Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 27

Thread: Ruining Stories by trying to be Fancy Schmancy

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    AW. A very nice place!
    Posts
    11,459

    Ruining Stories by trying to be Fancy Schmancy

    ... when preparing to sub to pro-market mags like the New Yorker, Paris Review, etc.

    When a story is coming out pretty good and I think it might have a slim chance with the big boys I start trying to be sophisticated while I'm finishing up the story. It happens automatically. As a result the story suffers and comes out like a stuffed sock or something. I do make an effort not to try to go out of my way to sound impressive and just let the story unfold as it needs to without any hyperbolic hoopla. It's difficult though and I don't entirely succeed.

    Can anybody relate?

  2. #2
    More cowbell! randi.lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    New England, USA
    Posts
    1,021
    I can reverse-relate. My stories always begin fluffier than they end. When I read through what I've written and notice those 'stuffed sock' moments I cut them out then.
    Facebook | Twitter
    The Emotional Process of Writing a Novel

    Please try not to take me too seriously. What I've posted above is most likely in jest.

    Snap! A Quite Quick Collection now available on Amazon.

  3. #3
    resident curmudgeon
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    26,280
    I can't really relate to this because I read both The New Yorker and the Paris Review, and I don't find the stories or the writing therein any fancier or any schmancier than the stories in Ellery Queen or Asimov's.

    The subject matter is usually different, but I don't find the writing any fancier in one than in the other. Perception kills, and too many perceive the writing as different.

    I think you have to write just as well for one as for the other, or you'll fail at both.

  4. #4
    Not responsible for bitten fingers Shadow_Ferret's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    In a world of my own making
    Posts
    23,525
    I don't have this problem because I write the story first, get it sub-ready, and only then do I start thinking about markets.
    Twitter | Pinterest | WordPress | Tumblr

    “I love words but I don’t like strange ones. You don’t understand them and they don’t understand you. Old words is like old friends, you know ‘em the minute you see ‘em.” -- Will Rogers

    "Blame it on my ADD, baby." -- AWOLNATION

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    AW. A very nice place!
    Posts
    11,459
    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow_Ferret View Post
    I don't have this problem because I write the story first, get it sub-ready, and only then do I start thinking about markets.
    ... probably the best approach. I just have a tendency at times to put the cart before the horse. Can't help it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    I can't really relate to this because I read both The New Yorker and the Paris Review, and I don't find the stories or the writing therein any fancier or any schmancier than the stories in Ellery Queen or Asimov's.

    The subject matter is usually different, but I don't find the writing any fancier in one than in the other. Perception kills, and too many perceive the writing as different.

    I think you have to write just as well for one as for the other, or you'll fail at both.
    ... agreed, but you can write a story well in a sophisticated way and write the same story well in a unsophisticated way. To some extent you make the decision based on your audience. Ellery and Asimov may be more or less on the same playing field as TNY in that regard, but other mags aren't. Say you're writing a story for Salt Water Fisherman. Make it an essay. You'd write it differently for the New Yorker. That's the sort of thing I mean. Ultimatley though you just have to write the story and let it dictate the tone and grammatical approach and all. I just find that when I have set my sights on a particular market the story begins to veer a bit off course in my attempt to cater to expectations. Perceptions can be off though as you say.

    Quote Originally Posted by randi.lee View Post
    I can reverse-relate. My stories always begin fluffier than they end. When I read through what I've written and notice those 'stuffed sock' moments I cut them out then.
    ... I can see that happening at the beginning when you haven't gotten into story-zone yet. It's good you can weed out what isn't needed. I usually can, too, though some of the stuff is more difficult to get rid of when it's part of construction itself.

    Thanks for the feedback, all.

  6. #6
    Benefactor Member Nymtoc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Between the lines
    Posts
    34,085
    Sorry, but I'm having a hard time understanding this. I doubt that anyone who writes successfully for The New Yorker or The Paris Review sits down and says, "I'm going to make this one sophisticated." That's not what those publications are looking for. They're looking for good stories.

    "The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they've found it.” ~ Terry Pratchett

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW magicmint's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Alberta
    Posts
    470
    All good stories are sophisticated, that's why they are published. It's sophisticated when the voice is awesome, prose tight, dialogue realistic, and to a certain extent, when there is depth to the story.

    That does not mean the writing has to be poetic, purple, and so on. It is more about having a unique style. That is my opinion anyways.
    Blog -- Updated Daily
    Shark's Teeth -- A free short story

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    AW. A very nice place!
    Posts
    11,459
    ... my own opinion as well is that stories can be unsophisticated and still be good and totally publishable. It's a matter of approach and knowing whom you're writing for. An extreme example would be writing for kids and also for adults. The story written for kids would be different than the same one written for adults, while remaining equally as good. (In my own experience, it's more a matter of what you can get away with than what you should or should not do.)

    Thanks for your views.

  9. #9
    resident curmudgeon
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    26,280
    [QUOTE=Ken;7200111

    ... agreed, but you can write a story well in a sophisticated way and write the same story well in a unsophisticated way. To some extent you make the decision based on your audience. Ellery and Asimov may be more or less on the same playing field as TNY in that regard, but other mags aren't. Say you're writing a story for Salt Water Fisherman. .[/QUOTE]

    I've written for a bunch of top outdoor hunting and fishing magazine, short stories and essays, and I write the same way I write for The New Yorker, or anyone else. In fact, some of the best, most sophisticated writing I've come across is in outdoor magazines. Perhaps I don't know what sophisticated writing, sophisticated storytelling is, but I know really good writing when I see it.

    I sold my first thousand dollar short story to Sports Afield, and my first big money essay to the same magazine. But I've also written for outdoor magazines as small as InSights, Game & Fish, and Muzzle Blasts. I write teh same way for each.

    Ever hear of Gordon MacQuarrie? He's the one who first made me love outdoor writing. The first essay of his I read was called Upon the Earth Below. It's about trout fishing. It opens thus.

    There is something about rain. . .a night in summer when the clouds can swell no more and shrink from threatening battlements to ragged shreds over Wisconsin. On such a night, I often get up from my chair, go to the big closet and speculate over the implements of trout fishing there. Indeed, there is something about rain. Especially a warm rain, spilled over a city, or a network of trout streams. It kindles a spark. It presses a button. It is an urgent message from afar to any seeker of the holy grail and anglingdom--trout.

    There is the mild August rain sluicing down to the thirsty earth. There are the castellated clouds, fresh from the Western prairie, borne of the hot dry land wind. And there is your man of the creel and pulsing rod and sodden waders going to the window to peer out and plumb the mysteries of rain and wonder about tomorrow.

    It must be that eons ago, when the rain splashed down over the front of a cave door, the muscle-bound troglodyte within went to the opening and stretched out his head, palm upward. Perhaps he even stood there a bit, as perfectly sane men will sometimes do. Perhaps that old sprig of Adam, restless by his fire in the dry cave, felt the friendliness of the rain. Perhaps--no troutster will deny it--he felt the drops upon his matted head and wondered about tomorrow.

    The rain can beckon a man of the noisy city and draw him to the door or window. Its attraction is so much the greater if it falls at night, when it is a whispering mystic visitor from afar that seems to say, "Get ready, my friend. I am just brushing by to settle the dust and wash away today's dead-spent wings."

    Now, as I said, it may be I don't know what sophisticated writing is, or what sophisticated storytelling is, but, to me, this is as well as a man can write, as sophisticated as an essay can be. I wouldn't change a word of it, no matter the market.

    I went on to discover William Tapply, and much later, William Tapply jr., Jack Vance, and a number of other outdoor writers, and fund the writing universally incredible. I read a story called The Wild Thing by Patrick McManus, and found it to be the best-written, and more important, the truest story I've yet to find. Truth matters above all things.

    Sophisticated/unsophisticated bothers me. From my experience, it usually means one of two things, both horrible. 1. It means write up or write down, depending on market. A terrible mistake. I write as well as I can possibly write, no matter the market. 2. It means, I'm not sophisticated enough, my friends aren't sophisticated enough, our lives and our problems aren't sophisticated enough to fill five or six pages in The New Yorker. I need to find a character who is sophisticated enough, and give him problems that are also sophisticated enough, and maybe then I'll sell. Another terrible mistake.

    I do write to the market, but I never try to tell a story or write an essay in a more or less sophisticated away. Story and essay are told through character, not through market, and subject matter is what I change. Often, in fact, I make my best sales by doing the exact opposite of what this thread suggests. . .I give each type of market what most writers believe the other wants most.

    I believe in writing as well as I can possibly write, and I believe telling the truth is what sells stories and essays. In order to tell the truth, you should never be more sophisticated than what you and your friends are, should never look for truth in a place you do not know well, or in a character of a type you do not know well enough to truly understand.

    Markets, all of them, want you, and they want me. They want who and what we are, how we think, how we feel, what we believe, and why. You may give this side of yourself to one market, that side of yourself to another, but you never, ever write up or write down, try to be sophisticated or unsophisticated, or change the way you write for any reason other than character.

    I think writers who want to write for TNY or PR need to read about thrity years worth of each. Doing so means finding stories and essays of every kind, of every style, and even of most genres. The only thing the stories have in common is how true each is, and how well-written each is, just like the stories and essays in every decent magazine out there.

  10. #10
    Ken, do you perhaps mean the voice of the piece is more or less sophisticated? And you're trying to tailor the voice to what you think it should be, rather than what comes naturally?

    For example:

    Dude tried to run me down with his cracker-jack-prize of a tin can. Shoulda known you can't do a good road-side splat with an old bug.

    Vs.

    The assassin my previous employer had acquired attempted to devitalize me via an anachronous model of a foreign vehicle. It might have behooved him to consider that lightweight automobiles, such as his diminutive Volkswagen, are not the most faultless weapons of execution.

    Both say the same thing, one's content is not any more sophisticated than the other, and really neither is the writing-- one’s just stuffier and the other is very lax. I’ve seen both styles utilized in everything from the NY to a semi-pro fan zine. I’d say the story’s content is what makes it sophisticate or not, not it’s voice. And even then it's the way the content is presented. All in the exectution.

    Now, if you feel you have to change your voice to stylistically fit the venue, I wouldn’t worry about it. Extent of vocabulary is usually not what makes or breaks a story--it’s all in how you use it. Use it naturally and you’re good. Insert it willy-nilly because it’s not the real way you write and yeah, you’ll probably mess up whatever good thing you had going on.

    So, personally, I say fight the urge!

    ETA: Now what you can see from my two examples are the characters' levels of sophistication. You can probably guess a lot about their backgrounds from how they narrate--but less sophisticated characters do not less sophisticated stories make.
    Last edited by MJNL; 04-18-2012 at 08:28 PM.
    ~Marina

    Recent Publications:

    A Debt Repaid, Lightspeed Magazine, WDSF
    Dateline: Sesen, Star Citizen Spectrum Dispatch

    Blog *Twitter* Art * AV

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    AW. A very nice place!
    Posts
    11,459
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    Ever hear of Gordon MacQuarrie? He's the one who first made me love outdoor writing. The first essay of his I read was called Upon the Earth Below. It's about trout fishing. It opens thus.

    There is something about rain. . .a night in summer when the clouds can swell no more and shrink from threatening battlements to ragged shreds over Wisconsin. On such a night, I often get up from my chair, go to the big closet and speculate over the implements of trout fishing there. Indeed, there is something about rain. Especially a warm rain, spilled over a city, or a network of trout streams. It kindles a spark. It presses a button. It is an urgent message from afar to any seeker of the holy grail and anglingdom--trout.

    Now, as I said, it may be I don't know what sophisticated writing is, or what sophisticated storytelling is, but, to me, this is as well as a man can write, as sophisticated as an essay can be. I wouldn't change a word of it, no matter the market.

    I went on to discover William Tapply, and much later, William Tapply jr., Jack Vance, and a number of other outdoor writers, and fund the writing universally incredible. I read a story called The Wild Thing by Patrick McManus, and found it to be the best-written, and more important, the truest story I've yet to find. Truth matters above all things.

    Sophisticated/unsophisticated bothers me. From my experience, it usually means one of two things, both horrible. 1. It means write up or write down, depending on market. A terrible mistake. I write as well as I can possibly write, no matter the market. 2. It means, I'm not sophisticated enough, my friends aren't sophisticated enough, our lives and our problems aren't sophisticated enough to fill five or six pages in The New Yorker. I need to find a character who is sophisticated enough, and give him problems that are also sophisticated enough, and maybe then I'll sell. Another terrible mistake.

    I do write to the market, but I never try to tell a story or write an essay in a more or less sophisticated away. Story and essay are told through character, not through market, and subject matter is what I change. Often, in fact, I make my best sales by doing the exact opposite of what this thread suggests. . .I give each type of market what most writers believe the other wants most.

    I believe in writing as well as I can possibly write, and I believe telling the truth is what sells stories and essays. In order to tell the truth, you should never be more sophisticated than what you and your friends are, should never look for truth in a place you do not know well, or in a character of a type you do not know well enough to truly understand.

    Markets, all of them, want you, and they want me. They want who and what we are, how we think, how we feel, what we believe, and why. You may give this side of yourself to one market, that side of yourself to another, but you never, ever write up or write down, try to be sophisticated or unsophisticated, or change the way you write for any reason other than character.

    I think writers who want to write for TNY or PR need to read about thrity years worth of each. Doing so means finding stories and essays of every kind, of every style, and even of most genres. The only thing the stories have in common is how true each is, and how well-written each is, just like the stories and essays in every decent magazine out there.
    ... that clip from MacQuarrie would be what I'd call sophisticated. Wow. That's good writing! And that's the sort of writing I try to ape when I consider submitting a story to the TNY or PR.

    I've got my own style that's very plain and it suits my characters and genre (humor). But when I start thinking about what I'm going up against I feel at times like a little school boy in a room full of PHD professors who can write circles around me. So I try to upgrade my stories and wind up ruining them instead.

    I think I will take your suggestion and read (select) stories from those mags. I think there was a guy named James Thurber who wrote for TNY years back. I read a story of his and really liked his approach.

    Those outdoor writers you mention sound interesting. I'm going to check out a few. I've always liked outdoor fiction, usually YA by Gary Paulson and the like. I never considered reading outdoor essays. I didn't realize they were so rich in description and depth. They're really like stories. Thanks for the post!

  12. #12
    That hairy-handed gent
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Who ran amok in Kent
    Posts
    31,524
    Quote Originally Posted by Nymtoc View Post
    Sorry, but I'm having a hard time understanding this. I doubt that anyone who writes successfully for The New Yorker or The Paris Review sits down and says, "I'm going to make this one sophisticated." That's not what those publications are looking for. They're looking for good stories.
    This, precisely. Which is why those publications have had long lives and have earned their reputations. There's an immense gulf between "sophisticated" and "pretentious". A great number of classic stories exist that are "sophisticated" in concept, and utterly unpretentious in execution. Some famous examples:

    "The Lottery", by Shirley Jackson
    "The Dwarf", by Ray Bradbury
    "The Gift of the Magi", by O. Henry
    "The Touch of Nutmeg Makes It", by John Collier
    "Afterward", by Edith Wharton
    "Wine in the Desert", by Max Brand
    "The Nine Billion Names of God", by Arthur C. Clarke
    "The Garden of Time", by J.G. Ballard
    "The Story of an Hour", by Kate Chopin

    You don't need to fluff up your prose with fancy words and allusions and metaphors and symbolism to make a story great. You just need to write a great story.

    caw

    "

  13. #13
    Caped Codder jaksen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    In MA, USA, across from a 17th century cemetery
    Posts
    5,119
    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    You don't need to fluff up your prose with fancy words and allusions and metaphors and symbolism to make a story great. You just need to write a great story.

    caw

    "
    Some nice examples there, bird, and to your final comment: Amen.
    Latest story in December 2013 issue of EQMM.

    Eeyore was saying to himself, “This writing business. Pencils and what-not. Over-rated if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it.” A.A. Milne

  14. #14
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1
    Every time I get into writing and Im cruising along, my story starts out really move... 5 hours later when I go back and re-read, I notice that sometimes I get out of control and get off base. Self editing is hard because you just want to keep all that juicy fun, but if it doesn't even relate to the story it needs to go. I got into this new medium of fiction this past weekend called Emotobooks. They are pretty well written and even have some abstract art injected into them. The authors seem to be right on track and not doing the fancy pancy thing. I picked up the title "Linger in the Woods" which is sorta a Viking Fantasy. I really enjoyed it. Nothing super fancy at all and the writing was great.

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    AW. A very nice place!
    Posts
    11,459
    Quote Originally Posted by MJNL View Post
    Ken, do you perhaps mean the voice of the piece is more or less sophisticated? And you're trying to tailor the voice to what you think it should be, rather than what comes naturally?
    ... to a degree. It's a bit more involved than just the vocabulary, though that's certainly a part of it. Besides vocabulary, it's the style of the narrative and way it's told. The clip that James posted is more of what I'm inclined to imitate. It's the way that essay is weaved: almost like poetry and very lyrical. The nuts and bolts as opposed to the gloss. That's more of what I meant by sophisticated.

    'Sophisticated' isn't really the right word. Maybe finesse? There isn't anything at all wrong about it. It suits some stories fine; maybe even most if you can manage that level of fine writing and are that skilled. I can't and am not, which is okay since my stories are simple and star characters that have difficulty tying their shoes, let alone grappling with monosyllables. Keeping them simple and not feeling like I'm doing something horribly wrong is what I sometimes find difficult, particularly when I set my sights on an up-end mag. Hope that makes some sense. I haven't really thought these things out so much as sensed them when I write and been aware of the false notes.

    Thanks for the feedback, Denegar, Jaksen, Blacbird, and MJNL.

    (Reading lists rock. Eager to read some of those you've mentioned and learn from the masters!)

    ps Will take a look at those emotobooks to see what they're about.

  16. #16
    banned as an incurable tosspot
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Frankfort, Indiana
    Posts
    397
    I've often thought that one thing that separates the great writers from the pretenders or wannabes is the sound, not so much the subject. Here's McQuarrie's opening sentence:

    There is something about rain. . .a night in summer when the clouds can swell no more and shrink from threatening battlements to ragged shreds over Wisconsin.

    It has cadence. It has meter. It flows. Yes, it contains words that for most of us don't roll off the tongue, words and phrases we're not likely to use in casual conversation. But it's the sound, what James Kilpatrick called "satisfying the mind's ear," that identifies "sophisticated writing."

    And even if you're like Leonard or Connelly and write straight-ahead fiction, you must make it sound right.

  17. #17
    resident curmudgeon
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    26,280
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    ... to a degree. It's a bit more involved than just the vocabulary, though that's certainly a part of it. Besides vocabulary, it's the style of the narrative and way it's told. The clip that James posted is more of what I'm inclined to imitate. It's the way that essay is weaved: almost like poetry and very lyrical. The nuts and bolts as opposed to the gloss. That's more of what I meant by sophisticated.

    .
    That's the way I tend to write, as well. I find it beautiful, lyrical, and well beyond what most can manage. More important, much more important, it says something essential, something dead on true about the nature of every real outdoorsman I've ever known.

    That essay could have been written about me, and the way it's written, makes me feel, makes me see, makes me look inside and understand.

    I think blacbird is right when he says you don't need to fluff up your prose with fancy words and allusions and metaphors and symbolism to make a story great, but this doesn't mean your writing can be flat, ordinary, and still make the grade.

    Sometimes story does trump all, as in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, which uses very ordinary writing. Ordinary, but far from simple. Every sentence in that story is designed to keep the reader in a certain mood, give the reader certain expectations. When Jackson suddenly takes a left turn at the end, it's the way the story was written, the mood Jackson set, the expectations she provided, that makes the ending so powerful.

    The Lottery would not have worked with lyrical, beautiful prose, just as Upon the Earth Below would not have worked with plain, simple prose.

    Simple and unpretentious should not mean flat and ordinary. Ray Bradbury uses very simple words, but he makes them sing. He uses these ordinary word to add rhythm and cadence to extraordinary sentences. They go to unexpected places, and they say things we did not expect to read.

    All these writers know "The Secret". First you must have something true to say. Second, you must say it in a way that matches that particular story, those particular characters, and the true thing you want to say.

    You don't match writing to market, you match writing to the story you're writing at any given time.

    It all comes back to having something to say. Then you need a character to say it, and say it as that character would. Most think this means something like accent or word choice, if you're writing about an Irish character. It doesn't. That's surface, and you want depth. An Irishman is not Irish because of his accent or his word choice, but because of what he believes, thinks, feels, wants, and needs.

    Read Green Shadows, White Whale, also by Ray Bradbury. He captures the people, the place, the time, and the True, but not with accent or word choice of the characters. He does it by knowing the people and the place, by understanding the people and the place.

    Despite simple words, there is no simple writing.

    Anyway, don't change your writing, your voice, or your style because you're writing for this market or that one. Change it because this story of that needs a particular style, needs a particular voice, to say whatever it is you want to say in the best possible way.

    It just isn't about market. Unless you're basically writing the same mystery with the same characters over and over, voice and style should change form one mystery story to another.

    Sometimes you want simple, which doesn't mean flat, and sometimes you want eloquent, lyrical, beautiful, which in no way means pretentious.

    What every market wants is simply a well-written story with something true to say. Well-written is tough. It never means flat and ordinary prose that just lays on the page without purpose, and it never means fancy, fluffed up prose that does little but show off.

    Just write your stories so that you tell the true, as Jane Yolen says, and write prose that fits story and character, not market.

  18. #18
    figuring it all out
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Greater Boston, Massachusetts
    Posts
    91
    Hi Ken, I can relate to what you said quite easily. I want to tell a good story but I also want the reader to come away with new thoughts and ideas; I also feel the only way to make my characters likeable and believable is to interject philosophical notions and descriptive language that really strikes home. For instance, I'm currently working on a story set in Los Angeles just before the riots of 1992, and it doesn't seem believable to me to simply describe the streets, or the beaches, or famous landmarks in a one-dimensional manner. I feel I have to put in something "fancy schmancy" about the way "the hills roll down to Hollywood Boulevard like the tide approaching the shore," or "the palm trees sway in the slight breeze near the Santa Monica pier, nodding their heads as if in unison to the departing sun, sinking into the blue that swallowed the earth at the edge of the city" And so forth. I seem to feel the best way to leave a mark in the reader is to try to be fancy, and thus my concern is the exact same as yours: it will sound pretentious, contrived and forced. I've simply been reminding myself that 1) It's got to be something I'm proud of either way 2) there may always be diverse opinions about my work; some will feel it's too wordy, some too basic, others too descriptive, then yet more who say it's too dry - the audience will always vary. Lastly 3) Looking at works that flow with complexity but yet are deemed successful and influential versus those where the writing gets bogged down and the plot stalls to compare the differences are the best efforts I can make to find the path forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    ... when preparing to sub to pro-market mags like the New Yorker, Paris Review, etc.

    When a story is coming out pretty good and I think it might have a slim chance with the big boys I start trying to be sophisticated while I'm finishing up the story. It happens automatically. As a result the story suffers and comes out like a stuffed sock or something. I do make an effort not to try to go out of my way to sound impressive and just let the story unfold as it needs to without any hyperbolic hoopla. It's difficult though and I don't entirely succeed.

    Can anybody relate?

  19. #19
    That hairy-handed gent
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Who ran amok in Kent
    Posts
    31,524
    Quote Originally Posted by DennisB View Post
    There is something about rain. . .a night in summer when the clouds can swell no more and shrink from threatening battlements to ragged shreds over Wisconsin.

    It has cadence. It has meter. It flows. Yes, it contains words that for most of us don't roll off the tongue, words and phrases we're not likely to use in casual conversation.
    What words? "Wisconsin"?

    caw

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    AW. A very nice place!
    Posts
    11,459
    Quote Originally Posted by mreilly19 View Post
    I feel I have to put in something "fancy schmancy" about the way "the hills roll down to Hollywood Boulevard like the tide approaching the shore," or "the palm trees sway in the slight breeze near the Santa Monica pier, nodding their heads as if in unison to the departing sun, sinking into the blue that swallowed the earth at the edge of the city"
    ... taken in isolation, I like your (I think this is what they're called?) similes. They read fine to me. Thanks for sharing your own struggles. I'm right there with you. With continued practice, I am making gradual headway. I guess that's the name of the game. And eventually you reach a point when doubt no longer enters into the picture. You forge forward without hesitation from one word to the next :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    All these writers know "The Secret". First you must have something true to say. Second, you must say it in a way that matches that particular story, those particular characters, and the true thing you want to say.

    Just write your stories so that you tell the true, as Jane Yolen says, and write prose that fits story and character, not market.
    ... thanks for the great post. Will try to put it to good use and take up your suggestions. One thing I'm definitely going to do is to become more familiar with my characters and settings. I think trouble arises when I'm not. Then I stumble about for something to say and end up clutching at filler or seemingly impressive sounding words and whatnot, which really don't add anything to the story.

    Quote Originally Posted by DennisB View Post
    I've often thought that one thing that separates the great writers from the pretenders or wannabes is the sound, not so much the subject.

    And even if you're like Leonard or Connelly and write straight-ahead fiction, you must make it sound right.
    ... sound is definitely important. I think that too has got to suit the characters and story to an extent. A good way to train the ear is to read classics, like Gogol's "Dead Souls," which reads like poetry. Great writers are attuned to sound and have a great feel for that, like you say.

    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    What words? "Wisconsin"?

    caw
    ... don't you mean Wis-caw-nsin?" ;-)

  21. #21
    You don't have coffee? Go away. WordCount's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Smalltown, USA
    Posts
    704
    Ehm..Ditto to what they say. Just write the best you can for any market.

  22. #22
    Gaze upon my shih-tzu powers! Billtrumpet25's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Phoenix, AZ
    Posts
    1,370
    When critiquing my WIP, Bufty offered me some good advice.

    "Stop trying to use what you think are writerly phrases and language and simply say what you mean..Clarity is King and simplicity is the key to clarity."

    He also mentioned:

    "say what you mean and mean what you say".

    Good advice, and quite relevant especially in this discussion. However, I would amend the statements above to provide that if the sophisticated, writer-ly language can be executed flawlessly without bogging down the prose, then it could be acceptable. It shouldn't be forced sophistication; it should flow naturally, and it will come when the writing itself is solid.

    I'm reminded of a philosophical treatise that essentially states that a man who knows the most says the least, and the man who says the most knows the least. I think the same can apply to writing.
    My WIP:

    War of the Wizard (Book 1): undergoing editing

    The Wizard's Curse (Book 2): 60% complete

    "The Dark Ages: Life With a Bipolar (WIP-narrative nonfiction of my experiences with my bipolar dad, and how to deal with the bp dis.'s turbulence.

    http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view...45&trk=tab_pro

    https://twitter.com/BillFitzgibbons

  23. #23
    That hairy-handed gent
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Who ran amok in Kent
    Posts
    31,524
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    ... don't you mean Wis-caw-nsin?" ;-)
    Damn I hate it when people come up with something more cleverer than I can.

    croak

  24. #24
    banned as an incurable tosspot
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Frankfort, Indiana
    Posts
    397
    Uh, how often do we use "clouds can swell no more" or "battlements" in casual conversation?

  25. #25
    banned as an incurable tosspot
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Frankfort, Indiana
    Posts
    397
    I thought it was interesting that James cited Bradbury. If any writer was "wordy," it was he. Now, I LOVE Bradbury. The first 300 words of Something Wicked are pure magic. But I sometimes thought he got carried away. Take this near the end of Something Wicked...

    "Now, fixed by light, they widened their eyes, as did Dad, amazed their mouths at their own ancient quakes and masquerades. Halt! the match had cried. And platoons left, squads right, had stilt-muscled themselves to fitful rest, to baleful glare, itching for the match to whiff out..."

    Pretty heavy stuff.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search