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  1. #31
    Loveable Rogue Moderator juzzza's Avatar
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    *Sigh* 700 Words.

    Do you want to be an artist or a published writer? It is hard to be both these days I of course jest however, Maus is right, I have been completely unsuccessful in selling 700 Words. Apart from the complete annihilation from Andromeda Spaceways, most editors' comments revolve around resolution.

    They either felt cheated or didn't like it hanging, for story neatness. You are right Nicba, they seemed okay NOT having a location, easily identifiable protagonists or antagonists (mine were a collective of a greater whole) but could not accept NOT having a resolution. Even though I feel, that the resolution does occur, it is in the collective coming together and the outside influence or reality is irrelevant.

    To make matters worse, I have just finished a new 900 word piece, which essentially leaves the ending open, it's first person, a lot of detail and then ends with the hint of bad things to come. It doesn't have the cute approach of 700 Words, so what chance does it have... We shall see.

    I think 'resolution' is changing, or at least the requirement of one in stories, certainly in movies of late. Think 'Lost in translation' or the Adam Sandler movie, 'Punch Drunk Love'. They seem to float along and are snapshots of people's lives, but not your traditional movie structure. I like this quick glimpse of a character's story and have had some success using this approach. Not as abstract or plain weird as 700 words, but snapshots none the less.

    Short stories that I really admire are more like brush strokes than mini complete paintings of stories. I DON'T like the idea that a word count restriction means you are simply cramming the elements of a good story into the parameters. I like it when the writer takes less to create resonance.

    Sammie will tell you that I do like to play with the norm when it comes to short stories, not always successfully, but I have played with reverse scenes where the twist still comes at the end (beginning) and I have had open endings, no ending and plain strangeness...

    I can't change and if it means my publication successes remain on the low side, it just means that when one comes along, it means much more to me. At least tales like 700 Words creates interest from editors, I did have that debate about changing the ending and many people have enjoyed it.

    A 'Writer' and proud of it... Perhaps an 'Author' one day
    Last edited by juzzza; January 21st, 2005 at 07:33 AM.

  2. #32
    Edited for submission Holbrook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacquin
    BUt we're not talking about grammar, POV, tense etc, we're talking about the elements that make up a story. Everyone has their own opinion, but if we are writing to sell (and some of us are) and we are offered a framework or set of guidelines to make that process easier shouldn't we take it?
    But nearly all the "best stories" the ones you remember are the ones that bend or break the guidelines.



    I didn't mean to aim that at you, sorry if it read that way. At the end of the day it is different for us all. I would rather get paid to write in a way that is acceptible to publishers than spend my days earning other people money and write whatever I feel like in my spare time.
    But J, That is exactly what you will be doing if you write what is "acceptable" you will be earning other people money with your "job" You will become a cog in the publishing industry, an executive position, but still a job. And jobs eat up your time, you might find you have less spare time than you do now

    I guess what this boils down to is that I don't feel that writing to a formula that will hopefully sell is in any way compromising my principles as a writer. Excluding sheer luck, I see that as the difference between an author and a writer. A writer writes, an author gets paid. I'd rather be an author any day...
    And I would rather be a writer, if publishing comes it comes and I suspect I will enjoy the journey, but it is not the great goal it once was. Creating the best story I can from what is in my head and setting it down is.

  3. #33
    Filthy Assistants! Moderator kater's Avatar
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    To go back a ways:
    Quote Originally Posted by Holbrook
    I for one don't want too and to be honest if I did have to do that to get published , then I would rather stay a hobby writer. I don't need or want this ever to become a job, jobs become boring, they take on a must do, rather than a want to do, no matter how much you love the job to begin with.
    I think this is probably the key point. Some writers would be happy to get published by forcing an idea that fits an accepted standard/norm of the industry. Its a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Unfortunately this contrived idea stagnates the industry through repetition, something I believe to be a big problem in Fantasy at the moment, but is nonetheless rewarded. We see 'powerful' writers creating 4,5-10+ series where there is very little innovation between book 1 and 10 yet they sell like hot cakes.

    In opposition is the writer who has an idea come to them, it may not be an idea that makes an easy sale, or any sale at all but it is the one which, to storyteller within the writer, makes the most perfect sense. Its an idea that becomes an obsession, a vision that the writer wishes to share but is also so attached to that criticism is tough to take. I think that writing should always be fun, a chore is a chore - it needs to be done, nothing more. So I have to disagree with you J, writing to a formula is comprimising because its not what you would write its what you should write. Satisfying yourself should always come first, in writing anyway , and by adhering to limitations set on a process as unique and innovative as writing you remove a lot of the possibilities for yourself. That oddball, left-of-centre piece you write freely may be the one piece that makes it big for you, but following a template, a formula means you'll never write that piece and seriously limits your options.

    At the end of it all I think you can over analyse writing, I certainly get intimidated coming in here with people banging on about targets and mechanics etc, and most tellingly to me, you mentioned MWStover yet he said he never lets anyone except his editor and occasionally his wife read his work before its published. Sometimes you just have to plough your own path. Plus I really don't think POD is such a bad option, if you can be certain its not purely vanity.

  4. #34
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I am not certain I understand fully the conflict you two have been having. How could anyone actually sit down and write to a formula and get any real sense of satisfaction from it? I wrote something for Wizards of the Coast, written strictly in accordance with their requirements, and I felt as if I was back in grade school completing a homework assignment. I did enjoy doing it, but entirely as an exercise. It was nothing remotely like writing my own books. The room for creativity was limited, and even though I could still bring my own style to the project, it was restritcted. Once those limitations were placed upon me, it became a thoroughly different experience.

    I sold a YA mystery series to large, NYC publisher last year. After working with my editor there for about four months, and after we were just about done with the manuscript, I received a strange call from her. She asked me if I would mind making one of the main characters ethnic and change their names. Now I had no problem with the idea, and I understood that it would be more appealing to schools and libraries that way, but the two main characters were modeled strickly after one of my sons and his best friend. I used their real names as well. To change the names was too much for me.

    My point here is that if i had been given a project to write initially, and the requirements were to have an ethnically diverse group of characters, then that would have been fine. The scope of the project would have been defined for me, and I could choose to do it or not. But once those restrictions are placed upon an author, it is no longer entirely your project. Your creative energy has to be diverted to meet the needs of the third party. It's not different when you try to write to conform to industry rules.

    If you are writing for a living, then you do what you must. If you live to write, you do what you want.

  5. #35
    Shovelly Joe Moderator Jacquin's Avatar
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    Hmm, a couple of interesting points...

    So I have to disagree with you J, writing to a formula is comprimising because its not what you would write its what you should write.
    Surely you don't accept that? Is it impossible to write to a forumla and write what you want? Surely it depends on the formula?

    But nearly all the "best stories" the ones you remember are the ones that bend or break the guidelines.
    Not at all, the best stories do follow the rules, but you don't notice because of the masterful way they are told. But also it's often said that you are allowed to break the rules if you understand them...

    But J, That is exactly what you will be doing if you write what is "acceptable" you will be earning other people money with your "job" You will become a cog in the publishing industry, an executive position, but still a job. And jobs eat up your time, you might find you have less spare time than you do now
    My point isn't that it is a job, simply that it is a more preferable job to a lot I have done, (and you know that's true... )

    And I would rather be a writer, if publishing comes it comes and I suspect I will enjoy the journey, but it is not the great goal it once was. Creating the best story I can from what is in my head and setting it down is.
    How will you judge it?

    How could anyone actually sit down and write to a formula and get any real sense of satisfaction from it?
    Blade of Tyshalle was written to follow the formula of the elizabethan five act play, does that mean Matt couldn't have got any satisfaction form it? Of course not. A formula or structure is simply a tool you use to create what you want to create. Whether you have a defined structure that a story must follow, or you simply say, beginning, middle end, it is still a structure you follow.

  6. #36
    Edited for submission Holbrook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacquin
    Blade of Tyshalle was written to follow the formula of the elizabethan five act play, does that mean Matt couldn't have got any satisfaction form it? Of course not. A formula or structure is simply a tool you use to create what you want to create. Whether you have a defined structure that a story must follow, or you simply say, beginning, middle end, it is still a structure you follow.
    Yes; but you were before stating to write to formula to get published. Writing a work based on the formula of a Elizabethian five act play is using a style to my mind, not a sure fire way of getting published.


    I am not certain I understand fully the conflict you two have been having
    No conflict Gary... just doing what we have round my dinner table over a bottle of wine and some smelly cheese....

  7. #37
    Edited for submission Holbrook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacquin

    How will you judge it?
    I wouldn't attempt to judge it, that is for others to do at some point at some time, no rush for me, I won't be here anyway... lol...

  8. #38
    Shovelly Joe Moderator Jacquin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holbrook
    Yes; but you were before stating to write to formula to get published. Writing a work based on the formula of a Elizabethian five act play is using a style to my mind, not a sure fire way of getting published.
    I was talking about writing to a formula to get short stories published, Gary stated that he didn't understand how anyone could write to a formula and get satisfaction from it. At the end of the day a formula or template or framework is simply a means of keeping the story straight in your head isn't it? If it also helps you get published then why the hell not? You could argue that the English language is a tool you use when writing, does that get in the way?

    Let me compare writing to music. If I have a piano I can either learn how to play music the way everyone else does and hopefully one day be good enough that other people might want to play my music or I can simply push on whatever keys feel like a good idea to me at the time. It is possible to be an excellent musician like that, but it is nowhere near as likely.

    No conflict Gary... just doing what we have round my dinner table over a bottle of wine and some smelly cheese....
    Lol, should I fetch a guitar?

  9. #39
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I jumped in a little late here, and though I glanced over the posts, I admit I didn't read them all that closely.

    Red or white? French cheese?

  10. #40
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I was interpreting your usage of 'formula' a little more strictly, I guess. When applied loosely, we all write according to some formula. We write in a genre. That's a formula. We use words.

    What I meant is more like picking a theme or designing a story around what you might believe a publisher wants or your agent requests, which may likely not be what you would write otherwise. Now commercially, that is logical, but creatively, it would bind me in a way that might detract from the experience. I love the freedom of writing. I can go anywhere with my story and my characters. True, if I want to sell something to a mainstream publisher I would be better off writing chick-lit today. And I could do that and maybe have some fun doing it, but I wouldn't ever love it.

  11. #41
    Kiss my axe! kahnovitch's Avatar
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    What a story needs is someone who likes it.
    By "someone" I mean an agent or publisher.
    Considering that they are all different with different preferences and expectations/ requirements etc, it's basically impossible to write a story that will sell instantly to the first smeghead you send it too.
    There is no formula other than the old "10% inspiration, 90% perspiration"

  12. #42
    Banned Eurytus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kahnovitch
    What a story needs is someone who likes it.
    By "someone" I mean an agent or publisher.
    Considering that they are all different with different preferences and expectations/ requirements etc, it's basically impossible to write a story that will sell instantly to the first smeghead you send it too.
    There is no formula other than the old "10% inspiration, 90% perspiration"
    Exactly, make your story good and it will be successful.
    This whole business about "should you write it for yourself or for the audience" is bizarre to me.
    Why should your likes/dislikes be so different from the audience's?

    As for formula for writing? Sounds dubious to me. I would describe it as being akin to painting by the numbers. Sure you paint but within a pre-determined framework.
    Far better to create something truly original.

  13. #43
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Or at least to try to! Totally agree, Eurytus!

    I have said this before, but it still rings true. What do you suppose would have been the fate of Joyce's Ulysses if he thought about these things before he wrote it?

  14. #44
    Banned Eurytus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    What do you suppose would have been the fate of Joyce's Ulysses if he thought about these things before he wrote it?
    They'd have run a mile.
    I still almost can't believe it got published.

  15. #45
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    To an extent, I agree with your last comment. But publishing was not all about profit margins and public opinion then. There were many small imprints that produced books for particular groups of readers. If it were not for the incredible editor, Sylvia Beach, who published it independently in Paris for her own bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, it would probably never have been read. She was a courageous lesbian living in an unforgiving and puritanical world. Paris was probably the only city then where this could have occurred.

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