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.
«42 »
  • Post
  • Reply
Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010



sebmojo posted:

Go minimalist, absolutely. Don't do this:

leaked chapters for the Snow Crash prequel looking decent

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Stabbey_the_Clown
Sep 21, 2002

Wanna see a demonstration of my school? It's called "Eight Leaves, One Very Big Stick"!


Taco Defender

quote:

"Hey buddy, you don't look so hot," graveled Tom from the next cubicle over.

I know that was just an example, but never use adjectives as verbs, especially as a speech tag. That would be better off reading:

quote:

"Hey buddy, you don't look so hot," came the gravelly voice of Tom from the next cubicle over.


quote:

So I'm considering trying to limit myself to natural-sounding first-person observations; Bob grew up in a world where fantasy creatures were normal, so he might occasionally notice Tom's rough, pebbly green skin or observe that everyone in the office flinches and covers their ears when he laughs or yells, but he's never going to sit down and say "Here is what's happening and how it fits into the setting". My thought is that as long as the reader doesn't need the background details, all they should really get is information necessary to picture the scene and empathize with Bob's reactions or behavior.

I would call Tom a Troll, and maybe sketch a description of what he looks like, as there are many varieties of fantasy trolls, but I wouldn't do a deep dive into world lore. The state of the world comes across sufficiently by showing that office-worker Bob knows his colleague Tom is a Troll and Bob thinks nothing special about it.

Stuporstar
May 5, 2008

Where do fists come from?


Stabbey_the_Clown posted:

I know that was just an example, but never use adjectives as verbs, especially as a speech tag. That would be better off reading:

Sorry, no. This is a stylistic quirk I would totally put up with, especially when the rhythm flows better than your example. There are no hard rules in writing.

ravenkult
Feb 3, 2011


I always gravel when greeting my coworkers

Stuporstar
May 5, 2008

Where do fists come from?


And then grouse at them.

Though that is noun that has been verbed.

Nae!
Aug 5, 2004

Dislikes: Middle-class ideals


College Slice

Stuporstar posted:

Sorry, no. This is a stylistic quirk I would totally put up with, especially when the rhythm flows better than your example. There are no hard rules in writing.

Meanwhile, I saw 'graveled' and rolled my eyes so loving hard they flew out of my skull and smashed against the floor, so ymmv.

Stabbey_the_Clown posted:

I know that was just an example, but never use adjectives as verbs, especially as a speech tag. That would be better off reading:

I would call Tom a Troll, and maybe sketch a description of what he looks like, as there are many varieties of fantasy trolls, but I wouldn't do a deep dive into world lore. The state of the world comes across sufficiently by showing that office-worker Bob knows his colleague Tom is a Troll and Bob thinks nothing special about it.

Adding to this to say you can quickly establish both Tom's character and trolls in general by highlighting what makes Tom different from other trolls. Something like: "Tom rolls his eyes at me. He's got big eyes, even for a troll, and watching those yellow balls rotate in the sockets always makes me want to puke. Aside from that, he's a pretty good guy. Still, those eyes. Jesus christ."

Nae! fucked around with this message at Sep 8, 2018 around 04:46

Stuporstar
May 5, 2008

Where do fists come from?


Nae! posted:

Meanwhile, I saw 'graveled' and rolled my eyes so loving hard they flew out of my skull and smashed against the floor, so ymmv.

I agree it's totally ridiculous, but it was in a comedy context so I was just like, Ok I can deal.

I just don't like to see people come down on Fun With Words. Fun With Words is what writing should be (partly) about

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Stuporstar posted:

I agree it's totally ridiculous, but it was in a comedy context so I was just like, Ok I can deal.

I just don't like to see people come down on Fun With Words. Fun With Words is what writing should be (partly) about

yeah, it's clear enough what it means and it's an effective playful way of describing the character.

Stabbey_the_Clown
Sep 21, 2002

Wanna see a demonstration of my school? It's called "Eight Leaves, One Very Big Stick"!


Taco Defender

Stuporstar posted:

Sorry, no. This is a stylistic quirk I would totally put up with, especially when the rhythm flows better than your example. There are no hard rules in writing.

SORRY FOR USING THE WORD "never". Okay?

Yes, there are no hard rules in writing. There are guidelines though. This thread is for advice on writing, and I'm not going to apologize for pointing out someone brushing up against a guideline.

Stabbey_the_Clown fucked around with this message at Sep 8, 2018 around 20:42

Omi no Kami
Feb 19, 2014



Stabbey_the_Clown posted:

SORRY FOR USING THE WORD "never". Okay?

Yes, there are no hard rules in writing. There are guidelines though. This thread is for advice on writing, and I'm not going to apologize for pointing out someone brushing up against a guideline, such as "use words which exist".

I wonder if this isn't a prescriptive vs. descriptive issue? Because you won't find it in the dictionary, but it's definitely in my lexicon and satisfies my grammatical intuition, and it seems easy enough for randomly-sampled English speakers (in the incredibly tiny pond that is a fun writing thread) to parse.

Either way though, thanks for your feedback guys- it's really helpful getting objective third parties to critique and suggest improvements to my (often) terrible writing.

Stuporstar
May 5, 2008

Where do fists come from?


Stabbey_the_Clown posted:

SORRY FOR USING THE WORD "never". Okay?

Yes, there are no hard rules in writing. There are guidelines though. This thread is for advice on writing, and I'm not going to apologize for pointing out someone brushing up against a guideline, such as "use words which exist".

"Use words that exist" is a bullshit rule made up by mediocre editors with no imagination. Good writers make up words all the time. Shakespeare alone is said to have made up hundreds, a significant portion of the English language, and plenty of significant authors have done so since. In fact people make up words every day, they catch on, and eventually make it into the dictionary—so you don't even need to be a goddamn genius to be allowed to do it. Language is fluid, and anyone who tries to pretend otherwise is being prescriptive and dishing out writing advice that is actively harmful to an art that relies on imagination.

Even if "graveled" is stupid as hell...
Touchscreen is not a word, but it will soon be in its un-hyphenated form, so gently caress what spellcheck says.
Peacocked is not a word, but in context if it makes sense, now it is one!
Sucklump is not a word, but my made-up slang cannot be constrained
I could go on. I make up words for my own fiction all the time, so I will die on this hill.

Stuporstar fucked around with this message at Sep 8, 2018 around 20:34

Stabbey_the_Clown
Sep 21, 2002

Wanna see a demonstration of my school? It's called "Eight Leaves, One Very Big Stick"!


Taco Defender

How about "if you deliberately use words in rarely-seen ways, some people might stop thinking about the story they're supposed to be reading, and start thinking about the author of the story and wondering why that word was used".

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

I'm of two minds. In a fiction advice thread, there are a lot of people who are new to writing and need to foremost practice clarity and mechanics. I wouldn't tell someone new to writing that they should be coining words, or verbing nouns, or whatever.

On the other hand, it's important to not get too axiomatic about things, because sometimes the rules of language just plain don't accommodate an idea or image. If I'm engaged in a novel and once in a while a character gravels or thrums or burbles or whatever, I'm going to just take that as part of the flavor.

But yeah I don't think anyone would disagree with me if I said writers shouldn't do something just because it's easy to do wrong.

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.


All languages have a certain flow to them and you can make plenty of interesting combinations with both mundane and unusual words. Experience is the only reliable teacher. Read more, write more.

Nae!
Aug 5, 2004

Dislikes: Middle-class ideals


College Slice

I wouldn't worry about anyone being discouraged by the advice in this thread. The great beauty of advice is that it's rarely taken as freely as it's given.

Stuporstar
May 5, 2008

Where do fists come from?


Sure, but after being inundated by advice from midlist authors and editors, about how only conventional, perfectly transparent prose is acceptable, some need to hear that the opposite is allowed. That every book should have its own voice, can have its own stylistic quirks if it fits the tone, and that doing unusual things with language can make a book more delightful.

The first time I struggled to find the right word because the right word didn't exist, I was told, "Then make one up." And my reaction was, "We're allowed to do that?" Yes, we are.

There are enough decent writers in this forum, who are ready (or already trying) to go beyond the boring advice you read everywhere else. So for anyone ready to hear it:

Read more and better fiction. Get a feel for really good prose. Experiment. Play with language. If you're not a native English speaker, don't rub out all your quirks as soon as you brush up against one of our many unspoken rules (because native speakers aren't consistent either—take by accident vs. on accident for example, a generational divide). Make horrible embarrasing mistakes in the process and laugh them off. Have fun.

Stuporstar fucked around with this message at Sep 9, 2018 around 20:12

Mirage
Oct 27, 2000

At least CyberLowtax likes me.

Omi no Kami posted:

I hate when most stories do this; it tends to be jarring and clunky, and especially early in the story it futzes with the pacing- if this is the first chapter I don't care about Tom, or trolls, or the setting; I'm waiting for Bob the D&D Accountant to do something that invests me in the character and makes me care about what happens next.

So I'm considering trying to limit myself to natural-sounding first-person observations; Bob grew up in a world where fantasy creatures were normal, so he might occasionally notice Tom's rough, pebbly green skin or observe that everyone in the office flinches and covers their ears when he laughs or yells, but he's never going to sit down and say "Here is what's happening and how it fits into the setting". My thought is that as long as the reader doesn't need the background details, all they should really get is information necessary to picture the scene and empathize with Bob's reactions or behavior.

That having been said, <action/dialogue beat> <descriptive beat> is such a common structural trope in fantasy and fiction that I assume it's there because it works- am I setting myself up to frustrate readers if I go for the minimalist approach?

So besides the whole "graveled" conversation (which I didn't mind, personally), you don't have to dump all the information at once, and your prose will read a lot better if you dole it out. This may require you to rearrange the scene, though, so as not to reveal "what's Tom's deal" all at once. Maybe Bob feels the floor flex and squeak when Tom walks in the office; then he sees Tom's thatch of green hair towering over a cubicle wall; then Tom says something in a bass voice which shakes some of the pushpins out of Bob's cube wall. This both establishes that Something's Not Normal About Tom and increases intrigue in the reader. Then you can reveal that, yeah, Tom's a troll.

At this point, you can talk more about the world or continue to draw it out. The fact that nobody seems to take particular note of a troll in the office helps establish the setting, but then a shadow flits over a window of a griffon zooming past, or the mail-gremlin comes by, or a light spell goes out over somebody's cube and they complain about having to call the Maintenance Wizards, or something else. Layer it on and continue to play up everybody's lack of reaction.

Terrorforge
Dec 22, 2013

More of a furnace, really

Sitting Here posted:

I'm of two minds. In a fiction advice thread, there are a lot of people who are new to writing and need to foremost practice clarity and mechanics. I wouldn't tell someone new to writing that they should be coining words, or verbing nouns, or whatever.

On the other hand, it's important to not get too axiomatic about things, because sometimes the rules of language just plain don't accommodate an idea or image. If I'm engaged in a novel and once in a while a character gravels or thrums or burbles or whatever, I'm going to just take that as part of the flavor.

But yeah I don't think anyone would disagree with me if I said writers shouldn't do something just because it's easy to do wrong.

I find that a good rule of thumb is to obey the axiom until you understand why it's become axiomatic, at which point you should be able to see where it doesn't apply.

Admittedly that's a more useful mindset for taking advice than giving it so ppffftpht

Nae!
Aug 5, 2004

Dislikes: Middle-class ideals


College Slice

It's hard to know when you're ready to take off the training wheels and break the rules, though. Chances are, you aren't really ready until you've already done it a few times and fallen flat on your face. That's the joy of writing!

Nae! fucked around with this message at Sep 11, 2018 around 17:15

bessantj
Jul 27, 2004



I've read the OP twice over the weekend and will probably read it again, it's really helpful and has taught me a few things. So big thanks to Dr. Kloctopussy for the effort she put in.

bessantj fucked around with this message at Sep 17, 2018 around 14:17

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

bessantj posted:

I've read the OP twice over the weekend and will probably read it again, it's really helpful and has taught me a few things. So big thanks to Dr. Kloctopussy for the effort he put in.

She is fairly amazing.

Phil Moscowitz
Feb 19, 2007

Avant de chanter
Ma vie, de fair' des
Harangues
Dans ma gueul' de bois
J'ai tourne sept fois
Ma langue
J'suis issu de gens
Qui etaient pas du gen-
re sobre
On conte que j'eus
La tetee au jus
D'octobre...

Before somebody (Butthead?) came up with fartknocker, it wasn’t a word. Makes you think.

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


Phil Moscowitz posted:

Before somebody (Butthead?) came up with fartknocker, it wasn’t a word. Makes you think.

I often think of the ways the wordplay and clever rhythm of Mike Judges' early work have contributed to our culture. Thank you for reminding us, friend.

Fruity20
Jul 28, 2018


I just now realized that a lot of ideas i've written down tend to have male protags. only a few them have a female character as the lead. the funny thing is I'm a girl yet i barely write people of my own gender ( or even). maybe i just like writing out of my comfort zone sometimes. is this even normal to do?

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?



Fruity20 posted:

I just now realized that a lot of ideas i've written down tend to have male protags. only a few them have a female character as the lead. the funny thing is I'm a girl yet i barely write people of my own gender ( or even). maybe i just like writing out of my comfort zone sometimes. is this even normal to do?

Same here except opposite genders. Maybe just a personality thing. My partner and I both prefer friends of the opposite gender. I like socializing with women and she with men. I was even in a fraternity but I don't like making friends with most guys.

Stabbey_the_Clown
Sep 21, 2002

Wanna see a demonstration of my school? It's called "Eight Leaves, One Very Big Stick"!


Taco Defender

Fruity20 posted:

I just now realized that a lot of ideas i've written down tend to have male protags. only a few them have a female character as the lead. the funny thing is I'm a girl yet i barely write people of my own gender ( or even). maybe i just like writing out of my comfort zone sometimes. is this even normal to do?

What is a story but a chance to step into the life of a different person and see the world from their eyes? What does an storyteller do but try and imagine what it would be like to be in the shoes of a different person from them? There's nothing wrong with what you're doing, it comes with the territory, really.

I'm male and right now I'm working on a story with a female protagonist in first-person, and a second story with both a male and female protagonist, told in third person. It happens.

Axel Serenity
Sep 27, 2002



Fruity20 posted:

I just now realized that a lot of ideas i've written down tend to have male protags. only a few them have a female character as the lead. the funny thing is I'm a girl yet i barely write people of my own gender ( or even). maybe i just like writing out of my comfort zone sometimes. is this even normal to do?

It's perfectly normal, but it does come with some caveats. Most of my books have women leads; I just feel like those characters are women more naturally than they feel like men. However, if it's something you do want to publish, it's important that you don't fall into stereotypes about gender (unless that's the intent).

So, I usually make sure I have quite a few beta readers who are women to give me perspective and make sure my characters feel "real" and don't go into "She sighed breastily" territory. I don't know if I have got it 100% perfect, but I have changed a few things based on feedback they've given.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

"Hm," said Jock scratching his testicles thoughtfully

(this is actually v authentic male behaviour feel free to use it)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply
«42 »