• Register
  • Login
  •          

    The Craft of Writing 490

    Image
      Abandon all sanity ye who enter here

    Moderators: Omphalos, Freakzilla, ᴶᵛᵀᴬ

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Robspierre » 02 Dec 2010 21:08

    You want to read about a real writer who gives good advice?
    http://www.stevenpressfield.com/category/writing-wednesdays/

    Lately he has been posting about his working on a novel for the last three years. Yep. One novel, three years. According to hackboi, Pressfield is a failure.

    What I like about Pressfield is that he attempts to find ways of showing that writing can be an art, that writing is not a paint by the numbers assembly line product.

    Rob
    User avatar
    Robspierre
     
    Posts: 2160
    Joined: 19 Feb 2008 10:49
    Location: Cascadia

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Freakzilla » 02 Dec 2010 21:57

    Three years! He must be getting paid by the hour.
    Image
    Paul of Dune was so bad it gave me a seizure that dislocated both of my shoulders and prolapsed my anus.
    ~Pink Snowman
    User avatar
    Freakzilla
    Lead Singer and Driver of the Winnebego
     
    Posts: 18062
    Joined: 05 Feb 2008 01:27
    Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 03 Dec 2010 15:52

    One thing I will say, is that I do have a hard time believing some of these authors who put out less than a book a year are working full time. Now, if they're making fine art, and that for some reason means they can only put in 10 hours a week, fine, as long as it kicks ass. But it is frustrating when waiting for a new book from an author, and you pretty much know that they're playing more golf than writing.

    8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year... that's a plenty long time for a book in an existing series (backstory, worldbuilding, character development all done). If it's a new project, then sure, I could see it taking much longer.
    Image
    User avatar
    A Thing of Eternity
     
    Posts: 6090
    Joined: 08 Apr 2008 15:35
    Location: Calgary Alberta

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Robspierre » 04 Dec 2010 00:59

    While Pressfield does play golf on a regular basis he did write, Legend of Bagger Vance after all, he works on more than one project at a time, including screen writing projects for studios. The main point is, he focus' on putting out a quality work over flooding the market with shit.

    Rob
    User avatar
    Robspierre
     
    Posts: 2160
    Joined: 19 Feb 2008 10:49
    Location: Cascadia

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 04 Dec 2010 02:05

    I'm not trying to give those authors a hard time, I just think some of them are full of shite when it comes to how many hours they say they work. Some work their asses off I'm sure.

    Also, for some people, spreading out the hours might help them get better quality per hour, for some people it might be the opposite. It's hard to say "this much writing of such and such a quality happens per hour, so a book should take this many hours" and so forth.
    Image
    User avatar
    A Thing of Eternity
     
    Posts: 6090
    Joined: 08 Apr 2008 15:35
    Location: Calgary Alberta

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Sev » 04 Dec 2010 13:18

    Keith's tip for the day: Know the difference between writing and editing.

    Duh, that's easy Keith - one you do while walking, the other while watching a DVD :laughing:
    Freakzilla - "Apparently we can only aspire to be the 13th biggest Dune fan since we are not family or in the HLP."

    Byron - "Are you trying to irk me?"
    User avatar
    Sev
     
    Posts: 313
    Joined: 05 Mar 2009 11:51
    Location: Peterborough, UK

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby TheDukester » 04 Dec 2010 14:16

    ZING!

    Nice one. And a nice set-up from Keith, too. :lol:
    "Anything I write will be remembered and listed in bibliographies on Dune for several hundred years ..." — some delusional halfwit troll.
    User avatar
    TheDukester
     
    Posts: 3808
    Joined: 20 Jun 2008 13:44
    Location: Operation Enduring Bacon

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Kojiro » 04 Dec 2010 17:09

    Sev wrote:Keith's tip for the day: Know the difference between writing and editing.

    Duh, that's easy Keith - one you do while walking, the other while watching a DVD :laughing:


    This sir, deserves an award! :handgestures-salute:
    Has not religion claimed a patent on creation for all of these millennia?
    -The Tleilaxu Question,
    from Muad'dib Speaks
    User avatar
    Kojiro
     
    Posts: 502
    Joined: 09 Jul 2010 23:15
    Location: Frank Herbert's Old Stomping Grounds

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Hunchback Jack » 04 Dec 2010 17:51

    LOL. Nice one. That was brilliant.

    HBJ
    "The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
    - Carl Sagan

    I'm still very proud of The Quarry but … let's face it; in the end the real best way to sign off would have been with a great big rollicking Culture novel.
    - Iain Banks
    User avatar
    Hunchback Jack
     
    Posts: 1982
    Joined: 30 May 2008 15:02
    Location: California, USA

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby SandChigger » 04 Dec 2010 22:07

    Has someone Tweeted it at him? :lol:
    User avatar
    SandChigger
    KJASF Ground Zero
     
    Posts: 14490
    Joined: 08 Feb 2008 22:29
    Location: "Whatcha having, shoog? Hurry up and order now, I ain't got all day!"

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Robspierre » 04 Dec 2010 23:44

    Jeff Vandermeer posted this bit about catching the voice and getting the tone of a character right. He included a pic of his first page.


    Image

    I've bolded some highlights that I feel emphasize some of the problems with KJA's approach to writing.


    After helping Ann deliver the Lambshead Cabinet antho, I’m back on track with my novel Borne.

    In case anyone thinks writing a novel is a swift or easy thing to do, above find the marked-up first page of Borne above. I think it’s safe to post this since I’ve posted a version of this opening before.

    Process-wise, I originally wrote the description of Mord in this post-apoc city with no real sense of the character’s point of view. I was more interested in getting down the description/details and making it a tactile, real experience. So I polished that until it was in shape for that initial, very simple purpose.

    But, as usually happens, you get a deeper sense of character as you write, and have to go back. Somewhere around 10,000 words, the character clicked into focus and the next 10,000 words were different in style and voice. I let that run out to about a total of 35,000 words before coming back to the beginning, just so I’d have enough text to work with.

    Now that I’m going back over the manuscript frag, that first 10,000 will change radically in voice as well as structure, and that will affect the next 25,000 because some stuff that occurs later in the novel will be placed closer to the beginning and the whole thing will eat itself and regenerate along different lines. Among the things that entails is fleshing out a character called the Magician, researching the history of traps, and reading Mike Davis’s Dead Cities.

    The page above had gone through five drafts to get the description down, and now I’m ripping up the floorboards and constructing a different kind of room, so to speak. Some changes have to do with the narration, some with moving around information, some with setting. And in more than a few places this draft had way too many words better suited for an essay. I was much too in love with the descriptions, which would work perfectly well if this were a short-short. But it’s not. It’s the opening of a novel that is supporting, foreshadowing, and setting up many different things. In an odd way, it has to be simpler to become more complex. And, since I now know I’m writing a novel not a novella the opening can simultaneously convey less pure information since I have more space to add in what needs to be added in to properly contextualize.

    A lot of this may seem bloodless in the way I’m describing process, but it’s actually an extremely personal, intimate, and emotional type of drafting, as my aim is to remain true to character and to the integrity of the events that should occur. There are also issues of balancing types of scenes, as the past is integral to the present of the story, but big lumps of past inserted incorrectly will, from the reader’s point of view, just slow down the story. So they must be correctly connected to the other scenes, including transitions that aren’t arbitrary or surface but hardwired and integral to the narrative.

    All in all, just another day on the job, and immensely satisfying. But: requiring patience. Shortcuts and thinking something is done when it isn’t are killers to drawing out the full potential of a manuscript.


    Rob
    User avatar
    Robspierre
     
    Posts: 2160
    Joined: 19 Feb 2008 10:49
    Location: Cascadia

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby merkin muffley » 04 Dec 2010 23:55

    But I heard that if you take the Superstars of Writing Seminar with KJA, they teach you had to produce polished prose without all that work. All that time he spends "writing drafts" he could be adding to his word count. KJA would say all that is counter-productive. :wink:
    "I must admit, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor...."
    User avatar
    merkin muffley
     
    Posts: 1584
    Joined: 23 Apr 2010 15:18
    Location: War Room

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Kojiro » 05 Dec 2010 01:55

    When I write, I have a tendency to tear apart the sentence and rewrite it as I'm writing it. Although a word processor tends to make such messy surgery easier.
    Has not religion claimed a patent on creation for all of these millennia?
    -The Tleilaxu Question,
    from Muad'dib Speaks
    User avatar
    Kojiro
     
    Posts: 502
    Joined: 09 Jul 2010 23:15
    Location: Frank Herbert's Old Stomping Grounds

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Shaitan » 05 Dec 2010 06:19

    Robspierre wrote:Jeff Vandermeer posted this bit about catching the voice and getting the tone of a character right. He included a pic of his first page.


    Precisely the sort of thing that I think shows real commitment to the quality of writing and not just the quantity (e.g. = $) on the part of the author.

    God help me, I've spent the past ten years ripping up probably upwards of a hundred drafts of the opening scenes to the pilot for my mixed-media series. And almost as many outlines that are quite distinct from one another. I look back on my early work and can't imagine the wreck I would have made of what I'd like to think are some pretty good basic ideas.

    Some, who shall remain clueless, seem content with any old ideas that will sell books, or tv manuscripts, or apparently, even superhero comics. Then, they write out some fairly obvious, uninspired story for the themes to play out. One draft and then a single round of "editing" (basically looking for obvious typos or other flaws that can't be ignored even when you don't give a shit about what you're looking at). Bang, done.

    The only thing that really confuses me about that type of writer is that they even bother to pretend that they care whether anyone likes it....if they "liked" it enough to shell out some cash, that's all that seems to matter. So why pretend that quality or inspiring people or sharing amazing realms of possibility with those whose lives will be made better by having experienced them, matters worth a damn to them? That's the part I'll never understand. I guess it goes with the territory.
    "When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro." -Hunter S. Thompson
    "Man, a guy gets drunk *once* and it's all anyone remembers..." -HBJ
    User avatar
    Shaitan
     
    Posts: 292
    Joined: 27 Aug 2010 22:52
    Location: Freeport, Maine USA

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Shaitan » 05 Dec 2010 06:20

    Kojiro wrote:When I write, I have a tendency to tear apart the sentence and rewrite it as I'm writing it. Although a word processor tends to make such messy surgery easier.


    See, that's the surest sign that you actually give a shit, instead of merely doing a job.
    "When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro." -Hunter S. Thompson
    "Man, a guy gets drunk *once* and it's all anyone remembers..." -HBJ
    User avatar
    Shaitan
     
    Posts: 292
    Joined: 27 Aug 2010 22:52
    Location: Freeport, Maine USA

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Kojiro » 05 Dec 2010 16:34

    It doesn't stay until I like it.
    Has not religion claimed a patent on creation for all of these millennia?
    -The Tleilaxu Question,
    from Muad'dib Speaks
    User avatar
    Kojiro
     
    Posts: 502
    Joined: 09 Jul 2010 23:15
    Location: Frank Herbert's Old Stomping Grounds

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 05 Dec 2010 17:57

    That method can really bog you down too though. Some people I'm sure it works for, but almost all writing teachers and professional authors I've heard on the subject advocate just getting the story out onto the paper, regardless of how nice each sentence sounds, then going back and revising (and this method has a lot of variety in it, maybe you write a page then edit it, or finish the whole book then edit it, lots of options).

    I float back and forth. Sometimes I'm in a poetic mood so I sit there and craft nice sounding prose (or attempt to), but when writing scenes that I haven't plotted out in great detail, just rambling on and on and then going back and slicing and dicing it is much more productive.

    As long as a writer can manage a pace they're happy with, and neither gets caught up in over-editing a rough draft, nor forgets to go back for further revisions, it's all good. Whatever is written is going to need lots of revision on way or another.

    I often look at writing a rough draft as more of a brainstorming excercise than anything else. Sure, I know the bulk of what'll happen in a chapter, but it's not until I start writing all the details that I find most of the faults and get most of my ideas to improve it. I don''t worry about writing quality much at all at this stage, because for me it's not a case of "I'll go back and edit it lots later" - it's a case of "this is brainstorming, and will literally be discarded wholesale, then I'll write the real rough draft and put that through multiple edits".
    Image
    User avatar
    A Thing of Eternity
     
    Posts: 6090
    Joined: 08 Apr 2008 15:35
    Location: Calgary Alberta

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Kojiro » 05 Dec 2010 19:29

    Well, I have yet to get bogged down. I do manage to finish, I just don't like settling for less.
    Has not religion claimed a patent on creation for all of these millennia?
    -The Tleilaxu Question,
    from Muad'dib Speaks
    User avatar
    Kojiro
     
    Posts: 502
    Joined: 09 Jul 2010 23:15
    Location: Frank Herbert's Old Stomping Grounds

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 05 Dec 2010 19:49

    Kojiro wrote:Well, I have yet to get bogged down. I do manage to finish, I just don't like settling for less.


    If it works for you it's a good system. I think many people end up with edit-itis (as one teacher called it), spending so much time that they lost their train of thought, or were overwhelmed with the prospect of finishing at that pace. Neither way is "settling for less" though, a writer is only settling for less or more when it comes to the final draft. How each writer gets there is irrelivent.
    Image
    User avatar
    A Thing of Eternity
     
    Posts: 6090
    Joined: 08 Apr 2008 15:35
    Location: Calgary Alberta

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Hunchback Jack » 06 Dec 2010 15:31

    The article from Vandermeer was really interesting - he's editing the book as a whole though successive drafts, not just editing the language (which is important, too). That's *real* editing, not what KJA does. I doubt whether KJA has ever done any major editing after the first draft.

    If I ever get a chance to ask him something, it will probably be something about whether he does this kind of editing - abandoning a plot thread that isn't working, changing the order of events for dramatic effect, introducing a character earlier than originally intended, just to name a few examples.

    HBJ
    "The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
    - Carl Sagan

    I'm still very proud of The Quarry but … let's face it; in the end the real best way to sign off would have been with a great big rollicking Culture novel.
    - Iain Banks
    User avatar
    Hunchback Jack
     
    Posts: 1982
    Joined: 30 May 2008 15:02
    Location: California, USA

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 06 Dec 2010 15:49

    That's one thing I'm still trying to learn to do properly, just get on with writing without too much second guessing of the plot (because by this point there's extensive outlining that's been done), but also remain totally flexible. If in the course of writing it or even the later stages of editing I discover things that don't add up, just seem awkward or not believable/natural etc, then I'm always ready to throw it out. Sometimes if it's really important I'll try to hammer the story to fit it, but if it doesn't work it doesn't work. I could see changing as big a detail as which side everyone is on right up in the editing phase.

    KJA on the other hand is just looking for spelling mistakes.
    Image
    User avatar
    A Thing of Eternity
     
    Posts: 6090
    Joined: 08 Apr 2008 15:35
    Location: Calgary Alberta

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby TheDukester » 07 Dec 2010 00:10

    A Thing of Eternity wrote:KJA on the other hand is just looking for spelling mistakes.

    Remember, that sort of thing makes Becky feel important, too. She's the one who is always doing the "correx" and "line edits."

    I have a feeling this is huge in keeping the unholy union between Keith and Becky going, as it makes her feel like she's part of the team. I remain totally unconvinced that she's ever really written a single word of fiction in her lifetime.
    "Anything I write will be remembered and listed in bibliographies on Dune for several hundred years ..." — some delusional halfwit troll.
    User avatar
    TheDukester
     
    Posts: 3808
    Joined: 20 Jun 2008 13:44
    Location: Operation Enduring Bacon

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Sev » 07 Dec 2010 05:32

    Have to agree with The Dukester here...

    Meanwhile Keith has blogged his final two tips -ZZZZZZzzzzzz

    #10 Be inspired. Apparently to be a better writer, he's always seeking out new experiences, learning new skills, going to new places. This is all very well, Keith, but it doesn't really help...IF YOU CAN'T FUCKING WRITE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!

    #10 Know when to stop. Laughable coming from a man currently working on his 11th McDune and prepping his 8th, 9th, and 10th Saggy Sun...
    Freakzilla - "Apparently we can only aspire to be the 13th biggest Dune fan since we are not family or in the HLP."

    Byron - "Are you trying to irk me?"
    User avatar
    Sev
     
    Posts: 313
    Joined: 05 Mar 2009 11:51
    Location: Peterborough, UK

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Mandy » 07 Dec 2010 10:18

    His idea of knowing when to stop probably means knowing when to stop editing and just send the crap off to the publisher.
    As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hypatia approaches one.
    User avatar
    Mandy
    Cat Herder
     
    Posts: 1700
    Joined: 08 Feb 2008 20:18

    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Freakzilla » 07 Dec 2010 10:19

    ZING! :lol:
    Image
    Paul of Dune was so bad it gave me a seizure that dislocated both of my shoulders and prolapsed my anus.
    ~Pink Snowman
    User avatar
    Freakzilla
    Lead Singer and Driver of the Winnebego
     
    Posts: 18062
    Joined: 05 Feb 2008 01:27
    Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    PreviousNext

    Return to ˲

    Who is online

    Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

    cron