Larian Studios
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer The Writing Thread ! - 16/06/04 03:51 PM
Hello, everyone.

The current "Adorant" - discussion has led me to the decision to open a new thread dedicated to writing in general.

Anyone who writes anything can participate - especially those who are writing one of the RPG threads or stories here. But anyone who wants to improve his or her skills in expressing in language can write here, too.


This is NOT a thread exclusive to writers, but instead open to anyone who wants to write anything - and seeks advice.

I wish this thread to be a learning thread , or, to put it more emotionally, a learning experience.

Therefore critics are insofar not allowed that I intend this thread to be a sort of "Question & Answer" - thread : Anyone who seeks advice can ask questions here and anyone can answer here, regardless of experience or lack of it.

Additionally, I would like this thread for people who want to improve their language skills - mostly English (since it's the main languge), but also other languages are welcome in this thread here.

Which means that if someone asks for a certain word or expression, or for the meaning of an idiom-expression for example, I wish that anyone could try to help.

To emphasize this : I want this thread to be a "learning thread" , rather than anything else.

So try to be nice, and try not to judge advices : Like in Philosophy, any point of view is in a way right, only the evaluation of it is different (and often a matter of taste).

Alrik.
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 16/06/04 06:04 PM
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Hello, everyone.

Additionally, I would like this thread for people who want to improve their language skills - mostly English (since it's the main languge), but also other languages are welcome in this thread here.

Which means that if someone asks for a certain word or expression, or for the meaning of an idiom-expression for example, I wish that anyone could try to help.

To emphasize this : I want this thread to be a "learning thread" , rather than anything else.

So try to be nice, and try not to judge advices : Like in Philosophy, any point of view is in a way right, only the evaluation of it is different (and often a matter of taste).

Alrik.


Hey Alrik! Ah, yes - Philosophy - one of my favorite subjects. And yes, I have always thought any point of view is valid for the person whose view it is. I may not agree with it, but that's what makes this world go 'round.

I'd be happy to participate in this discussion. Sounds like fun and I love anything that has to do with language, communication and writing. Excellent idea.

Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: LUCRETIA Re: The Writing Thread ! - 16/06/04 06:16 PM
Al your idea is so nice! Of course I will not be able to enter my work in here because I write only in my language, Greek, but I will jump in the experience in order to improve my English and enjoy other people's work. And I trust and hope that I will have the pleasure to see some of your work here.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 16/06/04 06:21 PM
Good idea, Alrik <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I'll just borrow one of my most basic advice sheets from Hero Realm, as it seems like a good place to start - how to make the decision on which perspective to use in your writing. All writing begins with this decision, really.

Anyone who has any questions about this piece should just ask. I'll be more than happy to answer - assuming I can <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

First Person vrs Third Person

When you are starting a story, the first real choice you will have to make is deciding whether the character will act as the narrator, or if the author will. The strengths and weaknesses of the the two main styles differ, and the difference in emphasis in your story will consequently make or break the whole.

As such, it is an important choice, and it is vital to consider not just the type of the story, but also the characters and the way you wish them to interact and relate with each other.

First Person View

I watched, dread coursing up my spine, mouth dry and heart beating wildly as SOMETHING moved, deep within the shadows. There had been three murders already - was I to be the next?

There are two main strengths to the first person narrative - identification and depth of characterisation. If the reader can identify with the narrator, they themselves will become the 'I' in the story, and they will share each pitfall and pratfall with baited breath. The narrating character can share all of his/her innermost thoughts and feelings with the reader, to an extent that is not possible with the third person form.

The weaknesses of this view, however, need careful handling. The main weakness is that your main viewpoint character must be at the centre of events, as they (And thus the reader) will only see things from the singular perspective of the narrating character. This can be mitigated using multiple viewpoint characters, but if this is done then the reader must be quickly informed which character's view they are now reading, and the same depth of characterisation is needed for all characters.

A variation on the multiple viewpoint style is the one Bram Stoker uses in Dracula - where the entire story is told through extracts from diaries, letters, and other personal notes that give multiple first person viewpoints. This approach requires consummate skill, as you might imagine.

The second weakness of this style is simply that the character's viewpoint does not allow certain things. A character will not necessarily understand anything outside of their own knowledge, for example, and might naturally ignore things the author might prefer to describe. Also, no viewpoint character is going to describe any area with which they are intimately familiar, simply because they would not thiink about it at all. When was the last time you walked into your bedroom, and thought, "Sony stereo stands between two wooden bookcases, with CD racks on the wall above. A wardrobe is jammed into the corner, fighting for space with a chest of drawers positioned so close I can barely open the wardrobe door..." You just don't. The real trick with the first person form is balancing the reader's need to know things with the narrating character's ability and desire to tell them.

A character with a fairly limited vocabulary is not going to give fantastically elaborate descriptions of things, but can plausibly ask about any concept or difficult word that the author may feel needs some explanation for the sake of the reader. A highly educated character with an enormous vocabulary will create some wonderful descriptions, but will tend to understand ideas and concepts the reader might wish were better explained. This can best be mitigated (In either case) by the use of supporting cast.

Remember that you do not have to explain everything upon the instant it comes up, as long as you get around to it by the time the reader really needs to know. Some element of mystery is never bad.

The last potential disadvantage is that the narrating character sets the tone and the atmosphere of your story. A happy-go-lucky charmer will not create a good gothic horror. Although they may of course begin that way... Your skills at characterisation and personality building will be stretched to the limits by this style - your ability to build mood, atmosphere and elaborate descriptions will not be.


Third Person View

A man, head tucked down against the driving rain, hat pulled low over his ears and collar turned up in a futile attempt to avoid being drenched, walks slowly down the Old East Road, past the boarded up shop windows with their peeling notices, now sodden in the rain. His footsteps would normally echo on the worn flagstones, but now they squelch, his feet long since drowning, the cold clammy flesh long ceasing to cringe back from the cold, cold water that fills his shoes.

The third person view allows mood, atmosphere and description in far greater detail than the first person does. This is overwhelmingly the strength of the form, and is the reason it is so popular with many writers. It also allows every character - including the main protagonist{s} - to hide their thoughts from the reader if the author so desires.

The restrictions of this style are the main virtues of the first person narrative. The protagonist is far less easy for the reader to completely identify with, and the true depths of thought and feeling will remain unplumbed. This distancing between reader and character will lead to the reader being less emotionally affected by the fate{s} of the character{s} - but will also mean that the negative effects of a character they truly hate/despise will be similarly mitigated.

There is a form of third person narrative that blends with the first person narrative - where the protagonist is effectively writing in the third person. This is incredibly hard to do, but, done well, it mitigates the disadvantages of both styles to an extent and allows a shift of emphasis at need between the two. This style is almost never used, as not only can it be somewhat confusing for the reader, but it also requires a very skilled writer indeed (So don't go expecting an example here! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" /> ).


End Note

Choosing a character view that best suits your intent for character and story will help you to create a memorable tale - and is one of the most vital decisions you will make as an author. The correct choice will suit your skills and cause your story to flow - the wrong choice is fatal.

And as a last note - no, nothing says the narrating character has to survive, whatever form you choose. A dying man reviewing his life in flashback is just as worthy of the first person form as any other - and can allow you to build in a real tear jerker ending.
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 16/06/04 07:11 PM
1. Thanks, Alrik, for opening this thread!

2. I wonder whether I understood this correctly:
Quote
There is a form of third person narrative that blends with the first person narrative - where the protagonist is effectively writing in the third person.

Exhausted the man stumbled through the jungle. "I wonder, where the hell I am", he thought, "And why, for God's sake, did I have to parachute from a perfectly working airplane". But there was nobody to answer his questions.

Is this, more or less, what you wanted to describe?
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 16/06/04 09:21 PM
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1. Thanks, Alrik, for opening this thread!

2. I wonder whether I understood this correctly:
Quote
There is a form of third person narrative that blends with the first person narrative - where the protagonist is effectively writing in the third person.

Exhausted the man stumbled through the jungle. "I wonder, where the hell I am", he thought, "And why, for God's sake, did I have to parachute from a perfectly working airplane". But there was nobody to answer his questions.

Is this, more or less, what you wanted to describe?


That's pretty much it, GlanceALot, thank you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I find that style appallingly hard to write, for some reason <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 06:03 AM
That's called the limited third-person viewpoint. Personally, I find it the easiest to pull off, and it seems to be the most commonly used one, but that's just me. (Hey, I write nearly all my stories with limited third-person. Lots and lots of writers I know use it, too. So...) It strikes the perfect balance, I think, between the intimacy of the first-person and the alacrity and flow of omniscient third-person.

First-person is nice for easier identification/relation/empathy with the character, but overdoing things is very easy. Melodrama, stream-of-consciousness and angst are the prime horrors lurking in this technique. Another is self-insertion: start using "I" to narrate things, and you run the risk of using the character as a mouthpiece rather than letting him/her have develop a personality. Symptoms include using language that you, the author, would use instead of one the character would use, or unconsciously turning the character into an outlet for your opinion. This is particularly dangerous when you feel the burning need to shoehorn a "meaningful" or "profound" theme into your story. (Which, by itself, deserves an entirely separate rant, but that's neither here nor there.)

I loathe the omniscient third-person perspective, and with good reasons. It gives the author an excuse to hop from head to head (which may just ruin suspense and intrigue, among other things), as well as dump information. Fantasy/sci-fi writers seem to fall into this trap a lot: shoving clinical, dull diatribes down the reader's throat. Really, if you absolutely have to include information about this race, that city, or this system of magic, then by all the good deities, do it in appendices! Under no circumstance should the reader be forced to go through expository paragraphs that read like a tourist brochure or an academic essay. It's one of the things that'll make me chuck a book across the room faster than you can say "JRR Tolkien."
Posted By: Leather_Raven Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 09:39 AM
I partly disagree with this. Yes, it is common that Fantasy/Sci Fi authors do tend to do this…they are describing new worlds to the reader so this is inevitable. But I think that they are many authors who do what you describe as “information dumping” extremely well… and, if properly applied, these sections can add a lot of depth and colour to the world and story. Personally I dislike appendices…I don’t really want to go thumbing backwards and forth through a book so I can get a clearer picture. Anne McCaffrey does this a lot and although I have a lot of respect for the characters and worlds she has created I don’t want to feel like I’ve got an encyclopedia tacked onto the end of a story. I think this is best left to non-fiction, in general.

However, I think that many of the less well established SF/fantasy authors do tend to suffer from a lack of originality and certainly some strange innate desire to always write not just a ‘book’ but a three parter. I review for SFX from time to time and I always end up with book 2 of an ‘epic’ 3-part saga, of which I have not read the first (nor want to after reading the second.)
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 09:57 AM
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I partly disagree with this. Yes, it is common that Fantasy/Sci Fi authors do tend to do this…they are describing new worlds to the reader so this is inevitable. But I think that they are many authors who do what you describe as “information dumping” extremely well… and, if properly applied, these sections can add a lot of depth and colour to the world and story.


Operative keyword: "done well." Most of the time, it's done terribly, and it just detracts me from the story. And it isn't even relevant. Take, for instance, a scene written in limited third-person seen through farmer Joe's eyes. Would he actually give a fig about the current political climate? Would he suddenly break out into narrating some creation myth of a mysterious fairy land half a world away for no reason? The exposition is also often extremely prosaic, and as a reader, I frankly couldn't care less about it. Yes, I like appendices, because it's optional, whereas if the info-dumping appears in the narrative, I actually am forced to slog through it. Imparting information should be natural. At the very least, say, a local courtier talking to a foreign visitor to explain etiquette and such would be less agitating.

Another thing I hate, hate, hate with an unholy passion in omniscient third-person is this: things like "Little did she know, her action would set the calamity in motions..." in narrative. Guh. Why would any author feel the need to put things like this in, I would never understand. This kind of "foreshadowing" has all the subtlety of a two-by-four to the head or a chainsaw to the guts.

Speaking of lack of originality... Blurbs on back covers. Rhetorical questions like "Can the intrepid band of misfits save the world from the Generic Dark Lord#44534?" or "Will princess Ivorywen Crystalline Pink be able to overcome blahblahblah and find love?" I genuinely yearn to throttle whoever put them there. Of-bloody-course the misfits will save the world, nine point nine five times out of ten, and the annoying brat will find love. For once, I'd like to read a story where the answers to these irrating rhetorics are a bit, fat NO.
Posted By: LUCRETIA Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 10:00 AM
I agree with Leather_Raven. I hate appendices too. Gets on my nerves to go back and check something that the writer could describe it IN his story. After all that is on of the talents a writer should have. I get tired to search in the end of the book.
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 12:39 PM
Well, I first wrote everything third-person-view , but somehow tried to write a bit or two with first view.

It turned out to be quite difficult for me, because if you've developed your own world and would like to explain and simply descibe so many things, you cannot do it from the first person view. You've got to "narrows down" your own information, to the grade of the first person view.

The delicate thing is, ihmo, that you've got to imagine what the person sees, feels, tastes and so on. To me, it's partly role-playing, and if you're good at role-playing, this might not be too difficult for you.

A thing I've got *extremely* problems with is the speech pattern. You know, every single person has his or her on way of speaking, expressing and therefore writing. So, if I want to let an NPC in a story speak, I must invent a whole new speech pattern for that one.
The difficulty for me lies with that I personally believe that I must run an Artificial Intelligence (AI) in my head while writing the speech of the NPC. Tht includes his or her thought-pattern, the way of logical resoning and so on, everything that influences the speech, and behaviour.

Somehow I have the feeling that I cannot do this. Maybe it's even the wrong approch ?

So, in short, writing in first-person-view is a kind of role-playing for me.
Posted By: Viper Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 01:15 PM
imHo (pay attention to the 'H' there) writing is always Role Playing. even the stories we did in the chat forums. same goes for professionel writers imHo
Posted By: Kejero Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 01:40 PM
That sounds like a very humble opinion, imo <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/think.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 03:06 PM
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A thing I've got *extremely* problems with is the speech pattern. You know, every single person has his or her on way of speaking, expressing and therefore writing. So, if I want to let an NPC in a story speak, I must invent a whole new speech pattern for that one.
The difficulty for me lies with that I personally believe that I must run an Artificial Intelligence (AI) in my head while writing the speech of the NPC. Tht includes his or her thought-pattern, the way of logical resoning and so on, everything that influences the speech, and behaviour.

Somehow I have the feeling that I cannot do this. Maybe it's even the wrong approch ?

So, in short, writing in first-person-view is a kind of role-playing for me.


You're not the only writer who has trouble with a character's dialect, Alrik. It's quite common and I take a different approach in developing characters. I actually interview them (in my head). I have a generic list of questions I ask each one, and as they answer (or not answer), I note their body language, expressions, attitude, etc. Then I redesign the questions to get a more personal glimpse of their personalities. This may sound a lot like a person who has a multiple personality disorder - LOL - but in some ways, I think it may be how an actor prepares for their roles.



Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 03:45 PM
Alrik & Viper are certainly right regarding First Person View stories - it is always role playing. Third Person is far less personal, so requires less character depth.

Winterfox spells out the traps in the First/Third person blend very well - which is what makes the perspective so hard to do properly. Anyone can write the style poorly - very few can write it well, which is why I did not attempt it myself <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I definitely agree with Rhianna & Lucretia about the use of descriptive passages, but Winterfox has a point too - an overdone description that takes pages out of the story in a long lecture adds nothing to the story and often detracts from it badly. The best approach, IMO, is to introduce new things as the characters come across them, or use a flashback story to fill in details.

As with most things in writing, there are ways to work around a problem if we only know what they are <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Edit: Faralas - that's what I do too <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 04:17 PM
Descriptive writing is for me "to substitute the reader' senses with words", so to say.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 05:02 PM
As for 'Omniscient Third Person' I think the real trick is to avoid the trap of trying to bait the reader by showing you as the author know everything that will happen anyway. "Little did they know that..." type sentences tend to work well if you are aiming for a younger audience, but is not a good approach for adults.

The ideal Third Person approach is basically showing only what the reader would see if they were there themselves. Act as a silent film camera rather than a commentator, and hopefully your readers will follow you into the story.

As an example:

Quote
The village is still burning when the warrior arrives, a mass of crackling flame and burning timber where once there were homes. Dreams rise to the sky in dark palls of smoke, as lives are turned to ash and ruin. Community, family, hope and laughter - all are gone, slain by the savagery of war.


This sets a scene, but does nothing more.
Posted By: Draghermosran Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 05:29 PM
Hmm, I'd like to improve my writing skills amongst many skills I want to improve... And offcourse only writing will improve writing skills. So I entered in the RPG threads but it has proven hard for such project to keep updating. So I'm poundering, what if we would do some kind of contest closely related to the caption contest.

Something, anything would be posted for writers to base a story, poem, anything entertaining on it. For example a breath taking fotograph, a peice of art, a song. Every written peice can be commented on if the writer wishes so, by adding please comment. Stories aren't limited in writers but every source of inspiration should have a limit such as 3days in the caption contest.

Oh, and I'll have a look at "the adorant", had little time for foruming for a while, I'll free up some time.

The idea came to me while reading this thread just after staring at photoshop bored and whipping this image up:

[Linked Image]

wich has no use at all, wich I feel to have a story in it.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/06/04 05:52 PM
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Descriptive writing is for me "to substitute the reader' senses with words", so to say.


As good a description as any I've seen <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 09:37 AM
As one with a lot of experience in reading, and none in writing, I would summarize my attitude towards appendices or in-story descriptions somewhat less absolutistic rather as an "and" than an "or".

I like appendices, if they give me additional background or overview. I don't like them, if I have to refer to them to (fully) understand the story.
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 10:18 AM
On evil: most villains in sci-fi/fantasy -- or hell, any genre of fiction, period -- inspire no fear or hate in me.

Take Sauron in Lord of the Rings. Oh, everyone'll cower at the mention of his name. We know he commands a vast army of unwashed, wicked orcs and the spoooky Ringwraiths. We know that, if he wins, he'll cover Arda in eternal darkness. So what? Boo-freaking-hoo. I don't bloody care. Sauron's not threatening. He's just there. He doesn't hurt a character that I can empathize with; he doesn't harm a character that I have come to care about. He just hovers there at the edge of the plot. (Partly, his lack of oomph has to do with the fact that I can't bring myself to give a fig about Tolkien's characters, as I think they are all flat, annoying, and tedious to read about. But again, another separate rant altogether.)

IMO, these vague evil overlords who are evil because, well, the writer tells you they're evil demonstrate sloppy characterization on the writer's part. "Evil" spirits, elemental forces, and suchlike lack character, personality, and therefore they do not give me a sense of menace or intimidation. I prefer my villains to be more personal and much, much more subtle. Perversion of what is considered normal mind, someone who can have tea with you one moment and execute you the next, heartless manipulation -- these are the things that, I think, actually bear some semblance of being frightening.
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 10:25 AM
I got no "fear feeling" about Sauron as well. Maybe it was simply because I never understood what was so evil with "him".

And that goes for anyone in MIddleearth : Only the High Eöves, the Maiar and very few others acttually know and understand what "kind" of creature Sauron is - and why "he" actually is dangerous. Others, like Gollum for example, would innocently run across "his" path - and being picked up.

Speaking of emotions and characterization, I thought that the Orcs were described fairly well, because their descriptioon evoked certain emotions in my - they stand for everything "animalistic" in our perception, especially because they don't wash themselves every morning. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Plowking Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 10:57 AM
Could never understand Sauron myself either! Or even Saruman for that matter. What was Sauron other than some entity who had ugly dumb orcs do his bidding!? What was Saurons motivation!? Why did he want to hang around with orcs trolls and ringwraiths that screamed at every little thing they saw!? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

Sauron was 'evil' in the way you'd say a large corporate company like Nike are 'evil'! I'm not afraid to pick up a pair of Nikes, though I wouldn't wear the accursed things!

A far more menacing character is a human one, with dark thoughts, and evil schemes, a subtle manipulator who does what it takes to take power. Not some bodyless lighthouse with an army of unwashed nobodies! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/evilgrin1.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 11:02 AM
Sauron's predecesor (corrupter and liege-lord too, actually) had much more substance to him, I'd say. Morgoth's brand of evil has some motives to it, although his actions strike me as just bratty rather than malevolent. ("Daddy Eru wouldn't let me mess up the music, so I'll go and kick down my siblings' lamps and trees!") In the Silm, Sauron has a bit more character -- he seduces Ar-Pharazon into corruption and an insane endeavor, after all. But in LOTR? Yikes. Boring, boring Dark Lord.
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 02:21 PM
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On evil: most villains in sci-fi/fantasy -- or hell, any genre of fiction, period -- inspire no fear or hate in me.

Take Sauron in Lord of the Rings. Oh, everyone'll cower at the mention of his name. We know he commands a vast army of unwashed, wicked orcs and the spoooky Ringwraiths. We know that, if he wins, he'll cover Arda in eternal darkness. So what? Boo-freaking-hoo. I don't bloody care. Sauron's not threatening. He's just there. He doesn't hurt a character that I can empathize with; he doesn't harm a character that I have come to care about. He just hovers there at the edge of the plot. (Partly, his lack of oomph has to do with the fact that I can't bring myself to give a fig about Tolkien's characters, as I think they are all flat, annoying, and tedious to read about. But again, another separate rant altogether.)



I haven't found many villians who inspire cold hatred or fear within the pages of many books. In fact, I've been sitting here trying to recall *any* character who scared me enough to make a lasting impression. The only one that comes to mind is evil's representation in Stephen King's "The Stand". But it's been quite some time since I read it. However, the Silmarillion, and the LOTRs was written back during World War I. The audience was different, times are not the same, nor are people's expectations and attitudes about what defines evil.

Tolkien set out to show how man (in a mythological setting) can corrupt natural beauty. How mankind manipulates his setting and the various impact that manipulation has on our environment and our future. I don't think it was his intent to inspire hatred or fear as much as to show the destructive side of human nature.

However, in today's fantasy genre you will find cookie-cutter models of evil overlords. In the suspense and psychological thriller genres, I think evil's face is more malevolent than in fantasy stories and has subtler implications which, for me, inspire a bit more fear.

When Tolkien's LOTRs was published, it turned out to be an anomaly of sorts. Critics called it a fairytale that got out of hand. And in a way they might have been correct since Tolkien's publishers asked him to write a book for children. Tolkien, being a linguist, already had the Silmarillion in outline form (which is the background history of his LOTRs). The Hobbit was a story he had written solely for his children and never intended it to be published. After his trilogy ended up being a success, he wrote the final chapters for The Hobbitt and it was thereafter published.

I think Tolkien's genius lies in his ability to create a fantasty realm where we can see our own destructive nature and its impact on not only the environment but ourselves as a race.


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 03:13 PM
What Tolkien was really writing was not so much a story as a myth, which is why he fills the whole thing with archetypes rather than individual personalities. He once said himself that he set out to create for the English a body of legends to rival those of the Greek and Norse myths - and that's just what he did. It's why his work echoes so strongly for us, and why he has such enduring popularity here in England.

The Hobbits represent the ordinary people of England, and it is they who do the really hard and dangerous work - and ultimately they who save the world not only for themselves but for the kings and mages and heroes.

In LOTR Tolkien's characters are shallow, his plotting straightforward and his villains uninteresting - but every time we have any kind of book poll here in England LoTR wins the 'Best Ever Book' category by a very wide margin because the book speaks to us on levels no other work does.

I can't really explain the appeal better than that, I'm afraid <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 03:30 PM
On the subject of 'Evil', I must confess I would prefer to avoid the label entirely when I think about my own villains. It is a bit like 'Insane' - a catch-all word too often used to mean that the author has given no thought to motivation or characterisation. It is fine for the heroes to label a villain 'Evil' or for the reader to decide for themselves that that is the case, but for an author it can be a dangerous mistake.

Labelling one's own villain as 'Evil' means it becomes easy to justify his or her every action on the grounds that s/he is 'Evil' and so lose sight of who s/he is supposed to be as a character.

Without motivation, villains merely perform vile acts seemingly at random, and so become far less scary than they should be.

At heart, a villain is no less a person than a hero is, and should be just as complex. Indeed, in some of the best novels I have ever read the antagonist is not 'Evil' at all - his goals merely lead him into conflict with the protagonist because of ideological differences, or because of the differing needs of their two peoples.

Just as a hero need not be without flaw, so a villain need not be without virtue <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 08:52 PM
I thought this might be of interest :

From the Board at The Force.Net : How to write evil (Getting inside the mind of your villian)

What I find interesting , is the point of view that a villian , an evil person is sometimes someone who is not a villian from the own point of view. What I mean is, that in Star Wars the TIE Fighter pilots are not necessarily evil, but merely trying to establish and keep some sort of order.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 09:07 PM
This is a highly edited version of my Villain Guide posted on Hero Realm. I've basically taken out all of the superhero references to avoid confusion. I think the most important point is the first - 'Evil' is socially defined, and is never a label that the truly nasty apply to themselves. Hopefully this will help people get into the minds of villains, at least a little.

The Good Villain Guide

Things I try to remember when working with villains:

1) Villains Are Heroes Too

No villain thinks of himself as 'the bad guy'. He will always have a justification for what he does, no matter how illogical or unconvincing. These reasons range from cultural or ideological all the way down to 'looking after number one'.

No villain is ever going to describe himself as 'Evil' unless he is trying to scare the heroes. He doesn't mean it.

2) Attitudes To Killing Are Cultural

Not all villains are necessarily killers. A skilled jewel thief, for example, may carry a gun that fires tranquiliser darts because he doesn't want to seriously hurt anyone.

A hero from an alien world, by contrast, may have no problem with killing an enemy, simply because his culture allows it.

3) A Good Villain Is A Smart Villain

Cannon fodder can be stupid. The master villain has to be very smart - and demonstrably so. Any master villain who loses because he is a moron will have no respect from the reader, and, worse, will have everyone wondering why his minions follow him in the first place.

Try to name a single great villain who is a fool, and you will see what I mean...

4) Insanity Is Overrated

Mostly a writer will use 'insanity' as a shorthand way of saying he doesn't know what makes the villain tick. Avoid this particular shortcut at all costs.

There are a lot of 'insane' villains out there, but you can count the good ones on the fingers of one hand.

5) Good Villains Have Believable Motives

Your villain does what he does for a reason, be it power, wealth, prestige, the advancement of science or anything else. He might be driven or forced to it, he might even have the best possible motives combined with the worst possible methods.

Your villain should always keep his main objective in view. To a good villain, the heroes are most likely an obstacle, not a goal. If they can be circumvented or distracted or otherwise gotten around, your villain should attempt this method in preference to a direct confrontation, unless he is certain of victory.

Revenge for the death of a loved one is a good motive. It also moves into a grey area...

6) A Villain Is Not Always A Villain

Sometimes the person or group opposing your heroes will have a good and justifiable reason to do so. It may be a question of honour, or misunderstanding, or that they feel the heroes are responsible for the death of someone they loved.

7) Villains Must Act Plausibly

A psycopathic killer does not spare the hero's life because he is 'not worth killing'. A time-travelling conquerer does not invade when his known enemies are at their strongest. A clever villain does not mount a direct attack upon the heroes unless he is certain of winning. No villain fights a hero who always beats him unless he has no means of escape. These things are implausible, and ruin the flow of your story.

Similarly, your villains must act within the scope of their powers. This works both ways. Your villain should not suddenly pull powers out of nowhere to allow an escape or a win, but then neither should the heroes.

If you are being forced to write a hero or villain 'down' in order to make the story work, you need a new villain.
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 09:28 PM
Very good ! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />

I'll keep this in mind, if I ever decide to write a villian. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: LewsTherinKinslayer13 Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 09:56 PM
Well since I almost always seem to write villians (check out almost all stories Ive written) this will help. Thanks! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/06/04 10:19 PM
Thanks for the kind words, Alrik & Lews <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/06/04 06:10 AM
Elliot_Kane said:

Quote
In LOTR Tolkien's characters are shallow, his plotting straightforward and his villains uninteresting - but every time we have any kind of book poll here in England LoTR wins the 'Best Ever Book' category by a very wide margin because the book speaks to us on levels no other work does.


Yeah, but I must be missing something, because LOTR speaks to me on... uh, precisely no levels whatsoever. When I can't bring myself to care about the characters, as I've said before, I won't care about their stories. Period. For me, characters drive the story. Characters are, essentially, the story. Failing that, there's the plot. If neither characterization nor plot grabs me, all bets are off. I only finished LOTR for the sake of it being the foundation of modern fantasy. (Note the word "modern"; I know that LOTR is hardly the foundation of all fantasy genre or something.)
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/06/04 07:54 AM
Quote
I thought this might be of interest :

From the Board at The Force.Net : How to write evil (Getting inside the mind of your villian)

What I find interesting , is the point of view that a villian , an evil person is sometimes someone who is not a villian from the own point of view. What I mean is, that in Star Wars the TIE Fighter pilots are not necessarily evil, but merely trying to establish and keep some sort of order.


It's very rare to come across an individual who will label themselves 'evil'. Even the people our society labels 'evil' (Saddam Hussein, Adolph Hitler, Idi Amin..., etc.) thought they were doing 'good' on behalf of their own people. And that's where viewpoint and motivation becomes interesting for a writer.

I've always been fascinated by human behavior. Not from a judgmental point of view, but probably more from a clinical aspect. People who inspire fear in the average person fascinate me. I have at least 50 books on serial killers, socio- and psychopaths, pedophiles, sadists, etc. in my library and many other books that are probably considered quite macabre. They have opened the door to a glimpse of man's darker side. A side which dwells in every one of us. The triggers that set these types of personalities in motion are what interests me the most. And those triggers are the basic motivation in developing a depraved character. (I.e., abusive childhood, witness to a violent crime, psychological abuse, etc. all are the impetus that bring about some kinds of personality disorders).

So when creating a compelling villain (my fingers have yet learned to type 'villain' properly, as it always comes out 'villian'), there has to be some kind of reader identification. Otherwise, the character and message are lost. A villain's character must have some redeeming quality. Even more appropriate, the conflict which inspires what we call 'evil' must be plausible within the context of the storyline and something the reader can identify with. Creating an antagonist without redeemable qualities will undoubtly result in a 2 dimensional character.

Also, when creating your antagonist, his/her actions (no matter how outlandish) must be anchored in the believeable. Designing an evil character for evil's sake is amateurish, lazy and not well thought out.

After giving some thought to who my favorite 'villain' (I really don't like that word) is, I'd say Hannibal Lecter. I both love and dispise him at the same time which makes an interesting character, IMHO.

Another way to look at 'bad men' is ask yourself this: Is it possible to like a person but dislike their actions? If you can answer 'yes' to that question, take note of your specific likes and dislikes for they will play an important role in a well-developed antagonist.


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/06/04 08:33 AM
Quote
)4. Insanity Is Overrated

Mostly a writer will use 'insanity' as a shorthand way of saying he doesn't know what makes the villain tick. Avoid this particular shortcut at all costs.

There are a lot of 'insane' villains out there, but you can count the good ones on the fingers of one hand.


Insanity should not be 'avoided'. It should be researched. In fact, all characters need to be researched on some level. I dislike the use of blanket warnings, Elliot which is why I'm responding to your message. I understand your point but I think there is a more important message regarding 'shortcuts'. Beginners to the craft do not always do their homework and I can't stress the importance of a well-researched character (or plotline). Therefore, if your character's motivations stem from a personality disorder, that disorder should be researched and understood by the author. A poorly researched character is (IMHO) akin to fingernails screeching down a blackboard. *shivers*


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/06/04 08:53 AM
Back to evil: yes, I agree -- nobody would really think of him/herself as evil, which is why, say, R.A. Salvatore's omniscient style bothers me a lot. He keeps describing his villains as "the evil priest", "the evil mage" and so on and so forth. Glurg. (Okay, my problems with Salvatore's writing does not stop there, but this is one of them. Does he think his audience consists entirely of braindead Homo habilis or what?)

I love, love, love a well-written villain. It's something many shared worlds I enjoy lack, IMO. Star Wars? Oy vey. Vader is about as threatening as a pink rubber duckie. Palpatine's manipulations in the prequel movies make him look a bit better in my eyes, but still, not much oomph here. Malak in KotOR just makes me want to cry. (Well, no, he makes me want to throw a rotten tomato at him and seethe. Then I go off and write fanfiction in an attempt to make him more three-dimensional.)

Incidentally, if anyone's interested, I've written an essay/rant on Mary Sue, the pit-trap of characterization into which many beginners will fall.
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/06/04 10:48 AM
By the way, Hitler was possibly at least partly kind of "insane". I've recently found an article in a newspaper about a book describing the possible reason why :

Hitler fought in the WWI and came back, blind out of psychological reasons, mentally wounded.

A Psychologist (kind of), a Professor Doctor Edmund Forster used a shock therapy which was desined to make " [combat] ready soldiers" out of patients, and he used it with many people, including Adolf Hitler, the mentally wounded and psychologically blinded ex-soldier.

The article says that the method consisted of shock-elements, and of the suggestion, that the own symptoms of a single person were not important considered against the suffering of others and the "great common task" of a sum of people. A hypnosis-like suggestion should incude that the treated people should be able to heal themselves through sheer will. The article lists as "shock-elements" the following : Shouting at a person, calm talking, electro shocks, cold water.

Hitler regained his sight, thus being partially healed, but also the treatment induced in him to be "a chosen one".

So, the article says that the book says that he believed he had to "heal" the society from its suffering - as a kind of "chosen doctor" - chosen to heal the society. We know where this led to.

The article says that this book has its mistakes (sometimes poorly recherched facts), but I find the report of this "therapy" interesting. It might have done things from bad to worse. Also, it shows how the Therapist looked upon human live : Not as an indivudual being, but only as a means to support one obscure "Great Idea". Typical for that time, I believe.

For the record : "Hitler. Ein Sohn des Krieges." by Manfred Koch-Hillebrecht, Herbig Verlag (Publisher), Munich 2003, about 30 Euros. Unfortunately no ISBN Number is given.

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/06/04 02:38 PM
Quote
Quote
)4. Insanity Is Overrated

Mostly a writer will use 'insanity' as a shorthand way of saying he doesn't know what makes the villain tick. Avoid this particular shortcut at all costs.

There are a lot of 'insane' villains out there, but you can count the good ones on the fingers of one hand.


Insanity should not be 'avoided'. It should be researched. In fact, all characters need to be researched on some level. I dislike the use of blanket warnings, Elliot which is why I'm responding to your message. I understand your point but I think there is a more important message regarding 'shortcuts'. Beginners to the craft do not always do their homework and I can't stress the importance of a well-researched character (or plotline). Therefore, if your character's motivations stem from a personality disorder, that disorder should be researched and understood by the author. A poorly researched character is (IMHO) akin to fingernails screeching down a blackboard. *shivers*


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />



Faralas...

My Guide began really as a fanfic guide for writing about US comic characters, where 'Insanity' in used as a general excuse far too often and with no thought whatsoever, so I thought a blanket 'Do Not Use' was best. There are far too many poorly thought out comic villains as is <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

In general I would say that while it is less true for other writers, even a well-researched form of insanity is still in some ways a means of excusing the villain for their actions, or at the least making those actions more palatable to the reader.

After all, the reader can give a sigh of relief and tell themselves, "Great! He's insane! Normal people wouldn't do that!"

The truth is 'normal people' are guilty of some truly horrendous things, and any get out for the reader is in a sense a way of reducing the evil of the villain.

Sure, many forms of insanity can come across well and create a very chilling read - but the best villains are those who truly believe they are acting for the noblest motives, and will justify any atrocity because their goal is more important to them than the means used to get there.

They are the best because - with one tiny mental slip - they could be any of us... Our friends, our neighbours, even ourselves... Now that is scary <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I may not have explained it well, Faralas, but I did think about it <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/06/04 03:04 PM
Quote
Incidentally, if anyone's interested, I've written an essay/rant on Mary Sue, the pit-trap of characterization into which many beginners will fall.


Excellent, Winterfox! I really like that <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

A good examination of the traps of cliche and lack of environmental/historical awareness.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/06/04 03:06 PM
Alrik...

Very interesting sidenote on Hitler. Thanks for that <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> It was certainly something I was unaware of, and I suspect many other people were too.
Posted By: Jurak Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/06/04 04:08 PM
here's a sidenote too......yesterday as i was standing on the back end of my truck the step fell off, and me with it! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ouch.gif" alt="" /> .... anyway my hand is borke, or broke, and its my mouse hand too. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cry.gif" alt="" /> i like writing but lately have had zero time, and now this.....needless to say i wont be writing for now, anything....it's a good thing i'm left-handed! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />

at least we are having a heat wave here, 37 yesterday and 80degrees in the shade..... [Linked Image]
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/06/04 09:44 PM
Good Luck and "Gute Besserung !" as we say here in Germany ! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

@Elliot Kane : I didn't know that particular thing about Hitler neither.


(Which leads me to the question if I have used "neither" correctly here; it's a thing that has always confused me.)
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/06/04 10:19 PM
Alrik...

It should be 'either' not 'neither' - though plenty of native English speakers get confused over that <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/06/04 10:40 PM
So do I <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 20/06/04 05:07 AM
Quote
Good Luck and "Gute Besserung !" as we say here in Germany ! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

@Elliot Kane : I didn't know that particular thing about Hitler neither.


(Which leads me to the question if I have used "neither" correctly here; it's a thing that has always confused me.)


Hope this helps:

"I didn't know that, either."
"Neither I nor she knew that."
"He didn't know it, but then, neither did she."

Elliot: glad you found the Sue essay interesting. Years of exposure to bad fiction will make anyone bitter.
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 20/06/04 12:22 PM
Thanks. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 20/06/04 04:17 PM
Winterfox...

Quote
Elliot: glad you found the Sue essay interesting. Years of exposure to bad fiction will make anyone bitter.


Anything like that is always very useful to a writer, IMO. It's just as important that we know what not to do as it is that we know what to do.

Your 'rant' against Mary Sue characters is a very well reasoned attempt to kill the breed, which cannot be a bad thing.

I'm all for strong female characters (As anyone who has read my stories will know) but there is a huge gulf between a well thought out heroine (Or hero for that matter) and a Mary Sue.
Posted By: Boginka Re: The Writing Thread ! - 20/06/04 09:24 PM
Hmm, nice thread, one that I'll definitely keep an eye on and the "Arin i Asolde" page that Winterfox linked to in the signature is a true gem. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />
But let's get to the point - I have a question (I would like You to answer as readers, not as writers) - what's Your opinion of prose in which no non-crucial, "physical" (relating to room decoration, clothing, facial features, items etc.) descriptions are present? Sometimes it simply happens that in a story of mine such descriptions do not appear at all, which might be a bit weird. People's actions get described, their emotions are indicated but nothing gets written about clothing, room decoration, facial features etc. Sometimes the atmosphere in a certain place is hinted at in character's thoughts - that's all. Would You have difficulty accepting such a thing and why?
BTW: The "Mary Sue" rant got me thinking about all possible cultural and social backgrounds for women-fighters. That's a whole lot of work for my imagination. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/think.gif" alt="" />
Cheers.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 20/06/04 09:52 PM
Boginka...

As a reader, a lack of description only bothers me if it results in confusion or it seems like the writer is using it to suddenly throw in objects out of plot convenience.

A character in, say, a bedroom, who picks up a knife they need but which has never been mentioned before is jarring because it isn't the sort of thing one expects to find in a bedroom. This kind of thing can put the reader off, whereas picking up a knife in an undescribed kitchen would seem pretty normal.

I would say a lack of description doesn't bother me in 'talking head' scenes, but a fight scene where you intend to throw furniture around really needs a good room description before you start. Suddenly overturning unmentioned tables or pulling swords from a wall display that has seemingly only just appeared will, IMO, ruin suspension of disbelief.

Hope this helps <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Boginka Re: The Writing Thread ! - 20/06/04 10:43 PM
Well, I did say non-crutial... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
To me non-crutial means: everything that is in it's right place from the characters point of view and isn't important for he plot. If someone's hobby is collecting knives and displaying them on the wall in the bedroom it might as well not be mentioned for a good number of pages (in the part of the story narrated from that person's point of view) but eventually if I want those knives employed in some way I will make someone notice them first (e.g. a guest). On the other hand if I want them to just be there in my head but don't find it important I don't even mention it to the reader - only I know that XYZ had a particular hobby ;-) Does that seem right from a normal person's point of view? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" />
And the second question: the fact that examplatory collection of knives is actually mentioned somewhere halfwy through the story seems sometimes nautral to me while to others it doesn't - I say: He didn't pay attention to his own collection as he hd better things to do, the first person who did notice appeared just now"
They say: But it's a strange habbit, one I as a readaer don't expect and want it pointed out as early on." Who's the strange type: me, them or both? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" />
Another thing is that some people claim to be incapble of reding stuff when thay aren't given tips on how to vsualise a chatacter, room, item. If I write "The council's meeting room" and don't describe it, to some people it many be just a phrase not a place. I am simply wondering is it common for people to *need* descriptions. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/think.gif" alt="" />

EDIT: That duel scene got me thinking. There are many possibilities of solving that, one of them unfortunately showing signs of the "presto" syndrome as I call it. And yet even that one could be well thought - the problem is I let my stories live and watch as they do that making sure it just is logical and this seems logical.

1.The duel didn't start suddenly, the character had time to look around the place taking notice of all possibly useful objects
2.The duel started suddenly and the character doesn't know the room well - he/she starts glancing in every way during combat and manages to see the chair.
3. The duel started suddenly in a place which the character is familiar with. Now, I can't have him/her thinking about the room for too long, there's no time for that during combat, and since he/she knows the room well glances are also a waste of time and make no sense. Flashbacks are out of question too.
a) I make the hero "interact" with the chair before using it to whack the rival on the head but unfortunately it still looks like plot convenience (just a different kind of it)
b) I make someone enter the room and describe it before there will be any dueling. It's a tricky one. The reader might actually forget that there ever was a description of that room and the chair will come out of the blue for him/her anyway, or some attention may be drawn to that location or even object (the author doesn't make unimportant descriptions so this room has to be special) and personally I don't want that - the duel and the "whack on the head with a chair" is still intended to surprise the reader.
Point 3 also applies in a situation when the hero doesn't know the place but he doesn't have time to look around either - he's too busy avoiding or blocking blows.

Cheers
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 20/06/04 11:26 PM
Boginka...

I would say if you are writing third person, your readers have a good point - if you are writing first person they do not.

A person would have no real reason to describe their own room if they walk into it, but a third person narrator should ideally point out any details that may be of interest to the reader.

Indeed, I would say there was little point in third person if you are not going to put in much description.

Hope this helps <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 20/06/04 11:38 PM
Quote
1.The duel didn't start suddenly, the character had time to look around the place taking notice of all possibly useful objects


Best for a coherent fight scene, IMO <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Quote
2.The duel started suddenly and the character doesn't know the room well - he/she starts glancing in every way during combat and manages to see the chair.


Glance = death. Having him fall over it works better <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Quote
3. The duel started suddenly in a place which the character is familiar with. Now, I can't have him/her thinking about the room for too long, there's no time for that during combat, and since he/she knows the room well glances are also a waste of time and make no sense. Flashbacks are out of question too.


This one is a definite pain. The best case is to have another character comment on anything that will be relevant prior to the fight scene. That way it will not take the reader by surprise.

Quote
a) I make the hero "interact" with the chair before using it to whack the rival on the head but unfortunately it still looks like plot convenience (just a different kind of it)


Depends on if they talk before they fight, or if there is some way to otherwise make it look right. Two seated characters in a room are presumably on chairs. A character deliberately making sure there is furntiture between him and someone he is suspicious of also does not appear suspect. The key is valid reason <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

In writing, everything is a plot contivance. The trick is making it look as if it isn't. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Quote
b) I make someone enter the room and describe it before there will be any dueling. It's a tricky one. The reader might actually forget that there ever was a description of that room and the chair will come out of the blue for him/her anyway, or some attention may be drawn to that location or even object (the author doesn't make unimportant descriptions so this room has to be special) and personally I don't want that - the duel and the "whack on the head with a chair" is still intended to surprise the reader.


If you want no prior descriptions, make sure your fight takes place in a room that would normally contain such a chair, or slip in a random compliment, like a character asking where your protagonist buys his chairs as he needs new chairs himself.

Quote
Point 3 also applies in a situation when the hero doesn't know the place but he doesn't have time to look around either - he's too busy avoiding or blocking blows.


Frantic fight scenes are never ruined by characters falling over things <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> You get a lot of good near misses and desperate side rolling that way <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 20/06/04 11:46 PM
All the writer guides created by my writing partner & myself are here underneath the story FAQs. Just for anyone who is interested <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

******

The following is my 'Fight Guide' which I feel may be of some interest at this point <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

******

The Good Fight Guide

If there is one type of scene that a lot of writers have trouble with, it is the fight scene. Neither good descriptive powers nor great dialogue skills nor the most intimate knowledge of your character imaginable are useful when writing these, making them arguably the hardest types of scene to write.

These are the rules I use.


1) A fight scene is also a character scene.

Every character has their own approach to fighting which will inform everything they do in the scene. Some will fight reluctantly, or only at need, some will glory in battle and enjoy every moment. Some throw quips, others fight in silence. Whatever else, your character is still acting as his or her personality dictates.

This is the first rule because it is also the most important.


2) Establish the scene first.

Before you start the fight, make sure you establish the scene well. You won't have time for a lot of description once the fighting actually starts, so make sure your antagonist(s) are well described so that the reader has a good visual picture to carry into the action. Keep any back history brief, as too much will detract from the scene as a whole. A fight scene is primarily about action in the here and now.


3) Fighting is fast.

When your character is fighting for their life, s/he has no real time for reflection or a lot of dialogue. Keeping insults short (Or split up, as shown below) - and preferably in lulls in the fighting - works best without affecting the pace of the action, which is hard enough to convey in a non-visual format anyway. Huge descriptive pieces should be avoided at all costs once the action starts.

Most of all, you are trying to convey a sense of speed, that your character is under pressure and in a real battle. That all they have time and attention for is staying alive. If you do it well, your readers will be trying to read it fast too, to follow the action at a breakneck pace - so don't use very long words either.


4) Adding the speed to the action

Short sentences. Single words. Lots of commas. All useful.

Example 1: I dive, roll, leap to my feet, dodge a flailing tentacle, dive flat again as an energy beam sears overhead, singeing the ends of my hair. I roll fast, keep rolling, the smell of burnt hair in my nostrils. I'm up. Dodge. Parry. Kick him where it hurts! One down in agony - but how many more to go?

Note that the description is kept to a bare minimum - it's as all action as possible. Action, reaction, and consequence. That is the heart of a fight scene. Note also the use of words that imply speed - 'dive', 'leap', 'fast' - all give a sense of pace. This character is fighting hard for his/her life.

Example 2: I go flat, then roll in case they decide to shoot at me. I clamber to my feet, dodge a green and hideously warted tentacle that looks like it belongs to a squid that died of the pox, then go flat again as a bright red energy beam goes over my head. I only just get out of the way in time, and the end of my hair is singed. I roll in case anyone is shooting, then roll again. It never hurts to play safe, after all. I wrinkle my nose in disgust at the smell of burnt hair in my nostrils. I get to my feet again, dodge out of the way of an incoming fist, inexpertly swung by a small man in a brown outfit, then parry a knife he tries to stab me with that he is holding in his other hand. I kick him in the groin, and he collapses with a groan of pain, hands clutched around the source of his agony. One down - but how many more to go?

See how that reads? How great a sense of danger or peril do you get from it? This character has time to smell the daisies! Any reader might like the description (or not) but they won't feel thrilled by the pacing. It doesn't read like there is any speed in what the character is doing, as he 'clambers' and 'goes' and even has time to critique the fighting skills of his opponent in internal monologue.

Even if you have the world's greatest descriptive skills, this approach will never read like a fight.


5) The art of the combat quip.

Example: "You suck," I cry, punching him heavily on the nose. He grunts, shakes his head in anger, and his fist whistles forward like a piston. I dodge desperately, This guy is unstoppable! "You suck so bad," I continue, seizing his arm, using the momentum of his blow to hurl him into a wall, "That the university of suck..." He's up again? Oh great! A shower of bricks collapse around him, but he grabs one, hurls it, and I dive full length to avoid, flip to my feet on the instant. "Thinks you suck!" I finish, dodging another brick.

If you have a long insult you want to use in the middle of a fight, split it up. Intersperse it with the action. Otherwise you lose the flow. Do not forget that speaking words takes time.


6) The art of the close shave

Even if you intend your character to emerge unscathed, a few near misses never hurt. Bullets whistle past, swords slice open jackets, or debris from a nearby explosion rains over them. Anything like this adds to the sense of peril and the thought you want in your readers' minds - that the character could well get injured or even killed here! A safe fight is a boring fight.

***

That's it, really. That's fight scenes in a nut shell. They aren't amazingly hard - just different!
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/06/04 10:37 AM
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Faralas...

My Guide began really as a fanfic guide for writing about US comic characters, where 'Insanity' in used as a general excuse far too often and with no thought whatsoever, so I thought a blanket 'Do Not Use' was best. There are far too many poorly thought out comic villains as is <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


I assumed your guide stemmed from your experiences with writing fanfic and, as I stated, I understand your point. I was merely adding a different perspective.

Quote
Sure, many forms of insanity can come across well and create a very chilling read - but the best villains are those who truly believe they are acting for the noblest motives, and will justify any atrocity because their goal is more important to them than the means used to get there.

They are the best because - with one tiny mental slip - they could be any of us... Our friends, our neighbours, even ourselves... Now that is scary <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I may not have explained it well, Faralas, but I did think about it <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


I never meant to imply otherwise, Elliot. And I apologize if my message implicated you did not explain your theory.

Any subject that is not 'understood' [misunderstood] by the general public, is usually quite chilling. I think that's where the tenor of suspense comes into play. It could be mental illness, which we, as a society tend to treat as an embarrassment rather than the disease that it is or it could be cultural differences by way of religious rituals. General society does not embrace ideas they do not a) understand; b) that requires a new way of thinking [i.e., change]; or c) that are foreign to them. Insanity happens to be one of them. And because of that, it's been exploited by many authors. So, to some extent, I agree with your statement.

Quote
In general I would say that while it is less true for other writers, even a well-researched form of insanity is still in some ways a means of excusing the villain for their actions, or at the least making those actions more palatable to the reader.


I think the point I was trying to make (and did so poorly) was that the author should not 'excuse' any behavior. If the 'insanity' issue has been well-researched and employed as a literary device, the reader shouldn't jump to the conclusion that it's being used as an 'excuse'. If anything it should add depth to that villain or antagonist (and even, in some cases, the protagonist). That's all I was saying.

This thread has certainly gotten busy! LOL There are 15 or so messages I haven't even read yet. I better get busy. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />




Posted By: Boginka Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/06/04 11:57 AM
Elliot,
Seems I forgot to mention - I usually use what You'd call limited third person. I refer to all characters as he/she/it/whatever and use verbs in third person but at the same time my narrator notices directly (not in dialog) only those things the current "central character" would. It's the worst possible choice of perspective but the only one I can write well enough for a longer time and feel it's fine. Whenever I adapt first person I feel strange - the word "I" belongs only to me (author) not to them (the characters). On the other hand I almost despise standard third person - I can actually see the narrator standing in the middle of a battlefield and...well just standing making speeches. A sudden urge starts to develop in my head at that point and I feel like making one of the fighters hit the narrator with anything heavy they have within reach. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/devil.gif" alt="" />
Quote
Glance = death.

Not always - if the protagonist does not believe his/her rival to be a real danger they might actually have time for that. Especially is the enemy is drunk/blind with rage and tends to run into walls. Someone might ask: Why should anyone write a combat scene with an unskilled drunk? Well who said he/she is really drunk? He/she might be pretending...
Quote
In writing, everything is a plot contivance. The trick is making it look as if it isn't.

In my case when the stories and characters start to have a life of their own paying little attention to me shouting at them to get back in place some stuff is just plain plot inconvenience <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/06/04 01:44 PM
Faralas...

Quote
I assumed your guide stemmed from your experiences with writing fanfic and, as I stated, I understand your point. I was merely adding a different perspective.


Always good <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I'm not sure a writer can ever have too many perspectives on writing. Each one teaches us something new <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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I never meant to imply otherwise, Elliot. And I apologize if my message implicated you did not explain your theory.


I didn't fully explain it though <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

One of my most horrible habits is a tendency to over-explain, and I sometimes miss out too much when trying to avoid that.

Quote
Any subject that is not 'understood' [misunderstood] by the general public, is usually quite chilling. I think that's where the tenor of suspense comes into play. It could be mental illness, which we, as a society tend to treat as an embarrassment rather than the disease that it is or it could be cultural differences by way of religious rituals. General society does not embrace ideas they do not a) understand; b) that requires a new way of thinking [i.e., change]; or c) that are foreign to them. Insanity happens to be one of them. And because of that, it's been exploited by many authors.


All of which is very true <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I personally prefer that the reader feel some identification with the villain as well as the hero when I am writing human{ish) villains. I find that the most memorable villains have a worldview that the reader can actually agree with to an extent, or at the least understand. It makes the process of making a moral choice to support the hero unreservedly that much harder <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Alien-ness can be a very useful tool/weapon, I agree. But to me, someone who orders the deaths of thousands of people (Or more) out of some misguided sense of rightness is far creepier than someone who does it because he gets a thrill out of death.

Different perspectives, as you say <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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I think the point I was trying to make (and did so poorly) was that the author should not 'excuse' any behavior. If the 'insanity' issue has been well-researched and employed as a literary device, the reader shouldn't jump to the conclusion that it's being used as an 'excuse'. If anything it should add depth to that villain or antagonist (and even, in some cases, the protagonist). That's all I was saying.


I thought you made your point very well, actually <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> It's just an aspect of writing we don't quite agree on. But then - wouldn't it be boring if all writers everywhere used the exact same rules and standards? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/06/04 02:10 PM
Boginka...

Quote
Seems I forgot to mention - I usually use what You'd call limited third person. I refer to all characters as he/she/it/whatever and use verbs in third person but at the same time my narrator notices directly (not in dialog) only those things the current "central character" would. It's the worst possible choice of perspective but the only one I can write well enough for a longer time and feel it's fine. Whenever I adapt first person I feel strange - the word "I" belongs only to me (author) not to them (the characters). On the other hand I almost despise standard third person - I can actually see the narrator standing in the middle of a battlefield and...well just standing making speeches. A sudden urge starts to develop in my head at that point and I feel like making one of the fighters hit the narrator with anything heavy they have within reach.


From what you tell me of your preferred writing method, I do not think limited third person suits it very well. You really do need to be writing first person if you want to be mainly concentrating on your character(s) thoughts and feelings with a near total lack of description.

The main strength of limited third person is that it allows the strengths of both first person and third person to be utilised (Though to a more limited degree than the 'pure' forms, of course). The main weakness is that you have to use those strengths in order to avoid the fact that the style also compounds the inherent weaknesses of both styles.

As I've noted elsewhere, limited third person is very hard to do well, which is why I don't tend to use it <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Quote
Quote
Glance = death.

Not always - if the protagonist does not believe his/her rival to be a real danger they might actually have time for that.


Nothing gets someone killed faster than underestimating their enemy or taking their eyes off of a fight. Forget Hollywood - their fight scenes are about drama not skill. Too often their heroes win because they are the heroes, not because they are actually any good. A real enemy who is genuinely trying to kill you doesn't mess about <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

The only time you can really get away with your character taking their eye off the ball, as it were, is during a lull in fighting in a mass melee or if they have managed to get some major obstruction between them and the enemy. Failing that, have them run! They can do desperate eye searching whilst fleeing for their lives <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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Especially is the enemy is drunk/blind with rage and tends to run into walls. Someone might ask: Why should anyone write a combat scene with an unskilled drunk? Well who said he/she is really drunk? He/she might be pretending...


I'd be wondering why the hero didn't nail him PDQ <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> That's not a fight scene - it's a massacre <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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Quote
In writing, everything is a plot contivance. The trick is making it look as if it isn't.

In my case when the stories and characters start to have a life of their own paying little attention to me shouting at them to get back in place some stuff is just plain plot inconvenience <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
[/quote]

Heh. I think every writer knows that one <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> A good character always takes on a life of their own, and tries to boss the writer into letting them do what they want <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> It usually does make for a better story if we let them have their way at least a bit. The trick is not letting them get away with it too much <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 09:03 AM
A pet peeve of mine, summarized best in somebody else's word from another board:

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My thought on writing is that if no one can understand it, you've failed. If people are still trying to understand what the [heck] you were on about years after publication, you've failed. Writing is communication - you can have all the deep'n'meaningful shite you wish, but make sure there's a story there to back it up.


Point is, a lot of people try too hard to incorporate "deep" and "meaningful" themes into their stories, and think themselves clever. Confront them with a "What drug were you on when you wrote this pretentious tripe?" and they'd tell you in a roundabout way that "Your pre-Homo habilis brain cannot possibly understand the magnitude of my intellect and deep, deep philosophy!" I quite frankly think this is the case with a number of overrated, overhyped "classical" literature. And I don't care what awards they've won, be it Pulitzer, Booker or even Nobel. Some neophyte writers follow suit, and usually, the lecture/sermon/didacticism found in the writing is there to thinly cover the utter lack of actual plot or characterization. So don't look down on your readers; don't try to brush off comments and impose your delusions of granduer on dissenting opinions. Chances are that you are deluded as hell and need to wake up.

Which brings me to another point.

Never write angst for the sake of angst. Don't let your character wallow in self-pity or soul-searching for pages and pages where nothing happens. Most sane, discerning people don't want to read about conversations and inner monologue that go nowhere except to give the character to revel in his/her/its depression. That seems to be the case with various teenagers, by the way, who just love telling the whole world how miserable, depressed, or "insane" they are. (See example here.) This can spill right into their writing, and they often think it makes things "full of soul" and will drag the melodrama throughout chapter after wretched chapter. It's not cute, it's not amusing, and the only thing I want to do to these angsty characters is to deliver a slap to the head. We have the name for these self-centered twits, you know, which is "drama queens."
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 09:09 AM
Elliot_Kane said:

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From what you tell me of your preferred writing method, I do not think limited third person suits it very well. You really do need to be writing first person if you want to be mainly concentrating on your character(s) thoughts and feelings with a near total lack of description.


I disagree. A limited third-person can be pretty sparse as far as descriptions go. There's no reason Farmer Joe should be rhapsodizing about the virtues of this far-away culture, or pondering the political climate of Kingdom B. An illiterate beggar is not going to express his appreciation for a library; he's not going to describe the library in great details. A duke who loves old books, on the other hand, is going to drone on about each leather-bound book by this author or that scroll of epic poetry. Likewise, this same duke may not be noticing the finer details of shady characters in a tavern -- bulges that signify concealed weapons, regular patrons that have a tendency to start brawls, and so on and so forth, while the beggar might just pick out the pugnacious-looking people for the sake of his own survival.
Posted By: Boginka Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 11:08 AM
It *is* impossible for me to write first perspective well and I am aware of that. Form the two I'd rather start writing descriptions that use "I" too much while narrating. Though I sincerely can't see any good reasons to describe every corridor, every cloak one of the main characters wears, etc. I believe that most corridors in medieval-like castles are rather alike and anyone with some imagination should handle the fact I won't tell him how this one looks if it is nothing out of ordinary.

[quote] Nothing gets someone killed faster than underestimating their enemy or taking their eyes off of a fight[/quote]

I know that, You do as well but this character is, how shall I put it, a total layman in terms of fighting and one that has a whole lot of self-esteem on top of that which might get him killed pretty easily.

[quote] I'd be wondering why the hero didn't nail him PDQ[/quote]

Oh well, perhaps You've met people with a following attitude: "I am the master of the art so I'll give that ^&amp;%$^$ extra chances to make it more fun"? The only problem is, this hero *isn't* an expert fighter...
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 01:18 PM
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Elliot_Kane said:

Quote
From what you tell me of your preferred writing method, I do not think limited third person suits it very well. You really do need to be writing first person if you want to be mainly concentrating on your character(s) thoughts and feelings with a near total lack of description.


I disagree. A limited third-person can be pretty sparse as far as descriptions go. There's no reason Farmer Joe should be rhapsodizing about the virtues of this far-away culture, or pondering the political climate of Kingdom B. An illiterate beggar is not going to express his appreciation for a library; he's not going to describe the library in great details. A duke who loves old books, on the other hand, is going to drone on about each leather-bound book by this author or that scroll of epic poetry. Likewise, this same duke may not be noticing the finer details of shady characters in a tavern -- bulges that signify concealed weapons, regular patrons that have a tendency to start brawls, and so on and so forth, while the beggar might just pick out the pugnacious-looking people for the sake of his own survival.


One thing I would ask, Winterfox, is why you would use limited third person if you wanted to get that far into the thoughts of the characters? Wouldn't first person be better if you are trying to describe everything from the viewpoint of the character only? Isn't the best part of limited third person that it allows the author to show the reader more than the character would if they were narrating?

Just a few thoughts <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 01:18 PM
Quote
It *is* impossible for me to write first perspective well and I am aware of that. Form the two I'd rather start writing descriptions that use "I" too much while narrating. Though I sincerely can't see any good reasons to describe every corridor, every cloak one of the main characters wears, etc. I believe that most corridors in medieval-like castles are rather alike and anyone with some imagination should handle the fact I won't tell him how this one looks if it is nothing out of ordinary.


Boginka,

Nothing is "impossible". If you already believe that to be true, then your chances of making a successful attempt at writing in 1st person will make it even harder.

I have found that the reason most writers find 1st Person difficult is twofold: 1) An inability to get into the head of their character [roleplay/act]; and 2) they don't know their character well enough.

When writing 1st person, you, the author, must disappear. You have to step aside and allow that character to emerge. Having done that, I have found getting to know that character is a learning process. It doesn't happen over night nor does it happen over the 1st or 2nd chapters. It takes at least 10,000 words of writing to get inside that character's head before you, as the author, really knows their inner workings.

This does not mean you have to know every single one of your characters right down to the last hair on their head. There will be some characters that are basic scenery for the plot. Those are the ones that you don't necessarily have to get to know through and through because they are put in that particular scene for scenery, atmosphere or even as a placeholder.

And, as far as descriptions go, I've read some brilliant stories where the scenery was barely mentioned. Everything was portrayed through dialogue, with attention given to its cadence, the character's peripheral view and general ambiance. General rule of thumb: Describe only those things that drive the plot forward. Readers already know what a phone booth looks like. They can picture in their head their own Medieval dungeon alcove. There is no need to describe each and every nuance of that booth *unless* it's vital to the plot. I say 'less is best'.

Writing is not an art where one can reach a 'level' and claim supremacy. Writing is a process that spans a lifetime. You will always encounter a new point of view. You will always be searching, honing and bettering your skills. So, be patient with yourself. If 1st person does not feel comfortable to you, give it some time. Read as many books in 1st person POV that you can get your hands on. In fact, one book just came to mind that incorporates both 1st and 3d: Grisham's "The Testament". Read the 1st chapter. It's all 1st person. The rest of the story is written in 3d. I'm not saying Grisham is my ideal author. I'm saying note the various authors styles and develop one of your own. It's a time consuming process, but the payoff is huge -- not only in your writing, but for you, as a person. You will discover new sides to yourself you never knew existed.


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 01:22 PM
Excellent advice, Faralas! I think I agree with everything you wrote there <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 01:28 PM
Quote
It *is* impossible for me to write first perspective well and I am aware of that. Form the two I'd rather start writing descriptions that use "I" too much while narrating. Though I sincerely can't see any good reasons to describe every corridor, every cloak one of the main characters wears, etc. I believe that most corridors in medieval-like castles are rather alike and anyone with some imagination should handle the fact I won't tell him how this one looks if it is nothing out of ordinary.


Faralas already answered this one far better than I ever could <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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this character is, how shall I put it, a total layman in terms of fighting and one that has a whole lot of self-esteem on top of that which might get him killed pretty easily.


Very possible, yes <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Quote
Oh well, perhaps You've met people with a following attitude: "I am the master of the art so I'll give that ^&%$^$ extra chances to make it more fun"? The only problem is, this hero *isn't* an expert fighter...


Yeah, that can make a huge difference, I agree. If the assailant is basically a bully who is out to prove their own 'power' they may well drag it out a bit just to get their kicks. That could certainly work <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 01:31 PM
Let me summarize this description theme, to see if I, as a reader (both in general as in this tthread) understood your points - or, as Winterfox put it, whether you failed or not!? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> Which is of course not all factual, as I am making interpretations and am deducing things from your writings.

1. description for support of plot or characterization - mandatory requirement, but should be limited to the details on a "as and when needed" basis.
2. description for "ambiente" - a difficult decision between "I want the reader to see the world, as I see it" and "The reader is free to fill any gaps, that I leave for his imagination".

Mark, I am not judging any side in particular. I have read examples of both, and I can enjoy either. However, if the author leaves room for imagination, my mind will go astray, which implies the risk of differing views between author and reader, which could (though not always does) lead to irritations on the reader side.

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 01:40 PM
Winterfox...

Quote
Point is, a lot of people try too hard to incorporate "deep" and "meaningful" themes into their stories, and think themselves clever. Confront them with a "What drug were you on when you wrote this pretentious tripe?" and they'd tell you in a roundabout way that "Your pre-Homo habilis brain cannot possibly understand the magnitude of my intellect and deep, deep philosophy!" I quite frankly think this is the case with a number of overrated, overhyped "classical" literature. And I don't care what awards they've won, be it Pulitzer, Booker or even Nobel. Some neophyte writers follow suit, and usually, the lecture/sermon/didacticism found in the writing is there to thinly cover the utter lack of actual plot or characterization. So don't look down on your readers; don't try to brush off comments and impose your delusions of granduer on dissenting opinions. Chances are that you are deluded as hell and need to wake up.


While I would say that you are generally correct, a lot of this does depend on the target audience and the actual intent of the author. Pilgrim's Progress would seem to be the best example of what I mean here, as it is basically one long allegory rather than a story as such. Bunyon didn't write it to entertain so much as to instruct, and taken in that context it is a rather fascinating insight into the mindset of Medieval Christians.

Quote
Never write angst for the sake of angst. Don't let your character wallow in self-pity or soul-searching for pages and pages where nothing happens. Most sane, discerning people don't want to read about conversations and inner monologue that go nowhere except to give the character to revel in his/her/its depression. That seems to be the case with various teenagers, by the way, who just love telling the whole world how miserable, depressed, or "insane" they are.


I agree. I think this is also part of the wider point of always making sure that a writer's character(s) are sufficiently separate from him/herself. Too much projection of the self into a character will always wreck a story, whether by angst, over-happiness or anything else <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 01:42 PM
Quote
Let me summarize this description theme, to see if I, as a reader (both in general as in this tthread) understood your points - or, as Winterfox put it, whether you failed or not!? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> Which is of course not all factual, as I am making interpretations and am deducing things from your writings.

1. description for support of plot or characterization - mandatory requirement, but should be limited to the details on a "as and when needed" basis.
2. description for "ambiente" - a difficult decision between "I want the reader to see the world, as I see it" and "The reader is free to fill any gaps, that I leave for his imagination".

Mark, I am not judging any side in particular. I have read examples of both, and I can enjoy either. However, if the author leaves room for imagination, my mind will go astray, which implies the risk of differing views between author and reader, which could (though not always does) lead to irritations on the reader side.



I would say that was an excellent summation, yes <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 05:26 PM
OK - I dare --- this is on the fighting theme

The following is a translation from German of a fighting post I wrote in a RPG-story several authors are writing in German. The participation in this story is my first ever writing experience. I had this written some weeks ago, obviously long before I read any of this thread or any other writing guidance - certainly somewhat naive on my part, but that's how it is. I certainly was not aware of what I was letting myself into, however there is fun in it.
I picked this one as a) it's my first (fighting) scene, and b) is understandable even though taken out of context (I think)

***
Lightfooted and silently Glance is running after the knights. Suddenly, in the corner of his eye to his left, a dark shadow. Instnctively he ducks, rolls over his right shoulder, jumps around and stands, sword drawn, with his back to a rock.

On his one side the wolf, which jumped at him, turns around towards him - on the other side two others approach him, cautiously, but with their neck hair raised and their teeth glowing.

"Wolves", he thinks, "and big ones! Even bigger than those at home!" With a smooth movement he debarrasses himself of his backpack and cloak in order to be unhindered. The two to his left jump simultaneously - one he avoids with a reflex, the second's gorge is slit with a sirring sound by his sword, but in the same moment he receives a punch in the back and falls on his nose. Teeth grind in his shoulder - a loud, breaking noise, a howl and the pressure ceases. The teeth of the third wolf have been broken upon contact with his mithril chain armor. But now the first jumps upon him again, Glance rolls around and sinks his sword in the soft belly of the wolf. He frees himself from the heavilly wounded wolf lying on him and kills him with a targeted stab in the heart. The last wolf runs away howling, his tail between his legs - and with a tooth ache.

With a deep breath Glance picks up his gear, puts it on and proceeds after the knights.
***

I concede that, had I written this in English, some of the wording might have been different, maybe even simpler - while I consider my English adequate for most purposes, I feel more at home with my mother tongue when following this new experience of writing fictional rather than factual.

Any comments?
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 05:39 PM
GlanceALot...

Beyond the odd word that is doubtless a result of mistranslation, as you say, I like this. You keep it quick and simple so that your character feels like he is fighting for his life, and it flows very naturally.

I wish my own first efforts had been half as good, honestly.
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 07:09 PM
Thanks, Elliot - which word is odd to you?
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 07:41 PM
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Thanks, Elliot - which word is odd to you?


"On his one side" reads oddly, and "debarrasses" is not, so far as I know, a proper word <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 07:48 PM
"On his one side" then is a grammatical error of mine (at his one side?, or else?)

debarrasses - ups, that's French, my fault of presuming it found its way into the English language with the Normans - it simply means "to get rid of" or "removing" (you gathered that, I assume) - I shouldn't try to be sophisticated <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shame.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 08:06 PM
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"On his one side" then is a grammatical error of mine (at his one side?, or else?)


I'd go with 'on one side' or 'on his left/right' here. Probably the latter as it aids reader visualisation.

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debarrasses - ups, that's French, my fault of presuming it found its way into the English language with the Normans - it simply means "to get rid of" or "removing" (you gathered that, I assume) - I shouldn't try to be sophisticated <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shame.gif" alt="" />


Heh. 'To try and fail is better than never to try at all' as a wise man once said <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> You have a very good grasp of written English, so one minor fault is nothing to be concerned about, believe me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

And hey - you learned something new, which is always good <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 08:11 PM
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OK - I dare --- this is on the fighting theme

The following is a translation from German of a fighting post I wrote in a RPG-story several authors are writing in German. The participation in this story is my first ever writing experience. I had this written some weeks ago, obviously long before I read any of this thread or any other writing guidance - certainly somewhat naive on my part, but that's how it is. I certainly was not aware of what I was letting myself into, however there is fun in it.
I picked this one as a) it's my first (fighting) scene, and b) is understandable even though taken out of context (I think)

***
Lightfooted and silently Glance is running after the knights. Suddenly, in the corner of his eye to his left, a dark shadow. Instnctively he ducks, rolls over his right shoulder, jumps around and stands, sword drawn, with his back to a rock.

On his one side the wolf, which jumped at him, turns around towards him - on the other side two others approach him, cautiously, but with their neck hair raised and their teeth glowing.

"Wolves", he thinks, "and big ones! Even bigger than those at home!" With a smooth movement he debarrasses himself of his backpack and cloak in order to be unhindered. The two to his left jump simultaneously - one he avoids with a reflex, the second's gorge is slit with a sirring sound by his sword, but in the same moment he receives a punch in the back and falls on his nose. Teeth grind in his shoulder - a loud, breaking noise, a howl and the pressure ceases. The teeth of the third wolf have been broken upon contact with his mithril chain armor. But now the first jumps upon him again, Glance rolls around and sinks his sword in the soft belly of the wolf. He frees himself from the heavilly wounded wolf lying on him and kills him with a targeted stab in the heart. The last wolf runs away howling, his tail between his legs - and with a tooth ache.

With a deep breath Glance picks up his gear, puts it on and proceeds after the knights.
***

I concede that, had I written this in English, some of the wording might have been different, maybe even simpler - while I consider my English adequate for most purposes, I feel more at home with my mother tongue when following this new experience of writing fictional rather than factual.

Any comments?


Hi Glance! Great to have you here. Also, thanks for posting your fight scene. I will attempt to give you my comments so that you may take something away that might help you tighten up your prose. Then again, I may fail. In any event, here are some of my thoughts. Take them as you will. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" />

Before I begin, just want to make a side note. I am, admitedly, ashamed that English is the only language I'm fluent in. The ability to write in another language and do so as well as you did with your first attempt, humbles me. So, with that said, here is my line-by-line critique: [my notes are in orange]

"Lightfooted and silently Glance is running after the knights. [color:"orange"] The phrase "Glance is running after the knights, silently and lightfooted" gives the reader information at its most basic. And because it's basic information, a lot of questions linger in my mind: Is Glance 'following' the knights because they are guiding him to safety? Is Glance running after them in chase? Is Glance tracking them? Is the fact that Glance 'is running after the knights' important information required in this scene? Also, consider this: the words 'running after' means many different things especially when employed with the adjectives/adverbs 'lightfooted' and 'silently'. If he is tracking them, you might want to use another adjective to describe 'silent and lightfooted,' i.e., 'stealth' implies one is lightfooted and silent (just a consideration). [/color]

Suddenly, in the corner of his eye to his left, a dark shadow. [color:"orange"] This previous sentence is incomplete and inaccurate (if you are stating he 'saw' something out of his left eye, then do so). Otherwise, you are literally saying there 'is a dark shadow in the corner of his left eye'. Taking into consideration that English is not your native tongue, I understand what you're reaching for, but you haven't quite hit the mark. Perhaps you might consider the following: "Suddenly, he saw a dark shadow from the corner of his left eye." [/color] Instnctively he ducks, rolls over his right shoulder, jumps around and stands, sword drawn, with his back to a rock. [color:"orange"] There is too much action in this previous sentence. It might read better if it were broken down, in shorter, sticatto-like phrases/sentences. Keeping them short, gives the feeling that the action is quick/fast. Also, the phrase 'he jumps around' brings many images into my head. Is he jumping around 'like an idiot' or did he jump and 'turn' around [fast enough to see the oncoming danger]. [/color]

On his one side the wolf, which jumped at him, turns around towards him - on the other side two others approach him, cautiously, but with their neck hair raised and their teeth glowing. [color:"orange"] This paragraph is also confusing, however, I sense that you wrote it from the 'video tape' that was rolling in your mind's eye at the time. The phrase, "On his one side," needs expansion: which side? Left? Right? Front? If it's not important from which side the wolf attacks, then don't refer to it. Also, keep in mind most wolves who [stand ready to] attack have 'raised hair' but they don't have 'glowing teeth'. LOL If the teeth were truly glowing is it because the wolves are a special mutation? Are they alien wolves? Is the fact that their teeth 'glow' essential to the scene or plot? These are things that you, as the writer, need to consider. If these descriptive phrases are in here to show that wolves are fearsome creatures, then I don't think the phrase is necessary, since they are getting ready to attack Glance. Or are the phrases in there to tell the reader what Glance is visually looking at? If this is their purpose, then why did Glance only notice their teeth and hair? What about his other senses? Toss in the smells that are around him, were they [the wolves] drooling or frothing at the mouth? What sounds were they making? Low, gutteral growls, or whelping? I think you get my point. Your choice of words in an action scene is crucial to setting the tension and suspense. Also, it's more than implied that the wolf who is attacking him is the same one from the previous paragraph. If you want to introduce 2 new wolves, then do so in seperate sentences. [/color]

"Wolves", he thinks, "and big ones! Even bigger than those at home!" With a smooth movement he debarrasses himself of his backpack and cloak in order to be unhindered. [color:"orange"] By the way, 'debarrasses' means 'to relieve' [oneself]. This might not be the best word. I know what you're trying to say, but debarrass is not a word that's used in everyday language (which, the rest of this scene is written in). And since he's removing his backpack and cloak, in the middle of a wolf attack, it's pretty much implied he's doing so, 'to be unhindered'. [/color] The two to his left jump simultaneously - one he avoids with a reflex, [color:"orange"] a reflex[ive] what? Did he deflect the wolf with an arm reflex? His head? A nearby tree branch? His sword? The sword should be included in this part of the sentence, not the next.[/color] the second's gorge is slit with a sirring sound by his sword, [color:"orange"] I apologize, but I did not follow this part at all and I can't relate to a 'sirring sound' [/color] but in the same moment he receives a punch in the back and falls on his nose. [color:"orange"] Does he 'receive' a punch? Is that the word you're reaching for? Or was he simply 'punched'? Can wolves punch? [/color] Teeth grind in his shoulder - a loud, breaking noise,[color:"orange"] ('a loud breaking noise' - could that 'loud noise' be a 'crunch'?) The ability to draw your reader into the scene must be done with using proper or exact words. 'Teeth grinding in his shoulders, should probably be the 'He felt (or 'feels' since you're writing in present tense) the wolf's teeth sink into his shoulder, piercing his skin... (or something like that). Teeth don't 'grind' in a shoulder. They grind in one's mouth. [/color] a howl and the pressure ceases. [color:"orange"] who howled? the wolf or Glance? [/color] The teeth of the third wolf have been broken upon contact with his mithril chain armor. [color:"orange"] How does Glance "know" the third wolf broke its teeth? Does Glance "see" bits of teeth fly through the air" or does he "hear" them break? I know exactly what the author is trying to say, but the necessary verbs and adjectives are missing. [/color] But now [color:"orange"] Note: there was never a 'then' since this scene is written all in present tense. I'll comment on that in a minute <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> [/color] the first jumps upon him again, [color:"orange"] where was the first during this whole fracas? Introducing a previous character takes a bit more finesse. Btw, in an action scene, the words 'upon' are archaic. The word 'on' is enough. [/color] Glance rolls around [color:"orange"] I already pointed out the problem with using the word 'around' -- it's inexact unless he literally is 'rolling around and around and around' <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> [/color] and sinks [color:"orange"] how about 'plunges'? [/color] his sword in the soft belly of the wolf. [color:"orange"] Here is some nice imagery: 'in the soft belly of the wolf.' Excellent job! [/color] He frees himself from the heavilly wounded wolf lying on him and kills him with a targeted stab in the heart. [color:"orange"]Oooh! Nice tight phrase: "a targeted stab in the heart." I like that too! [/color] The last wolf runs away howling, his tail between his legs - and with a tooth ache. [color:"orange"] Okay, these last two sentences are the best of this whole scene, (in my humble opinion), but you lost me with "and with a tooth ache." And here's why: This is written in what is called 3rd person point of view (present tense), therefore, Glance can have only knowledge of himself. He cannot feel what the wolf is feeling. The author certainly knows the wolf has a tooth that hurts, but there is no way that Glance can know the feelings, sensations, thoughts of another character. That's what we call 'head jumping' (in writer's terms). [/color]

With a deep breath Glance picks up his gear, puts it on and proceeds after the knights. [color:"orange"] Glance does not pick up his gear with a deep breath - that's a physical impossibility! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> He would probably pick it up with a blood-soaked arm. You might say: "He lets out a deep breath (sigh of relief?) (or sighs heavily?), picks up his gear and continues to (follow) (track) or (give chase toward) the knights. To simply say he 'proceeds after' the knights is another blunder (in this case). It's called using the 'passive voice'. Which, is not encouraged in this type of scene.[/color]
***

Regarding writing in present tense:

It's not only hard on the reader, but harder on the writer. Action scenes written in 3rd person, present tense are not easy to pull off even for a seasoned writer. When I first began writing, I wrote everything in present tense. For some reason, it felt natural. However, I found myself writing my characters and almost every scene into corners. I simply did not understand the different points of views and tenses that writers can choose from.

I have a book that I've kept by my side for many years: "Characters and Viewpoint," Orson Scott Card - I highly recommend it for beginning writers. It's written in laymens terms by a noted and respected sci-fi author. And without having any knowledge of the skills involved in the craft of writing, Card's book made an enormous impact on the way I approach each and every scene. I don't know if there is a copy in German. Kiya would be the person you might want to ask. If you can't find it in your local library, I'm sure (if there is a German version), you can find one reasonably priced at Amazon.

Also, there are far more knowledgeable people on this board who can better explain the pitfalls of writing in present tense. Especially scenes involving combat. I admit, I'm lousy when it comes to writing in present tense and only do so for short periods of time (when necessary to the plot).


***** end of critique (Yay - finally!) <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

I hacked this up pretty good, Glance. Don't take this critique as gospel. It's merely my personal observations as a writer and reader. And because I made many comments doesn't imply you're not a good writer. You are. It's just important to know a few of the 'rules' (hate that word, btw) of writing if you want your prose to be clear for your readers AND stand apart from the other writers. If you are interested in learning more about writing, I'd be happy to give you a hand, Glance. I see promise in your work. And you picked one of the hardest scenes to write (let alone in a language foreign to your native tongue!). So, do you feel like rewriting this and resubmitting? LOL If you do, I'd be happy to read it through a PM if you're not ready to repost it here.

I hope these comments help you and do not hinder. That's not why I posted them. Thanks for this opportunity, Glance. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />



Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 08:33 PM
Faralas...

I think I am going to have to disagree with you at least a little here. Too much description can kill a fight scene stone dead, especially when written from the POV of the main protagonist. A good fight scene needs a sense of rapidity far more than it needs accurate descriptions. It is also necessary to capture the protagonist's 'voice' in these scenes, which does not always make for perfect English, regardless of the talent (Or otherwise) of the writer.

Also, GlanceALot states this is PART of a story, not the whole of it, so the lead in and lead out sentences don't have to make enormous sense, as they probably work far better in the context of the whole piece.

Lastly, if something bites down hard on mithril armour, some tooth damage is quite reasonable speculation on the part of the protagonist. None of us think in facts all the time, after all <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Ah, differences of opinion! Don't ya love 'em? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 08:51 PM
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Faralas...

I think I am going to have to disagree with you at least a little here. Too much description can kill a fight scene stone dead, especially when written from the POV of the main protagonist. A good fight scene needs a sense of rapidity far more than it needs accurate descriptions. It is also necessary to capture the protagonist's 'voice' in these scenes, which does not always make for perfect English, regardless of the talent (Or otherwise) of the writer.


I don't think I said that action scenes require a LOT of descriptive words. In fact, I was hoping to say that if you need to use them, be prudent. Choose wisely. Less is best and use short sentences.

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Also, GlanceALot states this is PART of a story, not the whole of it, so the lead in and lead out sentences don't have to make enormous sense, as they probably work far better in the context of the whole piece.


Point taken. I already was aware of that fact. But wasn't sure if the knights were absolutely necessary. I told him to disregard anything that didn't work for him - not you - him.

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Lastly, if something bites down hard on mithril armour, some tooth damage is quite reasonable speculation on the part of the protagonist. None of us think in facts all the time, after all <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


I'm not stupid, Elliot. I know that teeth can break when biting down on armor. It might pay you to re-read exactly what I wrote.

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Ah, differences of opinion! Don't ya love 'em? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />


In this case, no. You've misread what took me nearly half an afternoon to dissect. I have no problems with editing someone else's work when it is asked. I do have problems with others who chime in on another person's critique. I was simply offering my professional opinion.


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 08:57 PM
Thanks Elliot and Faralas - no need to console me, I am not easily offended, and certainly not by factual voicing of opinions on a topic where I specifically asked for advice. If I wasn't unsure of myself, I wouldn't have asked. And if I didn't enjoy this new experience of writing I wouldn't seek ways of improving.

on tense - it wasn't my choice, but a rule set in the story before I joined it - had I had my own choice, I would certainly not have picked present tense.

A lot of what you comment Faralas is choice of words in English, for which I am thankful, as it expands my vocabulary (no, that is not the whole truth - I should say "my active vocabulary", as the words as such I knew - mostly). I can assure you, that quite a number is as you advised in the German original.

This is not true for the grammatical style - there the translation is close to the original. Where there are incomplete sentences, there are so in German, and your comments are as true in German.

On the basic understanding (e.g. "following the knights"), this, of course is cited out of context, which would have explained some of your (otherwise valid) comments.

I will not take your comments apart in detail, I can differentiate for myself, which is English lessson (Thanks), which is translation loss (as I said, had I written this in English, though more difficult for me, it would have been different) and which is a valid point in the art of narrating a story. Thanks by the way for the book recommendation - I feel confident, that I can get a lot out of it from reading it in English, if no German copy can be found. (My speaking is not different from my writing, except for a German/American accent - as my English colleagues say "I am a bloody foreigner trained by f****ing colonists" - I learned English by Americans mostly and did some of my professional training in the USA <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />)

And thanks for your offer of reviewing any stuff I may write - I will smoke a pipe while pondering this question. But definitely, I will not translate anything I wrote (or will write in German). I have realised that writing, while certainly envolving work, has the charm of creativity - translation is pure work for me.
But I could be tempted to try and write in English - if somebody with a better vocabulary reviews it.
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 09:14 PM
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Thanks Elliot and Faralas - no need to console me, I am not easily offended, and certainly not by factual voicing of opinions on a topic where I specifically asked for advice. If I wasn't unsure of myself, I wouldn't have asked. And if I didn't enjoy this new experience of writing I wouldn't seek ways of improving.


I'm really glad you took the plunge and posted, Glance. It's not an easy undertaking and when I posted my very first story on a writer's board (6 years ago), I was quite apprehensive, but it turned out for the best.


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on tense - it wasn't my choice, but a rule set in the story before I joined it - had I had my own choice, I would certainly not have picked present tense.


You know, Glance - as I read this scene, I was particularly struck that you were able to stay in present tense through the whole scene. I mean, most writers new to the craft jump from tense to tense. And your ability to stay in the present was remarkable! If I didn't express this enough the first time, allow me to do it again: I marvel at other's ability to speak more than one language and also even more, to write in one. You did an excellent job.

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A lot of what you comment Faralas is choice of words in English, for which I am thankful, as it expands my vocabulary (no, that is not the whole truth - I should say "my active vocabulary", as the words as such I knew - mostly). I can assure you, that quite a number is as you advised in the German original.


Writing English and speaking it are two different things. Many English speaking people are lousy English writers! LOL I only wish I knew enough German to read it fluently. Unfortunately, I'm limited to smatterings of Dutch and Spanish.


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I will not take your comments apart in detail, I can differentiate for myself, which is English lessson (Thanks), which is translation loss (as I said, had I written this in English, though more difficult for me, it would have been different) and which is a valid point in the art of narrating a story. Thanks by the way for the book recommendation - I feel confident, that I can get a lot out of it from reading it in English, if no German copy can be found. (My speaking is not different from my writing, except for a German/American accent - as my English colleagues say "I am a bloody foreigner trained by f****ing colonists" - I learned English by Americans mostly and did some of my professional training in the USA <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />)

And thanks for your offer of reviewing any stuff I may write - I will smoke a pipe while pondering this question. But definitely, I will not translate anything I wrote (or will write in German). I have realised that writing, while certainly envolving work, has the charm of creativity - translation is pure work for me.
But I could be tempted to try and write in English - if somebody with a better vocabulary reviews it.


My only concern is that my comments will stop you from writing or posting English translations of your work. As I've stated, I give a lot of credit to people who want to translate their stories into another language. I completely understand that it must be difficult work and the creativity is lost in the process. I'm sure that's frustrating. In all fairness, were I to translate one of my stories from English to German, I dare say I'd do anything near as well as the scene you posted here.

Glad you found some of my comments helpful. That's always a plus for me. I love writing, reading and everything about both. If you ever need any help in searching for English phrases or words, do not give a moment's hesitation to contacting me. I'm only a PM away. Thanks, Glance!


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 09:20 PM
Faralas...

I apologise for any insult you may have taken from my words. I certainly know you are not stupid, as I hope you are aware. I may have misinterpreted what you meant, but in no way did I mean to insult or impugn you.

I meant only to offer a different view as a point of interest.
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 09:43 PM
Oh, Elliot! Come here, you big lug *head noogie* I'm over it. I spent hours pouring over every word of that critique. I post it, go to do one other thing, come back to my computer and note that you were able to read it and respond in less than two minutes' time. LOL That's what got my goat (another expression, I'm not quite sure what it means, exactly). Anyway, water under the bridge, buddy. Thanks for your note. I appreciate it. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />


Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 09:49 PM
S'all good Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Guess we just know each other a little better now <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

*hug*
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 09:52 PM
One pipe later...

Taking your comments into consideration, this is the revision:
***
Stealthily Glance is tracking the knights. Suddenly, out of the corner his eye he sees a dark shadow appearing from the left. Instinctively he ducks and rolls over his right shoulder. In one movement he gets up, turns around and stands, sword drawn, with his back to a rock.

On his left the wolf, which jumped at him, turns to face him - on the other side two others approach him, cautiously, growling, ready to attack.

"Wolves", he thinks, "and big ones! Even bigger than those at home!" With a smooth movement he rids himself of his backpack and cloak. The two to his right jump simultaneously - one he evades with a reflexive side-step, the second's gorge is slit by his sword. In the same moment he is hit in the back and falls on his nose. He feels teeth biting his shoulder, hitting his mithril chain armor - hears a loud, breaking noise, a painful howl - and feels the pressure on his shoulder cease. The first wolf jumps on him again. Glance quickly turns round and plunges his sword in the soft belly of the wolf. He frees himself from the heavilly wounded wolf lying on him and kills him with a targeted stab in the heart. The last wolf runs away howling, his tail between his legs.

With a deep breath Glance picks up his gear, puts it on and proceeds after the knights.
***

Do I like it better? To some extent, certainly, especially on the choice of words. Short, complete, grammatically correct staccato sentences? I tried. The above is a compromise - I, personally (!), prefer Elliot's view. Maybe because the German tends to have long sentences with the verb at the end, so that hacking them, letting the reader fill in the gaps, which grammatically is as incorrect in German, still feels better, more action relaying, suspenseful.
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 10:13 PM
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One pipe later...

Taking your comments into consideration, this is the revision:
***

Do I like it better? To some extent, certainly, especially on the choice of words. Short, complete, grammatically correct staccato sentences? I tried. The above is a compromise - I, personally (!), prefer Elliot's view. Maybe because the German tends to have long sentences with the verb at the end, so that hacking them, letting the reader fill in the gaps, which grammatically is as incorrect in German, still feels better, more action relaying, suspenseful.


Glance - you nailed it. Yes, I like it. For an "English" version, it reads much better. It's tighter and yes, the short phrases work well in this particular scene.

You done good, buddy! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I'm sure it feels and reads 'better' to you in German. And a lot has to do with style and subject matter *glances over to Elliot* But more importantly is how *you* feel about it. Anything you write should resonate within yourself. I'm not *the* expert here. I don't think anyone can claim that title. But as a beginner, I merely wanted to point out to you some of the things that I've been taught and learned over the years.

Now, you need to write it for yourself. *g* If you're not 100% happy with this version, throw in some of the stuff you'd be more comfortable with. I must say, though, this is a drastic improvement over the original one you posted. Excellent rewrite. Thanks again for sharing.


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 10:19 PM
GlanceALot...

I still like it, but I think you lost some of the urgency from the first draft. For me, a fight scene is all about taking the reader on a breathless ride - forcing them to read faster and faster in an agony of suspense as they wait to find out how (Or IF) the character survives <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

It certainly reads better and more clearly in terms of your choice of words and descriptions though - so, overall, both a plus and a minus <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Fight scenes are amongst the hardest things to get right though, so please don't be discouraged <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Hope this helps <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 10:28 PM
I totally agree with Faralas that no-one on this thread can claim to be a true expert. I love to share what I do know (Or think I know <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />) but there is no way I could or would claim any kind of expertise.

At best, I like to think I am a good amateur - but the operative word in that statement is amateur, I assure you!

One of the best things about this thread is that hopefully it will allow us all to pool what we know, and thus learn together <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> It's the main reason I like it, I know that much <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I am learning new stuff all the time <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 10:28 PM
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I, personally (!), prefer Elliot's view

No further comment <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

But I thank you both for your input and certainly appreciate the time and effort you put into it! It was all valuable in some respect.

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/06/04 10:35 PM
Any time, GlanceALot <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Glad to be of assistance <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 03:28 AM
Elliot_Kane said:

Quote
One thing I would ask, Winterfox, is why you would use limited third person if you wanted to get that far into the thoughts of the characters? Wouldn't first person be better if you are trying to describe everything from the viewpoint of the character only? Isn't the best part of limited third person that it allows the author to show the reader more than the character would if they were narrating?

Just a few thoughts <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Very simple. Limited third-person lets you mask some of the character's thoughts and motives; first-person doesn't. Another thing is that I have a fairly large range of characters whose heads the reader gets to see through. Limited third-person allows for much better distinction between characters than using "I" all the time. Some writers avoid this by typing, at the beginning of the sequence, "XYZ's point of view" -- I intensely dislike this approach, and will never, ever, use it. Yes, I'm aware that through dialogue and difference in voices, it can be shown that the speaker is the duke rather than the beggar, but that's neither here nor there.

There's also the problem I have with using "I", period. Suffice to say, limited third-person works best for me, and I'm comfortable with it. I may experiment with first-person sometimes, but that'd be reserved for vignettes, drabbles and one-shots.

For GlanceALot, if you don't mind some more critiques:

Quote
On his left the wolf, which jumped at him, turns to face him - on the other side two others approach him, cautiously, growling, ready to attack.


"...which has jumped at him," not "jumped." Tense error.

This sentence could be separated into two. Suggestion: "On his left, the wolf that has first pounced on him turns to face Glance, its golden eyes appraising him. On his right, two others cautiously approach him, growling and ready to attack."

Quote
The two to his right jump simultaneously - one he evades with a reflexive side-step, the second's gorge is slit by his sword.


I see that you use "jump" a lot. There are stronger, more exact verbs -- try leap, spring, for instance. This sentence is also grammatically, well, screwy. Maybe: "The two to his right leap simultaneously. One he evades with a reflexive sidestep; the other's throat he slits with his blade." (Active voice, IMO, would serve better here.)

Quote
In the same moment he is hit in the back and falls on his nose.


Again, active voice is usually, ah, stronger. So: "In the same moment, something hits him in the back, causing him to fall on his nose." (His nose? Maybe his face?)

Quote
He feels teeth biting his shoulder, hitting his mithril chain armor - hears a loud, breaking noise, a painful howl - and feels the pressure on his shoulder cease.


This sentence is incredibly hard to parse. It staggers, it stutters, and leaves me blinking and muttering, "What?" Suggestion: "He feels teeth (fangs?) sinking into his shoulder; they came to a sudden stop at contact with his mithril chain. Then come a sharp crack -- probably a breaking tooth -- and a pained howl. The pressure on his shoulder immediately lifts." ("Painful howl" would indicate that the howl causes Glance pain.)

Quote
The first wolf jumps on him again. Glance quickly turns round and plunges his sword in the soft belly of the wolf.


This, I think, might flow better as a single sentence. Perhaps: "The first wolf springs at him again; Glance quickly pivots and plunges his sword into the animal's soft belly."

Quote
He frees himself from the heavilly wounded wolf lying on him and kills him with a targeted stab in the heart.


Eh. Maybe: "He shakes himself free of the heavily wounded wolf atop him and kills it with a precise stab to the heart."

Of course, they are just suggestions, and it's probably mostly a matter of style and preference. Take 'em for what they're worth.
Posted By: LewsTherinKinslayer13 Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 03:43 AM
My biggest bloody problem with writing a story, is names! The book, the characters, the places, the spacecraft (SW).

How do others do so good at easily making names?
Posted By: janggut Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 04:08 AM
Lews, u can always ask me for eastern-flavoured names. now that would be unique. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" /> name-wise, that is.
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 04:09 AM
Quote
My biggest bloody problem with writing a story, is names! The book, the characters, the places, the spacecraft (SW).

How do others do so good at easily making names?


Star Wars names have no conventions whatsoever, as far as I can see. String random syllables together and, if it sounds good to you, go with it. Here are some of the ones I've made up for my fic:

Kaya Yal Saresh
Eriden Vorr
Soth Piell
Odrath Alzuun
Ashk Dau'fey

Nope, no pattern whatsoever. Except that "Kaya" has a middle name because a relative of hers, Guun Hon Saresh, does. "Ashk" is a legitimate Bothan name; ditto for the clan name and prefix "Dau'fey." A little research can go a long way.

For SW spacecraft and any other lore, I pick things up from d20 sourcebooks. If you mean the proper name for a ship... hey, that's easy. Can range from bird (Ebon Hawk, Millenium Falcon, Moldy Crow, Raven's Claw) to fish to mythical creatures (Leviathan). For large ships (frigate, cruiser, etc), maybe a noun that expresses power or immensity. Throw some Latin in. Just about anything goes. It's actually fun making names up.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 04:33 AM
Winterfox...

Quote
There's also the problem I have with using "I", period. Suffice to say, limited third-person works best for me, and I'm comfortable with it. I may experiment with first-person sometimes, but that'd be reserved for vignettes, drabbles and one-shots.


Thanks for explaining your reasons <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I just wondered if there was any writing trick I'd missed is all <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 04:38 AM
Quote
My biggest bloody problem with writing a story, is names! The book, the characters, the places, the spacecraft (SW).

How do others do so good at easily making names?


Heh. Honestly? Sometimes it takes me longer to come up with a good name than it does to come up with a good story idea! Because of that, I tend to write down cool sounding names as and when they occur to me, so I have a list I can use if I ever need them <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Failing that - pick a normal name and change a couple of letters. 'Peter Jones' can easily become 'Ketar Vones' - which is not admittedly great, but will do in a pinch <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

If all else fails, I have a dictionary of names, which is particularly useful for the archaic and obsolete sections, and which contains a lot of genuine medieval names.
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 08:41 AM
Quote
My biggest bloody problem with writing a story, is names! The book, the characters, the places, the spacecraft (SW).

How do others do so good at easily making names?


Winerfox's reply (partial):

Quote
Nope, no pattern whatsoever. Except that "Kaya" has a middle name because a relative of hers, Guun Hon Saresh, does. "Ashk" is a legitimate Bothan name; ditto for the clan name and prefix "Dau'fey." A little research can go a long way.

For SW spacecraft and any other lore, I pick things up from d20 sourcebooks. If you mean the proper name for a ship... hey, that's easy. Can range from bird (Ebon Hawk, Millenium Falcon, Moldy Crow, Raven's Claw) to fish to mythical creatures (Leviathan). For large ships (frigate, cruiser, etc), maybe a noun that expresses power or immensity. Throw some Latin in. Just about anything goes. It's actually fun making names up.


Lews, WF gave some excellent advice re: creating names. In fact, it's pretty much the way I approach naming characters, places and things in my fantasy world(s). Look into other languages and how their names are formed. In the case of Johannson, Swedish uses 'son' at the end of their family names as 'son of' Johann. Scotland uses Mc/Mac to signify 'belonging to' or 'of' a specific clan: MacDougal. Researching different cultural conventions has always been a great source when looking for names. And, as Elliot did, change a few of the letters around and voila, you've got a unique name that's all yours. *g*

I borrow words from mythology, old Latin, Roman and Greek when searching for new characters, places or things. They are all rich sources when fishing for the right name. Hope this helps.


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />


Posted By: Boginka Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 11:43 AM
Faralas,

Quote
Nothing is "impossible".


Good point here, impossible is a strong word, too strong actually. But still, "very hard" would be correct. Yet it won't kill me to try first person if I see fit so perhaps I shall try it when I have more time. But meanwhile since there's no point in making further diagnosis when the patient isn't anywhere near I'll just sit here in the corner and listen. Perhaps if I shall be in a really good mood one day I will even translate something short into English and post here... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/think.gif" alt="" />

BTW: When it comes to names - a nice place to hunt down exotic looking names in different languages: Behind the Name
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 02:15 PM
A thought on names:

Notwithstanding the aforementioned, a basic determination to be made (other than the general cultural setting of the character) is "Do I want to convey or implicit something with the name?"

A name like "Par Cival" for example, or Glance A'Lot for that matter <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />, would, in the western culture at least, insinuate a knightly warrior - and if the hero is not such a character, it would irritate the reader.
Therefor any name chosen should be checked against this question, whether it does or does not imply, trigger, or else pre-set the reader's imagination, and if yes, whether the author intends this or not.
Posted By: Plowking Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 02:38 PM
I'm not at all fond of a writer who uses the names of his characters to portray something of their character.

For example, Grima Wormtongue in Lord of the Rings. An almost farcical name for this character as it tells the reader exactly what he is. Voice of poison, sly and cunning. What kind of logical sense is there for the character to have such a name and not have all the other characters see him for what he is the very day he applies for a job!?!? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

Did he come from a long line of manipulative pale-faced creeps?!

What's his history, did he get this name by being a sly freak!?

"Hi, I'm Jim Kingslayer, here for the position of Kings counsel?"

"Great, come on in, I'm George s**t-for-brains!"


Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 04:05 PM
Plowking...

Quote
For example, Grima Wormtongue in Lord of the Rings. An almost farcical name for this character as it tells the reader exactly what he is.


I am pretty sure this is Gandalf's 'pet' name for him, designed to show Gandalf's contempt for - and opinion of - him. I certainly never read 'Wormtongue' as being part of his given name, any more than 'Evenstar' is a true part of Arwen's name.
Posted By: Plowking Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 04:15 PM
Was it just Gandalfs name for him? That would make more sense.

When naming Grima, Tolkien resorted to a special literary device -antonomasia. Therefore, Grima'snickname -Wormtongue -is a highly descriptive speaking name, and shows Grima's rotten nature.

But I don't recall it being mentioned as such in the book.

You're never even enough information about most of the characters in LoTR.
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 04:28 PM
OK - for the sake of excercise, in consideration of Winterfox's comments (THANKS also!), I have done a 2nd (and for the sake of this excercise final) version. Other than refining vocabulary, I was trying to ignore the German original, and trying to "re-create" it thinking in English. I must say that some of W's suggestions in sentence formulation did not "feel" right to me. I am not as arrogant as to suggest that they are wrong, since it is your mother tongue not mine, what I am trying to say is that, to me, it didn't feel like expressing what I want to convey (Example: "The teeth came to a sudden stop at contact with his mithril chain" - Of course this is a grammatically and factually correct sentence, but in the context, it sounds... hm..., so distant, factually observant, detached, unemotional - I don't know if I convey my feelings adequately, fact is - I do not feel comfortable with it).

Also, since English is a "short" language, much shorter than German anyway, I felt compelled to add some adjectives, when thinking English. But nonetheless I saw the possibility of tightening some phrases.

***
Suddenly, out of the corner his left eye he sees a dark shadow leaping at him. Instinctively he ducks and rolls over his right shoulder. In one smooth movement he springs up, pivots and stands, sword drawn, with his back to a rock.

On his left a wolf turns to face him, the golden eyes appraising him. On his right two others cautiously approach him, growling fiercely, ready to attack.

"Wolves", he thinks, "and big ones! Bigger than those at home!" With a smooth movement he rids himself of his backpack and cloak. The two to his right leap simultaneously. One he evades with a reflexive side-step; the gorge of the other he slits with a swift sweep of his blade. Something hits him in the back and he falls flat on his face. Fangs bite in his shoulder, hitting his mithril chain armor. [color:"yellow"]He hears a sharp crack and a pained howl; feels the pressure on his shoulder lift.[/color] The first wolf jumps on him again; Glance quickly rolls round and plunges his sword into its soft belly. He frees himself from the heavily wounded beast atop him and pierces its heart with a targeted stab. The last wolf runs away howling, his tail between his legs.

With a deep breath Glance picks up his gear, puts it on and proceeds after the knights.
***

I am not saying this is even close to what it would have been, if I had written it in English originally, but after some consideration, I like it - though I would still be tempted to replace the yellow sentence simply by:
[color:"yellow"] A sharp crack, a pained howl; the pressure on his shoulder lifts. [/color]
Not complete sentences, I concede, but, to me, conveys speed, the impressions flashing through Glance lying on the ground, not knowing what hit him.
Posted By: Plowking Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 04:39 PM
One thing that hit me with every sentence you wrote there was the way you used most of the verbs.

I wanted to change every sentence I read because it seemed so odd to me to read it as:

'Suddenly, out of the corner his left eye he sees a dark shadow leaping at him. Instinctively he ducks and rolls over his right shoulder. '

I read this, then re-read it as

'Suddenly, out of the corner his left eye he SAW a dark shadow leaping at him. Instinctively he duckED and rollED over his right shoulder'

Only my opinion of course, but I felt compelled to change the tense used as I read it, as it feels more natural to me. Maybe just me though...
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 04:52 PM
It's just you - No, not really. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

If you read somewhat back, you'll see, that the use of present tense was forced upon me by circumstances - and I did not go as far as changing that, when putting up this examlple.

But the choice of tense was discussed earlier in this thread, and with dissenting opinions!
Posted By: LewsTherinKinslayer13 Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/06/04 06:13 PM
Ahh thanks. SO , check off Foreign languages, monstrosity's, and bird's. Check.


Dang, I just had a great idea, but lost it! DANG IT! 'll try to think of it again. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/sad.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 25/06/04 02:25 AM
GlanceALot said:

Quote
I must say that some of W's suggestions in sentence formulation did not "feel" right to me. I am not as arrogant as to suggest that they are wrong, since it is your mother tongue not mine, what I am trying to say is that, to me, it didn't feel like expressing what I want to convey (Example: "The teeth came to a sudden stop at contact with his mithril chain" - Of course this is a grammatically and factually correct sentence, but in the context, it sounds... hm..., so distant, factually observant, detached, unemotional - I don't know if I convey my feelings adequately, fact is - I do not feel comfortable with it).


No problem; a good writer shouldn't take every suggestion to heart and attempt to cater to every single whim of a reader/critic, anyway. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> (English isn't my mother tongue, though, but okay.) I have been writing a very analytical character who sorts through things with almost robot-like logic, so that might have been spilling over. Eheh. Anyway, I like the final version much better; it's more concise and powerful.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 28/06/04 06:58 PM
In an attempt to kickstart discussion again, this is my 'getting to know your character' guide. It is not intended to help with character creation, only with getting to know your character as a person before you get around to writing him/her.

As usual, the original is up on HR, and I have made minor edits to this version (VERY minor - removing only one small introductory paragraph).

Hopefully someone will find it useful <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Understanding Your Character

There are a great many things that make us who we are as people, adding both depth and subtlety to our personalities. Ideally, a good character - hero or villain - is as strong a person as we ourselves, or as near as we can make them.

The following is a list of what I would consider to be the main areas to think about when getting to know your character. Not all of them will be applicable or even desirable for every character you write (References to an 'Opposite Sex' have no meaning for a robot character, for example) but running through as many of these as you think you need will help your character come alive within your mind - and, subsequently, within your story.

This list is arranged in no particular order beyond the first and (IMO) most important question.

What are your character's Motivations

This, to me, is the most vital question of all. A character whose motivations are poorly defined will always damage your story, whether it is the hero or the villain. Sometimes a character's motivations will be obvious, such as protecting those they love or fighting for country, religion or ideology, and sometimes they will be more obscure. Sometimes a hero may just be caught up in the swirl of events and must act in order to stay alive - in which survival is his motivation. Please note that 'motive' is not always the same thing as 'motivation'. A villain might give his motive as wishing to conquer the world, but his motivation would be why he wants to conquer the world - what makes him want it in the first place.


What are the character's main Virtues? What is their attitude to those virtues?

Are they particularly charitable, forgiving, merciful, peace loving, etc? Do they take pride in their virtues, or consider them a matter of course? Do they even consider them to be virtues at all? What is their attitude to those who do not share those virtues? Many people can be judgemental about those who do not share their own values, and this is a point to keep in mind.


What are the character's main Vices? What is their attitude to those vices?

The opposite of the above, but also includes physical vices such as smoking, drug taking and drinking to excess - although it is also worth noting here that all definitions of vice or virtue are culturally based, so that while abstinence from drinking (For example) may well be considered a virtue in some cultures, the ability to imbibe vast quantities of alcohol could be seen as a virtue elsewhere. Creating your own worlds allows you to define what is virtue or vice; using our world or some near approximation means you must follow the predominant cultural attitude for the part of the world and historical era your story is set in.


How Intelligent is the character?

As a general rule, the smarter a character is, the more they will think for themselves and the more swiftly they will adjust to new concepts and ideas. The higher the level of intelligence you give your character, the more work you will have to do in defining their goals, motivations and ideologies. At the highest levels, an intelligent character will create their own unique ideology that works best for them as a person. Ultra-intelligent people do not blindly follow others without question - their minds simply do not work that way. Note that thinking too much can be a double edged sword, resulting in mental or emotional harm to the thinker where someone 'less' intelligent would not suffer at all simply because they could not grasp the full consequences of their thoughts.

A character with very low intelligence will try to avoid thinking wherever possible, and not concern themselves at all with matters of ideology. They will be very slow to understand new concepts and ideas, no matter how simple, and completely unable to grasp anything too complex. Note that low intelligence does not make a character suicidal, and is no indication of combat reflexes. A character with very low intelligence may also be far more optimistic in a truly disastrous situation, as they cannot envision all the bad things that might go wrong. As a result, they may well end up saving the day where a more intelligent character would fear to act.

Fortunately, the vast majority of characters exist at neither extreme, but tend to vary between not very bright and pretty clever, all of which can easily be handled because they represent the flexibility of the human 'average' - insofar as such a thing exists. Most characters in this category will accept the ideology of the group/society they were raised in without much questioning, or change to an ideology they are more comfortable with (More likely at the upper ends of this scale than the lower).

In all cases, intelligence levels will inform the character's personality by limiting the amount of available options they might see in any given situation, but will not completely define it. Intelligence is only one of many important human traits.


What is the character's level of Education?

Education is not linked to intelligence. It simply represents the amount of actual learning/knowledge a character has obtained, either as a result of their own efforts or through conventional schooling. It does represent book learning rather than experience of life, which is a whole other area of characterisation.

As a general rule, someone with a good education will have a broader vocabulary and a lot of knowledge in one or more areas. This knowledge may or may not be useful in the story, but fortunately for the author knowledge is far easier to fake than intelligence, simply by allowing the character to do things and understand concepts related to their field of study.


How Sensitive is the character?

A highly sensitive character will be very aware of the harm they might do others through a few careless words, and very vulnerable themselves to such harm. They will often be very good at discerning when something is wrong with someone else, and their emotional intelligence will tend to be very high. Please note that a character who is very sensitive does not make a very good hero as such characters are also very prone to stress.


Does the character have any Special Skills?

This covers a very broad area, and really means anything that the character is extraordinarily good at in terms of their environment/story setting. It may include scientific genius, superlative fighting ability or just about anything else that the author can imagine. Leadership skill is always a special skill, as true leaders are very rare.


How does the character get on with Other People?

What is their attitude to the opposite sex? Their own sex? Do they like the company of others, or are they loners? How do other people react to them in private or in a crowd? Do they like people, and does it show?

This is a pretty important question to answer, as it will set the tone for all of your character's dealings with those they encounter.


Does the character have a Code Of Honour? If so, what does it entail?

This covers everything from a simple refusal to kill surrendered foes all the way up to the elaborate codes of the Knight or the Samurai. A good code of honour adds character to hero and villain alike, while a total lack of honour often makes for a totally despicable villain. Note that an honourable hero or villain is far more trustworthy than one who has no honour, simply because some kind of code means they are on some level judging their own behaviour against an expected standard.

Every character in a sense defines their own code, and it is their belief in that code and ability to stick to it that makes it such. The opinions of other characters are irrelevant. A villain who otherwise commits the most heinous crimes may allow no harm to children, for example, or may be inclined to spare the lives of those who have done him past favours - or whose parents or other relatives have.

Note that claiming to have a code is not in and of iself enough. To be truly honourable, the character must stick to it.


What do you have in common with your character? What are the points of difference?

Arguably the greatest mistake an author can make is to identify either too closely or not closely enough with their character, particularly when using the First Person perspective. This one is a real balancing act, as the character has to hold enough in common with the author that the author can like the character without completely identifying with them on every level. This is particularly a trap with characters you create yourself, and one to be avoided at all costs.

Always make sure every character has a few attitudes and personality traits you yourself do not - this keeps you and your character separate, and prevents too full an identification.

Note that characteristics the author finds admirable will do perfectly well to create a bond of affection even if the author does not possess those traits him/herself, but merely wishes s/he did.

No character should ever be used as a mouthpiece for the writer when that character's own personality is wholly unsuited for it, as this is simply bad writing.


Relationship With Family

Does your character still have living relatives? How well do they get on with them? What is/was their relationship with their parents and siblings? A reasonable understanding of family can give a real insight into a character's motivations simply because family affect our attitudes to ourselves and others in so many ways.


What are your character's Likes, Dislikes, Fears & Desires?

This is about the little things that add character. You will be surprised how much more alive a character will seem if you give them, say, a fear of spiders or a love of pizza. Such minor traits add a sense of realness to your character far more than any of the big things, strange as it sounds.


How do they view their powers/abilities?

Every hero or villain has a handy set of skills or abilities that lifts them far above the level of normal people in whatever it is they are doing. Sometimes they start as novices and have to learn those skills and sometimes they begin your story with them, but sooner or later your character will be experienced and capable, and you will have to confront this question.

Is your character happy with their skills? Do they believe they are gifted or burdened by them? Do they thank (Or blame) their deity for them? Do they use their abilities with automatic reflex and great control, or do they have to think about them? What is their relationship with their abilities?


Does your character have any Race or Class Prejudices?

Hating, despising or looking down upon the rich, the poor or the middle classes simply because they exist is class prejudice. Hating, despising or looking down upon any race or ethnicity as inferior or worthy only of extermination is racial prejudice. Whether it is reasoning or unreasoning, the degree of acceptability for such traits very much depends on your story setting and the reasons for it.

Obviously a British character who hates, say, Polish people is not likely to make for a very noble hero in a story set in modern times on our own world, but in a fantasy setting Humans hating Goblins or Elves hating Dwarves is often considered acceptable and almost never viewed as the racism it so obviously is.

If your story features two (Or more) countries that are bitterly at war, a degree of racism between those countries is almost inevitable, so becomes far more acceptable in your story.

When dealing with either of these cases, an author must be very careful, as nothing is more likely to alienate your readership than getting this one wrong.


End Note

Long list, huh? There are plenty more questions you could doubtless put to your characters as no list will ever be complete, but I think this covers all the main bases. After this, you really should know your character well enough to start them off on those first troublesome steps to adventure.
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 01/07/04 02:32 PM
Pondering after some digestion of the multitude of information.

So you have a storyline, and find yourself a setting and a character,
or you have a character, and find him a story line and a setting;
or you have a setting (by which I mean a "world", so to speak), which you fill with a story and a character;

or are these irrelevant questions, because you need all three to even start writing - notwithstanding the possibility that the end result will still differ from the original intention in the course of the process

<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/question.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/question.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/question.gif" alt="" />

Why do I have this heap of unsorted scribbled notes, with flashes of ideas, maps, descriptions, history, links,... lying around on my desk? Am I normal?
(probably a rethoric question <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />)
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 01/07/04 04:26 PM
Quote
Pondering after some digestion of the multitude of information.

So you have a storyline, and find yourself a setting and a character,
or you have a character, and find him a story line and a setting;
or you have a setting (by which I mean a "world", so to speak), which you fill with a story and a character;

or are these irrelevant questions, because you need all three to even start writing - notwithstanding the possibility that the end result will still differ from the original intention in the course of the process

<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/question.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/question.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/question.gif" alt="" />



If this is rhetorical, disregard the following. You need all three. If you already have a storyline, then your major problems would probably be plot twists, deciding whose story gets told, which characters are important to the plot and which ones aren't. From there, you can pretty much go about writing the story. On the otherhand, if you only have a character who is fairly well fleshed out, but no story to put him/her in, then your possibilities are endless. Hence, comes the hard part of writing. (Well, it's all difficult, just some parts are moreso than others).



Quote
Why do I have this heap of unsorted scribbled notes, with flashes of ideas, maps, descriptions, history, links,... lying around on my desk? Am I normal?
(probably a rethoric question <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />)


First off, what is "normal"? I never could figure that out. And I don't think I want to - postively boring, if you ask me. And you and I must have the same desk, Glance as mine gets littered with notes all the time. Most of it ends up being drivel, but there are a few gems amongst the garbage. *g*

What part of writing has you stumped at the moment?



Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 01/07/04 04:31 PM
I'll just agree with Faralas here, I think <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

The order in which you find/create story, character(s) and setting is not important - but you definitely need all three before you start <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 01/07/04 08:50 PM
Thanks guys - no the question was not rethorical, more an opinion or deduction, that you confirmed

The heap of paper was rethorical - I am quite sure that it is "normal", just a way of indicating, what is happening to me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

I have no idea what kind of story I would start trying - but, I admit, the virus caught me - to my own surprise

And I had no idea about the abundance of material and advice available, nor of the multitude of fanfic or other - how do I say that? I don't want to say "unprofessional" or "amateur", maybe I can say "uncommercial"? Without hurting anybody's feelings unintentionally and undeservedly? - literature.
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/04 12:17 AM
Quote
Thanks guys - no the question was not rethorical, more an opinion or deduction, that you confirmed

The heap of paper was rethorical - I am quite sure that it is "normal", just a way of indicating, what is happening to me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

I have no idea what kind of story I would start trying - but, I admit, the virus caught me - to my own surprise

And I had no idea about the abundance of material and advice available, nor of the multitude of fanfic or other - how do I say that? I don't want to say "unprofessional" or "amateur", maybe I can say "uncommercial"? Without hurting anybody's feelings unintentionally and undeservedly? - literature.


LOL - you said it fine, Glance. 'Uncommercial' - 'non-commercial' - both have a good ring.

Yes, there is a ton of writing info on the web and in bookstores. Everyone who has an opinion on the art of writing seems to have written and published a book. Wading through all of it can be a mind-numbing experience. Best advice I can give anyone who catches the 'writing virus' is to get a copy of Strunk and White's "Elements of Style" and read it from cover to cover. Anything that you learn after that is icing on the cake. Oh, and one more recommendation. If you decide to take the plunge and publish your work, make sure you get a copy of the publisher's guidelines. It's a waste of time if you pour all your hard work into a short story, article or novel and don't know the first thing about formatting your manuscript. If it's not done properly - no matter how stellar your work is, it won't make it in front of any editor. I try to keep an up-to-date copy of Writer's Digest "Writer's Market" on hand. I buy a copy every two years. If the publisher isn't listed in there, they usually have a website where you can query for their guidelines.

If you have any questions about good writing sites, I have a ton bookmarked. I can pm them to you.


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/04 03:19 AM
I was going to go on another rant, but then someone else did it, and probably much more coherently than I can. Here, on the subject of style. Some choice quotes:

Quote
Reading fanfiction, I see a lot of authors say “It’s my style.” They say this when you point out things varying from punctuation errors to confusing dialogue or simple incoherent writing. They cry, “You can’t criticize me, that’s my style!” I would like to point out that, no, it isn’t your style. It’s your ignorance.


Quote
In order to even begin testing out your style, you must first be able to write. You must know how to form letters and words across a page or type with two hands and not henpeck at the keyboard. You must know how to spell. You must know the difference between a noun and a verb and their functions within a sentence. You must know how to use proper punctuation and the real function of a comma. That is not to say that you must know all of it before you can pick up a pencil, you just need a solid knowledge base to work with. People generally don’t walk around in dark caves without a map and a flashlight, nor should they attempt to write the next great novel without a basic understanding of how language works.


My loathing for the pretentious imbeciles who insist that their error-riddled, English-raping, godawful prose stands for their "style" knows no bounds. Speaking of English-raping, here is a list of some common misspellings:

Loose/lose: no, they don't mean the same thing and they are not interchangeable. If I see "looser" used in lieu of "loser" one more time, Melkor take you, I'll go on a homicidal rampage.

Its/it's: "its" is a possessive pronoun that signifies ownership. "It's" is a contraction of "it has" or "it is."

They're/their/there: "they're" is a contraction of "they are." "Their" is a possessive pronoun. "There" is something else altogether.

You're/your: may Apollo's Muses -- all nine of them -- smite you if you make this mistake.

Defiantly/definitely: does this even need an explanation? The meanings are so different it's not even funny.

Sence: even if you are trying to imitate British spelling, this isn't correct. Sense. Sense! How hard is that?

Dont/couldnt/wouldnt/cant: what, is your country suffering from a shortage of apostrophes? Additionally, "cant" and "can't" mean very different things.

EDIT: link fixed.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/04 04:05 AM
Winterfox...

You left out my utter favourite - Rogue/Rouge. The number of people who describe their thief characters as a kind of face paint is utterly amazing <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

(And your link doesn't seem to be working, BTW...)
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/04 04:11 AM
Faralas...

Any chance of your posting some of those links on this thread, please? Thanks <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: LewsTherinKinslayer13 Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/04 04:21 AM
Quote
Winterfox...

You left out my utter favourite - Rogue/Rouge. The number of people who describe their thief characters as a kind of face paint is utterly amazing <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

(And your link doesn't seem to be working, BTW...)


I write thief's someimt! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/sad.gif" alt="" /> They're not rouges at all, but their thief's.
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/04 04:44 AM
Quote
Winterfox...

You left out my utter favourite - Rogue/Rouge. The number of people who describe their thief characters as a kind of face paint is utterly amazing <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

(And your link doesn't seem to be working, BTW...)


Yes. And this is why one should be careful with spelling; you don't want to send your reader off in a fit of laughter, because the reader's laughing at you, you poor thrice-bedamned soul, not with you. More:

Through/threw: ahahaha. Bwahahaha.

Tree's/trees (and dog's/dogs, cat's/cats, etc): the misuse of apostrophe and 's.' No, it does not designate a plural noun; it designates ownership and turns the noun into a possessive.

Women/woman: I'm astounded by the frequency at which this pops up. Women, plural. Woman, singular. Please take a chisel to your skull and carve it there.

Choose/chose: choose, present tense, base form. Chose, past tense. It's that simple.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/04 07:03 AM
Quote
Quote
Winterfox...

You left out my utter favourite - Rogue/Rouge. The number of people who describe their thief characters as a kind of face paint is utterly amazing <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

(And your link doesn't seem to be working, BTW...)


I write thief's someimt! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/sad.gif" alt="" /> They're not rouges at all, but their thief's.


LOL Lews <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Kris Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/04 04:21 PM
Quote

Loose/lose: no, they don't mean the same thing and they are not interchangeable.


That one cropped up several times in Beyond Divinity! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

Interesting posts from all. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Carrie Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/04 04:28 PM
This may have been brought up - but it is my biggest pet peeve!

ALOT is two words - not one - it is spelt A LOT <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/04 09:51 PM
So I see, that the English speaking world experiences a similar decline in correct orthography as the German speaking (in which appears the additional factor of a rising use of anglicisms, sometimes totally loose (!) from their original sense (!) - OK, meaning) <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

But, while I have sympathy with your wish for a grammatically correct style, and understanding for your rants to the extent that "own style" is not an excuse for false grammar and spelling, especially not to the extent basic spell checking programs would catch them, I also concede, that there may be people, that feel the urge to put ideas "on paper" in English, simply because they want to share them with a wider or international "audience", thus using a more universal language, which is not their own. (<- this is an eaxample of a German originated, long, long sentence <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> - I apologise! - or is it apologize?)
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/04 11:49 PM
Glance, I'm member of a private writer forum, and I had a lot of help from the Americans there. Not one jeered at my English - as I like to pick up phrases, I sometimes misused them - and they helped me. I wrote down my ideas - and they filled it with flesh, polished it: In a very caring way.

I'm sure, more of these tolerant people exist - even amongst writers. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Kiya

One of them has already published 3 books and has 5 on the pan (author and his daughter)
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 01:36 AM
Quote

...But, while I have sympathy with your wish for a grammatically correct style, and understanding for your rants to the extent that "own style" is not an excuse for false grammar and spelling, especially not to the extent basic spell checking programs would catch them, I also concede, that there may be people, that feel the urge to put ideas "on paper" in English, simply because they want to share them with a wider or international "audience", thus using a more universal language, which is not their own....


Yes, you're right. Most of the stories I've seen on writing forums are experimental however, there is such a thing as experimenting with style and experimenting with style while being ignorant of grammar rules. It's the last that is extremely frustrating to wade through (and what I often encounter).

The point being that writing sites (if this is what we are, indeed, talking about and not just 'blogs' or personal sites) are a place where one is [usually] expected to improve their skills. If you post an experimental piece, that should be stated somewhere in the message. Most of the 'bad' writing I've seen comes from people who have never realized that writing actually requires skill. Winterfox's analogy of the spelunker who explores caves without the basic equipment is a perfect example of the person new to writing. I've seen many examples of people who decide to put pen to paper without the proper tools. The result is 99% disasterous. And, the necessary tools are: a working knowledge of the rules of grammar and having a basic sense of style. The way we write and speak today is not a good style in which to write a story that takes place in 17th century England. And frankly, I've seen a lot of people who attempt writing such an historical piece without ever reading anything from that particular time period. [Edit: btw, the word 'style' does not necessarily mean or pertain to historical writing, or 'how' we write. 'Style' also means grammatically correct. I wanted to clear that up before any ensuing confusion.]

I've stated numerous times on this board that writing does not exist in a vacuum. One cannot break rules if they do not know what they are in the first place. And that is exactly what 'taking literary license' means. So, from a critiquing point of view, it is most frustrating to spend time giving advice to a new writer who hasn't bothered doing their homework. Equally frustrating are those who receive feedback, employ the advice 'verbatim' and repost it within a half hour's time. That tells me they have not considered how that advice might affect their story, their style and their voice.

For the casual reader this may sound 'snobby'. It might be. However, if you are serious about the craft of writing, it's important to learn how a story is designed. What are the elements that make Mark Twain or Edgar Allen Poe's work better than the average 'joe schmoe'? If writing were easy, everyone would excel at it.

So, while I agree with you that experimental pieces often times fill an urge to get something on paper, most people who claim their work is 'experimental' have not taken the time to learn the rules of grammar.

@@to Elliot, et al. You guys aren't going to believe this but I recently went through my 'favorites' list and somehow deleted my writing links. Aarg! I spent the better part of this afternoon trying to a) find it on my computer - perhaps as a back-up file and b) reconstruct it. I do have a list of sites that I sent to another forum member, which I have saved in my homepage here at the forum. I will post that sometime tomorrow. I just didn't want you all to think I was weaseling out on you. LOL


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 01:39 AM
Writing is always far more about the story than the spelling; Kiya is right <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Edit: As long as your story is still readable/comprehensible!

It can be a real problem if the sense is lost though - as in 'Rogue/Rouge and 'A Lot/Allot' etc - where the actual meaning expressed is quite different to the intent. Most of us tend to be far more indulgent of writers who are writing in a second or third language too, for obvious reasons.

Someone whose first (And often only) language is English should certainly not be making such elementary mistakes.

Further, some characters who are narrating their own adventures will think as they speak, which means using odd words or "droppin' the reggallar spellin'" just to make the point that this is the way the character themselves thinks.

"This is MY style" is not a good reason for poor English in a native writer - "This is the CHARACTER's style" is always a good reason, especially if you are writing in first person perspective.

As for 'Organise/Organize', 'Colour/Color', 'Defence/Defense' and other words that seem to have multiple correct forms - blame the Americans! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" /> Seriously, English and American English have several notable spelling differences, and as most of us will see both forms of spelling it can get very confusing as to which should be used. As a general rule, the more phonetically correct version will be the American spelling - but for the Web, either will really do <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Hope this helps clear up any confusion <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 01:48 AM
Wow! Excellent post Faralas!

Quote
However, if you are serious about the craft of writing, it's important to learn how a story is designed. What are the elements that make Mark Twain or Edgar Allen Poe's work better than the average 'joe schmoe'? If writing were easy, everyone would excel at it.


In a superb post, I still want to highlight this as a point that is very important for all of us to remember. I know how right Faralas is here, because I used to do the 'bull at a fence' approach myself - and it ain't pretty...

Quote
@@to Elliot, et al. You guys aren't going to believe this but I recently went through my 'favorites' list and somehow deleted my writing links. Aarg! I spent the better part of this afternoon trying to a) find it on my computer - perhaps as a back-up file and b) reconstruct it. I do have a list of sites that I sent to another forum member, which I have saved in my homepage here at the forum. I will post that sometime tomorrow. I just didn't want you all to think I was weaseling out on you. LOL


S'always the way <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I've lost count of the number of times I have trimmed my bookmarks down only to find I need stuff a week later! Don't worry about it <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 03:17 AM
Quote
But, while I have sympathy with your wish for a grammatically correct style, and understanding for your rants to the extent that "own style" is not an excuse for false grammar and spelling, especially not to the extent basic spell checking programs would catch them, I also concede, that there may be people, that feel the urge to put ideas "on paper" in English, simply because they want to share them with a wider or international "audience", thus using a more universal language, which is not their own. (<- this is an eaxample of a German originated, long, long sentence <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> - I apologise! - or is it apologize?)


If you really want to know, the above sentence is a run-on. Just saying.

I'll point out that a wider audience comes with a price: if you make mistakes, you will be called out for it, whatever language you choose to write in. If you aren't proficient with the language, then for the love of Eru, get a proofreader/beta-reader. Another entry on a community I frequent illustrates this very well, and seems appropriate, all things considered:

Quote
I'm German myself and I've been writing Fan Fiction in English for a while now. I know a whole lot of other Germans who do, too, and everyone of them has their grammar and spelling checked before anything gets posted. I'm guessing this is an age thing. I suppose you are more likely to not have a beta reader if you are a 16-year-old fan girl...
Personally, I don't have any patience with people who start their stories with "English is not my native language so please bear with me." because imo it's just a bad excuse for not getting yourself a beta-reader.

But it's the exact same thing with people whose first language is not German and who try to put some German into their stories. I can't count how often I've read stories whose authors obviously used Babelfish to translate from English into German.

{snip}

The thing is, there's enough Germans in any fandoms. How much does it take to just ask if there's someone who can help with language and/or landscape? Everyone expects that from people whose first language is not English. But if you talk to an author whose first language is not German but tried to write in German anyway and got it totally wrong, the usual answer you get is: "Oh, I don't care...whatever."

So what I mean is: Since everybody expects "us" to ask for a beta-reader, "we" expect the same from everybody else, too.

Because whenever a discussion like that turns up in German fandom, one of the first things you hear is how utterly disrespectful to other people's culture and language the "I don't care." answer is.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 03:30 AM
Hmmm... Winterfox is right too...

I'm going to run back to 'Writer's Intent' here, I think <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Anyone who wishes to be a serious writer should be judged on that level; anyone who is just having a bit of fun should be judged a whole lot less harshly.

That sounds good to me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 03:52 AM
Faralas said:

Quote
The way we write and speak today is not a good style in which to write a story that takes place in 17th century England. And frankly, I've seen a lot of people who attempt writing such an historical piece without ever reading anything from that particular time period. [Edit: btw, the word 'style' does not necessarily mean or pertain to historical writing, or 'how' we write. 'Style' also means grammatically correct. I wanted to clear that up before any ensuing confusion.]


Wordy McWord. If I see "okay" or "cool" or "alright" in a piece with a medieval setting one more time...

Quote
I've stated numerous times on this board that writing does not exist in a vacuum. One cannot break rules if they do not know what they are in the first place. And that is exactly what 'taking literary license' means. So, from a critiquing point of view, it is most frustrating to spend time giving advice to a new writer who hasn't bothered doing their homework. Equally frustrating are those who receive feedback, employ the advice 'verbatim' and repost it within a half hour's time. That tells me they have not considered how that advice might affect their story, their style and their voice.


I've run into a few authors who mean well, and try to follow a beta's or a reivewer's advice to the letter, but the result is often... misguided. There was a girl writing Harry Potter fanfiction who wrote up a profile of her character. People chimed in and commented that the character was horribly, horribly Mary Sueish. The girl tried to give her character flaws, but for every flaw she put in and for every Sueish quality she removed, she put in three more Sueish traits. Ah, what the heck, if you're morbidly curious, see the fiasco for yourself, complete with author-whining and freak-out. It's almost a textbook example of what not to do.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 04:25 AM
Every writer needs a strong vision for who their character is to be. Even a character who has many 'Mary Sue' traits can be written well and interestingly by the right writer.

The important thing to remember, IMO, is that everyone who reads your story will have a different opinion of it, simply because we all look for different things in a story.

My usual guideline is whether or not I would want to read the story I am thinking of writing. Chances are, if you like your story, someone else will too <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

But the trick with that one is to be honest with yourself. It's hard to look at your own work with a critical eye, but it's something we all, as writers, must learn to do.

If you hate your own finished story, either keep it around as a reminder of what NOT to do, or delete it straight. But don't post it. Ever.
Posted By: Carrie Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 05:31 AM
Just so you kow...i am not critising anyone...especially people who English is not their first language.
However, there are very many commonly mis-spelled words, and maybe information in this thread can help some people. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Now you know the diffrence between their, there and they're, a lot is two words etc. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I have heard that English is the hardest language to learn, and maybe as i speak it, i take that for granted.

But, maybe everyone's English teacher was not as good as my own. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 06:18 AM
Carrie said:

Quote
I have heard that English is the hardest language to learn, and maybe as i speak it, i take that for granted.

But, maybe everyone's English teacher was not as good as my own. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />


I think it's an easy language to learn, but hard to master. Certainly a damn mite easier than, say, Japanese. *shudders*

Elliot_Kane said:

Quote
Every writer needs a strong vision for who their character is to be. Even a character who has many 'Mary Sue' traits can be written well and interestingly by the right writer.


Depends mostly on the reader than writer; there's an audience for everything. However, I acknowledge that a few Sueish traits do not make the character a Sue. But that's another whole can of worms. One very important thing I keep in mind is that someone's wish-fulfilling fantasy -- the Mary Sue -- is beloved by no one else but the author. The more you are infatuated with your own character, chances are, the less everyone else will like the character.

Quote
But the trick with that one is to be honest with yourself. It's hard to look at your own work with a critical eye, but it's something we all, as writers, must learn to do.


Definitely. Analytical detachment is a mode any remotely serious author should be able to enter (I might even go as far as any author who posts his/her work for public consumption). Or get a beta-reader who can do it for you.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 06:56 AM
Quote
One very important thing I keep in mind is that someone's wish-fulfilling fantasy -- the Mary Sue -- is beloved by no one else but the author. The more you are infatuated with your own character, chances are, the less everyone else will like the character.


I think this one comes back to keeping a proper sense of distance between you and your character. If the character is nothing but a projection of one's own wish fulfilment, it is certainly not likely to appeal to others. Dreams are very personal things, after all.
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 08:56 AM
Quote
Elliot:
If the character is nothing but a projection of one's own wish fulfilment, it is certainly not likely to appeal to others. Dreams are very personal things, after all.

Hm, but the reader's dream is personal, too. So, couldn't both match then in certain cases?
Example:
I personally start to get aggravated if I meet a certain female type in novels => the one fixed on men in a devote fashion - or the one fighting down her emotions and pretending to be indifferent. Why? the outcome is predictable, and as a reader I like to be surprised. Looking at the bestseller statistics I see these 2 types very often. So, these types seem to fit a lot of dreams. Take Marion Zimmer Bradley e.g.: her books are full of cliches, paper dolls. Even those from the Darkover cycle, where a bit of matrilinearism or independence is propagated => the outcome is always the same. And she is very successful; meaning: she has a lot of female readers. Dream matches dream. So, these readers react totally different than I do.

Another example: I like adult books where the child view is transported in a convincing and believable manner. Example: Alice Seybold, Gudrun Pausewang. No, it does not match my dream, but I was intrigued in which consistant manner this view was written. And I'm sure, a lot of readers would not touch these books, because they wish for other dreamworlds.

So, if a dream is written in a manner surprising me - where I can't already guess what will happen in 30 pages; where I don't know what the protagonist is going to say or do; where I don't start yawning, because the main char always reacts in the same manner => does it matter if the author's dream matches mine?

Reading and writing is done for various reasons - I don't think, rules will fit all possibilities.
Kiya

Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 10:28 AM
Kiya: Which is why I said there's an audience for everything, from shallow Harlquin tripe, teenage fantasies, to... everything else in the spectrum.
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 11:05 AM
Correct, there's an audience for everything, even Mary Sues. So, why not leave it up to the reader if she/he likes it?
Maybe the following should be included into this thread:

What does the author want to achieve? which are her/his goals?
Educate?
Share imagination?
Send a message of whatever kind?
Entertain?
Describe a world and its inhabitants?
Show the development of a single char or group?
Humour? Suspense? Love? History with facts or simply free imagination? Tragic? Technic?
Win a literature prize? (Gee, how many of them did I have to buy and saw them rotting in the shelves <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> )
Which audience to target? Age, gender, genre preference

I read this thread with interest, but I really missed the audience. And I think, they play a very important role - for those authors wanting to show their work in public, of course (publish or post) - they play no role at all for those simply going into interaction with themselves (private writing).
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 11:49 AM
Kiya said:

Quote
Correct, there's an audience for everything, even Mary Sues.


Or fetish sex that ranges from necrophilia, rape fantasies (read: bodice-ripper, only scarier), bizarre Star Wars/My Little Pony crossover, incest, Gorean cult... Ah, the things you find cruising the dark side of the 'Net.

Quote
What does the author want to achieve? which are her/his goals?
Educate?


This is, IMO, the last thing one should aim for. Trying to educate someone via fiction (assuming that's what we're talking about -- non-fiction/essays are another matter entirely) usually ends up with the author looking helplessly pretentious or arrogant.

Quote
Win a literature prize? (Gee, how many of them did I have to buy and saw them rotting in the shelves <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> )


*smiles grimly* Same as above, usually. Anyone who sets out to try and win a literary prize is often quite deluded.

Quote
Which audience to target? Age, gender, genre preference


That's certainly relevant; fantasy targeted at adults is going to be quite different from one targeted at teens, and I don't just mean "mature" themes/sexual contents. (Though I, for one, avoid the "Young Adult" shelf like the plague, incidentally.)

Personally, when writing, I have no purpose beyond this: tell a story. No message, no theme, no goal in particular. I want to bring characters to life and make them real and human, and then I let them do what they want. If I put what I've written for public consumption, then obviously, I do that with a wish for improvement in mind.

More misspellings:

Duel/dual -- a duel is a fight. "Dual" means two. *slappity slap*

Dessert/desert -- a dessert is something sweet; you do not trudge through a dessert unless you're an ant, and normally nobody puts sand, pyramids, or camels into a dessert.

Message/massage -- you use a message for communication. A massage is something else entirely.

Sentence/sentance -- "sentance" does not mean anything!

Trust/thrust -- need I explain?

Thrusted/casted -- no, sorry, the past tense of "thrust" is thrust, and the past tense of "cast" is also cast.
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 01:45 PM
Quote
Correct, there's an audience for everything, even Mary Sues. So, why not leave it up to the reader if she/he likes it?
Maybe the following should be included into this thread:

What does the author want to achieve? which are her/his goals?
Educate?
Share imagination?
Send a message of whatever kind?
Entertain?
Describe a world and its inhabitants?
Show the development of a single char or group?
Humour? Suspense? Love? History with facts or simply free imagination? Tragic? Technic?
Win a literature prize? (Gee, how many of them did I have to buy and saw them rotting in the shelves <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> )
Which audience to target? Age, gender, genre preference

I read this thread with interest, but I really missed the audience. And I think, they play a very important role - for those authors wanting to show their work in public, of course (publish or post) - they play no role at all for those simply going into interaction with themselves (private writing).


In this thread we've spent a lot of attention on technique and often times it does seem the audience has been omitted. However, that isn't and shouldn't be the case when crafting a piece of fiction. My approach to story design is probably common although the individual steps may differ in sequence. If I come across an idea which I consider a 'gem', I begin its development by writing general character outlines, construct several settings to see which one fits best, consider the best tone and decide what form of delivery (short story, novella, novel, play, screenplay, creative non-fiction, etc.) best suits the idea. The next step involved (if the story is still viable and something I want to work with) is to list the research I need to do as an author and within that research is where I consider the target audience. As I've stated, writing does not exist in a vacuum (at least, not for me). <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> This may sound daunting but it's not all that time consuming. Depending on the idea, I can complete the initial tasks within 2-3 days before I begin any research. The other approach I've taken, but (hasn't served me as well) is to begin writing and not stop until I've breathed some life into the storyline, a character or its setting. So, for me, it's a creative process - even though this process may seem more scientific in approach. It still requires imagination.

The audience is always there, Kiya - at least it is while I'm crafting the story. However, its face changes frequently for me during the construction. And there are times when I am in touch with a faceless audience. That, to me, is scary. And those are the pieces I post on a writing forum or ask my fellow authors for an opinion.

As to audience. Well, developing your own takes years and breaking into publication is very, very competitive. Let's face it, most of the fiction on the market are plotlines that have been updated and rehashed to suit a given genre. It's rare to find a 'new' story in the fiction department. I think the most compelling and unique novel for a first-time author was Janet Fitch's "White Oleander". I am not at all familiar with fanfiction, its websites, stories or characters, so you all will have to bear with me. That's not to say I don't 'like' it -- I wouldn't know out of 'ignorance' on my part. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> I am an eclectic writer and reader -- maybe 'fickle' is a better description. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> I go wherever my tastes suit me at the time. My home library is filled with everything from 'Police Procedurals' to the complete works of e. e. cummings, with a heavy emphasis on fantasy, somewhere in the middle. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

If you're a freelancer (as some of us are) and you need to put food on the table, then audience is probably going to be your first priority. If you write Christian non-fiction, you still have homework to do when considering where to publish. Sometimes freelancers take the same article and rewrite it for specific publications. If the idea is good, an author can get a lot of mileage out of it. So, writing for an audience is a double-edged sword. Authors are sometimes jeered for placing too much emphasis on a particular audience or not enough. The 'happy medium' is a hard balance to strike.

So, it's really not a matter of 'leaving it up to the reader' so much as the author actually targeting a certain audience. If you, as a professional writer, can afford the luxury of a whimsical approach, then by all means - do so. However, once a piece is posted on a message board such as this - or any public forum on the internet, it is considered by many print publishers to be 'published'. Therefore, taking that into consideration, the author already has lost without even getting out of the gate. I know it doesn't sound fair, but that's the rules of the trade.

More flotsom for the swill. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />




Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 01:58 PM
Quote
Hmmm... Winterfox is right too...

I'm going to run back to 'Writer's Intent' here, I think <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Anyone who wishes to be a serious writer should be judged on that level; anyone who is just having a bit of fun should be judged a whole lot less harshly.

That sounds good to me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


I think I'm seeing the 'problem' here. This forum that Larian has set up is definitely a 'fun' site. Although I must confess that I take this particular thread in a serious vein. And since writing is my profession, I feel more compelled to lend any 'expertise' that I may have to anyone who truly wishes to improve their prose. If writing for 'fun' is the purpose of this thread, then my comments must seem very harsh and scientific. So, you're right where 'intent' comes into play, Elliot. I hadn't really considered it from that point of view until now.



Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 02:10 PM
Quote
I've run into a few authors who mean well, and try to follow a beta's or a reivewer's advice to the letter, but the result is often... misguided. There was a girl writing Harry Potter fanfiction who wrote up a profile of her character. People chimed in and commented that the character was horribly, horribly Mary Sueish. The girl tried to give her character flaws, but for every flaw she put in and for every Sueish quality she removed, she put in three more Sueish traits. Ah, what the heck, if you're morbidly curious, see the fiasco for yourself, complete with author-whining and freak-out. It's almost a textbook example of what not to do.


Okay, I bit, but I wasn't able to get to the url, WF. I even checked the properties on the url and found none. Is it my computer? (Been having troubles lately.) Or is it the link? My morbid curiosity has been piqued. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" /> *loves looking at train wrecks*

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 03:08 PM
Quote
Quote
I've run into a few authors who mean well, and try to follow a beta's or a reivewer's advice to the letter, but the result is often... misguided. There was a girl writing Harry Potter fanfiction who wrote up a profile of her character. People chimed in and commented that the character was horribly, horribly Mary Sueish. The girl tried to give her character flaws, but for every flaw she put in and for every Sueish quality she removed, she put in three more Sueish traits. Ah, what the heck, if you're morbidly curious, see the fiasco for yourself, complete with author-whining and freak-out. It's almost a textbook example of what not to do.


Okay, I bit, but I wasn't able to get to the url, WF. I even checked the properties on the url and found none. Is it my computer? (Been having troubles lately.) Or is it the link? My morbid curiosity has been piqued. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" /> *loves looking at train wrecks*



I can't follow the link either, Faralas, so it isn't just you.

Shame, as I think Winterfox's example sounds quite instructive.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 03:57 PM
Kiya...

I thought I'd covered target audience somewhere, but I'm blowed if I can find it now, so probably not. I'll just agree with you instead, as it's definitely something a writer has to make some kind of decision on before they begin writing <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />.

***

The age, gender, and general outlook of the reader will always play a part in whether they enjoy a story or not, and because of that any story has a 'natural' audience, whatever the intentions of the writer may be.

There are crossover hits (Such as the ubiquitous Harry Potter) but in general an author is well advised to decide on the kind of person they are writing for rather than just typing away and leaving his/her readers to chance.

I'd say the age classifications are the main ones:

Children: No sex or serious violence, no romance, no seriously complicated plotting. Children do not see the point of adult relationships and many are scared or upset by extreme violence. There is also the 'parent factor' - in that most parents object to such things in children's books, whatever their child may think. Swearing is also out for this reason. Stories with children, young teenagers, or animals as leads and emphasising true friendship will do well.

Any Age: Mild swearing, mild violence plus romance are all allowed. Graphic sex and violence are still out. This roughly equates to 'Parental Guidance' in terms of British cinema classifications (One up from 'kid' for everyone else <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />)

Young Adult: Read 'teenagers'. This is all the stuff that teenagers relate to, like first love, friendship, teenage angst and trying to find out where you fit into a world that doesn't seem to care about you. This is a very narrow genre, and very unpopular amongst non-teenage readers for obvious reasons. Such stories will always involve teenage leads, and usually centre around schools or colleges.

Adult: Anything goes, basically. Too extreme violence or really graphic sex will tend to lose a lot of the mainstream audience though.

Within each age classification there are many sub-genres of course. Far too many to even attempt to list, in fact.

As a general rule though, male readers like to know what the hero(ine) is thinking and appreciate violence; female readers like to know what the hero(ine) is feeling and appreciate romance and intrigue. This is not always true of individuals, of course, but is useful as a general rule of thumb. Both sexes like a well thought out and well plotted story.
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 04:27 PM
Here are a few of the links that I have found helpful. First and foremost, is Strunks Elements of Style which, fortunately, is located at another great site called "Bartleby" (well-known for its source of quotations).

The following sites are ones that I have used over the past 6-7 years and have helped me hone my fiction writing skills. I may have lost my favorite writing links, but luckily, I had sent this list to another forum member and saved it in my messages. Being a packrat sometimes pays off. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

Hope these are of some help to the writers here.

Writer's Digest

Hobgoblin.net This has a great page. Under the title in the home page click on writer's resources. There are a ton of great sites listed there. You may want to check them out. (Some may be duplicates of the ones I've listed here).

Common English Errors

Publisher's Weekly The trade publication for writers, editors and publishers. A great way to keep up with the industry and trends.

Copyright & Fair Use Here is the US Copyright website that takes you to the Fair Use Page. Fair use means (in the event you're not familiar with the term) what and how much of the author's work you can copy/post for public use.

Suite 101 A site where you can post your own work and lists various aspects of writing as a profession. I.e., if you want to freelance, there are articles on how to get started doing that. If you want to do technical writing, you can find info on that...

Webster.net This page describes what the difference is between an 'active' voice and a 'passive' voice. Important if you want your work to stand out from the others.

RefDesk.com This site has a ton of information used as reference material. Dictionaries, thesaurus's, quotation sites, facts and figures, etc. All of this info is at your fingertips. Great site even if you're not a writer.

Phrase Finder A thesaurus that finds whole phrases as opposed to one word. This may be a subscription only site. It's been a while, so I can't remember.

Writer's BBS This is a decent website for giving and receiving feedback on your work. I used to hang out here ages ago (back in 1998 - 2001). This is the site where I 'learned' the craft of writing. But it's changed a lot since I was there. Writer's from all walks of life hang out here. Multi-published (fairly well known authors) to newbies to the craft. You might like it.

Storymania A place where you can post your work and receive feedback. Another great website.

Writer Buddy This is a great site if you want to find a critique partner or just want to practice your writing skills. There are alot of great people who hang out at this site.


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/04 06:11 PM
Excellent stuff! Thanks, Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Kris Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 03:04 AM
Hi all,

Firstly, I'm not a professional writer, although I have had a fair bit of my writing published in newspapers and magazines.

Just for fun, I tried writing out a list of tips for new writers BEFORE I read all the excellent advice from Faralas and others here. Now that I have subsequently read through everybody else's much more detailed and specific advice my list looks rather slender. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif" alt="" />

But just for fun I'll post it anyway, without changing or editing it to include the superior wisdoem of others. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Will it provoke howls of "No! NO!", a few nods of agreement, or indifference?


SOME QUICK THOUGHTS ON STARTING OUT


JUST DO IT:

The most succinct advice I ever saw was just two words – "writers write". In other words, stop thinking about it and just get on with the job of putting one word after another. Anybody who says things like "I'm playing around with a few ideas for a novel" usually means they’re not doing anything! Stop mentally composing favourable reviews and get on with writing the piece. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

PLEASE YOURSELF:

Start by writing for yourself. If you can’t please yourself you’re unlikely to ever please an audience. Don’t begin by hobbling yourself with worry about formats, technical approaches or the like. There will be plenty of time for that later. Just write whatever you like, however you feel like doing it. If you have no talent it should soon start to dawn on you. But if you do have some promise it won’t be long before you’ll want to know how you can improve. You may discover that writing solely for yourself is all you want to do. That’s fine too.

TIGER WOODS DIDN’T LEARN GOLF BY READING BOOKS ON PHYSICS:

Initially, don’t read too many books on how to write. Instead, re-read authors you admire and try to analyse how they do what they do and why it works. Don’t try and copy their style, but do try and understand the technical side of their skill. Then read some B grade stuff and see if you can see why it doesn’t work as effectively. Take a passage and re-write it – was it better, worse or merely rehashed? This practical approach should bring the craft to life for you in a way that detached analytical discussions often don't.


CRITICISE, NITPICK, EDIT AND REJECT:

There are many types of successful writing and some of them are diametrically opposed. Just try and see what makes each one work. Then apply the same critical eye to your own work. This is not always a simple or comfortable process, but you will need to develop the ability to be self-critical. It’s often easier to spot the weaknesses if you put work aside for a few days, or even weeks. Then see if the detail and atmosphere is still there, or whether much of it remained in your mind while you were writing it and never actually made it down onto the page.

Learn to be your own fiercest critic, but also try to develop the ability to accept feedback from others. Listen to anybody who tells you they don’t understand what you’re trying to say, but also be prepared to ignore them and back your own judgement on occasions.

LOOK AROUND:

Be aware of what the market wants. Many writers begin by saying "This is want I want to say", but don’t forget to sometimes also ask yourself the question "What do editors, publishers and readers want to hear?"

WRITERS WRITE:

So what are you doing here still reading this tosh?? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 03:16 AM
Quote
Faralas:
So, it's really not a matter of 'leaving it up to the reader' so much as the author actually targeting a certain audience


I disagree a bit about "not a matter of leaving it up to the reader". Why? Because I earn my money with books on the other side of pole => by choosing and presenting literature in the adult section of my library.

And it's like dancing on egg shells: I try to interest readers for various kind of genres. So, those members relying on my judgement, I will find the appropriate entertainment for them, are dependent on me. I give them a short review about the content (using the magic key words, according to the reader type in front of me) and then leave it up to them if they enjoy a book or not. And maybe it's only my library members(but I know differently <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> ) => a lot of females love the Mary Sue kind of books. Can be as repetetive as you fear in your hardest nightmares - yes, they want these Mary Sues. And, writer, whoever you are => DON'T dare to walk astray and present them a different kind of typus <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
An example? Nora Roberts <shudder>, specially her new books, distorting the fantasy genre. Cartland, Woodiwiss ... name it and you hit the bull's eye. Trying to interest them for Doris Lessing, Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood? Nada - try to interest a Bradley fan into a different kind of fantasy? I'd make them unhappy.

I made the XP that readers are somewhat "conservative". They take a liking for one kind of genre and then stick to it - and it's not always about targeting them as a group.

So, I, the humble "literature broker", the book mule - I leave it up to the readers to decide.
Kiya

Book plots have sadly become very repetetive as you described, Faralas. Maybe this is the cause why I mainly skim through books and put them only into my mobile RAM memory (brains) to pass on this knowledge. I have very very seldom found a novel in the last 5 years really interesting me up to the end. I'm talking as a reader now - and it's not only me: My colleagues and I have discussed this a few days ago => they feel the same. Nearly no innovation anymore. Sad, huh? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/puppyeyes.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 03:43 AM
Grrrr; my bad for the link not showing up. At any rate, here they are, all of them to complete the saga of "Lorelei Allison Tremaine Seremity Reed Loreley Ekler Clarisse Mille Wiese":

http://www.fictionalley.org//fictionalleypark/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=33128
http://www.fictionalley.org//fictionalleypark/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=34100
http://www.fictionalley.org//fictionalleypark/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=35006
http://www.fictionalley.org/fiction...21c870d300b6c3d0d&threadid=36808
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 04:56 AM
Winterfox...

Thanks for the links <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I'm off to read them now.

***

Kris...

Interesting piece. I think you can guess how much I agree and do not agree with, though <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 12:38 PM
Quote
Quote
Faralas:
So, it's really not a matter of 'leaving it up to the reader' so much as the author actually targeting a certain audience


I disagree a bit about "not a matter of leaving it up to the reader". Why? Because I earn my money with books on the other side of pole => by choosing and presenting literature in the adult section of my library.

And it's like dancing on egg shells: I try to interest readers for various kind of genres. So, those members relying on my judgement, I will find the appropriate entertainment for them, are dependent on me. I give them a short review about the content (using the magic key words, according to the reader type in front of me) and then leave it up to them if they enjoy a book or not. And maybe it's only my library members(but I know differently <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> ) => a lot of females love the Mary Sue kind of books. Can be as repetetive as you fear in your hardest nightmares - yes, they want these Mary Sues. And, writer, whoever you are => DON'T dare to walk astray and present them a different kind of typus <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
An example? Nora Roberts <shudder>, specially her new books, distorting the fantasy genre. Cartland, Woodiwiss ... name it and you hit the bull's eye.

So, I, the humble "literature broker", the book mule - I leave it up to the readers to decide.
Kiya

Book plots have sadly become very repetetive as you described, Faralas. Maybe this is the cause why I mainly skim through books and put them only into my mobile RAM memory (brains) to pass on this knowledge. I have very very seldom found a novel in the last 5 years really interesting me up to the end. I'm talking as a reader now - and it's not only me: My colleagues and I have discussed this a few days ago => they feel the same. Nearly no innovation anymore. Sad, huh? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/puppyeyes.gif" alt="" />


Oops, seems I didn't make myself clear - once again. I'm sorry, Kiya, I agree with you. What I was trying to say is that for the new writer - who is fresh off the pencil-sharpening boat - he/she must think about their audience *if* they ever want to publish their work. I never meant to imply that audiences do not have a 'say' in the shaping of the author's work. To the contrary, they are 'the' vital element in terms of communication. Unless writing for or speaking to oneself is the goal.

Many writers new to the craft (myself included at one point) are not aware that writing, like painting or any other art, has 'structure'. I have made every single mistake in 'the book' throughout the years. That was after I learned there was a 'book' (read: rules and guidelines) on 'how' to write. This is not to say that freeform writing or stream of consciousness does not have its place - it does. However, in my experience, if one's intent is to publish their work, it is wise to learn who your audience is.

Rowling's "Harry Potter" was rejected by approximately 25 publishing houses before an editor took it under his/her wings, thought enough about the story to want to publish it. So, while you may feel the book that you've spent a year or two pouring your heart and soul into has potential for publication, you have to 'pitch' it to a publisher. It's called a synopsis. And, in that synopsis you have to tell the publisher who you view as your audience. The author is not the only cog in the publishing wheel. Many writers new to the craft are not aware of the facts of publishing. That's what I try to shed light on and why I illuminate the fact that the writer *must* target an audience.

I hope this makes more sense. Otherwise, I'm getting out of the profession. LOL


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />
P.S. Oh, and yes - the rehashing of plots is a sad affair. However, when I do find a novel like Fitch's "White Oleander", it inspires hope that I will find more if I keep digging. *g*


Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 12:53 PM
Quote
Hi all,

...Just for fun, I tried writing out a list of tips for new writers BEFORE I read all the excellent advice from Faralas and others here. Now that I have subsequently read through everybody else's much more detailed and specific advice my list looks rather slender. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif" alt="" />
...

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS ON STARTING OUT


JUST DO IT:

...In other words, stop thinking about it and just get on with the job of putting one word after another. Anybody who says things like "I'm playing around with a few ideas for a novel" usually means they’re not doing anything! ...


PLEASE YOURSELF:

Start by writing for yourself. If you can’t please yourself you’re unlikely to ever please an audience. Don’t begin by hobbling yourself with worry about formats, technical approaches or the like. ...



Both of the above are sound tips. Seems like I've read these before... Kris, are you one of my writing professors come back to haunt me? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />


Quote
TIGER WOODS DIDN’T LEARN GOLF BY READING BOOKS ON PHYSICS:

Initially, don’t read too many books on how to write. Instead, re-read authors you admire and try to analyse how they do what they do and why it works. Don’t try and copy their style, but do try and understand the technical side of their skill. Then read some B grade stuff and see if you can see why it doesn’t work as effectively. Take a passage and re-write it – was it better, worse or merely rehashed? This practical approach should bring the craft to life for you in a way that detached analytical discussions often don't.




CRITICISE, NITPICK, EDIT AND REJECT:

There are many types of successful writing and some of them are diametrically opposed. Just try and see what makes each one work. Then apply the same critical eye to your own work. This is not always a simple or comfortable process, but you will need to develop the ability to be self-critical. It’s often easier to spot the weaknesses if you put work aside for a few days, or even weeks. Then see if the detail and atmosphere is still there, or whether much of it remained in your mind while you were writing it and never actually made it down onto the page.

Learn to be your own fiercest critic, but also try to develop the ability to accept feedback from others. Listen to anybody who tells you they don’t understand what you’re trying to say, but also be prepared to ignore them and back your own judgement on occasions.

LOOK AROUND:

Be aware of what the market wants. Many writers begin by saying "This is want I want to say", but don’t forget to sometimes also ask yourself the question "What do editors, publishers and readers want to hear?"

WRITERS WRITE:

So what are you doing here still reading this tosh?? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />




Hmmmm, I've read these tips elsewhere. And you made this list? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif" alt="" /> You probably should be a professional. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> At any rate, these are all excellent additions to the list. It's easy to bog youself down in technicalities. The best approach when beginning a story is to simply write. Get the whole idea down on paper and then go back to rework your grammar, plot lines and twists, flesh-out the characters and the like. I save typos, spelling and grammatical errors for the last run-through in the editing process.

Thanks for the contribution, Kris!


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />


Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 02:15 PM



<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/puppyeyes.gif" alt="" /> Oh, Gods..., That was one wasted hour of my life I'll be begging for on my deathbed.


*shudders*



Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" /> *who now remembers what it was like to be a teenager* Aack!
Posted By: Kris Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 02:31 PM
Hi Faralas,

Thanks for the reply. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Yes, I did make the list up myself, but that's not to say I didn't shamelessly absorb the ideas from somewhere else. I just can't remember from where. So I can't say how much, if any, counts as 'original' thought. I think that a great many of the facts and ideas that we store over the years come from outside. We then have the chance to make a new type of cake from ingredients that have mostly been known for generations. Few of us ever invent flour. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> Or, as Wilson Mizner said, "If you steal from one author it's plagiarism. If you steal from many it's research".

In general I'm a great fan of the 'learning by doing' method, and that's how I tackle writing. Over the years I've applied the same approach to many other projects too. For instance, I designed and built the house I now live in. To do so I had to learn something like 15 different trades or professions, none of which I was trained in. Some went slowly, such as hand making all the doors and windows the old fashioned way with mortices, tenons and wedges (final count 210 panes of glass). Other skills were more easily picked up.

But I learned all of the necessary skills by pulling apart and studying what others had done before, either figuratively or literally, and then practising the tasks until I was competent. I worked on a demolition crew and pulled old houses apart. I also watched craftsmen at work. Then I added my own flavour to the houses I built. The first two sold in less than a week after I put them on the market. Original designs done in a traditional way seem to sell easily. The third we have kept.

I love acquiring new information, new knowledge, new skills and of course new friends. But I won't bore you with the very long list of other things that I've done by simply saying to myself "I'd like to try that, so how is it done?", and then prodding, poking, questioning, and crawling underneath things until I understand.

Which brings me to another tip PAY ATTENTION! No matter how old you are, the more you know the more you realise how just how much more there is to know. A writer can easily spend far too much time internalising and wandering round their own mind. So don't forget to engage with the world; and while you're at it - pay attention to what's happening around you. It's your bricks and timber.

Years ago I joined a local writer's centre. Within the first few hours I was pressed into service to clear up the centre's garden (which I did), was instantly but reluctantly elected to the committe, and was then set the task of enduring several hours worth of other writers droning on about their grand struggle with writing. I tiptoed away and never went back. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

One day I really must do a course in writing, but in the meantime I just write instead. I'll never be a Shakespeare, but I've seen more than enough of my words in print to know that I can often get it right. I've also had the priceless joy of standing quietly at the back of a full theatre listening to an audience laughing and clapping at the words I'd written and the characters I'd created.

The above happens to be all true, but one of the wonderful things about writing is that, hey, I could have just made the whole thing up. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />



Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 03:51 PM
Quote
Hi Faralas,

In general I'm a great fan of the 'learning by doing' method, and that's how I tackle writing. Over the years I've applied the same approach to many other projects too. For instance, I designed and built the house I now live in. To do so I had to learn something like 15 different trades or professions, none of which I was trained in. Some went slowly, such as hand making all the doors and windows the old fashioned way with mortices, tenons and wedges (final count 210 panes of glass). Other skills were more easily picked up.

But I learned all of the necessary skills by pulling apart and studying what others had done before, either figuratively or literally, and then practising the tasks until I was competent. I worked on a demolition crew and pulled old houses apart. I also watched craftsmen at work. Then I added my own flavour to the houses I built. The first two sold in less than a week after I put them on the market. Original designs done in a traditional way seem to sell easily. The third we have kept.

I love acquiring new information, new knowledge, new skills and of course new friends. But I won't bore you with the very long list of other things that I've done by simply saying to myself "I'd like to try that, so how is it done?", and then prodding, poking, questioning, and crawling underneath things until I understand.



Hi Kris!

Your approach to learning is very much like mine, although I have never ventured far enough into the world to actually build a house! That's fantastic and quite admirable. I'd love to see your work. Do you have a website? Equally impressive is your approach to learning the skills needed to write. Stephen King took the same approach and look what he's accomplished.

My writing professors basically held your same belief: disregard everything you've been taught and simply write AND learn from other authors. There is "no correct" way to go about crafting a story however, to communicate your theme or message, one needs to know some simple rules. Which is why I always keep my "Elements of Style" within reach. Anything else I observe or learn is all icing on my cake. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

And everything that I've spouted here is not new information in the global sense. They are bits of suggestions I've learned from others. (I'm feeling a philosophical discussion on the rise). <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I could hardly say I know anything world-shattering 'new' but I suppose what makes everything unique is our individual perspectives and perceptions. And that's what intrigues me most about life. People simply fascinate me. Not in a judgmental way - but from a behavioral scientific point.

I have been in writing groups where the focus often ends on a particular writer's angst. That's time for me to bolt because I cannot relate to (nor do I care about) why one's bad mood, depression, horrid marriage or gawd awful job prevent them from writing. That's when the group dissipates into a non-alcoholic version of an AA meeting. (pardon the bad analogy but I'm working without the necessary grey matter). <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> I'm in that group to learn about writing - not why one's marriage is so lousy. If I wanted that, I could have formed my own 'lousy marriage' group. LOL So, it's not surprising that I agree with your message 100%.

Learning never ends, nor should it. The longer I live, the more I learn that I know very little about life. And I often times cringe when I look back at myself 15-20 years ago when I thought I was well on my way to 'ultimate knowledge'. In my 20's I was quite arrogant (as I look back on it) and probably seemed (to many wiser than me) as a know-it-all. However, now that the mirror's reflection has dulled, and I've been humbled by those who possess more compassion and knowledge than myself, I tend not to stare into it as much as I used to.

It's Sunday --- so forgive me if I'm not quite clear. LOL I turn my brain off on Friday and try not to flip the 'on' switch until Monday morning's wake-up alarm!

Thanks for posting, Kris. Your advice is golden and thought provoking.


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />


Posted By: Kris Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 05:34 PM
Hi again,

Great to talk to you Faralas. It's now well after 1 o'clock in the morning on a Monday here in West Australia, so I'm about to fall asleep at the keyboard.. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/sleepey.gif" alt="" />

But a quick answer to your question about pictures. Yes, I have a few of the house. They were taken a few years ago now the driveway is still unfinished and things like that.

I've been meaning to put up a section on my web space showing all the stages of construction. But I guess you could say "I'm playing around with a few ideas for a website"... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

I've uploaded one or two photos, so here's some links. Then I must crash..

1. View from the middle of the loungeroom. The end was designed to give a bit of the feel that I once saw in the captain's cabin of an old sailing ship. In other words a sort of horseshoe shaped view. The two windows to the left of the french doors are repeated to the right as well.

The view is down a long, deep and thickly treed valley to the west. You can't see it in any of the photos but it drops away steeply. We are at the top of a wooded hill and the house is up on 'stumps'. 8" off the ground one side and 8ft off the ground the other. At night you fully expect to see the fires of the orc armies in the valley below. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

1. View west

2. Same room but looking east

3. Sunset from the verandah

4. Front looking west

5. View south east. I'm typing this in the loft upstairs

6. View south west

7. Looking south on a misty day

8. Bathroom

Sorry if I've mucked the links up... need sleep....
Yaaaaaawn... maybe I'll put some of the builder up tomorrow, and ..... zzzzzzzzzzz <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/sleepey.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 06:11 PM
Quote
Grrrr; my bad for the link not showing up. At any rate, here they are, all of them to complete the saga of "Lorelei Allison Tremaine Seremity Reed Loreley Ekler Clarisse Mille Wiese":


I think those threads really demonstrate the perils of miscommunication more than anything else.

The impression I got was very much that the writer wanted approval rather than help with her writing, and that she was writing for her own pleasure rather than that of an audience, but she had rather deluded herself as to her true intentions and desires.

I'm not quite sure why the various helpers didn't catch on a whole lot faster than they did though.

Still, a lesson to all involved, I'm sure <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: LewsTherinKinslayer13 Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 07:19 PM
I like Terry Pratchett's books, thats probably the only book I can really say I wish would go on forever. Harry Potter? Uggh. FOREVER? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/puppyeyes.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 07:31 PM
Kris! Let me first say, "Wow!" I'm positively speechless. Your work is beautiful. The house is charming, and frankly, that wrap-around porch was a marvelous idea. Oh gosh - I'm still sitting here (in my tiny hovel, btw) in awe. You've made marvelous use of the shelving space under the stairway. In addition to being a talented carpenter and writer, you're a fantastic photographer. *be still my heart* LOL

I've got to look at these again. Seriously! Thank you sooooooo much for posting them. Awesome, truly awesome!


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 07:44 PM
Quote

The impression I got was very much that the writer wanted approval rather than help with her writing, and that she was writing for her own pleasure rather than that of an audience, but she had rather deluded herself as to her true intentions and desires.

I'm not quite sure why the various helpers didn't catch on a whole lot faster than they did though.



I don't enjoy pointing out the obvious, Elliot (okay, I do LOL) but she posted at a site (in a specific forum, no less), where criticism is expected. I agree with you, though. She was probably thinking her "Lorelei" character was going to 'wow' everyone. That's the arrogance of youth. *g* However, too many times people post their work believing it will knock everyone's socks off. And maybe the idea that's in their head is much better than the one they've communicated on paper or a message board. But!! -- (And a big 'but') it ends up smacking them in their backsides and misfiring. This is exactly what happened at that board.

If you read as far as I did (nearly 7 pages worth - *rolls eyes*), she kept revising the character as she went along. And it's the characteristics in those additions/revisions she should have kept fleshing out instead of defending the 2d (gawd awful) character description originally posted. Again, that's the arrogance of youth speaking. It's also a blatant attempt at trying to hide one's ignorance. In that case, she's losing an uphill battle. An IQ of 520 - Pullease!!! That's something *I* would have clung to, though, when I was 13. (And I probably did at some point back then).

Anyway, it was a fascinating look into the psyche of an angst-ridden teen. But, I can't say I'm ever going back for another look. My nerves were shot half way through the 1st page. LOL


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" /> *who has seen the wreck and deemed it a disaster*

Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 08:48 PM
Hardly catching up reading the weekend's posts <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

I have an interim question - bear with me, please:

Both Elliot and Faralas repeatedly used the word "Angst" - now, I certainly know the German word, which quite adequately could be translated to English by "fear". So if you use the German word in English, it obviously got a differing meaning, one no English expression could describe? What is it?
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 09:27 PM
Faralas...

I read the entire thing from beginning to end, and it really wasn't pretty on any level. Three huge threads followed by a story that seemed to start half way through, run for half a chapter then jump to the middle of the next chapter with no explanations, and which also involved characters brought in from some kind of Manga/Anime thing that I (And obviously most of the people on the board) had never heard of.

A true experience, though not one I hope to repeat any time soon <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 09:36 PM
Glance...

Angst is basically an (typically teenage) extreme emotional reaction that is far out of proportion to the actual problem (If indeed any problem actually exists).

One of the best examples here might be spots. Most teenagers get spots, and to an adult it's not a big deal - but in terms of teenage angst: "My spots have made me so ugly that no boy/girl will ever look at me again! I am a loathsome creature whose very gaze should crack mirrors and cause grown men to cry out in horror! Surely there has never been a wo/man as ugly as I!"

That's angst, in a nutshell <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/04 10:11 PM
Thanks Elliot

(wonder how a German word for that came into English - probably some follower of Freud) Germans would probably call the phenomen "ueber-aengstlich", which would just be over-fearful. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 02:52 AM
Quote
<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/puppyeyes.gif" alt="" /> Oh, Gods..., That was one wasted hour of my life I'll be begging for on my deathbed.


*shudders*



Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" /> *who now remembers what it was like to be a teenager* Aack!


Sorry! I told you, you'd have to be morbidly curious to look, and fairly masochistic to continue reading. *sinister grin* I have no tolerance for angst-ridden teenagers, though, and when disasters of this kind happen, I have to physically refrain myself from giving the teen a slap to the head. (Sitting back and laughing is, on the whole, more productive.) But really, if you don't want criticism, you shouldn't ask for it.

Of course, there was a similar case where the author was not a teenager at all, but a twenty-something-years-old woman... but I'm sure you don't want to fry more of your braincells and neurons.
Posted By: janggut Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 03:13 AM
<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/offtopic.gif" alt="" /> totally! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

kris, wow! your house-building skills impressed me more than your writing skills/experience. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

maybe u can open a thread on house-building so i can learn more about it. i helped a bit in building my house; setting foundations, beams, celing supports, flooring. btw, my house has raised floor & on stilts with swampy terrain.

so should i build my house to please only myself or should i have the audience in mind? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: LewsTherinKinslayer13 Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 05:55 AM
Awesome house building <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />


Quote
Young Adult: Read 'teenagers'. This is all the stuff that teenagers relate to, like first love, friendship, teenage angst and trying to find out where you fit into a world that doesn't seem to care about you. This is a very narrow genre, and very unpopular amongst non-teenage readers for obvious reasons. Such stories will always involve teenage leads, and usually centre around schools or colleges.
HEY! I'm a teenager, and most of that is fecking boring in a book, to be frank. Some colleges/schools are ok, but like Hogwarts.......er, yeah. 'nuff said.

So you can't be too biased on age groups.

Look at my cat! She's young an she still eats the old kitty food, wait, wrong thread . . .

Hallo . . . But yes, you can't be to subjective because of the age . . . Did I mean to say all this or is it another loss of sleep again?

Roight. Well, just don't be biased IMHO.
Posted By: Jurak Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 06:02 AM
Hello all you writers and builders <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

I've heard from Alrik and he sends his regards <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" /> from a warehouse at Berlin, Alexanderplatz. Unfortunately he finds, it's quite expensive here (I mean surfing). And will look for cheaper ways to surf the airwaves!

Keep up the good long-winded conversations.... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
my hand still hurts! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cry.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 06:02 AM
Quote
HEY! I'm a teenager, and most of that is fecking boring in a book, to be frank. Some colleges/schools are ok, but like Hogwarts.......er, yeah. 'nuff said.

So you can't be too biased on age groups.

<snip>

Roight. Well, just don't be biased IMHO.


I feel inclined to point out that it's not so much "bias" as generalization -- what Elliot said does, after all, apply to most relevant individuals.
Posted By: LewsTherinKinslayer13 Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 06:20 AM
Well yes, I suppose, that was the word I was searching for. But still, most people blame every single youth in America for being the "l33t u r os kolo!' Or some such, when I don't even know what 'l33t' stands for, elite maybe?, yes I still get put in the classification of 'idiot'.
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 08:53 AM
Quote
Faralas:
So, while you may feel the book that you've spent a year or two pouring your heart and soul into has potential for publication, you have to 'pitch' it to a publisher. It's called a synopsis.


Correct - and I may add, publishers are not always innovative either. Just remember Doris Lessing. She wrote a book under a pseudonym: The diary of Jane Somers. It was rejected - then a publisher finally published this book. When I read it, the author Jane Somers was unknown to me - I thought: Hey, that's the Doris Lessing style! Years after that, she admited and said, she wanted to prove the fact that publishers don't read the plot but go for names. It was a brilliant slap. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ROFL.gif" alt="" />
Kiya

So, writing is a dangerous act - you have to believe in your work, advert for it, fight for it - and grow skin.

WF, about "angst" => this is something a lot of teenagers go through during adolescence, it's "normal", now explained in biological psychology due to hormones running wild and affecting brains and emotions. Part of the painful path in finding your own personality, your way to adulthood. I often wondered why adults seem to shun literature dealing with this period. Maybe because it is too painful to remember what happened inside them as well? Or maybe because they are ashamed to be reminded of this?

A few years ago I found my poetry out of that time - and well, I cringed <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> - took me several approaches to overcome this blockade and remember what lead to these poems. And my last thought was: Whew, glad I survived <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> - I still think literature dealing with this can help teenies, so they don't feel so alone anymore. And it can help adults to be a bit more patient with an angsting teenager. As we survived this turbulent period, we might be able to transport this to a teenie then, who believes his inner state will never change.

What I really find problematic, is something I read in a lot of (German) teenie novels => too many probs in one book. Example => pregnancy, drugs, criminal boyfriend in the Skinhead scene, divorcing parents, eating disorder, dying pet dog, loneliness etc. All crammed together on 200 pages. I recall, I laughed my head off and tried to guess what would come next. But I read this as an adult, not as a teenie.

So, to bring this post back to the topic of writing => a consistent plot, concentrating on a few major quests/problems/tasks is better than to write a catastrophy book.
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 11:53 AM
Quote
Sorry! I told you, you'd have to be morbidly curious to look, and fairly masochistic to continue reading. *sinister grin* I have no tolerance for angst-ridden teenagers, though, and when disasters of this kind happen, I have to physically refrain myself from giving the teen a slap to the head. (Sitting back and laughing is, on the whole, more productive.) But really, if you don't want criticism, you shouldn't ask for it.

Of course, there was a similar case where the author was not a teenager at all, but a twenty-something-years-old woman... but I'm sure you don't want to fry more of your braincells and neurons.


WF, I don't know how much of a masochist I am but I do think that my voyeur gene was working on overtime. It's the same thing that causes many of us to gaze upon a car wreck. That rubber-neck reflex where we feel a morbid necessity to gawk at the mess. I have no idea why this fascinates me - it just does. However, thanks for posting the links. I can't say I'm a better person because of it, but it was a great look into 'what not to do." <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

Quote
so should i build my house to please only myself or should i have the audience in mind?


ROFL - oh, Jangut - good question. (still laughing) I think you should consult a feng shui artisan, though. Probably would work best since I wouldn't want a group of people criticizing the way I construct a house. Imagine if you installed a window in the wrong place. Oy! What a mess.

@ Glance, Elliot and Kiya gave you the best description of the word 'angst'. And I suspect it is a term derived from Freudian psychology.

@@Jurak: Tell Alrik we said hello and we miss him. His thread is alive and flourishing. Oh, and also tell him we're behaving ourselves. (Except for Lews... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shhh.gif" alt="" />) <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ROFL.gif" alt="" />

Quote
Doris Lessing. She wrote a book under a pseudonym: The diary of Jane Somers. It was rejected - then a publisher finally published this book. When I read it, the author Jane Somers was unknown to me - I thought: Hey, that's the Doris Lessing style! Years after that, she admited and said, she wanted to prove the fact that publishers don't read the plot but go for names. It was a brilliant slap.
Kiya


Kiya - I was not aware she wrote under another name and it serves those publishers right! LOL That was a nice slap in the face for them. Many authors write under pen names -- even a few of my friends whose work is well-known in their circle sometimes venture into another genre. Their publishers actually have asked them to write under another name so their readers don't get flummoxed when during the crossover. Shows how much faith publishers have in their audience. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ouch.gif" alt="" />



Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 12:14 PM
Kiya said:

Quote
WF, about "angst" => this is something a lot of teenagers go through during adolescence, it's "normal", now explained in biological psychology due to hormones running wild and affecting brains and emotions. Part of the painful path in finding your own personality, your way to adulthood. I often wondered why adults seem to shun literature dealing with this period. Maybe because it is too painful to remember what happened inside them as well? Or maybe because they are ashamed to be reminded of this?


Ah, I went through that period early and quite quickly. For me, it wasn't so much painful as silly. The degree of importance many teens will place on themselves and their petty, illusory concerns is quite astounding. Thus, I have no patience for any literature dealing with them and therefore stay far, far away from them.
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 12:16 PM
Quote
Faralas:
Their publishers actually have asked them to write under another name so their readers don't get flummoxed when during the crossover. Shows how much faith publishers have in their audience


Yes, it's really sad => authors are forced to stick to their genre instead of using a well-known name to introduce their audience into a new genre. Publishers don't see the chance.

Though some authors do this on purpose, to seperate their genres => Eleanor Alice Burford Hibbert wrote under 3 pseudonyms: Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy, Philippa Carr.
Even Stephen King did that - he wanted to go away from the horror genre and write a plain fantasy novel: Richard Bachman. Wonder, why he decided to lift his anonymity later on and publish the book under his real name again. Maybe a "testing balloon"?
Ruth Rendell => Barbara Vine
Agatha Christie => Mary Westmacott, writing romance novels. Wish, I knew why she did that. Fearing an angry audience?

I think, it's dreadful, if an author is forced to do that - it's ok, if she/he wants to be free of the imago she/he has created.
Kiya
Posted By: Kris Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 12:54 PM
Quote
<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/offtopic.gif" alt="" /> totally! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

maybe u can open a thread on house-building so i can learn more about it.

so should i build my house to please only myself or should i have the audience in mind? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" />


I love that comment! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" /> Such a clever way to pull it back to the topic.

I like your idea of a building thread too. Apart from anything else I'd very much like to hear about your house too, and see some pics if possible.

I'm not sure if I can teach anything useful, but it's a process that lots of people seem to find interesting. I think there's still a bit of nest building instinct in most of us. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> It will take me a day or two to select and upload a few pictures of the process, and compile a bit of waffle, but it is something I've been meaning to do for a while.

BACK ON TOPIC....

The business of writers having multiple pen names is an interesting one. As Kiya points out there are many instances. One of the ironies faced by people who strive to be successful is that once they achieve the fame they often discover how precious their anonymity was, now they've lost it.

Having other names is in some ways a chance to get your freedoms back. The freedom to try new things, the freedom not have have reader expectations to live up to, the freedom to try a different voice, and even the freedom to fail by the standards usually expected of you (even by yourself).

On a couple of occasions I've ended up with two names on the same forum (usually because I'd forgotten the original name and/or password and registered another, only to rediscover the first one). Well, it was enormous fun. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" /> I could jump in and support myself, stage fights with myself, ridicule myself or simply try out two different viewpoints that I was trying to choose between.

This is not quite the same thing of course, but it was certainly very liberating to be able to switch away from my usual self and post in a very different style. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 01:10 PM
In relation to audience, a thought crossed my mind, to which some consideration may be given in this context. It is the question "How much knowledge can I expect my audience to have?"

An example crossing my mind is Piers Anthony's series of "The Incarnations Of Immortality" - good and easy reading, if (!) you have a relatively clear understanding and knowledge of mythology (in this particular instance the graeco/roman -> christian thread). Or James P. Hogan's "Thrice Upon A Time" - lost me to some extent on the path of teoretical physics.

We have discussed before the need of researching, especially if the story is in a real or otherwise "given" (e.g. historical) context. But obviously one must find a balance between describing everything required to understand the context respectively the story, and not boring the reader with "common knowledge". But then again - what can you safely assume an average reader to know, and how do you determine that? Or don't you?
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 01:17 PM
Quote
But then again - what can you safely assume an average reader to know, and how do you determine that?


That's difficult if your story will be translated into several languages. What a European might know, might be totally unknown to a person in another continent.

One way might be to write foot notes - the other is to write a glossary, but both procedures have advantages/disadvantages. What about this: if you use a term you suspect someone might not know - why not include a small explanation via dialogue between 2 chars? And not the whole story, but the part you want to include into your story?

And another way ist this => give your story to another person and ask, if she/he knows what you are talking about. As for translations => maybe a short glossary might be appropriate then.

example =>
My favourite Australian fantasy youth book author is Margaret Mahy. She used Aborigine mythology and involved modern day kids into this world (a bit like Alan Garner). As my knowledge was very rudimentary in this case, I started to read these legends and found a totally new fascinating world of legends, gods and other creatures. So, her books opened a new world for me. But I don't know if I'm an average reader. I like to find out stuff - maybe a reader would just like to be entertained. In any case - she explained the part, where she put in a mythological creature very well. Her heroine simply memorised this.
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 01:43 PM
Yes Kiya, but you are already thinking towards solution - but how do you become aware of the problem? Your point of other cultural backgrounds is valid, and in addition to the general problem.

My consideration is, writers will (hopefully) have thought about their context, and be knowledgeable to an extent that could well exceed general knowledge. And this is where I see the danger lie.
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 01:54 PM
Quote
Glance:
but how do you become aware of the problem?


By giving your story to another person and asking if she/he knows what you are talking about. The point is this, Glance => does the reader need to know the background of the terms you used? Or can she/he follow the story without this knowledge? What would be lost if not?
I've been following "on the road again" - you all used Nordic mythological knowledge as a background. Do you think, a reader without this knowledge could follow your group story?

Edit: Sorry, the typo devil is in my room today
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 02:29 PM
Quote
Yes Kiya, but you are already thinking towards solution - but how do you become aware of the problem? Your point of other cultural backgrounds is valid, and in addition to the general problem.

My consideration is, writers will (hopefully) have thought about their context, and be knowledgeable to an extent that could well exceed general knowledge. And this is where I see the danger lie.


You will find your answers in the demographics of your specific genre. And, if you want to learn how to find the demographics of your genre or what you think the genre of your story fits into, check into publishers websites. I use Writer's Market to find this information. Or, you could use a search engine. I typed in "demographics+readers+mysteries" into Google and found this particular site:

BookBrowse

You might want to check out Publisher's Weekly. They have a section called "Industry Resources" that I've found quite useful. And other places you can find information on demographics is, of course, market research firms like Gallup

The best place to start hunting down this information (from my experience) is at Writer's Digest. They have a whole site devoted to this type of information. You have to pay for it - minimum amount is $2.99 a month: Writer's Market.com

If you're not sure what genre your story falls into, you might want to join an online writer's group, post a portion of it and ask for feedback. I've done that before with great success.

I hope some of this is helpful!


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 03:02 PM
Quote
In relation to audience, a thought crossed my mind, to which some consideration may be given in this context. It is the question "How much knowledge can I expect my audience to have?"

An example crossing my mind is Piers Anthony's series of "The Incarnations Of Immortality" - good and easy reading, if (!) you have a relatively clear understanding and knowledge of mythology (in this particular instance the graeco/roman -> christian thread). Or James P. Hogan's "Thrice Upon A Time" - lost me to some extent on the path of teoretical physics.

We have discussed before the need of researching, especially if the story is in a real or otherwise "given" (e.g. historical) context. But obviously one must find a balance between describing everything required to understand the context respectively the story, and not boring the reader with "common knowledge". But then again - what can you safely assume an average reader to know, and how do you determine that? Or don't you?


Excellent question, Glance and one that's crossed my mind numerous times. I go with the assumption that my audience is much wiser than I am. That forces me to make sure my research is on target and that I know my subject matter as best I can. It also forces me to read as many books as I can get my hand on in a specific genre to see how other authors approach a specific theme, plot or circumstance. If I'm building a new fantasy world (which I am at the moment), I try to find as many authors whose work is similar to my theme, writing style or storyline. The same goes for historical novels, science fiction and even mainstream. At the moment, I'm mired down in Tolkien's books on his creation of Middle Earth. Lots of fun and excellent source. I've also invested in some software to help me design maps - the cartographer in me has come to life. *g*

I have a lot of "how to" books in my library which includes everything from gardening (which I'm not really good at) to police procedural (which I've never done). I even have books on 'how to poison someone' (lol), 'how to lie like a pro' and many books on slang, language, euphimisms, etc. I keep these on hand for developing characters, their hobbies, careers, lifestyles, friends, etc. I've also got many books on human behavior, poetry, how to write poetry, medieval times, mythology, fairytales, religions and spirituality (my library is huge and takes up most of the space in my tiny apartment). So, if my characters have any of the above interests, I'm able to immerse myself into their realm and learn as much as I can about any given subject. With the advent of the Internet, I have more resources at my finger tips.

Writing a story for public consumption is not an easy task. Ask any of the folks here who write at fanfic sites. Your audience will call you on any tiny mistake or deviation from the expected character or plotline. Even in the world of fantasy and scifi (a/k/a as "speculative fiction"). The unbelieveable has to be believed. Otherwise, the whole point is lost.

It sounds to me like you're a tiny bit overwhelmed, Glance. And if that's the case, join the crowd. Developing your own audience is quite different (and much harder) than writing for an existing audience. I have a friend who writes mysteries. Her 3rd in a series was recently published. She's now working on the 6th (I believe). It took her 9 years to get to the point where she is now. First-book publications are not the norm (even though they seem to be). It takes time to learn what type of writing you're best at, to develop your own voice and even more to find an audience. That's why I suggest joining an online writer's group. I also think having what I call a "crit buddy" is an excellent idea. Find someone whose writing style is similar to your own and someone who's a fan of your genre. And try not to have friends or family be that critic. Find someone who is involved in the world of writing. Have them go over your stories and reciprocate, as well.

I'm glad you asked this question. In fact, you've asked some very pertinent questions and I think we've all benefitted from the pooled knowledge in this forum. Thanks!


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />


Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 03:23 PM
Kris said:

Quote


Having other names is in some ways a chance to get your freedoms back. The freedom to try new things, the freedom not have have reader expectations to live up to, the freedom to try a different voice, and even the freedom to fail by the standards usually expected of you (even by yourself).


Excellent observations, Kris - and impressive, too! Taking on a pen name can be liberating for the well-known author who wants to try something new. Readers can be fickle. After all, you've invited them into your world of characters and they develop a certain level of expectations. To deviate from those expectations is, at times, a gamble and one publishers aren't willing to risk -- especially in today's high-priced print publishers.

Quote
On a couple of occasions I've ended up with two names on the same forum (usually because I'd forgotten the original name and/or password and registered another, only to rediscover the first one). Well, it was enormous fun. I could jump in and support myself, stage fights with myself, ridicule myself or simply try out two different viewpoints that I was trying to choose between.


LOL - I've done the same thing. I have joined a fewsites and quickly forgot the name or password only to become comfortable with a new nickname. I've created some pretty amusing dramas all by myself. But in the end, I eventually let the forum members know it was me all along. I dislike playing with people's trust - even on the internet. My 'guilt' gene is enormous and always over active. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 04:54 PM
Quote
HEY! I'm a teenager, and most of that is fecking boring in a book, to be frank. Some colleges/schools are ok, but like Hogwarts.......er, yeah. 'nuff said.

So you can't be too biased on age groups.

Hallo . . . But yes, you can't be to subjective because of the age . . . Did I mean to say all this or is it another loss of sleep again?

Roight. Well, just don't be biased IMHO.


Lews...

As Winterfox said (Thanks, Winterfox <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />) those age categories are general notes on the usual age markets for novels, not specifics aimed at every single individual reader - which would not be possible! I myself was reading books from the adult section of my local library at age 12 and never, ever read any 'teen' fiction, even when I was a teen.

So I know as well as you that individuals do not fit neatly into categories <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: LewsTherinKinslayer13 Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 05:09 PM
Oh, and also tell him we're behaving ourselves. (Except for Lews... )
------

<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/puppyeyes.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cry.gif" alt="" />



Ahh, thanks. Sometimes people just get stereotyped because of their age, its annoying.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 05:09 PM
Quote
In relation to audience, a thought crossed my mind, to which some consideration may be given in this context. It is the question "How much knowledge can I expect my audience to have?"


Glance...

This is an excellent question.

As a general rule, I would say it does depend on your target audience. Certainly I would expect an adult not to have to be told what a dragon was, for example, or anything else that might easily fall under the heading of common knowledge.

Anything more obscure, I tend to explain as I go. We all tend to develop areas of specialist knowledge, and it is very easy for us to assume that our readers know things we consider 'simple' - but it is certainly not always the case. I remember having to rewrite a scene or two myself in order to explain things properly when nearly every one of my readers asked me what the heck happened and why! This is not a mistake I care to repeat, I assure you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

Most readers read a story to be entertained, and nothing more. If you delve deeply into realms of specialist knowledge with no attempt at explaining anything, you will lose a mainstream audience very quickly.

So my rule is always to explain anything that the reader must understand if they are to follow the plot and enjoy the story. That way, they will understand what is going on, even if I have slipped up and given them insoluble riddles on the minor stuff <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Hope this helps <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 05:15 PM
Quote
Ahh, thanks. Sometimes people just get stereotyped because of their age, its annoying.


Lews...

I think one of the hardest things to remember is that while generalisations can often be useful, no single individual will ever fit neatly into one. People will always surprise you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: LewsTherinKinslayer13 Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 05:17 PM
I think I can think of a few people who fit into some
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/07/04 05:41 PM
Quote
WF:
The degree of importance many teens will place on themselves and their petty, illusory concerns is quite astounding. Thus, I have no patience for any literature dealing with them and therefore stay far, far away from them.

Lucky you - as our adult section starts at 14+ - so, it's part of our clientel, and as I'm in charge of novels => no choice on my behalf. But there's still a section I like to read => youth fantasy books. They have no adolescent probs as the main goal (and not this predictable heroic combat stuff or love, yarch.) This bores me a lot in adult novels, and I develop no patience then, but simply skim through the first 20-30, the middle 20 and the last 20-30 pages. Mostly sufficient to write a summary. If a novel survives this procedure, then I read the whole.
Kiya
Posted By: Kris Re: The Writing Thread ! - 06/07/04 01:42 AM
Elliot Kane said:

Quote

So my rule is always to explain anything that the reader must understand if they are to follow the plot and enjoy the story. That way, they will understand what is going on, even if I have slipped up and given them insoluble riddles on the minor stuff <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Hope this helps <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Nicely put EK. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

As a reader I don't expect to understand every piece of information in a story, so long as the key points are rendered clearly. Much of it can successfully do its job as 'colour' without my fully understanding the details.

It's also one of the most common ways we learn new words - simply by being exposed to them in context. We might not know that 'riparian' means living on a river bank but we'll probably get the sense of the word from its setting. The same can apply to new information.

I thoroughly enjoy being exposed to new things when I read. Sometimes it will provoke a flurry of research, but not always. I can read a book on science or music for instance and not grasp half of what is being said yet thoroughly enjoy just slipping into another world and basking in the light of a different sun for a while.
Posted By: LewsTherinKinslayer13 Re: The Writing Thread ! - 06/07/04 02:32 AM
I'm important! Mummy said so! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/puppyeyes.gif" alt="" /> Though most teenagers in my class are so pathetic, with their 'love' problems. Oh no, somebody broke up with them, and they had gotten to the point that they had actually held hands on the bus! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif" alt="" /> Lets all cry and force the person to eat french fries!
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 06/07/04 04:48 AM
Thanks, Kris <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 10/07/04 08:39 PM
I recently found some of my "poems" I wrote as a Teenager and as a Twenty-something. Looking at some, I was kind of shocked how much pain and aggression and what's German "Wut" they contained ! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 10/07/04 11:01 PM
Alrik...

MY teenage poems were just pretentious twaddle <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: LewsTherinKinslayer13 Re: The Writing Thread ! - 10/07/04 11:11 PM
Wait, let me go get one from a year or so ago.


Hear Hear?
Drink me cheer!
Of course I can hear!
Unless you cheer!
I made a ryhme!
with only one set of words
and one beat of time!
like picking thyme
garden!
its not, uh, harden?

Er, let me get a better one.

Hmm, a 2 verse one.


...comming from his house
we better save him
I know! I'll sing a hymn!

halleulia
halleulia
ha;;eulia halleuilai


stupic classical
I have no clue
what he was taking about
when he stuck that glue

onto the music page
making the words from "galls of Julia"
to Halleullia!

Galls of Julia!
Galls of Julia!
Of Julia
Halleulia!
Praise, the Galls!


This classical
I have no clue
what is going on
its like that movie tron!

the one with the guys running around?
on the little bikes, with those cool sounds!
no classical in that
not Mozzart or anyone
not even a bat

Galls of Julia!
Galls of Julia!
Of Julia
Halleulia!
Praise, the Galls!

I thionk we better keep going on
cause even like the move tron
this has to end
even if I've turned the bend

so I say once more
in that nice voice
from the door

Galls of Julia!
Galls of Julia!
Of Julia
Halleulia!
Praise, the Galls!

Praise those galls!
why the glue?
I have no clue!
Im very
confused!


----


I was told I cheated on it, so....

----

so sorry
I am
so sorry
I wish

so sorry
maybe
so sorry
yeah right!


I said I was sorry
I guess that was mean
for I have no reason to be
except that was not nice

I love to eat mice
but they say be nice
so I guess I should be like a mouse
living in someone elses house


I'm sorry dear guild
I didn't know
what rymes with guild!
huild, auild, juild, killed!

I didn't want to hurt you
but I had a story to tell

of a gall name Julia, who was in that songs
that group of them
long ones and short ones

Galls of Julia!
Galls of Julia!
Of Julia
Halleulia!
Praise, the Galls!


Praise those galls!
why the glue?
I have no clue!
Im very
confused!


sorry, what did I do!


--------


I think I was worse when I was young! Mine was of galls!
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/07/04 10:21 AM
How do I develop such complicated plots, like in the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn, or the Discworld books, with "twists" and turns ?
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/07/04 01:01 PM
Quote
How do I develop such complicated plots, like in the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn, or the Discworld books, with "twists" and turns ?


Er, I don't think there's any clear-cut formula for such a thing (that'd defeat the whole purpose, wouldn't it?). But my advice is this: if you want a complicated plot and do not want to lose sight of plot threads yourself, learn to be a good planner. Write down an outline and stick with it.

Of course, I and much more interested in characterization, and I let my characters -- sometimes -- write themselves, so I'd be more concerned with how to develop interesting characters (the rest pretty much flow on their own). Inter-character conflicts, sub-plots -- all of these add to the complexity of the general story arc.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 12:05 AM
Alrik...

Here is an edited version of my Plot Guide (I've stripped out the superhero references as usual <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />). It still reads a little oddly at points for a general guide, but the principles are basically the same. Hopefully it will be useful to you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Constructing The Plot

These are the questions I ask myself when I am constructing a plot:

1) What Is The Point Of Contention?

What is the prize? What are the protagonists seeking to achieve? This might be anything from 'a quiet night' to 'acquiring a mystic artifact'. Or anything else, really... What are the basic motivations that actuate the plot? Who or what is the prime mover?

This is the basic concept of the arc, and can usually be expressed as a short phrase, such as 'Earthquake in Brazil' or 'Out on a date' or 'Invasion of Earth'.

2) Is there a villain? What are they after?

If so, what are his motives? What does he hope to achieve? Are his goals the same as the heroes, or different? If the villain is not the motivator behind the arc, how does he come into it? Is there more than one villain? If so, are they working together or against each other?

3) Who is the Villain?

Are they interesting? Will they be a challenge to the heroes? Are they an ideological challenge as well as a physical one? Can they be portrayed as a realistic threat? Are they too powerful? If so, is there any way to even the odds that will work naturally within the context of the story?

4) Why is the villain there?

Far more important than who the villain is, is why they are active within the particular story you are writing. What do they hope to gain? Why are they risking their life and/or freedom? Many stories fail simply because the writer has not considered this question.

5) Why are the heroes there?

What draws them into this adventure in the first place? Heroes are generally more reactive than villains, so this one is usually easier, but should not be taken for granted regardless. Coincidence should be avoided wherever possible...

6) Does the villain know about the heroes?

If so, how has s/he allowed for them? If not, how will s/he react on encountering them? Does the villain have any past history with the heroes, or other sources of knowledge? How well will s/he know the heroes?

7) Do the heroes know about the villain?

As above, but opposite perspective.

8) How do the heroes win?

Vital to know before you even begin. If this one isn't plausible, your whole story is dead. Note that the heroes do not have to win every time. Simply surviving can sometimes be accounted a great victory.

9) How badly is the villain beaten?

A heavy defeat lowers credibility for the future. This is bad. A good villain should always salvage something, if only the knowledge that the heroes took a right beating in order to stop him.

A villain that is nowhere near the heroes' class, and is only being beaten up for information or equipment may be beaten as easily as desired.

10) Does the internal logic of the whole plot hang together?

Will the characters logically react in the way that you need them to? Will the villain? A good plot is always driven by the characters, not by the requirements of the plot. If the heroes are to be captured, why? Why does the villain not kill them?

If any part of the logic fails to convince when tested from all angles, the story must be either amended or thrown away, and a new beginning made.

11) What is the point of this story?

Why am I telling this story with these characters? What, if anything, will the characters gain? Will the reader learn anything new about them? Is this a new story, or just a rehash of something else? Is the story sufficiently challenging for the characters? Will it be entertaining for any readers?

12) Actions Have Consequences

Always remember, if you intend to tell more stories with the same characters, that what you have written will impact their world.

If one of your characters makes an enemy, that enemy may later seek revenge. If your cast quarrel badly, they should not magically become friends again between stories.

Always consider the ramifications of your plot upon all the subplots you are developing and the direction of your overall story.

Failure to do so will damage not only the integrity of your world, but also the credibility of your characters.

***

When you have answered all of those questions, you can then create a basic framework, laying out each chapter in terms of the things you need to cover with it. The real trick here is creating something your characters can move about in without wanting to move outside of. A good character will change some things as you write them, but a good plotter allows sufficient wiggle room for the character to do that <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Hope this helps <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

If you are interested, I will post one of my completed plot synopses as a general example of how this process actually looks when it is put into practice...
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 12:51 AM
Quote
Of course, I and much more interested in characterization, and I let my characters -- sometimes -- write themselves, so I'd be more concerned with how to develop interesting characters (the rest pretty much flow on their own). Inter-character conflicts, sub-plots -- all of these add to the complexity of the general story arc.


And, naturally, I don't have a guide for the really hard one yet <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I'll try my best on the fly, though <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Interesting Characters

Basically have clear motivations/goals and are unique in at least one respect, be it in personality, skill set, or anything else. If a reader sees a character who is clearly heading somewhere, they will want to go along just to see what happens. A drifter character with no basic goals and no idea of where they are headed will only sustain short term interest as the story will ramble pointlessly - all stories being a reflection of the character(s) they revolve around.

Interesting characters can also be created by taking a stereotype from one genre and throwing it into another where it is forced to adapt to a situation it would not normally encounter, though this works better for secondary (Supporting cast) characters than for primary ones.

As an example of the latter, I once put the stock 'Love Interest' character for a swashbuckler into a story with my favourite Sorceress. As a result, the poor girl turned into rather an interesting foil for my lead, though she hated both the situation and the 'Evil Witch' <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

(That story is here if anyone is interested.)

Inter-Character Conflicts

Conflict must arise naturally from who the characters are, and preferably from either ideological or goal-related differences of opinion. People do not 'just' dislike each other - there is always a reason, and most of the time it begins with a deep difference in perspective.

For example, a character who believes in the sanctity of life would obviously dislike anyone who thinks nothing of casually killing a foe, yet the two characters may be forced to work together by an over-riding necessity. Neither one of them is going to like it though.

At other times, characters will dislike each other because they see qualities in others that they dislike in themselves, or that run counter to their definition of 'correct' behaviour. A fastidious Elf may deeply object to a Barbarian on grounds of his personal hygiene, table manners, or habit of groping waitresses in the taverns they visit.

Note that such dislikes are not always a two-way street. Assuming our Elf is female, our Barbarian may admire her immensely and try to win her heart, seeing her as a kind of goddess. He may love the way she always smells of wild flowers, admire her grace and beauty, and not really understand why she doesn't like him. After all, according to HIS culture, he is doing nothing wrong...

Sub-Plots

A good sub-plot involves one or more characters pursuing a goal that is significant only to them, and not to the rest of the cast. The warrior seeking his father's sword; the mage seeking news of her missing fiance; the arch-villain seeking to find his missing (And well loved) brother.

Whereas a good main plot arises out of current motivation, a good (Non-romantic - different rules there!) sub-plot usually arises out of a character's past. So I guess the rule here is simple - work out something of the past of each character, and see what it might offer in terms of sub-plots.

Romance is a whole other kingdom, and really needs a guide unto itself, so I won't touch on that here <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Suffice to say the difference between a contrived relationship and a realistic one is very great indeed...
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 03:52 AM
I actually stay away from guidelines/essays on how to create interesting characters -- not scorning what you've posted here, Elliot, but personal preferences. Again, like what I said about creating complex plots, applying formulae to this could be detrimental. Some people will suggest that you create a character profile: list the likes, dislikes, personality traits, skills, flaws -- but that doesn't work for me, either, since I'm a horrible plotter and planner.

So yes, I do think creating interesting characters can be hard, but if you let them hop around in your head a bit -- even run along with the story -- I think developing good ones shouldn't be too hard. I know that my characters are a lot more solid to me by, say, the fifth chapter than they were when I started planning the story.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 04:31 AM
Quote
So yes, I do think creating interesting characters can be hard, but if you let them hop around in your head a bit -- even run along with the story -- I think developing good ones shouldn't be too hard. I know that my characters are a lot more solid to me by, say, the fifth chapter than they were when I started planning the story.


I think that's true however much thought a writer puts into a character before they start. I know it's true for me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I tend to write test scenes for important characters - just to get the hang of them, before I write my actual stories - for this very reason. Helps run them in a bit <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

And you're right - no formula for character creation is perfect, nor will it work for every writer and every character. But it MIGHT give a starting point, which, I hope, is not unuseful <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 04:52 AM
Quote
And you're right - no formula for character creation is perfect, nor will it work for every writer and every character. But it MIGHT give a starting point, which, I hope, is not unuseful <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Oh, I certainly think it's useful, especially for someone who's working in the sketchy, beginning phase.
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 09:50 AM
Angst rant:

Angst doesn't stand for character development. Angst doesn't even stand for characterization. If anything, angst will sometimes hinder development and freeze your character in time, keeping him/her from moving on and changing. I have very little patience for people who moan and wail and groan in online posts how miserable, how wretched, how pained, or how depressed they are -- so I don't go near them and refrain from making a comment, because these people generally crave attention and pats on the back. It's childish and pitiful; I've seen a woman who does it in spite of being over twenty (and should, really, know better). The minute I see a similar exercise from a fictional character, I snap and either stop reading or hurl the book across the room.

I've said it before in a different situation, and I'll say it again: nobody bloody cares. Especially in fantasy/sci-fi/adventure novels. Who really gives a damn about the heroine's self-esteem issues when there's a world to be saved, or there's a tyrant to be overthrown? Who would have the time? There's no way for the heroine to spend chapter after chapter moaning about the crush who spurned her ten years ago and not grate on a sane person's nerves. Now, angst can be done well, but excessive angst is never good. It makes me -- and a good many people -- want to slap the character upside the head and snarl, "Get over it already, you little brat!" Because, quite simply, misplaced priorities of characters lead to them angsting over every tiny little thing when they should have been able to come to grips with it and moved on long ago. Or at least seen the local equivalent of psychiatrist about it. Having another character yell at the bundle of angst to snap out of it is probably a good idea, too.

Worse still, many authors seem to think that it will garner sympathy and therefore attachment for the characters. Clue: it doesn't, not until you've made the reader care about the character first. Then the angst can have dramatic impact; if you're good, it'll tug at the reader's heartstrings. If you aren't, well, it'll just come off as cheap, gratuitous, and shallow. This brings me to the next point -- excessive angst lacks subtlety. Spare me the 4,000 words of stream-of-consciousness where the character just sits there does nothing but wallow in self-pity/guilt/pain, please. Good angst should be subtle and inserted between the lines, hidden under an ongoing, ever-moving story, not shoved down the reader's throat in a massive block paragraph. See R.A. Salvatore for an example of hideous, juvenile angst in the journal entries of his drow ranger.
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 10:34 AM
Well, dealing with the word "Angst" in English language is for a German quite difficult : It's the same word, but slight differences in meaning in both languages.

Angst in German is a kind of very strong fear, well, Angst. If you are scared to death because a truck is driving exactly into your direction and you're nailed town to the ground (and therefore cn't move), you'll surely feel Angst. Angst is what keeps a person from running across a motorhighway simply because of the high risk to lose live.

Angst in English seems to be a bit stronger to me, sometimes; I still have to figure out what it *exactly* means there. It's not only fear, but also seems to have to do with the word anger, but I'm not sure about that.

Anyway, it's one of the examples of German words wandered into the English language (like Pollen, for example). <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" />

Alrik.
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 11:08 AM
From Dictionary.com:

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angst

n : an acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety; usually reserved for philosophical anxiety about the world or about personal freedom [syn: Angst]


Example:

Quote
Why is life so painful?

I realize just how much life really does suck. Yeah. There is always all this talk of how things will always get better. How if you just hold onto a little faith, that change is inevitable. And considering that I have been so haplessly trying to believe that, it seems that faith has undeniably eluded me.

Sometimes I just want to sit back and cry. To just in a blink, release all my pain. I envision a life of just being happy. To be free of this prison I've been slung into. But, despite all my efforts, I cannot seem to break the chains. And I know of the one thing that will, but there is uncertainty if that is even going to happen.

At times, I just feel like I am drowning. Faltering to dark side life's true onslaughts and slowly becoming part of the statistics. Throughout the years, I've lived in denial and veiled the truth to praise my own fantasies. But I have actually come to realization that is nothing but a substitute for what my heart has desired all this time. And now, as much as I try to fulfill the life I had so desperately tried to push back, it seems that even in this aspect, I am succeeding at only opening empty hands.

There are even times I cannot breathe. My depression is so great, I even begin to believe that hope has become completely lost. I've even begun to notice that only things of a dark nature seem to bring me the slightest comfort. Even the once wanted comfort given by friends as an always welcomed commodity, is now just but a meaningless attempt by endearing friends that does not help ease the pain. I've regressed so far in just a short time, the thought of leaning on a endless path has begun to swell in my mind. I even contemplate if there is even a future at all.

There are times... I just want to give up all hope. To just succumb to the shadows creeping into my heart and come to an understanding that the future I so desperately want to grasp, is just too far out of my reach. As young as I am, I don't want to live the rest of my life in such a pitiful existence. But, if it cannot be accompanied by the very aspect of what my heart is seeking. What is there even a point to even continuing?


Ahem; that brings back the horror -- excuse me while I go fetch a bucket into which I will forthwith empty the contents of my stomach. Then I'll come back, re-read this and giggle myself silly. Can you believe it was an adult woman who wrote this?
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 11:17 AM
No, you're on the right track : Angst is always seen in horror movies, for example.

I was almost thinking the same : Angst *can* drive towards horror ... Edgar Allan Poe is a good example for that.
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 11:39 AM
Er, I do believe the German and English definitions differ by a great deal. Are you even reading what I've posted? I reiterate:

Quote
angst

n : an acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety; usually reserved for philosophical anxiety about the world or about personal freedom [syn: Angst]


Not what you'd generally see in a horror movie. What you see there is usually anxiety, fear, terror, or panic. There is a reason they are seperate words, you know; you can't throw the word "angst" around willy-nilly and try to apply it to things that it's just not related to.

If a teen worries about her petty little concerns ("I don't have a boyfriend! My grades suck! My parents won't let me sleep around!") -- that's angst.

If, say, a character is worrying about the fact that she's turned into a cold-hearted monster who kills indiscriminately and contemplates it for a long time -- that's angst.

Drizzt Do'Urden (R.A. Salvatore's character) sits down and contemplates the morals of his race -- this is also angst.
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 11:54 AM
Now, how would you call that what people seem ho "have" (go through" in horror stories or movies (Scream as a well-known example) ? I'd call it Angst - out of my own, personal and German point of view. From my point of vieew, you went on the write track - concerning the German meaning of the word - as you hinted about horror.

The description "an acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety" is usually right for German Angst - but it's not related to the rest of it at all (especially not philosophy) (" usually reserved for philosophical anxiety about the world or about personal freedom"), but rather to everything else. So to say, part one of the sentence is right, part two isn't.

I often see that people whouse the English language use "fear" as what's Angst in German, but not always. The English language doesn't really hve a word for German Angst, that's where my irritation comes from. You'll have the same with "mind" , but only vice versa.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 01:20 PM
Good 'rant' Winterfox <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Though I spared myself the horrors of reading your example <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 01:22 PM
Alrik...

Angst in English is not based on genuine fears or real terrors, which I believe, from your description, is the basic difference between the English and German versions.

The feelings experienced by characters in horror films are usually 'dread', 'fear', 'horror', 'terror' etc - but never angst. (Also 'stupidity' as in "Let's take the torch down into the cellar to investigate the strange rhythmic thumping noises, but leave the shotgun behind!" <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />)
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 01:59 PM
Really ? If so, that's why I was so puzzled ...

What is the meaning of Angst THEN , anyway ? (Apart from Winterfox' description.) Please tell me examples in books or movies so I can make up a picture for that.
Posted By: Sveltje Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 06:30 PM
Just to get this straight: Angst in German is not Fear, that's "Furcht". Today we tend to use the word "Angst" when we mean "Furcht". Originally, though, Angst in German meant a state of being afraid but without a concrete cause, more like an unspecific uneasiness.

I guess that was the basis for the English use of the word.

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 08:36 PM
Alrik...

I don't think I can do any better than the descriptions Winterfox & I have given earlier in this thread. Sorry...
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/07/04 08:37 PM
Sveltje...

Thanks for the clarification <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I suspect you are right.
Posted By: Plowking Re: The Writing Thread ! - 19/08/04 01:08 PM


I've just finished the first part of a short horror story I'm writing. I'd like to post the link here to get any views on it. This would be my first attempt at something like this since my school days (over 15 years ago)!

Note: rating for this story is 15's <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/evilgrin1.gif" alt="" />

The Creeping Black
Posted By: Jurak Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/08/04 12:34 AM
out of what?? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" /> Just kidding......good story Plowking.... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />
lets wait and see if Winterfox rips it all apart for you! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/evilgrin1.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/08/04 09:16 AM
Plowking:

First, rampant apostrophe misuse. You end up with "it's" instead of "its", and "fathers" rather than "father's." (And on and on. Possessive nouns and plural nouns are two rather different things.) Punctuation errors (missing commas, and lots of them) abound, on top of some typos (were/where -- they aren't even homonyms, you know, so why do people keep confusing them?). Articles (the) seem to be missing in various places. (Notably, "back." "Place him in the back" is correct; "place him in back" isn't.) Initially, these little errors aren't too bad, but due to frequency (i.e., every other sentence), they quickly become distracting.

Quote
“No dad I wasn’t! I was playing out back alone with my cars and Sparky was jumping on our fence…then he stopped, stopped moving.” Sparky was next doors little Yorkshire terrier and Harold hated the noisy mutt. I’ll skin that bloody thing one of these days!


"No, dad, I wasn't." Notice the placement of commas, yes? Oh, and "Sparky was next door's little Yorkshire terrier, and Harold hated..."

The italicized thought shouldn't even be on the same paragraph. It makes it seem as if it belongs to Adam rather than Harold. Granted, the "...Harold hated the noisy mutt" part clarifies it, but it's irritating, nevertheless. Remember, begin a new paragraph for every new speaker.

Overall: I can't comment on the plot much, since it seems to be far from finished. It's interesting, but seems to be, for the most part, a rather typical fare. (Mysterious voodoo/virus/alien thing out to contaminate and devour people. No offense, but it has a taste of "been there, done that, bought the souvenir, not impressed" rampant in B-movie horror flicks.) Some of the descriptions are nicely vivid, but otherwise very little -- dialogue, turn of phrase and such -- stand out (see above comment about typical fare).
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/08/04 11:42 AM
Quote
Winterfox:
Ahem; that brings back the horror -- excuse me while I go fetch a bucket into which I will forthwith empty the contents of my stomach. Then I'll come back, re-read this and giggle myself silly. Can you believe it was an adult woman who wrote this?


@Winterfow:
Yes, I can fully believe an adult woman wrote this - and I fully understand what she's aiming at, though I would need the whole context to see more. Please, give me her name, so I can congratulate her for her courage to write this in public - a courage I would lack, as this would expose myself too much.

I gather, you asked her for permission before taking her text and posting it here? I'm not familiar with the ethical code amongst scavengers and vultures aka critics <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif" alt="" /> in the literature scene (or her little toddler sister: fan fiction) - but I would like to thank her and inform her about the link here - as this text is her mental property IMO. Maybe it is Usus to steal and my wish is unusual - but I always make my own rules as I have to live with them and no one else. I call it decency and respect. My only embarassment and pity goes to those, who cringe at these kind of texts, as they lack something IMO.
Kiya

Thank you in advance. And please, post it in public, as I do not wish PM from you. Thank you in advance for respecting this.
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/08/04 12:39 PM
Quote
I gather, you asked her for permission before taking her text and posting it here? I'm not familiar with the ethical code amongst scavengers and vultures aka critics


Well done. Apparently all critics are vultures and/or scavengers, eh? Even though you probably haven't met them all, amateurs and professionals alike? Go, insulting blanket statements, go!

Uhm, not that it's particularly insulting in the first place. But okay. I appreciate the... effort? And hey, I'm sure you've never, ever, criticized a single thing in your life, never mind books. Bein' a librarian an' all.

Quote
rolleyes in the literature scene (or her little toddler sister: fan fiction) - but I would like to thank her and inform her about the link here - as this text is her mental property IMO.


"IMO" is right, Kiya. Look up "Fair Use Clause." Oh, and the woman hasn't registered her wittle rants for copyrights. Even if she had, the word you are looking for is intellectual property. There is no theft, and no "code" or law has been violated, especially since I don't claim ownership for the text in question, less still acquire commercial profit.

Quote
Maybe it is Usus to steal and my wish is unusual - but I always make my own rules as I have to live with them and no one else.


Mmm. Who is "Usus"? Do you mean "Ursus"? What do bears have to do with it? And, oh, dearie, dearie me. I don't abide by your rules. I must be a bad person lacking in decency and respect, eh? That's okay. I love you, too. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

Or, alternatively: *sniffles* I'm so hurt, to be condemned so by a complete psycho-analyzing stranger on the Intarweb! Why, my heart would have broken into tiny bits (like glass shards bleeding in my soul, or something). If I had one, that is.

Quote
I call it decency and respect. My only embarassment and pity goes to those, who cringe at these kind of texts, as they lack something IMO.
Kiya


Mmm. The people who would cringe at this generally see it for what it really is: angsty whining. But if you want to see it the other way, that's fine. Don't decry those who don't agree with you, hmmm?

Quote
Thank you in advance. And please, post it in public, as I do not wish PM from you. Thank you in advance for respecting this.


My, my. Would a PM from me contaminate your personal space? Lather it all over with, er, shark-poison, perhaps? (Putting, naturally, aside the fact that sharks simply do not secrete poison.)

Pssst. Kiya, it's okay, really. The sandbox is all yours. I'm not trying to take it, or the ball, from you.
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/08/04 12:41 PM
I would still like the name, if possible.
Kiya

Usus => Latin word for usage
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/08/04 01:17 PM
Quote
I would still like the name, if possible.
Kiya

Usus => Latin word for usage


Only when you stop with the not-very-subtle jabs, Kiya -- and please don't say you are not meaning to offend, because you very much are. (Unless, of course, you would like to be called a carrion-eater. Or a refuse-digging Suidae domesticus.) If you have something to say to me, come out and say it like an articulate adult. Don't do it the little girl's way and use insulting blanket statements you think will apply to me, because they just lessen your credibility and, more often than not, backfire.
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/08/04 01:23 PM
Just the name, please.
Kiya

http://www.evergreen.edu/writingcenter/handouts/general/sources.doc
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/08/04 03:38 PM
It is totally normal in the German language to use the word "usus" as a word which means "the use of something".

I could for example say "In our home it is usus to wash our hands before eating the meal."

It is as usual and norml, as I would say : "This text has a special ductus". The word "ductus" means "diction", or way of speech / writing (hope I've spelled it correctly).

So I could say "this texts has a special diction", and this would be the same.



Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/08/04 03:42 PM
She's Asian, Alrik - so, being able to identify the word "ursus" as Latin - might not be the same case for "usus". I don't think Latin is taught in Asia <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> - it's the Mother of European language, after all.
Kiya
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/08/04 03:56 PM
Yeah, you're right. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

My usual <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> tip for anyone interested in German and generally european languages : "The Loom of Language" by Frederick Bodmer. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />


By the way :

The Dialect Domain , thread in the Fan Fiction area at www.theforce.net covering writing of dialects (English dialects, of course <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> ) .


Thread there about writing stories in own languages - seemingly www.theforce.net has very few of them.

Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/08/04 04:22 AM
Quote
It is totally normal in the German language to use the word "usus" as a word which means "the use of something".

I could for example say "In our home it is usus to wash our hands before eating the meal."

It is as usual and norml, as I would say : "This text has a special ductus". The word "ductus" means "diction", or way of speech / writing (hope I've spelled it correctly).

So I could say "this texts has a special diction", and this would be the same.


And so? Therefore? I thought we were communicating in English, here. Shall I start inserting random Chinese, Japanese and Thai into my posts?

Kiya: uhm, how about no. If you were resourceful, you could probably find the person yourself. I don't feel obliged to acquiesce to any request of yours, sorry. Next time, maybe you could make a request without slinging insults at the same time, hmm?
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/08/04 08:15 AM
I used google and put in what I thought, were distinctive quote parts in order to find the original writer. If I had found her myself, I wouldn't have asked but contacted her directly, Winterfox. Therefore I thought, her content was somewhere to be downloaded in form of a doc and google might not find it. And it has nothing to do with infringement of copyright or "fair use clause" (though it astonished me, to find the word "fair" in your post <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> ) but simply with a clean way of quoting by naming the originator's name as full source, in the way it was done in the link, I posted.

I don't care, if you consider my wish an insult - and I will continue to speak up if I consider it necessary (you wanted a promise, right? Here it is). Credibility was never my concern - it's not up to me to decide this, but decision or choice of others, and has no impact on me - same goes for backfiring. Keeping silent about what I think might be descrediting persons who can't defend themselves, because their work is used in the manner you did (without naming them as a source), is cowardice in my eyes - and this weighs far more for me than credibility. Not clear enough?
Quote
WF:
Ahem; that brings back the horror -- excuse me while I go fetch a bucket into which I will forthwith empty the contents of my stomach...

Quote
WF:
The people who would cringe at this generally see it for what it really is: angsty whining

Maybe clear enough now? And if still not clear => IMO you use quotes in order to jeer at anonymous persons, make fun of them, jab, insult etc. in a form you might think is witty or intelligent. ("Bitching about" is a favourite expression of yours on other forums, where you claim to write critics). Very unprofessional IMO, because it's not even about the work you claim to review/critic, it's just about yourself - in my words => literary exhibitionism in the vulture and scavenger way some "critics" consider professional, revealing nothing about the work - as it is only a tool for this critic, not the subject. I don't take this seriously, as I choose to make up my own mind about what I dislike/dislike in writing - the style simply nauseates me. No, not necessary to fetch me a bucket, even if we share the same reaction.

If you consider my words an insult - you're welcome to express this. I will still ask - in my language style, with my opinion and my explanation why I ask. Take it or leave it, has no impact on my opinion. As you (for whatever reason) do not want to tell me her name, I can only hope, she sees it herself someday and reacts, so I may be able to read the whole context.

Anything still unclear?
Kiya
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/08/04 08:50 AM
I don't think I'm going to waste my time or energy replying to someone who's having so much fun straddling the moral high-horse. Hey, a bit hard to make myself heard when someone's wa[i][/i]nking to the sound of her own voice and her perceived moral superiority.

Credit where credit's due, in any case, because I for one would be loathe to claim ownership of that text. The wangsty entry comes from the blog of the legendary Link's Queen.

Clarification: Kiya, dearest, it is not your wish I find insulting. It is the comparison to vulture/scavenger. If it helps, I don't take you particularly seriously, either. The "style" of pretentious pedanry gets dull after a while, after all.
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/08/04 09:41 AM
@Plow, I just read your story, my thoughts/reactions as a reader:

Very vivid description - by reading I "saw" what you descibed.

language in direct speech - hey, I really liked that, very natural. The way you let Adam speak in his persistant way as rather small kids do if they turn stubborn. Same for the way you described Harold and let him speak - both came alive in my mind: a frightened, bewildered little boy trying to cope with the unknown in a sort of fatalism and stupor - the gruff, somewhat distanced father, who still cares for his son. It was sketched (purpose, hm? As focus goes to the threat) - but enough for me to build up

building up tension and reader curiosity - starting with a strange happening and then extending the weirdness step by step to show the threat, first short culmination in the ambulance scene => <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />

exact description of the environment, so I was not desoriented.

atmosphere - weird, therefore a good ground is prepared to build upon. I'd not put in a lot of horror effects if you continue - like beads on a thread following quickly. Tension can build up better if a silent threat is there and if Adam's full metamorphosis will not occur in your next part IMO. Or do you wish to keep a fast pace in development? I'm just asking, because Hohlbein e.g. (German fantasy/horror author) has a tremendous pace in action, leaving me (the reader) breathless. Too many chases/dangers, following too quickly, so I can't build up pics and delve into a story.

Suggestions to help me (the reader with a vivid imagination):
a description of Adam (if you mean to keep him as the main protagonist) - I saw his hand, arm and what happened to it - but my inner pic wavered a bit: hair/eye colour? Age? Figure? Clothes? Or did you skip this on purpose, as he will complete his metamorphosis?

More exact description of the people you already mentioned, so the persons form more in my mind. Or is this your style, as you want the reader to focus on the black bumps/blisters and the strange creature forming? And a description of these people might distract then? Though, I still would like to see the dog-woman and hope, she will pop up later, need to read more for this. You described Sparky very well and distinctive - so, why not his mistress?

The episode, about how Adam's Mom ran wild and became violent, needs a separation/distinction/inclusion IMO. Either a phrase such as: "Adam' eyes fell upon a dirty wool cap in the corner and he suddenly remembered...." Or "by passing the corridor, Adam threw a glance at the tiny photograph of a woman on the wall and... <knitting attack memory comes>" Or "Adam was scared and instinctively touched his tummy for comfort... <2 scars and knitting attack>" Or "A sharp twang, his scars hurt again...<memory>"

Don't know how to phrase this clearer => it was like a rupture from the current action surrounding it - and my concentration sort of broke. As this memory is a flashback (correct?) - and probably a pretty traumatic one for Adam - it might need a bit of flesh around it, to put it into place. A sort of going to and coming back, you know what I mean? Or maybe an empty line at the beginning and the end - so, the reader knows: aha, I'm in the house again and will follow Adam.

Please, keep on writing and inform, so I can read more <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />
Kiya
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/08/04 09:44 AM
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Clarification: Kiya, dearest, it is not your wish I find insulting. It is the comparison to vulture/scavenger. If it helps, I don't take you particularly seriously, either

Oh, I see. I still consider the vulture/scavenger comparison about the way you write in your case appropriate. I can live with the fact that you don't take me seriously, it's nice if both levels are equal.
Kiya

Quote
Hey, a bit hard to make myself heard when someone's wanking to the sound of her own voice and her perceived moral superiority.


I wouldn't worry about that, Winterfox - your voice and eagerness to put your own two or more scathing bits into this forum is infinite and very predictable in its regularity. Even the style is predictable and something to rely on.

<sigh, doublesigh> I found Link's Queen and am looking through the entries in her calendar - but I can't find the part I'm looking for. I have difficulties getting inner access to her fiction work, as this is not the genre I normally read - give your non-existing heart a shove, please and share the exact source. I do not want to be distracted by reading all of her fiction - just the part you quoted, so I can get access to the context surrounding this. Please?
Posted By: Jurak Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/08/04 10:26 PM
Face it...... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/stupid.gif" alt="" /> Winterfox is just a bitch! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/08/04 04:37 AM
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I still consider the vulture/scavenger comparison about the way you write in your case appropriate.


You mean you won't mind if I call you a self-righteous Carebear afflicted with delusions of granduer, right? After all, being as rude as you possibly can is all okay if I "consider it appropriate."

I also find it funny and oh-so-slightly hypocritical that you preach about polite conduct and such, but resort to petty insults.

Quote
<sigh, doublesigh> I found Link's Queen and am looking through the entries in her calendar - but I can't find the part I'm looking for. I have difficulties getting inner access to her fiction work, as this is not the genre I normally read - give your non-existing heart a shove, please and share the exact source. I do not want to be distracted by reading all of her fiction - just the part you quoted, so I can get access to the context surrounding this. Please?


I'll offer you a clue: 's not fiction, the entry I quoted. I can't be arsed to track the exact entry down, either; blogs are a pain in the royal behind when trying to look for entry contents. Also, you'll notice that my post quoting it is dated some time ago. Meaning that, when I wrote that post, the entry was still new enough to be easily accessible. Eh. Who knows; maybe she deleted it already.

Jurak: why, yes. And at least I admit it. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/08/04 09:17 AM
Aw, come on, I never denied I like being bitchy, Winterfox. In fact, I really like this expression, in spite of its negative meaning - has a nice phonetical sound.
But there is a difference between your way of bitching and mine => I don't pick at people who can't defend themselves. This is the Carebear within myself, I see no point in working against this part of my nature. I don't believe in unnecessary cruelty - I give respect and care at the start. Only if I see the other person chooses to pursue a certain pattern and obviously has different inner rules => then I switch and give/deny what the other one uses, so borders and levels are equal again.

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self-righteous Carebear afflicted with delusions of granduer

Nope, I don't mind at all - though could it be you mean "grandeur"? Or "grandezza"? Carebear is cute, all furry and fuzzy, turning into a Grizzly if I am annoyed <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ROFL.gif" alt="" />
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After all, being as rude as you possibly can is all okay if I "consider it appropriate."

No, keep on being rude - I can learn a lot from you in this area <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> - as you and I already summed it up as not taking each other seriously => entering this section might be entertaining.

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blogs are a pain in the royal behind when trying to look for entry contents

It's tedious, yes - therefore I hoped, you had the memory to find it more quickly than I can. Wallowing through all links, stumbling over countless juvenile manga avas, skimming through names that are totally unknown to me (Link, Jenna) or expressions such as bish... somethings - getting sidetracked - shaking my head etc. Only the posts of Limyaael offered a bit of relief, as they were witty, specially the MarySue test or the ideas to try out non-human chars. And definitely not scathing - not the posts I read.

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Who knows; maybe she deleted it already

Could be, but I found another one of her that was similar. It's a pity, Linksqueen's works are hosted by a friend now and the link to that site was dead. So, I think I'm going to give up. I am not masochistic enough to follow all these sites who link to bad fiction and brand them. Why? I meet too much disdain, spite, viciousness, malice, gloating. Too much acid, too much poison, very destructive vibes. Yep, too many vultures/scavengers.

Maybe you can go through the trouble - as this virtual writing world is familiar to you - and give me a hint, where constructive critic is done?

There seems to be a sort of MarySue Phobia by those who consider themselves literate, so they bash cruelly in a self-righteous manner. Do sites exist, where cliched chars are treated carefully by critics and with respect, so the originator is encouraged to try out new paths and variations? And feels no need to feel rejected as the atmosphere is friendly, amiable and helpful?

Maybe in the sense of: "yes, your protagonist is not alive atm, is encrusted in an armour full of cliches, the plot is predictable the way you write it - what about this? Try out to give her a flaw, a flaw that brings her into trouble throughout the story - don't make her so beautiful and irresistible. Ok, you're in love with her raven-black, long flowing silken hair with a white streak, covering her sensuous features like a frame (yesyes, I read Limyaael <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> ) . Let her get lice <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/badsmile2.gif" alt="" /> from her lover <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/badsmile2.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/badsmile2.gif" alt="" /> she has to shave her head - and now her scar on her bald head is visible. Her features are still the same, but people react differently. And now describe her again - her scar was not due to a heroic fight or a bad step-mother, nope, she slipped whilst crossing a stream and cracked her head on a boulder (banal reason) - an ugly scar - a scar she hid due to her long hair. And what about her ears now? How do they fit to her sensuous features? What about making them small and perfect, but a bit sticking out? You can work out the vulnerability of this clean, open face. The contrast, between a tanned face and the snowwhite scalp - see? Your char will have to react differently now. She's no longer a dazzling beauty - but maybe a bit more interesting now. If she is nervous, one eye will start to twitch - her hair will no longer hide it. Dismantle her, make her human. And after her hair has grown back to a reasonable length - your char will have added other "colours", features, way to approach people. Yes, you will have your swan back again - but one with many-coloured feathers, not a sterile cliche.

Here, this/that you mentioned about your char is interesting, why not flesh it out in this/that manner? What about this/that to bring a surprise into the plot? Hey, that handsome bloke who's pursuing her - let him have a nice accident - or let your char find out that his intelligence is non-existant and he's as boring as a vase in the museum. What about annoying manners? Something that aggravates your char? Let her feelings change, if you want to write a love-story at all costs. Let him scratch his head/bite his fingernails/clear his throat and spit, everytime he doesn't know what to do. Let her start counting how often he does it. Describe how her feelings slowly start to fade due to this annoying manner that fascinated her at the start. Let that bloke have a nice dimple showing up at times - so her feelings rise again and she melts. If you want to show a lot of interaction between both, do not only decribe the hot/cold moments, take the luke-warm as well. Bring both protagonists down to earth again - let them fail, let them carry a guilt with them - not an epic heroic one - a banal one. Think of a nice phobia - take your armour of cliches as a picture frame and let your chars step out at times. This surprises."

You know what I mean? A helpful site, caring for the chars/stories that are represented there, as authors wish help and get help instead of bashing? BTW, Limyaael wrote something interesting as well => angsting is not to be discharged off all the time, but can turn out fitting in a story, if developed in a believable manner.

I'm playing a bit now, in the tradition of Lisa Alther's novel about a nurse => char has a trauma - it is not displayed in epic broadth, just hinted at. In the sense of little scraps and bits popping up within the story to make the reader curious: "DAMN! I want to know what happened, why does that char react so unpredictable in certain moments?" An angst that will not be solved/healed due to true love, wise women, wealth etc., but forms a part of the char, is well hidden. Something the char even hides from herself but butts in and takes over control in moments. Only in moments, otherwise this angst would turn into a cliche as well and predict her actions all the time. I think, this kind of angst could make a char interesting indeed.
Posted By: Plowking Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/08/04 09:35 AM
Thanks for the comments guys!

@Winterfox -
Thanks for clearing up the apostrophe thing, as I knew this when I started but the placement of them was always sketchy at best in my mind. Most of them are my fault, and some are MS words fault! Any other typos etc. I just missed, even though I read it over about 10 times. Always best to have someone else read it. Like a professional editor or something, that's what they're for! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" />

Curious about this - "Place him in the back" is correct; "place him in back"
If it's speech, then is it still an error without 'the'. Are characters not allowed to speak in short sharp (grammatically incorrect) ways? If not why not?

"Remember, begin a new paragraph for every new speaker." Gotchya!




@Kiya -
Thanks for your comments. Very helpful indeed. Particularly about Adam, I should have offered a description, or fed his description out over the course. I think I'll amend that first.

Kiya - "language in direct speech - hey, I really liked that, very natural."
Cheers, I tried to maintain that. Especially in that people don't all talk in grammatically correct ways - though WF might say/know that this is still not acceptable in writing - I don't see why it wouldn't be acceptable. (referring to the ("Place him in the back" is correct; "place him in back")

Flashback comments duely noted. I didn't go towards Adam himself thinking back to the event, I tried to just inform the reader as part of the narrative. But looking back I put in 'flashback' speech between the mom and dad, so that probably threw my intent off. So you certainly have a point.

@ Both - thanks for the reviews!



Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/08/04 10:04 AM
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Plow:
Kiya - "language in direct speech - hey, I really liked that, very natural."
Cheers, I tried to maintain that. Especially in that people don't all talk in grammatically correct ways

Correct <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" /> - I envy people who are able to write in dialect/slang in a consistent manner - making interaction believable and alive. Why? Well, in my imagination, I "hear" them as well. And slang/dialect/grammar changes voices in my head. Your Adam had a totally different voice as Harold, added to his outer appearance, I developed emotions for that little chap at once, sympathy. Same for his father (sniff, he's probably dead) - his short intermezzo was already enough for me to build him up. I really like non-sterile chars with bumps, flaws and gruffiness. Your language choice transported this very well IMO.

You will continue writing this story? Oh, and how long is it going to be? More a short story or a large novel? This determines story pace. If you bring in a lot of firework at the start (for a long novel), you'll find yourself in trouble describing new events as this strange creature takes over - repeating takes out tension. In a short story, you can flash fireworks as it is condensed. I'd like to know if you give me the honour to read more,ok?
Kiya

PS: I will treat Adam carefully, promise. I like that boy.
Posted By: Plowking Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/08/04 10:14 AM
Hi K,

I'll send the link to part 2 once it's done (already underway). It'll be a short story for sure. Part 2 may be the finish, but I think it'll stretch to a part 3, if I release part 2 with the same word count.

It's a challenge to put something so strange and weird/awful like this creature in to our world and maintain an air of reality - just how would the people and the world actually react - how would one boy react? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/08/04 11:39 AM
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Are characters not allowed to speak in short sharp (grammatically incorrect) ways? If not why not?


Yes, it could be allowable, but IMO, there are two main problems to be considered:

1. As Kiya, and others, already pointed out, it must be consistent to be believable and form characterization.

2. Even more difficult - and I am saying this as a German native with knowledge and experience with a variety of regional dialects within the German language - those dialects are mainly phonetic, meaning there is no specific spelling nor grammar, when its written. Writing in dialect is terribly hard, as you are using a tool (written language) that is not always adequate to the task.

The issue becomes even more critical, when your readers are not themselves actively familiar with that dialect. What I mean is, if you know the dialect and your "audience" (= readers) do also - then it is easier. If however your intention is to reach people beyond that, then it becomes a matter of possible misunderstanding or plain non-understanding (which actually is like in real life, when listening to colloquial regional dialects. While I fancy my English to be adequate to make myself understood, I did find that not only Americans, but also Scots and Irish are separated from the English by a "common" language).

I have no "set in concrete" view on this, but I recommend to give the balance some consideration. On one side, I (German, who learned English as a foreign language) am indeed irritated at first by the "incorrect phrasing" - on the other side, I do agree, that it adds to the ambiente and the colouring of the character. (I would hate to have to translate something like this, with all its facettes, and for a Germany wide readership!)

Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/08/04 11:48 AM
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Curious about this - "Place him in the back" is correct; "place him in back"
If it's speech, then is it still an error without 'the'. Are characters not allowed to speak in short sharp (grammatically incorrect) ways? If not why not?


I don't consider it acceptable because, generally, such an error comes from a non-native speaker. A native speaker is indeed likely to speak in fragments or run-ons (or plural/singular verb confusion), but an omission of an article I find unnatural. Having been in an environment where I interact with both native and non-native speakers on a daily basis, I've noticed some speech patterns. *shrugs* If you insist, by all means, keep it there. It just happens to jangle, for me.
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/08/04 12:28 PM
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I am not masochistic enough to follow all these sites who link to bad fiction and brand them. Why? I meet too much disdain, spite, viciousness, malice, gloating. Too much acid, too much poison, very destructive vibes. Yep, too many vultures/scavengers.


If you searched around for a bit, you'd have noticed that LQ started off receiving polite critiques for her story (which, yes, contains a Mary Sue). The woman responded with pages-long author's notes throwing a temper tantrum and screaming curses; splooge was spilled everywhere across several message boards. Oh, additionally, she plagiarized relentlessly, ranging from using copyrighted names/ideas without saying that they weren't hers, to an art theft. Every action has a consequence, Kiya dear.

If you want to continue living in your little Utopia where everybody is perfect, patient and caring? Wonderful for you. Just don't expect everyone else to maintain the same delusions and act the way you would. The sites that link to bad fiction and mock them? Why, hello! Welcome to the real world. Humanity in general is about as forgiving and caring as a rusty iron maiden. At your age, surely you know that already. Do not feign such transparent naiveté. I'm so sorry that exposure to real people, as opposed to Carebear caricatures, has caused you so much distress.

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There seems to be a sort of MarySue Phobia by those who consider themselves literate, so they bash cruelly in a self-righteous manner. Do sites exist, where cliched chars are treated carefully by critics and with respect, so the originator is encouraged to try out new paths and variations? And feels no need to feel rejected as the atmosphere is friendly, amiable and helpful?


Because most Mary Sues are masturbatory fantasies of teenage girls. Wave feedback that is less than glowing in front of them and most of them will explode into screeching hissyfits and/or pity-begging, attention-whoring parties, complete with suicide threats. (Unfortunately, they never live up to their word in this aspect. Ah, woe.) Many consider it a complete waste of time to write a long, detailed review for someone who will probably disregard it and send them hate-mails. Thus, it is less frustrating in the long run to give critiques only when they are explicitly requested. (Of course, then there are people who overestimate their skin and end up crying to their mommies at the first sign of negative feedback anyway. But that's another sub-category.)

Such communities include: Constructive Criticism, Original Character Analysis, and the In Progress section at GAFF (a board, in fact, dedicated to mocking bad fiction/film/etc. Gasp! The horror, the shock! The world isn't painted in black and white after all!).
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/08/04 04:46 PM
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If you want to continue living in your little Utopia where everybody is perfect, patient and caring? Wonderful for you. Just don't expect everyone else to maintain the same delusions and act the way you would

Nope, I don't expect that - a Utopia is a Utopia after all. As I tried to find the text, I concentrated on Linkqueen's calendar, but only found 2 entries in 2003 (Dec and April) - then I started to track down her links. So, the responses to her in that time were indeed unfriendly - I didn't want to pursue this any further then - only her text without comments of scavengers/vultures. About her plagiarism: can't judge that, as all names were totally unknown to me. Couldn't even identify one - my interest was reading the angst texts, not more - and they seemed to be hers. Same for the Lucid Dream text - yes, I read that.
Nope, I don't expect the same delusions/act => my way to approach people is the result of a lifelong process and I'm still learning. I maintain my openness though, otherwise I'd just be one of the countless zombies I met in life. Wouldn't like to feel this: numb, empty, functioning - only filtered emotions <shudder>

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Humanity in general is about as forgiving and caring as a rusty iron maiden. At your age, surely you know that already. Do not feign such transparent naiveté. I'm so sorry that exposure to real people, as opposed to Carebear caricatures, has caused you so much distress.

Maybe for others - not for me. This rusty iron maiden here likes humanity and chooses to keep it, specially because of my high age. Nice to view if others get annoyed by this <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> - Nope, I'm not naive, just stubborn. In any case, these "real people" are not what I'd like to have around in RL, so why should I expose myself to them in the virtual world? I treat them like wasps: ignore them and if they really bother to tumble into my glass => a wave of the hand, c'est tout. Nope, neither wasps nor scavengers/vultures cause me distress - disgust is my only reaction. These people search for victims, and I pity authors falling into their den. And I'm sure, you're not one tiny bit sorry - please, don't. I'd hate to revise the pic I have already <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" /> . WF and human reactions? Nope, I'd hardly survive this shock - even Carebears have their esteems <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/stupid.gif" alt="" /> . Please, remain as predictable as you show yourself up to now. Help me keep my little Utopia <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/badsmile2.gif" alt="" />

And about you welcoming me to the real world => that's a good joke! Having a 20startsomething welcoming me, the 47-yr-old, is hilarious <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" /> Like a yapping puppy trying to tell the old flea-bitten Carebear what the only real correct path is <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ROFL.gif" alt="" /> Play in your puppy league, WF. Get a few flea bites as well, learn the different shades of life, or keep on yapping at my ankles. I've found my path, thank you for giving me a hearty laugh <wiping laughing tears> Gee, this self-righteousness and intolerance of adolescents <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ROFL.gif" alt="" /> These paladins of the only true path, the main member group I have to deal with in my job (14-25). Considering themselves soooo unique - and not understanding that 23 yrs of watching this same behaviour over and over again, in search of something unique, bores me mostly and amuses me at best. Correct, my words are arrogant now - but maybe this explains why I am not able to take some behaviour/approach seriously. I've seen too much, WF. You know: been here, done that, saw the same. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> So, black/white is the way you see the world, dearest WF (meant in sincere sense, no irony at all). Don't worry, grey/coloured shades will come, if you keep your eyes open - needs time and XP. In case, I'm not clear enough for you => search the posts you addressed at me, take out the attributes, gather them - and then look how many words simply describe yourself <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shhh.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ROFL.gif" alt="" />

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Because most Mary Sues are masturbatory fantasies of teenage girls.

Back to being serious now: Hm, I disagree here - my XP comes from published books, and those are written by biological adults. And there are similarities as well. Some even sell excellently: Cartland, Woodiwiss e.g. I wonder, how these authors would have had the courage to publish their work if they had chosen the internet world as a test balloon.

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Wave feedback that is less than glowing in front of them and most of them will explode into screeching hissyfits and/or pity-begging, attention-whoring parties, complete with suicide threats.

Vive la cliché, WF. I think SV (scavenger/vulture type) and the MS (MarySue type) are similar: both parties dig moats, bring up their weapons and react instinctively like a Pawlow dog => full of prejudices, assumptions, enemy archetypes in 3D and technicolour. So, both partes in full combat are too predictable, just spooling down a ritual. And then, where is the point? Just another battle, but no changes, see?

Last thought => you consider it important to grow a skin. Have you ever thought about this: a skin, hard, protective and similar to a reptile (metaphor not comparison) => doesn't this turn into a full-plate armour with restrictions then? How can creativity and imagination grow? I'd find that very difficult. Just an idea => imagine you would start to write (at your young age) - and start with a cliché char (MS) because you don't know another way to express your imagination. Why not encourage to enfold this char? As suggestions? Or is the SV club so exclusive that only an elite may enter this world? Initiation ceremonies have to deal with fire, poison and only a handful of survivors are allowed to touch the holy grail of literature? And if so - how can this elite survive? Without followers? Without adepts?

No fresh blood, no new ideas - gee, this would be a sterile literate world, where only formalistic structure thrives - bloodless chars, androids, perfect in formalisms (grammar/spelling) - no soul, no humour? BTW, I miss something => the robot MS, a cliche as well and not restricted to the SF section. A char with carefully designed flaws, intellectual at all times, without the attributes of Spock - death of imagination and creativity - bloodless, lifeless - ok, but perfect in an artificial manner.

Keep your opinion that I meant SV as a personal insult - but if you can => try to follow this pic that lead me to giving the name:
A corpse on the ground (story plot/MS char introduced to public) a flock of vultures, a herd of scavengers prowling towards it. Jumping on it, tearing out bits and pieces, ripping it apart, flinging intestines away, battling over the remnants, dragging flesh away, excrementing. The combat is over, the SV are saturated, they go away, bellies are overfull (in need of a bucket). The MS author tries to defend her work in a similar manner (you described that in your post).

Camera back to the former corpse => everything is scattered and shattered, if the author is lucky, the bones (story core) are still there. Ok, if the author has a skin, she might pick them up and build up again - some might have lost courage at the sight of this mess. WHO knows, if this corpse might not have been an uncut gem? Just in need of polish with patience and care? WHO knows, if the author might not have freely cut away parts that were not good and built up differently? Added variations? Aided by those who saw more than a simple MS plot?

Thank you for the links <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" /> - I'll try them out, maybe I find a new constructive approach there, would be a nice change.

Kiya <still laughing at WF as a life teacher> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> - and though very tempted, refrains from stroking the puppy's head>
Posted By: Jurak Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/08/04 04:58 AM
that's no pup, it's pip, as in squeak! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
WF , why o why are you soooo bitter, <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/think.gif" alt="" /> ??
I don't think i've read one single, solitary post of yours that is on the positive side, are you lacking something from your childhood,
or is this your way of making friends? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ROFL.gif" alt="" />
your a joke, but not a funny one. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif" alt="" />
Sorry to "pick on you, but I feel you deserve it, people DO change, and I sincerely hope your one of the ones that does....for your and others sake.
And what i said before about the female dog thing, who was it that said know thyself ?? Hmmm, good article. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/stupid.gif" alt="" />

No need to rip this apart, just study it and try hard to learn. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/sleepey.gif" alt="" />
Maybe you should change your name to WTF?? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/badsmile2.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ROFL.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Winterfox Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/08/04 11:17 AM
Jurak said:

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that's no pup, it's pip, as in squeak! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
WF , why o why are you soooo bitter, <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/think.gif" alt="" /> ??
I don't think i've read one single, solitary post of yours that is on the positive side, are you lacking something from your childhood,
or is this your way of making friends? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ROFL.gif" alt="" />



Oh, I'm sure you are a qualified psychotherapist. By all means, speculate about my childhood, social life, or lack thereof. It's typical, and should be amusing.

Feel like a bigger boy now, dearie? *pinches your cheek* There, there, run along now. I'll resist the temptation to use an anime-style emotion.

Kiya:

Mmm, Kiya, remember what you said?

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But there is a difference between your way of bitching and mine => I don't pick at people who can't defend themselves. This is the Carebear within myself, I see no point in working against this part of my nature.


You said that you don't pick "at" (pick on, actually) people who can't defend themselves and you were screeching at me for "jabbing at anonymous people" (paraphrased), no? You realize that you are doing precisely that -- maligning people who are not here to respond, yes? With the comments about malice, vultures, and such? Hoho. At least try not too be too obvious, eh?

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Having a 20startsomething welcoming me, the 47-yr-old, is hilarious


Actually, I was indeed aware that you are forty-seven. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> But aging is mandatory; some... other things are not. I mean, sure, one'd assume that some things should come with age and experience, but some times, they fly right over your head and miss you.

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Considering themselves soooo unique - and not understanding that 23 yrs of watching this same behaviour over and over again, in search of something unique, bores me mostly and amuses me at best.


Tut-tut. There you go making assumptions again. I completed my obligatory phase of "omg im so unique!11! an no1 can understannn meeee!11!" years ago. Why, are you going to guess that I raid Hot Topic next? Or wear black clothing and makeup perhaps? Or, better yet, that I am a poseur Wiccan?

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So, black/white is the way you see the world, dearest WF (meant in sincere sense, no irony at all).


No, love, I do not see the world in black and white. But if that's how you want to think, then oh well. Telling you otherwise would probably be the equivalent of convincing someone from the thirteenth century or so that the world is not a flat disc.

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Don't worry, grey/coloured shades will come, if you keep your eyes open - needs time and XP. In case, I'm not clear enough for you => search the posts you addressed at me, take out the attributes, gather them - and then look how many words simply describe yourself


Dearie, dearie me. I'm so chastised, I'd like to hang my head and kneel in repentance in the face of your... what, ancient wisdom? Or something. Hur hur.

On second thought, not really. You have all the persuasive power of a very moldy, very stale bread. I’ll try you again when I’m starving and there’s really no food within reasonable proximity.

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I wonder, how these authors would have had the courage to publish their work if they had chosen the internet world as a test balloon.


Actually, I've encountered several amateurs that get their work professionally published -- they have used online publication (even, gasp, fanfic!) as testing ground and practice. Oh, and guess what? Professional writers get critiques that are as harsh as anything you'll see directed at amateurs on the 'Net, ranging from tearing their work apart to remarks directed at their personal life. (Ed Greenwood, for instance, has been called a perverted old man due to the sexual contents in his books. To the best of my knowledge, the man takes it in stride and shrugs things off.) What, you haven't seen the reviews at Amazon.com? Tsk.

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I think SV (scavenger/vulture type) and the MS (MarySue type) are similar: both parties dig moats, bring up their weapons and react instinctively like a Pawlow dog => full of prejudices, assumptions, enemy archetypes in 3D and technicolour.


Gasp. You mean you are not full of assumptions, at the very least? You are making many, many of them just now.

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How can creativity and imagination grow? I'd find that very difficult.


Oh, sweet Goddess and her Consort, not this argument. You know, for someone who claims to be as wizened as you are, you use arguments I've seen a thousand times before with disturbing frequency. If your skin is thick enough, you will be able to conceive ideas and imagine, regardless of the criticism lobbed your way; with some application of gray matter, one should learn what to take into consideration and what not to. Additionally, if we use this logic, then grammar, punctuation – nay, any recognizable language, period – would limit “creativity” and “imagination”, yes?

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Or is the SV club so exclusive that only an elite may enter this world? Initiation ceremonies have to deal with fire, poison and only a handful of survivors are allowed to touch the holy grail of literature? And if so - how can this elite survive? Without followers? Without adepts?


*sporfles!* And you say other people are full of "enemy archetypes" and "prejudices"? Look no further, my friend, than the mirror. This old argument is so tired, it's gotten to the point that the people at GAFF have established a mock "Super Sekrit Sinister Sect" (aka "Secret Elitist Cult Thing" -- hey, I like that initials better). No, no, little one. All the mocking communities I've joined allow anyone to register. GAFF is unmoderated; anybody can bring up any subject, post any opinion, and all discussions are allowed to go on without admin's restraint. I think you’d get along famously with the author of this" target="_blank">http://www.trickster.org/symposium/symp151.html]this rant</a>.

Tell you what. Try us. Try posting at GAFF, for instance, and if you do so politely, I can assure you that most will respond in kind -- you may be surprised. Oh, a hint: the members of GAFF range from the age of thirteen to forty-something, so you may end up dispensing your wisdom to your contemporaries.

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Camera back to the former corpse => everything is scattered and shattered, if the author is lucky, the bones (story core) are still there. Ok, if the author has a skin, she might pick them up and build up again - some might have lost courage at the sight of this mess.


And?

If the author doesn't have enough spine and persistance to keep going in the first place, it is no one's fault but her own. Sorry.

Cripes. These posts are getting ridiculously long.
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/08/04 01:15 PM
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Cripes. These posts are getting ridiculously long.

I Agree - and also they are not serving the original intent of this thread <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/suspicion.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Jurak Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/08/04 04:39 PM

Is is writing......of some sorts,
the good, the bad, and even the ugly parts.... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
and it possibly <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif" alt="" /> could serve as a good example to others,
for what exactly, I'm not sure? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/stupid.gif" alt="" />

Oh!....you bet my qualified psychoanalytical skills are honed very,
very sharp,
remember...... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/think.gif" alt="" />
i raised two lovely girls, and they turned out just great! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/party.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/alien.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Lowkey Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/08/04 04:40 PM
Quote
Quote
Cripes. These posts are getting ridiculously long.

I Agree - and also they are not serving the original intent of this thread <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/suspicion.gif" alt="" />



Hmmm, I beg to differ. First, writers should enjoy the chance to write at length, and I've always found it odd that people often consider long email or electronic messages difficult or unpleasant but will happily sit through a half hour dialog of audio. I think those of you that balk at long messages may want to take a look inside and identify why that is the case, because it often strikes me as a kind of behavioral inconsistency.

But in any case, the original intent of this thread was to discuss writing? And here we have some very interesting writing, in an informal style, most recently from Kiya and Winterfox, and that seems like an opportunity for us to discuss, and certainly on topic. Unless we are going to confine our definition of writing to very short messages written in more formal or better defined styles? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

Sometimes wisdom and learning come from unexpected places, and is this not such a place?

1) Kiya has made some very interesting comments about the nature of the writing process and feedback, and how it impacts writers. I wonder how many of you agree that non constructive criticism, that sheer meanness in review as entertainment (without commenting or implying anything about the value of such activity as entertainment), is something that would have a negative impact on your ability to write?
Personally I suspect I would be negatively affected, that the kind of attack critiques Winterfox engages in so often would the kind of review that even understanding it's context, which (personally) strikes me as immature, would still have enough emotional impact that it would have at least some detrimental affect on any future work. (in the short term, at least)

Leading to question 2
2) As writers, or potential writers <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> , would you agree that your emotional history and state are important, even critical tools for your written work? It is true for me, and I suspect it's quite common. If anyone can write well with a great sense of emotional detachment or distance, I would be interested in hearing about how they manage their techniques from a technical perspective, both in finding the "energy" to write, as well as investing emotion into characters, plot, etc.

and for 3,
3) Regarding the specifics of Kiya's and Winterfoxes recent communiques, and what we might learn from this writing style.
A) If I understand the exchanges properly, Winterfox seems to be remarkably off target in almost every response. I think the reason is a failure of something that in logic courses is sometimes called a facet of proper argument - a failure to try to read and appreciate another's work and interpret it in the most positive light, to make the argument as strong as possible, such that both sides of an "argument" arrive at the truth. With respect to writing in a more general sense, I try to give an author as much "credit" as I can and seek to involve myself, to immerse myself, in their work. If I bother to read something at all, then I want to make a genuine attempt to enjoy it. Do you, as a writer, also do this, or more typically perhaps, give a surface reading and either take away only a superficial pleasure or only to the extent the authors particular style is able to capture you?

This leads to another interesting question about whether the author has a responsibility to the reader to involve them, or can feel free to focus on other elements of the story, etc. and trust that the readers imagination can fill in certain blanks or weaker spots. My feeling is that authors have to go with their strengths and hope that readers are gracious and open enough to imagine the rest, as presumably the reader wants to enjoy the experience...

B) Also related to the recent posts, Winterfox has been critical of the language of others, while making a number of mistakes herself (spelling, grammar, and style) that are quite similar. I think we have an interesting question raised, to wit, would you as a writer think it important to focus on continuous improvement in technical aspects of your own work, (even in posts <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> ) or rather agree with Kiya's idea that working out the ideas and developing a comfortable writing style is a higher priority? And are these ideas necessarily in opposition?

For myself, I would prefer both of course, but as a practical matter I try to develop a strong and comfortable style so I can write at all, and as for the more technical details, I say kill em all, and let the editor sort it out.
Granted that won't help me publish anything... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/puppyeyes.gif" alt="" /> But better to write something awful than nothing at all, or what else would Winterfox do with her copious free time ? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/08/04 06:08 PM
@Winterfox:
To cut a long tale short => of course, I remember what I said, you quoted it - but maybe my message was not clear: I bitch at you, because you pick on people, who can't defend themselves, regardless of topic. And in this thread, you used your usual predictable way again to use language and critic as a tool to cut down creativity and imagination. Letting aside the way that you prefer to attack instead of using constructive language, you dumb down literature to cold mathematics: formalism, style rules, grammar, spelling are the axioms for good writing.

I disagree here strongly. I doubt you have ANY idea how to write or even determine what writing is about. So far, so good - you're free to have your opinion. What I promised you, is a promise I intend to keep: to speak up - regardless of you liking it or not.

There is a strong similarity between cliche chars (MS) in literature and stereotypes in RL. And here I butt in: a person thinking in intellectual cold formalisms shuns emotional writing, natural law - like it or not. A person not being able to play with cliche chars and find out individual shades to develop - unable to feel herself into a cliched MS char/plot is simply unable to write, why? Simple: lack of imagination, inability to play with fantasy. Why? Because cold maths butt in. This RL stereotype is unable to enter this world of another writer's imagination, it's like as if a full plate armour individual is trying to catch the wind.

Formalisms, rules to write a story (let alone review one) are simply not the adequate method to give a writer credit, encourage to develop variations. I consider both: writing and critic a method to develop one's own way to improve writing. I miss this in your case. So far, so good. BUT! You simply take too much pride in considering yourself a literate - sorry, you're not! Why? Well, formalisms should help but not rule - should aid the structure of a story but not tyrannize. A writer (a serious one!) should be able to play with ANY char/story instead of simply discharging. A formalist will always point out lacking petty stuff - and not be able to feel the story, delve into it - search for the gems. Why? Natural border within the formalist, seems to be a phobia. Pity - for the poor writer displaying her work and seeing it ripped apart. Pity for the lost chance to try out own imagination and play with another char/plot to sharpen one's own imagination.

You can't follow this way, because you don't want to. You choose to remain on your standpoint - ok for me, no loss. Stay on your formalism side, keep this illusion - but I will continue to speak up. For you?

Nope, closed ears are a waste of time and energy (a Carebear has to care for, in order to care about and bother - you don't fit in either category in my case) - I speak up for those, who might be discouraged - who see formalism as a gag, a tyrant and secretly try to throw away their work. Or those, who sit in front of their work and can't carry on. Creativity, imagination comes first - this is training. Developing a cliche char as a start is no crime and simply a basis to start from (maybe with aid from others). This is the way to write - using the cliche char as a frame to step out and develop own individualistic approaches - and then, afterwards, prune the story into a formalistic manner (not as a rule, simply as a gentle way of forming). Like or or not, has no impact on me.

@Just to writers: There are rare cases, where young writers start off with a living char instead of a cliche - fine, wonderful. But again => a MarySue char as your first attempts to express your creativity, because you know no other way first, is NO crime. Try it - write it down, develop your own cliche plot; present this to caring persons, who want to play with your story and delve into it. Take Carebears, or people who love to read - who are willing to take up the atmosphere, who like to make suggestions. Read them - choose freely what you wish to take, play with these suggestions if it fits your style, discuss, ask. After you have found out methods to express your creativity (I call it, flying free) - THEN develop your OWN formalistic style. You might not become a famous writer - but you will have this gain in any case: Expressing creativity and imagination - aside from trodden paths.
Kiya

@to all who may read this thread => Apology in advance for length, short attention span or the impression of being off-topic: it's not IMO. It's just the combat in the literature scene as I know it: formalism vs creativity. Both can go hand in hand - but sadly... as this thread shows... turns out into a black/white debate.
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/08/04 11:18 PM
Lowkey, I bow to your dissenting opinion.

To clarify, I have no general objection towards long posts. Nor to the voicing of strong and differing opinions. But I would prefer them to be kept factual - and I did get the impression (possibly falsely) of some personal animosity creeping in the last discussions.

ad 1) I concur, and endorse, that non-constructive criticism can be a killer - in writing reviews as much as in life. Though I cannot complain in that respect in Winterfox's comments towards me and my input. His comments were factually stating his personal opinion, which were up to me to accept or decline.

ad 2) Emotional history certainly impacts, and should. Emotional state does also, but maybe should not. That is my purely personal feeling, of course - but trying to convey a strong feeling in writing, so that others can understand (and share) it, others who, while reading it, are in a completely different state of mind, seems very hard to do. To me, that is not so much a question of not finding the energy - actually one may be full of energy at that moment - but the state of mind may make you say things, that you would not want to, or not in the way you would want to (There is a reason why there is the rule, that you should not write a complaint before having slept over at least one night)

ad 3A) A rethorical question? A failure to read - very probably not. A failure to appreciate, respectively to question oneself as to whether the author's intent was understood correctly - maybe.

As to the author's responsibility - as a reader I appreciate books where the author leaves room for my imagination, and does not describe everything in detail. However the balance must be carefully weighed as to what I (reader) need to know, and what is just nice to know in order not to have to challenge my imagination (which some may not want to). But IMO, this should not extend to weaknesses (e.g. logical flaws).

ad 3B) Correct spelling and grammar, as well as a structured text, make reading easier - especially if you are doing it in a foreign language. I would expect an author to make a honest effort - none of us is without typos.

I do not think that this would as such restrict the development of ideas - it is just a tedious effort, that has no creative touch, and usually is the hard work after the creativity.

The writing style is possibly something different, as this is very personal and close to what and how you may speak. I think, it ddepends on the purpose of your writing - if you want to address a wider audience, then sticking closer to the "norm" would be more appropriate.
(For example, in forums like this, you every now and then encounter some terrible chatter slang - that probably is common knowledge to any experienced chatter - but I fail to understand the question at times, and I am not the only one, so cannot help (though help is, what is sought)

So - no, I do not think the two ideas need to be in opposition, and yes, actually there should be both. Ideas can be developped as one pleases, and style may be whatever the author is comfortable with - but in the end I want the author to respect me as a reader, and facilitate my reading, respectively in a foreign language just make it possible. When publishing, it may be OK to let the editor do the "dirty work", but what if YOU are the publisher? You do proof read your posts, do you not? Why? Because you care for your readers? Because you do not want them to think of you as an illiterate moron? Because you have respect for your own language?

Is it better to write something awful than nothing at all? For whom? The author? - May be; For me, the reader? - No! But then who judges, whether it is awful or not? Right or wrong - it is me!
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 25/08/04 12:39 AM
Glance, have you ever read autistic writing? Some were on the bestseller lists for quite some time in Germany. For the English readers, I'll just translate the titles - only the last 2 were originally English

Axel Brauns: Buntschatten und Fledermäuse (Colour-shadows and bats) => 20something yrs IMO
Birger Sellin: Ich will kein Inmich mehr sein (I don't want to be an In-Myself anymore) => 20 yrs old at that time
Katja Rohde: Ich, Igelkind (I, hedgehog-child) => 25 yrs old
Dietmar Zöller: Ich gebe nicht auf (I won't give up) => 2nd book. First one: "Wenn ich mit euch reden könnte" (If I could talk to you), I think, he started at 14-16 yrs, not sure
Temple Grandin: Ich bin die Anthropologin auf dem Mars (Emergence, labeled autistic) - USA? The German title referred to the fact that Oliver Sacks had mentioned her story until she wrote it herself
Temple Grandin: thinking in pictures
Donna Williams: ich könnte verschwinden, wenn du mich berührst (Nobody, nowhere) - and her 2nd title, Somebody, somewhere - Australia. I have no clue at what age she started, as the first book describes childhood and high school. She's over 70 yrs now

Why I list them? These books have one thing in common: they lead into very strange worlds - structure, grammar, formalism would have destroyed these strange worlds we can never really visit ourselves, without guidance by these authors. Publishers/editors did a tremendously good job in treating these worlds carefully and with respect; leaving word creations as they were, taking their own grammar rules as an axiom, allowing these autists to play with words and determine new definitions. Some parts were unwieldy - difficult to access. But bestseller lists (meaning it sold!) proved, publishers/editors were on the right track and had found gems: Brauns, Sellin and Zöller were German BS titles - Grandin and Williams were BS on an international level. I hope Brauns will be translated one day.

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Grandin's 2nd book: I took this review part from amazon.com. Name is rcrinternet:
This book was recommended to me because I cannot think in pictures; my mind works with ideas and words. Temple Grandin has written a book about a way of thinking that is so alien to me she might as well be from a different planet. Absolutely amazing. I did not know that the world could be seen from this perspective


Just an example - I'm trying to display how creative writing and not naming formalism as the God of Language and Literature can be seen.
Kiya

Glance, read the German reviews in amazon.de, please - these reviews might explain better what I mean.
Posted By: Jurak Re: The Writing Thread ! - 25/08/04 02:15 AM
Clarification of one small point WF is a she not a he... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
only other thing i can say is nicely put.... Lowkey, and SirGlanceAlot <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/stupid.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 25/08/04 01:15 PM
No Kiya, I have never ever tried "acoustic books". I concede, it never tempted me to try, maybe because I am old (from the good 1956 vintage <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />) and love reading too much (or is it just a habit?).

I will seriously consider your recommendations.

However, though in absence of personal experience, one thought strikes me:

Are these books originally developped to be acoustic books, or not? Because it seems to me, that this would make a big difference. Though I so far did not enjoy people reading loud to me (since my grandfather, before I could read <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> - but then my impatience of wanting to know how the story goes on motivated me to learn to read early) - I did, and do, enjoy radio plays, where various "actors" speak the respective characters. You see the difference? (And not only because not everybody is a good "loud reader" = speaker)

Naming form and norm a God would certainly be contrary to my beliefs. But I do believe that they are sensible and valuable tools. And to create an own and original, though deviating form would IMO still require the knowledge of the norm. To ME (!), there is a difference between purposefully and in full knowledge ignoring the normal form in order to make a point, to create a certain feeling or even simply to try versus plain ignorance. And I also think, that a reader feels the difference.
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 25/08/04 02:37 PM
Nono, not acoustic => books written by autists. (Autisten, Autismus, Glance - wie in Rainman) - does it ring a bell: Asperger Syndrome maybe?

Could it be you went to amazon and found Axel Brauns on CD? Nono, I mean real books, paper and print. Autists are people who have retired from the world you and I know, or have never entered it. They live in a world of their own.

http://www.autismus.de/autismus/frm_autismus.htm

here, a link for you, in German. Autists are highly specialised individuals, some are mathematical geniuses, others communicate in strange paintings and drawings, some are retarded, due to our dualism to define what is "normal" - and some, very few are able to transport and describe their world in words. But not in words and usage as we know - look at the word "Buntschatten". You know, it doesn't exist in our language - it combines something that is impossible in RL, the RL we know. Colour+shadow. I wouldn't know how to translate his book - as he defined the words we know in a totally new manner, created new words. And still, this word has a strange, fascinating beauty for me, maybe transported as "rainbow shadows"? Or "shadow rainbows"?

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And to create an own and original, though deviating form would IMO still require the knowledge of the norm. To ME (!), there is a difference between purposefully and in full knowledge ignoring the normal form in order to make a point, to create a certain feeling or even simply to try versus plain ignorance.

The interesting thing with autists is this => they do not know the norm, Glance. They are not able to accept our norms. Birger Sellin was a phenomenon when he started to write, in a phonetical manner - using strange associations.

Yes, it's called a mental disorder - no wonder, we have to determine norms and rules about what is normal, hm? We, the "healthy" <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/suspicion.gif" alt="" />

Another thing: Remember the war that lasted 30 yrs in Western Europe? (30jähriger Krieg) Remember how the German language was at the ground then? Too many foreign conquerors had invaded this land, language was a mixture out of French, English, Swedish, kitchen-Latin etc. Remember the founding of a society to save and clean the German language? Let alone the last spelling reform a few yrs ago, changing grammar as well - and will be changed if protests go on? So... what is proper grammar/spelling/etc.? Where does carelessness start - or when is creativity a tool to change language formalism?

Ever tried Dada poetry and literature in German? (okok, I'm becoming cruel now <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/badsmile2.gif" alt="" /> ) Take a lot of books out of the 70es, where writing in capital letters became unmodern - run-ons were hip, on the dot and in <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> Try books written by Jelinek out of that time... but be prepared feel your nails roll up <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> - hey... and what about Peter Handke? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> No, certainly you don't have to like them. I'm just naming examples where the German language was twisted, changed - a try to change.


I agree about ignorance and carelessness the way you meant it (not bothering to write correctly) - but in this case (link), I don't agree about ignorance due to formalistic tyranny. And I will give you an example - you will have to take the page before it as well:

Please, read the Quezi posts from 32842 on, 32851, 32891, 32897, 32907, click here reading the rest is up to you - as I was offended by the "GrammarNazi" expression she used.

This member writes in a phonetical manner and explains why he does it. Or, as HEF put it, compares music to speech. I found Quezi's post difficult to read, but he put thinking into it, he chose an individual way, he even explained. I call this creativity. Of course, you could say: "in order to read/understand I would have preferred proper grammar/spelling etc". But I didn't. I accepted his choice and mumbled his posts slowly under my breath - I understood the core. I not only understood, I was fascinated. It's a pity, Quezi didn't write more. In case you wonder about formalistic tyranny => you can read the responses, specially of our young literate, WF (calling herself an "aspiring writer" in that thread). Well, and the content of what he was trying to say, got lost along the way, formalism killed it IMO.

Pity, in my case - I was deprived of learning more, I could not follow his invitation into his world of phonetical language - I did not care for the Diablo discussion, but I was fascinated about the way he wrote. I only have these few posts - and still have the feeling of loss at times <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/puppyeyes.gif" alt="" /> I wish, I had spoken up at that time <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cry.gif" alt="" /> - yeah, I'm probably weird, I take every opportunity to join an invitation to play with language - as I take language: a living tool, not part of the Ten Commandments.


Kiya

PS. 1956? Yep, a good year, my birth one as well <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 25/08/04 03:13 PM
"Norm", "Normality" ist just a general agreement among some people on what they consider to be "normal". Nothing more.

Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 25/08/04 03:52 PM
Oops (phonetical writing! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />), my misunderstanding completely <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shame.gif" alt="" />

Yes, I have heard of autism, no need to become that elaborate, but thanks anyway.

But then, we have no difference of opinions:

- if it is purposeful, creative or simply the only way you can express yourself, it is to be respected (irrespective of whether one actually likes it or not);

- if it is disregard, carelessness or ignorance, it deserves criticism (constructive - and one must be able to bear a deviating opinion)

But let's not restrict anything to form only. This is just one indicator, an obvious one, granted, but usually accompanied by others. As Lowkey asked about "tolerable" weaknesses - careless language is also
- the medieval hero does not say "Okay!"
- he does not measure his paces by the "meter" (though I would not know how old the "yard" is for the English)
- he may not even measure his time by minute and second
- could he ever have heard of stainless steel, or other than woolen fabric? (Yes, I know silk is very old also)

Depending on the context, these and similar flaws occur often enough - and maybe I am among the few that catch them at times - but if and when I do, it irritates me. Is this restricting creativity, if you point it out? I think not - it's polishing, optimizing, but not necessarily distorting style.

But the most important issue to be kept in mind relating to critics and criticism is tolerance - very rarely is there only one, absolute truth for any- and everybody. If a discussion transforms into a "circle debate", then it's time for at least one of the parties to simply stop the stubborn and pointless fight for the last word.

@ Jurak: noted!

@ Winterfox: my sincere apologies, Milady!
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 25/08/04 07:45 PM
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Depending on the context, these and similar flaws occur often enough - and maybe I am among the few that catch them at times - but if and when I do, it irritates me. Is this restricting creativity, if you point it out? I think not - it's polishing, optimizing, but not necessarily distorting style.


Nope, pointing it out is not restricting creativity, certainly not. I gather, you meant it as a suggestion, so the author is free to take or leave it? Persisting is restrictive. Persisting on it, even if the author explains why she/he does it. This not only irritates me, but angers and hurts me as well.

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But the most important issue to be kept in mind relating to critics and criticism is tolerance - very rarely is there only one, absolute truth for any- and everybody.

Yes, I agree fully - tolerance is a road into both directions.

Quote
If a discussion transforms into a "circle debate", then it's time for at least one of the parties to simply stop the stubborn and pointless fight for the last word.

Point taken fully, Glance. <whispers> if I'm not the one to stop <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> On a more serious note, I can't promise this, Glance. I'm trying for several yrs now to free myself from the formalistic writing trap in my own writing, as I consider it bloodless, too artificial. So, if I see individuals already going this path, I feel encouraged to hobble on a bit more and learn to swim free. If I see them attacked (not pointed out, ok?) I feel myself slipping back into the formalistic trap. It has a great power.

I simply wish for this: people feeling comfortable in formalism to lean back and smile at the others. Pointing out, in case the author has really made a lapsus linguae, so the author can rephrase or re-think. So, both sides can pursue their own paths in peace and cooperation. I don't think, I ask for too much.
Kiya

Examples =>
I like the word "cemetary", sound more complete than "-ery"
same for "independant", sounds incomplete, not rounded with "ent" (unfree)
Drows => the "s" gives a nice malicious hissing sound at the end, onomatopeic completion. Actually a "z" would add stinger poison, but... I consider a "z" proletarian in comparison to a sophisticated "s"
mental property (not meant as the law term) => property of the conscious, the mind, not the intellect (intellectual property)

Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 26/08/04 09:52 AM
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I like the word "cemetary"

As long as you don't make it a cementery <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

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I consider a "z" proletarian in comparison to a sophisticated "s"

The "proletarian" and "sophistcated" I have a problem with - to me "z" and "s" is nothing but a very clear phonetic distinction - and if I understand you correctly, you should be consequent and write "Drowzzz!" <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

But I am a fan, not a fanatic - and certainly no missionary!
Hiss, as you please, Drow! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/kissyou.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Faralas Re: The Writing Thread ! - 26/08/04 01:48 PM
Hmmmm, I don't know what happened but I posted in here yesterday - at least I thought I did - but I don't see my message. *scratches head* Maybe I didn't click the 'post' icon. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/think.gif" alt="" /> At any rate, I've been MIA from this board for a while (have been in and out of hospital due to disability/illness) and it looks like I've got a ton of catching-up to do. Wow! You guys have been busy! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/puppyeyes.gif" alt="" />

So, looks like I better get to reading. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif" alt="" />


Oh, btw, this post is <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/offtopic.gif" alt="" /> in case you didn't notice by now. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />


Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 26/08/04 04:40 PM
Quote
The "proletarian" and "sophisticated" I have a problem with - to me "z" and "s" is nothing but a very clear phonetic distinction - and if I understand you correctly, you should be consequent and write "Drowzzz!"


Well, Glance, if I have your permission => Drowzzz it is <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> - though, this sounds a bit like "drowsy" now <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/think.gif" alt="" /> Have to think about it.

About sophisticated and proletarian - was a joke between a member and me, because I wanted to know, why the American English changed a lot of nice "s" words into "z". And his explanation was: heated debate between linguistics during the Bostoner Tea Party, falsely labeled in history afterwards as a protest against taxes <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" />
See? Phonetics is soooo important.

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As long as you don't make it a cementery

HEY! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/idea.gif" alt="" /> that's even better - you have a resting place for the dead and the cement (material for tombs) included, as well! May I take it? Please? Just with my "a" in it to round up? (I only hope, cement exists in English <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ouch.gif" alt="" /> )
Kiya
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 26/08/04 04:46 PM
Wow, I thought I'd missed a ton of stuff! Shame I haven't...

Important stuff first - Faralas, I am sorry to hear you have been ill, and hope you are fully recovered now, or at the least are firmly on the way there.

***

Plowking - good luck with your story.

***

Lowkey...

Anyone who genuinely wants to be a GOOD writer needs the negative as much as the positive, if not more so. It is far too easy to get into the trap of thinking yourself capable when you are not if all you get is praise, or of becoming satisfied with mere adequacy.

Quote
As writers, or potential writers , would you agree that your emotional history and state are important, even critical tools for your written work?


No. Because I am not writing about me. The character's emotional history and state are vital; my own a distraction to be suppressed or ignored. The essential thing is to know your character so well that you become them while writing them - you feel what they feel.

Your emotional state may help dictate the type of stories you wish to write, but there is no greater trap than writing yourself instead of your character.

Quote
If I bother to read something at all, then I want to make a genuine attempt to enjoy it. Do you, as a writer, also do this, or more typically perhaps, give a surface reading and either take away only a superficial pleasure or only to the extent the authors particular style is able to capture you?


I read primarily to enjoy, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also looking for ways to improve my own writing. I have found that the more you understand of writing technique, the more you become aware of plot holes and poor characterisation and things like that. Things I used to be able to ignore if I even noticed in the first place I cannot now miss. The downside of writing, I suppose.

Quote
This leads to another interesting question about whether the author has a responsibility to the reader to involve them, or can feel free to focus on other elements of the story, etc. and trust that the readers imagination can fill in certain blanks or weaker spots.


Your readers will only stick around as long as they are enjoying what they read. If you fail to engage them, they will find something else. Why should anyone continue to read something they have no interest in, after all?

If you want other people to read and enjoy your work, you must give them a reason to do so - which usually means strong characterisation and a solid and intriguing plot. Any reader who is not wondering what happens next and does not like your character(s) will not return.

Quote
I think we have an interesting question raised, to wit, would you as a writer think it important to focus on continuous improvement in technical aspects of your own work, (even in posts ) or rather agree with Kiya's idea that working out the ideas and developing a comfortable writing style is a higher priority? And are these ideas necessarily in opposition?


They are entirely compatible, and a part of the same thing. A good writing style requires (And even demands) a good grasp of the language you are writing in. A reader may forgive the odd error here and there, but a piece littered with errors is annoying, and distracts from the story immensely.

Quote
But better to write something awful than nothing at all?


If you have ever read The Legend Of Althalas by David Eddings, you will know the answer to that question already. It is far, far better to write nothing - or if you must write rubbish, then not to let anyone else see it. You lose less readers that way.

I've written plenty of garbage in my time, but you won't ever see any of it on the web, I assure you - let alone in print!
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 26/08/04 05:09 PM
Elliot, who decides that a work is awful or not? The reader, right? But "the reader" is not one taste only. If so, we would not have so many genres - and not so many MarySue genres (thinking of a few well sold authors, who really make money with cliches).

I agree with Lowkey here - it is better to write something awful than nothing at all, why? You can improve then. Ok, I would not put something on the web in the public area if I consider it awful, but test this with persons I know. Or - look for a site that has cliched plots/chars as well, so my cliche would fit in this.

Quote
No. Because I am not writing about me. The character's emotional history and state are vital; my own a distraction to be suppressed or ignored. The essential thing is to know your character so well that you become them while writing them - you feel what they feel.

Hm, there are authors who use their own state and express this in a story. If I may use a bestseller example here: Seybold (Lovely bones). The way she wrote it, it became very clear to me that she had a trauma - still a fascinating book. No, not "still", because she had a trauma, a fascinating book, very strong emotional impact on this reader at least - and on others reading/buying it. My suspicion became a fact after I read her 3rd book (psychological one) and she revealed what had happened to her in RL => rape and being stalked upon. In her 1st novel she wrote about a murdered child that was raped before and watched her family and the murderer out of her own "heaven". She wrote herself, her char was like a glove.

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Any reader who is not wondering what happens next and does not like your character(s) will not return.

I agree fully, a predictable plot lets me put a book aside very quickly.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 26/08/04 05:36 PM
Quote
Elliot, who decides that a work is awful or not? The reader, right? But "the reader" is not one taste only. If so, we would not have so many genres - and not so many MarySue genres (thinking of a few well sold authors, who really make money with cliches).


This is very true, Kiya <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> But genre aside, I think there are a number of things that make any story 'awful' by MOST reader's definitions - such as very poor characterisation and plot holes you can drive a fleet of lorries through.

Quote
I agree with Lowkey here - it is better to write something awful than nothing at all, why? You can improve then. Ok, I would not put something on the web in the public area if I consider it awful, but test this with persons I know. Or - look for a site that has cliched plots/chars as well, so my cliche would fit in this.


I tend to delete the story and start again if it starts heading down the toilet. I have done this a few times, and probably will have to do it more times in the future.

I am never satisfied with anything I am writing that I think is a poor story, simply because I expect better of myself. If I set no standards for myself, I would have no impetus to improve <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Quote
Hm, there are authors who use their own state and express this in a story. If I may use a bestseller example here: Seybold (Lovely bones). The way she wrote it, it became very clear to me that she had a trauma - still a fascinating book. No, not "still", because she had a trauma, a fascinating book, very strong emotional impact on this reader at least - and on others reading/buying it. My suspicion became a fact after I read her 3rd book (psychological one) and she revealed what had happened to her in RL => rape and being stalked upon. In her 1st novel she wrote about a murdered child that was raped before and watched her family and the murderer out of her own "heaven". She wrote herself, her char was like a glove.


It can be done incredibly well, but the authors that do this are basically using their novels as a kind of catharsis. They are not truly writing fiction, nor are they writing about characters. These are at least semi-autobiographical.

That being said, this is indeed a grey area where what I said earlier does not apply. Obviously any writer who is basically writing themselves and not a fictional character at all must pay complete attention to their own emotions/eotional state.

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I agree fully, a predictable plot lets me put a book aside very quickly.


I can stand a predictable plot if the characterisation is fantastic; or a superb plot with not so good characters, but two things will inevitably lose me as a reader - characters I cease to care about, and a story that goes nowhere.
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 26/08/04 06:27 PM
http://www.despair.com/demotivators/in24x30prin.html

Elliot, dearest <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> - may I display my credo?

http://www.despair.com/demotivators/los24x30prin.html

aided by this, as well.
Kiya
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 26/08/04 07:21 PM
LOL

Way cool, Kiya <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

I always prefer "If at first you don't succeed, give up" and "As one door closes so another slams in your face" but to each their own, I guess <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 27/08/04 08:42 AM
Kiya , copyrights not reserved, much less earned, so I have no permission to grant - maybe you should rather ask the English, its their language you are trying to "creatively re-form" <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/question.gif" alt="" />
***

And how about:

There is light at the end of the tunnel!
(it's the train - fastly approaching)
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 27/08/04 10:45 AM
English was my language for several yrs as well, Glance - and if I look at American/British/SA/Australian English: different spellings, meanings etc. - do you think this is a cp issue? No, I don't see my playing with letters and words as a reform <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif" alt="" /> - thought never struck me. Just as my personal passtime to play without intending to insult? No, I asked you, cause "Drowzzz" and "cementery" is a nice pun IMO and came from you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

If any native speaker is offended - sorry. I do this with the German language as well - just for fun <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> Hmm, maybe I need the identity card to get permission then? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/think.gif" alt="" />

I like that phrase about "There is light at the end of the tunnel!" <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />
Kiya

http://www.despair.com/demotivators/regret.html

can't resist again - I like a lot of these phrases <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 27/08/04 12:14 PM
Kiya - I was not dead serious!
That's why I purposefully wrote "re-form", not "reform" <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
(a slight, but meaningful difference was intended)

All languages are treated sloppily at times by their users, that's not my concern {aber ich lese den Zwiebelfisch mit Freude <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />}. My concern is communication, being understood, making a half way intelligent impression, showing off what I am (or what I would like you to think I am <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />). So language is to achieve something, but given that, it should achieve it without requiring extra explanations - This will not work 100% of the time, granted, but it's the general goal.

In my view, the difference is:
- "cementery" is just a little joke, self-explanatory in an appropriate context;
- "cemetery" and "cemetary" is YOUR "toy", YOUR rules, and is not obvious to an inadvertant reader, other than striking him as "mistake" at first glance. So, if you want to make a point, a statement, with the deviating spelling, you need to explain - and in that sense, I think it's second best option.

Quote
Wow, I thought I'd missed a ton of stuff! Shame I haven't...

By the way, a very subtle point that, Elliot!

Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 27/08/04 02:17 PM
Thank you, Glance <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 27/08/04 04:08 PM
Quote
Glance:
- "cementery" is just a little joke, self-explanatory in an appropriate context;
- "cemetery" and "cemetary" is YOUR "toy", YOUR rules, and is not obvious to an inadvertant reader, other than striking him as "mistake" at first glance. So, if you want to make a point, a statement, with the deviating spelling, you need to explain - and in that sense, I think it's second best option.



I agree fully, that's why I sort of pounced on your "cementery" to grab it <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" /> - it should be self-explanatory. Thank you. And now I don't even mind the "ery". It suits cement better.
Kiya
Posted By: LUCRETIA Re: The Writing Thread ! - 28/08/04 06:45 PM
All I know is that some people look like s... in black... (Poor people).
On the other hand some other look amazing. Take HandEFood for instanse (Hiya Hand! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />). He looks great in black! Cheers Hand <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

What? I am <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/offtopic.gif" alt="" />
I just got back from holidays so please give me a break. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Jurak where are you? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/evilgrin1.gif" alt="" />

Sorry guys could not resist. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/stupid.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 28/08/04 06:52 PM
Kiya, you are an "earitating" Drowzzzy <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 28/08/04 07:45 PM
BUZZZZZZZZZZ [Linked Image]
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 29/08/04 04:24 AM
I look amazing in black! Not like a vampire at all! Oh, no!

Just saying... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: LUCRETIA Re: The Writing Thread ! - 29/08/04 07:34 AM
There you go! An other one looking good in black!
@ Elliot I am sure you look lovely in black <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> And btw even if you looked like a vampire I would still like you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 29/08/04 09:31 AM
Black is my favourite colour as well - specially after crawling under shelves in search of PC cables. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" />

The daughter of my best friend is a Goth - and I love chatting with her, finding out what she believes, getting tips for music groups. It amuses me how the "normalos", those soooooo scared of leaving the norm path, react towards Goths.
Same for those being on the Wicca/Pagan path => my former Wen-Do teacher (martial arts) is learning this at the moment. It's fun for us both to exchange/discuss. I learn a lot from her, as I'm in charge of this kind of literature and get new ideas from her to buy books.

Now, what was that name of the group who sang about "little boxes" (the normalos)? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ouch.gif" alt="" /> ah, yes, here it is:

http://ingeb.org/songs/littlebo.html

Kiya <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/evilgrin1.gif" alt="" /> <humming the song>

Quote
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 29/08/04 04:00 PM
Fangs... er, thanks Lucretia <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

***

Not sure if anyone visits my site much, but I do update quite regularly. Elsa has been very busy <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

The main thing I am working on right now though (And the main thing I am hoping to bring to your attention) is a collaborative project with an artist friend of mine. Still very much a work in progress, but I love the way it looks so far. Writing comics is a lot different from writing prose <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

The comic is here - all four pages of it so far, though hopefully more will be added very soon <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Plowking Re: The Writing Thread ! - 30/08/04 09:47 AM
If anyone is interested, part 2 of my story is now viewable....

The Creeping Black (part 2)
Posted By: mickey Re: The Writing Thread ! - 30/08/04 02:22 PM
Quote
All I know is that some people look like s... in black... (Poor people).
On the other hand some other look amazing.


I am irresistable in black, which is why I don't wear it very often. As much fun as it sounds, I don't always have time for a group of beautiful women to kidnap me and take me to a cheap motel room.... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Jurak Re: The Writing Thread ! - 31/08/04 03:59 AM
only in your dreams, loser! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

oh not you, plowmasterstoryman! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />

that one's for "the mickster" <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/stupid.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 31/08/04 02:54 PM
OK - here I have another one for you. (This is going to be long, as I do not have a homepage, that I can link it to). And I'll have an inspirational challenge for you at the end <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

There is no developped plot behind this - just the idea for a somewhat different character. Consider it an introductory chapter, or the beginning of a short story - at the moment, I am just playing around with (wild) ideas.
***
The Naming

I stirred, when the strange thought hit my mind! What was that? Someone was entering my cave! That had happened before, rarely though, as I live a lonesome life since the creator died, far away from any civilization. Only stray adventurers pass by every now and then. Whenever adventurers camp in the vicinity, I would approach in the dark; listen to their tales at the campfire.

But this one’s mind reaches mine!?

Carefully avoiding any sound I leap up to the niche that allows me to watch the interior of the front cave without being seen. It’s dark inside the cave; only the setting sun’s fading light provides an indication of where the entrance is. The silhouette is barely distinguishable against the light; even my eagle eyes cannot make out any details, other than that it holds a short staff in his right hand. Too long for a club, too short for a weapon staff. I can smell him though with my fine wolfen sense – humanoid, sort of; a man, no doubt.

I feel the man probing the cave with elven senses – that will find me!

Alarmed, I send a thought, “Who are you?” – Surprised, the man steps back, and looks around, puzzled. “My name is Leaf Swifthand”, he says loudly, “I was seeking cover for the night”. My ears hurt from the unusual noise. “No need to yell”, I think, annoyed, “I can hear you very well”.

The man Leaf seems irritated. So he can understand me!

“Are you reading my mind?” he sends a tentative thought. “Yes, indeed”, I answer happily, “You’re the first one in eons, whose I can read, and your mind is the first one at all, that can understand me!”

A multitude of pictures flood my mind, as Leaf is trying in vain to control his thoughts and emotions. “Calm down, please – this is too much”, I beg, “I mean no harm – this is the only way I can communicate, and I craved for conversation my entire life!” I sense his impulse to back out of the cave. “Please, don’t go away!” I feel Leaf hesitate, a mixture of curiosity and caution – no fear though. I feel his decision to shed some light in the situation, and instinctively withdraw to where I know will be shadow.

A little light sphere suddenly appears in the hands of the man, rises and then hovers some feet above him, lighting the entrance area and most of the front cave. Now I can see him clearly!

He is tall – the feathers crowning my skull would probably just reach above his hips - of slender build. As he pulls back the hood of his greenish dragon leather cloak with his left hand, I see long dark hair bound to a plait, very green eyes and pointed ears, almost like mine. Underneath his cloak he wears a thigh long mithril chain armor, leather pants and boots. No visible weapons, other than a dagger at his right side, and this ridiculous walking stick he holds in his right hand.

He looks around, but there isn’t much to see in the front cave. I keep it tidy so as not to attract unwelcome visitors. The beasts in these mountains have long learned that avoiding my cave serves their survival best. Though I don’t have a lot of needs out here, I do have to eat every now and then, and I am no vegetarian!

“Where are you?” Leaf asks, now thankfully at a moderate voice level, “Show yourself!”

I hesitate – I know this is going to be a shock for him. Here is the first being that I ever met, which I can communicate with. Every encounter with intelligent beings other than my creator so far led to disaster and them trying to kill me at sight.

“You will not try to harm me?” I send a thought to him. “You know, I am a little – unusual. But I assure you, I am very happy to meet you, and I really would like us to become – friends? You see, I never had a conversation in my life!”

“Don’t worry!” the man answers, still actually speaking, though that would not be necessary, but I guess that’s just because he is so used to it. “I acknowledge this is your home, and if you don’t attack me, I have no malevolent intentions! I was just looking for a safe and dry place to spend the night. I even can feed myself, should that be necessary”.

What a polite, educated and sophisticated man! And he understands me! Oh what a joyous day!
How many winters did I have to wait for this moment – must be over three hundred by now. Yes, 307 since the winter my old creator died.

“I have seen strange things in my life and on my travels, there isn’t much that can surprise me anymore!” says Leaf, “Come on out and tell me who you are”.

So I make sure that my wings are neatly folded on my back and step out of the niche into the light.

I sense his surprise and his shock; his reaction is instinctive and swift – this man does move fast! A leap backwards, his stick coming up before his breast in a defensive swirling move, a sharp clicking sound and pointed, double edged blades appear on each side of the stick – now it’s a weapon, and no ridiculous one!

Appalled I sit back and don’t move, careful not to smile, as I have learned that my fangs tend to intimidate people, though they seem to always show their teeth when they try to be friendly.

So we stare at each other, motionless. I see his picture of me in his mind. A gigantic (gigantic? Me? He is taller than I! ) black wolf with unblinking golden eagle eyes, a dragon tail and – wings?

“I told you I am unusual, actually I am pretty sure that I am unique – and believe me, this is not funny” I send to him.

Leaf, recovering from his surprise, relaxes. A smooth upward, downward swirl of his staff, and the blades slide back out of sight.

“Let me rephrase my question”, he says, mystified, “What are you?”

“My creator called me a Lupogryff”, I answer, “He made various creatures, but it seems I am the only one that lived”.

“By the might of Pharys, what an idea!” Leaf utters in disgust.

“But, please, tell me – what are you? Your smell is unfamiliar to me, I can’t define it – it seems vaguely human, but then there is something strange to go with it. Almost like the forest”. This puzzled me since he entered the cave.

Leaf is amazed, then blushes for some reason and seems uneasy. “You have a fine nose! I am a Half-Elf, my father was human, and my mother is an Elf”.

“So your father is not human any more?” I ask curiously.

“No – my father is dead. Humans are a short-living race; much shorter than Dwarfs and especially Elves, who are very long-living unless killed by force. I am very old for a human, but still young for an elf”. He hesitates, thinks “Why, by the spirits of nature, am I telling – it – that?” And then speaking again, “And you? How long have you been living here?”

“307 winters since my creator died, 43 winters together with him since I gained consciousness, I don’t know how long before that”. I feel Leaf’s awe and pity.

“350 years without communication with another intelligent being!”

“At first it wasn’t that bad. I could read my creator’s mind, and in the course of the years absorbed all his knowledge. But I couldn’t reach his, and he was very disappointed that he could do nothing with me. After he created me, he lost interest completely, and pursued the creation of a spiritual form, but he failed. After he died I have been flying and wandering around, but whoever saw me tried to hunt and kill me – so I kept hidden. Rarely would I find one whose mind I could read, but never anyone could be reached by mine – except you”.

“Fascinating”, says Leaf, and continues “You wouldn’t have a fireplace and some water by coincidence? It’s getting cold and I gather there is no need for us to stand here all night”.

“There is a spring in the back cave, and my creator used to make a fire there, but it’s been some years since. Let’s go there!” And I turn to lead the way.

“I bet!” murmurs Leaf, and follows me.

In the back cave there is a spring of clear water, an old iron stove and some left over coal, as I never had any use for it. I watch curiously while Leaf puts some coal in the stove, conjures a little flame in his right hand and lightens the coal. When Leaf takes off his cloak a small backpack is revealed from which he takes out some fruit cakes. I decline his offer to share them with me, and get myself a junk of boar meat I had stacked away in a corner.

So we sit before the stove, in front of each other, eating silently, and Leaf is trying hard not to think anything. But his curiosity makes him watch me closely, and I can see how he visualizes the golden brown feathers on my head and wings, the silvery streak of scales along my spine ending in a dragon’s tail, contrasting with the black fur of my wolfen body, all the time avoiding the piercing glance of my eagle eyes watching every move he makes. After a short while he gives up.

“You can really read all my thoughts?” he thinks, uneasy. “Thoughts you direct at me, yes”, I answer, “Your emotions and what you visualize, I can see also. Whether that’s all your thoughts, I cannot say”. “I can hear you in my head”, Leaf speaks again as it seems to make him more at ease, “but I cannot read your mind at all”.
“Well, you did not know you could receive a mind’s thought up to now. Nor that anybody could read yours. I have centuries of training, and no other possibility – maybe you can learn?” I suggest.

Leaf considers this, nods, but still is uncomfortable at the thought of sharing his inner self with a stranger, a creature of unknown origin and uncertain intentions.

“By the way”, he suddenly asks, “what’s your name?”

“Name?” I am perplexed. “I do not have a name. My creator never bothered to give me one. What would I need a name for? I am - I”

“Yes, but what should I call you?” Leaf asks. “You certainly are a magical, intelligent…” he hesitates, and I see a tentative “person?” forming in his mind, but he continues by saying “…being. You should have a name!”

“Well, then give me one!” I challenge him.
***

And now to the challenge!
What could this name be?
Inspirations welcome!

Any comments also <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />




Posted By: Plowking Re: The Writing Thread ! - 31/08/04 04:03 PM
Quote
And now to the challenge!
What could this name be?
Inspirations welcome!


For me, an Elf would name something only in elvish. Therefore it should be an elven name, now if you can find out what elvish is for wolf, dragon etc...?

Very good, though I wouldn't have revealed a single hint of it's shape or form until the elf saw it, then the reader can share in the surprise with the elf, by removing the 'wolfen sense' and mentioning of wings etc. From the start the curiosity of what the thing is can keep the reader going.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 31/08/04 04:05 PM
Good start, Glance <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> A couple of words don't quite read right, but overall I'm liking it. Your main protagonist is unique and interesting, which is something I always look for <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

As for a name... errr... I'll get back to you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 31/08/04 08:05 PM
Plowking - why is everybody always falling in the same trap?

Leaf Swifthand is a Half-Elf. You know nothing about his background and education.

Why is it always that a Half-Elf is an Elf, and a Half-Human never a human?
What about Half-Dwarf? Half-Orc? Half-??

Is this a human trait? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/sad.gif" alt="" />

That philosophical thought set aside - I've been thinking about it!
I've been thinking a lot about it actually - but nothing so far gave me a good feeling - that's why I am trying to broaden the inspiration base <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

Elliot - thanks. I am aware that it may not the best possible choice of words. Contrary to my previous story excerpt, this is NOT a translation. I wrote it directly in English, and it's the best I can do without a lot of work with dictionary, thesaurus and the like. Bear with me - and do tell me (the least it will do is improve my English, and that's not the worst I can achieve here! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />)

I'll wait a while to see more feedback, before discussing Plowking's other concept. (Which I think is worth discussing)

EDIT: and I am aware that some ambiente description is falling a little short, but I wanted to keep it in a moderate size. And the purpose is to test ideas, concepts - not (yet) the fullfledged formulation.


Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 31/08/04 08:14 PM
You actually did very well, Glance <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I think there are at most 5-6 words that aren't quite right in the whole piece. I could certainly tell it had been written in English because it doesn't read like a translation at all - no awkwardness.

I also figured others would point out the specifics, but I will certainly do that if no-one else cares to <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Plowking Re: The Writing Thread ! - 01/09/04 09:24 AM
Quote
Plowking - why is everybody always falling in the same trap?


Whoops, wasn't aware a trap was set!! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

I just said for me it would be an elvish name - but then I didn't consider the half-elf part, but that was because after the half-elf, all I saw was elf. Mainly due to his name, full elf name (it would seem).

Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 01/09/04 11:50 AM
[color:"orange"] wasn't aware a trap was set [/color] That's the inherent purpose of traps <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> (Though I assure, there was no intention on my side)

[color:"orange"] full elf name (it would seem). [/color] Is that so? For "Leaf", I intended that, but in toto that was not my intention. (Swifthand is more elvish than Lionheart, Ironfist, Hammerhand, Oakshield, Orcslayer? All non-elven characters)
I'd be curious to see whether others have the same understanding/interpretation/feeling
Posted By: Plowking Re: The Writing Thread ! - 01/09/04 01:48 PM
Note:
I've changed both parts of my story to htm files so they can now only be accessed through these links:

Creeping Black - Part 1

Part 2


Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 01/09/04 07:51 PM
@Glance

Names:
Thoughtsucker
Mindblinder
Shadowsoarer
Nighthunter
Blackclaw
Darkwing
Nigrophid (Niger => black, ophidia => snake)
Blackfang
Nox
Nightshadow
Truthseeker
Shadowglider
Nobilis

Ok, those are mainly English conventional ones. Or do you want proper names?
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 01/09/04 08:38 PM
A novice author’s torment

So here I sit, smoking a pipe while it’s raining outside, and say to myself “So you want to write something!?”

I want to be able and discuss this later with the only people I know to have the patience and interest to brainstorm something incomplete, unpolished and containing wild ideas I hope I am going to have – so it must be in English – well, OK

Who do I want to write about? Fantasy, I feel comfortable in fantasy and fairy tales in medieval, mythological settings, no modern times, no space age, no western

I need a character.
- a fighter? Zillions around, no original idea pops up
- a mage? Same, but I like magic (bookmark in back of my mind)
- a ranger? Potentially, I like generalists more than specialists (bookmark)
- a healer? Not my line
- a bard? Even less
I draw a blank

New start: what race?
- Human?
- Elven?
- Dwarf?
- Orc?
- Dragon?
- Any mix of the above? (bookmark)
The latter still is the most appealing, as the only experience I have is with a half-elven ranger, which I still like, but then it’s nothing new…

The pipe is burning down slowly, my eyes wander along the rows of books on my shelves, desperately seeking inspiration – what have we not had, or at least not so often?

…a book on mythology…a book on dogs…the medieval soldier…

Animals!? Have I ever read an animal protagonist? Actually yes, long time back – Ernest T. Seton, I believe. Could I write a creature? In a fantasy setting? Why – not?

Next pipe – what magical fantasy creatures do I know? Dragons of course, Pegasus, centaurs, Sphinx, unicorns, hippogriffs… - what combination would I like, what should it look like?

Two pipes, a night’s sleep, and another pipe later – a picture in my mind!

A thing always bothered me when reading NPC-creatures – they talked! OK, it’s fantasy, but how do you talk in humanoid language with an eagle’s beak, a carnivore’s fangs, or a dragon’s (whatever)? Irritating to me.
So what? How make it possible – “believable” – possibly by magic? Telepathy!? Yes!

But then I have a “sender”, how about “receiving”? Any- and everybody? No, too much. So only limited – someone who is unique somehow? A group? Any race?

And then – I need a new pipe – I have this picture of a creature, but how would it interact in a story with people, in civilized surroundings? How would these react to such a creature? A partner? A humanoid partner! But then I have two characters…

…so what? I can write one from the ego-perspective, and the other from a 3rd-person (or is it 2nd person?) perspective – interesting? (bookmark)

How shall I introduce my creature?
- Describe it at the start? Discard
- Have the humanoid find and describe it? Discard
- Introduce it somewhere later as a great surprise? Bookmark
- Build it up somehow? Bookmark

Another night’s sleep, uncounted pipes later, back to bookmarks:

The great surprise! – tempting…

But then, what comes before? General description, bringing the dual character together. THE BIG BANG! Suspense level average (hopefully), one great peak for effects – good as a film – in writing?

So – building it up. Slowly feeding pieces of information, inconspicuous at first as single items. In sum starting to irritate the reader. Making him wonder what this is, or whether the author is totally lost. I would like that – I will try that!
***

And such resulted, what you can read above (shortform!) <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 01/09/04 08:51 PM
Thanks Kiya!

Hope you don't mind me commenting? (Of course this is also with the development in mind!)

Thoughtsucker = too aggressive, mind is read, not "sucked"
Mindblinder = same, aggressivity implied
Shadowsoarer = will have to think what that actually means "soaring shadows"
Nighthunter = not good, the eagle part is a daylight creature
Blackclaw = possible, but not a salient characteristic
Darkwing = untrue, wings are described as golden brown
Nigrophid (Niger => black, ophidia => snake)= too sophisticated, don't like snake part
Blackfang = possible, but same as claw
Nox = nice and short, but ignores daylight feature of eagle
Nightshadow = see nox
Truthseeker = if so, I would limit it to seeker (bookmark)
Shadowglider = not his future
Nobilis = noble? That's too much

See - this is what I did to all my own suggestions so far <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

Names could be OK, but I do envisage some meaning to be implied in the name.
And a reader of average intellect should be able to grasp it.

Still a challenge, eh? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

EDIT: Did I say HIS future? - actually I am still unsure whether it will be male or female <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/question.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/think.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 01/09/04 09:27 PM
I saw the Lupus before you revealed it (inner eyes) - thought of a werewolf at first. Everything referring to dark, night etc. => is because of his black fur - as I still saw the wolf (more night active <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> ).

The Griffon is in mythology a creature of truth and justice - as no one may lie in his presence => therefore Truthseeker.

Shadowsoarer => mainly a black animal (shadow) => soaring like an eagle (wings to fly)

Hm, Lux Nox? NoxLumen? => forget it, too much Latin (but Lightbringer is a bit too dramatic for my taste)

True, your name should reveal meaning, but I did not have much info to think about. I do not know why the creator made it => purpose could determine name - or, opposing this purpose could reveal name.

The combo of Lupus + kerub (ancient Greek for gryph) + snake tail + eagle => is very interesting. Do you really want all 4 elements in the name + "purpose, goal"?

Sure, it's a challenge <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" /> => I like your animal.
Kiya

The way you described it => seemed male to me

My griffon was simply Ascolan <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/09/04 01:20 AM
I agree with Kiya on the sex of the Lupogryph. Sounded male to me, too.

Interesting creation process there, though, Glance <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I usually start with a personality or a concept and build everything up around that base, but this kind of brainstorming clearly works well for you.

As far as names go, Golden Fang is about all I come up with, I'm afraid. Jack London fans will get the partial reference, I am sure <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/09/04 09:39 AM
Interesting - a woman and a man, both getting the impression, that the Lupogryph is male. Based on what?

I did not specifically mention gender - actually I tried to NOT include any reference to it. Did I miss something, there? Had I written it with a female in mind, what would I have had to write differently - Elliot, you should know?

Or is it nothing factual or insinuated I have written, but only in your "pre-set" mind (another trap?) Think about it - the same text, different animal combination - would your impression of the gender change with for example a snake body? A panther? A horse?

*
Yes Kiya, I am aware that I am a little unfair on the name issue, inasmuch as you (all) don't have any more information than written so far, and no idea of what is in the dark back of my mind (I am looking for the torch myself)

As Elliot says, I like brainstorming, flipping ideas and concepts around with others, finding (forming) pieces of the puzzle until somehow - intuitively - the picture completes itself before my eyes, and I have a goal. I actually work like that professionally to some extent, which I concede is sometimes irritating as the preachers of cold logic cannot always follow my way of determining and defining a solution, though they do come up with the same, but via a different "way of thinking".
*

In the beginning of this thread, where we had consolidated various (wonderfully helpful and inspiring) guidelines, we already had the "name-finding" question. Which is what inspirarated (or should I say instigated?) this concrete challenge - as I find it a) harder than I thought it would be, and b) really important for the future to find an "adequate" name.

But don't torture you to extremes - it's my problem, not your's. But I sincerely appreciate your efforts.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/09/04 11:27 AM
Glance...

I based my 'Lupogryph is male' thinking on the innate aggression of the character. A female character would tend to be more wary when dealing with something utterly new like this, and take more time to come out of the shadows, probably even warning Leaf more on what to expect. She would attempt communication on more levels, probably wagging her tail in welcome or seeking to sniff his hand to get his smell more firmly fixed in her mind. She would pay attention to what might be alarming him, and react accordingly.

She would be both more elusive and less dramatic. And she would pay more attention to the way she herself is feeling. That last might even be the most important.

'Guys think, girls feel' might be an oversimplification, but there is some truth in it regardless.

Your Lupogryph is very 'thought-focused', if you will - ergo, male.

Not that I write a lot of female characters or anything <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/09/04 02:49 PM
Elliot...

that'll need a pipe or two to sink in...
(Not that I ever claimed to understand the workings of the female mind, but it seems the author's gender shines through more than I expected (maybe I should rather research the workings of the male mind!?). So I'm probably better off considering it a male in future).

Not a lot of female characters? Just two, but a lot of them? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

Anyway thanks for the explanation - though that means, if I really wanted to keep the issue open, it would be terribly hard to achieve. Especially over a longer period of time and interaction (which I seriously considered).
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/09/04 04:47 PM
Quote
Elliot...

that'll need a pipe or two to sink in...
(Not that I ever claimed to understand the workings of the female mind, but it seems the author's gender shines through more than I expected (maybe I should rather research the workings of the male mind!?). So I'm probably better off considering it a male in future).


It really does, Glance. You wouldn't believe how many writers can't write the opposite sex at all believably - including many professionals - because they don't understand the tremendous shift in mindset you need to carry it off.

We all naturally default to our own gender.

Quote
Not a lot of female characters? Just two, but a lot of them? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />


I had no idea you were a reader <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> All comments - good and bad - are welcome <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Quote
Anyway thanks for the explanation - though that means, if I really wanted to keep the issue open, it would be terribly hard to achieve. Especially over a longer period of time and interaction (which I seriously considered).


Almost impossible, in fact. Unless you decided the Lupogryph was asexual, and thus, having no sex, could act in any way you chose.
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/09/04 04:56 PM
asexual? - not really; really not!

Quote
I had no idea you were a reader

No, haven't read any (yet) completely of what you wrote, but was curious what you write about - hence <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/09/04 05:16 PM
Quote
asexual? - not really; really not!


Hey - it's an option. I never said it was a good one <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

Quote
Quote
I had no idea you were a reader

No, haven't read any (yet) completely of what you wrote, but was curious what you write about - hence <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />


Elsa is probably my most written main protagonist, as she is very versatile and can work in many different types of story.

Illyana is a lot more complex and far more powerful - hence harder to write. I need a special kind of story to make her work properly on her own, though she does work well as a support character for Elsa when I need her to.

Fortunately, a few of my readers are female, and have been kind enough to tell me I write female characters quite well - which came as very welcome news, I assure you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

If you ever get around to reading any of my stuff, I'd love to hear your thoughts <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/09/04 07:25 PM
Quote
it's an option. I never said it was a good one

Sure it's an option, and a valid one - just not for me
(You said the author shines through - and I would hate to see myself as asexual! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />)

I'm sure I will get around to it (bookmarked) <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/09/04 07:46 PM
@Glance, I don't consider the name thingie without a lot of info unfair >= nope, it's a challenge <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
I have probs myself in giving names to my chars and wanting to put a lot into it. So, I really know what you're in here.

As for gender => Elliot said it: the Lupogryph was too logic - and even if a somewhat untypical female - too open IMO.

What about this => choose a public name first - and leave the "hidden name" (the one granting powers) in the dark at first?
Kiya
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/09/04 10:18 PM
Interesting concept, Kiya - I'll think about it!

Some more information? OK <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Here it is!
(I changed the color scheme from tricolor to bicolor - so don't be confused since it differs from the first story post)

*
Leaf hesitates, leans back and takes out a crooked piece of wood out of his pack, fills some aromatic herbs into a hollow at the end, and lights it by conjuring a flame. His mind is blank while he concentrates doing that – interesting! He then sucks at the other end and puffs a smoke ring towards the ceiling, where the light sphere he created in the front cave is still hovering. “What are you doing?” I think, amazed. I suspect some magic, but can sense none, nor see any effect other than the aromatic smoke.

“This”, answers Leaf, holding up the wood, “is a pipe. I’m smoking. There is nothing to it – it’s just for pleasure, taste, and it helps me relax and think”.

“I have heard of pipes – but I can’t hear anything”, I wonder.

Leaf smiles. “Pipes for sounds are something else, but you are right to be confused – the name is identical, but the purpose is quite different”.

I get the distinct feeling that he is trying to avoid the name question. “How about a name, then?” I insist.

“In my culture a name is partly given by your parents, that’s Leaf in my case”, he says, “and partly earned by feats when you reach adult age – so I got Swifthand”. He continues puffing his pipe, the smell of which slowly fills the cave, and looks at me lying flat on my belly in front of him. He thinks “Are you male or female?” I consider this, sending my thoughts to him – as I remember from the creator’s memory, he took a male wolf, a female eagle, and a brain from some magical creature I have no memories of. Now, what does that make me? But, thinking of my body’s anatomy, I am male.

“Male!” Leaf nods, “What was your creator’s name? Since this is the closest you have as parents”.

“The creator’s name?” I search deep in my memory. “Sure, he had a name – but since we were living all alone, he seldom thought of it - but I do remember a visitor long, long time ago, called him – Astaroth of Anwynn”.

“Considering what he did, it’s maybe not a good idea, to take his name”, Leaf contemplates. I fail to understand. What he did? In creating me? What could be wrong with that? “Trying to create beings is blasphemy in my world”, explains Leaf. I still don’t understand. “Don’t worry, it’s not your fault, and it’s done “.

Leaf's pipe stopped burning, and he empties the ashes into the stove. Then he bends over, looking in my eyes, studying my features. “You know, in a way you are beautiful”, he says, and then murmurs “black and silver – night and day; no - silver is the light of the moon. Wolf, eagle, dragon – earth, air and fire”. He shakes his head, confused and irritated. “You have any magic skills?” he asks.

“No, I can’t do magic. How could I? No voice to speak a spell, no hands to manipulate the magic aura. But I can detect magic; I sense it, if it’s there, whether it’s active or passive. And I seem to be immune to it. Once, when I encountered a mage, he threw fireballs at me, though I really didn’t want to eat him at all. But the fireballs dissolved before hitting me. And then he tried lightning bolts, and they also did not hurt me, though he could not have missed me. On the other hand, when I once flew into a tempest, a lightning hit me – and that hurt! I fell out of the sky, unconscious, into a lake, where I woke up quickly and swam ashore”.

Leaf rubs his chin, “By the might of Pharys! So a natural Lightning, weapons” he fingers at a little scar at my shoulder, where an arrow hit me, “can injure you – but magic cannot. Did this heal well?”

“Oh yes – I never bleed long, when I am hurt. The wounds close almost immediately, and after a short rest I feel nothing of it”.

“That definitely is magic!” says Leaf, “You know – you can do more than you think, although it comes naturally to you, not consciously. I wonder what you could achieve with proper training”.

He leans back, closing his eyes. “I’m tired”, he thinks, “I’ll defer finding a name for you until later. I must rest”. And while he drowses off, the light sphere above him fades. Darkness fills the cave.
*

Since the author shines through anyway - why not? (puff, puff - smoke ring) <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/09/04 08:05 AM
Quote
Leaf rubs his chin, “By the might of Pharys! So a natural Lightning, weapons” he fingers at a little scar at my shoulder, where an arrow hit me, “can injure you – but magic cannot. Did this heal well?”


What I consider a bit strange is this: Lupo is accustomed to others wanting to hurt/kill/chase him. Care to give a short explanation - or show a reaction of Lupo? I mean - even if I were lonely and glad to find someone talking to me instead of being hostile: Wouldn't I be a bit scared, or wonder if a stranger touches me - even if my nature is gentle? Or do you plan to make Lupo sort of emotionless, immune to fear? Taking everything as it is without reasoning? In a matter-of-fact way? Or is its loneliness so strong that it takes up every non-hostile contact thankfully? Or is it so self-confident about being immortal (or near to it) that is doesn't mind?

Gender => I think, it would be a nice idea if Lupo's reactions would be that of a hermaphrodit - sometimes male, sometimes female. It could be naive (inexperienced) in interaction. Or have you (has Leaf) already decided: Lupo is male?

Are you planning to reveal a bit later on about the creator's purpose? Creation might not be blasphemous in all cases - at least not in the creator's intention

Name:
SilverSun? SunSilver?
FireWind? WindFire?
NightSun?
Eclipsia? Eclipsius?
FeatherScale?
SilverBeak?
Aquila?
Fortuitus? Fortuita?
Vero?
Peregrinus? Peregrina?

Will think up of more <running up to the shelves with name books> Ahem, seem to prefer Latin a lot <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shame.gif" alt="" /> - when it comes to proper Elven names, I'm lost, then I rest my case.
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/09/04 10:24 AM
Quote
Wouldn't I be a bit scared, or wonder if a stranger touches me - even if my nature is gentle?

When his mind is an open book to you - you know his thoughts - sense his intentions in advance - would YOU be scared?
But I get your point - and appreciate its validity - when (if ever) this is formulated into a full story, this would have to be expanded.

Male? - Yes

naive, inexperienced? - yes, I tried to hint that

invulnerable? - no

immortal? - in the sense of LOOONG lifespan, yes; otherwise no

emotionless? - no (need to expand on that!)

immune to fear? - no; certainly fear of the unknown; fear of weapons (I mean it heals, but it hurts, and he is aware that it can be fatal)

Taking everything as it is without reasoning? - That he'll have to learn, you need a counterpart for that. If all you ever had is yourself - you would question things, but you could not find answers easily.

Is its loneliness so strong that it takes up every non-hostile contact thankfully? Certainly - remember, this instance IS every non-hostile contact! It's the first - there was no, especially no bad, previous experience.

Is it so self-confident about being immortal (or near to it) that is doesn't mind? No, it is aware of the concept of death, which it is actively trying to avoid.

Quote
Are you planning to reveal a bit later on about the creator's purpose? Creation might not be blasphemous in all cases - at least not in the creator's intention

You are implying I have a cunning plan!? How nice of you! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Actually I am throwing around bits and pieces, collecting ideas, getting a feel for what I am comfortable with...

Developping plots, getting ideas for complete plot-lines - is a topic I deferred to a later discussion (be sure that I will come back to it)

That said - oviously the creator's view may be a totally different one. He either does not consider it blasphemous, due to his differing beliefs, or simply doesn't care. Whether this knowledge (to the reader) will be relevant for the plot, I simply don't know yet (though I concede it may be interesting - but that's not the same)

SilverSun? SunSilver? = silver is the moon (at least that's what I wrote)sun is golden light
FireWind? WindFire? = unhappy (for no obvious reason)
NightSun? = unhappy (for reasons of logic)
Eclipsia? Eclipsius? = why?
FeatherScale? = that's desperate!?
SilverBeak? = no beak; fangs!
Aquila? = too much eagle
Fortuitus? Fortuita? = has not yet proven fortitude
Vero? = not something Leaf would pick, or could judge at this point
Peregrinus? Peregrina? = ? Don't know what this saint stands for.

But I gather, there was none in your lists, where it made "click, that's it!" in your mind? Same here <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/sad.gif" alt="" />

Input from a source outside this forum (to be discussed/inspiration help?):
*
Magikal Version: To each element there is an associated vowel. The dark vowels O and U stand for water and earth. U as the lowest vowel stands for the earth, as in the rumbling of an earthquake while O stands for the sound of the waves drifting ashore. (Even the symbols of the vowels reflect their elements: Water collects in holes or gets lost through them which is represented by O. The element earth is anything solid and is used to manufacture things. The Symbol U can be seen as a cup or jar, which is solid and made.) The open vowels A and E stand for fire and air respectiveley which reflect quite well the sounds that are being made by the elements. (Here too the symbols are somewhat similar to their corresponding elements: The A symbolizes a sketchy flame or a campfire, while the E either reflects the wind (or written as e reflects a turbulence). Last but not least the I symbolizes the higher forms as art or magic. This high vowel reflects the singing or the fear. (As symbol it reflects the way to higher understanding).
Now to the name: Since the Lupogryph seems to be of the elements fire, air and earth, his magic name should contain the vowels A, U and E in any wanted order.
Cultural Version: As has been said, one Name is being given by the parents and one name has to be earned (to reflect your character?). I suppose the earned name could change in your lifetime even several times. [color:"orange"]{a view not shared by myself} [/color] Since the Lupogryph has not yet had a chance to earn a name, he could choose one (or be given one) that reflects his character. [color:"orange"] {or at a later stage!} [/color] In that case he could maybe be named "Shy" or "Contact Seeker"... which helps him not to be named by an "earned" name like "Monster" or "Horrible" later on...
*
(the source is one of my brothers)




Posted By: DQueene Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/09/04 09:33 PM
Hi everyone! Dropped in for a moment and noticed this very interesting topic and couldn't help but add my impressions.

First I want to say that although I definitely enjoy writing, that I don't consider myself a pro; however, I do consider myself a "professional" reader <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />.

Having said that - I would like to say that I have only read this page (due to limited free time) so I am basing my unsolicited opinion only on the passage above. First, I would like to say that it was very well written; however, as a reader I received no sense of emotion at all. Have you ever seen 2001: Space Odyssey with Hal the computer? And how he has that almost emotionless voice? That is how it translated in my head as I was reading it. When reading for enjoyment I want something that engages my senses - the more I am involved with the characters, whether they bring me to laughter or tears - the better I enjoy it. You want your readers to feel what your main character is feeling (and when you use your first person voice "I" that person is the character your readers try to more closely identify with). Of course, being a female reader - I probably want all that "touchy feely" stuff - even if it has a male bias to it.

Hmmm, have you considered letting the creature be a male for a thousand years and then a female for a thousand years? Again, since I have only read this page I am not sure this is a possibility or not. I have the impression that the creature is immortal unless it meets with some sort of fatal "accident" so it is certainly possible that it could morph between the two sexes.

So here I am hoping you don't think me too presumptuous for offering my humble opinion (but giving it anyway <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> ). <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/09/04 09:07 AM
[color:"yellow"]Peregrinus? Peregrina?[/color] => Latin for foreign, strange, unknowing. Stranger, Non-civilian (Nichtbürger), pilgrim, crusader. I just modified the female gender ending "a", in case you wanted to change. But "us" is the noun.
[color:"yellow"]Peregrinor[/color] => verb => wander in the unknown, journey around. Pilgrimage. Being strange, unknown
Source: Langenscheidts Taschenwörterbuch der lat. u. dt. Sprache

Yes, Glance, you're right. No name made click in myself. It's a pity that Lupo changes into the Fix&Foxi Comic Lupo in my imagination.

If I may use the privilege of my gender to change my mind about Lupo's lack of strong emotions (fear) => he represents the elements air (reason, thinking), earth (pragmatic, matter-of-fact) and fire (aggression, dynamics). So, Lupo lacks water (deep emotions, going into the dark, unknown) => so, his non-reaction to Leaf's touch is logical <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />

Hmmmmm, maybe it would be nice for him to learn this (and maybe adapt?) He has the advantage to read minds - does he have the ability to read the sub-conscious, what is hidden for the other one? And if => can he understand it, as he lacks the empathy of water? In any case, Lupo fascinates me. I'm looking forward to how you will develop him.
Kiya
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/09/04 02:14 PM
@ DQueene: no opinion is un-solicited, otherwise I would not have posted a question here. However you flipping back one (1) page and reading the two parts in context may broaden your impression significantly and allow you to offer a more than humble opinion by a "professional reader" knowing the whole text in question!?

"The voice": Yes, I have seen the film - and read the book - and...

...this triggers an intriguing question: What's "the tone of voice" in telepathy? Are there, could there be, any variations in tone?

I mean - I did not do it on purpose, but is not DQueene's impression of an un-emotional, factual "voice" exactly what it should be? Or at least, what would be expected?

Or - in DQueene's own words [color:"orange"] that almost emotionless voice? That is how it translated in my head as I was reading it [/color]- it DID convey a picture! And not necessarily a wrong one. OK - she doesn't like it - but the lack of feeling is still a feeling the writing triggered in the reader.

Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/09/04 02:36 PM
[color:"orange"] DQueene: Hmmm, have you considered letting the creature be a male for a thousand years and then a female for a thousand years?

Kiya: ...he lacks the empathy of water & ...maybe it would be nice for him to learn this (and maybe adapt?) [/color]

I'll bookmark these thoughts in the back of my mind - wild idea/concept, but tempting...
(...but being a male chauvinist ( <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />), I would have to think what would be progress in development in the third millenium, after "female" <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />)

Quote
If I may use the privilege of my gender to change my mind

Have all politicians suddenly turned female? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: Shyon Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/09/04 03:39 PM
Quote
[color:"yellow"]Peregrinus? Peregrina?[/color]




Maybe an outsider creature(from another plane?)(in the wrong world?)? Since it's a LupoGryph.

Formulating name.....
Posted By: DQueene Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/09/04 04:55 PM
Glance - I will definitely go back and read the prior entry as soon as time permits. That is why I wanted to make sure you knew that my opinion came from a "snapshot" in time. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

If, you are indeed, seeking for an unemotional encounter between your two characters then that is great and you have definitely succeeded. Again, let me go back and read your prior work and I will no doubt add my opinions again ( <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> can't help it <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" /> since I'm a girl <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" /> ).

Perhaps the transition from male to female might occur as he reaches for emotional maturity? (This is all very "tongue in cheek". I am definitely "picking" on the male readers here - not at all serious!!)
Posted By: janggut Re: The Writing Thread ! - 06/09/04 05:45 AM
<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/offtopic.gif" alt="" /> @ DQueene -> welcome back! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" /> haven't seen u around for quite sometime.
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 06/09/04 09:56 AM
Back on topic:

1. I'd still be curious about your views on "tone of voice" in telepathy

2. an afterthought on gender:
I can follow Elliot's and Kiya's line of thinking and feeling - that's human.
And that's the key - the reader is always human. I describe a creature, that has no human origin (though "education" possibly, however we know nothing of the creator's race, right?). But author and audience always are human - can one distance oneself from that - and more important; could one alienate the reader from his human view and expectations; and, if so, should one?

3. Since the third part (the brain mainly) of the Lupogryph is "dragon" - please help me with your reading experience. I keep digging in my mind as to whether dragons are described "gender specific" in general. So far I come up with - generally no; a clear tendency to male behaviour, if gender is not clearly defined. (I can remember one instance of a she-dragon in my childhood (Mrs Mahlzahn from Jim Knopf, who later becomes the golden dragon of wisdom (Kiya will know) - and as "the golden dragon" it actually looses direct gender reference). What's your view on the gender of "dragon"?
Posted By: kiya Re: The Writing Thread ! - 06/09/04 10:44 AM
Telepathy => if I understood correctly, telepathy is an exchange of pics, cause we humans talk in words, but our thoughts are a mix, right? I think, telepathy should use a pic language (as in dreams). If we look inside ourselves => we hear/feel/see a cacophony of different voices, thoughts, colours, emotions. So, even a friendly and open approach can have undertones of fear or caution. I think, a telepath has a very difficult life in sorting out tendencies, hidden stuff (the thinker doesn't know himself). So, it depends on Lupo's ability how deep he can "see", feel, take up and evaluate.

Quote
But author and audience always are human - can one distance oneself from that - and more important; could one alienate the reader from his human view and expectations; and, if so, should one?


I say yes - just from my view as a reader => I love being surprised, teased and being lead astray by the writer and his/her world of imagination. One thing: I was surprised and wondered about Lupo's non-reaction of being touched, I became curious => why? Will the story explain further on? So, this part caught my attention, draws me to the char.

Dragon gender => hmm, I think a dragon is a dragon in the first place. Their life span is so long compared to humans, they need not fall for a gender trap and gender cliches - though they need gender to reproduce themselves. I personally like female dragons (sure, I know Michael Ende <drool> and his female dragon <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> ) If I understood your Lupo so far correctly: your dragon there represents the element fire, right? So, this is simply an old power, a way to approach => gender unspecific IMO. Now, why a gender then? I think it is easier for the reader to identify "he/she" instead of the distanced "it". If I take dragons as ancestors of reptiles => they all had gender: crocodiles, lizards, iguanas, chameleons etc. And zoology states gender behaviour clearly. In Lupo's case => so far I see the fiery element. I think it might be nice, if your creature takes up everything in a Lupo way => unique, as something new.

Glance, take the gender you feel comfortable with, where you feel you can write without wrecking your head to come up with a consistent char. Every human has animus/anima. So, why not let Lupo react in a unique way? sometimes male, sometimes female?
Kiya
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 06/09/04 07:32 PM
Glance...

It isn't just human though. As a general rule, male creatures tend to be more aggresive than female creatures because of the greater amount of testosterone. A large part of creature behaviour is chemical, and that affects behavioural tendencies.

Dragons - either sex is good. I think the most important thing is to define Dragon culture, and then allow for sexual behavioural variance. That way, your dragons will act like dragons, but gender will still affect individual behavioural patterns.

Hope this helps <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 06/09/04 07:36 PM
Oh yeah - telepathy.

Humans think in a mixture of words, pictures, and associated feelings. Strictly speaking, getting the feelings too would make you a telempath rather than a telepath, but most people just use telepath anyway as it's easier and less obscure <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

One who only feels (And/or can affect) the feelings of others is, of course, an empath - hence the combination word <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 09/09/04 06:09 PM
OK - the reworked and completed (!) chapter can be found here:

The Naming

and I am drained (It's been a hard night's day).

Now is the occasion for the polishing of vocabluary <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
*

Thinking of continuing? Unless you stop me! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />




Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 14/09/04 05:49 PM
I've heard that animals are sometimes able to communicate telepathically - through pictures and words, sometimes. Only the human part needs to be trained ... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 14/09/04 07:26 PM
I'm confused! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

I have seen all of the following:

Elf: Elves - Elfs; elven - elfen -elfish
Dwarf: Dwarves - Dwarfs; dwarven - (not dwarfen or dwarfish, though)

What is considered correct spelling <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/question.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Lowkey Re: The Writing Thread ! - 14/09/04 08:43 PM
Quote
I'm confused! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

I have seen all of the following:

Elf: Elves - Elfs; elven - elfen -elfish
Dwarf: Dwarves - Dwarfs; dwarven - (not dwarfen or dwarfish, though)

What is considered correct spelling <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/question.gif" alt="" />


Elf with a plural of Elves. (elfs and elfen are generally considered incorrect (i.e. non tolkien) <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> of course it's your world...)


With Dwarf it's a little different, Dwarves or Dwarfs are sometimes used interchangeably. I favor keeping with the Elvish tradition, and using Dwarves, but most english readers won't bat an eye are Dwarfs.

(usually dwarfs is used to refer to a collection of individuals, where dwarves is used to indicate the race/species. Ex. A group of dwarven warriors (indicates race of all warriors), versus, The group had some dwarfs (indicates individuals were OF / FROM a race, but perhaps not the entire group))- although again, personally, I always like use dwarves for all such cases.

Yes dwarfen or dwarfish would be seen as "incorrect".



Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 14/09/04 10:59 PM
Quote
I'm confused! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

I have seen all of the following:

Elf: Elves - Elfs; elven - elfen -elfish
Dwarf: Dwarves - Dwarfs; dwarven - (not dwarfen or dwarfish, though)

What is considered correct spelling <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/question.gif" alt="" />


You can blame Tolkien for this one. The originally correct English version is 'Elfs' and 'Dwarfs' but Tolkien disliked these spellings, so he chose to use 'Elves' and 'Dwarves' to indicate his races instead.

As Tolkien has basically redefined everything concerning those races as far as the English consciousness is concerned, his spellings are now so universally used that the language has functionally been changed so that his spellings are just as correct as the originals. In time, I suspect, the original spellings will be discarded entirely.

Language, after all, changes with use <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 28/09/04 12:02 AM
Just making sure my new Sig Link works <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

This one takes you directly to my story index.
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 28/09/04 11:41 AM
I've recently discovered that I can still write again. Phew ! What a relief ! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" />

Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 11/10/04 10:14 PM
The new Star Wars Fan Fiction Newsletter August/September/October 2004

Just for you to have a look how things are going on there at the TFN FanFiction boards. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: LUCRETIA Re: The Writing Thread ! - 12/10/04 05:49 PM
Quote
I've recently discovered that I can still write again. Phew ! What a relief ! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" />


That is a relief for us too Al. Really. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/kissyou.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 12/10/04 10:39 PM
My first serious attempt at limited third person can be found here.

If there are any rules to the form, I think I shredded them heartily, but it's supposed to be humour, and I shall plead total ignorance besides <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

The heroes are original characters. Very original, some might say <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

All thoughts are welcome <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 16/12/04 06:58 PM
Yes, I've taken a short look at it. It's hilarious ! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ROFL.gif" alt="" />

By the way, here's a Survey in the Star Wars Fan-Fiction-Area. Interesting stuff !
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/12/04 12:14 AM
Quote
Yes, I've taken a short look at it. It's hilarious ! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ROFL.gif" alt="" />

By the way, here's a Survey in the Star Wars Fan-Fiction-Area. Interesting stuff !


Thanks, Alrik <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

In retrospect, I think it's more third person than limited third, and I feel it ends a little weakly - certainly compared to the start. But I have a soft spot for the League, and will doubtless write them again at some point <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Just off to take a look at your link now <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/12/04 12:21 AM
Alrik...

Looks highly adaptable in places, doesn't it? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I'm almost tempted to start a thread. Almost <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

(He doesn't quote you enough in the final piece, Alrik! I liked your responses that I read, though <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />)
Posted By: janggut Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/12/04 01:32 AM
@ Elliot Kane -> welcome back! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />

but then u never did go away, didn't u? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/xmassmiley.gif" alt="" /> nobody can ever do that. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/12/04 02:14 AM
Quote
@ Elliot Kane -> welcome back! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />

but then u never did go away, didn't u? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/xmassmiley.gif" alt="" /> nobody can ever do that. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />


Thank you Janggut <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I have been lurking - and posting a little - but I could never resist the Writing Thread <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Too dear to my heart for many reasons <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

When Alrik resurrected it, I had to post <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

And yeah - this place is hard to leave entirely. Too many nice people <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: galadriel Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/12/04 08:57 PM
@ Elliot_Kane
Quote
Too many nice people

I assume you weren't talking to me, but thanks anyway. It's always nice to be appreciated around here. And you are so right, I only just started on this forum but I feel allready @ home! Such a nice gang!
Thanks a lot folks! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/XmasJump.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/XmasJump.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/XmasJump.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/12/04 11:20 PM
Galadriel - I'm sure I will include you when I get to know you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 17/12/04 11:41 PM
If you want to, I can PM you my response to the survey. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />

By the way, I always wondered whether there exists an opposite to the Mary-Sue ?
I mean - a character which is exactly the opposite to her ?

Because in early writing, I always tended to create such characters. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: galadriel Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/12/04 12:08 AM
Okay Elliot
Quote
Galadriel - I'm sure I will include you when I get to know you

Here I am... My name is Galadriel, I'm a girl from Belgium and a great fan of Divine <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/div.gif" alt="" /> . I'm still kinda new on this forum but everyone has excepted me like a true member of the club. Now you know me a little bit better, if you wanna know more about me, send me a PM. and I will answer you back. Bye <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/12/04 12:45 AM
Alrik...

Bizarre as it sounds, I would say the utterly hopeless & unattractive character who does nothing right - the opposite of the traditional totally perfect MS - is just as much a Mary Sue in her own way.

Instead of wish-fulfillment, the anti-MS is fear fulfillment, if you see what I mean. Neither is truly a character in their own right.

Hopefully that makes sense <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

***

The SW thing - yeah, please do, if you don't mind <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> That whole thing rather fascinates me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/12/04 12:48 AM
Galadriel...

Do you write at all?

And also - do you read a lot? If so, check my sig link! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

(Elliot Kane - always on the lookout for new readers <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />)
Posted By: galadriel Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/12/04 01:01 AM
to Elliot_Kane
what do I have to check out? a sig link? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />
please it's 2o'clock at night,I'm trying to read normal messages, anyway what link? And yes, I write ,can't you read it? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/12/04 01:07 AM
Quote
to Elliot_Kane
what do I have to check out? a sig link? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />
please it's 2o'clock at night,I'm trying to read normal messages, anyway what link? And yes, I write ,can't you read it? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />


LOL

The link at the bottom of every post I write - the one that says 'Elliot's Fanfic Page' - is called a 'Signature Link' - or 'Sig Link' for short. It will take you to my home page where all my stories are currently stored <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />



Posted By: galadriel Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/12/04 01:12 AM
Yes, I saw it already. Interesting stories though but to much for me right now. I have to go to bed <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/sleepey.gif" alt="" /> but my bedroom is freezing and my hubbie isn't here to warm me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cry.gif" alt="" /> Can I stay at my computer all night long? It's sad isn't it? Anyway, don't mind me I'll find a way to warm my bed... hehe
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/12/04 01:14 AM
LOL!

Sleep well Galadriel <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: galadriel Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/12/04 01:15 AM
night night! Sweet kiss and see ya tomorrow!! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 21/02/05 06:02 PM
Figure I will ressurect this thread one last time for my latest Writer Guide = and probably the hardest I've ever done <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

The Good Romance Guide

Writing a good romance is one of the hardest things that any writer will ever attempt. Not only do you need both of your characters to be sympathetic and likeable, but you also need to make sure your readers can see why they are a couple, and accept them as such.

A good romance requires a great deal of thought and planning on the part of the writer. It is the aim of this guide to look at some of the most vital areas of this process, and hopefully to make things easier for anyone who is unsure of how to begin.


The Beginnings

The first thing to work out is always how your characters will meet. This is usually the easy bit, but can look far too contrived if not written correctly.

Your characters should ideally meet as part of their normal lives, and in a way the reader can easily believe. A chance meeting while feeding ducks in the park, for example, only works if at least one of your characters regularly visits the park. If they both happen to spontaneously walk into the park on that very morning at the same instant, when neither usually visits the park at all, you have a clear case of contrivance and your reader will know it.

One character might seek the other out as part of your plot, but the initial reason should never be romantic unless you want the seeker to come across as a stalker. Assuming you are writing a true romance and not a darkly twisted tale of obsession and revenge, stalking of any kind - and even the impression of it - is out.

Most couples in real life either meet as part of their jobs or fall for members of their extended social circle, and this is always a simple and very natural way to get two people together. Other normal methods involve clubbing or other social activities that involve large groups of people.

The actual method is not too important, as long as your two protagonists meet in a realistic fashion that allows them later opportunities to meet again.


First Impressions

An instant physical attraction - especially between two good looking people - is very common, and happens all the time, but an instant romantic attraction is rare. True romance involves love, and while love at first sight is an option, it is not always the best way for a writer to go, unless there are many great obstacles that the couple must go through in order to finally be together. A good approach for a grand epic with your lovers at the heart, but not so useful for a normal romance or one that happens as part of a story rather than the whole of it.

The best approaches, to my mind, are:

1) The characters get on well right from the start, giving them a friendship that you can build up into a romance over time. This works particularly well with team or work mates, or members of the same social circle. It is easy to find one's feelings deepening from liking and respect into admiration, and finally into love. This gives a nice conventional romance with little real trouble, but makes for a good side plot or as part of a much larger story. As the major part of a story, this approach lacks interest, and should be avoided.

2) One character is attracted; the other is repelled - either by looks or seeming personality. This gives you the chance for one character to slowly win the other over, and offers a lot of chances for both characters to grow and change over time. learning more about themselves and each other as they do so. I generally consider this the best overall approach.

3) Dislike is on both sides. This will not work unless you are writing a comedy or the two are forced into close proximity regardless of their wishes, be warned. It works best in the case of team or work mates who have to endure each other, and are grudgingly forced to recognise each other's good qualities. This mutual respect will deepen over time into admiration and then into love.

And lastly, an approach to avoid. If you are writing characters who have been good friends for years, they will NOT suddenly decide to fancy each other completely out of the blue and with no rhyme nor reason. This is definite contrivance, and your readers will not believe in it for one moment.


The Growing Attraction

This takes great care to do right, because so much of it depends on the personalities of the characters involved. In general, we are more attracted to people who have qualities we like and admire. These will not always be qualities we ourselves possess, but they are always things we see value in.

A kind and generous person, for example, is not likely to be attracted to someone who is cruel and greedy, but they may admire qualities such as bravery or steadfastness.

Remember that your characters must possess 'the illusion of life'. If you truly want to see them work as a couple, they must not only work as individuals but the relationship must clearly serve to enhance both characters.

Also, your readers must believe in it. They must be able to see why the couple are attracted in the first place, and why that attraction is growing.


Compatability & Suitability

Couples do things together, meaning that they need to have interests in common. This may be a shared interest in many smaller things or in the great over-riding passions of their lives. While the smaller things build an attraction, the thing that truly leads to lasting love is compatability of life goals.

The singer and the manager; the actress and the director; the artist and the writer - each of those pairings has obvious value to both sides, both professionally and in terms of mutual understanding. It is not hard for anyone to see why members of such couples are attractive to each other, nor that each brings something to the table that enhances the other, and thus the relationship as a whole.

Ideally, a good couple will each understand what they want out of life, and the other will in some way enhance this goal or provide support to help them attain it.

The majority of couples who fall out of love and split up do so because one or both cannot fill this deep need for fulfillment in the other. Someone who's greatest desire is to travel the world will only be happy for so long with a partner who has no interest at all in travel and insists on staying home.

As a general rule, the higher a person aims in ther own life - the harder the goals they wish to accomplish - the harder they will find it to meet an 'equal' - one who is at the level they themselves are and can climb as fast.

Make no mistake - any relationship where two people seek the same goal and one is making it while the other is not is in trouble.

Any seeming inequality in a rock-steady relationship is not at all what it appears, you may be sure. Some people make supporting their other half into their own life goal, and such relationships are often exceedingly strong

People may be compatable in many other ways - intellectually, morally, physically, etc - but without compatability of life goals they will not be suitable.

Always bear this in mind if you wish your characters to come across as 'The Perfect Couple'.


What We Want vrs What We Need

Everyone has a list of things they want in a partner. Mostly this involves a more or less godlike physique, a brain to rival Einstein, a great sense of humour and an undying appreciation for us, in all our imperfection. Such flawless paragons not existing, we all end up having to settle for rather less.

Worse, we generally leave a lot of traits off of our wishlist that would be ideal in a partner because we need them to allow for flaws in us. Some of us need an emotional rock, others need someone who can control finances or who give us the confidence to be ourselves.

Every one of us needs someone who will not only share our lives, but also enhance them. This often means covering weaknesses we either do not anticipate or do not like to admit.

A great story can be told about a person chasing an impossible ideal who slowly realises that the person they really need has been close at hand all along - or is nothing at all like what they thought they wanted.


Honeys & Hunks

Imagine - you are out with the god or goddess of your dreams, walking beside them and happy. They are laughing at your jokes, and their vivacity and sheer physical attractiveness turns every head and causes murmurs of appreciation and wonder. Every person who sees your ideal is charmed by them; everyone who also wants them - which is about half the population, give or take - will seek to win them from your side. When your ideal is out alone, they will be flirted with by all and sundry, their company courted and their heart, body, or both constantly sought after. Paradise - or nightmare?

People are most comfortable with a level of physical attractiveness in a partner that they feel is equivalent either to their own, or to their social status. In other words, people seek out a long term partner who will stay with them rather than moving on to a more desirable partner.

In writing terms, this means it is fine to pair up your two gorgeous leads, but if your lead is supposed to be rather plain, has little or no social status and little to offer then they are going to hate dating the local hunk or honey simply because they will feel inadequate and unworthy.

The less attractive partner in any relationship will always have to feel they bring more to the relationship in other ways, and this is something you need to bear in mind. What is more, it must be something their partner knows about and values, because it is their partner's perception of them that determines fidelity.


Avoid Mawkishness

If you ever find yourself writing page after page of endearing little phrases that your characters are saying to each other, do yourself a favour - delete the lot. Reduce it to a single line. Writing a romance is NOT an exercise in seeing whether or not you can make your audience feel queasy. Your loving couple may spend hours every evening whispering adoring phrases to each other, but spelling them out in detail adds nothing whatsoever to your story.

If you want to show love, show it by the automatic closeness of your characters. The way they automatically cuddle, or kiss for no reason except that they're close. Have them seek each other's company just because.

The written equivalent of show don't tell. It works better than any amount of purple prose.


Avoiding Self-Projection

We all like to be in love, and the easiest trap to fall into is the thinking that our characters in love will act the same way as we ourselves. Nothing will destroy your characters or your story faster than this. Before you know it, your lead character will be n idealised you and their other half will be your ultimate fantasy. You will be writing endlesss pages of endearments as you create a fantasy you will love to death. Quite literally, because doing this will kill your story. Avoid like the plague.

Always remember that no character you write in a fictional story is you, and that in order to create the 'illusion of life' every character must be allowed to be themselves - whether they are in love or not.


Endnote

It's harder than it sounds, but truly rewarding if you can bring it off. Love is simultaneously the most ennobling and humanising emotion we have - and it will bring out the deepest parts of your characters and challenge them in ways that nothing else will.

If you truly want to examine your character's moral and ethical values, love is even better than an arch enemy, and can contain just as much fighting.

Love is one of the writer's greatest tools - and one of the hardest to master. Hopefully, this guide will help.
Posted By: janggut Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/02/05 08:46 AM
very very comprehensive, EK. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/02/05 05:20 PM
Quote
very very comprehensive, EK. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />


Thanks, Janggut <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/02/05 05:34 PM
Yes, I must agree : It is very wll written.

I would add that any kind of personal partnership includes some sort of emotion. Therefore it's quite good - imho - to try to include the emotional impact of that - following my own thesis that "a writer must substitute the reader's senses with words", or to put it in other words : The writer is an Emulator for senses. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/02/05 10:14 PM
Quote
Yes, I must agree : It is very wll written.

I would add that any kind of personal partnership includes some sort of emotion. Therefore it's quite good - imho - to try to include the emotional impact of that - following my own thesis that "a writer must substitute the reader's senses with words", or to put it in other words : The writer is an Emulator for senses. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />


Thanks, Alrik <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

And yes, I agree - the emotional side must be shown. I like your description of writing as "substituting the reader's senses with words". I'd say that was very true, and a great way to put it <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Shantara Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/02/05 10:34 PM
Hi, Elliot. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />

I'm still reading on your stories when I have the time. I am into the Elsa
Bloodstone series and have found them very interesting. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

You definitely have a way with words. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I also looked at your animated gifs. They are all very good, but I think I
like Illyana 1 the best. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Shan <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/alien.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/02/05 10:37 PM
I've found an very interesting topic (by chance) about Emotion :

Emotional Pornography

(My, I need a new keyboard ! Now not only my a is hard to type, but also my e ! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif" alt="" /> )
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 22/02/05 11:39 PM
Quote
Hi, Elliot. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif" alt="" />

I'm still reading on your stories when I have the time. I am into the Elsa
Bloodstone series and have found them very interesting. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Thanks, Shantara <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Glad to hear you like Elsa. She's easily my favourite character to write, as you've doubtless guessed <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Quote
You definitely have a way with words. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Thanks <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I like to think I'm getting there <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Quote
I also looked at your animated gifs. They are all very good, but I think I
like Illyana 1 the best. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Shan <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/alien.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Truthfully? Me too! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Thanks for your feedback. I always love to know that people are reading my stories - especially when they are enjoying them <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

***

Alrik...

I'm trying to decide if I dare to follow that link <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 23/02/05 11:35 AM
Alrik...

Interesting theory by Mamet. From what I gather, Schindler's List is one of the incredibly rare attempts by Hollywood to create a genuinely accurate historical film, as opposed to the usual rubbish, and for that reason I disagree with him.

His overall point is a good one, but, I feel, wrongly applied in this specific instance. Had he named virtualy any of the other 'historical' Hollywood films, I think his case would have been inarguable.

The term 'Hollywood History' is not used as a running joke for no reason, after all <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/04/05 04:31 PM
If I ressurect this thread much more, I'm convinced it'll turn into a revenant on me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

I am currently in the process of attaching a forum to my web site, but I can't yet amend the main page as Angeltowns is shifting servers, so rather than scream and cry a lot (OK, that too <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />) I thought I'd tell you guys about it here <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

It's completely writer related (And totally non-profit. I'm not selling anything), so I figure is no competition at all to Larian, and hence (I hope) they won't mind me mentioning it here <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Larian staff - if you DO mind, I apologise most profusely, and will not do it again.

The reason I think some of you might find it interesting is that I've included a board for writers to post their own stories.

Nothing too adult, please, but beyond that - post any kind of stories you want <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

The forum is here: http://elliotkane.proboards27.com/index.cgi

For anyone reading my stuff, it's also a good place to ask questions or tell me what I'm doing wrong <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/04/05 05:12 PM
Quote
If I ressurect this thread much more, I'm convinced it'll turn into a revenant on me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />


I don't care. Do as you wish. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 05/04/05 08:26 PM
Quote
Quote
If I ressurect this thread much more, I'm convinced it'll turn into a revenant on me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />


I don't care. Do as you wish. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />


ROFL <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />

Will do! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 15/04/05 12:48 PM
In this discussion the talk is about Copyright and Fan Fiction. Very interesting to read (although my own point of view given there is rather extreme, imho.)

But far more interesting is this article, which is about the same thing - in the case of Marion Zimmer-Bradley and a fan. She had written a story which overlaps with a story written by that fan - seemingly she read it - but negotiations between both became fruitless. The publisher then decided not to print that book. And Marion Zimmer-Bradley forbid her fans to write FanFiction stories.

Now I can understand what Lynn meant with "legal reasons" she said when I sent her - in her role as an official representant of Larian studios - a bunch of deep ideas for the <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/div.gif" alt="" /> Universe.

This isn't funny anymore.

Sad times.

Alrik.
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 15/04/05 02:07 PM
Fascinating stuff. Thanks, Alrik <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

My general understanding is that the copyright holder can demand the removal of any and all unofficial stories/uses of their character(s) at any time - but that most do not bother with anything that is making no money for the creator or anyone else involved.

Published fan fiction is making money using other people's copyrights, so is obviously stopped ASAP.

Most professional writers I have ever seen an opinion from will never read fanfic to avoid any possibility of lawsuits, and most professional companies are the same.

Even if 99% of fans would say nothing in the event of similarity, there is always the 1% who head straight to the courts, and no publisher/author wants that.

It would be very hard for a writer to claim that they weren't even slightly influenced by a story they had read, after all, whether they were already working on a similar idea or not...
Posted By: Shantara Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/04/05 02:39 AM
Elliot or Alrik or both of you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I have a question.

With so many people suing now days over even insignificant things, how can
writers and artists and others sell their works to the public without fear of
being sued. I guess what I am trying to ask is no one comes up with a truly new
idea or a new painting or drawing. They are influenced by what they have read that
other wrote and what others drew. True it may be their own style but yet it is
not truly their own. Where is the line drawn to say this is my idea or my
character only done a little different?

Did I make sense? I don't know. I know what I am trying to ask but I don't know
how to get it into words. Sorry.

Shan <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/04/05 05:40 AM
Shan...

I think that's a very good question, actually.

There is no doubt that all writers do derive a lot of ideas from the works of others as well as from their own lives & experiences.

Fortunately, I think most writers are not particularly prone to suing or being sued unless the copying is so absolutely blatant as to be indisputable.

After all, any court case is going to take up a lot of time and money with what amounts to the word of one writer against that of another. There are so many similarities in fiction anyway that providing absolute proof is all but impossible.

So I guess the short answer would be - very few authors are sued because the chance of winning is so slim.

Also, most authors don't make huge amounts of money so it isn't really worth it.

This, at least, would be my guess <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: GlanceALot Re: The Writing Thread ! - 18/04/05 03:59 PM
Yes - intellectual property is a very touchy subject, and the burden of proof is heavy... (not only for stories, but for games also)

Basically, plotlines are virtually impossible to protect, as any possible variation has probably occurred in one or the other genre.

Two things are generally attributed to or associated with their creators:

- characters (from Mickey Mouse, Mario and other trademarked characters, to a Sam Spade)
- worlds/universes (the disc world, star wars, middle earth, etc)

Legally it is very hard to impossible (Elliot is right in that) to actually prove that you made an original creation, and vice versa. Especially the successful ones become 'common knowledge', and everyone is influenced - be it only to avoid similarities...

Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/05 08:49 PM
How to write a best-selling fantasy novel <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Elliot_Kane Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/05 09:17 PM
ROFL! Excellent find, Alrik <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Ubereil Re: The Writing Thread ! - 02/07/05 11:05 PM
Woho, I'll get staring right away <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" />!

Honestlly, I didn't recognize most of those points, and I've read quite a lot of phantasy. For being 17 (allmost 18) that is. And point one was just plainlly unfair <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/puppyeyes.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cry.gif" alt="" />!

Übereil
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 03/07/05 10:12 AM
Someone I know had found it before ... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> I just took it from there ... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 04/07/05 11:29 AM
I'm in a fine forum which I like very much. It's about Creative Writing, mostly lyrics, but a bit prose and other things, too.

CreativeArt

English is in this forum and others connected to ProBoards a MUST. Sadly the company running these boards will delete complete boards without mercy if there appears any other language than English.
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/07/05 07:03 PM
Most funny misspelled words It's misspelled, see ? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" />

Literature, literature ...
Posted By: MeaCulpa Re: The Writing Thread ! *DELETED* - 24/07/05 07:08 PM
Post deleted by MeaCulpa
Posted By: AlrikFassbauer Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/07/05 07:33 PM
A Day in the Life of ...
Posted By: Ubereil Re: The Writing Thread ! - 24/07/05 07:54 PM


They're awsome <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" />!

Übereil
Posted By: jvb Re: The Writing Thread ! - 27/07/05 05:29 PM
.....

I'm feeling a little strange lately. Or maybe strange isn't the right word to describe how I feel; actually I don't think there isn't a single word invented that could even come close to actually describing it.
Is it love? No, it can't be, I've been seeing the same girl for almost a year now; I know what love feels like, and this is not it.

I am questioning a lot of things lately, like the age old questions of why we are here, if there really are alien life forms out there.. Gosh I would really like to see a real alien once, IF they exist.

But let's not talk about the future, and other things we will never know for sure. No, let us talk about the past.
Nowadays, when you watch an action movie on tv for example, the bad guy has a gun, and the good guy has a gun. And at the end of the movie, one of them gets shot. 1 single bullit, dead. In order to make these movies of a reasonable lenght, there were only a few sollutions.
1 Of them was making the entire movie like a hide and seek game, the other being the main characters' bullits missing each other except for the last 10 minutes.
None of them really give any satisfaction.

But the old days, swordfighters, archers, true heroism, noble knights on horses.. I wish I would have been born in that age, then I would have had a REAL life..


......

Never mind the above, I just wanted to practise my english a little bit again, since I haven't used it for some time.
so if you guys could give me some spelling tips, it would be great <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

The above part is completely ficion btw <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Ubereil Re: The Writing Thread ! - 27/07/05 05:53 PM
Quote


The above part is completely ficion btw <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Damn, and I who had a good answer <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cry.gif" alt="" />!

Übereil
Posted By: jvb Re: The Writing Thread ! - 27/07/05 08:28 PM
I didn't say you couldn't answer it, please do <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Lurker Re: The Writing Thread ! - 28/07/05 12:51 PM
Spelling tips: It's bullet, not bullit. It's length, not lenght.

Or did you want tips concerning your style? I'll leave it to native English speakers to give you those, though.
Posted By: jvb Re: The Writing Thread ! - 28/07/05 03:45 PM
Thanks a lot!
I should have known both of the above though! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ouch.gif" alt="" />
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