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Several Things I Want to Say to New Writers - Silicon Rose [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Silicon Rose

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Several Things I Want to Say to New Writers [Sep. 4th, 2007|09:13 pm]
Silicon Rose
[Current Mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

1. Always put a paragraph break between two people speaking.

2. You do not capitalize the first word when connecting dialogue with a sentence, such as: "blah, blah, blah," he said. In this case, 'he' should not be capitalized.

3. Pick a character and stick to him. Do not change your point of view in the middle of a scene.

4. Spell check.

5. Shorter and simpler is better. You do not need an adjective attached to every noun. Break up your sentences when possible. You do not need to use words like 'onyx' or 'raven' for effect. 'Black' is fine.

6. Choose a tense and stick to it. In most cases, this is past tense. Present tense can be interesting, but it tends to be harder to pull off well. Master the basics before you try to be the next Stephen King.

7. Your very first review will probably be along the lines of 'you suck.' I suggest you believe it. This is not a good reason to stop writing. If you pick up a pen and try to draw something for the first time, you will suck. This is the way art works.

You may break many of these rules after you have learned them, but they should be broken sparingly, and only with a sure and clear picture of their effect.

I just felt like posting this.

Note: Dear LJ, why do you not recognize 'dialogue' as a word?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ketsugami
2007-09-05 07:05 am (UTC)
I've had people in writer's group critiques refer to "poor prose and stilted dialog," or something similar. AS a technical writer it makes we want to attack them.

(My other pet peeve typo is people who consistantly confuse "rogue" with "rouge," as in, "I've got four levels of fighter already, so I think I'll take another level of rouge." YOUR COSMETICS SKILL WILL NOT HELP AGAINST RAMPAGING GOBLINS!)
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[User Picture]From: froborr
2007-09-05 12:45 pm (UTC)
My boss at my technical writing job recently praised my writing for being dry and unadorned. The fiction writer in me wanted to cry.

Also, how do you know it won't help? The First Law of Bad Fantasy is that ugly is always evil. Maybe all the goblins need to turn to the side of light is a good makeover.
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[User Picture]From: froborr
2007-09-05 12:42 pm (UTC)
I would add a couple more:

8. Unless there is a very, very good reason to use first person, don't.
9. Given enough reviewers, you will find someone who hates your story, no matter how good it is, and someone who loves your story, no matter how bad it is. Ignore them both.
10. A good review is not "I loved your story!" A good review is "Here is an itemized list of everything I did and did not like about your story, in painstaking detail."
11. Word processors' grammar checks don't. There is no known substitute for a human that knows grammar.

LJ's spellcheck is exceedingly bizarre.
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[User Picture]From: benabik
2007-09-05 01:55 pm (UTC)
LJ's spellcheck makes me happy that OS X provides spellchecking on every text field. ^_^
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[User Picture]From: siliconrose
2007-09-05 04:01 pm (UTC)
If new writers writing first person saves me from experiencing badly written third person omniscient, I'm fine with first person.

I wish more people gave good reviews. If on several stories I wrote my readers said "I loved your characterization, but there's something wrong with your dialogue," that tells me something very important about my writing. Just telling me that dialogue is a weak point can give me enough to improve.
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[User Picture]From: froborr
2007-09-05 05:17 pm (UTC)
Best recent review I've gotten was from pristis, who said that many of my stories are strongly lacking in a sense of place; I went back and saw that he was right. Most of my writing tends to happen in a vacuum; I may describe a few props here and there, but they're usually props on an empty stage. And it's completely me being lazy; when I'm focusing on the environment, as in the Ivimwi story, a fragment of which I posted a couple of months ago, I am perfectly capable of describing the environs.
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[User Picture]From: pristis
2007-09-08 02:12 am (UTC)
*pounces on the praise and devours it messily*

Thanks! I'd like to think I'm capable of giving good reviews.
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[User Picture]From: pristis
2007-09-08 02:16 am (UTC)
I don't know; I'm very reluctant to draw up rules for writing. The only one I've heard which I emphatically agree with is "Don't try to write in dialect unless you're certain you've got that dialect right." Hard-to-follow or inauthentic dialect can absolutely ruin a story that might have been perfectly fine otherwise.
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