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Thread: Hi Folks,

  1. #1
    figuring it all out
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    Hi Folks,

    Being a theoretical physicist, in some ways a Sheldon, in others a Leonard, I’m definitely the odd-man out here — the only things I have published are papers on quantum mechanics. I do like to write fiction, though, and posted about a dozen stories of various lengths on a so-called “writers association” that I was a member of for about five months and have recently bailed out of. They ranged from a fifty-page portrait of a narcissistic former friend of mine to cat stories, a satire of Donald Trump at Buckingham Palace, a talk-show satire, a rather silly romance, and a few other things.

    Basically, I was hugging the shore there, not venturing out into the deep water of complex plots with dozens of characters and sparkling dialogs. I feel it’s now the time to write something more ambitious and am working on a longish misanthropic short-story disguised as science-fiction which has a complex plot, several characters, and an ending that resolves the tension created before the climax. At least that is my hope.

    I’ve done a lot of reading and thinking about what makes for a successful story and come to the conclusion that whatever it may be, it is ineluctable, if it exists at all. That was the most valuable thing I learned, but there were others, and I’ll probably devote a lot of my posts to the nuts and bolts of writing, not because I have anything to say, but because I hope to learn along the way.

    So long for now,
    Geoff
    Last edited by Geoffrey Fowler; 05-13-2017 at 10:24 PM.

  2. #2
    figuring it all out TomW22's Avatar
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    Hello and welcome!

    The idea of starting small and "hugging the shore" is a familiar one, but I kind of did it backwards. I love and admire the ambition you're showing with your big project, and you should definitely never lose that! But equally I've learnt it's important to use smaller works to prove you can make stories work, both to yourself and others, before committing huge amounts of effort to a more ambitious project. All that is to say, keep some smaller works going on while you progress this larger plan, so you've got material to send off to magazines and agents to drive up the changes of getting that bigger project in print some day

    That's my approach anyway. Others may differ!
    Thomas Walker

    Kingston's Legacy & Nothing but the Stars now available here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/431336

    https://www.facebook.com/thomaswalkerbooks

  3. #3
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    Nice to hear from you, Thomas

    I agree with you one-hundred-percent. I’m hoping to graduate from mostly short — less than 1,500 word — pieces to something around ten times that, the length of a typical short story (without abandoning flash). On the writers’ site I was on before I came here, I had the urge to scream your advice at the people posting chapters of novels, people who clearly never worked on any short pieces at all and therefore hadn’t learned the basics of writing. But I also think that at some point every aspiring writer has to realize the very severe limitations that short pieces (let’s say flash or long flash) impose on a writer.

    Best wishes, Geoff

  4. #4
    Go down road, go pub. Mary Mitchell's Avatar
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    Welcome
    It's a simple fact of life that not everyone will be your target audience.

  5. #5
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    Thank you, Mary.

    I would rephrase what you put at the bottom of the page as "Every writer should know that only a tiny fraction of the readers they target will be their audience." By the way, what is that dancing critter you inserted?

    Best wishes,
    Geoff
    Last edited by Geoffrey Fowler; 05-14-2017 at 04:05 AM.

  6. #6
    Needs More Hands.... Fallen's Avatar
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    Good to have you here, Geoff.

    You know, it's weird. I took my linguistics's degree to unlock the creative flare behind words. Yet twenty years later, six years in editing, four being published, and all I have is...

    ... schema refreshing v schema reinforcement ability.

    Some authors are just born with a way of knowing how to turn the known world upside down, or they'll look at something I see everyday and find such a unique of way capturing it that it makes me stop and appreciate elements that touch my life. Just pure talent!

    Welcome to AW!

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  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Welcome! I haven't been here very long and have mostly lurked, except in one particular thread that really got my blood boiling, but I have been reading and absorbing everything I could since I have been here. There is so much information and everyone seems so very helpful.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the welcome,

    In my experience, lurking can be a very productive way to occupy oneself.

    Best wishes, Geoff

  9. #9
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    Many thanks for the warm welcome Fallen

  10. #10
    The Alien Writer Thekherham's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum
    That's Tee kee' rahm

    Say hello to my whistling dragon, Kykherhenha (and that is pronounced Kich' kee ree' nah)

  11. #11
    Benefactor Member E. Steve's Avatar
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    Geoffrey -
    Welcome to AW.

    I don't pretend to write anything as technical as quantum mechanics (flunked chem 4 times before squeaking a C), but went on in the social sciences and wrote scholarly papers and books over the years and thought I was a pretty good writer. But I found out here at AW that fiction is a quantum (if I may use that word) leap from non-fiction, and I have a long way to go. I wish you good luck in your odyssey.
    Last edited by E. Steve; 05-14-2017 at 04:35 PM.

  12. #12
    figuring it all out
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    Thanks very much for the welcome. E.Steve

    Your absolutely right about writing fiction being a difficult act to pull off; a lot of people can write nice essays but they'd be clueless if they had to write a story. Of course, the problem is that in the former case there are fairly clear-cut rules whereas in the latter there aren't any rules at all. Fiction-wise, at the moment I feel like I'm groping around in a dark room for a light switch that I'm not even sure exists.

    I wish you luck, too.

  13. #13
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    Thanks Thekherham for welcoming me in. And tell Kykherhenha I'd love to hear him, or is it her whistle.

  14. #14
    RIP Prowl AW Moderator regdog's Avatar
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  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW indianroads's Avatar
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    You know, I would LOVE to read some good SCIENCE fiction... so I really hope you do well.
    Thanks for joining.

  16. #16
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    Thanks very much for the warm welcome.

  17. #17
    Welcome to AW, Geoffrey Fowler! I'm not sure about a Sheldon, but Leonard Nimoy is (was) an extremely cool guy, witty yet dry as everyone's favourite Vulcan scientist.

    As for writing successful stories... it depends what metric you use. For some it's money, others popularity, or perhaps awards won or nominated for, or the content of reviews. And of course, the matter of "good" stories will always be subjective. That's not to say we shouldn't all do our best.

  18. #18
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    Thanks for the welcome, Spaceman

    I was thinking of Leonard of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon's roommate, not Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy. No doubt, though, Nimoy as Mr. Spock was a whole lot more interesting than Dr. Leonard Hofstadter, even though Spock, in his incredible Vulcan literal-mindless, is a lot like Sheldon Cooper (and me, too).

    When I referred to criteria for a successful story I was thinking of what it takes for a novice like myself to write something that a reader might recognize as a story, even vaguely. That's about the extent of my ambitions now.

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW Tom Johnson's Avatar
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    Welcome to AW, Geoff, and good luck with all your ventures. Hey, I belonged to a few of those writers' groups like that. To make matters worse, they only made the meetings when a turtle wasn't crossing their yard - and there must have been a lot of turtles in this town. Sadly, most were retired school teachers (LOL). Although I can't fault them all, at least one kept trying to make my house an historical marker (LOL). Oh, well, maybe after I'm gone (G).

  20. #20
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    Thanks for the welcome Tom. It sounds like your group consisted of people who sat around a table; the one I was in was on the Web; it had "Pen" in its name. A few weeks ago, I realized I had to get out of that virtual sandbox and into the grownup world. This is the grownup world and it's wonderful to be here!
    Last edited by Geoffrey Fowler; 05-15-2017 at 01:48 AM.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffrey Fowler View Post
    Thanks for the welcome, Spaceman

    I was thinking of Leonard of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon's roommate, not Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy. No doubt, though, Nimoy as Mr. Spock was a whole lot more interesting than Dr. Leonard Hofstadter, even though Spock, in his incredible Vulcan literal-mindless, is a lot like Sheldon Cooper (and me, too).
    Ahhh, gotcha. I don't watch television, so popular culture references sometimes go over my head. My reflexes are too slow to catch them.

    When I referred to criteria for a successful story I was thinking of what it takes for a novice like myself to write something that a reader might recognize as a story, even vaguely. That's about the extent of my ambitions now.
    I'd say that depends on your target audience. Six-year olds may be a little less discerning than NYT bestsellers.

  22. #22
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    Sorry, I just assumed everyone had heard of The Big Bang Theory (I don't watch TV, either, I check Big Bang Theory DVDs out from the library). You might want to give it a look; it's funny in a very unusual way. (Clue: "Big Bang" in the present context does not refer to the creation of the universe at T=0, but to something very, very mundane)

    I'm sure six-year olds aren't very discerning, but after reading the rave reviews the NYT gave Ottessa Moshfegh's novel 'Eileen' and then seeing what a disaster it was, I think kids of that age may have more discernment than professional reviewers.

  23. #23
    A Gritty, Delicate Elegy TaylorSaville's Avatar
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    I think your scientific knowledge will undoubtedly give all of your work a distinctive flair! Your project sounds completely fascinating and definitely something I would be interested in reading. Glad to have you here!
    Jagged Mind available on Amazon. ▼


  24. #24
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    Thanks, Taylor, for the welcome and the encouragement. Glad to be here in the company of so many nice and talented people.

  25. #25
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    Welcome, Geoffrey.



    No need to feel like the odd one out! There are plenty of scientists here.


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