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Thread: senecaone's multiple dilemmas

  1. #1

    senecaone's multiple dilemmas

    Hi there!

    I've been around a month or so, and haven't posted much as yet. Mostly because I am not a good writer. "lazy", "mechanical", "trite", and other such tags fit well. But I have the heart and desire to be better, but find myself constantly caught in inner conflict.

    Today I ran across this post, from one of my favorite bloggers. His style is not for everyone, but he manages to "ring my bell" on a regular basis.

    If you have time to browse it and comment, I would be very interested to hear your feedback. Here he speaks of the inner conflicts that pester me.

    http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.c...archdruid.html

    Thanks again for being here. I read much more than I post. "lurking" I guess.

  2. #2
    What exactly do you want comment on?

    The egregious abuse of the common cliche? The over-wrought wordy babble? Or the idea (which more than a few people have commented on in other threads on this forum) that IF (emphasis on IF) you are a good writer you can colour outside the lines when doing so will take the picture from mechanical to good?

    The problem is that beginner writers even ones who may have written quite a large number of words down, are almost invariably not good. They also quite often only have a very passing acquaintance with ANY grammar, let alone knowing it well enough to know how and where it can be bent (BENT not BROKEN, certainly not IGNORED) for effect. And they almost always, when given critique, want to argue that X author broke the very same rule you just told them to fix in their book.

    The very great writers have read incredibly extensively. The very great writers have spent YEARS honing their craft. They know the tricks and rules and 'how to' inside out. They know every which to phrase something and when they very deliberate with aforethought choose to bend a rule for effect, they know what they are doing, and why they doing it, and what they are trying to achieve by doing so. And if they don't achieve it, they won't go 'oh but X did it' they will sit down and work on it until it does do what they want.
    Great writers don't break the rules; their experience allows them to effectively express themselves beyond the rules.

  3. #3
    Well, Ell, I'm not sure what kind of comments I was looking for. Casting about I guess, and that wasn't a hit.

  4. #4
    It's a pet peeve. Sorry.

    I'm still not sure what you were hoping for. Personally I think the author on the blog would benefit from paying attention to at least some of the writing advice he is getting. Definitely not all, because as with all advice, there will be a mixed bag.
    Great writers don't break the rules; their experience allows them to effectively express themselves beyond the rules.

  5. #5
    There is a lot of armchair advice that is offered on the course of any given day, it's the internet, that's why critique and observations need to be taken with a grain of salt. To be honest, I was not overly impressed with the article. This author is very fond of the sound of his own words.

    He argues against armchair advice on things like basic grammar, (skills that should be in any decent writer's toolbox, and only get there with practice...), style is okay to ignore, voice is all that matters, yet he offers his advice up pretty freely. Any voice is one in seven billion, but if your style is such that it borders on incoherency due to poor grammar, how is anyone going to take you seriously?

    What are his sources and qualifications that make him an expert in the field of armchair specialists? What makes his opinion worth more than say, an eight hour workshop with a published author in the genre one writes? I'm talking one of the Big Six, not some small press college journal. And what of advice given by professors at the graduate level? Are they incorrect in their teaching methods to have expectations of decent grammar and logical cohesion?

    I've been to writing workshops hosted by groups like the RWA. (Yes, the Romance Writers of America, don't knock it until you've taken a chance to listen.) I'm lucky enough to have two chapters within fairly easy driving distance and I am a member of both chapters. Why? Well, for a wider selection of observations and opinions.

    Also keep in mind that genre writers are specialists, they know their recipes and the pitfalls. These authors are on the front lines of the publishing industry. I've read their work, I've heard them speak. I've seen the process, I've been through it...

    You have to walk before you can run, let alone fly...(This concept applies to birds as well as dreamers). I will continue to trust in what my professors have taught me, what I have learned through the workshops I've attended. Workshops like that are well worth the time and investment. Higher education is also worth the time. It isn't a requirement to be a writer, but it certainly helps. It is the difference between knowing what a tool is and how it actually works.

    There is only so much the internet can offer and sources are not infallible. There is no wrong way to write, but there are some methods that work better than others.

    And any English professor who is even remotely conscious will tell their students to use Strunk and White Elements of Style. I got my first copy for my twelfth birthday. This blogger is against a set standard of prose, adhering to standards that he deems detrimental to a writer's chances, yet takes the time to explain why he's using one of the set standards for English prose...Yeah, can we say double standard?

    What are his sources as to why these standards, which are not stated or cited, are harmful to writers? Which literary journals is he referencing? What are his sources coming from the publishing industry? Where is the empirical evidence? This is solely based on one blogger's opinion. Call me Doubting Thomas, but I won't buy it without proof.

    The whole tone of the piece came across as condescending. It feels like this guy is trying to bait readers and evoke a response. It doesn't seem that the observations of the readers even matter, just so long as they respond. When the first three paragraphs are dedicated to explaining how he finds readers amusing and why he needs to use decent prose so the reader will understand him, am I really going to take the time to take this guy seriously? No, he made a critical error, he takes his readers' intelligence for granted.

    Writing is a blood, sweat, and tears business. As a creative discipline goes it is cruel and competitive. It takes time and attention, and a lot of people are not willing to acknowledge the commitment. Then shock and awe, when they receive a harsh critique, it is suddenly an issue with the reader and not the writing. Or is it?

    Where is it written that every writer is entitled to nothing but sunshine and rainbow reviews? Glowing acceptance, mountains of praise? Reality check, good readers ask questions and point out the obvious. Sure you're the least popular kid at the party, but you at least have enough sense to see that the emperor is naked. And it might seem weird, but being a thorough reader helps make one a better writer.

    The only advice I can offer, articulate your dilemmas. Put your problems into your words and help us to understand what you as a writer are struggling with. Don't rely on others, who kinda say what you want said...Use your voice, not an unverified opinion from a third party. You have opinions and observations of your own; write them down. It will help. What troubles you about issue A, issue B, issue C, and why.

    But hey, what do I know, I'm just an unverified screen name, too.

    - D. the T.
    Last edited by Darkkin; January 11th, 2017 at 08:27 PM.


  6. #6
    I should have been more specific!
    Greer made one point in his long windy blog that struck a nerve: The difference between the creative writing mode and editing mode.
    The first part, for me, is easy. I can easily splat out a thousand words or so, without looking back. The result is usually messy, but if I stop and try to fix as I go, everything grinds to a halt. Even later on when I go back in attempt to sort things out, I get lost in minute details, and again all progress stops.
    I suppose much of this has to do with the fact that I am completely untrained (middle school dropout), so any skills I have with regard to grammar and punctuation are innate or intuitive, or come from being a life-long reader.
    As a result I write and discard. A bad habit that I am trying to break, but so far without success.
    Somehow I am trapped in editing between trying to make the prose "perfect" by some set of rules, thus making the result dry and mechanical, and my own sense of style and voice.

    It could be I just way over think things.


  7. #7
    One of the best ways to edit after you've finished a sequence or chapter, simply read it aloud. You employ more than just your eyes and it becomes a global process with your brain. Your ear will pick up on things your eyes might miss. The brain autocorrects an awful lot of mistakes and it is a feature we, as writers often overlook. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it does need to be clear...


  8. #8
    You can't edit yourself completely successfully. Your brain skips over bits and makes you not see them. Tricks to fool your brain involving leaving the work to one side for a period of time until it is less familiar, or getting a computer to read it to you to distance yourself from it a little.
    Great writers don't break the rules; their experience allows them to effectively express themselves beyond the rules.

  9. #9
    Some writers thrive on editing as they write. Others do not. I always suggest a new writer try both to see what works for them. One trick that I have used for editing (copy editing and proofing, not content editing) is to read what I am editing, sentence by sentence, from back to front. That lets you focus on the structure and mechanics without getting distracted by context. I don't know if it would work for anyone else, but I find it helpful.
    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    https://www.amazon.com/author/terrydurbin






  10. #10
    Reading aloud and reading "backwards" are two methods I have not tried.
    I will try them!
    Thank you.

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