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OgreWolf
July 28th, 2007, 07:46 AM
Hi!

I was just thinking, when I took up writing yesterday (I haven't written for a year), about how much labour (sorry, I'm not an american, so you'll have to live with that 'u' there. Muhahaha. Then again, I'm not british either...) I put into.
Then I thought about how I am when I am reading books myself. Sometimes my mind strays, and I keep on reading without really "listening". It seems kind of brutish doing that, considering how much work the author put into each sentence. The author has to be close to godlike to keep my attention all the time.

Perhaps I should just give up putting any work into my sentences and just plow on through, just like the reader would surely do? :eek:

What do you think?


In afterthought, this wasn't really a very serious topic, but hey, it's worth considering...

Rocket Sheep
July 28th, 2007, 09:06 AM
I think ploughing on through is the perfect way to finish a first draft.

If you don't like how the story turns out, you can throw half or all of it away and not be too attached to it.

Dawnstorm
July 28th, 2007, 09:19 AM
In afterthought, this wasn't really a very serious topic, but hey, it's worth considering...

How about this theory?

It pays to work hard at each sentence because:

Each reader drifts off at different parts, so that - if you have enough readers - your entire story is appreciated, even if not all at once. Also: while you can't prevent your readers from drifiting off (not me, anyway; I'm a notorious drifter), you can keep them from crashing at rocks or being sucked into whirlpools.

See? Editing's a worthy task.

P.S. Most Europeans seem to take their labour with the "u". The additional keystroke emphasises the meaning. Americans always work hard (the American dream), so they don't need the extra "u" to remind them.

There. I'm full of great theories today. :D

Severn
July 28th, 2007, 09:20 AM
It's a fairly serious topic on a personal level though isn't it? Several thoughts:

It's a compliment in some ways when a reader just...reads. Without poring over every lovely sentence an author has likely slaved their guts over. It means they're doing what author's want: reading.

So there's two things - writing for yourself, and writing for an audience. Does it really make your sentences, your words, and the energy you've infused into those, less important if a reader isn't appreciating every single one?

They're still important to you, yes?

Some sentences, if they're written well, will stay in the mind of a reader. Those are the gems, and they'll be different for each reader. That's a good thing. And likewise, not every single sentence needs to be amazing and profound. Many just need to be functional, to carry a story along.

As for the writing process? I agree with Rocket - if you're getting back into writing (I'm in a similar place) just write. Get your first draft out there, then beautify later. That's what I'm doing with an ambitious short story right now. It's only ambitious in the sense that because I've been away from writing so long, I'm rusty. So I'm just getting the story down. Then I'll work on the prose, shaping it into a final form. First though - I need the sketch. :)

lin
July 28th, 2007, 11:03 AM
An analogy. Viewers of paintings aren't scrutinizing each leaf on each tree, or each subtle tone of skin, or each seed in a pomegranate. But if the details aren't there, if the technique is slopped, the whole painting just doesn't look right.

But you are right that a good story will move people past the writing. Look at best sellers like Madison COunty. Da Vinci Code. Not quite masterpieces of the literary gesture, but people read the story.

One model used to critique writing in recent years is "transparency". The idea is that the reader should not be aware of the writing at all, just "looking through it" at the story, characters, etc.
But the thing is, any screwups like badly constructed sentences, jarring use of words, bad construction, etc. are speed bumps (to mix the metaphor) that interfere with that transparency. And make the reader aware of the wiriting in a bad way, not even a "oh this writer is so literary" way.

OgreWolf
July 29th, 2007, 07:31 AM
Ok, to explain. The reason why I said that this thread wasn't that serious, is that I already knew most of this from before. I only thought I'd put the discussion out there. You have some interresting ways of viewing things. :)

They way I write, I often have to put all the meet on the bones from the beginning, because I really don't have a story before I start. I often start by thinking of a character and a setting, and start writing from there. Discribing things, creating my world. However, putting the meat on the bones while making the bones kinda make fitting the joints together difficult, which probably describes why I seldom finish my work. :p

Severn
July 29th, 2007, 06:17 PM
Ok, to explain. The reason why I said that this thread wasn't that serious, is that I already knew most of this from before. I only thought I'd put the discussion out there. You have some interresting ways of viewing things. :)

They way I write, I often have to put all the meet on the bones from the beginning, because I really don't have a story before I start. I often start by thinking of a character and a setting, and start writing from there. Discribing things, creating my world. However, putting the meat on the bones while making the bones kinda make fitting the joints together difficult, which probably describes why I seldom finish my work. :p

Ah, so that's not your issue then, really. Sounds like it's preparation/planning. I used to do what you do. I'd open up with a first sentence and go from there. It felt, I don't know, romantic, in a self-indulgent, spontaneous kind of way.

I find though that 'just writing', while lovely and free, doesn't cut it if you want a story to work well. Yes yes, there are exceptions, of course it can work - sometimes. However, if you're having the issues you are, sounds like it isn't working for you.

These days, I plan my short stories. I work it all out first. What's going to happen, who's going to do what, where it's going to go, how it's going to end. I write notes, I write a synopsis, and only then do I start writing. The end result is a hell of a lot better. I write the 'frame' of the story - ie, the first draft. And then I edit, and edit again. And edit until I'm happy. But I don't edit until the frame is written.

It took a lot of discipline to change my Free and Spontaneous ways heh. You know, I met one successful novel author who did something I thought, at the time, was quite mad. He wrote each chapter - sometimes broken into scenes - on a separate piece of paper and hung them all on the washing line. Then he'd stand back, study them, and move them about, until he had them in the order he wanted.

Now I see the logic in the madness.

And Lin's right - if you have 'badly constructed sentences, jarring use of words, bad construction' and other such things, you're screwed. :D Hence, the value, no, vital importance of self-editing. Critique is all well and good. However, if you can't self-edit, you really are screwed. (The 'you' being a general one, encompassing all who write).

Tony Williams
July 30th, 2007, 01:51 AM
I write exactly the kind of books that I enjoy reading (non-fiction and fiction). Once I've finished a book, edited it and checked the proofs I don't re-read it (or at least I haven't up to now) but if I flip through one to check on something in a particular section, I always like what I read - if I didn't, I wouldn't have written it! :D