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TheManx

Senior Member
When you have a question about writing, do you just write it and see how it comes out — or maybe pull a book off the shelf to see how it’s done, or maybe think back on everything you’ve read in your entire life and come up with an answer on your own — and then ask for opinions when it’s finished? Or do you feel like you need to ask some writer guy on the internet about it ahead of time? Asking for a friend.
 
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SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
When you have a question about writing, do you just write it and see how it comes out — or maybe pull a book off the shelf to see how it’s done, or maybe think back on everything you’ve read in your entire life and come up with an answer on your own — and then ask for opinions when it’s finished? Or do you feel like you need to ask some writer guy on the internet about it ahead of time? Asking for a friend.

I think that is one of the values of being a member on a site such as this. You can come here, ask your question and frequently get responses that are really helpful. I think you are right, though. Once you get beyond school, sometimes its hard to know if what you are writing is "correct," or acceptable. There is a lot of instinct involved. For example, when watching the news I have become somewhat focused on reporters saying things like "there's fewer traffic on the road this morning" or "less cars on the highway." I am always correcting them! LOL. But I see that as instinct and have had to come here to get the reasons why and where the words less and fewer​ are used.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
When you have a question about writing, do you just write it and see how it comes out — or maybe pull a book off the shelf to see how it’s done, or maybe think back on everything you’ve read in your entire life and come up with an answer on your own — and then ask for opinions when it’s finished? Or do you feel like you need to ask some writer guy on the internet about it ahead of time? Asking for a friend.
I do it, then ask for opinions on it after the fact.

If you never try anything new, you'll be forever stuck in mundane.
 

TWErvin2

Senior Member
It really depends on the writing problem I am having. My first choice is to go to several authors I have enjoyed and have been very successful. I've read and re-read a number of their books, so I know where to look to see how they accomplished, say a certain type of action scene, or bit of dialogue or description, etc. Then I try to apply it to my own writing style and project.

I will sometimes post on a forum, but realize I will have to sift through the responses for ones that will help. I also have a few close writer friends to approach, and an editor or two. Sometimes, a well-read friend can give some guidance, if it isn't a technical writing issue, so to speak, but rather to see if something is working or needs revision/refinement.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Many writing questions can be answered simply by reading... not how-to books, but by voraciously devouring books within your chosen genre. Read books by successful authors and you will develop a feel for what works and what doesn't.

Beyond that - Google is my friend. There are a ton of on-line resources for authors (along with a lot of people who promise you fame and fortune if you buy their book or take their course of study (note that their 'best selling books' are often about how to write best selling books). If you have a question, Google it.

Sites like WF are awesome for their sense of community and advice. Use what works for you.
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
I wrote a piece of about 1,000 words several years ago for an A-level exam - that's an exam taken by 18-year olds. I employed many of the techniques I learnt here, especially regarding using only what the focal character could hear, see, smell, feel etc., and I cut it to the bare bones for added impact. It received the highest mark available for that section of the exam.

I learned much of it here, yes, even from some of Jay Greenstein's comments, though others helped a great deal too.

Most of the more powerful stuff I've learned about writing effectively, I've learned from people on here, or from links they've pointed me to - but it's important to figure out who to focus on and who not to (I won't name names apart from the one above). I'm sure most of us have views on whose advice and suggestions to digest.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I've never had a writing question that I asked for advice on, no. That's not saying it couldn't have helped, and that I'd be better off if I had.

As to reading something else to get an answer, I just read TEN BOOKS to get an answer. LOL My WIP is first person, and I decided I wanted complicated intrigue that goes far beyond the main character. So how to do that from first person, when I can only relate the one POV? I thought of Zelazny's Amber series, which does very much what I have in mind, so I reread the entire thing, and now I have a more clear idea of how to go about it. It's not that complicated: Other characters have to relate the things the MC can't witness, and the author had better be able to make those third person updates interesting! Zelazny also worked in several cryptic visions, but I won't be doing so much of that. :)

I've typically had more questions about technique. When it was technical, such as word usage and sentence structure, I often found books or blogs that helped.

When it's about story elements, the advice is less helpful, because there are successful exceptions to every bit of structural advice. I'm rereading a successful series from the 60s and 70s, and the author OFTEN puts the story on pause for lengthy sections of backstory or exposition. Any advice you currently read will tell you what a horrible thing that is, but this guy wrote dozens of books doing that, and they all sold well. (I'm not planning on reading the dozens, just the first few which tell the original tale). However, despite those books having been picked up and then sold well, I don't think they'd be marketable today. That's rigidity and narrow-mindedness in editors, because the books would absolutely still sell to readers if the series had started publication in recent years, despite many flaws: trite and regal dialogue, ridiculous reliance on coincidence, cliche out the wazoo, and a virtual rip-off of a historic series--but the underlying story is compelling even with the flaws.

So as Ervin already said, it really depends on which of many types of things you week answers for. And THEN, sometimes there is no answer but to go ahead and write and find your own.
 

Sir-KP

Senior Member
1. Try first and see how it turns out
2. Research by browsing or existing novels
3. Ask person of the internet
 
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