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

Thread: Learn Writing with Uncle Jim, Volume 1

  1. #5926
    a work in progress
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Boulder, Colorado
    Posts
    1,489
    I've found Holly Lisle's One-Pass Manuscript Revision technique to be of use. I've never actually gotten through a revision in a single pass, but her process here is a good one and helps me out as long as I don't kick myself for taking much longer with it than she does.

    The bit about making each scene justify its existence was especially epiphantastic for me.
    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

    Author, occasionally published. Watch this space for more, or visit the amazing actually writing blog. (It actually writes!)

  2. #5927
    DISENCHANTED coming soon Judg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada and Spring City, PA
    Posts
    4,526
    Quote Originally Posted by paritoshuttam
    Sample this:
    "Sooner or later, he had to get out into the cold, mean streets, but right now, he was not getting out of his cosy bed."

    My confusion is, is it ok to use "right now", or should I use "right then" in the sentence above? On similar lines, in a narrative passage in the past tense, should I use "that day" for "today", or "the previous day" for "yesterday"?

    The writing sounds stiff-y when I avoid using "now" or "today". My grammar is getting all messy.

    - Paritosh
    Now can mean what is present in the context. So you're quite correct to use it.

    And choosing the correct word is not grammar, it's semantics. I know, I'm anal... *sigh* Look at the bright side - you're not the one who has to live with me.
    Disenchanted will be coming out July 14

    My website, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (yeah, seriously), Goodreads, Pinterest, it's getting ridiculous.

  3. #5928
    just ... don't ask Brickie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    York, UK
    Posts
    64
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleJLeBoeuf
    I've found Holly Lisle's One-Pass Manuscript Revision technique to be of use. I've never actually gotten through a revision in a single pass, but her process here is a good one and helps me out as long as I don't kick myself for taking much longer with it than she does.
    I was having a look at that. I wasn't entirely convinced that it will convert first draft to publishable manuscript in one pass, but as you say there are some interesting ideas in there.

    Does Uncle Jim (and for that matter anyone else) agree with Ms Lisle's contentions about scenes:

    1) If it's not advancing the plot, dealing with the theme/sub-theme or providing characterisation, it shouldn't be there at all.

    2) Each scene should almost be stand-alone in its own right, with an opening, a point of conflict or crisis and a resolution.

    3) "You can safely eliminate almost all greetings and goodbyes in conversation, every instance where the character is driving and thinking, or sipping tea and thinking, or taking a shower in thinking. You can skip the parts where characters are getting from point A to point B if they arenít engaged in pitched battle or serious trouble of some sort at the same time. Mostly you can eliminate waking-up and going to bed routines.
    You want to give the impression of reality and of a life without actually showing the whole thing. Think of your novel as ďA Life: The Good Parts Version.Ē All the sex and violence, passion and struggle. None of the teeth-brushing."
    First they came for the verbs, and I said nothing because verbing weirds language. Then they arrival for the nouns, and I speech nothing because I no verbs.
    ~ Usenet

  4. #5929
    Slowly does it. Manderley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    de Winter's place
    Posts
    611
    Quote Originally Posted by Brickie
    Does Uncle Jim (and for that matter anyone else) agree with Ms Lisle's contentions about scenes:

    1) If it's not advancing the plot, dealing with the theme/sub-theme or providing characterisation, it shouldn't be there at all.

    2) Each scene should almost be stand-alone in its own right, with an opening, a point of conflict or crisis and a resolution.

    3) "You can safely eliminate almost all greetings and goodbyes in conversation, every instance where the character is driving and thinking, or sipping tea and thinking, or taking a shower in thinking. You can skip the parts where characters are getting from point A to point B if they arenít engaged in pitched battle or serious trouble of some sort at the same time. Mostly you can eliminate waking-up and going to bed routines.
    You want to give the impression of reality and of a life without actually showing the whole thing. Think of your novel as ďA Life: The Good Parts Version.Ē All the sex and violence, passion and struggle. None of the teeth-brushing."
    This is anyone else answering:

    1) Yes, I agree. If it's got nothing to do with the story or its themes and we don't learn anything more about your characters, why would you want to include it? The idea that one would want to include random things that don't add to the story in any way puzzles me.

    2) I haven't thought too hard about this, and have no opinion on the matter.

    3) Yes, and no. Most books do just fine without these scenes that can bore a read to tears. But I can see that there are stories where such things might be, not only necessary to include, but the whole point of the story in itself. I'm here thinking of the more quiet, literary character-driven pieces (and I really don't care to go into a debate with Jamesaritchi about this), where nothing seems to be happening on the outside, yet there's a whole world changing on the inside.

  5. #5930
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    22,920
    It all boils down to "To carve a statue of an elephant, get a block of marble and remove everything that doesn't look like an elephant."

    Yes,
    eliminate greetings, unless they reveal character, advance the plot, or suport the theme.

  6. #5931
    No Time For Chitchat, Kemosabe. badducky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts
    3,864
    My two cents on the carving of elephants:

    Novels look very big. They are not. They are in fact very, very small. The larger the novel, the smaller the writing must be. Novels are this way because one must hold the audience's attention for a long time.

    If you want to write something very large and expansive and fat, write poetry in one page or less. For, in that scenario your artistic flights of fancy might be brief enough that your audience might indulge you.

    Novels have no room for indulgence, because you have to hold someone's attention for a very long time. You must write small.

    Same thing, but said differently.
    Come by my website


  7. #5932
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    22,920
    I went to a science fiction convention this last weekend. I brought along a half-dozen copies of our latest (from the case of books our publisher sent us, free) to put on the Freebies Table on Friday evening. They vanished within minutes.

    By noon on Saturday, the book dealers in the Dealers' room had sold out of our books.

    The reading of the new story went well on Saturday afternoon. That's "Philologos," which was the Christmas Challenge story.

  8. #5933
    Super Moderator SuperModerator Stew21's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    lost in headspace
    Posts
    27,176
    Sounds like a successful con, Uncle Jim! congrats.

  9. #5934
    That hairy-handed gent
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Who ran amok in Kent
    Posts
    31,315
    Quote Originally Posted by Stew21
    Sounds like a successful con, Uncle Jim! congrats.
    I thought a successful con was Robert Fletcher.

    caw

  10. #5935
    Where's my tea, please...? PeeDee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    11,729
    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird
    I thought a successful con was Robert Fletcher.

    caw
    He's here all week! Tip your waiters!

    (sheesh)

  11. #5936
    Naked Futon Guy allenparker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,258

    subject question

    As a humor writer, I spend time thinking about what makes people laugh. Sometimes I stumble across a good idea while tripping over the cat while walking, but that is another story.

    I took some time yesterday to go to my local B and N to see what they are stocking this season. The selection was not what I expected.

    About 100 different titles. Of those:

    22 titles dealing with cats.
    14 titles either written by or about southern humor, 5 of which Jeff Foxworthy wrote.
    11 duct tape titles.

    It seems that a book written about rednecks duct taping cats to their trucks is certain to be a hit. My questions is,

    Is this normal? The numbers seemed unusual.

    Another strange thing was that there were many titles by 1st Book with pub dates into the 90's. Missing from the frey was the classic stuff; Dave Barry with only one title, Gary Larson with only 2 titles. Bunny Suicide series only had two separate copies and two collected series spots.

    All of this has me terribly confused. How does one fight little warm kittens and people with only two teeth?

    Is there no serious comedy anymore?
    Last edited by allenparker; 01-18-2007 at 11:26 PM.
    Save the Tatas: This is important. Please forward the link to everyone you know!
    link Breast cancer sucks!
    My Web Space




  12. #5937
    Whore for genre HConn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Inside a cursed painting
    Posts
    814
    Sure, there's "serious" comedy. I'm reading a Terry Pratchett novel right now.

    Why would the mere existence of non-serious cat books--even a preponderance of them--mean that other kinds of humor doesn't exist?
    Look for CHILD OF FIRE from Del Rey! Read a sample chapter. Hey! it's been named to Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2009 list!

    Book 2 in the Twenty Palaces series: GAME OF CAGES. or check out these sample chapters.

  13. #5938
    Naked Futon Guy allenparker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,258

    not exactly

    Quote Originally Posted by HConn
    Sure, there's "serious" comedy. I'm reading a Terry Pratchett novel right now.

    Why would the mere existence of non-serious cat books--even a preponderance of them--mean that other kinds of humor doesn't exist?
    It is not that it doesn't exist, but what the stores are stocking is not necessarily a broad spectrum of the genre.

    Now, take this with a grain of salt. It was one Barnes and Noble on one day at one hour of that day. I just found it unusual that the weight of stock was in short, less thought-provoking works. BTW, this is exactly what I write, stuff that is not even remotely serious.
    Save the Tatas: This is important. Please forward the link to everyone you know!
    link Breast cancer sucks!
    My Web Space




  14. #5939
    Whore for genre HConn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Inside a cursed painting
    Posts
    814
    It may be that the "serious" humor gets stocked elsewhere.
    Look for CHILD OF FIRE from Del Rey! Read a sample chapter. Hey! it's been named to Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2009 list!

    Book 2 in the Twenty Palaces series: GAME OF CAGES. or check out these sample chapters.

  15. #5940
    a work in progress
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Boulder, Colorado
    Posts
    1,489
    Quote Originally Posted by Brickie
    3) "You can safely eliminate almost all greetings and goodbyes in conversation, every instance where the character is driving and thinking, or sipping tea and thinking, or taking a shower in thinking. You can skip the parts where characters are getting from point A to point B if they arenít engaged in pitched battle or serious trouble of some sort at the same time. Mostly you can eliminate waking-up and going to bed routines."
    I am reminded of how I tried to handle this in the WIP, or at least the novel that is the most in progress in the moment, having had its first 3 chaps workshopped extensively last year. Chapter 3 consisted mostly of the MC driving. It had to, because Something Important To The Plot happens during the drive, and jumping right to the Something Important with no during-the-drive build-up struck me as Microwaving The Souffle.

    Aware of the dangers of driving-and-thinking scenes, I made the MC's thoughts a series of flashbacks to the previous evening. I thought that was very clever of me. Unfortunately, everyone else thought it was unnecessary temporal distortion. And, y'know, they were right. What's more, the previous evening was the scene of much eating-and-talking, another dangerous thing to do--except character and plot were advanced during the eating-and-talking, or at least in my head they were advanced, and if they are not at current they will be in the rewrite, dammit.

    At this point I'm thinking it'll be driving-and-cell-phoning, which is still dangerously close to doing-x-and-thinking, but it brings in an important secondary character's perspective much earlier in the novel. Which is good. I hope.

    Really, I'm not sure you can get away from doing-x-and-thinking unless the novel is a cliffhanger action page-turner like, oh, The Da Vinci Code. Humans do a lot of thinking while they do x. But I totally agree that doing-x-and-thinking scenes, should they exist, must work much harder than action scenes to justify their existence. They can't just say "I am elephant!" They have to actually pick peanuts up with their trunks and display the sun glinting off their ivory tusks and smoosh small rodents with their dinner-plate-sized feet (because that stuff about elephants being afraid of mice is pure cartoon bunk, man, bunk I say).
    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

    Author, occasionally published. Watch this space for more, or visit the amazing actually writing blog. (It actually writes!)

  16. #5941
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    22,920
    The stuff on the bookstore shelves may also reflect what didn't sell. The stuff that sold hasn't been restocked yet.

    Write what you want to, what you're passionate about. If you write to the market, editors may be saying "Why is it that suddenly everyone's sending me Southern Cats Duct Taped to the Fender books?"

  17. #5942
    practical experience, FTW Diane's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    170
    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    Write what you want to, what you're passionate about. If you write to the market, editors may be saying "Why is it that suddenly everyone's sending me Southern Cats Duct Taped to the Fender books?"
    What? .... Oh no. <quietly takes WIP and puts it a box labeled SCDTttF Project>

  18. #5943
    Talker of Good Games
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    319
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleJLeBoeuf
    At this point I'm thinking it'll be driving-and-cell-phoning, which is still dangerously close to doing-x-and-thinking, but it brings in an important secondary character's perspective much earlier in the novel. Which is good. I hope.
    What you're describing sounds like the "sequel" part of the "scene and sequel" couplet. Which implies to me that a scene might be necessary first; if the scene is of such significance to the character that s/he needs time to absorb it, the drive would be a natural time to do so.

    It also sounds to me like the three chapters need to be condensed; three chapters of a character doing -anything- is probably deadly, and driving moreso. Unless you're writing something called Jimmy Drives a Truck.

    My suggestion, FWIW:

    Chapter 1: Some thematically-related triggering incident that shoves the character in a direction s/he wasn't prepared to go, but which the character survives barely intact. If the underlying premise of your piece is "Kittens love yarn, and will kill to get it" the opening scene of the opening chapter might be the MC playing with a sharp-nailed little furball who draws blood fighting for a ball of yarn, sinking its little talons so deep that veins are hanging out; the MC manages to keep the yarn, though, and drives to the hospital thinking 'golly, that was one crazy cat.'.

    Chapter 2, Scene 1: Driving, and talking on the cell--possibly arguing on the cell, with the argument threatening some thematically important element of the character's life. ("Dude, you -have- to put that kitten down. Vicious. Is it a werecat?")

    Chapter 2, Scene 2: The "real" triggering incident. ("Dude, really. I'm almost at the hospital right now. If you don't put that cat down I'm going to sue for the--what the--" :: crash :: :: tinkle :: meowwwww)

  19. #5944
    Where's my tea, please...? PeeDee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    11,729
    I had not previously heard of the One-Pass Manusript Revision wossname, and normally I pay these sort of things no mind, because they never do anything but irritate me.

    After reading it -- particularly, the bit in part one about listing all those details -- I think I like the idea, and I think I'd be interested to try it before doing a second draft of a novel. It might be interesting to do before a first draft, come to that. Myne brain is a-turnin'.

  20. #5945
    a work in progress
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Boulder, Colorado
    Posts
    1,489
    Quote Originally Posted by jdparadise
    My suggestion, FWIW:

    Chapter 1: Some thematically-related triggering incident that shoves the character in a direction s/he wasn't prepared to go, but which the character survives barely intact. If the underlying premise of your piece is "Kittens love yarn, and will kill to get it" the opening scene of the opening chapter might be the MC playing with a sharp-nailed little furball who draws blood fighting for a ball of yarn, sinking its little talons so deep that veins are hanging out; the MC manages to keep the yarn, though, and drives to the hospital thinking 'golly, that was one crazy cat.'.

    Chapter 2, Scene 1: Driving, and talking on the cell--possibly arguing on the cell, with the argument threatening some thematically important element of the character's life. ("Dude, you -have- to put that kitten down. Vicious. Is it a werecat?")

    Chapter 2, Scene 2: The "real" triggering incident. ("Dude, really. I'm almost at the hospital right now. If you don't put that cat down I'm going to sue for the--what the--" :: crash :: :: tinkle :: meowwwww)
    Dude! You've totally ready my WIP! Admit it.

    Seriously, that's pretty much what I've got, if I were writing about deadly kittens, only there's a Chapter 1.5 in which the MC thinks he's actually going to be OK without going to the hospital, because he didn't need that thumb anyway, but then his buddy takes one look at the veins hanging out and goes, "Dude! How are you going to pursue a successful career as a rock musician without your left thumb? And what if it gets infected? You'll end up with your whole arm amputated, you wait much longer! Go to the hospital now!" And the MC goes, "all right, all right, I'm going," and he stares glumly out the door down the long, terrible road to the hospital that he will have to travel on the morn, Not Liking It One Bit.

    I think I like your novel premise better than mine, actually. Everything goes better with kitties. And yarn.
    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

    Author, occasionally published. Watch this space for more, or visit the amazing actually writing blog. (It actually writes!)

  21. #5946
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    22,920
    Looks like everyone's getting into the "contest" thing. First Simon & Schuster, now Crown Publishing Group.

    What the hey -- if you're unpublished and unrepresented, why not? There isn't an entry fee.

    http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/blindsubmission/

  22. #5947
    Barbershoppin' Harmony Whore BardSkye's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Calgary, Canada
    Posts
    2,369
    I think I'm going to revive an old manuscript now that I know a little more about how to write properly.

    And I wanted to bump this back to page 1 where it belongs.

  23. #5948
    Rep Point Whore Nangleator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Dracut, Massachusetts
    Posts
    407
    Is that a good idea? Or not?

    Published writers, have you ever polished up an old practice MS and made it pay? Is it faster or slower than starting from scratch? Easier or harder?

  24. #5949
    Barbershoppin' Harmony Whore BardSkye's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Calgary, Canada
    Posts
    2,369
    This one isn't really too bad. Just had a few spots where I knew something was wrong but couldn't figure out exactly what it was.

    If nothing else, it'll give me some practise while I'm pondering what to do next with the others presently under construction.

  25. #5950
    DISENCHANTED coming soon Judg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada and Spring City, PA
    Posts
    4,526
    I don't see much difference between doing that and working on a second draft. If it's not fatally flawed, go for it.
    Disenchanted will be coming out July 14

    My website, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (yeah, seriously), Goodreads, Pinterest, it's getting ridiculous.

Page 238 of 398 FirstFirst ... 138163188213228232233234235236237238239240241242243244248263288313338 ... 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