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> Thinking Deeper to Develop Writing Skills, Discuss
Guest_Nina_*
post Sep 19 05, 14:48
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I would like to pick up on a comment Fran made in her Flash thread talking about the character moving from river bank to boat, using the branch of a tree overhanging the water.

The bounce required a bit of planning - needs pace but yet to show readers what is happening very clearly.

Now I'm still very green when it comes to writing prose and have a long way to go in terms of learning and improvement.  How do you learn to get the balance right, becoming more aware of how you are writing?  I tend to just write what I'm thinking or seeing, rather than taking an objective step back to consider the readers. I feel perhaps that my writing is still too distilled, missing out on the little details that bring a picture to life but I just don't think about it when writing. How do I develop that skill?  When does conscious become subconscious or is it a case that you either have the ability or you don't?


Nina
 
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JLY
post Sep 19 05, 14:54
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Nina,
I am of the belief that if you can write quality poetry than I think it is easier to make the jump to write good prose.
Prose affords you the opportunity to develop your scenes in greater detail and to give your characters multi-dimensional characteristics.
You have far more freedom and latitude with prose.
I suspect that you are measuring your contriutions/postings too minutely with respect to the offerings of other MM members.
I believe if you step back and look at your work, you will find that you are on the right track.  Perhaps as you delve more into prose, you might want to explore your imagination to come up with some great ideas and characterizations.
JLY


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Guest_Nina_*
post Sep 19 05, 15:05
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Hi John

Prose affords you the opportunity to develop your scenes in greater detail and to give your characters multi-dimensional characteristics.

I agree with you, the question how to hone that skill to bring the story to life.

You have far more freedom and latitude with prose.

very true but again the issue is how to utilise that freedom in the best way.

I suspect that you are measuring your contriutions/postings too minutely with respect to the offerings of other MM members.

How else does one improve but by looking at others' work and seeing what they have done well and learning from it and by asking questions.

Nina
 
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Guest_Toumai_*
post Sep 20 05, 02:10
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Hi Nina

Thanks for posting this discussion.

How do you learn to get the balance right, becoming more aware of how you are writing?  I tend to just write what I'm thinking or seeing, rather than taking an objective step back to consider the readers.

Well, I am not sure my advice is valid - I am hardly an 'expert' myself (one published short story hardly counts, lol).

I also write what I am visualising. I see the action a bit like a movie. Sometimes I re-run it so many times it's a good thing it isn't a video tape cos it would be worn out. Often details change - I think of it a bit like Robert Altman letting his cast improvise for a movie scene (Gosford Park etc).

I feel perhaps that my writing is still too distilled, missing out on the little details that bring a picture to life but I just don't think about it when writing.

The difference is that the readers cannot 'see' the scene as the writer does. We have to give them a few very close details to let their imaginations take flight. Sometimes it is worth going back over an action sequence and just adding something very small - the angle of sunlight striking the river, or a face; an item of clothing or a book  - because once the reader has some detail their imagination lets rip and fills in the rest as if by magic. Of course, their image may be utterly different to your original (scary! ) but so long as it works for the purpose of the overall story they can picture it however they wish.

How do I develop that skill?  When does conscious become subconscious or is it a case that you either have the ability or you don't?

I am sure you can develop the skill. I think the innate skill useful for writing is the imagination and visualisation (which are very useful indeed) - pretty much everything else can be learned.

You already do the main thing which is to read and read - and read critically. It's hard to see why something 'works' because one gets wrapped up in the imaginary world. Sometimes it is easier to read a poor piece of writing and the problems glare.

The next thing is to practice. Flashes are good for confidence in ones imagination, but perhaps also try writing some other stories to see how they feel.

Fran
 
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Guest_Perrorist_*
post Sep 20 05, 03:03
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QUOTE (Nina @ Sep. 20 2005, 05:48)
I would like to pick up on a comment Fran made in her Flash thread talking about the character moving from river bank to boat, using the branch of a tree overhanging the water.

The bounce required a bit of planning - needs pace but yet to show readers what is happening very clearly.

Now I'm still very green when it comes to writing prose and have a long way to go in terms of learning and improvement.  How do you learn to get the balance right, becoming more aware of how you are writing?  I tend to just write what I'm thinking or seeing, rather than taking an objective step back to consider the readers. I feel perhaps that my writing is still too distilled, missing out on the little details that bring a picture to life but I just don't think about it when writing. How do I develop that skill?  When does conscious become subconscious or is it a case that you either have the ability or you don't?

Nina

IMO, the most important thing when you start writing a piece is to let your imagination drive your fingertips. You're telling a story to a blind person, one who is intelligent enough not to need everything spelt out. Therefore, you provide just enough description to point the reader's imagination in the direction (this is repeating what Fran's saying) you want them to go in and - this is essential - not to leave something out which is vital to the reader's understanding of the story. This is the balance you strive for.

Gaining a critical distance from what you've written comes either from practice or by putting the piece to one side for long enough for you to pick it up again and see it afresh.

The number one thing I've discovered about writing (of all kinds) is that practice is the key to getting better at it, as it is with most skills that take time to acquire.

Perry




 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Sep 20 05, 08:38
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Hi Nina, et al.

Yes all the above comments I'd agree with.

How to develop it. (I am no expert either)

OK take a scene - as the one in the flash  - and write a response. Write it as best you can. Then give it to three or four people to comment on - put it on here for crit, if you like, asking people to pay attention to the scene's plausability / interest etc. Then just hone that scene. Don't bother about the whole story (though you can if you wish).

Re-write it if needsbe - as if better / worse. The do another one similar.

Use something dramatic / interesting.

e.g.  The boy had about a hundred yards of the tunnel left before he woulkd emerge into fresh air. At that point he heard the train behind him...

Now you could try writing that from first person (they boy) and third (omnipresent narrator). See if people think it convincing? Interesting? Too much / too little detail etc.

As people say - practice - and the benefir of such exercises is they can be developed into whole stories if you wish.

Hope that helps?

J.
 
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JLY
post Sep 20 05, 09:00
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Referred By:Larry Carr



Nina, Fran, James, and MM Family:

I believe this thread and the messages that have followed paint an accurate picture of the best aspects of M.M.
Everyone here, from my personal experience and the observations of others, have always put the needs of the writer first.  The comments always seem to be sincere and constructive.

I get as much out of reading comments to other's quesitons and posting as I do to my own.
This is certainly a friendly place.

JLY


·······IPB·······

Give thanks for your new friends of today, but never forget the warm hugs of your yesterdays.

Nominate a poem for the InterBoard Poetry Competition by taking into careful consideration those poems you feel would best represent Mosaic Musings. For details, click into the IBPC nomination forum. Did that poem just captivate you? Nominate it for the Faery award today! If perfection of form allured your muse, propose the Crown Jewels award. For more information, click here!


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Guest_Nina_*
post Sep 20 05, 15:48
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thanks everyone for such sound advice.  There is much to ponder over in what you say.  I should probably revisit some of my flashes, perhaps rewriting and posting for crit.

Thanks

Nina
 
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Cleo_Serapis
post Sep 20 05, 19:07
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Real Name: Lori Kanter
Writer of: Poetry & Prose
Referred By:Imhotep



Hi Nina.

I'm late to the party! PartyFavor.gif

Since I'm a Newbie.gif to prose, I will sit back and enjoy this wonderful dialogue. Couch.gif

I'm still struggling with "Show verses Tell" as I've been told to try and 'show' my scenes more than I do. Try to envision yourself IN the scene, look at the surroundings, what you see, hear, smell etc.. and then try to put that into the story too. An example might be - instead of:

She was very angry with Jack for breaking their date (again). Work always comes first.

To describe her actions more somehow to get the same message out there..

Jack spoke softly as always, stuttering into the receiver, sweat coming off his brow. "Please," he pleaded, "Don't be angry with me. You know it must come first right now."

Jane nearly threw the cellphone out the window. "You're a lousy, dirty rat! That's the last time you stand me up!" The King's Faire sign loomed overhead. The car jerked forward, accelerating past the Knight at the gate. "I wonder if he makes work his priority in life?!"

So much to learn!
Great thread! goodjob.gif

~Cleo :pharoah2






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"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." ~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Collaboration feeds innovation. In the spirit of workshopping, please revisit those threads you've critiqued to see if the author has incorporated your ideas, or requests further feedback from you. In addition, reciprocate with those who've responded to you in kind.

"I believe it is the act of remembrance, long after our bones have turned to dust, to be the true essence of an afterlife." ~ Lorraine M. Kanter

Nominate a poem for the InterBoard Poetry Competition by taking into careful consideration those poems you feel would best represent Mosaic Musings. For details, click into the IBPC nomination forum. Did that poem just captivate you? Nominate it for the Faery award today! If perfection of form allured your muse, propose the Crown Jewels award. For more information, click here!

"Worry looks around, Sorry looks back, Faith looks up." ~ Early detection can save your life.

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Guest_Toumai_*
post Sep 21 05, 05:15
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How about a little excercise?

Take one very simple situation of your choice and try writing it using different POVs and/or tenses.

Perhaps I should post a suggestion and example in the Acropolis?

Fran
 
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Cleo_Serapis
post Sep 21 05, 05:28
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Real Name: Lori Kanter
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Referred By:Imhotep



Sounds good Fran! cheer.gif

How about posting in Noble Narratives, our prose exercise forum?

http://forums.mosaicmusings.net/cgi-bin....SF;f=27

I look forward to the challenge! smurf.gif

~Cleo sprite.gif


·······IPB·······

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." ~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Collaboration feeds innovation. In the spirit of workshopping, please revisit those threads you've critiqued to see if the author has incorporated your ideas, or requests further feedback from you. In addition, reciprocate with those who've responded to you in kind.

"I believe it is the act of remembrance, long after our bones have turned to dust, to be the true essence of an afterlife." ~ Lorraine M. Kanter

Nominate a poem for the InterBoard Poetry Competition by taking into careful consideration those poems you feel would best represent Mosaic Musings. For details, click into the IBPC nomination forum. Did that poem just captivate you? Nominate it for the Faery award today! If perfection of form allured your muse, propose the Crown Jewels award. For more information, click here!

"Worry looks around, Sorry looks back, Faith looks up." ~ Early detection can save your life.

MM Award Winner
 
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Guest_Toumai_*
post Sep 21 05, 06:05
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Hi Lori,

I KNEW there'd be a proper place to set it - thanks. I have done as you suggest and the link is:

http://forums.mosaicmusings.net/cgi-bin....ry54914

Fran
 
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Peterpan
post Apr 10 06, 10:41
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Referred By:Jox



Hello Nina (and all at MM)

Such an interesting and informative topic. I only read it today. Still being - inactive - gosh how I will miss my endless days of reading and writing when I am mobile again!

Thank you for all the input and for starting the topic.

With appreciation for all writing teachings.

PP

:p


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May the angels guide your light.

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Guest_Don_*
post Apr 10 06, 11:37
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Hi all,

I've avoided novel writing because of habits from years of writing boring technical reports.  The idea in technical writing is to avoid people and remain neutral.  Novel writing requires plot and characters, which I seem unable to produce.  

I remember a successful novel writer hired by our corporation, which wrote lots of proposals and tech reports.  She didn't work out because her bent was to put life into the dull phrases.  She corrupted technical terms, understood by us when they were drab.  

What little I understand of the craft is that a grabber beginning is essential.  I've been educated that the all time best beginning is: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Just thinking up beginnings is a beginning.

Conversation is one means of keeping the story alive.  This area is not easy to master, but mastering it is a huge plus.

Pace is important because we quickly become bored.  Fast forward, flashback, new character, mystery, mixing short and long paragraphs. Interweaving long and short chapters.

Maybe the art has changed, but I was instructed to always insert a foretelling of major events to come.  In "Macbeth" the three witches provided this feature.

Above are a few thoughts which jumped into my head.  Must leave now for health maintenance exercise.

Don   mm.gif  mm.gif
 
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Guest_Rosemerta_*
post Oct 14 06, 23:47
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I stumbled on to this tile today and after reading the responses I am convinced I will never be a good writer, not that I hadn't believed that before.

Like many have confessed I too am one who writes from my own mental image. The first time I wrote anything my mind was racing to convey the scenes in my mind. I must have thought faster than I could type because when I was finished the story made little sense. This distraction of misspelled words and poor grammer were frustrating. I dropped so many words it read like I was speaking broken English or strung out on drugs. And what little description I had was pretty boring.

It was sometime later when I read "The Thorn Birds" that I realized how important description was to feed the imagination. I was disappointed when the movie came out as it wasn't nearly as good as the images I formed reading the book.

Now I find myself going overboard in that direction. I became a movie fanatic in the interum and now find myself describing each scene in such detail that the reader finds it too tedious to continue reading after the first few paragraphs.

I go nuts over the flash jams as by the time my thirty minutes are up I've barely described the first scene let alone the whole story I had in mind.

I have been so impressed with the wonderful suggestions MM members make in their responses. I don't know if time is an issue or if I'm just plain lazy but I never seem to get back to putting their suggestions to good use. However, I do think I gain from them in that they have helped me improve on my writings that follow.

I am in awe of those of you who write so diligently and consistantly. Such practice shows in the skill by which you put your thoughts down. I lack that substance that drives one to continue to hone their craft every day. I'll dive into writing for a day or two then find myself distracted by other things and disappear from the writing forum for weeks if not days at a time. What little progress I make during those 'on' days seems lost during the interum.

Yet even if I never master writing I have enjoyed reading the work of others here and have been imprssed with how so many of you grow and hit me with excellent writing time and time again.

IMHO I don't think Nina has anything to worry about. I find her to be one of the most dedicated and talented writers here. Rock on Nina!
Guitar.gif
 
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Guest_Toumai_*
post Oct 15 06, 03:07
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QUOTE (Don @ Apr 10 06, 17:37 ) *
I remember a successful novel writer hired by our corporation, which wrote lots of proposals and tech reports.  She didn't work out because her bent was to put life into the dull phrases.  She corrupted technical terms, understood by us when they were drab.  


My husband is a programmer and he says much the same thing; he would rather hire someone who knows the systems they are programming for (in his case mass spectrometers) rather than even the most highly trained "pure" programmer. You can teach programming skills - or grammer.

Fran
 
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Guest_Toumai_*
post Oct 15 06, 03:22
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QUOTE (Rosemerta @ Oct 15 06, 05:47 ) *
I stumbled on to this tile today and after reading the responses I am convinced I will never be a good writer, not that I hadn't believed that before.


Nooooooooo! Believe in yourself, Jackie - you write beautifully.

QUOTE
Like many have confessed I too am one who writes from my own mental image.


I tried a poll elsewhere and at least 9 out of 10 writers said they visualised scenes. One or two bravely admitted they don't ... but I'm not quite sure how they do so well in that case, lol.

QUOTE
The first time I wrote anything my mind was racing to convey the scenes in my mind. I must have thought faster than I could type because when I was finished the story made little sense. This distraction of misspelled words and poor grammer were frustrating. I dropped so many words it read like I was speaking broken English or strung out on drugs. And what little description I had was pretty boring.


Me too LOL.gif

QUOTE
It was sometime later when I read "The Thorn Birds" that I realized how important description was to feed the imagination. I was disappointed when the movie came out as it wasn't nearly as good as the images I formed reading the book.

Now I find myself going overboard in that direction. I became a movie fanatic in the interum and now find myself describing each scene in such detail that the reader finds it too tedious to continue reading after the first few paragraphs.


Thats' the balance, isn't it? How can you conjure that scene in your reader's head in a minimal description. It's nigh impossible. And what's ok for one genre doesn't work in another *sigh*

QUOTE
I go nuts over the flash jams as by the time my thirty minutes are up I've barely described the first scene let alone the whole story I had in mind.


I know that feeling - except I almost never have a story in mind, lol.

QUOTE
I have been so impressed with the wonderful suggestions MM members make in their responses. I don't know if time is an issue or if I'm just plain lazy but I never seem to get back to putting their suggestions to good use. However, I do think I gain from them in that they have helped me improve on my writings that follow.

I am in awe of those of you who write so diligently and consistantly. Such practice shows in the skill by which you put your thoughts down. I lack that substance that drives one to continue to hone their craft every day. I'll dive into writing for a day or two then find myself distracted by other things and disappear from the writing forum for weeks if not days at a time. What little progress I make during those 'on' days seems lost during the interum.


We're all obsessive Read.gif

QUOTE
IMHO I don't think Nina has anything to worry about. I find her to be one of the most dedicated and talented writers here. Rock on Nina!


Agreed cheer.gif

Fran
 
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Guest_Rosemerta_*
post Oct 29 06, 21:15
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Fran,

It was a pleasure to read your response. Not just your generous compliment but sharing the frustration. It's nice to know I'm not alone. Having others share their thoughts here has left me less intimidated.

Thanks -- Jackie
 
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Guest_shaggy breeks_*
post Feb 15 07, 05:50
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hiya, i feel your plight, i used to have no idea where to begin when it came to writing stries

but . . . then along came an author who i admired beyond compare, terry pratchett.

He has a very useful idea on how to write stories. i quote . . .

When you are writing a story, write it as though you are a really young child, full of questions and silly ideas. for example if there is a horse in your story, what does it do? who owns it? whats its name? is it freindly? where does it go to the toilet? What is its favorite food?

If you can answer every question a young child might want to know then youve done your job perfectly.

shaggy breeks
 
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Peterpan
post Feb 15 07, 10:06
Post #20


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Referred By:Jox



Hi ~

Interesting thoughts you have there.

I have to admit I HATE Terry Pratchett! :) everybody to their own. I think I possibly dont understand him...any way.

Thanks for the discussion.

PP


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May the angels guide your light.

MM Award Winner
 
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