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  1. #16
    Registered User Sean Wright's Avatar
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    Ten and eleven years olds, yes. Sure. I'll give it a go. When is the book out?

  2. #17
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    August 2006 by Mondo publishing in NYC. You know them? As a teacher I would suspect you do. They cater to the schools and library systems. They provide books for the balanced reading programs in many cities. The title of this book is The Mystery of the Jubilee Emerald, Book I in the Adventures of Cristopher and Erica series.

  3. #18
    Registered User Sean Wright's Avatar
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    Not read Proust or Wharton, but folk like Pullman, Nix and Horowitz are very popular with children of this age. They show all the way! We compared excerpts of style in the Secret Garden and Black Beauty, looking at the passive construction of these books, as opposed to Pullman's direct style in Firework Maker's daughter. Modern writing is all about the active verb sentence construction, but although it's engages the reader in action, the elegance is lost - The Secret Garden is a wonderfully written book, with stunning passages of description. I could talk about kid's books all day. But alas I have work to do. Catch you later.
    Last edited by Sean Wright; April 25th, 2006 at 03:31 PM.

  4. #19
    Registered User Sean Wright's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    August 2006 by Mondo publishing in NYC. You know them? As a teacher I would suspect you do. They cater to the schools and library systems. They provide books for the balanced reading programs in many cities. The title of this book is The Mystery of the Jubilee Emerald, Book I in the Adventures of Cristopher and Erica series.
    Thanks for the info. It's a US publication, I take it. Not that it matters. Sounds like you're heading in the right direction with schools/library systems when writing kid's books. Well done.

  5. #20
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Wright
    I don't think any of these elements of our language are bad in themselves. I think that an overuse of them would perhaps grate, unless of course you were writing with these elements in mind as statement of style.
    I was actually just repeating oft heard stereotypes, and such I was being ironic. My actual point (that didn't get through because of whimsical rhetorics and gross simplification) was that if you apporach any element of writing with the attitude to find out whether it's good or bad, you're not doing much for your language awareness.

    "Writing Rules" are a pet peeve of mine; I've gone into the most detail in this thread; especially in these posts:

    http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showp...6&postcount=25

    http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showp...5&postcount=59

    Stephen King beats himself up (On Writing) about his overuse of adverbs in his earlier work, and yet many readers and reviewers consider his earlier books far superior as stories.
    I've read On Writing; Stephen King knows where he comes from and has a pretty good idea of his abilities. It's clear, I think, that he only told the readers what worked for him. He included a lot of personal history, which made his stylistic choices understandable. (For example, that his style is derived from journalism, and that likes Hemmingway as well as Lovecraft is telling.)

    I think King did the right thing emphasising the personal. Writing is personal, and rules tend to over-emphasise the objectivity of it all.

    M.R. James and Virginia Woolf are superb writers and yet their prose are littered with passive sentence construction.
    I love Virginia Woolf. Especially her short stories, and especially "Kew Gardens". I have yet to read MR James.

    And it's interesting how you say "passive sentence constructions", when I was more humble in my irony and merely said "passive voice". Shows me you know the cliché's well... Hehe. (Often, people who say "No passive voice" actually mean "no passive sentence structure".)

    I think the popular myth regarding active voice has come from business-speak - CVs, memos etc. And perhaps a lack of manners, or assertiveness.
    Possible. For some reason I associate this kind of language with "bold, American frontiersmen".

    ***

    Sorry, I'm well known for being a hair-splitter.

  6. #21
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    What did you think of To The Lighthouse, Dawn?

    What about The Mountain and the Valley by Buckler? He tells and tells, and he tells it all so beautifully I have nothing but eternal admiration for him.

  7. #22
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    What did you think of To The Lighthouse, Dawn?
    I never got further than a few pages into it, although I attempted to read it three times. Which is strange, because I liked what I read. (Similarly, I had to start Orlando twice, despite utterly loving it.)

    Apart from her short stories, it seems I need to catch Woolf in the right mood (er, I meant, I have to be in the right mood). But then she's brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

    Hmm, I think you might have sent me on my fourth journey to the Lighthouse...

    What about The Mountain and the Valley by Buckler? He tells and tells, and he tells it all so beautifully I have nothing but eternal admiration for him.
    Have to check that out, one day. I must admit, it doesn't even ring a bell.

  8. #23
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I had not heard of Buckler either. Scott B recommended the book to me and it was one of the best suggestions I've gotten in a while.

  9. #24
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    When an editor uses "show, don't tell," it usually means that they want you to write material as a scene.

    If you already have a scene, and the request is concerning the scene, then what the editor is having a problem with could be any one of the following:

    1) Too much description.
    2) Not enough description, and they'd like some metaphors please.
    3) Not enough character pov. (Which is of course telling, but what the hey.)
    4) Not a clear enough description of the action in the scene.
    5) No emotional content in the scene. (Which is also usually mostly telling.)
    6) You rushed through the action, so it feels flat and lacking in drama.

    The editor may or may not know which of the above is bothering her, since the reaction may be mainly instinct. When pressed for how to correct the situation, she may give the wrong advice. (For an understanding of this phenomena, see the book "Blink.") You can, though, assess the scene, attempt to figure out which element may be missing and then ask pointed questions that may get more information.

    Also, scenes are longer. Not everything is worth doing a scene for and taking up that much narrative. A scene fragment, or an inner monologue of character pov, may do the job just as well and take up less space. But for key moments, a writer usually wants to go for a scene. Some writers, though, deliberately don't do a scene for key action/plot moments, but instead skirt around it, which is another technique.

  10. #25
    Registered User Sean Wright's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    I was actually just repeating oft heard stereotypes, and such I was being ironic. My actual point (that didn't get through because of whimsical rhetorics and gross simplification) was that if you apporach any element of writing with the attitude to find out whether it's good or bad, you're not doing much for your language awareness.

    "Writing Rules" are a pet peeve of mine; I've gone into the most detail in this thread; especially in these posts:

    http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showp...6&postcount=25

    http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showp...5&postcount=59



    I've read On Writing; Stephen King knows where he comes from and has a pretty good idea of his abilities. It's clear, I think, that he only told the readers what worked for him. He included a lot of personal history, which made his stylistic choices understandable. (For example, that his style is derived from journalism, and that likes Hemmingway as well as Lovecraft is telling.)

    I think King did the right thing emphasising the personal. Writing is personal, and rules tend to over-emphasise the objectivity of it all.



    I love Virginia Woolf. Especially her short stories, and especially "Kew Gardens". I have yet to read MR James.

    And it's interesting how you say "passive sentence constructions", when I was more humble in my irony and merely said "passive voice". Shows me you know the cliché's well... Hehe. (Often, people who say "No passive voice" actually mean "no passive sentence structure".)



    Possible. For some reason I associate this kind of language with "bold, American frontiersmen".

    ***

    Sorry, I'm well known for being a hair-splitter.
    Hair-splitting's cool. To boldly go, eh? That old chestnut of splitting the infinitive...as an English gentleman, such assertion is beyond, or perhaps, beneath me.

    Btw, I'd agree 110% with you regarding you King observations: I think King did the right thing emphasising the personal. Writing is personal, and rules tend to over-emphasise the objectivity of it all.

  11. #26
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Rules in writing are kind of like formulas. I've never been one who fits easily into any mould and a formula is just a way of shaping yourself to fit into the container that already exists. Standards are another thing though.

  12. #27
    Registered User Sean Wright's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    Rules in writing are kind of like formulas. I've never been one who fits easily into any mould and a formula is just a way of shaping yourself to fit into the container that already exists. Standards are another thing though.
    Quite so, Gary.

  13. #28
    Books of Pellinor alison's Avatar
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    Hi Gary - you might be interested to know that "show, don't tell" is a staple of the poetry writing workshop and, I'm pretty certain, stems from an Ars Poetica by some poet whose name I can't remember (James Tate? Someone like that, and certainly American). And yes, it's a cliche. It can be useful to an extent for beginning writers, but I totally agree that rules of this kind are not very useful, because they're so vague. Far better and more useful, I think, to learn the ins and out of grammar!!! (Of which I am still learning many things...)

  14. #29
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Wright
    Hair-splitting's cool. To boldly go, eh? That old chestnut of splitting the infinitive...as an English gentleman, such assertion is beyond, or perhaps, beneath me.

    Btw, I'd agree 110% with you regarding you King observations: I think King did the right thing emphasising the personal. Writing is personal, and rules tend to over-emphasise the objectivity of it all.
    *Tips the hat he could be wearing and raises an absent glass to the power of style.*

    Let those who wish to assert themselves be encouraged by a good-natured irony they don't understand.

    And let me be stricken by devine lightning for spouting truisms.

    *Sizzle* *Crack*

    Missed me.



    (Hm... was that showing?)

    ****

    Quote Originally Posted by alison
    Hi Gary - you might be interested to know that "show, don't tell" is a staple of the poetry writing workshop and, I'm pretty certain, stems from an Ars Poetica by some poet whose name I can't remember (James Tate? Someone like that, and certainly American). And yes, it's a cliche. It can be useful to an extent for beginning writers, but I totally agree that rules of this kind are not very useful, because they're so vague. Far better and more useful, I think, to learn the ins and out of grammar!!! (Of which I am still learning many things...)
    That's very interesting Alison:

    A quick google yields Archibald MacLeish; "Ars Poetica":

    Quote Originally Posted by Archibald MacLeish
    A poem should be equal to:

    Not true.

    For all the history of grief

    An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

    For love

    The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

    A poem should not mean

    But be.
    Got that from this article.

    The question of "show don't tell" is, then, rendered as the question of the place images in fiction.

  15. #30
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    In poetry the term seems much more obvious. Yet even so, there is a time in some styles of poetry where telling is necessary.

    We all try to do both, don't we? And we have to in order to tell a story. Notice the words: 'Tell' a story. We don't tell a poem. But even then, the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere is a story being told. So even that has to be qualified.

    I do think that a good book requires both showing and telling, and if the balance between the two is off, then the story won't be effective. But there's no yardstick for that. I guess a computer program could divide a manuscript into styles and give us a sense of percentages in some of the books we love the most. I wonder if there would be a discernible pattern.

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