Forum posts made by autumnwriter

Topic New Members
Posted 26 Oct 2011 16:05

I believe that you are correct. In my experience, once sex-content work is allowed the volume of work in that genre will overwhelm all others. There are other sites designed for that and I have published on some of them. It is not about censorship or prudishness. It is about providing an opportunity for other styles that also need a home.

Topic MY SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF WRITING
Posted 25 Oct 2011 17:35

Some sites have a program by which people volunteer to perform the editing at no charge. The editors do it as a hobby, like we write stories as a hobby. They like to be part of the creative process but don't believe they have the creativity (or whatever) to create their own work. But, by doing the editing they can be part of it.

I have an editor who prefers to remain anonymous. He does the grammar, spelling and punctuation and I also request his input on areas in which I am unsure, such as a story I wrote not long ago in third person-present tense. He also lets me know when something is unclear or doesn't come across well, such as the connotation of a word or phrase. sometimes I take his advice, other times I keep my original text, many times I scrap it and address it a different way.

If this site grows it could develop a similar program. At this time it appears that nearly all the members are also authors. That is why I don't edit very often. It would be difficult to delve into other author's concepts and then try to develop my own without the two meshing. I would never plagiarize another author's work, but it is impossible when an idea sticks in your head to identify exactly where it came from.

I have done some editing for beginning authors and it was good at times and at others the "editees" took corrections personally. Authors should realize that the talent to create and develop literary ideas does not always go hand-in-hand with the ability to express them within the confines of grammatical rules. Yet, if one desires to create a good piece of work, that linking up is necessary.

Topic How did you discover storiesspace.com?
Posted 20 Oct 2011 16:37

Dirty Martini mentioned on a Facebook page of another stories site (Short fiction.uk) and I decided to check it out.

Topic MY SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF WRITING
Posted 20 Oct 2011 11:20

One solution is to use a volunteer editor. Some other sites have a program by which volunteers will edit and propose corrections to a story prior to publication. Of course, an editor can be wrong, too. Some are good and some only "fair". At the least they can detect errors that are difficult to pick up when editing one's own work. When I first started writing I did all my own editing, thinking that I couldn't share the creative process with another person. Later, I changed my mind and I am glad that I did.

Some editors limit themselves to the mechanics of spelling, syntax, punctuation and grammar. Other will add the service of questioning things like clarity, connotation, consistency and other similar factors. I have a good back-and-forth relationship with my editor in this way. Sometimes I heed his advice and other times not. More often he will suggest an alternative to my version and in the end both versions get scrapped in favor of something better. The nature and limits of the editor's work has to be agreed at the outset of the relationship, and might grow over time.

It is not impossible to edit one's own work, but it is difficult. Your brain tells you what you want it to and a lot of things can get skipped.

Topic MY SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF WRITING
Posted 19 Oct 2011 19:07

All I said was that cliches can be misunderstood easily in a number of ways, and I did mention the exception for dialogue.

Cliches are really shortcut metaphors to imply a meaning. If a cliche doesn't add to the value of a piece, then find a better way to express your thought.

****************

Anyway, here's a new one. Using the word "now" when describing a progression of action taking place in the past tense.

Eg, "He was exhausted and panting now."

The word "now" means 'at this moment in the present time.' Using it as described above is incorrect. It is, however, a commonly committed error. I just heard it in a narrative on TV last night.

What would have been wrong with "He was exhausted and began to pant."?

Topic MY SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF WRITING
Posted 19 Oct 2011 05:52

Authors should avoid using cliches and hackneyed phrases. Although we might use them in everyday conversation, a literary work is a work of art and should be original. In addition, a cliche is usually a metaphor that is intended to imply a certain meaning to a situation ("Love is a two-way street"). It is never certain, however, that every reader will absorb the meaning of the metaphor in its intended way.

For example, love may be a relationship in which two people give and take to/from each other in a reciprocal way. A person might take that phrase to mean that Love is a situation in which a person gets trampled on from two directions.

This is especially true with internet publishing which reaches people in a number of countries and cultures.

There can be exceptions, such as when writing dialogue and trying to give characters certain attributes. Other cases might be those when the writer is attempting humor or satire. Those are specialized cases.

We are all guilty from time to time. Editing is the best way to weed out cliches prior to publishing.

Topic MY SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF WRITING
Posted 18 Oct 2011 16:47

I heartily agree on the paragraph breaks.

On one hand, many authors run on and lose readers' attention. On the other, many don't begin a new paragraph when switching speakers in dialogue.

I use a practice to attempt to limit the number of sentences in any one paragraph to six. I might break the rule once per story, but there must be a compelling reason to do so.

Topic MY SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF WRITING
Posted 18 Oct 2011 10:38

I hate to mention just one; there are so many. On a general level, the most aggravating thing is an author whose work makes it obvious that he/she has not even bothered to attempt to edit.

Some authors feel that adherence to basic grammatical ground rules detracts from their freedom of artistic spirit. They forget how confusing and disorienting it is for readers to cope with multiple, gross errors and how these errors can sometimes obscure the author's intended meaning. Literature is a two-way street (excuse the cliche) between author and reader. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our side of the work we forget the other side.

On the technical side, one area to look at is the proper punctuation of dialogue. Sometimes I read a story and it appears to me that the author was so unsure of the grammar rules in this area that he/she avoided using dialogue in the story, and that is a big loss.

Topic First or Third person
Posted 07 Sep 2011 07:22

By using Third Person (TP) I believe the pov character(s) can be nuanced more than by using First (FP). The readers will accept various attitudes, moods, beliefs, etc. of the character and accept the character evolving over the course of the story. Even in possibly the greatest FP novel, Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", Huck, as the narrator, remains constant in these aspects while he tells the story relating the acts and words of the other characters. It is apparent that Huck's view of all that happens in the novel is actually the author's (Twain's) view.

If the story is in FP, then the author is saying, "This is me telling you how I view what is going on." If the author portrays oneself as having a dark side, being immature, or other bad trait, then the reader recoils and asks "if you're like this, why am I paying attention to you?" If an author wants to use a main character and/or pov character who has some flaws it goes much easier in TP.

In a story with multiple chapters FP is especially a handicap because each chapter or scene has to be seen through the eyes of the first person narrator. That means that no action can be portrayed first-hand without the presence of that narrator on the scene. In thase cases a FP narrator must rely on a second-hand recounting of off-camera events and that can be very limiting.

TP has some difficulties. It is harder to impart true, believable human feelings and emotions to a third person. I feel that is why some writers opt for FP. It also requires some discipline to avoid 'Headhopping Syndrome'.

My views on this are limited strictly to prose. If poetry, and other forms of the writing arts were in the discussion, then I believe my views might be more ambivalent on the subject.

Of course, if writing was easy, then everyone would be doing it and then where would we be?

AW


Topic First or Third person
Posted 07 Sep 2011 05:50




I guess I fall into the "beginning writer" category here, as almost all my stories are written in first person


*************

Just to clarify, I said that many beginning writers use First Person, but did not wish to imply that all users of First Person are beginners. Mark Twain, for example, used First Person extensively.

Topic First or Third person
Posted 06 Sep 2011 09:51

What is your writing preference in terms of Person?

I invariably use Third Person. I have a number of reasons. I have seen some good work in First Person, too. In my observation, most beginning writers tend toward First Person.

When writing in First, do you use the pov character as the observer/narrator or as the main character?

I have only seen Second Person succeed in poetry, although I have seen it from time to time in prose.

AW

Topic Three steps to finding your true writing voice...
Posted 20 Aug 2011 10:14

I thought that it was an interesting article, but only partly agree:

1. I believe that it's more important to write in the voice of the pov (point of view) character. That is how to induce the reader to be absorbed in the story. If the pov is of a truck driver it doesn't work to make him sound like university prof, and the other way around. The "voice" of the author is inconsequential in some ways.

2. I agree with #2. It is absolutely important to have a purpose for the writing and stick to it. It doesn't have to be a profound purpose. Maybe the purpose is to entertain. That is valid. It may be more profound, such as to persuade or express the author's beliefs on an important subject. A highly skilled author is able to write on more than one level, combining entertainment, for example, with a high purpose.

3. Branding: I don't agree with this at all. I think what is suggested leads to repetition and cliches, which tend to debase the quality of the writing effort and are limiting at the same time.

I think this list of three items is oriented to the author and misses the concept that a literary work is a two-way street between the author and reader. (Sorry for the preceding cliche.)

AW

Topic 5 Creative Flaws That Will Expose Your Lack of Storytelling Experience...
Posted 10 Aug 2011 09:31

I agree with most of them.

I only semi-agree with #1 (names in dialogue). While it can be overdone, it is not rare for people to use proper names when first encountering one-another. (Hi, Joe, how are you?") Also, using the names is a device to help keep readers straight on who is speaking in lieu of overusing dialogue tags, such as "Joe said", Mary asked, etc. Think of a dialogue sequence involving more than two people. Readers need a crutch to keep things lined up properly or they will end up re-reading to avoid confusion and that detracts form the effectiveness of the scene and the readers' enjoyment.

At the same time, name use can be overdone and there are techniques to avoid both dialogue tags and overuse of proper names.


#4 is valid, except that there could be certain times when the details are useful. Taking the example of the person prepping for a blind date, if the thoughts and emotions of the character are important, an interlude ass she is alone in her house with her thoughts might be an integral part of the story.

One flaw that was not in the article was the tendency by some of Telling, not Showing. We are all guilty of it from time to time. When I edit my work I always find instances of it and have to work passages.

Topic Themes
Posted 24 Jul 2011 14:44

I like to write about people whose walks of life are not glamorous but whose experiences and struggles reveal some element of truth. Even in my baseball story, although the main character is a major league player he is a journeyman relief pitcher.

I have found that incorporating my own experiences helps make the plot credible. That's probably why my characters are unglamorous people.

Topic The Rules of Writing
Posted 06 Jul 2011 13:57

Here is an article that may be of interest to some, on the subject of revision vs. editing...

Someone can read it and tell us what it says...icon_smile


I read the article, which talks about the difference between making technical corrections to your work, versus qualitative changes. Another way to describe it is proofing versus editing.

At the bottom of that article is a link to a much better article that talks about "Showing, not Telling". I would recommend this one.

AW

Topic The Rules of Writing
Posted 06 Jul 2011 13:57

Here is an article that may be of interest to some, on the subject of revision vs. editing...

Someone can read it and tell us what it says...icon_smile


I read the article, which talks about the difference between making technical corrections to your work, versus qualitative changes. Another way to describe it is proofing versus editing.

At the bottom of that article is a link to a much better article that talks about "Showing, not Telling". I would recommend this one.

AW

Topic The Rules of Writing
Posted 04 Jul 2011 07:34

Because the paragraph's in Fred's POV, there'd need to be some kind of physical indication that Joe felt good about his hand because Fred can't know what Joe's actually thinking, or which cards he's holding. If the paragraph went something like, "The smile on Joe's face indicated he was happy with his hand" it would still get the point across, but remain in Fred's POV.



Ahhhh...I think I'm starting to understand...I'm not big on writing in third person myself, though I know a lot of authors who swear by it, and won't write in anything else. I always feel first person is more "personal" and I tend to put myself in my stories to some extent, no matter how limited, and tend to write how I would feel about something...
I've written I believe a total of four stories in third person...my first story was in third, and I deliberately wrote one in third to "depersonalize" it...but, I don't think I've ever really taken advantage of the potential benefits of third person...like being able to tell what goes on in everyone's head...

I'd probably have to read more about writing in third person before I really got into it...I like to write as if I'm the one telling the story, because I am...I'm much more comfortable writing that way...


For me, Third Person works best. It gives the author a greater opportunity to add shades of complexity to the characters. It also makes it possible to present a pov that the reader can filter and judge to be flawed, biased, courageous, etc. The relationship of the pov character to the main character (or making them one and the same) gives the author greater opportunity to influence the readers' perceptions.

In First Person the narrator, and therefore the pov character, is the author. For me it would be very difficult to present "my" first person thoughts in such a way that a reader would question my perceptions or form a like or dislike of the narrator. I feel that First Person turns the reader into a passive participant, relying on the narrator to tell him/her what is needed.

Of course, there have been some excellent works written in First Person, including a good number by Twain.

AW


Topic The Rules of Writing
Posted 04 Jul 2011 07:19

I just saw this same list somewhere else recently, but can't recall where at the moment...I have to say I agree with all, except...



Fred picked up his hand and saw a pair of Aces. He was trying to decide how much to bet. Across the table Joe was feeling good about his three deuces.

How is Fred supposed to know how Joe feels about his poker hand?



Isn't one of the main reasons why people write in third person is so you can tell how each character feels? I would think there is nothing wrong with the example above...

Now...if the sentence was...

I picked up my hand and saw a pair of Aces. I was trying to decide how much to bet. Across the table Joe was feeling good about his three deuces.

I would see a definite problem with that...thoughts?

One of the easiest ways to avoid the problem is through dialogue.
Eg.: "Hey, I think I'm going to play this hand!" Joe exclaimed.

I believe if an author head-hops it is difficult for the reader to get involved in the story. He/she can't assume the persona of the person in whose pov the story is taking place.

Topic The Rules of Writing
Posted 04 Jul 2011 07:14

The seven cardinal sins committed by fiction writers: (I confess to having committed every single one, but I'm going straight.)


Do you notice the more you write, the less likely you are to make these mistakes?

I would have to say "no", I still make them but in subtler ways. For me it is especially true of "showing, not telling". I would say that I have developed an internal radar that helps me to be more sensitive to that area when I am editing. This problem creates the greatest volume of my rewrites.

I seldom use "ly" words except in cases in which I am making a lot of progress and find self hard pressed to find the best way to describe an action or condition. I don't want to break up my flow, so I leave the "ly" word in place in the draft and then make corrections in the editing process. sometimes I allow an "ly" word to stay because it doesn't have a lot of relative importance in the story and I can't figure out a good way around it.

AW

Topic The Rules of Writing
Posted 03 Jul 2011 19:01

The seven cardinal sins committed by fiction writers: (I confess to having committed every single one, but I'm going straight.)

Now that we have the twenty-six rules of things we should do, here are a list of seven transgressions that I believe prevents writers from ascending to the next level (whatever that might be):

1. Head-hopping
When a scene is being told from one character's point of view (pov) and there is an abrupt switch to the pov of a different character within the same scene.

Fred picked up his hand and saw a pair of Aces. He was trying to decide how much to bet. Across the table Joe was feeling good about his three deuces.

How is Fred supposed to know how Joe feels about his poker hand?

2. Telling instead of showing.
Asking readers to accept the authors assertions as facts instead of providing a description and convincing the readers to see it along with you.

Joe caught a big fish. Who says it's big. Is it a marlin or a trout?

Joe took the bass he caught from his creel. It was dark green mixed with brown with some speckles on its belly. It was more than twelve inches long and weighed at least ten pounds.

3. Paragraphs too long
Failure to break up prose into digestible-sized paragraphs. If a sentence is a complete thought, then a paragraph is a collection of connected thoughts. An author should be able to express the concept in a maximum of eight (preferably 4-6) sentences. Mega-paragraphs are tough on readers and if there are too many they will decide to try another author's work.

3a. Corollary to above: Failure to begin a new paragraph when initiating a character's dialogue.
It was the first day of Spring. "I really love Spring," Roy said. There were birds in the sky and he pointed them out to Ellen. "I think they are robins," she said. They looked at the birds some more and decided that they might have been sparrows.

4. Use of cliches and/or slang.
There are times that this rule doesn't apply, such as when an author is attempting to caricature a character or group of people.

5. Use of "-ly" words.
These adverbs are shortcuts and a way of telling and not showing.

"I don't know how to tell you this," he said hesitantly.
or
"I...uh...well, I don't know...it's very difficult to tell you this," he said with a tear in his eye.

6. Tense changes within the same scene
When writers write straight from the brain to paper (computer screen) what began as present tense becomes past or past to present. It confuses the reader.

6a Corollary to above: writing in past tense and using the word "now" to bridge between the tenses.
Joe slid into third base and was ahead of the fielder's tag. He was excited now because he wanted to score the winning run.

7. Poor title selection
Stating a synopsis of the story in the title instead of making the reader want to pursue the plot to the end.

"How I Lost My Virginity to my Tenth Grade English Teacher" or "Private Lessons".

A lot of readers will read the last page of that story, but not much more.









Topic Eight steps to more concise writing
Posted 30 Jun 2011 18:28

Thank you for the list. It was a good one and we should review it now and again.

I will add another suggestion that helps me.

Limit paragraph size. Set a criterion for yourself and trim until the thought is expressed within the limit allowed. I try to limit it to six sentences per paragraph and try to get down to four if I can. There are a few occasions when I can't figure out how to reduce it to the limited number, but not many. I think that any more than eight sentences in a paragraph are too many.

I'm sure that if I reviewed all my work I would find some instances that I broke this rule, but I do try to stick to it.

Adopting this discipline results in a much tighter piece of writing while expressing the author's thoughts. Sometimes an author believes that he/she has written a perfect passage and can't bear to slice and dice any of it. Many times a critical rereading of it reveals that there is a lot of telling and not showing.



Topic The Rules of Writing
Posted 28 Jun 2011 15:40

One editing technique that I've learned over the years is to separate the activities of proofing (searching grammar, spelling, syntax, typo errors) and the function of "editing", which is reviewing work for wordiness, consistency, flow, realistic dialogue and many other quality aspects. This is not easy to do, especially in WORD which has little red and and green underlines glaring at you while your trying to figure out if your choice of vocabulary is right for the story. When I am reviewing I do use the "Track Changes" function. I try to write the entire first draft of a short story, or chapter of a longer work without doing any proofing/editing, except for obvious errors. I believe it is difficult to create and review at the same time.

I also use a volunteer editor when I think I have something in a semi-finished condition. He filters the last few errors and points out consistency problems, connotation issues and details holes. Also, if I am trying something new I bounce it off him to be sure I haven't gone overboard (at least too far over).

The volunteer editor program is something that this site might wish to try. There are a lot of people who enjoy being part of the process but don't want to publish themselves, or are in a dry spell. In my experience I have found that it is hard to submit work to the scrutiny of an outside party at first, but after a few rounds it really helps improve the quality of the finished product.