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What's Your Method Of Deciding If You've Improved? (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
I will read and read and read the same section until I'm sick of the sight of it. Then I'll carry on reading it until it starts to sound utter rubbish. It's at that point I'm at my most critical, which means, if I can still see a well chosen word, decent sentence or decent paragraph, I know it's an improvement. Rinse and repeat.

What about you?
 

Kimoco

Senior Member
Well, I just started, so I made other people read it, and I chose them to be my friends with no care for my feelings. My big sister will tell me if she hates it, and why. She's always sortof enjoyed being realy blunt to me lol. If not, I read somewhere that id you re-read and you think it sucks now, it's because you've already improved. It doesnt mean it's garbage, it just means you've become even better, pretty neat heh? :D
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Go back a year and reread your early stuff. Once you get past cringing it gives you a hell of a confidence boost.
Wholeheartedly agree. And as we progress, aspects of our writing come easier.

The caveat is that if you write the same sorts of books time and time again, you'll slowly improve until you reach a plateau - I've heard this called 'the plane of lethal flatness. IMO the way to avoid this dull purgatory is to stretch yourself by writing stories that stretch your abilities.

With Redemption, I wanted to write something with two antagonists - and no protagonists. It's a rather dark story that explores the source of good and evil, and the struggles people go though to change.

With Inception, I'm writing an up to date version of Orwell's 1984, to explore the social/governmental consequences of technological advancement.

Beyond Inception is The Last Ride (tentative title), that will run both forward and backward in time simultaneously. I have the beginning and the end in my head along with a few glimpses of the middle, so I have a lot to figure out before I even start the plot outline - but I won't get to it until the middle of next year, so a lot will change between now and then.

Other stories are lurking beyond The Last Ride, I catch glimpses of them time to time, but they'll have to germinate for awhile before I know what they're about.

In short, my suggestion is that after your first book is out, start increasing the complexity of your later titles.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
I will read and read and read the same section until I'm sick of the sight of it. Then I'll carry on reading it until it starts to sound utter rubbish. It's at that point I'm at my most critical, which means, if I can still see a well chosen word, decent sentence or decent paragraph, I know it's an improvement. Rinse and repeat.

What about you?
I write a chapter, then review the chapter before moving on. Once the entire project is completed, I'll do an overall review. Usually, I'm quite impressed with myself and proud that I've completed another one. I'm generally sure that I nailed it and there's really little need for additional editing. Here I think I'm ready to share with the world (I'll even ask people to give me their views on it). A good friend of mine who is also an fantastic artist, but not a writer. He lets me know the story is solid, further boosting my now outrageous ego. At this point, I'll give it to my wife. She tears me a new one. I go back and look at what she's obviously incorrect about and find that she's 100% correct and I truly didn't see the errors.

Here's where it goes on the shelf for at least 2 weeks and I start taking a look at the marketability of the book and grumble about having to edit again.

I return to the project and can see the issues with it, now with clear eyes after some time away. I fix all the problems (mostly clearing redundant paragraphs and poor word choices), again feeling proud of myself, but this time I just give it to my wife instead of giving it to someone else to review. Usually this is the part where she starts to put smiley faces near the paragraphs she was touched by and I have justified pride once she returns it with few to little corrections. Ego now reasonably inflated, I read it again and again and nitpick through the project searching for anything that may feel awkward, weak and/or odd because I've no desire to be embarrassed again by her keen eye.

Once she's happy and reminds me that she only had to kick my ass once or twice instead of ten times, then I feel I've improved.
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
I reread what I wrote earlier this year and in high school. I think about the criticism I have gotten back, working on fixing those issues until someone notices my cleaner writing. I am also rewatching writing videos atm before starting on my project, and I understand what they are saying even more now and can pinpoint the major flaws in my previous work. I am a beginner still but I noticed I have moved up to "slightly less beginner." None of my writing problems at the moment seem extremely novice. Correct me if I'm wrong lol
 
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Lawless

Senior Member
Readers' interest is the only criterion I can think of for deciding whether or not I've improved as a writer.

But this question
I will read and read and read the same section until I'm sick of the sight of it. Then I'll carry on reading it until it starts to sound utter rubbish. It's at that point I'm at my most critical, which means, if I can still see a well chosen word, decent sentence or decent paragraph, I know it's an improvement.
sounds more like "How can I tell if a particular piece of text I've written has improved?"
I re-read what I've written after some time. The temporal distance makes it possible for me to approach the text like a reader, so I'm able to notice which parts are, say, difficult to understand, or contradict something else, or would sound better if a different word had been used. Whatever flaws I notice, I correct them and after I've done so, the text is better than it was before. That's all there is to it.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Readers' interest is the only criterion I can think of for deciding whether or not I've improved as a writer.

But this question

sounds more like "How can I tell if a particular piece of text I've written has improved?"
I re-read what I've written after some time. The temporal distance makes it possible for me to approach the text like a reader, so I'm able to notice which parts are, say, difficult to understand, or contradict something else, or would sound better if a different word had been used. Whatever flaws I notice, I correct them and after I've done so, the text is better than it was before. That's all there is to it.
I can't stress more how critiquing someone's work helps a great deal. I pick through other people's work in exactly the same way I pick through my own, with the advantage of 'distance', which then feeds subliminally back into my own work. People need to critique more and not just take a broad view of whether they liked the story or not. By explaining how they think it could be improved, they're learning how to improve their own work.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I reread what I wrote earlier this year and in high school. I think about the criticism I have gotten back, working on fixing those issues until someone notices my cleaner writing. I am also rewatching writing videos atm before starting on my project, and I understand what they are saying even more now and can pinpoint the major flaws in my previous work. I am a beginner still but I noticed I have moved up to "slightly less beginner." None of my writing problems at the moment seem extremely novice. Correct me if I'm wrong lol
You need to stop thinking short term and when I say that I mean in terms of writing. You can't expect to suddenly 'get it' in a couple of weeks/months. It took me nearly three years to fully understand why I was being told my work was too adjective heavy. And then it took me years to realise they were only partially right. This is why I'm against the cut, cut, cut mentality. But sometimes you have to go backwards to plot the best course forward. THAT'S the hardest pill to swallow.
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
...People need to critique more and not just take a broad view of whether they liked the story or not. By explaining how they think it could be improved, they're learning how to improve their own work.
Yes, critique can be invaluable. I find I sometimes over-focus on minutiae which can lead to becoming bogged down. It may be a consequence of writing poetry; it seems to me that word selection in poetry can be more critical than in prose as there are tighter spaces to work with.

Phil Istine - stuffing elephants into space capsules since Gagarin's first orbit.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Yes, critique can be invaluable. I find I sometimes over-focus on minutiae which can lead to becoming bogged down. It may be a consequence of writing poetry; it seems to me that word selection in poetry can be more critical than in prose as there are tighter spaces to work with.

Phil Istine - stuffing elephants into space capsules since Gagarin's first orbit.
I used to write poetry and would advise everyone to write poetry. It's what made me so anal ... and I love it! ... That may not read well ...
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
You need to stop thinking short term and when I say that I mean in terms of writing. You can't expect to suddenly 'get it' in a couple of weeks/months. It took me nearly three years to fully understand why I was being told my work was too adjective heavy. And then it took me years to realise they were only partially right. This is why I'm against the cut, cut, cut mentality. But sometimes you have to go backwards to plot the best course forward. THAT'S the hardest pill to swallow.
I said I improved, I didn't say I was done improving. I don't get everything. * I really don't *But I understand a lot more than when I first started, that's how I know I have improved.
"You can't expect to suddenly 'get it' in a couple of weeks/months."
I restarted my project because I wanted to and the whole reason I didn't finish it was because of story structure/ direction. I didn't plan to restart it soon or if at all. But I was thinking about story structure, watching videos, watching movies, and pointing out sections in the movies/ books I've read so I can understand. I was playing with a new story idea and was thinking in terms of outlining and where the biggest points fall, as I was thinking about this idea I realized it was similar to my other idea. Then I started thinking about the OG story, I planned to write a short story based on one of the characters but then the ball started rolling, and then what I wanted to do with it clicked into place.
I started working on a basic outline, sectioning off based on the 3 act story structure. The details aren't there but there is a completion conceptually that wasn't there before. When I say I understand something I meant basic story structure (or basic rules) I don't fully understand how to actually implement it but understanding the basics is a start. And I won't learn until I try.
The story changed many times, it's not even the same story as the one I started in feb. The motivations and the characters/ backgrounds are basically the same though. The first version was kind of a mess of stuff I was thinking and dealing with. It was vomit with no direction/ lack of direction. I think it was my process of learning how to deal with brainstorming and what works and what doesn't. I had to play around a lot before I could be able to take an idea and actually flesh it out. And it's a battle I'm still dealing with. But my brain doesn't want to move on from these characters until a property story about them is told. I write this or I write nothing/ I write things I don't want to write about. Thats no fun.
I'm writing to the inciting incident (which took me forever to understand what the hell that was for some reason/ probably because I was trying to relate it to my mess of a story at first) After that I will see how I feel about it.
My goal is to treat the beginning section like a short story. I am breaking it down into pieces-this is me trying to not overwhelming myself and focus on pacing. I was going to post it if it's not too long or ask of few people here if they would like to read it privately and give me feedback that way.
It took me 8 months to understand story structure (conceptually, not even implementation) So idk what you mean when you say I need to quit thinking in the short term.
Is this your way of telling me that I am still at the bottom of the barrel az? 🤣
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I said I improved, I didn't say I was done improving. I don't get everything. * I really don't *But I understand a lot more than when I first started, that's how I know I have improved.
"You can't expect to suddenly 'get it' in a couple of weeks/months."
I restarted my project because I wanted to and the whole reason I didn't finish it was because of story structure/ direction. I didn't plan to restart it soon or if at all. But I was thinking about story structure, watching videos, watching movies, and pointing out sections in the movies/ books I've read so I can understand. I was playing with a new story idea and was thinking in terms of outlining and where the biggest points fall, as I was thinking about this idea I realized it was similar to my other idea. Then I started thinking about the OG story, I planned to write a short story based on one of the characters but then the ball started rolling, and then what I wanted to do with it clicked into place.
I started working on a basic outline, sectioning off based on the 3 act story structure. The details aren't there but there is a completion conceptually that wasn't there before. When I say I understand something I meant basic story structure (or basic rules) I don't fully understand how to actually implement it but understanding the basics is a start. And I won't learn until I try.
The story changed many times, it's not even the same story as the one I started in feb. The motivations and the characters/ backgrounds are basically the same though. The first version was kind of a mess of stuff I was thinking and dealing with. It was vomit with no direction/ lack of direction. I think it was my process of learning how to deal with brainstorming and what works and what doesn't. I had to play around a lot before I could be able to take an idea and actually flesh it out. And it's a battle I'm still dealing with. But my brain doesn't want to move on from these characters until a property story about them is told. I write this or I write nothing/ I write things I don't want to write about. Thats no fun.
I'm writing to the inciting incident (which took me forever to understand what the hell that was for some reason/ probably because I was trying to relate it to my mess of a story at first) After that I will see how I feel about it.
My goal is to treat the beginning section like a short story. I am breaking it down into pieces-this is me trying to not overwhelming myself and focus on pacing. I was going to post it if it's not too long or ask of few people here if they would like to read it privately and give me feedback that way.
It took me 8 months to understand story structure (conceptually, not even implementation) So idk what you mean when you say I need to quit thinking in the short term.
Is this your way of telling me that I am still at the bottom of the barrel az? 🤣
It's clear from the topics you start and the responses in topics already ongoing that you wavered! That's normal ... I do it all the time. The battle between self satisfaction and self doubt is the very thing you need to improve. I'm just making sure you don't lean too heavily on 'self doubt'!

I've been watching Benjamin Button since he started way back. For me, and this is no discredit to anyone here, he's the most improved writer I've followed since I've been here. But at first he wavered. I could sense it in his posts. He even talked of giving up, which again, is normal for writers. He pressed on instead, getting better and better and I could see clearly he was absorbing every piece of advise he received, good and bad. Now he writes more confidently, doesn't take advice personally and knuckles down. YOU have got the same attitude. If you didn't, I wouldn't bother giving you such in depth critiques.
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
It's clear from the topics you start and the responses in topics already ongoing that you wavered! That's normal ... I do it all the time. The battle between self satisfaction and self doubt is the very thing you need to improve. I'm just making sure you don't lean too heavily on 'self doubt'!
I didn't understand your first response, to me it sounded like you were saying. OH SO YOU THINK YOU IMPROVED AND YOU KNOW EVERYTHING EH?
Made me feel the need to explain myself. incase I was coming across a certain way in my OG comment. lol. It was a misunderstanding of context on my part. Unfortunately with text, we cant fully get the tone of voice, so that's why we have emojis lol this is comment mean or they jk ? -welp this ;) will tell ya 🤣
Yeah, I was waving pretty bad. Still waving, it will be an ongoing battle. Of course, I think about giving up like every day. It would be easier too, but then again maybe it wouldn't be easier to give up. I would have to deal with a constant naw that sat at the back of my brain. I have dealt with that before, its not fun. Luckily it stopped. For now.- not necessarily when it comes to writing but life in general.-
I've been watching Benjamin Button since he started way back. For me, and this is no discredit to anyone here, he's the most improved writer I've followed since I've been here. But at first he wavered. I could sense it in his posts. He even talked of giving up, which again, is normal for writers. He pressed on instead, getting better and better and I could see clearly he was absorbing every piece of advise he received, good and bad. Now he writes more confidently, doesn't take advice personally and knuckles down. YOU have got the same attitude. If you didn't, I wouldn't bother giving you such in depth critiques.
I've only been on here for a couple of months, I think my improvement has excelled the most after joining. We (usually) naturally improve when we keep doing something but it helps spread up the process when you have people helping you.
Yeah, I have noticed you tend to focus on certain people more than others. (no disrespect of course) since I take my time to actually respond to what you/ others say and not just like a comment, you have an interest and notice you aren't wasting your time. I tend to see the same people interacting with me in all my posts. When you take the time to respond to people and what they have to say, especially critically, the more inclined they are to keep interacting with you. That's normal. You don't want to waste your time talking to a brick wall lol.
You take the time to do critiques and the people who respond and interact with you the most, the more interested/ invested you get. I talk a lot, so it makes sense 🤣
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
When I got published for the first time back in December of 2018, that alone validated my improvement as a writer. When I was
published again in September of 2020, it again showed further improvement. It's not a matter of 'deciding' per se, as a writer
seems to know when he or she has improved greatly. This happens over time, as we age and gain knowledge, or at different
points in our life (depending on how early we started writing) as we progress from childhood, to young adult, and finally to full
adulthood.

-JJB
 
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