnydood
04-06-2011, 05:44 PM
Ah, it was the story bit that I need help on.

Can't hurt to have an extra pair of eyes look over it, can it? Is it cohesiveness or flow or something? Those are things I can spot pretty well.

Paul le Fou
04-07-2011, 09:43 PM
Oh, I'll give you this much context: This thing is from my second draft.

I didn't forget about you!

My jotdowns as I go through:

You present it without context, and that's ok because Moira gives us enough context with reference to some things that have been happening. Nothing detailed, but enough to give us a frame of reference. It works in an excerpt. My worry (based completely on conjecture) would be that, in the context of the novel where everything has happened, it would be excessive/unecessary reference to things we've already read. There were a few more moments like that - reflecting on the bedroom episode. Unless there's some new information or a new thought of hers in there, it likely doesn't need to be revisited. You could just jump right into "Why hadn't he raped her back in that bedroom?" or "what stopped him from raping her?" without needing to re-establish the context. Same for references to the bombing.

Other than that, it's hard to say without context/more development, but pretty good stuff! A few things here and there, like the line about blades "biting" the girls' throats - a) "bit" works but it's a little melodramatic, and b) does she have reason to believe he's going to kill her? Maybe it's the lack of context but it doesn't seem like she's in imminent danger, more like they're waiting for something, so the thought seems out of place.

Also, this might be more of a pet peeve, but I'd drop the "it felt like a cheap thriller" reference early on. For one, it's practically a cliche, kind of a cheap and easy way to relate how the story is supposed to feel to the reader. Two, and stop me if I'm overthinking this, it actively invites comparison of your story to a cheap thriller, and not in a good way. It's the literary equivalent of saying "well shucks I ain't so pretty and I'm not too bright and I ain't really good at nothin', but I'm sure you'll like me anyway for some reason!" Telling your audience that your story is like (some bad thing) isn't really going to help your case.





Hudson:
I'm not too good with poetry (like you said, it's hard), but one thing I noticed was that you seemed to slip in and out of having a rhythm and it kind of shook me off. It might be an effect of trying for an actual syncopated rhythm with "Jazz syncopation" but it ended up throwing me off. Now that I realize that was where I thought the rhythm broke down, though, maybe it just needs to be tweaked; syncopation still flows rhythmically, but this one stopped me in my tracks.

Also, I think the 3rd last line (is that supposed to be two?) has an extra syllable in the second half the ended up elongating the sentence and making me hurry to keep up.

nadia
04-10-2011, 03:01 PM
Tanks, mang! Yeah, I have a flair for the overdramatic.

Figure Four
04-16-2011, 12:56 AM
I finished up a script for a graphic novel back in December and ever since I've been focusing on short stories. I had a quite a bit of trouble on the first story: It kind of got away from me and ballooned into a 10,000+ word monstrosity. Once I finally put that piece to bed I've found myself reveling in my return to prose.

This piece was a bit of an experiment since its the first thing I've written in the first person in years. I have my problems with it but I'll leave them unspoken for now. It doesn't have a title yet since I'm bad at that.

----

Hi. There used to be a rather long story here which I don't think anyone actually read. Anyways, I've actually submitted this story for publication and, as such, don't feel comfortable leaving an early draft just sitting on the web.

If, for some reason, you actually want to read said story feel free to drop me a PM.

Figure Four
04-17-2011, 12:24 AM
Finally had a chance to read your story, Evil Dead.

Karzac and Paul seemed to have covered most of it but there are two points that stuck out to me. The first is the relationship between the Narrator and Stark. Are they truly two separate personalities or is Stark merely the Narrator's name for his violent tendencies? It might be something that you want to leave ambiguous in the story but, to me at least, it felt like it shifted from time to time. Either a harder division or a greater connection between the two characters would make for a better reading experience.

The other is conclusion to the incident in the bar. "He left the bar and the Blue Suede Shoes while the bartender came around the bar to help up the drunk. Who had begun quietly sobbing, not so much from the pain as from the exhaustion. Later that night the bartender would cadge tips telling the story of this weirdo he had had to throw out earlier in the day." The Narrator shouldn't have any knowledge about what happens after Stark leaves the bar. A quick fix for this would be to have him hear the wino crying as he turned to leave and turning the last sentence into speculation.

Really enjoyed the story. It reminded me of the good episodes of Jekyll. I look forward to reading more.

Flint Ironstag
04-26-2011, 10:29 PM
Well my dark fantasy setting never came to fruition, haha. :D

However, as of late a new idea has been popping around in my head, though it's hard for me to expound on it. Basically: Mythological Greece, in space opera sci-fi. The city-states are space colonies, ether is a radioactive particle generated by the planets (named after the Olympian deities, of course) which serves much like GN particles, and mythic creatures are extraterrestrial lifeforms.

Basically I have the visuals, music, and motif of the Halo series, but juxtaposed with Greek mythos. I need to find a way to draw upon this.

Pajaro Pete
04-27-2011, 12:00 AM
Urgh rereading old stuff you've written is the worst thing evaaaaaaaar.


I can’t breathe and if I keep running I’m pretty sure my chest is gonna explode. If I stop my legs are going to stop working. And I’ll probably get shot.

I really should ask Reagan why the very large, very angry man is chasing us with a shotgun. God, she’s got to be like twenty yards ahead of me. How is she so fast? She probably hasn’t spent the last fifteen years drinking. It’s entirely possible I was already drinking before she was born.

There are probably better times to start having a midlife crises.

My side’s burning and I don’t know if I’ve been shot or if I’m just tired. I’m too chicken shit to look down and check. If I check I stop. I can’t stop. Not while I can still hear the guy’s feet behind me. They’re uneven, like he’s wearing two different shoes. Or maybe only wearing one shoe. I can stop when they stop. Wait, that’d mean he’s getting ready to shoot. It was a shotgun he was holding, wasn’t it? He doesn’t have to be a good shot with that. It’s never a shotgun in the movies, it’s always a handgun.

What do they usually do in the movies? Hire a stunt double. That doesn’t help me. They duck into an alley and hide in the shadows. That’d be suicide, the street lights are placed to light up the alleys, to make it safer. Thank you, City Council. They’re too narrow anyway, he’d just have to point and shoot. Reagan’s gotta realize that too.

She’s a smart kid, it’s too soon for her to die. I should tell her to hide. I’d have to yell. That would defeat the purpose. I don’t know if I even can yell. I really don’t wanna die. God Reagan, if you’d just turn left up here at this intersection, I could lead him away. Maybe. At least she’d be safe. Unless he’s after her and not me. How are there no cops around? Normally you can’t even spit in this town without it landing on a cop and tonight we’ve run at least five blocks and not seen a one.

Maybe I should just stop running. If I do, he’s just gonna shoot me. This isn’t a movie, he’s not going to hold me at gunpoint and explain why, he’s not gonna use you as bait, he’s just gonna pull the trigger. Right?

Something’s squealing behind me. That’s not the sound a gun makes. Don’t look back, just keep running. Reagan’s already stopped and turned around. She’s looking behind me. Is it safe to stop? No, just keep running til you get to her.

She’s soaking wet. She’s saying something, but between her gasps for air all I can hear is “Did he.” I don’t have to try to figure out what she was asking, because when I turn to see what she’s looking at I know exactly what she said.

The answer is yes. Yes, he did get hit by a truck. Yes, his body is still on the hood of said truck. Yes, that is a lot of blood. No, necks and arms don’t bend that way normally. Yes, I think I am gonna throw up.

She looks at me, and I can’t tell if the stuff on her cheeks is sweat or tears. It’s probably a little bit of both. “What do we do?” That’s a good question.

Ahaha I somehow formatted this to make it two full pages.

reibeatall
04-30-2011, 03:19 PM
Just had to put this in another spot other than the Content thread...

http://www.scriptfrenzy.org/sites/all/themes/scriptfrenzy/you_won_2011/winner_icon_180_360.jpg

bobbywatson
04-30-2011, 04:02 PM
Just had to put this in another spot other than the Content thread...

I did that last year, and won, but this year, the motivation was not there...

ThornGhost
05-03-2011, 01:43 PM
Does anyone know anything about publishing an e-book? I have a project I've been working on (generally I expound about it in this thread (http://www.gamespite.net/talkingtime/showthread.php?t=11221)) that I'm closing in on 20,000 words with.

Since the project is essentially a collected series of articles, I was thinking about packaging what I have now together in a sort of novella and trying to distribute it as a free e-book to try and build some interest in the project.

I know there's a number of services that distribute e-books like that - Feedbooks, Project Gutenberg and the like. Does anyone have any experience with them? I'd want to keep my rights to the work, just distribute it in a different format than I have it now.

fugu13
05-03-2011, 01:59 PM
Forget free, use Smashwords to stick it up on all the ebook stores for 99 cents. You upload the file in Word (sticking to their guidelines) and it'll convert it for you passably with a bit of fiddling with the word file.

Alex Scott
05-03-2011, 04:32 PM
Or, if you want to make the ebook file yourself, you can use Sigil. (http://code.google.com/p/sigil/) Let me know what you find out about actually putting it out there. I've been wondering about this ever since Chattacon.

sraymonds
05-10-2011, 08:07 AM
Does anyone listen to music while they write? I usually just go with whatever's on my iPod, but I think I need music without lyrics.

bobbywatson
05-10-2011, 08:09 AM
Does anyone listen to music while they write? I usually just go with whatever's on my iPod, but I think I need music without lyrics.

Always. Usually game music or classical. I'm a geek, what can I say.

Nyarlathotep
05-10-2011, 07:47 PM
I listen to music all the time while I'm reading and writing. The only genre I avoid is rap, since it's so language heavy.

Sometimes it might influence what I write, but that's pretty rare.

Evil Dead Junkie
05-11-2011, 12:31 AM
Does anyone listen to music while they write? I usually just go with whatever's on my iPod, but I think I need music without lyrics.

I used to listen to really aggressive stuff Metal stuff when I wrote but within the last year I switched to instrumental.

I find soundtrack's work great. My go to stuff is Trent Reznor's instrumental stuff. Works REALLY well.

Paul le Fou
05-11-2011, 01:03 AM
I don't need instrumental because I rarely pay attention to lyrics when I listen to music, but I do think that instrumental is better. I use it to set a mood for what I'm writing. I often go for Yuki Kajiura or Yasunari Mitsuda soundtracks, or stuff like Explosions in the Sky, té, Sigur Ros, Supercar, Suneohair... it also depends on what mood I want to set for myself and the story, and also (moreso) whatever just happens to be stuck in my head at the time.

Falselogic
05-11-2011, 08:54 AM
Music usually distracts me from writing. Oddly enough I find that the repetitive motion of the train I take to and from work the most conducive to helping me flow...

I've started a new blog that is just for my writing, Fictive Funk (http://wp.me/s1dPbB-17). Right now the site just has my stuff on it but I'm hoping to make it a collaborative effort at some point where other's can post their work and get feedback, etc. Maybe at some point we can even release a chap book.

That is a little pie in the sky, right now it just has a single poem but it's constructed in such a manner that poetry, prose, and works of art can all be added in.

Alex Scott
05-15-2011, 01:18 PM
So the past few days I decided to stop procrastinating and get as much of my fiction submitted somewhere as possible.

Problem is, I still have a few stories outstanding. I sent one story in December to Cicada, a YA literary magazine, and another to a small webzine back in March. I haven't gotten any response from either one, and now the webzine is no longer accepting submissions, and I have no idea what the status is on my story. I'm wondering if I should write to them to ask about it, or just go ahead and submit them somewhere else.

Nyarlathotep
05-15-2011, 01:39 PM
I'd ask first. No harm in that, I think.

Evil Dead Junkie
05-17-2011, 09:14 AM
Yeah I'd say ask and then send if you don't hear back in a reasonable time.

That way if some conflict does arise you've covered yourself.

Alex Scott
05-17-2011, 05:33 PM
That's the plan now. I emailed one, they said they've suspended publishing, so I can send it somewhere else, and I have a letter ready to send to the other.

nadia
05-31-2011, 08:54 AM
Ahhh, contributing to fiction 'zines/sites/mags. I gave up on that ages ago after I came really close to getting published in a paying, nationally-published short story magazine that promptly went under. :I The butthurt is strong in this one.

First piece* I got published, ever, was on Nuketown (http://www.nuketown.com), which still exists, but more as a blog than a sci-fi story publishers. It does have a handy-dandy link to a magazine that's looking for subs, though, so go 4 it!!!!11


*Said piece was This thing, (http://fav.me/d1pjmi) which I wrote when I was 18. It's kind of garbage, but I'm fond of it just because it was my first, um...success? Is that the word I need here?

Paul le Fou
06-04-2011, 08:07 PM
The first bit of The White Tower, a thing I'm working on. It's related to The Black City that I posted earlier, but not connected within the story. I like the direction I'm taking this one a little more so far. Let me know what you think!



I had expected to see signs of the tower or its ruin before long, or at least to glimpse some remnant of civilization. Two days, three; my pace is brisk and my drive is strong, as you know.

But the forest stretched on for days and days, and then days more; it only became denser as I walked. Trees grew taller and taller, older and older, closer and closer together. The shade became deeper. The air became stiller. The world became quieter. And, luckily, the wildlife became more abundant—as did mushrooms, nuts and fruits, even certain herbs. Though I traveled so long and deeply into that quiet wood, I feared myself lost only rarely, and feared for my hunger still less. In truth, certain human hosts have served me worse meals than I was provided by the trees and beasts of that strange and wonderful place. Flowers too, sweet of scent and bright of color, became thick in the depths of the forest; surprisingly so for how little sun penetrated the canopy. Delicious food, beautiful scenery, and undisturbed serenity. As I walked and climbed, even had I no destination at all, I would have enjoyed my trip for a relaxing wilderness sojourn.

After many days, the forest broke abruptly. Without thinning or shrinking, the trees simply stopped—mostly—at the rim of a steep embankment above a shallow rocky beach. I say “mostly,” for several of the hardy fellows had taken root in near-vertical stone, growing up and out of the embankment. Their size and resilience, easy rivals to those of their brothers above, impressed me—and made my eventual descent much easier, for which I add to my admiration, my gratitude.

Before I descended, I surveyed the sea that had opened before me so suddenly. Comprised in the main of water, somewhat bluish. Wide. Distinctly lacking in certain points of interest—for instance, not a single great white tower of whispered legend. No matter; lacking exact directions, I had purposely come too far south, and now turned north to begin my sweep of the coast. I cannot claim, however, to have felt no disappointment at failing to strike my target at first thrust, as I recently had in Belori.

My arrival was not a loss, however! I had been surprised (and somewhat disappointed in myself) at how suddenly this shoreline had crept upon me from within the forest, and I realized as I made the beach what senses had been missing from this scene: those familiar signs of the ocean. There had been no telltale scent of salt spray in the air, no crashing of waves. The water was still, and I could yet smell more of the sylvan than of the marine. I took the sea in my hand and drank; sweet and clear. Fresh water.
Not a sea, then, but a lake. But how great a lake it must have been! When I later regained the embankment, I saw that from even the tallest of trees there was no hint of distant bank or island in any direction. Tower or no, I had made a discovery.

After offering my thanks I bathed and drank, then turned north along the beach and walked, towering forest to my right and expansive lake to my left. At night I climbed back to the forest—further thanks to my stalwart friends, the trees—and bedded down on its rather more plush carpet.

For days I followed the coast north, flanked by tree and by sea, pausing only to trace on my map, for there were no other sights to record. I passed no rivers of note and saw no mountains; the vast lake's source had to lie across it. Or perhaps before me, or behind. I had no clue as yet to the lake's size, or even its shape. The only change was in the forest, where I believe the trees continued to grow ever taller and the flora ever thicker. The abundance of growth, I realized, extended too into the lake itself, where schools of fish clustered in every bay and fronds of seaweed grew thick and healthy—and delicious, on both accounts.

On the third day I encountered two men, to no inconsiderable surprise on my part or theirs. I came 'round a small promontory and there, on the beach, were they, with their boat anchored a short ways from shore. I hailed them, and to their credit they did not attempt to kill me; my record in this regard is quite good (though sadly not, as you will recall, flawless). They appeared simple folk. They were sun-darkened and wore knee-length skirts woven of a tough fiber. I saw later that they had rough shirts as well but usually chose not to wear them. I regret to say I formed a somewhat inadequate prejudgment of their people based on their rough state, forgetting that these were mere fisherman, and fisherman of our own land are hardly representative of the heights our own people are capable of.

Fisherman they were, though, as I saw when they brought me to their boat. Hanging into the water from either side of the craft was a large closed net half full of fish, and several smaller ones besides. They showed me how they caught the fish and closed them in these cages, presumably to keep them alive until they could return home. They had come to this bay, they demonstrated with much pointing and gesticulation, to gather a certain kind of shellfish that they kept in a cage of wood.

I joined them on their boat, helping them with their fisherman's work in exchange for my passage, though they likely would have given it for free. In truth they were something of a lazy pair, stopping often to rest if they saw a rock-free stretch of beach, or diving overboard to swim and play for no reason I could discern beyond whimsy. I must admit, however, that the climate was particularly nice and for my part, I did not resist the temptation to play either, eager though I was to continue. They were also, I soon learned, moderately gifted musicians, playing light melodies on a rounded flute-like instrument of clay and another of some heavy reed. I accompanied them by shaking a seashell full of pebbles.

Unfortunately, I am something of a simpleton at tongues, ungifted in the learning of any language beyond my own, and so even after some days my communication was limited to the simplest of words—grievously mispronounced, I fear—and many gestures. Luckily, their people's words were bound to paper as well as sky; I collected many samples to bring back to my more learned colleagues.

After another day of traveling northwards—thankfully—along the coast, the two fishermen tied their nets tight and turned away from the shore. I believe they used a particular pair of promontories as their sign, for it was certainly nothing they saw across the water. We traded our people's songs and ate fresh raw fish and seaweed as night fell, and soon I fell asleep in the bottom of the boat. I would come later to regret this.

As it turns out, my pantomimed request to wake me when the fishermen sighted land was not understood, but they awoke me at first light. In truth, there was no land in sight—but there was, finally, plenty to see. We were approaching a great number of boats clustered together; from the smallest of dinghies to great ships—I thought—that dwarfed any open-seas trade vessel I had yet seen. More than fifty, all told. And there, far beyond them, reaching into the sky from beneath the horizon, was the white tower.

To Be Continued!!!

Belmont
06-06-2011, 10:38 AM
I'm in need of an editor to look over a couple articles (under 1000 words a piece) and possibly in the future as well. If you could lend me your sword shoot me a PM. I'd really appreciate the help and pointers provided as I work on sucking less.

ThornGhost
06-06-2011, 10:44 AM
Paul, I did enjoy the short story. I enjoy the sort of travelogue feel of it, kind of an adventure journal. Is that what you are going for? If so, it might be worth it to look up some of the classic exploration journals. Lewis and Clark's are free to read online (http://lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu/), though I think the protag in your story is a bit more romantic than that.

ADDITIONALLY, ALL WRITERS:

Machine of Death 2 is now taking submissions. (http://machineofdeath.net/mod2) The first one went over really well. Let's hope the second one can hold up to the magic.

Get your keyboard clacking!

Sanagi
06-06-2011, 02:03 PM
One of the best novel-writing tips (http://www.locusmag.com/Features/2009/01/cory-doctorow-writing-in-age-of.html) I've heard: Each day, stop in the middle of a scene, or even in the middle of a sentence, so that your starting point tomorrow will be easy and obvious, or you'll have a cliffhanger that you'll enjoy finishing. This has been extremely helpful to me.

The other thing I've learned that's made a huge difference: Planning out a story beforehand is anathema to actually writing the story. Discovery is the motivation to write.

locit
06-07-2011, 01:59 AM
The other thing I've learned that's made a huge difference: Planning out a story beforehand is anathema to actually writing the story. Discovery is the motivation to write.
Unless you're writing a true story. Then it's probably a big part of it!

Speaking of, I've been blorging again because I have stuff to blorg about now. This post (https://hcliv.wordpress.com/2011/05/27/friday-night-in-beijing/) about China's everyman begins with:
I’m tired, but the sound of splattering vomit catches my attention.
This post (https://hcliv.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/last-night-in-tokyo/) about my last night in Tokyo contains at least one descriptive passage that I was pleased with:
There was a jazz bar, a beers-of-the-world bar, a bar for older salarymen and a bar for younger salarymen, a bar dedicated to Hollywood classics and a bar where two young women in kimonos—one pink and one blue—laughed guilelessly at the running commentary of a stocky old man in a polo shirt with a half-inch buzz cut whose smile dug deep canyons into the fat of his face as he laughed with them.
I'd love to hear you guys' thoughts on quality and flow. I get the feeling that I let sentences run on too long, and would welcome advice on how to deliver the same information without exhausting readers.

Paul le Fou
06-07-2011, 02:00 AM
Paul, I did enjoy the short story. I enjoy the sort of travelogue feel of it, kind of an adventure journal. Is that what you are going for? If so, it might be worth it to look up some of the classic exploration journals. Lewis and Clark's are free to read online (http://lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu/), though I think the protag in your story is a bit more romantic than that.

That is exactly what I'm going for, actually. Thanks for the L&C tip (I should look up more explorer journals) although yes, the protag is rather more romantic, and the settings will be rather more... fantastic. I want to go back to The Black City (the one I linked a while ago) and give it another pass with the newer style. Once I finish this one...

Figure Four
06-09-2011, 09:20 PM
I just realized that this the second story I've written this year that climaxes* with two characters having sex outdoors. I... I think I've learned something about myself today.

*wink wink nudge nudge

Falselogic
06-09-2011, 09:33 PM
I just realized that this the second story I've written this year that climaxes* with two characters having sex outdoors. I... I think I've learned something about myself today.

*wink wink nudge nudge


That you should be having more sex outdoors?

locit
06-10-2011, 04:16 AM
It's a lesson we can all take to heart.

Evil Dead Junkie
06-24-2011, 10:39 PM
Well never mind.

Paul le Fou
10-26-2011, 05:05 PM
We can't stop talking about writing, not now!

I've had a burst of creativity free time at work recently and am rapidly closing on the end of The White Tower, my more recent short (I posted the first bit of it in the beginning of June a little while ago). Which is not actually very short at all, come to look on it.

Now that I've got a deadline - November, so I can free myself up for NaNoWriMo - I seem to be a lot better at sitting down to get it done! (He says as he looks at Gamespite with the document open in the other window)

Raven
10-26-2011, 10:52 PM
I've had a burst of creativity free time at work recently and am rapidly closing on the end of The White Tower, my more recent short (I posted the first bit of it in the beginning of June a little while ago). Which is not actually very short at all, come to look on it.



Looking forward to that. I read the previous part and really interested in seeing where it leads to. Is it some kind of homage to the Dark Tower?

Anyway, there's a writing anecdote I want to share. Some time ago, I exchange short stories w/ a fellow aspiring writer. Since I haven't done any fiction writing lately, I gave him three of my old stories.

Story 1 (written 6-7 years ago, back when I was in senior high) is a body-switch comedy about a boy who somehow turns into a girl for one day. It's corny as hell and I cringe a lot when I read it now, yet I remember having a great time doing it (I haven't got a computer at that time, so I hand-wrote everything and transcribed it later in my school's computer lab. Good times).

Story 2 (written 2 years ago) is a dark sci-fi fable about an ant who developed individual consciousness and tries to break free from the hive mentality. This is my personal favorite.

Story 3 (written 1 year ago) is about a boy who noticed some random writings on his classroom's wall and....yeah, it's basically a mindfuck. It's an experimental story where I tried to bend the narrative structure to accommodate my twist. I'm largely unsatisfied by the result.

So, my friend read all of them and commented later: "Story 1 is 100x better than Story 2, and Story 2 is 100x better than Story 3." Which is REALLY depressing, since it means I actually got progressively worse down the road. And I kind of trusted his opinion, since he had some of his stories published already.

At first, I can't understand why he picked Story 1 (which is very juvenile and crude) as my best work. But, reviewing it again, I can kind of see his point: it's a lot more honest and sincere. As I read more, wrote more, attended Creative Writing class, and generally became a more knowledgeable person, I also become more obsessed with stuffing symbolism, fancy narrative tricks, and purple proses into my story....trying to make it very deep and forget to, you know, tell a story. Although I still think that my Story 2 is way better than Story 1, I also feel that I will never be able to write something as enthusiastic and unabashed as Story 1.

So, yeah, does anyone ever have that kind of feeling?

Paul le Fou
11-01-2011, 05:52 PM
Ahahaha! I'm done! (The first draft of) The White Tower is finished!

It's also a monster! Like, nearly 15,000 words, over 30 MS word pages! For what is essentially location porn, it's probably way too long. For obvious logistical reasons I won't be posting it here. (Although serial blog posts would give me impetus to finally start up that interblag I've been thinking about...) If anyone's interested in giving it a once-over in exchange for comments and feedback, let me know!

locit
11-02-2011, 02:11 AM
*ahem*

mememememmemememememmeemmeeeeeeeee

ThornGhost
11-02-2011, 08:05 AM
So, yeah, does anyone ever have that kind of feeling?

Totally know what you're talking about. I recall finding some kind of comedy thing I wrote a while ago and reading. I was amazed at how...vivacious it was? It was just crass and unflinching. I suppose I don't really care for it as a piece of writing, but there was a life and honesty in those words that is diluted in my current work.

Evil Dead Junkie
12-09-2011, 12:35 PM
She cut her wrists in the bath that night.

Some would say that it was awhile coming. That it had nothing to do with what happened the next day. Bullshit. She felt the tremors in the ground before we did and they bowled her over. Her family lived up on one of those houses on the hill. Her father’s with a hefty thump. I could tell from theid with the leg dropped. My third shot hit one of them in the leg, the thigh turned to red pulp but she kept coming full speed. The third was lucky, High in the sterum, he folded up. Then the rest of them were on me.

They began to tear at me. I could feel long strips of my flesh pulling away under their nails. I screamed, I can’t remember ever screaming before but I did then. Then I just began swinging. I can only remember what happened next in flashes. Thank mercy such as it is. I can remember a pair of eyes giving way under my thumbs and a skull hitting the pavement. Eventually I got hold of Alvin’s baseball bat. Then the next thing I remember I’m looking down at Sargent hoping he’ll forgive me, not thinking he’s going to.

I shuddered. I can remember my mind wanting to be dead, but my body not allowing it. I quivered with adrenaline, the blood pumping so hard in my head that it drowned out all the sounds. I threw up just from the sheer adrenaline that was in my system. Then I looked down at what I had done and I threw up again, until I couldn’t even muster any bile.

It was screams once again that roused me from my stupor. About fifty yards down the street a woman had fallen and a pack was swarming around her. Her screams became shriller. She wasn’t hurt badly yet, but she would be soon. I got to my feet and ran for her. In the distance I could hear the sirens, when they arrived things would really get out of control.



I hardly have to tell you what happened next. We all still bare the scars. Every pre pubescent child in the world lost their mind. The ones who survived, who the authorities managed to capture rather than kill are all in asylums. They haven’t gotten through to a damn one of them. My son in law works in one of those places. Says they keep them in restraints the whole time, isolated in their own cells. They have to. If they don’t they try and beat their brains in against the floors and walls and it doesn’t matter how thick you pad them or how much thorazine they pump into them, they’ll do it until they succeed. They have to keep them in isolation because if they put them in the same room with others of their kind they just tear each other apart.

Kindest thing to do would probably be a bullet behind the ear. Of course no one wants to do that. Hell I know I couldn’t. There’s far too much blood on my hands already. But that’s not why we won’t do it. Got nothing to do with so called kindness or humanitarianism neither.

We won’t do it, because the day we do is the day we give up hope. Hasn’t been a child born since that day. The slow death of the human race just hit its five year anniversary. If we did it, if we killed those kids, the last kids who are ever going to be. We would just be admitting that we had no one to care for them. Because that will be when it happens. Some day, forty fifty years down the line a group of sixty year old orderlies will walk from cell to cell and put them down. Because they can’t bear the idea of the day that no one would come to feed them. But that’s just part of it, what they really can’t stand is the idea that the last human beings on Earth will be raving, monsters who shit their pants and whose first response to other living creatures is to try and tear out their throats. On that day hope will truly die and we the sorry final torch bearers will be all that’s left. To write the final words as well as we can.

Every day that we put that one off is a good one. Or least as good as we can hope for.

FinalSlayer
12-09-2011, 02:21 PM
Culture War


Good stuff.

In terms of cutting words, easy targets look like paragraphs #2, #4, #5, and the one describing Madelyn. Once you get into the attack and aftermath, things run smoothly, but before that, it's a little long on the description.

As a simple example, I would cut out

"I guess that’s pretty on the money. But"

You lose nothing by taking it out, especially since you establish the folksy tone later on anyways, and it's more concise.

Sarcasmorator
12-09-2011, 02:35 PM
I concur with FinalSlayer. Look for sentences that are longer that can be trimmed down and still say the same thing. Something like:

"When I look back on it and try to pinpoint just where things started, I think of Mary Beth bleeding on the lawn that afternoon in June."

Can become:

"When I look back and try to pinpoint where things started, I think of Mary Beth bleeding on the lawn that afternoon in June."

or even:

"When I try to pinpoint where things started, I think of Mary Beth bleeding on the lawn that afternoon in June."

Another example:

"I shot him, my first shot catching him high in the chest, just under the collarbone, the next one right under the right eye. He went down."

Could be:

"I shot him, my first shot catching him just under the collarbone, the next just under the right eye. He went down."

These are small edits, but stuff like this adds up quick in terms of word count, and can add a bit more energy to the lines themselves.

Evil Dead Junkie
12-09-2011, 08:57 PM
Thanks guys I appreciate it.

I have to admit that a lot of the words already cut came from eliminating folksyness! I'll have no folksy left before this is out!

FinalSlayer
12-22-2011, 12:43 AM
I've written almost 1500 min-reviews on Criticker, but most of those are under 500 characters.

Meanwhile, I have just started the far more arduous task of writing reviews for all the books I have written. Let me know what you guys think of this particular piece;

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/205398360

ThornGhost
12-29-2011, 07:42 AM
I'm in the process of starting a small writing group. The goal is to have a place for critiques and to give each other some people that will give us motivation to keep writing. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to run it and make it successful?

The whole thing got going pretty organically - people from overlapping social circles talking about how much we'd like to have a group until we realized we had enough people for a group. There's around six of us and we've got everything from unpublished amateurs to people with some experience working with newspapers and magazines to an English instructor at a local community college.

My idea is that the first meeting we sort of introduce the projects we'll be working on and then we meet once a month after that. We email each other the pieces we'd like critiqued for the meetings before they happen and then give each piece its own time during the meeting. Then maybe we end with general chit-chat like things we've learned and discovered, sharing resources, things like that.

Can anyone offer suggestions?

Evil Dead Junkie
12-29-2011, 08:30 AM
Honestly man it sounds like you've got it pretty spot on.

I suppose the only thing I'd recommend would be to set some specific guidelines as to how much should be read by each person at each meeting. Obviously you should be flexible, but you don't want someone dominating every meeting with 6000 words.

ThornGhost
01-19-2012, 07:42 AM
Tonight we're going to have our first writing club meeting! We've had to push it back a bit but I think once we meet for the first time, it will get easier to schedule.

Traumadore
04-23-2012, 11:59 AM
I know everyone here quit writing in despair about 3 months ago, but maybe you can appreciate this humorous article? (http://www.theawl.com/2012/04/how-to-write-the-great-american-novel)

ThornGhost
04-23-2012, 12:26 PM
Hey, that was a pretty good article.

To be sure though, I'm still totally writing; more than ever, really. Thanks to my writing club, I've been pretty consistent in laying down the Fat Riker (http://www.fatriker.com), but I've stopped slathering it all over the web because I'm getting significantly past the halfway point of the planned collected novel and I don't want that much of it available if I'm going to make an honest go of selling it to a publisher.

I'm still totally down for talking about writing, though.

Traumadore
04-23-2012, 12:32 PM
I'm glad to hear your writing club took off despite the ominous last post there. Something is happening to me that I never thought would: a persistent itch to write. I might be contributing to this conversation which would normally terrify my fierce.

Evil Dead Junkie
04-23-2012, 02:03 PM
We haven't quit we're just anti social. Have three more installments to finish in SODM and then Ill be ready to start on the second draft of the novel I finished in February. In the meantime I am toying with 3.5 outlines.

Good times.

bobbywatson
04-23-2012, 06:48 PM
I am writing these days. I'm writing a comic book script. And it will most likely be stored on my hard drive, never to be looked at again once I'm finished with it. But the world building I'm doing while writing it will certainly be useful in the future, so that's a good thing...

Alex Scott
04-23-2012, 07:03 PM
I'm trying to get to the end of revising the novel I've been working on forever. My writing group and I have also been working on a zine of poetry and short stories, and I'll be linking to the PDF when we the print version out.

Rosewood
04-24-2012, 07:29 AM
I've been taking notes like crazy and have something of a plot outline together.

One character took over the story, then another one took their place, but character 2 really is not central to the plot so I'm letting him say his piece in my mind and giving him side-character status in the actual story.

Writing a fantasy novel is more work than I'd have expected--even something like "does this country/world have horses?" leads down a rabbit's hole of potential research.

Alex Scott
04-24-2012, 09:41 AM
Somehow I'm at the darkest part of the novel, yet it's been one of the easiest to revise.

JDS
04-24-2012, 12:44 PM
Hey, that was a pretty good article.

To be sure though, I'm still totally writing; more than ever, really. Thanks to my writing club, I've been pretty consistent in laying down the Fat Riker (http://www.fatriker.com), but I've stopped slathering it all over the web because I'm getting significantly past the halfway point of the planned collected novel and I don't want that much of it available if I'm going to make an honest go of selling it to a publisher.

I'm still totally down for talking about writing, though.

oh man i just saw this

if i ever get moved to knoxville i'd love to get in on this

Paul le Fou
04-26-2012, 06:54 AM
I'm spending too much time studying and not enough time writing :< Just past 20,000 words on my novel, but still so much left to go! PUSH, PUSH!

I'm thinking of getting another notebook to work on shorts/other projects alongside the book so I don't try to force the novel too hard, but at the same time I don't want to start a hundred things when I know I have this much trouble just working on one...

Sanagi
04-26-2012, 12:15 PM
The easiest part of writing is when I know what I want to do for the next three pages. The hardest part is when I know what I want to do for the next twenty pages.

ThornGhost
04-26-2012, 12:21 PM
oh man i just saw this

if i ever get moved to knoxville i'd love to get in on this

Just let me know when you get moved in and I'll get you the info about the meetings. It's a pretty small group, but we get shit done.

Alex Scott
04-27-2012, 10:33 PM
Guys, I--

I think the rough draft is done.

Paul le Fou
04-28-2012, 07:06 AM
Guys, I--

I think the rough draft is done.

http://wiki.evageeks.org/images/a/af/Ep_26_congratulations.JPG

Evil Dead Junkie
04-29-2012, 08:25 AM
Congratulations sir.

Just curious how many words?

ThornGhost
04-29-2012, 08:30 AM
Good deal man!

Going to start working on the next draft immediately?

Alex Scott
04-29-2012, 08:32 AM
EDJ: Somewhere over 68,000.

ThornGhost: Nah, I'm gonna let it sit for a few weeks, then do a line edit.

Evil Dead Junkie
04-29-2012, 09:12 AM
Might I suggest a few months? I know it can be tough but in my expirience the longer between drafts the better. Its not even a clarity thing, it just allows you to be less attached to the work if the memory of writing it is distant, leaving you more open to change.

ThornGhost
04-30-2012, 05:53 AM
I'm really interested to see a first hand account of the post-writing process here. Alex, please keep us up to date on the editing and then whatever happens next.

What would you like to see done with the finished manuscript? Bought by a traditional publisher? Self publishing an e-book? Any plans yet for those things?

I used to work at a newspaper with a novelist. She mostly wrote what you might call "Urban Fantasy", but she got her start by working with an agent that shopped her book for her. She's published about five or six books at least since then so I guess it worked out for her.

locit
04-30-2012, 06:57 AM
I used to work at a newspaper with a novelist. She mostly wrote what you might call "Urban Fantasy", but she got her start by working with an agent that shopped her book for her. She's published about five or six books at least since then so I guess it worked out for her.
I have a friend who used to do copywriting on Urban Fantasy books. It sounded like the most depressing job you could possibly do that still involved using writerly skills.

Alex Scott
04-30-2012, 07:19 AM
EDJ: I'll keep that in mind, but I may stick with the 2-week plan, so I can have it done by Guy's graduation.

ThornGhost: Will do. I've already written some bits of a future proposal--and I do plan on going the traditional publication route.

All it really needs is a line edit to smooth the prose out, at least until I start showing it to people and they start punching holes in the plot. I may start giving out plot and character details, too.

ThornGhost
04-30-2012, 07:28 AM
I have a friend who used to do copywriting on Urban Fantasy books. It sounded like the most depressing job you could possibly do that still involved using writerly skills.

Oh yeah, for sure. Urban fantasy is not what anyone would call high literature. I just used that example because that she's the only person I know that's gone from "aspiring writer" to "published novelist". I'm more wondering about people's thoughts between getting an agent and looking for a publisher yourself.

Alex Scott
05-01-2012, 08:04 PM
That zine I mentioned? Here it is. (https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzS4dNuXxhiRNHdtLWhFNWg3T28/edit)

Evil Dead Junkie
05-02-2012, 05:42 PM
Some nice stuff there Alex good going.

After almost a year and 110,000 words I finally finished the first draft of Son Of Danse Macabre. I can die happy knowing that I've finally written a book I am unambiguously proud of. (http://sonofdansemacabre.blogspot.com/2012/05/acknowledgements.html)

ThornGhost
05-02-2012, 07:31 PM
Man, we gettin' some stuff done in the writing thread lately, huh? Two first draft completions in less than a week. That's awesome EDJ!

Evil Dead Junkie
05-27-2012, 05:31 AM
Finished the second draft of SODM (And yeah I know I just broke my own rule but since I've been working on this thing on installment since last June I don't feel so bad bending my own rule).

Time to go Beta Reader hunting.

Guesty
06-02-2012, 01:41 AM
So I'm currently working on a novel; I'm at the very early stages still, on the first draft actually. The novel's tentative title is Suicide.

Here is the first chapter (chronologically one of the last events). Essentially, the protagonist is black and has Asperger's Syndrome, and his sister had severe colon cancer. He dedicated his life to researching cures for his sister's cancer, so his sister's death causes him to lose hope, so he makes bad decisions which result in him getting fired. [this background is explained in later chapters which are yet unwritten]

The following chapter is him going back to his hometown and deciding to kill himself due to feeling like he is of no use. Raymond's dialogue and internal narration is purposefully formal to reflect his sheltered upbringing. I'd appreciate any comments about the writing style.


Raymond

The train finally arrived to deliver me to my final destination. No, that wasn't quite accurate. No train could have taken me there, if it even existed; I'd have to go by my own hand. One could, quite reasonably, question the purpose of boarding, rather than ending it all here, now. However, my motive was clear. I had to see Claire one last time, to face the consequences of my failure. Otherwise, I would be a coward; the worst kind of human being.

"Are you gonna get on or what?" An attendant's voice compelled me to face her. Remembering my father's advice, I consciously paid attention to her skin tone, against my natural instinct to disregard it. Hers was a pasty white, like printer paper. I attempted to process whether this was coloring my current interaction, but despite my father's admonishment of people who looked like her, I could glean no useful information. I decided to abandon the endeavor and answer the woman.

"Yes. I apologize for my delay, and I will board immediately." I did so, and sat on the seat nearest to me. I was reminded that no matter what I seemed to do, I hurt others. Irritated others. I knew intellectually that I would never see that attendant again. But that irritated tone reminded me of my time with Victoria. How I'd annoy her despite my best efforts. I wonder if neurotypical individuals even understood what it was like to be unwanted, and to be powerless to change it. I still did not understand what was wrong with me. I knew the name: "Asperger's Syndrome." But other than that, I understood very little, except that unlike neurotypicals, I only had value based on what tangible output I could provide for society. Since that was gone, I was nothing now, worthless to the world. At least I wouldn't have to bother anyone much longer, if I followed through with my plan. Just a few more days. Or however much longer I had to wait.

I brought a book: Albert Camus's The Stranger (a translation, of course: I was deficient in comprehending French). I chuckled at the irony of bringing a book about death. At least, I would have the opportunity to read it with a new eye. Before, Meursalt's lack of emotion confused me. But now, his indifference towards his mother filled me simultaneously with disgust and envy. He didn't, as Adrian would crudely say, "give a crumpets." A man who was fascinatingly strange to me before struck me as a cold sociopath now. Did he even care for his mother, the way I did for my late sister? I could not definitely say, but I would infer that he did not. At the same time, I wished that I could move on so quickly, like he did.

A nudge on my right shoulder interrupted my thoughts.

"Would you like anything to eat, sir?" I beheld a towering male, who could best be described as "butler-esque," and with alabaster skin. He was sharply dressed, as if serving rich patrons in a mansion. Seeing his alabaster skin made me become aware that I was the only passenger in my car with dark skin, but I did not think much of it. His cool look intimidated me, as his attire evoked a sense of the unique social norms of the wealthy, which I did not know. I did not desperately want food, but neither did I want to reject an offer to fill my stomach.

"Yes, please. Give me clam chowder with some mineral water." At that moment I wondered whether I was wrong to not say "please" a second time, or to phrase my request in the imperative. Before I could modify my request, however, the waiter had already left, presumably after scribbling down my order. I likely lost my chance to prove that I was not a boor. Not only did I fail my sister, but now I realized that I was a failure in basic interactions as well. I then smacked my forehead when I realized that I forgot to factor in the cost of both items. I rummaged through my bag for my wallet, and sighed when I saw two twenty dollar bills. My worries were, for the moment, alleviated. At least, my present ones were. There was still the matter of what lay ahead.

Shortly after placing my order, I felt something vibrate in my pocket. This was somewhat startling. Why would someone be sending a text message to me now? Wondering whether it was urgent, I retrieved my phone and checked the message. It was from Adrian.

"dude, r u ok?" I never understood why people did not bother to write in proper English when composing text messages. This mode of writing irritated me a bit. After all, why obfuscate one's meaning with non-words? I realized, however, that it was petty to comment on this, when my best friend was taking the trouble to reach out to me. I composed my response immediately after I received this message. I did not want his concern to linger.

"To be honest, I'm a bit bored sitting on a train. Trying not to think about my sister's death, I'll be fine, though. How are you feeling?" I almost forgot to inquire about his feelings until I remembered from a social skill therapy session that it was proper to reciprocate the other person's questions. I also remembered to invite a further question about my emotional state to facilitate Adrian's reply. I waited, remembering that a delay in a response did not necessarily mean that the other person was uninterested in the conversation, or hated talking to me.

As I was waiting, I returned to reading The Stranger to calm my mind. I paused at the part where Meursalt murdered an Arab, as that particular part confused me. Not because I did not understand what was transpiring, but rather, why. At least my death was necessary, as I was no longer of use to the world. But why did Meursalt believe that he could kill that man? And why did he not feel any sort of remorse?

"Your food, sir."

“Thank you.”

I was so absorbed in my thoughts that I did not hear the waiter come. To be honest, I ordered that meal because I remembered Mom always cooking sublime clam chowder for me and my sister when I visited home during breaks. I began to eat, reminiscing on those times. I remembered Claire's smile, her anecdotes about elementary school, and most of all, her laugh, which was a subdued, high pitched giggle. She was so optimistic in the face of impending death. Intellectually, I realized that I could never experience those highs again, but emotionally, I did not quite accept it yet. My last memory of her was in life, after all.

Despite these fond memories, the chowder itself was disappointing. It was edible, but it paled compared to Mom's chowder, as if it were a mockery, like vegan "meat" was to real meat. Regardless, I ate the chowder so that the abomination would leave my sight and enter my stomach. I knew perfectly well that I was expecting too much from train food. Regardless, I had an outlet for my anger now: the cooks. It rankled me that such incompetence could still command wages, yet those with talent were hungry for money to give them sustenance. That they lived, while my sister died. Of course, I realized that I was being petulant, that I should be grateful for their service. But at that moment I was indifferent to that fact. Or, as Adrian would recently type in text messages, "idgaf." I didn't understand the exact meaning but I gathered that it was meant to signify indifference.

Then, another message from Adrian. Again, I checked immediately.

"im good, rly worried about u tho. sorry about ur sister man, thats rly rough. i no u rly cared about her. plz talk to me when ur feeling down. its gud 2 talk bout stuff like this. hang in there man"

Was this a genuine offer, or was Adrian simply conditioned to say this to "be a good friend?" I wasn't quite sure how to respond, so I tabled the message for the moment. After that, I suddenly remembered a critical question. How should I end my life, when the time comes? Such an important matter required a plan, much as my research did. Location. Time. Means. All that and more had to be accounted for. I ripped out a page from my notebook, and scribbled a rudimentary plan.

I remembered that my father was a hunter. If I could find his gun, I would use that, as hanging would be a long, painful death if done incorrectly (likely, as I lacked motor skills). Psychologically, pulling a trigger would be easier than jumping and hoping the impact would kill me. If it was locked, I could simply come up with an excuse of wanting to go hunting with him. I would also have to be alone during the act, so that no one could stop me from doing what I had to do. Of course, this would have to occur after Claire's funeral. I was at a loss as to how I could end my life in a way that was not inconvenient to others. Unfortunately, now that I did not work in a lab, poison was not easily accessible to me anymore.

Of course, funeral costs were already accounted for from royalty checks. If all went well, it would be my own money, not that of my parents', which would be used to pay for it. I realized that the details of how I would kill myself couldn't be set in stone until I felt out the situation. I now regretted tearing out the page, as I didn't have a binder to keep it in. Instead, I shoved it into a small pocket in my bag, hoping that I would remember the pages' location later. Organization, which I previously extolled, was worthless to me now, not to mention too much effort.

Guesty
06-02-2012, 11:29 PM
Is my writing that bad, or is this thread just not popular?

Austintatious
06-03-2012, 06:41 AM
So I'm currently working on a novel; I'm at the very early stages still, on the first draft actually. The novel's tentative title is Suicide.

Here is the first chapter (chronologically one of the last events). Essentially, the protagonist is black and has Asperger's Syndrome, and his sister had severe colon cancer. He dedicated his life to researching cures for his sister's cancer, so his sister's death causes him to lose hope, so he makes bad decisions which result in him getting fired. [this background is explained in later chapters which are yet unwritten]

The following chapter is him going back to his hometown and deciding to kill himself due to feeling like he is of no use. Raymond's dialogue and internal narration is purposefully formal to reflect his sheltered upbringing.


Preface begone! Seriously, readers (especially us "test readers") should be able to jump right in. Any prefacing will taint our natural exposure to the novel.

The train finally arrived to deliver me to my final destination. This is a pretty good first paragraph, but the first sentence is a little weak, and certainly doesn't grab me. Also, consider replacing one of your two uses of 'final' with something else. No, that wasn't quite accurate. No train could have taken me there, if it even existed; I'd have to go by my own hand. One could, quite reasonably, question the purpose of boarding, rather than ending it all here, now. However, my motive was clear. I had to see Claire one last time, to face the consequences of my failure. Otherwise, I would be a coward; the worst kind of human being. "My motive was clear" feels a little redundant, and zaps the much-needed urgency out of the first paragraph.

I might add some comments later, as this story is interesting and has some great promise! I think you could work on urgency and motive. This is a book about someone who is going to die. Why should we keep reading? Maybe try and develop some empathy; start the novel with a more every day situation that people can relate to. People can relate to wanting to die, too, so maybe the beginning can be some general thoughts of the horror of wanting to die, and what that feels like?

Also, the formality of the character feels a little forced and awkward, and the introduction to his awkwardness doesn't feel natural (and no, you can't use the out-of-novel preface to explain it!). Especially things like his "printer paper" analogy, which pulled me out of the story and into an office. Hopefully the character worked in an office!

Good job so far. Seriously. Don't give up! I'm not really sold on these "formalities" of the character, and the "pull" of the novel, but it seems like the rest you have pretty well plotted out, and the intentions for the novel interest the hell out of me.

Alex Scott
06-03-2012, 09:55 AM
If anything, I think this sentence:
One could, quite reasonably, question the purpose of boarding [the train], rather than ending it all here, now.
is where you should start. It sets the scene, and jolts the reader enough to capture attention. It has everything the first line needs.

Anyway, I've begun my "style" edit of the novel, and shown the first few chapters to my niece, it being a YA novel and all. She wants to read more. That's a good sign, right?

nadia
06-03-2012, 12:13 PM
You do a good job conveying the thoughts of a person who is forever socially awkward (particularly the bit about wondering if you should say "please" twice--oh, I've been there). Some of your sentences come across as a bit unnatural, though, especially where conversation is concerned. Like:

I was deficient in comprehending French

and,

Yes. I apologize for my delay, and I will board immediately.

It could be that you mean for your lead to be a super intellectual, but I don't get that vibe from the rest of his thoughts and interactions in the chapter.

Anyway, keep up the hard work!

Guesty
06-03-2012, 03:44 PM
He's a 16 year old who has already had some first author publications and a drug patent due to his hard work in a lab, so he is supposed to have book smarts. I'm not sure how I should have that come across. He's supposed to be REALLY stupid in human interaction, though, as well as a bit emotionally stunted, so he's book smart but dumb in many other aspects. He never had to really interact with people other than in the lab so his conversation is purposefully stilted as he mainly reads and writes lab reports and such.

Thank you for all of your comments already! I'll edit it after thinking some more.

callmejeed
06-15-2012, 06:33 PM
I know everyone here quit writing in despair about 3 months ago, but maybe you can appreciate this humorous article? (http://www.theawl.com/2012/04/how-to-write-the-great-american-novel)

That was a pretty great article, and it made me want to work on a story I kind of started Wednesday at the writing workshop that blink pen and I started with our RL friends. We've had four sessions so far and this most recent one went pretty well, we had seven people show up and we got some really great stuff out of our writing prompt. If this keeps up we might actually start doing more than just a writing prompt!

I wrote flash fiction for the first three but just started writing basically exposition this time and I actually want to go back to that, so I think I might do that.

Raven
06-15-2012, 06:43 PM
writing workshop

I and my friend have been toying with the idea of starting one since forever, but it's never come to fruition. Maybe it's time to try again for serious. Any tips?

callmejeed
06-15-2012, 07:36 PM
I and my friend have been toying with the idea of starting one since forever, but it's never come to fruition. Maybe it's time to try again for serious. Any tips?

Well so far what we're doing is having one person provide a writing prompt, which can be anything they want, really, which other people can take (or ignore) and sort of free write for about a half an hour. Another person provides a half an hour of music for a different inspiration. It's really casual and that's about it so far. We're also starting to do homework assignments, where somebody comes up with a task for everyone to do, like I asked everyone to think about some of their inspirations, like other writers or whatever, to talk about next week.

I used to be in a creative writing club at my old community college and we did the same thing (less the music, and for about half the timeframe) at each of our meetings. People could submit stuff they wanted comments on and we would email them around or something.

If you want something more structured, than you can always have people submit a piece, and send it out to everyone else to read and critique, then discuss one piece every week or something. The point really is to get people writing and sharing their writing so that people can help each other over hurdles.

Guesty
06-18-2012, 03:47 PM
Speaking of writing workshops, do you think one would work on this forum, or something similar? Like maybe an IRC room or something? That way we can all get better at writing and be more motivated and such.

Evil Dead Junkie
06-18-2012, 08:58 PM
I'd be up for that.

In speaking of which... (Reposting this from Dead Trees)

So I just finished a second draft on my Crime/Detective Story. Anyone interested in Beta Reading?

It's pretty lean, just a hair over 60,000 words so it wouldn't be too much of a time commitment. And the opinion of discerning Tyrants would be much obliged.

ThornGhost
06-19-2012, 06:29 AM
I and my friend have been toying with the idea of starting one since forever, but it's never come to fruition. Maybe it's time to try again for serious. Any tips?

My writing group is rolling up on...six months of activity at this point? We're having a meeting tomorrow actually. Here's how we got it started:

For months, people from various social circles had been talking about starting a group, but not all together. Eventually, I made a facebook group and invited them all to talk about it. In our experience, having someone who takes a leadership position is very important. Starting a new thing is hard.

Make a suggestion for frequency and meeting place. For us, I recommended once a month at a coffee shop inside of a book store. Probably if it's a relatively decent suggestion, people will be OK with whatever you choose.

Set the first meeting time and HAVE IT. Doesn't matter if you go sit there by yourself, have that meeting. Again, getting something started is hard. Continuing something is easy. Not sure why that is. For us, we flip flopped for weeks trying to make sure everybody could make it. Eventually we just had our meeting without a few people. We haven't come close to not having it since. Those people that missed the first meeting? They've been there ever since.

First meeting, have a discussion about what everyone's goals are. Get a run down of the projects you'll be seeing from everyone, and what they want out of the group. Everyone's goals are going to be different; some might have clear goals and just need a little bit of editing and proof-reading along the way. Others might have ideas they don't even know what they want to do with. Also lay down rules for other little housekeeping things like acceptable lengths of submissions, when they need to be submitted by for review, etc.

Try and help people realize their goals. Ask questions that inspire critical thinking on all levels.

End each meeting by setting a time for your next meeting.

It's been working well for us.

callmejeed
06-19-2012, 11:58 PM
Speaking of writing workshops, do you think one would work on this forum, or something similar? Like maybe an IRC room or something? That way we can all get better at writing and be more motivated and such.

I'd be down, something more structured this thread. Maybe just have people submit things they want comments on, give readers X amount of time to read and comment on it, then let the author respond. Somebody to organize the order submitted things get read (not me) and we're good to go. Or something else that works better. I dunno.

So I just finished a second draft on my Crime/Detective Story. Anyone interested in Beta Reading?

It's pretty lean, just a hair over 60,000 words so it wouldn't be too much of a time commitment. And the opinion of discerning Tyrants would be much obliged.

I could be down for that, no promises on speedy turn around, but still.

ThornGhost
07-06-2012, 05:57 AM
I took some time yesterday to take stock of where I am with my Fat Riker manuscript. I'm currently twenty chapters in with 30,000 words under my belt. Since it is a humor novel, and humor novels tend to be shorter than the more serious sorts, my current plans are to shoot for something around 50,000 words. Naturally I'm not stuck on that number, I'll let the book do what it wants, but it seems a good point for planning purposes anyway.

How's everybody else doing with their projects? I know we had a couple of folks upthread finish up their first drafts. How's the editing going?

Alex Scott
07-06-2012, 08:08 AM
Mainly I've been thinking of ways to balance writing with work with my social life, especially after the things I posted about in the Social Anxiety thread. I've been thinking that doing so much writing at coffee shops interferes with the socializing I could be doing. Neil Gaiman mentioned on his Tumblr a while back that Gene Wolfe would wake up an hour early and do his writing before work, so I think I'll try that from now on.

Other than that, it's getting a lot leaner, thanks to a critique from a friend of mine. But I'm not moving as quickly as I'd like, which is another thing I hope writing in morning the can fix.

Rosewood
07-06-2012, 09:39 AM
How's everybody else doing with their projects? I know we had a couple of folks upthread finish up their first drafts. How's the editing going?

I've been outlining, in my head and on paper, for six months now. The characters are starting to all drift into becoming same-y clones of myself, so it's time to start writing for real so they can start acting on their own/disagreeing with me (which is always amazing to me).