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Thread: Learn Writing with Uncle Jim, Volume 1

  1. #3251
    I am a pretty pretty flower Galoot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julian Black
    Of course, I'm the logorrheic loonball who insists on writing 932-word posts.
    FWIW, I'm the nerd who counted 'em.
    Okay, I'll stop referencing you in my sig, reph. Happy now?

  2. #3252
    Fig of authority
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    On your knees!

    Quote Originally Posted by Galoot
    Oh my god. reph's gonna kill you.
    I believe that post would be better punctuated as follows:

    Oh! My god reph's gonna kill you.

  3. #3253
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julian Black
    Finally, in frustration, I took a pair of scissors and cut apart the first draft of a 25-page paper that had been giving me nightmares. I cut it into paragraphs, and then laid the resulting slips of paper out on a table, shuffling them around until I had an order that made sense. I had to re-write a few of those paragraphs, and break some of them in two; I also realized what I was missing and thus needed to write from scratch so I could fill in the holes.
    Congratulatoins! You independently re-invented cut and paste. That's where the terms that we see in wordprocessors come from: Authors used to do it manually with scissors and pastepots. (See, again, The Unstrung Harp. What do you mean you haven't already gotten your copy!)

    Even when you're using a wordprocessor, physically moving sheets of paper around can be very useful. On one memorable occasion I had parts of a novel all over the floor in the living room, dining room, and kitchen.


    ==============

    A long time ago, back at the beginning of the thread, I suggested taking entire chapters and taping them to the wall side by side -- then going to the other side of the room and looking at the patterns the typing made, to make sure you don't have too much dialog or too much description.

    Be visual. The arts are all related.
    Last edited by James D. Macdonald; 03-31-2005 at 07:12 PM.

  4. #3254
    Talker of Good Games
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julian Black
    I know I'm not the only one by far who plots with notecards like this, but it's already been incredibly helpful.
    ...

    When I sat down and typed out the contents of all the cards, in order, I had my plot outline.
    Hah! That's exactly how I got to my own outline. Something about notecards works very well for me... but when it goes to a paper outline, it mutates even further, because the things that made perfect sense to me on the notecards don't link up nicely... or they're just plain silly... or any of a dozen different things. Linking the scenes, so they flow from one into another in a logical fashion, has always been a problem for me when using notecards. I have -this- discrete scene, and -that- one... and they need to go together somehow. In my head when I'm notecarding I'm thinking "yeah, I'll get there somehow," but when it comes time to make it into an outline (particularly the detailed outlines I do) "somehow" doesn't quite pay the bills...

    Quote Originally Posted by Julian Black
    The book lacks heart, but I finished the bloody thing.
    That's showing it! Congrats on finishing! Finishing--even if it's a suck novel--feels so very nice...

  5. #3255
    AW Addict black winged fighter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    A long time ago, back at the beginning of the thread, I suggested taking entire chapters and taping them to the wall side by side -- then going to the other side of the room and looking at the patterns the typing made, to make sure you don't have too much dialog or too much description.

    Be visual. The arts are all related.
    I read that, and since then I have developed the habit of taking my window display down to 10 or 5 percent, and looking at huge chunks side-by-side.
    It's interesting to see how the piece flows...
    And it's a great sense of satisfaction for me to see my progress so visually.
    "I want to live until I die, no more, no less..."
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  6. #3256
    665:Neighbor of the Beast Shiny_Penguin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    A long time ago, back at the beginning of the thread, I suggested taking entire chapters and taping them to the wall side by side -- then going to the other side of the room and looking at the patterns the typing made, to make sure you don't have too much dialog or too much description.

    Be visual. The arts are all related.
    I have always done this. In fact, I flip through books I am thinking of buying and if I see huge pages-long paragraphs, I put it down. If I do it, I'm sure other readers do too.
    Laura

  7. #3257
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Test

    Το Αρχαίο Τάγμα του Κρόνου

    I'll explain what this is all about, someday.

  8. #3258
    'Twas but a dream of thee El Jefe MacAllister's Avatar
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    Uncle Jim, I'll await the explanation with keen interest.

    Had the interesting revelation that I'd reached my WIP's climax last night, and was writing my way through it without even realizing what was happening.

    My god...I'm within a stone's throw of wrapping up the first draft...Might have never happened without this thread. Thank you.
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  9. #3259
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Go, you!

    Now revise the heck out of it, then send it out.

  10. #3260
    practical experience, FTW
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    A little detective work, and it appears to mean "the ancient battalion of Saturn."

    Which explains absolutely nothing.

  11. #3261
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Answer: Peter Crossman's antagonists in his current adventure (now under construction).

    "The moon's in Uranus."

    "Kinda hard to walk that way, innit?"

  12. #3262
    The Stooge Slayer lindylou45's Avatar
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    I have a question which may have already been asked and answered and if that's the case -- well -- do I have to apologize again?

    Anyway, here's my question: I want to submit my novel using a pseudonym, but I don't know what I'm supposed to say to the publisher/agent. Do I need to have a reason for wanting to use a pseudonym? I'm so confused.

    BTW using the BIC method I have just completed the rough draft of my fourth novel. Ugh, now comes the editing! I'm editing three mss right now. Another question: should I concentrate on editing these mss or should I start another ms?
    Linda

    Visit The Stooge Slayer! at www.publishamericasucks.com . Taking PublishAmerica down one stooge at a time! :faint:

  13. #3263
    practical experience, FTW
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    Wow! I have read this entire thread all the way through - I haven't been particularly productive at work for the past few weeks - and have found it a) incredibly useful and b) incredibly motivating. A huge thanks Unky Jim and Everybody Else.

    At Eastertime I got the outline done my first novel, on notecards. It was a really useful method - I ended up sticking the cards up on a wall at home and moving them around to see what worked best. I inadvertently made the main plot a different colour to the subplots, and it was great being able to see the intertwination (not too sure if that's a word). That was the moment I think I 'got' the Celtic knotwork thing Uncle Jim was talking about earlier on.

    And this morning I've just finished typing up my outline! I added to what I had on each card, getting really involved with the story as I went (surely a good thing?). My outline is 10% of what I'm hoping the final word count will be. I'm pretty chuffed at this point

    Now to start practising BIC...

  14. #3264
    AW Addict black winged fighter's Avatar
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    Congrats, katee!

    I know that ever since UJ mentioned celtic knotwork I haven't been able to get it out of my mind when I type. *grins* I've also recently started jumping on the BIC bandwagon, and although I don't have time for the full two hours every day (Really, UJ - my day starts too early and ends too late) I have started to push myself to write every single day. The progress I've made is really encouraging...

    And, to follow katee's example: thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread. It has given me hope that I can get published.
    "I want to live until I die, no more, no less..."
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  15. #3265
    I am a pretty pretty flower Galoot's Avatar
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    Jim, if I remember correctly, you mentioned you were 35 when you sold your first book. If you don't mind sharing, how long did it take you to write it, and for how long did you have to shop it around?
    Okay, I'll stop referencing you in my sig, reph. Happy now?

  16. #3266
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lindylou45
    Anyway, here's my question: I want to submit my novel using a pseudonym, but I don't know what I'm supposed to say to the publisher/agent. Do I need to have a reason for wanting to use a pseudonym? I'm so confused.
    You don't need a reason. The way you do it is this: You put your real name in the address in the top left corner of the manuscript, and you put the pseudonym in the byline under the title of the piece.

    You will have a lot of time to discuss the name question with the editor during the whole editing process.

    Sherwood Smith, now, is a friend of mine. Her legal name isn't "Sherwood Smith." It's a name that she likes.

    Everything in a contract is negotiable, including your name and the date.


    BTW using the BIC method I have just completed the rough draft of my fourth novel. Ugh, now comes the editing! I'm editing three mss right now. Another question: should I concentrate on editing these mss or should I start another ms?
    Go, you!
    Edit something every day, and write something every day (even if it's only a paragraph).

    At some point, before you send off any manuscript, put it in your desk drawer and let it age for three months. Then re-read it and make your final changes.

  17. #3267
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Part one of originality --

    The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same

    I spent fifteen years in destroyers and frigate in the North Altantic and Mediterranean. Men locked in small metal boxes for months on end -- well, that's very much like men locked in metal boxes for months on end, and if you call them spaceships, you have science fiction. And that's me -- I'm a science fiction writer.

    Part two of originality --

    Two Old Things Combined Make One New Thing

    There haven't been any new plots since Homer sang. But, you can make stories seem new. Cheap trick combine two dissimilar stories into one:

    Whar hae ye been, Lord Randall my son
    Whar hae ye been, my handsome young one?
    First doon tae Rosie's, mither,
    First doon tae Rosie's, mither,
    Make my bed soon,
    For I'm shot in the breast and fain would lie doon.

    What gat ye at Rosie's, Lord Randall my son
    What gat ye at Rosie's, my handsome young one?
    Fish in fish broo, mither,
    Fish in fish broo, mither,
    Make my bed soon,
    For I'm shot in the breast and fain would lie doon.

    And whar went ye next, Lord Randall my son,
    And whar went ye next, my handsome young one?
    I went tae the card-house, mither,
    I went tae the card-house, mither,
    Make my bed soon
    For I'm shot in the breast and fain would lie doon.

    What cards did ye hold, Lord Randall my son,
    What cards did ye hold, my handsome young one?
    Eights and aces, mither,
    Eights and aces, mither,
    Make my bed soon,
    For I'm shot in the breast and fain would lie doon.

    And how were ye dressed, Lord Randall my son
    And how were ye dressed, my handsome young one?
    I dressed as a cowboy, mither,
    I dressed as a cowboy, mither,
    Make my bed soon,
    For I'm shot in the breast and fain would lie doon.

    I fear ye've been bushwhacked, Lord Randall my son,
    I fear ye've been bushwhacked, my handsome young one.
    Oh yes I've been bushwhacked, mither,
    Oh yes I've been bushwhacked, mither,
    Make my bed soon
    For I'm shot in the breast and fain would lie doon.

    What d'ye leave tae your brother, Lord Randall my son,
    What d'ye leave tae your brother, my handsome young one?
    My watch chain and Stetson, mither,
    My watch chain and Stetson, mither,
    Make my bed soon,
    For I'm shot in the breast and fain would lie doon.

    What d'ye leave tae your sister, Lord Randall my son,
    What d'ye leave tae your sister, my handsome young one?
    My five-dollar gold piece, mither,
    My five-dollar gold piece, mither,
    Make my bed soon,
    For I'm shot in the breast and fain would lie doon.

    What d'ye leave tae your mither, Lord Randall my son,
    What d'ey leave tae your mither, my handsome young one?
    A rope tae hang ye, mither,
    A rope tae hang ye, mither,
    Make my bed soon,
    For I'm shot in the breast and I fain would lie doon.

  18. #3268
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galoot
    Jim, if I remember correctly, you mentioned you were 35 when you sold your first book. If you don't mind sharing, how long did it take you to write it, and for how long did you have to shop it around?
    Took four months to write it. It was kind of an unusual circumstance, because it was a packaged novel -- we'd sold one short story, and an editor at a packager who was putting together a series asked if we'd like to write a novel. That was kind of neat -- like taking a course in novel-writing and getting paid for it too.

    (The short story was the lead story in a prestige hard-cover anthology. Editors do look in such places for new talent.)

    After that we had got an agent and the next six sold on proposal. The one after that took about six months, and when we got it done and mentioned that we'd written an adult novel (all the previous were YA novels), an editor at Tor said, "tell your agent not to send your book to anyone before she sends it to me."

    That was the first nine novels, and they were all in the period '86 through '91.

  19. #3269
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by katee
    A huge thanks Unky Jim and Everybody Else.
    You're quite welcome, Katee --

    Like any other teacher, all I can say is "Take what's useful and leave the rest."

  20. #3270
    The Stooge Slayer lindylou45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    You don't need a reason. The way you do it is this: You put your real name in the address in the top left corner of the manuscript, and you put the pseudonym in the byline under the title of the piece.

    You will have a lot of time to discuss the name question with the editor during the whole editing process.

    Sherwood Smith, now, is a friend of mine. Her legal name isn't "Sherwood Smith." It's a name that she likes.

    Everything in a contract is negotiable, including your name and the date.




    Go, you!
    Edit something every day, and write something every day (even if it's only a paragraph).

    At some point, before you send off any manuscript, put it in your desk drawer and let it age for three months. Then re-read it and make your final changes.
    Thank you very much. I'll make the changes regarding the name.

    When I edit I tend to edit it two or three times and put it away for as long as six months so it will be fresh in my mind. One of the mss I'm editing I'm to the point of changing things and then changing them back. I know you said at that point we should consider them ready to submit -- but I'm scared!

    Okay, I'll edit and write. Why is it I always feel like I have to get your permission before taking a day off? :confused:
    Linda

    Visit The Stooge Slayer! at www.publishamericasucks.com . Taking PublishAmerica down one stooge at a time! :faint:

  21. #3271
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lindylou45
    I know you said at that point we should consider them ready to submit -- but I'm scared!
    Don't be scared. The worst that can happen is you get a rejection slip. Are you looking for an agent?

    Okay, I'll edit and write. Why is it I always feel like I have to get your permission before taking a day off?
    It's 'cause I've said that being a writer means you have homework every day for the rest of your life.

    It's easy to write on the days when it's fun. You have to write on the days when it isn't fun too. (But if you need to take a Mental Health day, by all means do so. Go out, take a walk, see a movie, eat some ice cream, hug your sweetie ... life is short. Enjoy it!)

  22. #3272
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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  23. #3273
    The Stooge Slayer lindylou45's Avatar
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    Are you looking for an agent?

    I'm more concerned about finding a publisher. Should I focus more on finding an agent? I was thinking of submitting to Dorchester and they accept unagented mss.

    It's 'cause I've said that being a writer means you have homework every day for the rest of your life.

    Ah, yes. That would be the reason!

    You have to write on the days when it isn't fun too.

    Oh okay. If I gotta!

    hug your sweetie

    Ooh, what a good idea. I'll be back later.

    Seriously, though. This thread has been invaluable to me. I never thought I could make myself write every day until you talked about BIC. I figured my butt had to be somewhere, it might as well be in my chair and I might as well be writing. It's worked very well for me. I don't always work on the same project, but I always get something done. (Although, I do take an occasional weekend off).
    Linda

    Visit The Stooge Slayer! at www.publishamericasucks.com . Taking PublishAmerica down one stooge at a time! :faint:

  24. #3274
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    If you think you have a Dorchester book, and they take unagented mss. -- get their guidelines, follow those guidelines to the letter, and carry on.

    (BTW, it's okay to query agents at the same time the manuscript is in a slush pile. Honest!)
    Last edited by James D. Macdonald; 04-02-2005 at 10:50 PM.

  25. #3275
    The Stooge Slayer lindylou45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    To be totally honest, I had a little bladder leakage myself! Whew! That was funny!!!

    I can't wait to be published so you can make fun of my book covers!!!
    Linda

    Visit The Stooge Slayer! at www.publishamericasucks.com . Taking PublishAmerica down one stooge at a time! :faint:

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