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Old 06-03-2004, 10:54 PM   #1501
Yeshanu
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More on Above Post

Sorry folks, I hit the send button before I was quite finished.

I meant to say that being able to think out loud on the paper is helpful for me, and I didn't have to worry about correct order or other bothersome things like that.

Hope this makes more sense.

Ruth
 
Old 06-04-2004, 06:36 AM   #1502
James D Macdonald
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Re: Today's Command

That's wonderful, Yeshanu.

Once the words are on paper we can play with them.

Speaking of which, I'm planning to play with some words later on tonight. Everyone's invited.
 
Old 06-04-2004, 06:42 AM   #1503
James D Macdonald
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Editing the challenge story

Way back <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessageRange?topicID=257.to pic&start=1061&stop=1080" target="_new">here</a> we started writing a story, sort of on a bet, sort of on a dare. Sort of as a learning experience.

Now the story is written.

Shall we play with it some, at least the first scene?

I think we shall.

Remember, this is just black marks on a white page (or electrons making phosphors glow on a screen). It's not about the author, it's about the words.


<hr>

Discussion/rewriting of this story will take place in the <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm31.showMessageRange?topicID=285.t opic&start=21&stop=40" target="_new">Share Your Work</a> forum.
 
Old 06-04-2004, 06:50 AM   #1504
kdfrawg
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Re: Speed Writing or Writing in Flow

I do not type quickly, I have just written 105,000 words in five weeks. I discover that I've sort of written off the edge of my idea and will probably have to lose the last 10,000 words before I can write the last 25,000 or so. But the 95,000 words that are good really are. They need editing and polishing, just like any first draft (mine, anyway) but I now have them. Those words are mine. It took me six months to write my first novel. Then it took me two months to edit it. By doing the second in banzai form, I seem to have come out exhausted but six months ahead. It will be interesting to see if this will work every time. Probably not. It seems nothing ever does. :b
 
Old 06-04-2004, 02:31 PM   #1505
evanaharris
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dostoevsky

fresie: I don't think any Russian writer ever bothered to wonder if it would present a problem to an English-speaking reader. Talking about Dostoevsky, I'm yet to see a good (I'm not even talking about adequate) translation of any of his novels. Unfortunately, he's one of those writers where all the atmosphere gets lost in translation...


I'm reading the Pervear translation right now, and I like it, though I'm in no position to judge whether or not it's a "good" translation.
 
Old 06-04-2004, 02:32 PM   #1506
evanaharris
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dostoevsky

double post, deleted, mods, feel free to wipe the slate clean.
 
Old 06-04-2004, 02:35 PM   #1507
LiamJackson
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Re: Today's Command

Evan, that's a terrific review of The Alamo.
Your site is well constructed, too. Well done.
 
Old 06-04-2004, 04:39 PM   #1508
evanaharris
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Re: Today's Command

Much thanks, Liam. The website's a work in progress, as always. I wish I could keep the blog up, but I'm not the blogger-type. I write, but only daily, and only about stuff in my head.
 
Old 06-05-2004, 09:01 AM   #1509
JuliePgh
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Dialogue Tags

Jim,

I’ve been trying to get away from over usage of "he said, she said" in my dialogue. I’m striving to show my characters “doing” something while talking, to help slow the pace, and better yet, add dimension to characters and storyline alike. At times, I feel “he said, she said” is more appropriate, but a more descriptive tag is required (i.e. gloat, informed, mumbled, laughed, snapped etc).

Should these “more descriptive" verbs intended to replace 'said' be abandoned, or just used sparingly when description is not as appropriate and a dialogue tag is required?

My general sense is that a balance is required, depending on the passage and scene. I personally do not see the harm in using a replacement for 'said' if the verb adds flavor to how or what the character says. On the other hand, I’ve read that 'said' is more inconspicuous and less disruptive to the overall flow, almost disappearing into the background the way the words 'the' and 'a' do when used over and over again.

Any thoughts and/or suggestions?

Thank you!
 
Old 06-05-2004, 09:17 AM   #1510
maestrowork
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Re: dostoevsky

Quote:
I do not type quickly, I have just written 105,000 words in five weeks.
That's pretty fast typing (and writing). It's 3000 words every day, 7 days a week for 5 weeks. Not a lot of people can write that much.
 
Old 06-05-2004, 09:20 AM   #1511
James D Macdonald
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Re: Dialogue Tags

'Said' is invisible.

The way a person says something should come to the reader from their understanding of the character, the circumstances, and the words the character is saying.

Many times 'said' itself isn't needed -- just sprinkled in often enough that the reader doesn't get lost.

Now ... having said that ... English is a wonderful language with lots and lots of words. If it's necessary to your story, yes, absolutely, use some word other than said. Just be sure that it's necessary, and not caused by not-as-well-written-as-possible dialog.

(Beware of adverbs combined with "said," lest you wind up with a Tom Swiftie: "My headache is gone," Tom said absentmindedly.)

<HR>

Let me quote from a book review I wrote a long time ago:



<blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr> I choose now, at random, page 253. Here are the "said" words, in order:

* "Belano whispered,"
* "Wareagle reported,"
* "McCracken muttered,"
* "rasped Sal,"
* "Wareagle said."

Finally got one. I was hoping for a shutout. Oh, well. <hr></blockquote>
 
Old 06-05-2004, 09:43 AM   #1512
arataxia
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Re: Dialogue Tags

Hi Jim-

I just wanted to say that I've been reading this thread over the last couple of days with great enthusiasm. I really appreciate you doing this. :grin

Rich
 
Old 06-05-2004, 10:01 AM   #1513
JuliePgh
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Dialogue Tags

-----------------------------------------------
(Beware of adverbs combined with "said," lest you wind up with a Tom Swiftie: "My headache is gone," Tom said absentmindedly.)
------------------------------------------------

Maybe it's because it's late and I'm nearly brain dead, but is this your way of saying this is a poor shortcut and lost opportunity for meaningful description? Does the sentance then become something like:

"My headache is gone." Tom kissed her goodnight and turned back down the stoop. Across the street, the man walking his collie had gone from cursing to pulling the poor thing by its leash. Only when the man disappeared from sight, did Tom realize why Anne had asked if the aspirin had helped.

Thank you for the rest of your response. As always, you help put everything into perspective!
 
Old 06-05-2004, 10:12 AM   #1514
James D Macdonald
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Re: Dialogue Tags

Alas, it must be late.

A Tom Swiftie is unintentional humor:

"I love hotdogs," Mandy said with relish.

"The prisoners are coming down stairs," said Tom condescendingly.

"My frog is dead," he croaked.

<hr>

(But yes -- don't you find meaningful description better than shortcuts? You're the author; you should do the work, not force the long-suffering reader to do it.)

(This doesn't mean that longer descriptions are better than shorter stuff. Depends on the mood you're setting, and your style.)
 
Old 06-05-2004, 11:55 AM   #1515
maestrowork
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Re: Dialogue Tags

"Move your dog," Tom barked.

"My dead father has left us with nothing," Denise said willingly.

"You are my baby," Sam cried.

---

You can certainly pace your dialogue with actions, especially if you have page after page of dialogue. You always want to make your scenes somewhat dynamic, set them in dramatic situations. Just make sure your actions are relevant and not random "noise." Also, use sparingly, only when necessary. Tags are good for "beats," and actions are great for "pauses":

Quote:
"You love me," he said. "Don't you?"
She threw the stone into the pond. He held his breath.
"You have to ask me?" she asked.

Tags are necessary when you have more than two people talking to each other. Without them, it would be very confusing.
 
Old 06-07-2004, 12:44 AM   #1516
James D Macdonald
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Nigritude Ultramarine

As noted above, if you type Learn Writing into Google, you get this thread as your top result.

So I'm kinda interested in the <a href="http://www.dashes.com/anil/2004/06/04/nigritude_ultra" target="_new">nigritude ultramarine</a> challenge.
 
Old 06-07-2004, 06:18 PM   #1517
pencilone
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Re: Submitting even if novel not finished

Has anyone of you guys ever submitted the usual '3 chapters and synopsis' even if the whole novel has not been finished yet?

Is this just asking for trouble?:smack

Or it could have some positive results, such as: motivation to finish it quickly, useful feedback, testing the market, etc.
 
Old 06-07-2004, 07:57 PM   #1518
Jules Hall
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Re: Dialogue Tags

I don't know about everyone else, but I think by the time I have 3 complete chapters, as good as I can get them, I'll probably be only days away from a complete novel, as good as I can get it. Not worth it.

Essentially, I don't think I could finish a chapter without having the rest of the book nearly finished.
 
Old 06-07-2004, 09:12 PM   #1519
James D Macdonald
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Re: Submitting even if novel not finished

Has anyone of you guys ever submitted the usual '3 chapters and synopsis' even if the whole novel has not been finished yet?

I do it all the darned time.

Is this just asking for trouble?

Depends. Are you a first-time author, or do you have a long track record of writing publishable novels and hitting deadlines?
 
Old 06-07-2004, 10:01 PM   #1520
pencilone
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Re: Submitting even if novel not finished

Many thanks for your replies.

Depends. Are you a first-time author, or do you have a long track record of writing publishable novels and hitting deadlines?

Uncle Jim, I'm just a beginner, newbie, first timer, hopeful and persistent aspiring writer Is it a different story then?
 
Old 06-07-2004, 10:05 PM   #1521
James D Macdonald
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Wrap Up

To bring together in one place various of my comments from other threads:

<hr>

I'd say that a tiny bit of creativity combined with a willingness to sit down and do the work will beat the heck out of gobs of creativity combined with a dilettante spirit.
<hr width="50%">
Practice doen't help a bit if you're practicing mistakes over and over again.

Practice helps if you're improving, if you're thinking about what you're doing, if you're reinforcing what works and suppressing what doesn't.

I've run into writers who've written their million words, whose millionth word was as cruddy as word one. Mere typing doesn't teach; seeking feedback, and taking it, may.
<hr width="50%">
-- <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessageRange?topicID=593.to pic&start=1&stop=20" target="_new">Age, Experience, and Writing</a>

<hr>

I know, "Keep a journal" is almost universal young-writer advice. It's almost always a waste of time, too.
<hr width="50%">
-- <A HREF="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessage?topicID=583.topic" target="_new">Taking Notes on Life</a>

<HR>

Many (most?) bestsellers are soon forgotten. Check out the bestseller lists from half a century ago. How many have you even heard of, far less read?

"Bestseller" is a genre as much as "romance," "western," or "mystery" is a genre. You'll find poorly written bestsellers in exactly the same way (and I suspect the same proportion) as you'll find poorly written horror novels, military novels, or lawyer novels.

"It's crap but we sell a ton of them" is itself a genre, and a particularly hard one to break in to.

Remember Sturgeon's Law: Ninety percent of everything is crud.
<hr width="50%">
As we get older, as we read more books, works that once might have seemed fresh, new, even daring become "been there, done that."

It's the down-side of experience.
<hr width="50%">
Traditionally published authors get their families, friends, and mailing list to buy their product. Vanity authors aren't the only ones who use that business tactic.

Sure, and Scientologists are required to buy a certain number of L. Ron Hubbard's books to keep them on the best seller lists.

I think it's pathetic all the way around.

On the other hand, if y'all want to buy my books, please feel free. (This isn't to put any of 'em on any bestseller lists, it's because I think they're dandy books, and I want to be read. Buy 'em used if you like. Cheaper for you that way.)
<hr width="50%">
-- <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessage?topicID=595.topic" target="_new">Best sellers</a>

<HR>

All it takes to make your manuscript "solicited" is that you sent a query letter and they said "Sure, send it along."

Even for the ones who say "no unagented," all that's happened is the location of the slush pile moved, from the publisher's office to the agent's office.

There's even a category called "agented slush." That is, submissions from agents no one's ever heard of.

Slush happens.
<hr width="50%">
A bad agent is worse than not having an agent at all.

A useful agent is one who has sold a book you've heard of.

Here's an interesting article.

(Note: that site is semi-broken. If all you see is a bunch of ads and "loading" in the top bar of your browser, click on the "back" icon on your browser until you see text. If the text ends at the bottom of the ads, press your F11 key twice. That should get you the rest of the text.)
<hr width="50%">
"How long does it take?" is out of your hands.

Instead of giving yourself an ulcer, write another book.
<hr width="50%">
Speaking of "unknown agents" it's not unheard-of for writers to print up some nice letterhead as the "Morning Dew Literary Agency" or summat, and submit their own works as if they themselves were an agency.

Sure, that gets 'em past the "no unagented manuscripts" hurdle, but it still puts 'em in the "agented slush" pile.

Need I say that this is a terrible idea?
<hr width="50%">
The agent is for your next book, and the book after that. The agent is for your career.

And ... for the book you just sold ... sure it's sold, but the contract hasn't been negotiated yet. The agent should be able to get you better terms on the deal you've just been offered. The agent will also track rights and royalties, and resell this work after it reverts.

Look, agents aren't required. But they sure are nice to handle the business end of things.
<hr width="50%">
If bad writers could sucessfully fake being good writers, they wouldn't be bad writers.
<hr width="50%">
-- <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessage?topicID=588.topic" target="_new">Why slush piles?</a>

<HR>

There are only seven (some say eight) plots in the world.

The differences come in how you combine them, and what furniture you put around them.

For you next assignment:

Read:

<A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0679722610/ref=nosim/madhousemanor" target="_new">Red Harvest</a> by Dashiell Hammett

Watch:

<A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0780022513/ref=nosim/madhousemanor" target="_new">Yojimbo</a>
<A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00000K0DM/ref=nosim/madhousemanor" target="_new">A Fistful of Dollars</a>
<A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00008RH3L/ref=nosim/madhousemanor" target="_new">Miller's Crossing</a>
<A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/6304698747/ref=nosim/madhousemanor" target="_new">Last Man Standing</a>

Compare and contrast. How are the plots similar? What makes these stories different?
<hr width="50%">
Another axiom:

All art is in conversation with other art.

Our own works are commentaries on the works we've read.
<hr width="50%">
Man against man, man against nature, man against himself, and man against God.

The other plots are: "The Brave Little Tailor," "The Man Who Learned Better," and "If This Goes On (or, "What If"). Some say "Reader, I Married Him" is the eighth plot.
<hr width="50%">
-- <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessage?topicID=594.topic" target="_new">Plot problems</a>

<HR>

When I see a manuscript with a copyright notice on it, dated ten or twenty years ago, believe me, it doesn't give me a happy feeling.

In any case, copyright exists from the moment the work is fixed in tangible form. All that registering buys you is the ability to go for punitive damages.

The books that get plagairized are the ones that are already published. Unpublished manuscripts ... I think I've heard of it happening. Once.

(I know that you hear wild stories of unscupulous agents kidnapping hapless slush manuscripts and selling them to pirate presses in Shanghai. I find this hard to believe for two reasons: First, if the unscrupulous agents were able to sell anything they wouldn't need to be unscrupulous, and second, why would the pirates want to print unedited slush by Joe Noname, when for exactly the same cost and effort they could print a Dean Koontz or Stephen King book?)
<hr width="50%">
I think that most editors who see a copyright notice on an unpublished manuscript say "What a maroon!" or words to that effect, and read the story however far it carries them.

I'm not saying that there aren't folks who are offended. But it's probably an insignificant number.
<hr width="50%">
You sometimes put rights for sale on a short story, but not on a novel.

Me, I only put rights for sale on a manuscript if some of the rights have already been used. There are lots and lots of rights you can sell, all to different markets. First North American Serial rights. First World Anthology (Exclusive of the British Commonwealth) rights. Exclusive Reprint rights. Non-exclusive Reprint rights. Dramatic rights. Electronic rights. Serialization rights. Back-of-the-cereal-box rights. Printed on cupcake wrapper rights.

If the story's never sold anywhere before -- it's all for sale. The contract you sign should specify exactly which rights the publisher is buying. And in this -- like everything else -- it's all negotiable.
<hr width="50%">
I didn't know there were "Harry Potter" cupcakes!


If there aren't that'll mean that someone at Scholastic missed a marketing opportunity.

Oh, and the best seller list? Been there. That and $2.50 will get me a double-shot mocha latte.

(Actually, there isn't a "the best seller list." There's lots of best seller lists. USA Today. New York Times. Locus. The Picayne Press. Lots and lots of best seller lists. You're not half doing your job if you can't honestly put the words "best-selling author" on your second book. If you have half-way decent distribution you'll be on someone's best seller list.)
<hr width="50%">
-- <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessage?topicID=586.topic" target="_new">Copyright</a>

<HR>

...does that mean you write them all simultaneously?

Well, yes.

These are other things that are going on at the same time as the main action, that are supporting, or contrasting, with the overall theme of your book.
<hr width="50%">
-- <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessage?topicID=589.topic" target="_new">Subplots?</a>

<HR>

Anyone following this discussion who hasn't yet read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie needs to go out and do so now.
<hr width="50%">
"Withholding information" isn't necessarily a good plan either. We're trying to give information to our readers. We go out of our way to make sure the readers have the information. Information is what the readers are using to create pictures in their heads.

If you want to conceal something from your readers, tell them, but put it in a low-interest place, or mixed in among other things.

I recall reading a thriller some years back. In this book, the protagonist's sister is having a torrid love affair with a US Senator named "Sam."

It wasn't until sixty pages later that the author revealed that "Sam" is short for Samantha, and the Senator is female. Woo! Good job, author! I've now got to mentally re-cast sixty pages-worth of the pictures I'd drawn in my head.

Never mind that every single character in the book would have known Sam's gender, the author decided to conceal it from the reader in order to carry out some surprise or another.

That was the point where I threw the book across the room.
<hr width="50%">
-- <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessageRange?topicID=579.to pic&start=1&stop=20" target="_new">Confident but Confused Protagonist</a>

<HR>

I have to agree with aineg -- word choice and sentence rhythm can take you farther than dialect will.
<hr width="50%">
-- <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessageRange?topicID=552.to pic&start=1&stop=20" target="_new">Phonetic Dialog</a>

<HR>

I've gone the made-up pronoun route in a story where we had three genders. (The third one was "ne.")

I've also gone (in a novel where a biologically female character went disguised as a male for big chunks of the story) with she/her when she was dressed and acting as a woman, and he/his when she was dressed and acting as a male.

If you really want to use the correct unknown-gender singular pronoun in English, it's they/their.

(If anyone wants a hotdog they can come over here.)

Before anyone gets their panties all bunched up, "they" has been a perfectly acceptable singular pronoun since Geoffrey Chaucer. Shakespeare used "they" as an unknown-gender singular pronoun, Edmund Spenser used it, Jane Austen used it, George Orwell used it. It's only the silly prescriptive-grammarians who think that "they" can't be used as a singular pronoun.
<hr width="50%">
-- <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessage?topicID=581.topic" target="_new">androgenous characters and pronouns</a>

<HR>

Don't even think about revising until you have 300 pages or "the end," whichever comes last.

You won't know what you have until then.
<hr width="50%">
You'll find your style. Style is what you can't help doing.
<hr width="50%">
-- <a href="http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm3.showMessage?topicID=577.topic" target="_new">Changing Gears</a>

<HR>
 
Old 06-07-2004, 10:07 PM   #1522
maestrowork
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Re: Submitting even if novel not finished

Pencilone, just imagine you send out your 3 and synopsis, and they're good enough that the agent or publisher asks for the whole ms, in a week. What would you do?

Now if you said, but nobody's going to ask for the full ms. Then, what's the point?

You don't want to be caught with your pants down. If you can finish your ms with publishable quality in a short period of time, by a deadline (say, a few weeks after you sent out your 3), then sure, do it.

Otherwise, finish your ms. first.
 
Old 06-07-2004, 10:07 PM   #1523
James D Macdonald
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Re: Submitting even if novel not finished

Uncle Jim, I'm just a beginner, newbie, first timer, hopeful and persistent aspiring writer Is it a different story then?

Finish your book. I mean finish it. All the writing, all the re-writing, all the revising.

Only then should you think about trying to market it. Until the book is done you may not even know what your first three chapters are.
 
Old 06-07-2004, 10:26 PM   #1524
pencilone
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Submitting even if novel not finished

Yes, I'll be going back to BIC.
BICing in the morning, BICing in the afternoon and BICing at night.
I'll just keep on trucking then.
 
Old 06-08-2004, 07:15 AM   #1525
James D Macdonald
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Improve your Chances

<a href="http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=583&ncid=583&e=1&u=/nm/20040607/od_nm/media_penguin_men_dc" target="_new">Improve your chances for Friday night...</a>

...85 percent of women said a man could increase his chances of getting a date by talking about a favorite book.
 
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