Learn Writing with Uncle Jim, Volume 1

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

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euclid

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Yes, that's alliteration. Yes, you should consider changing it.

Why doesn't your thunderstorm serve a function? Every word needs to either support the theme, reveal character, or advance the plot.

If your subconscious is trying to support the theme with this storm, look to see where else that theme might trying to break through.

The theme of the book revolves around the excesses of the Nazi regime, so I suppose there's a gloomy, stormy feel to the whole thing. Not sure what you mean about the theme trying to break through... Or what I should do about it if I did locate these occurrences.

Why should I change the unintentional alliteration? What harm is it doing?
 

James D. Macdonald

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The theme of the book revolves around the excesses of the Nazi regime, so I suppose there's a gloomy, stormy feel to the whole thing. Not sure what you mean about the theme trying to break through... Or what I should do about it if I did locate these occurrences.

Sharpen, focus, and unify them.

Why should I change the unintentional alliteration? What harm is it doing?

Why should you make your prose the best and most polished that you can? Why should you remove or change clumsy bits? I dunno. You tell me.
 

lucidzfl

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James, I asked this on the Roundtable forum (Accidently, I meant it for the novels forum)

How do you approach chase/hunting/battle scenes? The only way I can visualize it is to draw it on paper, or even use figurines to determine positioning and reactions.

Is there a better way?
 

euclid

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Sharpen, focus, and unify them.

Right. Thanks. Will do.


Why should you make your prose the best and most polished that you can? Why should you remove or change clumsy bits? I dunno. You tell me.

Right. Sorry, Jim. I suppose I should have asked:

When is it a good idea to use (intentional) alliteration?
 

James D. Macdonald

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When is it a good idea to use (intentional) alliteration?

Here is an example:

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.
You are writing a 100,000 word poem. Every word must be there for the right reason, including its sound. You might want to read "The Philosophy of Composition" by Edgar Allan Poe for more thoughts on this. It's short.

I first read that essay when I was in high school, and it influenced me deeply. Poe, himself, was a great literary innovator. You could have worse models.

Just in case you've not read The Raven, here it is.

Read it silently, then read it aloud. See how different the experience is.
 
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Salis

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Good essay, but Poe was also the fellow who loved to plagiarize, so as much as I loved The Cask of Amontillado, there are better role models.
 

motormind

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Why should you make your prose the best and most polished that you can? Why should you remove or change clumsy bits? I dunno. You tell me.

Prose that's too polished tends to be a bit stale and boring. I like it when sentences wriggle like restless worms.
 
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MondayNightFrungy

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Hello Mr. Macdonald... I was wondering, what is a good way to learn how to make your descriptive prose more compelling and... colorful?

I have tried thesauruses and even a few books on the subject but somehow I still feel something is missing. Well, a whole lot of something, to be exact.

Anyways... what suggestions would you have?
 

James D. Macdonald

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Anyways... what suggestions would you have?


Memorize a whole bunch of Shakespeare. Recite it aloud to inanimate objects (although cattle will do if no inanimate objects present themselves), preferably out of doors, in a loud voice.

People may start avoiding you, but your prose will become much more vivid.
 

Salis

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What do you base that on?

He wrote a piece about a fellow who traveled to the Moon (fiction!) and lifted whole sections verbatim from encyclopedia-like books of the day. See here for exact details (and a really good book besides). To be specific about it, the example isn't "oh he stole an idea", he literally just copied entire paragraphs from another (scientific) book to lend his description of intra-planetary flight a "authentic" air. Ironically, he was known for strongly condemning other authors for alleged plagiarism. No one's perfect, I guess?

Still one of my favorite authors.
 
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Blue Sky

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Memorize a whole bunch of Shakespeare. Recite it aloud to inanimate objects (although cattle will do if no inanimate objects present themselves), preferably out of doors, in a loud voice.

People may start avoiding you, but your prose will become much more vivid.

For a break I recommend mooing at the cows. I've had some interesting responses. As long as people are avoiding you anyway.

Moo! :)
 

MondayNightFrungy

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Memorize a whole bunch of Shakespeare. Recite it aloud to inanimate objects (although cattle will do if no inanimate objects present themselves), preferably out of doors, in a loud voice.

People may start avoiding you, but your prose will become much more vivid.
I'll wear my cell phone ear-set and tap it from time to time. That way they'll think I'm actually talking to someone else who's crazy! :D
 

mkcbunny

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Page 32 and following in this thread. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6710&page=32

You can use Google better than the (poor, broken) search function that comes with this site. Use site:absolutewrite.com "Uncle Jim" then whatever term you're looking for.

Wow. I missed this one. Frankly, I couldn't finish the article. All the moaning and groaning both bored and irritated me. It smacks of the "entitled artist" syndrome. $40k per year? I could live on that, and I live in the Bay Area, one of the most expensive places in the country. What artist's heart hasn't been broken over something? Stop complaining. It's one thing if you are broke and frustrated, wondering if you should quit because you're digging yourself into debt, but if you are making that income? I'd be happy to be so "unhappy."
 

Calliopenjo

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For general interest, The Ten Best Southern Novels of All Time is an interesting list. I say that because Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is listed in this article. I don't know if anybody remembers but there was controversy over letting children read this book. Why? It has the word "Nigger" in it.
 

RJK

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Question for UJ. Why is an occasional alliteration, unintentional or not, bad?
 

James D. Macdonald

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Because it draws attention to the words. If you want to draw attention to the words, that's okay. If you don't, it's not so okay.

Alliteration can also produce effects. If you want to produce the effect of silken curtains swishing, that's okay. If there isn't a silken curtain in a hundred miles, that's not so okay.

"Take care of the sounds and the sense will take care of itself."
 
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Krampus Nacht

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