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Nut's And Bolts Or Muse? (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
I'm a nuts and bolts writer. For me, the muse comes from digging down into what makes a good style and what doesn't. Is this sentence structure interesting? Are these words conveying everything I intended in the sentence? Is the rhythm of this sentence pleasing? Does the rhythm of this sentence have an emotional connection with what this particular paragraph/page/chapter is trying to convey? And of course obvious things like grammar and punctuation, although these are something I often consider in the proofing rather than when I'm writing. The muse eventually comes but it's not until I've nailed (or hopefully nailed) the nuts and bolts.

I often write sentences down that pop into my head just because I like the structure and context behind them. Here's one I wrote down yesterday. I may never use it but it's me playing with the nuts and bolts of an idea.

He never rang her. She was no hook, his cock was no worm, and he certainly wasn’t some hapless carp, waiting to be netted.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I've never heard the saying "nuts and bolts" related to writing, but it is a good way to describe it. For me, I never think about the nuts and bolts. I only think about the story I want to tell and what scenes or dialogue I need to make it work. I think about, how can I make this interesting for the reader? But it's always in terms of content. I rely on my education to construct the sentences. The Muse is always there though. It is a desired style or voice I wish to achieve. I think it is a consolidation of all my favourite authors.

I think there are different levels of artistry to writing. If I compare it to the fashion industry, your style may be the haute couture, whereas mine would be the ready-to-wear!
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I've never heard the saying "nuts and bolts" related to writing, but it is a good way to describe it. For me, I never think about the nuts and bolts. I only think about the story I want to tell and what scenes or dialogue I need to make it work. I think about, how can I make this interesting for the reader? But it's always in terms of content. I rely on my education to construct the sentences. The Muse is always there though. It is a desired style or voice I wish to achieve. I think it is a consolidation of all my favourite authors.

I think there are different levels of artistry to writing. If I compare it to the fashion industry, your style may be the haute couture, whereas mine would be the ready-to-wear!

I really never got an education. I was too busy trying to avoid the bullies and the stick. I'm useless at maths and regularly got the stick for getting them wrong. I would often get stars for my English though. Funny how it works isn't it ...

I'm not well read either. I was drawn to the genres I liked the best (horror/fantasy), something I put down to the nightmares I had every night (horror) and the need to escape (fantasy). My first author of influence was Michael Moorcock, but from the very beginning, I didn't just read the story. I was fascinated by the sentence structure of his work. Of course, the first thing I did when I started constructing sentences, was to try and emulate him. It didn't work but I did at least increase my vocabulary. For years I simply wrote paragraphs and nothing more. Even now I do not read many books and choose only authors that I think reflect where I'd like to be (or there abouts) in terms of tone, rhythm and sentence structure. These authors are Koontz and Barker, with a little bit of Bradbury sprinkled in occasionally when I'm feeling brave enough. Of course I can't in any way emulate these greats. They're just pointers for me. My ambition is to be a decent hack writer.

One thing I noted when doing writing courses was the constant dropping of numbers. We'd start with 20 - 25 and inevitably finish with 4 - 5, and most of those were always the same people. I talk to everyone and anyone, and over my time on writing courses (and on writing forums), I've come to realise there are natural writers, propped up by a decent education and so fluent writers right of the bat, and people like myself, who have ambition, stories to tell, but no bedrock to easily launch from. Nuts and bolts people are everywhere. It intimidates them (me) when people talk in terms of 'the muse', not necessarily using that word but inferring it. This muse is too ethereal, artsy fartsy for a nuts and bolts person like myself. I stick around though, not easily intimidated by educated and more intelligent people than myself, but rather inspired by them. That's why I was one of the 4 -5 and lots of others left.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I really never got an education. I was too busy trying to avoid the bullies and the stick. I'm useless at maths and regularly got the stick for getting them wrong. I would often get stars for my English though. Funny how it works isn't it ...

I'm not well read either. I was drawn to the genres I liked the best (horror/fantasy), something I put down to the nightmares I had every night (horror) and the need to escape (fantasy). My first author of influence was Michael Moorcock, but from the very beginning, I didn't just read the story. I was fascinated by the sentence structure of his work. Of course, the first thing I did when I started constructing sentences, was to try and emulate him. It didn't work but I did at least increase my vocabulary. For years I simply wrote paragraphs and nothing more. Even now I do not read many books and choose only authors that I think reflect where I'd like to be (or there abouts) in terms of tone, rhythm and sentence structure. These authors are Koontz and Barker, with a little bit of Bradbury sprinkled in occasionally when I'm feeling brave enough. Of course I can't in any way emulate these greats. They're just pointers for me. My ambition is to be a decent hack writer.

One thing I noted when doing writing courses was the constant dropping of numbers. We'd start with 20 - 25 and inevitably finish with 4 - 5, and most of those were always the same people. I talk to everyone and anyone, and over my time on writing courses (and on writing forums), I've come to realise there are natural writers, propped up by a decent education and so fluent writers right of the bat, and people like myself, who have ambition, stories to tell, but no bedrock to easily launch from. Nuts and bolts people are everywhere. It intimidates them (me) when people talk in terms of 'the muse', not necessarily using that word but inferring it. This muse is too ethereal, artsy fartsy for a nuts and bolts person like myself. I stick around though, not easily intimidated by educated and more intelligent people than myself, but rather inspired by them. That's why I was one of the 4 -5 and lots of others left.

Well if you were getting stars for english, then you must have an education. And intelligence is not defined by education. I have come to meet intelligent people in all walks of life.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Well if you were getting stars for english, then you must have an education. And intelligence is not defined by education. I have come to meet intelligent people in all walks of life.

Oh, I couldn't agree more. Thinking is a process, education is recollection. This is why it's important to hear all sides of an argument. Without that, you simply have recollection ...
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
I'm a slave to my muse. She's a hard mistress, fickle and unreliable. But when she gives me stuff to nuts'n'bolts together, it works out not too badly. Still learning how to do that, though.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I'm a slave to my muse. She's a hard mistress, fickle and unreliable. But when she gives me stuff to nuts'n'bolts together, it works out not too badly. Still learning how to do that, though.

Nonsense! I'm currently going through 'In secret Dreams' ... and your craftsmanship is sublime. If you're this good and the muse gave you that, then strike me stunned. Now back to being impressed ...
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
My muse is about as reliable as a 1975 Ford Pinto with gremlins in the electrical system. Once I gather some nuts and bolts and some tools and beat on the thing with a hammer, it does work. Of course, it can just as easily blow up and leave me stranded.

So always good to have those nuts and bolts ready.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
My muse is about as reliable as a 1975 Ford Pinto with gremlins in the electrical system. Once I gather some nuts and bolts and some tools and beat on the thing with a hammer, it does work. Of course, it can just as easily blow up and leave me stranded.

So always good to have those nuts and bolts ready.

What leads you in though? I'm drawn along by the process of creating tight and interesting sentences, and then (and only then) do I feel engaged enough to tell the story. I found, more often than not, the people who left the writing courses were those who couldn't find a starting point. The teacher was keen on talking of the muse and whilst he was a brilliant teacher, I could see, and felt myself, that it isn't of any help to a true beginner. What is the muse? Where is it? How do I find it? Are all incidental and distracting questions when the most important questions are: What are my bricks like? How do I make sure my wall is straight? Should I knock this wall down or add more bricks to it? Tangible things that 'ordinary folk' like myself could relate to.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Nonsense! I'm currently going through 'In secret Dreams' ... and your craftsmanship is sublime. If you're this good and the muse gave you that, then strike me stunned. Now back to being impressed ...

Thanks:) I think it could use a little pruning yet ... not as good as your stuff, I don't think.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Thanks:) I think it could use a little pruning yet ... not as good as your stuff, I don't think.

I liked the density. It does make it a harder read, I suppose, but from the perspective of nuts and bolts (I went there from here with that in mind) I LOVE it. It's actually something I pruned back on years ago but then realised I shouldn't have been so rigorous. Many little personal and unique observations lurk there, and lots of nuts and bolts opportunities. Lot's of darlings to murder! But I loved making them to murder!
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
What leads you in though? I'm drawn along by the process of creating tight and interesting sentences, and then (and only then) do I feel engaged enough to tell the story. I found, more often than not, the people who left the writing courses were those who couldn't find a starting point. The teacher was keen on talking of the muse and whilst he was a brilliant teacher, I could see, and felt myself, that it isn't of any help to a true beginner. What is the muse? Where is it? How do I find it? Are all incidental and distracting questions when the most important questions are: What are my bricks like? How do I make sure my wall is straight? Should I knock this wall down or add more bricks to it? Tangible things that 'ordinary folk' like myself could relate to.

A muse is anything that inspires you. To go back to my fashion design example, a designer usually has a muse. It could be their wife/husband, a model, an actress/actor or any other person that they want to dress. They imagine their clothes on this person.

You are very artful in your words, so I am certain you a have a muse. You are likely looking for something too tangible. What do you imagine when you first sit down to write? Who do you picture reading your work?

I'm not certain, as you say that it is relevant, but your teacher must have had some method to their madness, afterall you stayed until the end of the course right?
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
A muse is anything that inspires you. To go back to my fashion design example, a designer usually has a muse. It could be their wife/husband, a model, an actress/actor or any other person that they want to dress. They imagine their clothes on this person.

You are very artful in your words, so I am certain you a have a muse. You are likely looking for something too tangible. What do you imagine when you first sit down to write? Who do you picture reading your work?

I was asking the question retrospectively! I know what it is now, 25 years later, but back then it lacked substance. Although, even now it feels flimsy. My point isn't that the muse is of no use, but rather that, for a beginner and someone into the nuts and bolts, it's neither here nor there. It's like a 'mystery', a secret language only available to those who are worthy of it. It's like God for atheists. Show me the BRICKS and the MORTAR! :)
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I was asking the question retrospectively! I know what it is now, 25 years later, but back then it lacked substance. Although, even now it feels flimsy. My point isn't that the muse is of no use, but rather that, for a beginner and someone into the nuts and bolts, it's neither here nor there. It's like a 'mystery', a secret language only available to those who are worthy of it. It's like God for atheists. Show me the BRICKS and the MORTAR! :)

Oh ok...my apologies! Glad you found your muse. :)
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Oh ok...my apologies! Glad you found your muse.

I always remember the faces of aspiring writers when the teacher mentioned the muse. There would be many knowing, slow nods and eyes meeting in recognition and understanding. I knew damned well none of them understood what the hell he was on about. It's like when he read Shakespeare. Everyone would do exactly the same as they had when he mentioned the muse. I was the only person there who had the gumption to ask 'what does that mean?' And everyone leant in, eager to have their question answered. LOL. People are strange in general. I'm no exception!
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
What is the muse? Where is it? How do I find it? Are all incidental and distracting questions when the most important questions are: What are my bricks like? How do I make sure my wall is straight? Should I knock this wall down or add more bricks to it? Tangible things that 'ordinary folk' like myself could relate to.
Whatever you do seems to be working just fine. We're all ordinary.

Bits and pieces of ideas occur to me at inconvenient times. I guess you could call this the muse, heck if I know.

When I've been working on ideas, story building, writing, brainstorming and then go away thinking I've not made a lot of progress, my brain will kick into overdrive and start pouring character voices talking about the story, events, dialogue. Usually while I'm sitting in the tub or hurtling down the road behind the wheel of a car. I guess that could be the muse...what's it matter?

My 'muse' or inspiration is apparently a state when my subconscious has had a chance to work on an idea, makes connections, pulls in other information, etc. and suddenly is ready to flow into the creative stuff.

Which means my muse can be provoked into working. This is something I'm learning how to do right now. The rest of it is the work of writing and I'm learning more about that, too.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Whatever you do seems to be working just fine. We're all ordinary.

Bits and pieces of ideas occur to me at inconvenient times. I guess you could call this the muse, heck if I know.

When I've been working on ideas, story building, writing, brainstorming and then go away thinking I've not made a lot of progress, my brain will kick into overdrive and start pouring character voices talking about the story, events, dialogue. Usually while I'm sitting in the tub or hurtling down the road behind the wheel of a car. I guess that could be the muse...what's it matter?

My 'muse' or inspiration is apparently a state when my subconscious has had a chance to work on an idea, makes connections, pulls in other information, etc. and suddenly is ready to flow into the creative stuff.

Which means my muse can be provoked into working. This is something I'm learning how to do right now. The rest of it is the work of writing and I'm learning more about that, too.

Perhaps it's just that I'm not defining the muse in the same way. I could never nail the teacher on any particular definition. He never once defined it as the ability to think up stories. I'm never stuck for stories, they're everywhere. Now ... good stories. That's different. Having said that, a well written and crafted piece can elevate an ordinary story and make it feel deeper, more meaningful. That to me is the nuts and bolts.

I always find conversation like this really difficult on forums. There isn't that natural too and fro with interjections and nods of understanding. It comes off as 'disagreement' or 'agreement' rather than a genuine examination of a variety of ideas. We get that moment when one person says 'we'll agree to disagree'. They may not express it so explicitly, but it's there, under the text. And I'm thinking 'NO' don't stop, because I'm bouncing my opinion off their's and forming a 3 dimensional perspective.

I guess I try to have a dialectic on a medium designed for debate. :)
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
What is the muse? Where is it? How do I find it? Are all incidental and distracting questions when the most important questions are: What are my bricks like? How do I make sure my wall is straight? Should I knock this wall down or add more bricks to it? Tangible things that 'ordinary folk' like myself could relate to.
In your case Az, your muse comes when you tinker with the nuts & bolts- A pretty good system, if you ask me.
 
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