Learn Writing with Uncle Jim, Volume 1

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

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bsolah

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Maybe by body language? Your character could try to guess what it's trying to say by reading it's facial expressions etc. It could allow for a little room for error and it isn't as far fetched.
 

FennelGiraffe

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Slow, halting speech? I think any device for showing it is going to get really annoying, really fast. It falls into the same category as dialect. It needs a delicate touch.

I suggest a combination of:
1) Tell us the speech is halting. Show that char's frustration. Show other chars' patience or lack thereof.
2) Keep all of that char's dialog to short, simple sentences, using short, simple words.
3) Very, very occasionally, show it. I like the idea of ellipses as punctuation, also breaking a sentence in the middle. Did I mention to do this only occasionally? Probably the first time the char speaks and not more than once per chapter thereafter. And not more than one break in any one speech.
 

anodyne

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Or, telepathy that the reader is aware of and the character isn't. Thoughts that pop up with clues to the reader that they're from mrs. kitty, while the protagonist is unaware of it.

That way, when the protagonist figures it out, the reader can go, AHA! I knew it.

Like random cravings for fish. Or an intense sense of foreboding about going down a specific path in the dark and scary forest.
 

Chris Grey

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Remember the chapter "The Vanishing Glass" in the first Harry Potter book? Harry talked to a snake and the snake talked to Harry.

This was all well and normal to Harry, from Harry's POV, until the second book when someone explain what it meant that he could do so. Or how it looks to anyone other than the main character. You could just treat it as a given until you need to explain it.

It's not just "why must this character be feline?" It's "Why the main character?" What sets him apart from the rest of the human race in that the feline character must communicate with him (and him alone?) instead of the pizza guy?
 

batgirl

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Thanks guys! Much to consider now.
Fennel, you've put your finger on the problem, that any trick will get old with astounding swiftness. And I loathe dialect-by-misspelling - it's way more fun to do it by sentence structure.
I guess the key thing is to establish right off the bat that it's slow, and after that keep to short simple sentences, and show the character (and listeners) impatient and frustrated by the difficulty.
-Barbara
 

AnnaWhite

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Maybe have the listener finish the sentences for the slow halting speaker? Or he keeps interrupting and guessing what snaily is saying? And slowpoke gets frustrated because it's not what he was actually trying to say. I can imagine that's what might happen in real life.
 

James D. Macdonald

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My latest Eos/blog post is up, and it has more of a discussion on the secret origins of Land of Mist and Snow. A bit of How I Dun It. It's about Civil War songs.

Oh, and I've finished the Christmas Assignment (first draft), over on our LiveJournal. It's friendlocked, but I make friends easily. Doyle will do her magic on it next.

If it ever gets published, y'all can compare the first draft to the finished piece.
 

lfraser

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Hello, everyone. I'm new to these forums, and have spent the past three evenings reading through this thread.

I confess I gave up at about page 45; not because it wasn't worth reading, but because I've picked up two very important pieces of advice about writing and am eager to put them into practice:

1. Butt in chair for two hours every day (and this time does not include reading posts about writing, no matter how informative they may be).

2. A story begins when the protagonist walks through that one way door (thereby resolving the biggest problem I've had with my short story writing).

I've come late to the party, but I do want to thank you all for sharing your wisdom and experience. A special thanks to UJ for being so generous with his time and expertise!
 

lfraser

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I'm been putting in my two hour BIC session.

As to how it goes -- well, you DID give us permission to write crap, as long as we're writing. :D I do have to remind myself of that advice every time I'm tempted to throw my laptop against the wall.
 

allenparker

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some items.

lfraser said:
I'm been putting in my two hour BIC session.

As to how it goes -- well, you DID give us permission to write crap, as long as we're writing. :D I do have to remind myself of that advice every time I'm tempted to throw my laptop against the wall.

LF, I just unhook the crap-o-meter and take the batteries out of my smellevision camera. It usually takes a few minutes after BIC time before the air fresheners clear the room. I take that time to get a drink and a hot shower.

Jim, I noticed your son was coming in for Christmas, Hurray.


awp
 
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James D. Macdonald

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For folks interested in an agent's perspective on what to do if a manuscript has been making the rounds for a while with no nibbles, check out "Giving up on it" in Rachel Vater's LJ.

(Rachel is an agent at Lowenstein-Yost Associates.)

My advice is this: By the time you know that a particular book isn't getting any nibbles, you should have a new book ready to make the rounds. So start sending the new book around and begin work on your next.
 

Ken Schneider

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Hi lfraser!

Yes, write badly, fix later but write none the less.

I consider myself a writer whether I sell a novel of mine or not.

Selling a work makes you published.

Writing sets you free on an adventure. Always take that trip.

Good luck.



Oh, for everyone a question

Did you know being blind was a sport?

I have a gentleman who works for me part time who is blind, born that way. He gave me an awesome line that I inserted in my current wip for a character that is blind, ( but sees in another way.)

Here's the line.

"Being blind is a contact sport." I thought that was an awesome line, and evoked the imagery of a blind person running into walls, poles etc.
 
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Sara King

A Question

I just recently figured out that writing a novel is as much about writing a good antagonist as it is about writing a good protagonist. Only took me 24 years to get to that point, yikes.

Anyway, say my antagonist is a really sympathetic character. People who read him love him. He almost overshadows my protag he is so cool (almost, but doesn't). Protag and antag have opposite goals, so they're not both protags.

Here's where things get complicated: I'm not killing the antagonist at the end of this book. The protagonist ends up totally annihilating everything the antagonist holds holy, and rightly so, but the book leaves the antag alive and drifting in the end. This somehow doesn't cut it for me, especially since the antag had worthy goals. (He was trying to free his people. Granted, he blew up a planet and started a brutal civil war to do it, but in the end, he was trying to save his species.) All the other POV characters are receiving some sort of closure. It seems wrong to leave the antagonist without the same treatment. He had worthy goals, even if he went about attaining them the wrong way, and damn it, he was a hell of a fun guy to read.

So my question is this: Does the antagonist need to have closure at the end of the book if he's going to be a recurring character in the series? (He reappears in Book 4, though as a protag, not an antag.) Especially if he had worthy goals? I feel like the readers will feel pissed off when they find out what happens to him in the end (protagonist destroys his race for good).

A note: I'm not worried about protag/antag identity conflicts. I know it sounds bad here, but a reader can totally understand why both my protagonist and antagonist do what they do, and it is clear who the bad guy is. I'm looking more for advice on how to deal with closure for an antagonist that everybody likes, and if it's even necessary.

Any ideas on this would be awesome. Thanks :)

-Sara King
 

James D. Macdonald

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Beats the heck out of me. I haven't read your book.

This may well be in the put-it-in-the-desk-drawer-for-six-months-then-reread area. Or it may be in the "What do the betas say?" area.

Is there some reason that you can't just leave your antagonist drifting in a lifeboat/working at Burger King under an assumed name/returning to his Fortress of Silence to work on his plans?
 

Ken Schneider

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I have to agree with Jim. If we look back at any serial story, Superman, Batman, etc, we see the constant battle between good and evil, episode by episode.

Sounds like a good place to end a book.

"I'll be back."
 

jamiehall

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I usually see antagonists not given much closure at the end of a book (except when the antagonist is killed, which you are not doing). I don't see it as a problem, and, in fact, it can easily lead to sequels.
 

smiley10000

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I did it. I read through undiluted then all the posts that came after that...It only took me forever. ;)

But now I'm caught up and busy working on the new assignment.
It should help me as my newly completed WIP made me realise I can't write action scenes... Is there any advice on how to improve on this?

Thanks for all your amazing guidance...
:)10000
 

Sara King

Thanks for the responses!

I'm hearing several votes for no closure.

The antag isn't drifting at the end. Bad choice of words on my part. His power is his brain, and he's just as powerful at the end of the book as he was in the beginning, where he's convinced to start the war in order to free his people. He has the opportunity to kill the protag after protag kills off his race, but doesn't. So antag is left with zip at the end... His people are dead and he's given up vengeance.

I don't really want to leave a cliffhanger (is the antag going to rise again??) because he's not. And I can't kill him because I've already written another book with him in it as a protag later on this timeline.

I just feel like this guy deserves more, after everything that's happened to him.

Anyway, sorry for posting this question. I know you can't make a good decision with the information given. Thanks for all the help! :)

And yeah, he has trouble getting a date ;)

-Sara King
 

AllyWoof

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Staring At The PC

Uh. That stare at a blank screan think won't work for me. I am epilepstic. If I were to stare for a blank anything for two hours on end, it would most likely lead to a bad siezure. Same goes for a set time. I have doctors appointments, and lots of them these days. I do, however, try to write as often as possible. Oh! And as for radios and tv and stuff, the "break" isnt a destraction for me. In fact, I find getting up periodically and changing the channel/station actually helps me. That's just me, though.
 
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