Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
«38 »
  • Post
  • Reply
After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


Covok posted:

This is going to sound odd, but how do I learn from a book?

See, I used to design games. Mostly do it for fun now since my games sucked. But, anyway, after a while, I started to break down games in my head because I knew how they were put together. So, I'd be like able to see it like a jigsaw puzzle or maybe like an engineering thing or something. Like I got how they were putting pieces together to make it.

I've been reading a lot of books while I write to learn, but I realized it might not be helping because I'm still not seeing things like that. I'm hoping to get a similar epiphany so that I can start seeing the pieces and, from there, the possible ways to put them together for my own works. Anyone got any advice on that?

Get thee to the Literature Thread! But really, decent writing books dedicate a lot of time to teaching you how to take things apart - Francine Prose's Reading as a Writer and John Gardner's The Art of Fiction are mentioned in this thread, and I have a soft spot for Mario Vargas Llosa's Letters to a Young Novelist. But what any of them are going to tell you to do is to slow down. Pay attention to what's going on what you're reading. Go back to books you love, where you aren't wondering where it's going to to go, and take your time with them to really see what the writer is doing. How did they connect things together, and how did it work for you as a reader, the first time?

And then go the opposite way! Read something totally new, in a different genre or from a different culture, where all you have is the text in front of you. No expectations or conventions - just what the author is presenting you, and see how things are revealed without the framework of familiarity.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

HIJK
Nov 25, 2012

People were stupid, sometimes. They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.


Covok posted:

This is going to sound odd, but how do I learn from a book?

See, I used to design games. Mostly do it for fun now since my games sucked. But, anyway, after a while, I started to break down games in my head because I knew how they were put together. So, I'd be like able to see it like a jigsaw puzzle or maybe like an engineering thing or something. Like I got how they were putting pieces together to make it.

I've been reading a lot of books while I write to learn, but I realized it might not be helping because I'm still not seeing things like that. I'm hoping to get a similar epiphany so that I can start seeing the pieces and, from there, the possible ways to put them together for my own works. Anyone got any advice on that?

you have to read until you can look at sentences and understand how their grammar and punctuation and word choice come together to evoke that special feeling that makes you think "hmm this is quite good actually."

I think learning to diagram sentences can help with this.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



Critical reading is a good skill to develop, and you can work on it by pausing whenever you find a passage that hits you particularly hard, or even just a sentence, and then reading it over carefully and trying to test out why it works. What word choice did they use? How is the sentence structured? Do you see any rhymes or repeated sounds? Can you feel some kind of rhythm to the sentence? Did they use an odd or clever way of describing something?

This works more broadly, too. If you're enjoying a character, stop and try to think about why this character is appealing. You might not be great at it at first, and that's fine--but the more you stop and consider, the more you'll build up a bank of examples to draw from in your head, and you'll start making connections and getting a better sense of how the authors you're reading have created effective prose.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009

I am a real boy.


I highlight or underline passages/lines I really like and sometimes write them down. I don't really go back and look through them that often, but its always good to have on hand.

As far as big things like plotting or character development or whatever getting some perspective on the craft from a book on writing like After The War suggested is a great idea. I read Stephen King's On Writing and Ursula Le Guin's Steering the Craft and am noticing little bits in books or stories I wouldn't have noticed before. Recognizing things that allowed the author to shift scenes in a thematic and cohesive way, bits of dialogue that are just plain exposition, but done well.

It's probably possible to be more deliberate to really "learn," but I mainly schlocky poo poo for fun; usually not worth analyzing too deeply. But I've learned a lot and its helped me employ similar ideas in my own writing.

Stuporstar
May 5, 2008

Where do fists come from?


I type out passages from stories that strike me and then make notes about how it struck me, which I've mentioned before. I also read widely and pay particular attention to voice. I think voice is far more important (and difficult) to nail than plotting, which is why you can find tons of books on plot, but have to read a lot of fiction to study voice. Though LeGuin's Steering the Craft is one of the few writing books that tries to tackle voice, and does a pretty good job of nailing the basics.

I find a great narrative voice lets the author get away with drat near anything. A story can meander all over the place if the writer is a great bullshitter. Prime examples for me are Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Rivka Galchen, and Marlon James. I don't care where their stories end up because I'm too busy enjoying the ride.

One thing I do to help focus my stories and develop the voice (this is primarily in first person), is figure out who the narrator is telling the story to and why. Are they trying to impress, justify their actions, or just make someone laugh? During editing, it helps me figure out what to cut, because some poo poo is not important enough to tell, even if the story seemed to naturally flow that way in the first draft. I ask myself, "If the audience was right here, would they be rolling their eyes with boredom right now?" If yes, it has to go, and any Important Details will have to fit in elsewhere. Conversations will have to be compressed or cut. Because as important as dialogue can be, people will lose interest if you drivel on. I write way too much bullshit. I love letting my characters bullshit. So developing a specific drive for the narrative is how I cut down the bullshit and get to the point.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply
«38 »