View Full Version : Have computers changed writing for the better?
December 18th, 2004, 11:21 PM
In the days of old, it took a painfully long time for an author to hand write a piece of work. Each word had to be written with care and therefor thought out in advance for ink and paper were not cheap and it took time to re-write and entire page for a simple re-wording of a sentence. This means a person had to think long and hard before sitting down and eeking out a living as an author.
In the age of typewriters things got better. Paper was cheaper and one could type faster than hand write a piece of work, but still required an author to completly re-type an entire page. You still needed to think seriously before diving into a living as an author for it was a lot of work.
Today, computers allow us to type an entire work, copy, paste, re-word, edit, remove entire lines, insert new lines, and all for a fraction of the cost in days of old (possibly why the pay of a published short story has never really gone up over the years -- still 1-5 cents per word). Computers have made it incredibly easy for anyone to sit down and start writing. You need no special training or experience to start writing. Though computers are costly, most people have made the purchase for a variety of reasons and writing may have been an after thought.
So back to my question...
Have computers changed writing for the better?
I ask for there are now more authors than ever before and I think the advent of the computer may have contributed to this rise. Constantly you hear of magazines and publishers and agents flooded with work and having an awful time getting through it all. Many now even take electronic submission makeing it easier for anyone with a computer to submit a work. Does this improve the quality of work published or dimisish it? Does it impact the chances of a high-quality author with little to no experience getting lost in the shuffle or does it make that one author rise to the top of a pile of <insert your own expletive here>?
What's your take on how computers have changed writing? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
December 19th, 2004, 09:07 AM
I think it really depends on your style...
Sometimes I will do handwritten first drafts and work paragraph by paragraph until I have the right wording... But sometimes I use the computer and go straight through. The beauty of the computer is that when I am all done, I can print out a copy and look for the minor revisions I need to fix instead of having to rewrite entire pages so in the long-run I guess it does make life easier, for me at least.
December 19th, 2004, 09:55 AM
Well, some people are evdently still doing it the old-fashioned way. I was reading some of the appendix to Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver the other day (in the TP version) and he says in there that the entire Baroque Cycle was written by hand on paper with a pen and then transferred to computer. For those not familiar with the work, it's roughly 2700 pages in hardback, 2700 very full pages in hardback. So I guess some people like to do it the old way.
December 19th, 2004, 12:46 PM
I personally refuse to write on anything other than a computer. I very often have to make revisions even while I am writing. My mind is in editing mode as I write, so I am constantly backspacing, cutting and pasting, etc.
I have written by hand before and it was a sad. :p
December 19th, 2004, 01:55 PM
I think in general they've made writing easier. What that translates into is that it becomes a more accessable venue for artistic expression and communication of ideas for the average person. One can do more in less time. This has both its good points, and its bad points.
On one hand with more people writing we might see more and better ideas coming forth. Although I suppose one could argue that the best authors would have been writing all along anyway. As a result, we end up with a lot more crap out there. This then further reduces the chances of a moderate-to-good author of seeing widespread publication.
December 19th, 2004, 06:41 PM
I think they have made a huge impact on writing.
I have tried writing a story because my computer was down and I couldn't stand it.
After a page it had become so packed I couldn't read it and my wrist limited to a paragraph before I got a headache and stopped.
If I had to write my stories writing would eventually become something I wouldn't want to do.
But with a computer, my average gross words a minute is 60............ and on one of my stories I typed the first chapter and it had I think 9,012 words, which took a very short time, considering the one paragraph a day writing.
So without computers, I wouldn't have somewhere to write my ideas, other than their originol home my brain.
December 19th, 2004, 09:25 PM
I understand the point that there is more out there, and there is "crap" out there. But this is how I see it...
Maybe "writing" hasn't changed for the better. Made it easier? Yes. Better? Still the same quality, it is still based off of experiences. The computer doesn't create a dramatic storyline for you. I think it is "better" in terms that people can more easily express themselves.
That's when it comes to the "crap." There is plenty of it out there, but that is highly opinionated and arrogant. I know some people who I read their story, poem, whatever, and I just plain don't like it and can pick out flaws all day. But I know those people must feel a great achievement, and when it boils down to it, we are all writing because we love it. We weren't assigned this job ala Futurama, but we were given the opportunity and it was up to us to take it.
I know a lot of the stuff I write is "crap," even in my own mind. But it is a learning process, and what might be crap now, may be gold in ten years after a little reworking.
Just something to consider...
December 19th, 2004, 09:38 PM
Interesting thread. I tend to disagree with the underlying assumption in the first post, though, that is, that cost and ease of writing is what decides whether or not people write. It would be unlikely that people would not write just because they had to use ink and parchment or a typewriter or any other format if they have the passion for writing burning within them. I agree, on the other hand, that there will be more "hobbyists" writing on their computers, and this is great. I play computer games and watch tv, but I still think it's good to have a creative outlet too. So the more the merrier! And the bad ones still won't get published and they won't stop the good ones from getting published. Computers make the writing job easier for the good ones, so hopefully we get to see more of their output. A win-win situation, really!
January 5th, 2005, 09:23 AM
I ask for there are now more authors than ever before and I think the advent of the computer may have contributed to this rise. Constantly you hear of magazines and publishers and agents flooded with work and having an awful time getting through it all.
I think this is a good point as PC's are very common now so any schmuck with a story idea can try and write a novel.
True I think a lot of crap is floating in the river of modern literature and it does cause clogs, but ultimately I like to think that if a story is good and well written, it will rise to the top of the slush pile eventually.
I do think the relative ease of the process of writing has opened the flood gates for every JRR Tolkien, Phil K Dick wannabe to have a go, but then it's worth remembering just how bloody hard it is to actually get published.
You need a good story, a good command of the english language. The ability to write with pacing and plotting.
And above all the perseverance to carry on when the rejection letters start rolling in.
Sure there's far more slush out there now than there ever was, but then there are probably far more staff and workers in the industry now than ever before and writers are becoming rock stars.
January 10th, 2005, 07:58 AM
I've heard it said that email/computers has meant that if a magazine allows submission via email, it is so much easier to do than physically printing something and stamping it, that they get deluged in submissions.
I don't think it means that writing is getting worse - just that it is easier for bad writers (as well as good), to write, complete, and submit things.
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