Learn Writing with Uncle Jim, Volume 1

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

Status
Not open for further replies.

MoonWriter

practical experience, FTW
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 31, 2008
Messages
1,017
Reaction score
643
Location
New Orleans
The best piece of advice I heard regarding social intercourse: State your point as briefly as possible. If others are interested in what you said, they'll ask questions. If they don't and you chose to elaborate, it will be for nought.

With that in mind, I would like to confess that S.F. is not my favorite genre.
Oh my! So many hands. One at a time. Yes, you. Go ahead. What is your question?

Would you please tell us why you're not a big fan of S.F.? We are so interested in what an unpublished writer has to say.

I would be happy to answer that. You see, I am a simple man, rooted to the earth. Four steps up a ladder is as far into space as I prefer to go. Imagery is confusing and I tend to spend so much time trying to pronounce the characters' names, that I forget where they are, how they got there and what they're doing. I relate better to baseball bats, hot dogs, and cigars, unless the author is trying to trick me with symbolism.

I have a question. Please, may I ask it?

Yes, but it will have to be quick.

What was the real reason you've captivated our attention by stating that you're not a big fan of S.F.?

Very good question and I'm glad you asked it. You see, as much as I prefer other genres, it has come to my attention that our beloved Uncle Jim is a preeminent S.F. writer. It is out of respect for him and in gratitude for his dedication toward educating those less knowledgable in the art of writing that I am inclined to attempt my hand at S.F. Please, tell me what you think of the following:

Powers that be, let the best rotation of Uncle Jim's last revolution be the worst rotation of his new revolution.

Oh, unpublished writer, that was fantastic. But, then again, Uncle Jim has taught us to be respectful.

I'm glad you enjoyed it. In closing, I would like to translate this very confusing and alien statement for our non-S.F. friends: May the best day of your last year be your worst day of your new year.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Jim.
(And may God Bless you.)

P.S. I think I'll stick with sports fiction for middle-grade readers.
 
Last edited:

BlueLucario

Blood Elves FTW
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Dec 1, 2007
Messages
2,627
Reaction score
220
Location
South Florida
I have a question too. When you have an idea that may freak out your readers. Like it's raining knives and meat cleavers falling on the city and everyone dying. The sight of blood made you feel pleasant.

When you have ideas like that? What do you do? Do you just write it, taking the risk of losing your readers or do you just keep it to your self.
 

Yeshanu

Elf Queen
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
6,757
Reaction score
2,410
Location
Up a Tree
I have notebooks full of weird ideas that I've had. Don't worry about it "freaking out" readers, or whether it's going to be saleable or not. Just write it down so you don't forget it. You can decide what to do with it later.

And as for really weird ideas that freak people out--they've made Stephen King rather rich. And as someone who works in a movie theatre, I can say this--that stuff sells. Go for it!
 

Bufty

Where have the last ten years gone?
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 9, 2005
Messages
16,763
Reaction score
4,642
Location
Scotland
And, Blue, until one is published one doesn't have any flaming readers!

Blue, this must be at least the fifth time that people have had to reassure you that you can write anything you like.
 

Caveman

Registered
Joined
Feb 20, 2008
Messages
15
Reaction score
2
Location
Third shelf on the left.
I would be happy to answer that. You see, I am a simple man, rooted to the earth. Four steps up a ladder is as far into space as I prefer to go. Imagery is confusing and I tend to spend so much time trying to pronounce the characters' names, that I forget where they are, how they got there and what they're doing. I relate better to baseball bats, hot dogs, and cigars, unless the author is trying to trick me with symbolism.

This brings up another question. I thought that newspapers were written for an 8th grade reading level. It seems anymore that they may have lowered it to the 6th or 7th grade level. Would it be better to write a story that has a potentially wider audience?
If your story is worthwhile and well written, is it necessary to include difficult, made up words for items or names, to show the extensive range of your vocabulary, or is it some kind of ego trip for an author? I don't mind expanding my vocabulary, or learning something new, but I just want a really good story that is easy to read.

Occasionally I have a similar thought about names especially in Fantasy. Were there never anyone in an alternate reality, or dimension that was named just plain Jim?
 

Nangleator

Rep Point Whore
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 4, 2005
Messages
408
Reaction score
59
Location
Dracut, Massachusetts
History is full of hard names, too! I mean "Vercingetorix"? C'mon!

It's not a bad thing when it hurts a little to read. That's what it feels like to stretch your mind. SF can be particularly effective at it.
 

MoonWriter

practical experience, FTW
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 31, 2008
Messages
1,017
Reaction score
643
Location
New Orleans
I thought that newspapers were written for an 8th grade reading level. It seems anymore that they may have lowered it to the 6th or 7th grade level. Would it be better to write a story that has a potentially wider audience?

Caveman - After reading 103 pages of this thread, I'd bet that UJ would say that you should write in the voice of your major character. If he's a college prof. you wouldn't have him speaking like a sailor. And for those of us who have problems with big words, there's always the dictionary.

I remember reading a M. Crichton (sp?) book. He spent ten pages creating plausibility for something or the other. Hey, if he says an underwater community is possible, I believe him and skip the pages it takes him to explain it. Still a decent read.

Tim
 

pdr

Banned
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
4,259
Reaction score
832
Location
Home - but for how long?
Just a point to ponder.

For me some of the best SF has been about us now.

I mean novels where the writer uses the future, or another technology or culture on another planet to write about things which are important now, religious prejudice and intolerance, sexual prejudice where one sex dominates, culture clashes where one culture assumes the right to stamp all over another. Perhaps the best SF makes a reader think about what is happening now in our world as well as enjoying a good story about a different world.
 

Komnena

In Honor of Peter Tomich,USS Utah
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
13,917
Reaction score
2,071
Location
King Louie's town
Concerning easy names, Tolkien had one important character named Sam.
 

Mr Flibble

They've been very bad, Mr Flibble
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 6, 2008
Messages
18,889
Reaction score
5,028
Location
We couldn't possibly do that. Who'd clear up the m
Website
francisknightbooks.co.uk
Occasionally I have a similar thought about names especially in Fantasy. Were there never anyone in an alternate reality, or dimension that was named just plain Jim?

Well there's Jim, AKA the Stainless Steel Rat.
Esme(relda) , granny weather wax, I know an Esme
Harry ( Dresden)
Liam, Tomas and others in Feist.....
 
Last edited:

Diane

Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 1, 2005
Messages
170
Reaction score
26
Location
California
Website
www.nobody-knows-anything.com
Augh! Can someone help me out? I'm looking for the website that lists current markets, genres, pay rates, etc. for short stories, and I'm certain that the link was originally in Uncle Jim's thread.
 

MoonWriter

practical experience, FTW
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 31, 2008
Messages
1,017
Reaction score
643
Location
New Orleans
Just wanted to say thanks - not to UJ this time, but to the regulars for not posting in the last couple days. I appreciate ya'll making it easier for me to catch up: page 121 and closing in fast. Just got to the point where the links actually work and I'm loving it. Having retained less than I learned from reading these posts, I'm still miles ahead from where I started. And I know where I can find the info I forgot to remember when I remember that I forgot it - or need it. Out of concern for other newbies facing the same waves as myself (trying not to say "in the same boat" - see, I learned not to use cliches!) I would like to see UJ's thread remain on the first page where it will be more visible. So, to UJ and the regulars, feel free to continue posting - I'll just work harder to catch up.

Hey, at least I got it back on the first page!
Tim
 
Last edited:

RJK

Sheriff Bullwinkle the Poet says:
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 6, 2007
Messages
3,415
Reaction score
439
Location
Lewiston, NY
To MoonWriter and the rest of you out there

Stick with it MoonWriter. I went to Uncle Jim's site every chance I got until I read the entire thread. It took me over two months, but I think it was the same as attending a graduate course. I learned so much more than I expected. I am very grateful to Uncle Jim and the other published authors who contribute to this thread. Learning from their experiences is worth more than even they can imagine.

For the rest of you: I'm about to finish draft 1 of my first novel. I have just over 250 pages of what I think is readable text (I've been editing as I write). I think I may have about 20 more pages (totalling about 67K words) of story in this WIP. It seems a little on the short side for a submission. It's a thriller with quite a bit of action. Unfortunately, it only took 250 pages for the good guys to catch up with the bad guys. Any opinions out there?
 

Nangleator

Rep Point Whore
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 4, 2005
Messages
408
Reaction score
59
Location
Dracut, Massachusetts
(I've been editing as I write)

I made that mistake, too. I think the only editing you should do during the first draft is revising plot points. (In other words, changing the past to fit the present -- You know... a good idea shows up part way through the draft and you realize you have to go back and revise in order to make it possible.)
 

HConn

Whore for genre
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
814
Reaction score
182
Location
Inside a cursed painting
Website
www.harryjconnolly.com
For the rest of you: I'm about to finish draft 1 of my first novel. I have just over 250 pages of what I think is readable text (I've been editing as I write). I think I may have about 20 more pages (totalling about 67K words) of story in this WIP. It seems a little on the short side for a submission. It's a thriller with quite a bit of action. Unfortunately, it only took 250 pages for the good guys to catch up with the bad guys. Any opinions out there?

My advice: You only have 20 pages left if the good guys catch up to the bad guys and succeed in stopping them. If the good guys fail, with possibly disastrous results, then you have a lot more book to write to wrap up the storyline and you increase the stakes.

Because 67K is definitely too short.

If you have someone cooperating with the protags, have them mislead or trick them instead. If the protags are about to win, made the antagonists smart/deadly/tough enough to kick their heroic behinds.
 

RJK

Sheriff Bullwinkle the Poet says:
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 6, 2007
Messages
3,415
Reaction score
439
Location
Lewiston, NY
Thanks to Hcon and Nangleator for the help. I'll try what you suggest.
 

Komnena

In Honor of Peter Tomich,USS Utah
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
13,917
Reaction score
2,071
Location
King Louie's town
I think I see now how my messterpiece ends. There's still a long way to go and a lot of loose things to work out before the end, though. One character has really surprised me by doing something very distasteful.
 

Craig Gosse

Bored fanatic
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Messages
261
Reaction score
184
Location
C,eh?, N,eh? D,eh?
Just finished reading the thread, (...the whole thread, and nothing but the thread.)

"...there is too much. Let me sum up." Inigo to the Man in Black.


To 'Uncle Jim', et al.;
Thank you.

C. Gosse
 

Paichka

The BIC-Believer
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Messages
772
Reaction score
317
Location
Savannah, GA
"...there is too much. Let me sum up." Inigo to the Man in Black.

Anybody who quotes The Princess Bride (especially my favorite character) is obviously destined to be my new best friend. :)

Welcome to AW, Craig!
 

Craig Gosse

Bored fanatic
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Messages
261
Reaction score
184
Location
C,eh?, N,eh? D,eh?
The Thread Summation; or, 'How to Write: A Beginner's Guide'

Step 1)
BIC

Step 2)
FOK

Step 3)
POWAA(Place One Word After Another - Preferably, in some sort of logical, (and grammatically correct), progression...)

Repeat as necessary...

(*Grin*)


Anybody who quotes The Princess Bride (especially my favorite character) is obviously destined to be my new best friend. :)

Welcome to AW, Craig!

Thank you - nice to be here!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Featured Book