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Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Ccs posted:

Alright I come to you all with another small question. I have a sentence here:

Had to go back to your Google Doc for context:

quote:

The doors burst from their hinges with a deafening boom and crashed to the ground in a shower of dust. The glow from the engraved runes on Cantusí staff faded as he and his partner Renk moved through the haze of the rogue mageís hall.

Cantus felt an exhilarating thrill thrum through his veins. A grand entrance, that was the way to begin a battle. He skimmed just enough power off the surface of the astral world to clear the dust and swaggered forward while concocting the perfect opening line. Renk trailed behind, busy appraising the clumsy insignia carved into the cracked oak doors.

I think you have some more options, depending on what you're trying to convey. Are the runes temporary or permanent? E.g. are they permanently engraved on the staff and glow when Cantus is actively doing magic? Or are they temporary runes which Cantus has to re-engrave every time he wants to do some magic? Is the engraving an important detail? Is it more important that the reader understands Cantus was the one responsible for the doors being blown off their hinges?

Where I think you're getting tangled up the most is you're trying to emphasize a visual detail while also conveying blocking information. The visual detail seems more important than the blocking information, which could be combined with other sentences that are conveying action.

Here's one option, which zooms in - we go from big visual and auditory detail to a smaller visual detail and a sensation, then to internal thoughts in the first paragraph. Second paragraph then focuses on action:

quote:

The doors burst from their hinges with a deafening boom and crashed to the ground in a shower of dust. Glowing runes faded from Cantus' staff as he released his spell, exhilaration thrumming through his veins. A grand entrance, that was the way to begin a battle.

He skimmed just enough power off the surface of the astral world to clear the haze inside the rogue mage's hall as he swaggered forward, all the while concocting the perfect opening line. His partner, Renk, trailed behind, busy appraising the clumsy insignia carved into the cracked oak doors.

Here's another, if you want to play around a bit more with the opening paragraph - we go the other way, by starting with the character's emotion, to the trigger for the emotion, then to the visual detail that's evidence of Cantus causing the explosion, then the consequence of the explosion, and then the character's thoughts to bring it full circle with the emotion. This is then a nice segue into the action, leading with the stronger verb "swagger" and cutting the generic "moved through". Plus it's all centred on Cantus, who at this stage of the story, is a pretty egotistical guy, so it's nice to have Renk both physically trailing behind him in the action and also trailing and being mentioned almost as an afterthought in Cantus' POV:

quote:

Cantus felt an exhilarating thrill thrum through his veins as the doors to the rogue mage's hall burst from their hinges with a deafening boom. The glowing runes on his staff faded as the doors crashed to the ground in a shower of dust. A grand entrance, that was the way to begin a battle. He swaggered through the haze, skimming just enough power off the surface of the astral world to clear the dust while concocting the perfect opening line. His partner Renk trailed behind, busy appraising the clumsy insignia carved into the cracked oak doors.

Edit: comma placement, I am bad with commas

Leng fucked around with this message at 04:39 on Jan 13, 2021

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newts
Oct 10, 2012


quote:

The glow from the engraved runes on Cantusí staff faded as he and his partner Renk moved through the haze of the rogue mageís hall.

Do you need to remind the reader that itís Cantusís staff here? If you take that out, itís clearer.

quote:

As the glow from the engraved runes on the staff faded, Cantus and his partner Renk moved through the haze of the rogue mageís hall.

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Leng posted:

Had to go back to your Google Doc for context:


I think you have some more options, depending on what you're trying to convey. Are the runes temporary or permanent? E.g. are they permanently engraved on the staff and glow when Cantus is actively doing magic? Or are they temporary runes which Cantus has to re-engrave every time he wants to do some magic? Is the engraving an important detail? Is it more important that the reader understands Cantus was the one responsible for the doors being blown off their hinges?

Where I think you're getting tangled up the most is you're trying to emphasize a visual detail while also conveying blocking information. The visual detail seems more important than the blocking information, which could be combined with other sentences that are conveying action.

Here's one option, which zooms in - we go from big visual and auditory detail to a smaller visual detail and a sensation, then to internal thoughts in the first paragraph. Second paragraph then focuses on action:


Here's another, if you want to play around a bit more with the opening paragraph - we go the other way, by starting with the character's emotion, to the trigger for the emotion, then to the visual detail that's evidence of Cantus causing the explosion, then the consequence of the explosion, and then the character's thoughts to bring it full circle with the emotion. This is then a nice segue into the action, leading with the stronger verb "swagger" and cutting the generic "moved through". Plus it's all centred on Cantus, who at this stage of the story, is a pretty egotistical guy, so it's nice to have Renk both physically trailing behind him in the action and also trailing and being mentioned almost as an afterthought in Cantus' POV:


Edit: comma placement, I am bad with commas

There are some good thoughts here but your first fix runs into the same problem I had, the "he" still doesn't make sense because the subject of the sentence is still "staff" and not "Cantus."

"The doors burst from their hinges with a deafening boom and crashed to the ground in a shower of dust. Glowing runes faded from Cantus' staff as he released his spell, exhilaration thrumming through his veins. A grand entrance, that was the way to begin a battle."

After some thinking I rewrote it in a way that keeps the same original structure but fixes the subject issue:

quote:

The doors burst from their hinges with a deafening boom and crashed to the ground in a shower of dust. The glow faded from the engraved runes on the staff Cantus clutched as he and his partner Renk moved through the haze of the rogue mageís hall.

I'm happier with this because it also works in some more alliteration, which I always like. But you're right that the visual information and blocking detail is being compressed into one sentence.

Ccs fucked around with this message at 14:24 on Jan 13, 2021

A Loaf of Bread
Mar 18, 2008


Anyone else reading A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, George Saundersí new book on short fiction writing craft through the lens of Russian short stories? I just started it today and Iím already finding it really helpful.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Ccs posted:

There are some good thoughts here but your first fix runs into the same problem I had, the "he" still doesn't make sense because the subject of the sentence is still "staff" and not "Cantus."

"The doors burst from their hinges with a deafening boom and crashed to the ground in a shower of dust. Glowing runes faded from Cantus' staff as he released his spell, exhilaration thrumming through his veins. A grand entrance, that was the way to begin a battle."

Whoops! I'm an idiot. This is why I shouldn't try offer commentary on copyediting stuff...I'm terrible at it.

To compensate: Sanderson posted an in-depth interview with his editorial team on Rhythm of War. It covers some general stuff about the author/editor relationship and also delves into the specifics of his process for writing books (5 drafts, not counting copyedit and proofreading). I think he is unusual in terms of the extent to which he utilizes beta readers as an author (I'm personally a fan, it aligns a lot with how musical theatre is developed with readings, etc) and pretty interesting to see the level of work that goes into producing one of his books:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxV20CVtYJo

stab stabby
Mar 23, 2009


A Loaf of Bread posted:

Anyone else reading A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, George Saundersí new book on short fiction writing craft through the lens of Russian short stories? I just started it today and Iím already finding it really helpful.
If anyone's interested, Green Apple Books in SF is hosting an event around this book:
https://www.baybookfest.org/session/saunders_wolff/#!event-register/2021/1/15/george-saunders

ultrachrist
Sep 27, 2008


Weird coincidence. Just yesterday I was in Green Apple with that book in my hands. Decided to buy some other books though.

tuyop
Sep 14, 2006

Every second that we're not growing BASIL is a second wasted


Fun Shoe

I wrote a thing. Is this the place where I can post and have it dismantled mercilessly?

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




tuyop posted:

I wrote a thing. Is this the place where I can post and have it dismantled mercilessly?

This thread

https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3942154

tuyop
Sep 14, 2006

Every second that we're not growing BASIL is a second wasted


Fun Shoe


Thank you!

Covok
May 27, 2013

Yet where is that woman now? Tell me, in what heave does she reside? None of them. Because no God bothered to listen or care. If that is what you think it means to be a God, then you and all your teachings are welcome to do as that poor women did. And vanish from these realms forever.


Would that thread be the place to drop say a fanfiction you did because you are about to do the finale for Book 1 and was wondering how it all looked? Kind of got pretty invested in writting it.

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Covok posted:

Would that thread be the place to drop say a fanfiction you did because you are about to do the finale for Book 1 and was wondering how it all looked? Kind of got pretty invested in writting it.

Finale for which book 1? Anyway that thread doesn't have a rule against fanfiction but it's a big ask to expect readers to already be familiar with an IP if they're to have a hope of understanding the story you're posting.

Covok
May 27, 2013

Yet where is that woman now? Tell me, in what heave does she reside? None of them. Because no God bothered to listen or care. If that is what you think it means to be a God, then you and all your teachings are welcome to do as that poor women did. And vanish from these realms forever.


Ccs posted:

Finale for which book 1? Anyway that thread doesn't have a rule against fanfiction but it's a big ask to expect readers to already be familiar with an IP if they're to have a hope of understanding the story you're posting.

Sorry, I was posting on my lunch break. I should explain. The fanfic is based on Avatar the Last Airbender, which divided its seasons into three books. Since this fic is a complete mirrorverse rewrite, it's divded into three books and the first book is almost over. As for someone having to be familiar with the IP? I'm curious. On one hand, because it was a mirrorverse, I had to reintroduce every character, element, etc. because it had a different role and history. On the other hand, without knowledge of the show, it would be hard to tell what was my strengths and what I "stole." Mirrorverse = "okay, at some point, history went the opposite way and now heroes are villains and vice versa."

Also, I'm currently 89k words in so is that too much to drop?

Edit: Context.

Covok fucked around with this message at 23:48 on Jan 18, 2021

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Drop a chunk and let people ask you for more if they want it, is probably the best way.

Are there specific things you want feedback on?

Covok
May 27, 2013

Yet where is that woman now? Tell me, in what heave does she reside? None of them. Because no God bothered to listen or care. If that is what you think it means to be a God, then you and all your teachings are welcome to do as that poor women did. And vanish from these realms forever.


sebmojo posted:

Drop a chunk and let people ask you for more if they want it, is probably the best way.

Are there specific things you want feedback on?

Honestly? This is somehow has been kind of a big project for me. Partially because the characters are already full-formed and the world building is more tinkering with an existing world than making a new one. This has off-loaded a lot of worries and issues that I had with writing. My issue is a few things:

1) My style. It's weird. Partially it is because I tend to focus on little details in real life. Instead of giving intention to actions, I usually just describe physical movement and let the reader assign meaning. Not always, mind you, but often.

2) Dialogue. I am not good at dialog and this is pretty dialog heavy.

3) I stumbled rear end backwards into a romance when readers responded well to my "let's just do some ships and see what sticks" and then people really stuck with the Tyzula thing. I am not a romantic person in real life and all my relationships were really short-term. I'm worried it isn't believable.

4) Continuity. I have an outline for the entire story, but only the main points. I kind of wing it every chapter as I try to reach those main points. I often find myself going "oh wow, this would work here because these characters exist and etc." This is a long term project so I am curious if it feels cohesive.

5) I am afraid that I am not good with character voice. I try hard to make sure everyone sounds different but I am afraid they blend together sometimes. I try to make sure people don't say things someone else would say. I don't know how good I am at that.

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Covok posted:

3) I stumbled rear end backwards into a romance when readers responded well to my "let's just do some ships and see what sticks" and then people really stuck with the Tyzula thing. I am not a romantic person in real life and all my relationships were really short-term. I'm worried it isn't believable.

The tricky thing about a romance arc is that it's two character arcs in one! Or, seen another way, the relationship is a character in the story that has its own arc. The arc is about the two characters growing into their best selves because of their relationship with each other. Each character has a flaw or wound that makes them incomplete by themselves, and only by embracing each other whole-heartedly can they grow past their wounds. The meat of the arc is the internal and external obstacles that keep them from doing just that. Throughout the arc, you show them bonding with each other over their interests, backgrounds, traits, and/or goals, or perhaps through some light competition. Their emotional - and most likely physical - intimacy builds to a honeymoon phase, which is shattered by a tragic separation caused by internal or external problems. The two wallow in their separate miseries, realize they need each other, then make a choice to reunite. Any disagreements they had are resolved, and the couple live happily ever after. (Or you can end it tragically if it makes sense for your story, but we need more gay HEAs so I really hope you don't.)

Here's how I'd handle a Tyzula romance if I were you, and if it made sense for what I'd already established. From what I remember of the show, Ty Lee craves approval, while Azula has issues around trust. To me, these character flaws point to an arc about them being insecure in their love for each other. Ty Lee suppresses her misgivings about Azula's cruelty to keep Azula happy, and Azula doesn't trust that Ty Lee's feelings for her are sincere - probably because she can tell Ty Lee isn't being fully honest with her. Nevertheless, they bond over their childhood issues and their mutual goal of stopping the evil Gaang. If you keep the scene where Ty Lee and Mai turn against Azula at the Boiling Rock prison, this could be the turning point for the romance: Ty Lee is finally asserting herself by stopping Azula from going too far, but Azula feels betrayed just when she's learned to trust Ty Lee! The arc would then be resolved with Ty Lee learning to be truly secure in the relationship, while Azula learns a healthy amount of trust.

Covok
May 27, 2013

Yet where is that woman now? Tell me, in what heave does she reside? None of them. Because no God bothered to listen or care. If that is what you think it means to be a God, then you and all your teachings are welcome to do as that poor women did. And vanish from these realms forever.


Pththya-lyi posted:

The tricky thing about a romance arc is that it's two character arcs in one! Or, seen another way, the relationship is a character in the story that has its own arc. The arc is about the two characters growing into their best selves because of their relationship with each other. Each character has a flaw or wound that makes them incomplete by themselves, and only by embracing each other whole-heartedly can they grow past their wounds. The meat of the arc is the internal and external obstacles that keep them from doing just that. Throughout the arc, you show them bonding with each other over their interests, backgrounds, traits, and/or goals, or perhaps through some light competition. Their emotional - and most likely physical - intimacy builds to a honeymoon phase, which is shattered by a tragic separation caused by internal or external problems. The two wallow in their separate miseries, realize they need each other, then make a choice to reunite. Any disagreements they had are resolved, and the couple live happily ever after. (Or you can end it tragically if it makes sense for your story, but we need more gay HEAs so I really hope you don't.)

Here's how I'd handle a Tyzula romance if I were you, and if it made sense for what I'd already established. From what I remember of the show, Ty Lee craves approval, while Azula has issues around trust. To me, these character flaws point to an arc about them being insecure in their love for each other. Ty Lee suppresses her misgivings about Azula's cruelty to keep Azula happy, and Azula doesn't trust that Ty Lee's feelings for her are sincere - probably because she can tell Ty Lee isn't being fully honest with her. Nevertheless, they bond over their childhood issues and their mutual goal of stopping the evil Gaang. If you keep the scene where Ty Lee and Mai turn against Azula at the Boiling Rock prison, this could be the turning point for the romance: Ty Lee is finally asserting herself by stopping Azula from going too far, but Azula feels betrayed just when she's learned to trust Ty Lee! The arc would then be resolved with Ty Lee learning to be truly secure in the relationship, while Azula learns a healthy amount of trust.

I'll respond as I read:

quote:

The tricky thing about a romance arc is that it's two character arcs in one! Or, seen another way, the relationship is a character in the story that has its own arc. The arc is about the two characters growing into their best selves because of their relationship with each other. Each character has a flaw or wound that makes them incomplete by themselves, and only by embracing each other whole-heartedly can they grow past their wounds. The meat of the arc is the internal and external obstacles that keep them from doing just that.

I kind of already hosed that up. They already got together because I couldn't find a way to justify keeping them from dating. I also thought it's weird how much focus is usually on "people trying to get together" and not on "the bullshit that happens once you are together." I did have some difficulty with them getting together. A reoccurring element of BG!Azula's character is she honestly believes she is a monster and that everyone in her family hates her. This is despite the fact that, due to the AU stuff, that's not really the case. This is probably why she likes Ty Lee, who earnest seems to like everyone she meets and tries to make friends with everyone. Ty Lee herself...hmm, I don't know if I really written a reason for her to love Azula back yet. One issue I do have is that, for a little while, the romance was still in that honeymoon phase, ya know? When you just start dating and there isn't too much conflict because you haven't tired of each other's bullshit yet. I guess I do need to give BG!Ty Lee a reason to love her back. In a way, the romance is kind of shallow so far? Like, Azula genuinely likes Ty Lee, but it does seem like Ty Lee is just going through the motions.

Hey, wait, I can actually make that a plot point and a point of issue in the relationship. I'll have to remember that.

quote:

Throughout the arc, you show them bonding with each other over their interests, backgrounds, traits, and/or goals, or perhaps through some light competition. Their emotional - and most likely physical - intimacy builds to a honeymoon phase, which is shattered by a tragic separation caused by internal or external problems. The two wallow in their separate miseries, realize they need each other, then make a choice to reunite. Any disagreements they had are resolved, and the couple live happily ever after. (Or you can end it tragically if it makes sense for your story, but we need more gay HEAs so I really hope you don't.)

That's funny. I already planned for them to get separated in the finale I am writing. I wanted to do an "Enemy Mine" thing where Azula gets stuck with Sokka due to Hahn (he's the General Zhao of this AU)'s plan. Hahn does have a reason to dislike both of them. It's also supposed to be kind of pushing point for Ty Lee as the excuse for why the gang doesn't just "find them" is that Hahn tricks the gang into thinking Azula is dead to mess with them. Which is supposed to push Ty Lee even further emotionally, especially after, in the begining of the finale, she found out her parents were dead. Which was an accidental plot point where I had an offhand comment that Combustion Man had killed the last Ryujin (just roll with it, there's a lot of poo poo I changed, the Fire Nation is a series of nation states) warlord and then I made Ty Lee the daughter of the warlord and realized what I did months after posting.

I did, now that I think about it, have BG!Ty Lee hint that she admires what she perceives as Azula's confidence and strength. Which is, of course, an ironic thing because Azula is insecure. So maybe, going back to my earlier point, I can build on that in their separation arc.

Oh, and I plan for them to get reunited in Book 2.


quote:

Here's how I'd handle a Tyzula romance if I were you, and if it made sense for what I'd already established. From what I remember of the show, Ty Lee craves approval, while Azula has issues around trust. To me, these character flaws point to an arc about them being insecure in their love for each other. Ty Lee suppresses her misgivings about Azula's cruelty to keep Azula happy, and Azula doesn't trust that Ty Lee's feelings for her are sincere - probably because she can tell Ty Lee isn't being fully honest with her. Nevertheless, they bond over their childhood issues and their mutual goal of stopping the evil Gaang. If you keep the scene where Ty Lee and Mai turn against Azula at the Boiling Rock prison, this could be the turning point for the romance: Ty Lee is finally asserting herself by stopping Azula from going too far, but Azula feels betrayed just when she's learned to trust Ty Lee! The arc would then be resolved with Ty Lee learning to be truly secure in the relationship, while Azula learns a healthy amount of trust.

Oh, the mirrorverse idea is a little different in this one. It's complicated. It's not like "Mirror,Mirror", it's more like "due to a want for a nail the Water Tribe is ascendant and the Fire Nation has fallen and been separated into warring clans." By the way, quick aside, I did the warring clan things before the Kyoshi duology actually made that a canonical part of Fire Nation history. However, while the people in my story are different -- like I turned down Azula's cruelty a tad since otherwise its hard for her to be a protagonist in a show with the same tone as the original -- I do see your point. And I think, as the rest of this post may imply, I have an idea of what to do.

Pollyanna
Mar 5, 2005

Milk's on them.




I'm making a tiny mod for a visual novel that adds a board game, and despite it being a video game, I want to make sure the story is actually good. Because a lot of stories for mods of this game are really, really bad. So I researched storywriting, and I came across the story circle.

I ended up making a story circle for the main character about their needs, how they try to fulfill their needs, how they realize their preconceptions make things worse, and how they learn to let those preconceptions go. Thinking about the character's development as "from stasis to change" and "from order to chaos and back" made writing that development natural and obvious.

Coming up with a good character arc is hard but the tool really helped me organize my thoughts, and provided a guide that I was missing.

That's all I wanted to say. Just sharing that it helped me write a good story (I hope)! Now I need to get it critiqued once it's reasonably complete

Edit: also it turns out that writing a story takes a looooong loving time Iím at least three weeks into this mod and Iím still basically just writing placeholder stage directions before I fill in the details. Iím working on it part time, yeah, but thereís so much planning that goes into writing.

Pollyanna fucked around with this message at 20:44 on Jan 23, 2021

Nae
Sep 3, 2020

what.


Pollyanna posted:

...I came across the story circle.

I ended up making a story circle for the main character about their needs, how they try to fulfill their needs, how they realize their preconceptions make things worse, and how they learn to let those preconceptions go. Thinking about the character's development as "from stasis to change" and "from order to chaos and back" made writing that development natural and obvious.

Coming up with a good character arc is hard but the tool really helped me organize my thoughts, and provided a guide that I was missing.


Normally I wouldn't stroll into the fiction thread just to pimp my own work, but I actually run a website dedicated to teaching the basics of narrative writing in video games, and I've got articles on both the Story Circle and Character Arcs in games. Either one of those could be helpful if you're still looking to wrap your head around some writing concepts, and there are other articles on alternative structures like Three-Act and Five-Act if you want to look at structure from an event-focused perspective, rather than character-focused like the Story Circle.

There are also citations on all the articles where I reference other books that have clarified this stuff for me. For Character Arcs in particular I'd recommend K.M Weiland's "Creating Character Arcs". For my money, it's the seminal work on the subject, but I'm sure other people have different options on that.

Covok
May 27, 2013

Yet where is that woman now? Tell me, in what heave does she reside? None of them. Because no God bothered to listen or care. If that is what you think it means to be a God, then you and all your teachings are welcome to do as that poor women did. And vanish from these realms forever.


Pollyanna posted:

I'm making a tiny mod for a visual novel that adds a board game, and despite it being a video game, I want to make sure the story is actually good. Because a lot of stories for mods of this game are really, really bad. So I researched storywriting, and I came across the story circle.

I ended up making a story circle for the main character about their needs, how they try to fulfill their needs, how they realize their preconceptions make things worse, and how they learn to let those preconceptions go. Thinking about the character's development as "from stasis to change" and "from order to chaos and back" made writing that development natural and obvious.

Coming up with a good character arc is hard but the tool really helped me organize my thoughts, and provided a guide that I was missing.

That's all I wanted to say. Just sharing that it helped me write a good story (I hope)! Now I need to get it critiqued once it's reasonably complete

Edit: also it turns out that writing a story takes a looooong loving time Iím at least three weeks into this mod and Iím still basically just writing placeholder stage directions before I fill in the details. Iím working on it part time, yeah, but thereís so much planning that goes into writing.

Storytelling does take a long time but it is worth it. Whether it's the next great American novel or just some magazine sidestory, it takes time and effort. The difference between the two is passion and skill, ultimately. It sounds like you have the former and the later is just a matter of experience. I wish you the best on your story mod. I make no promises as I am a tax accountant and we are entering busy season, but, especially if its after tax season, I could take a look if you want some outsider feedback.

I wish you the best in your endeavors.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018

Don't cry
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland


I noticed a few punctuation guides in the OP, but the ones I could read without shelling out money seemed to require some level of prerequisite knowledge. Are any of the books listed good for a rube who doesn't know what an independent clause is or what makes a sentence complete? I'm not asking to be told by you what those things are, just wondering if any of those guides start from the beginning instead of the middle. At the minute I'm just writing based on what sense I've made of the thing's I've read, but criticism always comes back with "this letter should not be capitalised because (some voodoo poo poo)"

Wallet
Jun 19, 2006



Azza Bamboo posted:

I noticed a few punctuation guides in the OP, but the ones I could read without shelling out money seemed to require some level of prerequisite knowledge. Are any of the books listed good for a rube who doesn't know what an independent clause is or what makes a sentence complete? I'm not asking to be told by you what those things are, just wondering if any of those guides start from the beginning instead of the middle. At the minute I'm just writing based on what sense I've made of the thing's I've read, but criticism always comes back with "this letter should not be capitalised because (some voodoo poo poo)"

What you're doing is pretty much normal. Writing and editing are different things. From what I recall back when I studied developmental linguistics, people's ability to produce "correct" prose is strongly tied to how much they read as adolescents. Learning the rules in a more formal way doesn't seem to be very effective at changing people's ability to feel out what is correct when writing, though it can make you a better editor.

For poo poo like capitalization rules I'd honestly suggest just looking things up as you go. You may not remember everything you look up but you'll probably remember that you don't remember the specific rule next time you run into a situation where it's relevant.

For independent clauses and complete sentences you probably want to learn some formal syntax. Learning to diagram sentences is, in my opinion, a much better way to start understanding that than trying to read some kind of reference volume. I don't have a good resource on hand but the linguistics thread might. They aren't going to tell you anything about punctuation, though, that's its own thing.

Wallet fucked around with this message at 13:14 on Jan 25, 2021

Pollyanna
Mar 5, 2005

Milk's on them.




Nae posted:

Normally I wouldn't stroll into the fiction thread just to pimp my own work, but I actually run a website dedicated to teaching the basics of narrative writing in video games, and I've got articles on both the Story Circle and Character Arcs in games. Either one of those could be helpful if you're still looking to wrap your head around some writing concepts, and there are other articles on alternative structures like Three-Act and Five-Act if you want to look at structure from an event-focused perspective, rather than character-focused like the Story Circle.

There are also citations on all the articles where I reference other books that have clarified this stuff for me. For Character Arcs in particular I'd recommend K.M Weiland's "Creating Character Arcs". For my money, it's the seminal work on the subject, but I'm sure other people have different options on that.

Oh nice, thanks for the links! I've been digging into tools like these because I had absolutely no idea where to start, let alone how to make something good. That article about the different arcs is fascinating, I hadn't picked up on that yet.

I've actually approached this particular game's story by using kishoutenketsu, a four-act structure that maps surprisingly well to the Story Circle:

quote:

Act 1: Introduction (ki): introduce characters and setting. Maps roughly to You Need from the Story Circle.
Act 2: Development (shou): follow leads established at beginning of story. Maps roughly to Go Search from the Story Circle.
Act 3: Twist (ten): unexpected development/"twist" of the story. Maps roughly to Find and Take from the Story Circle.
Act 4: Resolution (ketsu): natural conclusion from twist of story and wraps it all up. Maps roughly to Return Changed from the Story Circle.

It seems to have worked well so far, though I don't exactly have proof of that yet. That said, I've made the MC's arc into the story itself:

quote:

Introduction: You're a loner, but you're compelled to join a club and socialize.
Development: You go to the The Board Games club, and it has a bunch of cute girls! Maybe if you win a bunch of games, you'll get a girlfriend!
Twist: You find that you don't "score" a girlfriend by winning a board game. You embarrass yourself and have to take a loss here.
Resolution: You return to your senses, discard your ulterior motives, and admit fault. You finally integrate into the club, becoming better at socializing and not building things up in your head!

So it really becomes the story of the MC, rather than just a story where the MC changes. I think it's neat!

Covok posted:

Storytelling does take a long time but it is worth it. Whether it's the next great American novel or just some magazine sidestory, it takes time and effort. The difference between the two is passion and skill, ultimately. It sounds like you have the former and the later is just a matter of experience. I wish you the best on your story mod. I make no promises as I am a tax accountant and we are entering busy season, but, especially if its after tax season, I could take a look if you want some outsider feedback.

I wish you the best in your endeavors.

Thank you for the well-wishes The last time I tried to really write fiction was two decades ago when I was like 9 or 10, some fuckin' Zelda isekai fanfic. I felt embarrassed writing it cuz my mom found it, and I never really tried again. Maybe things will be different this time.

But yeah, I'm playing catchup and writing really does take a looong time to get good at. It's never going to be my main thing, but hey, maybe I'll make a little thing I can be proud of.

Pollyanna fucked around with this message at 16:00 on Jan 25, 2021

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018

Don't cry
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland


Thanks for the reply.

Wallet posted:

From what I recall back when I studied developmental linguistics, people's ability to produce "correct" prose is strongly tied to how much they read as adolescents.

That's a worrying thought on account of me not reading books until recently. Hopefully I can catch up!


Wallet posted:


For independent clauses and complete sentences you probably want to learn some formal syntax. Learning to diagram sentences is, in my opinion, a much better way to start understanding that than trying to read some kind of reference volume. I don't have a good resource on hand but the linguistics thread might. They aren't going to tell you anything about punctuation, though, that's its own thing.

That's a fair bit to take in but I hope I've got this right: There's separate elements to this writing business; namely, syntax (which deals with clauses/sentences) and punctuation (which deals with marks).

If I learn syntax, then I'll have a good chance of understanding the punctuation guides here.

BurningBeard
May 10, 2013


This runs counter to what everyone is talking about right now but I have a question for you all about the ever-elusive concept of voice, and how that ties into the intuitive process of creation.

So Iíve been reading A Swim In a Pond In the Rain by Saunders and he brought up something that rang very true to my experience.

He talks about the way that folks will, in normal social contexts, start to impersonate people they know, or rough facsimiles of people, driven by trope or whatever. And he mentions that this is essentially improv, and I agree. Thereís a weird alchemy that happens when you embody an imagined someone, and if you let that embodiment go all the way out to its logical conclusion you are making intuitive leaps, doing little linguistic flourishes and grace notes, shifting your voice just so, up or down a halfstep. All this stuff happens on instinct because thereís some ill-defined other out beyond consensus reality booming its existence into your brain through some weird transdimensional megaphone.

I get that this sounds woo but hang with me here.

So I have found that my receptivity to a voice enhances the output of my work in a very tangible way. All can be redressed in editing, so this is less about structure, form, or what have you. What Iím wondering about is accessing that state for you, specifically.

When you do it, have you noticed any preconditions that allow for that liquid state where youíre letting in this alien voice? Do you find that you can do certain things to be more attentive to it when you arenít writing, so that when you sit youíre able to hear it?

What sorts of processes, methods, exercises, or habits permit the kind of light openness you need to invite in those sharp, highly-defined character voices?

It might seem very elementary to those of you with a lot more practice under your belts, but I feel like I jumped up twelve strata at this point, and just want to be able to ride that wave of character as often as possible.

I hope Iím expressing this well, because I think itís one of those misty places in the creative process that is difficult to talk about. Iím less interested in objective truth since I donít think it exists for this, and more interested in your subjective experience of coaxing those clear and present character voices into your undirected writing time.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


I like starting stories with a very blunt statement of theme or situation and try to make every work that follows relate to that in some way.

Also not censoring your output, if something springs to mind, put it down, you can always remove it later

ultrachrist
Sep 27, 2008


BurningBeard posted:

I hope Iím expressing this well, because I think itís one of those misty places in the creative process that is difficult to talk about. Iím less interested in objective truth since I donít think it exists for this, and more interested in your subjective experience of coaxing those clear and present character voices into your undirected writing time.

I read the Best American Essay and Short Story collections each year. In 2020, there was an essay about inspiration (Ode al Vento Occidentales by Mark Sullivan) that I had taken a photo of and your post reminded me of it:



Part of the thrust of his argument is that Woolfe's/Emerson's/Shelley's notions are seen as outdated and romantic to modern writers, since the emphasis on good writing is Work. This makes sense because A) Writing IS a lot of work and B) it's hard to communicate or teach something as intangible as a "moment of being". But it's also dumb and arrogant to ignore some of english's greatest writers' thoughts on the subject.

There's another essay in the book about Gertrude Stein's writing theories that reach a similar point albeit in a more abstract manner given her writing. She viewed writing as this sort of flow that can't be overanalyzed when transmitting between brain and pen.

All this to say: I understand what you mean. When I'm "on" with writing, and especially in a character's voice, it flows naturally and absolutely seems to come from somewhere else. I always find the common character sketch methods of "What does the character want? Why can't they get it?" to be hollow. It doesn't align with how I conceive of characters, whether writing or reading. They're unfolded rather than defined.

I'm not sure there's much you can do to more consistently achieve whatever this state is. The writers I mentioned were often in maddening pursuit of it. One thing I think is important is to pay close observance to the way people speak, act, think in day-to-day life (one of the worst blows of covid for me personally is missing out on the weird interactions I would witness on the bus, street, bar, whatever). Despite the seeming mysticism of all this, it's really just coming from your brain. The more input you feed it, the more potential output you have.

Anyway, I gotta read this Saunders book.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


For me, 'voice' comes through clearest usually when I can imagine someone telling this story to someone else. Sometimes I even include a 'you' in the story, as if you're reading a letter, or as if it's someone talking to someone else. And for me, that same kind of scheme follows even when I'm not writing in first/second person. There's still an "audience" listening to a "speaker", even though neither of them are explicit. I have a pretty squishy and nebulous writing style anyway, so often times if I'm not writing in my character's voice, I'm writing in an author's or a genre's voice, because I'll be thinking "I want this story to feel like classic sci-fi" or "I want this story to feel like introspective modernism". Even when I write just conversationally online, I'm "in" the voice of my internal monologue, more or less.

One of the difficulties for me is that I'm very self-conscious, so in a lot of my work I can be a bit scared of putting too much "voice" in there for fear of drowning out the description, or whatever. But I think that anxiety is going about it the wrong way--it's like thinking there's an objective way of describing something, which there isn't. Even technical descriptions of the dimensions of temples from ancient texts will have some kind of voice to how they describe things. I think voice sometimes seems like the kind of thing that there's an on and off for, or like you can turn it down to zero. i don't think that's true. To me it's more like color on a painting: you can use different blends of different colors, but unless you take a knife to the canvas, there's no way beyond taking a knife to the canvas to keep a painting from having any color at all.

Related to the self-conscious thing I've found that things that made me less self-conscious allow me to get colorful voices out more easily, so anything you can do that foes along with that might help.

Also, I remembered this because I had just looked back at a story that I'd done in a sort of 'True Grit' voice. At one point I'd listened to the audiobook of True Grit, and enjoyed the narrator's voice so much that I basically wrote an entire story that I could hear in her voice. The two interesting things you might be able to take away from that are:
-That imagining your story read in an actual voice you've heard might help (like I've definitely heard enough Christopher Lee that I could hear something written in his voice, or like, basically any of the voices from Supergiant's games.)
-Structure makes up a surprising amount of 'voice'. A lot of what I did for the True Grit vibe was in how I put sentences together. There were a lot of plain declarative sentences and not a lot of punctuation--like I wouldn't string bits together with an em dash or anything.

If you want a good book to read to study how to construct a varied set of voices, I'd recommend Catherynne Valente's The Orphan's Tales: In The Night Garden. It's a fantasy book done in the style of 1001 Nights, so the narrator changes frequently and everyone has a clear voice to go along with their character, depending on who's telling the story.

Stuporstar
May 5, 2008

Where do fists come from?


Djeser posted:

For me, 'voice' comes through clearest usually when I can imagine someone telling this story to someone else. Sometimes I even include a 'you' in the story, as if you're reading a letter, or as if it's someone talking to someone else. And for me, that same kind of scheme follows even when I'm not writing in first/second person. There's still an "audience" listening to a "speaker", even though neither of them are explicit.

I do the same thing. If Iím not telling the story in my voice, the way Iíd tell one to someone in real life, Iím imagining the character telling their story to someone in the same way. The key to me finding the voice in my stories (which are usually first person tbf) is almost always solved when I figure out who my main character is telling the story to and why.

Iím also reading George Saunderís A Swim in a Pond in the Rain and thereís a ton of great writing advice in there.

The best though, I can sum up with Be On Your Bullshit.

Itís a phrase we use a lot in the writing discord Iím in, and Saunders kinda states it like this:

quote:

A switch got thrown in my head, and the next day I started writing a story in that new modeóallowing myself to be entertaining, setting aside my idea of what a ďclassicĒ story sounded like, and my usual assumption that only things that happened in the real world were allowed to happen in a story. In this new story, which was set in a futuristic theme park, I was using an awkward, slightly overdriven corporate voice that came naturally to me when I thought, ďGo ahead, be funny.Ē I wrote it a few lines at a time, not sure where it was going (what its arc was, or its theme, or its ďmessageĒ), just paying attention to the line-by-line energy and especially to the humor, keeping an eye on my imaginary reader, to see if she was still with meóif she, like my wife, was laughing from the other room and wanted more of the story rather than hoping it would mercifully end soon.

In this mode, I found, I had stronger opinions than when I was trying to be Hemingway. If something wasnít working, I knew what to do about it, immediately and instinctually, in the form of an impulse (ďOh, that might be coolĒ), whereas before Iíd been rationally deciding, in stiff obeisance to what I thought a story should, or must, do.

This was a much freer modeólike trying to be funny at a party.

That story ended up becoming ďThe Wavemaker Falters,Ē the first story I wrote for what wouldóseven years (!) lateróbecome my first book, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline.

When I finished the story, I could see that it was the best thing Iíd ever written. There was some essential ďme-nessĒ in itófor better or worse, no one else could have written it. The things that were actually on my mind at that time, because they were in my life, were in the story: class issues, money shortages, work pressures, fear of failure, the oddball tonality of the American workplace, the failures of grace my state of overwork was causing me to commit every day. The story was oddly made, slightly embarrassingóit exposed my actual taste, which, it turned out, was kind of working-class and raunchy and attention-seeking. I held that story up against the stories I loved (some of which are in this book) and felt Iíd let the form down.

So, this moment of supposed triumph (Iíd ďfound my voice!Ē) was also sad.

It was as if Iíd sent the hunting dog that was my talent out across a meadow to fetch a magnificent pheasant and it had brought back, letís say, the lower half of a Barbie doll.

To put it another way: having gone about as high up Hemingway Mountain as I could go, having realized that even at my best I could only ever hope to be an acolyte up there, resolving never again to commit the sin of being imitative, I stumbled back down into the valley and came upon a little poo poo-hill labeled ďSaunders Mountain.Ē

ďHmm,Ē I thought. ďItís so little. And itís a poo poo-hill.Ē

Then again, that was my name on it.

This is a big moment for any artist (this moment of combined triumph and disappointment), when we have to decide whether to accept a work of art that we have to admit we werenít in control of as we made it and of which weíre not entirely sure we approve. It is less, less than we wanted it to be, and yet itís more, tooóitís small and a bit pathetic, judged against the work of the great masters, but there it is, all ours.

What we have to do at that point, I think, is go over, sheepishly but boldly, and stand on our poo poo-hill, and hope it will grow.

Andóto belabor this already questionable metaphorówhat will make that poo poo-hill grow is our commitment to it, the extent to which we say, ďWell, yes, it is a poo poo-hill, but itís my poo poo-hill, so let me assume that if I continue to work in this mode that is mine, this hill will eventually stop being made of poo poo, and will grow, and from it, I will eventually be able to see (and encompass in my work) the whole world.Ē

Basically, write what you love, in a way you find entertaining, because if you donít love it and are not entertained nobody else will be either. And thatís a huge chunk of finding your voice as the author/narrator.

As for finding the voices of characters, the main character is usually the one that takes a whole first draft to find, and thatís ok. Thereís no point worrying about it until the redraft. Side characters are almost easier because thereís less riding on them, all they have to do is their story-job and be entertaining. You can crib the mannerisms and speaking style of some actor/performance you like and usually itís mutated enough in your mind to not be totally obvious while also being distinct.

Then again sometimes itís really obvious like Neil Gaiman basing the protagonist in Anansi Boys on his friend Lenny Henry. But hell why not, thatís also ok.

Cheese Thief
Oct 30, 2020



Someday I'm going to read that OP. For now I think I'm going to start writing science fiction. I guess I'll just start writing to write.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Sanderson is not releasing his BYU lectures this year (he's said that they'll release them every 3-4 years, which makes sense, since it'd be too much of a repeat otherwise) but his assistant is posting new snippets on his YouTube. Today's snippet was on words per writing hourĖbenchmarks and how to increase that, with the aim of being able to write at a pace where you could rough draft a 100k word book every year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIze473qjJ0

Sperglord Firecock
Feb 20, 2011

Euphoria is experienced most firmly at the state of a curve at 80+mph and you don't know if you're gonna end up wearing these stupid fucking pants or not



Oven Wrangler

Leng posted:

Sanderson is not releasing his BYU lectures this year (he's said that they'll release them every 3-4 years, which makes sense, since it'd be too much of a repeat otherwise) but his assistant is posting new snippets on his YouTube. Today's snippet was on words per writing hour–benchmarks and how to increase that, with the aim of being able to write at a pace where you could rough draft a 100k word book every year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIze473qjJ0

hi, thanks for posting this, I've been looking for a good series I can watch on just improving my organizational skills and planning for improving how consistently I can write and this seems to fit the bill perfectly

Pollyanna
Mar 5, 2005

Milk's on them.




Have you ever been in the middle of getting a work down and getting cold feet about finishing it because some part of it seems so dumb/strange that it kills your momentum? If so, how do you resolve that?

I noticed that I've started stalling on writing the story for the game mod I'm making because I don't have a lot of confidence in a core section of the story, and don't feel like I can write it in a reasonable/sensical manner. It's really stopped the whole thing in its tracks, but I still want to finish the mod, so I'm racking my brains trying to figure out how to just write the rest of this drat story argh

Is this what they call writer's block? Any advice on getting over it?

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

If you're a writer and it's blocking you, that's all that matters. But since the source of these issues for every writer tends to be different, the ways to overcome it are myriad.

The way you describe your problem it sounds as if you know the cause, which should help in finding ways to combat it. If you're just trying to finish it as a draft and you know you're going to come back to everything later and retool/reshape, then you can try framing your particularly problematic section in those same terms. Then it becomes just like the rest of the work and hopefully will then create no more anxiety than the general ugh editing anxiety that always looms in the future for writers.

If you don't think that you can move on at all until you have a solution in mind for that particular section then I think it's worth brainstorming possibilities for what to do. Having a plan means that you're again in control of the situation, giving your brain room to be creative again.

If you think you can go back and write it better, that's one option. If you think that it's beyond your capabilities or you just have no idea how else to do it/it can be done, you might plan to discuss that particular section with someone else to see what their take is. Talking to others has always been the best way for me to set my brain on another and usually more interesting path when it comes to my writing.

It's also a pretty standard practice to finish a work, set it aside for a week at least to give yourself some space. And then when you come back to it, you're seeing it with a new brain filled with new experiences and thoughts. And that's a nice jumpstart as well.

There are other things you can probably do as well, but I think the most important part is to find the thing that allows you to finish the work first. Write what makes sense to you now even if the description of the issue is [Something happens that makes the characters feel strange and detached from each other] or whatever it is you need the story to do. And who knows, maybe once you've reached the conclusion you'll have generated new ideas of what that could be.

Keep going! I hope this helps. And good luck.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Double

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 18:53 on Feb 2, 2021

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Start a thread to discuss it if you like, I think people would like to help out. Sometimes being blocked is because you don't like your ideas but don't understand why.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 18:54 on Feb 2, 2021

Megazver
Jan 13, 2006


I would suggest stepping up a level of abstraction and instead of trying to write something that you feel doesn't work, write a detailed outline of the sequence you're writing and try to figure out what's not working/what needs changing.

Pollyanna
Mar 5, 2005

Milk's on them.




Thanks guys, this helps a lot.

sebmojo posted:

Start a thread to discuss it if you like, I think people would like to help out. Sometimes being blocked is because you donít like your ideas but donít understand why.

This is the crux of it, I think. Iím making the main character behave (IMO) in a very strange manner with an forced frame of mind, specifically to serve as a dig at a certain kind of video game. I think itís to the detriment of the overall story, but I canít explain why.

Megazver posted:

I would suggest stepping up a level of abstraction and instead of trying to write something that you feel doesn't work, write a detailed outline of the sequence you're writing and try to figure out what's not working/what needs changing.

Iím actually writing this story high-abstraction-first, so I know the general outline of what happens, story circle Ďn all. I just think the character flaw that serves as the crux of the story is...like, dumb, but Iím unable to explain why. I think itís because I have no idea how to write it in a convincing manner, Iím a babby writer.

I might just start a thread as sebmojo suggested

Nae
Sep 3, 2020

what.


Pollyanna posted:

This is the crux of it, I think. Iím making the main character behave (IMO) in a very strange manner with an forced frame of mind, specifically to serve as a dig at a certain kind of video game. I think itís to the detriment of the overall story, but I canít explain why.

Seems like you answered your own question. You're having a character do something they wouldn't actually do as a form of authorial commentary. Without knowing the specifics, I can't give you any guidance on what to change, but I can tell you that changing a character to make an unrelated point is not likely to end well.

How important is this dig at the video game to the book, exactly?

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Pollyanna
Mar 5, 2005

Milk's on them.




Not a book - itís story and dialogue for a video game mod. I implemented a board game in a dating sim as a proof of concept/because I drat well can, and I wanted to do something special for it, hence the story poking fun at the concept of a board game dating sim. Itís fiction either way, so whatever I write may as well be done well.

In that sense, it flows naturally, cause it's poking fun at itself. Just, it makes for a deeply stupid and weird main character. Maybe I'm not confident that I can properly write this MC without them coming off as forced or contrived.

Pollyanna fucked around with this message at 20:53 on Feb 2, 2021

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