Learn Writing with Uncle Jim, Volume 1

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

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Kcshrimp

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Thank you so much!

I am so appreciative of your advice, and I think that is exactly what I will do. I will put it on MY book shelf! I have some other things that I am working on, and with your advice in "writing with uncle Jim". I can write and build even a better story. I love to write, so it is not an imposition for me to just move forward. I now have the knowledge of what to do and what a vanity press is............... :) and I also know (now) that there are some bad seeds out there when it comes to agents and publishers.
 
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Komnena

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I just looked back at the page I finished today and I'm really glad for the permission to write crap.
 

James D. Macdonald

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Crap you say? Here's some!

This is a story fragment I posted on another thread about a year ago.

You probably want to read the part of the thread it's in, to see what inspired it.

On a lonely stretch of road in Togo, two families, two wealthy families, are destined to meet. Little did they think that morning, as they filled coolers with beer and set off on holiday, that the Nouvissi Express Road would prove to be their undoing.

S. J. Tann, an Engineer with Shell Oil, turned to his wife just as the speedometer nudged sixty-five miles an hour. The sun was in their eyes, for they were eastbound. "Are you wearing your knickers?" he asked. "In case of an accident, that is."

"No," she responded, in her usual simpering manner. "Knickers would only get in the way. I don't believe in knickers, nor does our daughter."

"You wearing your knicks?" S. J. asked their lovely just-turned-eighteen daughter, riding in the backseat.

"Nope!" she responded enthusiastically, and popped open another beer. Her short skirt rode up her thighs rendering her words superfluous.

Meanwhile, westbound on that self-same Nouvissi Express Road, Engineer (with Shell Oil) S. J. Tea turned to his wife. "I just read a book by my cousin, Travis," he confided. "Great book. Starts with a rich guy getting in a car accident."

"Wait a moment?" his wife trembled. "We're rich."

"You'll wake our daughter," S. J. said. "Hand me another beer." He glanced in the rearview mirror, to where their lovely daughter lay asleep in the back, her seatbelt unfastened. "No worries, though, the rich guy lives."

"If you mean that wonderful book, Atlanta Nights, available in brick-and-mortar bookstores from sea to shining sea, that I saw you reading, the rich guy in the auto accident dies."

"Lives."

"Dies."

"Lives."

"Dies."

Meanwhile, in the Tann automobile, S. J. had a question: "Do we drive on the right or on the left in this country?"

"Well," his wife suggested, "If the women wear knickers, we drive on the left. If, on the other hand, they wear panties, we drive on the right."

"What if the women don't wear anything at all?"

"If they aren't wearing knickers we drive on the left," she stated. "If they aren't wearing panties we drive on the right. I, myself," she sniffed, "am not wearing knickers."

Faster and faster, they drove east. In the left-hand lane.

In the Tea auto, the argument grew hotter:

"Lives!"

"Dies!"

"Lives, lives, lives!"

"Dies, dies, dies, times a thousand!"

"Lives, times a million!"

Neither was watching the road as they drove west, in the right-hand lane (which, from the point of view of the rapidly approaching Tann car was the left-hand lane).

Suddenly, Mrs. Tea screamed out, "Watch out for the Tann car!"

"Trying to get out of admitting you were wrong?" Mr. Tea asked. "And I don't see any tan car. The car directly ahead of us in our lane, with which we are about to have a head-on crash, is red!"
 

Duncan J Macdonald

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Crap you say? Here's some!

This is a story fragment I posted on another thread about a year ago.

You probably want to read the part of the thread it's in, to see what inspired it.

On a lonely stretch of road in Togo, two families, two wealthy families, are destined to meet. Little did they think that morning, as they filled coolers with beer and set off on holiday, that the Nouvissi Express Road would prove to be their undoing.​


S. J. Tann, an Engineer with Shell Oil, turned to his wife just as the speedometer nudged sixty-five miles an hour. The sun was in their eyes, for they were eastbound. "Are you wearing your knickers?" he asked. "In case of an accident, that is."​


"No," she responded, in her usual simpering manner. "Knickers would only get in the way. I don't believe in knickers, nor does our daughter."​


"You wearing your knicks?" S. J. asked their lovely just-turned-eighteen daughter, riding in the backseat.​


"Nope!" she responded enthusiastically, and popped open another beer. Her short skirt rode up her thighs rendering her words superfluous.​


Meanwhile, westbound on that self-same Nouvissi Express Road, Engineer (with Shell Oil) S. J. Tea turned to his wife. "I just read a book by my cousin, Travis," he confided. "Great book. Starts with a rich guy getting in a car accident."​


"Wait a moment?" his wife trembled. "We're rich."​


"You'll wake our daughter," S. J. said. "Hand me another beer." He glanced in the rearview mirror, to where their lovely daughter lay asleep in the back, her seatbelt unfastened. "No worries, though, the rich guy lives."​


"If you mean that wonderful book, Atlanta Nights, available in brick-and-mortar bookstores from sea to shining sea, that I saw you reading, the rich guy in the auto accident dies."​


"Lives."​


"Dies."​


"Lives."​


"Dies."​


Meanwhile, in the Tann automobile, S. J. had a question: "Do we drive on the right or on the left in this country?"​


"Well," his wife suggested, "If the women wear knickers, we drive on the left. If, on the other hand, they wear panties, we drive on the right."​


"What if the women don't wear anything at all?"​


"If they aren't wearing knickers we drive on the left," she stated. "If they aren't wearing panties we drive on the right. I, myself," she sniffed, "am not wearing knickers."​


Faster and faster, they drove east. In the left-hand lane.​


In the Tea auto, the argument grew hotter:​


"Lives!"​


"Dies!"​


"Lives, lives, lives!"​


"Dies, dies, dies, times a thousand!"​


"Lives, times a million!"​


Neither was watching the road as they drove west, in the right-hand lane (which, from the point of view of the rapidly approaching Tann car was the left-hand lane).​


Suddenly, Mrs. Tea screamed out, "Watch out for the Tann car!"​


"Trying to get out of admitting you were wrong?" Mr. Tea asked. "And I don't see any tan car. The car directly ahead of us in our lane, with which we are about to have a head-on crash, is red!"​
Seargeant Bent Nee of the Togo State Highway Patrol stood in the middle of the wreakage shaking his head sadly. Two families, gone. Three women, two of them young, and newly ex-nubile, knickerless.

Sighing loudly, he squinted at the trail of spare parts stretching south along both shoulders of Togo-1. It would take the Accident Investigation Team hours to piece together two complete beer coolers from the shards of brown and green.

He turned left to face the setting sun and wrote in his journal -- "A clear case of alcohol abuse. Neither cooler had been strapped in."
 

James D. Macdonald

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From http://www.iconsf.org/authors.php

Authors' Workshop

The Author's track is proud to offer you a chance to have your work critiqued by professionals. Coordinator Terry McGarry, James Macdonald, Debra Doyle and Ann VanderMeer will analyze your short story in two ninety minute sessions during I-CON 27. Participation is strictly limited to five writers. Fantasy or science fiction stories must be submitted by email only, in MS Word format, double spaced, with a maximum length of 5000 words. The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2008. NOTE: you must be available both Saturday and Sunday to participate in the workshop.

Please send to [email protected] with the words "Writer's Workshop" in the subject header. Participant confirmation will be sent by March 5, 2008. Submission implies your permission to provide your story to all workshop participants
 

Komnena

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How do we get characters under control? Am I the only one whose characters are totally out of control?
 

Calla Lily

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How do we get characters under control? Am I the only one whose characters are totally out of control?

Definitely not. One of my weenie minor characters informed me he was actually the driving evil force behind who I thought was the bad guy. Really changed the book, ramped up the tension, and I'm bringing him back in at least 2 sequels.
 

Komnena

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Good. Right at this moment everything is up in the air. I don't know what's going to happen next.
 

Ava Jarvis

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That's quite normal actually. Although I understand the weird funky confusion it causes.

All you can do is to keep running after the story. Well, you can also manipulate events so that the funny little running characters will go down the path you want them to go.

Muse, give me FIRE.
 

Komnena

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Right now I'm letting them do what they want even though I'm not sure where it comes from. They refused to cooperate at first today and wouldn't do anything. I finally did manage to finish my page.
 

Ava Jarvis

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Characters alive are wonderful things, even if they won't always do what you want.

(If they won't do something, give them incentive ... or figure out what's wrong with what you want them to do.)

It's characters dead that you need to worry about. You'll be fine. This draft may not be so right now, but you are. :)
 

Ken Schneider

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If you develope the characters properly, have given them an identity and a personality, they should be writing the story for you. You just type what you see them doing in your mind. The characters are(almost) bound to do what you've developed them to do and be. They have direction, they have a part to play. Let them run unfettered.

I truly love when this starts to happen. That's when I know I'm in a zone. I can't type fast enough to keep up with the story going through my head. That's what I really enjoy about writing. That zone feeling is like a drug I can't get enough of.

Be well all,
Ken
 
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Komnena

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I'm beginning to get a handle on it, or at least I have a handle until the characters change their minds. It's been a hard slog the past two days but hopefully it will get easier now.
 

Ava Jarvis

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I'm beginning to get a handle on it, or at least I have a handle until the characters change their minds. It's been a hard slog the past two days but hopefully it will get easier now.

*laughs with a hollow laughing* ;)

Writing isn't easy. Never gets easy. And that's the sheer beauty of it.
 

Komnena

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I should have said flowing instead of being dragged out, word by word.
 

Komnena

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Is it a bad idea to work on more than two W.I.P. s at the same time?
 

bsolah

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Yes and no; it depends on the writer and how differing the two projects are. For me, I can work on multiple projects when I'm in the zone, as I like to take advantage of it considering how rare it's been lately.

But the two projects have to be starkly different especially in the mood of the piece or I tend to mix the two up. I need to automatically attach myself to the one project at the time of working on it.
 

Forbidden Snowflake

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Is it a bad idea to work on more than two W.I.P. s at the same time?

It depends. If one of them starts to annoy me because I'm stuck it helps to work on another idea, especially if that one is actually driving me crazy.

But if you can go on with Number One, I would.
 

Komnena

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I've thought it over and will stick with just the current wip until I at least finish the first draft.
 

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I can't believe I read the whole thing!

Digesting five years of posts over the course of the last two weeks has had a strange effect of time distortion on me. Almost like some faster-than-light travel anomaly which has caused your ancient history to feel just like yesterday to me. Luckily, the basics haven't changed: Butts still fit the same way in chairs, and chess and Celtic knots haven't changed in centuries. Oh, and PA still sucks!

As is customary in one of these "first posts", I offer many thanks to Uncle Jim, as well as all you regulars, both past and present. There were some fantastic discussions, "and then" there were less amazing topics. But everything had at least a little educational value, and much of it blew my socks off.

And now to introduce myself:

If the quizzes are to be believed; I am a "Grammar God", a "Science-Fiction Writer", and a "Bookish Regency Heroine". (And as you can see, a user of the serial comma). In real life, I'm a CPR instructor, a screenwriter, and a fledgling filmmaker.

I came to this site through a recommendation on a screenwriting board I frequent, and got hooked in by this thread. Funny, I haven't read a single other post on any other topic!

Anyway, I'm adapting one of my SF stories that was "too big" for a movie into a novel, and if it works I've got two more stories which will do nicely in book form. So again - many thanks for the amazing tutelage. I feel more confident than ever that it'll be a reachable goal.

Being a screenwriter, I've long been intimidated by (for lack of a better term) the "broader playing field" of narrative writing. There are so many constraints in film writing (like only being able to write what's seen and heard) that I've almost grown dependent on them. But now I've got the tools to make a go of it in your world.

B.I.C.!!! It's worked for me for screenwriting, and it obviously works for novel writing.

Glad to be here. Thanks again.

Cheers,

Adam

PS: One question for Jim (or anyone who feels like fielding it). I've usually shortened "Science Fiction" to "Sci-Fi", but noticed (while reading this thread) that you all usually refer to it as "SF". Just want to know if there's any derision that goes along with saying or writing it "Sci-Fi"?

Like for example: I'm from the San Francisco Bay area, and when we shorten the name, we say "San Fran", but anyone who says "Frisco" is instantly known to be a ... how do I put this politely? Tourist.

I'd hate to come off as a tourist. Even though for now, I am.
 
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Black and white winter scene with evergreens in the snow, and a house