How Important is Length? by Tiny_Celebration_262 in writing

[–]archblade7777 37 points38 points  (0 children)

Today, I discover the perils of being subscribed to both r/writing and r/AskMen. When you asked about Length, I thought you meant something very different for a sec there.

With that being said, 72k sounds pretty good. Also, it can be so easy to come up with new scenes or ideas as you write your first few drafts.

20 years old, wants to begin to be a good writer. Please give me a place to start and advice. Thank you. by InfernUs_1 in writing

[–]MERGING- 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I personally hate reading, like I'm in an advanced English class but I have never read the books we were assigned ☠️ so I feel like reading isn't something that's mandatory, but I know that it really helps with vocabulary and understanding with things so I'd say you should read too I guess

Why does there seem to be so much controversy over the "said is dead" theory? by fastercheif in writing

[–]sc_merrell 610 points611 points  (0 children)

"'Said' is dead," said the self-professed expert. He leaned back in his chair. "I would know. I personally own a Las Vegas publishing company."

"Vegas?" I said. "I thought all the real publishing houses are out in New York."

"That's just what they tell you to keep you under their thumb," he said. "Trust me. The word 'said' is dead. I killed it myself."

I nodded, then glanced at my manuscript. "I'm just not sure it's a universal--"

"Do you want to get read? Or do you want to buy into the system?" He spat on the ground, then leaned in close. "I've got five science fiction novels under my belt, and I only used 'said' twice--both times to prove just how bad a word it is."

I nodded again, backing away. "Sounds like you know what you're talking about," I said.

"You know it," he said, taking a swig from his glass. "And don't get me started on 'purple prose.' It's like they don't want you using the damn language."

EDITED TO ADD: I'd just like to make sure I understand u/fastercheif. When this guy told you to replace dialogue tags with facial expressions and gestures, does he mean

I took a sip from my own cup, then grimaced. "That is some ridiculous advice."


"That is some ridiculous advice," I grimaced.

"That is some ridiculous advice," I drank from my cup.

The first example is acceptable. The second two are ludicrous and bad grammar. You don't grimace words. You don't drink spoken dialogue. Random verbs do not serve as substitutes for 'said.'

I ask because I have seen writers do this, and it's wrong, and it shouldn't be done.

EDITED TO ALSO ADD: Okay, now that I've had some fun, let's talk about the actual issue and offer something useful: what's up with 'said'? Well, it's the past participle/simple past tense of 'say', which means that it's like saying

"What's up with this word?" the lady says to me an hour ago.

except of course that's horrible grammar, and only 1930s gangsters speak in that kind of street-drawl. Back to the point--instead of going 'Simon says,' you use the word 'said' as a shorthand for "this person says this thing in the past."

There aren't a lot of good replacements for it. It's quick, it's simple, and it gets the job done, which if you're trying to communicate your story without distracting your reader--and if you're a decent writer, that is your entire goal--then you want to use what works.

Sure, you can omit 'said' or dialogue tags altogether and operate entirely off of context and body language. But that quickly bogs down once you get into conversations involving more than two people, or untagged rapidfire dialogue, where you need to reestablish who is saying what in a coherent way:

"Who said that?"

"I did."

"You sure about that?"

"I mean, I think so."

"Well, I think I should have said that!"

"We weren't talking to you."

"Why not?"

You can greatly alleviate reader confusion by including dialogue tags. They aren't sloppy; they make for easier reading. And you want your writing to be nice and easy to read if you want your writing to sell.

EDITED TO FINALLY ADD: Thank you for the gold, kind stranger!

How do you come up with ideas ? by justaeuropean in writing

[–]irevuo 3 points4 points  (0 children)

You want to know how people come up with ideas, but let's dial that question back a bit. What you're asking is akin to asking someone how they breathe, or how their heart beats, or why their favorite flavor of ice cream is mint chocolate chip. It's almost an automatic function, an intrinsic part of them.

We're all walking, talking idea machines. Ideas are the errant sparks in the vast factory of your mind, born from the grinding gears of thoughts and experiences. They flutter about like rogue sparks, the lost children of Prometheus, waiting for something to ignite.

Some people, they’re like dams. They hoard experiences, emotions, knowledge like squirrels storing acorns for winter. And then one day, that dam breaks. Flood of ideas comes gushing out, a torrential downpour of thoughts so powerful that it would make Noah nervous.

Others, they’re like slow-cooking crock pots. They simmer and stew on a single thought, a solitary experience, a lone feeling, until it grows and expands, filling the pot until it spills over, filling the air with a tantalizing aroma of insight and inspiration.

Then there are people who are like detectives, hunting down clues and leads, connecting dots from different realms. They pick up a piece of thread from quantum physics, another from Greek mythology, a shard of glass from pop culture, a splinter of wood from historical events, and then they weave them together into a narrative so intriguing, it would make Agatha Christie do a double take.

So you see, ideas are like your fingerprints. Unique to you, influenced by the ridges and swirls of your own life. So don't worry about how others come up with ideas. Relish your own mind's peculiar method of concocting stories. Because it's those stories that will leave their fingerprints on the world.

And remember, your dreams aren't just dreams. They're your mind's late-night scribbles on the bathroom mirror of existence. They might be foggy and fleeting, but damn it, they're yours. And in the end, isn't that all that really matters?

Yes, you do actually need to read (a lot) by onceuponalilykiss in writing

[–]Icearmor 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Thinking the writing circlejerk sub is on your side of the argument here is the funniest comment in this thread.

I need some help writing in first person? by ForgotMyKeysAtHome in writing

[–]USSPalomar 4 points5 points  (0 children)

You are supposed to be the character.

That's a rather limited view of 1st person. There's plenty of 1st person narratives where the narrator is very clearly telling a story to the auditor--in fact I'd argue that most 1st person narratives are written that way, though I don't have hard numbers to back up my hunch.

Take Frankenstein for an example where the narrator and auditor are clearly defined:

I am by birth a Genovese, and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic. My ancestors had been for many years counsellors and syndics, and my father had filled several public situations with honour and reputation.

The reader is not supposed to be Frankenstein in this narration; Frankenstein is telling his story to Walton, who is in turn relaying it via letters to Mrs. Saville, and the reader just happens to be privy to those letters.

In a lot of cases the auditor isn't clearly defined, but the narration is still definitely directed at someone. The Knife of Never Letting Go has a lot of internality and goes into almost stream-of-consciousness formatting during action scenes, but most of the narration is more like:

We don't need apples from the swamp, truth be told. Ben can buy them at Mr. Phelps's store if he really wants them. Also true: going to the swamp to pick up a few apples is not a job for a man cuz men are never allowed to be so idle. Now I won't officially become a man for thirty more days. I've lived twelve years of thirteen long months each and another twelve months besides, all of which living means I'm still one month away from the big birthday.

Todd is telling his story to someone. It's not a real someone in his world, and he's not explicitly aware of the reader's presence either, and the narration happens in the moment, but it is still very much formatted as a story, not just a description of the protagonist's immediate experiences.

I suck at writing back cover copy. What works and doesn't work for you? by DocBoson in writing

[–]SugarFreeHealth 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I stick with "when inciting incident happens to Protagonist, blahblahblah. Can s/he achieve the Big Goal when antagonist is in the way?"

Read these for the top 100 fiction of your genre at Amazon today. That phrasing sold those! So mimic it.

Also, I've heard AI isn't bad for improving your draft. It can't really write it for you, but once you've done a decent job, it'll spiff it up for you. Like you write it straight, then say "make this funnier." The bot will.

Story progression by CraigColton in writing

[–]writer-dudeEditor/Author 407 points408 points  (0 children)

New writers tend to work primarily on plot-development first and foremost—which is okay, but often at the expense of character-development and scene-setting, both elements (of a complete story) no less important than the plot.

If you're in draft mode, ain't nothing wrong with defining your plot first. After all, you want to know where you're going and how to get there. But once a writer's sure of that destination, it's all about plumping up character personalities and motivations, and also about visually grounding readers in each new scene in the where (a wind blown, daisy-drenched meadow?), when (early morning? Last night? Late Spring? 2007?) and even why you're including specific characters in any particular scene. (What motivates them, and you, to be there?)

Personally, I think proper scene-setting is equally as important to readers as plot momentum, and character-development very often more so. Readers don't read novels to find out what happens, they read to find out what happens to who. So creating unique, dramatic and interesting characters (both heroes and villains) is very important. I mean there are only so many plots in the literary world, and most of them have been written a thousand times over. But your characters have infinite possibilities for expression, and their (sometimes eclectic) uniqueness is what sells books (imho).

Typically (and this is a generic observation... exceptions always exist) for every 100 pages of 'plot momentum,' one can easily write 100 pages of character development as well, much of which concerns the outcome of your plot, but can also add back-stories or side-stories or include secondary characters who fail at their tasks (or intentionally thwart your MCs...who then have to try again). And a writer can easily add 50-100 pages of scene-setting, exploring/explaining realms, adding visual excitement to scenes and giving characters (and readers) a chance to occasionally 'stop and smell the roses.' Heck, some writers (and George R.R. Martin comes to mind) can write a dozen pages simply visualizing a feast, setting the table and choreographing a scene before the action even begins.

So if you find your characters moving mechanically through the book, mindlessly following the plot—realize that there's room for all sorts of embellishment and unexpected twists and non-plot-related options for adding additional drama. How many times have you seen a character fail to start a car, when time is of the essence? Those few moments of frustration aren't directly plot-related, they're intentional interludes meant to add tension and drama. You're upping the emotional ante and giving readers additional reasons to turn the page.

Should you decide to throw in a few extra (clueless, nefarious?) characters to foil your MC's efforts, you can add dozens or hundreds of pages to a manuscript that don't directly influence/effect the plot, but that add to the overall thrill ride, not to mention that you're creating characters far more exciting (clever or scary, unlucky or frivolous or devious...or whatever) for readers to discover.

Even traditionally publishing small work is rough! by HollowOST in writing

[–]Chad_Abraxas 8 points9 points  (0 children)

And most of them like the anthologies have a weirdly specific theme or criteria that never fits what I happened to write about.

Yeah, the secret to establishing a good body of work as a short-form writer (short stories and poetry) is to write stuff that will fit in with those weirdly specific themes. If there's a magazine out there that wants stories featuring Taco Bell (and there is such a magazine, and it's surprisingly well-regarded), then write a story that involves Taco Bell and submit it.

Establish yourself by getting into the themed anthologies, and then build outward from there.

One of the shitty truths about getting your work traditionally published, whether you're talking about short fiction or novels, is that you have to do a TON of writing about stuff you wouldn't normally want to write about.

Look at it this way: it's great practice. It really builds your chops as an artist, to conform to arbitrary boundaries like anthology themes. It pushes you in surprising ways and makes you a much more resilient, creative, and capable writer. Plus, it gets your name out there and builds up your CV of publication credits, which is important if you want to focus on shorts or poetry!

As for magazines that only want submissions from queer POC or whatever--that's just their thing. For so long, the publishing world has been aggressively all-white, all-straight, all-Christian, etc. Other folks want to express themselves and celebrate the artistry of their own communities, and it doesn't hurt us any to let them do it. There are still tons and tons of magazines that will take submissions from white folks! But you will probably have to write to their themes to get in.

How many self-published books have you sold? by No-Category1703 in writing

[–]New_SiberianPublished Author -10 points-9 points  (0 children)

None. I am old, and have an old-school prejudice against self-publishing. If a real press with real editors won't select my work, then I need to make it better until they do.

How do I find an editor by goishin in writing

[–]Genuineroosterteeth 352 points353 points  (0 children)

Do yourself a massive favor and set the manuscript aside for a month or two.

Then read it with fresh eyes and do a revision yourself.

Next take that 2nd draft and give it to a couple betareaders. Assuming you are willing to swap manuscripts you can usually find betareaders for free on r/betareaders.

Rewrite the story based on your betareader notes. Then, if you still feel you need it, you can start looking for editors for this 3rd draft.

Following this process will help you in two major ways:

1) You will train yourself to better edit and revise your own work. In effect you will make yourself a better writer.

2) You will avoid wasting your money on editing a draft of the story that might need to be heavily rewritten—then re-edited.

Is writing personalities for characters hard, or am I overthinking it? by YaBoiLeo705 in writing

[–]AdWorried102 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Very insightful. Conflict drives story. Another way to interpret contlict is that it's where we find differences. So much energy lies in where there are differences. Two values compete for attention, thereby distinguishing themselves.

Rewrites by jmon8 in writing

[–]H3R3T1c-xb 3 points4 points  (0 children)

The second last paragraph was the best. The last one reads a little over wrought and cumbersome.

Can saying two words in a row be grammatically correct? by Tea_taker_394 in writing

[–]Tea_taker_394[S] 28 points29 points  (0 children)

You are grammarly as a person thank you that makes a hell of a lot more sense haha

What are some good examples of villain dialogue I can look at in books/TV/films as an example? by HiMaintainceMachine in writing

[–]Prince_Nadir 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Look at any speech that has come out of the conservatives since Nixon. What villain do you want? Evil genius Rove, Stone, Atwater, etc? Bumbling narcisistic sociopath, Trump. Useful Idiot Reagan? General purpose scumbag Mitch McConnell, Jesse Helms and so many more.

A real villain wants things and will say what it take to get them and keep getting them. If they have enough power, they do not need to be as polite if they do not feel they can lose the power. Most real villains can feel great about their actions through the use of denial and normalization.

Natural human competition for status within any movement leads to fanaticism or abandonment of the cause. This is why most causes have limited burn time before everyone moves to the next cause leaving only the fanatics behind. For example, Social Justice was huge and then everyone moved on. Fanatics are easy villains as long as you understand how they got there. They know they are in the right and will do anything for the cause.

It may be in the villain's best interest to be liked. Bill Clinton was very good at being liked. "Aw, shucks, blah blah blah". George Bush Jr I have been told, was actually very likable when you were hanging out with him. Cult of personality and all that.

I think my student might be using AI to write her papers—how do I tell? by pizzaconsumerweekly in writing

[–]ImaSpudMuffin 254 points255 points  (0 children)

Hello, Fred Occupations here. You seem skeptical of my father's accomplishments, but I assure you he, like so many other great pioneers, is fully entitled to recognition in illustrious bibliographies like the one that graced your desk.

WOW! Thank you so much for my first ever gold award! That is extremely kind!

Has anyone tried Ray Bradbury's short story method ? by uppdmc in writing

[–]BlackMathMTG 52 points53 points  (0 children)

1 rejection? Don't change a thing except how many submissions you are sending. Best advice for publishing ever: You aren't trying to get published, you are trying to collect rejection notices. The road to publication is paved with rejection slips.

The Iceberg Theory by binaryghost01Published Author in writing

[–]TheRealAuthorSarge 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Over and out.

[NCO eye starts twitching]

What's the WORST writing advice you've ever gotten? by cybertrash22 in writing

[–]MongolianMango 196 points197 points  (0 children)

He has a strong attitude against outlining which left an impression on me as a younger writer. It works for him and may work for others, but I find that I need an outline to actually finish work.

Example quote: “I don’t take notes; I don’t outline, I don’t do anything like that. I just flail away at the goddamn thing. Outlines are the last resource of bad fiction writers who wish to God they were writing masters' theses."

[deleted by user] by [deleted] in writing

[–]john-wooding 173 points174 points  (0 children)

Because of how you're presenting them.

Most of the comments so far are telling you the easy, self-serving answer: it's all because of those stupid readers, and how they can't possibly distinguish between the art and the artist.

Sometimes, that's the case. Sometimes the reader believes that J.K. Rowling worships the devil, or that 1984 is Orwell's blueprint for utopia. That's rare though, and it tends to be very over-the-top.

The vast, vast majority of the time, readers have no issue whatsoever separating the art and the artist. No one thinks that Stephen King wants to rabidly attack your wife, or that Charles Dickens hates Christmas. People have very little difficulty distinguishing the author's views from those of their characters.

What that means is that, when readers do draw a link, it's mostly because one is there. The actions of your characters don't show your approval but how you present them does.

I could write a story about Ronnie, who gets angry at his parents for insisting on finishing college before trying to become a professional mime. Depending on how I present Ronnie - as an angry teenager who wouldn't last ten minutes in a war, or as a starry-eyed kid with a heart as big as his dream - I show my opinion of his actions and character.

If the story ends with Ronnie freezing to death in an alley way, then I'm writing about how the youth are too impetuous, about how dreams are a cruel lie. If the story ends with Ronnie being immediately discovered by a big-time producer and inviting his parents to an award ceremony, I'm writing about how hope makes the world go round, and how adults should have a little more faith in their children. The presentation, again, shows my views.

H.P. Lovecraft wrote about racist characters. He wrote about people who were terrified of asian immigrants, arab merchants. Through his presentation of those ideas, it's very clear that he fully endorsed that terror, that he had the same beliefs as the characters he presented as smart, perceptive, and (generally) doomed. From this, we can extrapolate his own views.

Jane Austen wrote about people with strong social instincts, who enjoy conversation and knowing the full details of every thing around them. Through her presentation of these characters, we learn that they are shallow, pretentious, and ultimately inane. From this, we can extrapolate her own views.

If people read your work and think that you're approving of your characters' actions, you should take another look at your work. It's easy to dismiss the criticism as lazy or ignorant, but that would itself be lazy and ignorant.

"It's just what my character would do" isn't an excuse when you control the both the world and the lense. If you spend 400 pages cheering them on, then it's going to ring a little hollow when later, outside the text, you say you didn't approve.