Author Topic: Questions, Comments, Concerns?  (Read 69787 times)

Ivy Wood

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Reply #25 on: January 20, 2013, 11:02:38 PM
I am VERY excited! I've written one, around 450 words, and I want to write another, so I'll be sure to have two! I'm pretty new at this, but I'm having a lot of fun! Happy to be taking part! :)

"Never wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." :)


Umbrageofsnow

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Reply #26 on: January 21, 2013, 06:56:59 PM
You know, I read a lot of Escape Pod slush. About 2-3 stories per day. And I can honestly say that "too many adjectives or adverbs" is almost never a problem. Or at least, in the cases where it is a problem, it's always a minor problem compared to even bigger problems in the text.

There are plenty of stories I read which are bloated and feel twice as long as they should be. But almost always in those cases, the authors need to remove or rewrite whole paragraphs. Removing words from sentences will just lead to a bloated story with shorter sentences.

I've sometimes read an occasional few that have unneeded adverbs and adjectives in front of almost every damn word in every damn over-long sentence.  But I'd agree with Eytan, most stories that are too long need to have half the sentences chopped out.  An adjective here and there is never enough, and this is certainly true when it comes to trimming your story down into flash.

(See, if I'd just chopped my jokey first line, this whole post would be much more to the point compared to if I keep that line and take out the modifiers.)
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 06:58:56 PM by Umbrageofsnow »



Scattercat

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Reply #27 on: January 21, 2013, 09:11:19 PM
It's not that verbose or spare writing is good or bad in itself; there is a time and a place to be prolix, just as there's a time to channel your inner Hemingway.  Learning what you can do with each style and when it is most appropriate to use them is where the artistry lies.

For a flash fiction contest, though, you either need to chop the adverbs OR have a piece that's mostly focused on mood/high concept, because you won't have room to have both a plot AND elaborate sentences.



Ivy Wood

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Reply #28 on: January 22, 2013, 03:41:39 AM
Hemingway bores me. There, I said it. It reads like this...

"She was tired. The book was dull. She closed it. She checked her Twitter feed."

Honestly, I tend to enjoy lush, descriptive sentences, so it doesn't make any sense to me when I hear "Remove all adverbs". Surely they don't mean ALL. A soupçon never hurt anyone.  ;)

"Never wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." :)


Thunderscreech

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Reply #29 on: January 22, 2013, 01:21:25 PM
> "She was tired. The book was dull. She closed it. She checked her Twitter feed."

"Thick tentacles of time's relentlessly marching entropic tendrils wrestled with her eyes, pulling at them to close and wrapping her consciousness in an every thickening fog of unreality.  The book, a symbol-less tome (that lurched unsatisfyingly toward an uncertainly crafted conclusion on the best of pages) challenged her well developed taste for even the thickest prose.  With a shuddering sigh, she reached out with her tingling hand and made a simple movement which became a symphony of atoms moving together in formation; the pages of the book were forced up and over in an increasingly speedy journey as the cover she had manipulated pushed each of the pages closer and closer until it slammed shut.  She checked her Twitter feed."

Maybe sometimes brevity isn't terrible....  ;)



Sgarre1

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Reply #30 on: January 22, 2013, 01:25:02 PM
and learning to split the difference is... writing!



Ivy Wood

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Reply #31 on: January 22, 2013, 03:14:44 PM

"Thick tentacles of time's relentlessly marching entropic tendrils wrestled with her eyes, pulling at them to close and wrapping her consciousness in an every thickening fog of unreality.  The book, a symbol-less tome (that lurched unsatisfyingly toward an uncertainly crafted conclusion on the best of pages) challenged her well developed taste for even the thickest prose.  With a shuddering sigh, she reached out with her tingling hand and made a simple movement which became a symphony of atoms moving together in formation; the pages of the book were forced up and over in an increasingly speedy journey as the cover she had manipulated pushed each of the pages closer and closer until it slammed shut.  She checked her Twitter feed."

Maybe sometimes brevity isn't terrible....  ;)
[/quote]

Ha! Brilliant! Yes, a happy medium is my goal. :)

"Never wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." :)


Bdoomed

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Reply #32 on: January 22, 2013, 10:22:59 PM
> "She was tired. The book was dull. She closed it. She checked her Twitter feed."

"Thick tentacles of time's relentlessly marching entropic tendrils wrestled with her eyes, pulling at them to close and wrapping her consciousness in an every thickening fog of unreality.  The book, a symbol-less tome (that lurched unsatisfyingly toward an uncertainly crafted conclusion on the best of pages) challenged her well developed taste for even the thickest prose.  With a shuddering sigh, she reached out with her tingling hand and made a simple movement which became a symphony of atoms moving together in formation; the pages of the book were forced up and over in an increasingly speedy journey as the cover she had manipulated pushed each of the pages closer and closer until it slammed shut.  She checked her Twitter feed."

Maybe sometimes brevity isn't terrible....  ;)

Can I nominate this for post of the year?

I like adjectives, I like fluff, I even cultivate it sometimes in my writing because of stupid page count and wordcount requirements on school papers.  But when you have a 1000 word story that you are trying to slim down to 500 words, it helps to get a few pointers on which words to kill. That's why I thought to post the McLean slideshow.  He's talking about blog writing, where you want shorter, more to-the-point articles.  And if you want your story to get to its point more efficiently without cutting back on action or substance, I think McLean has a good outlook on how to go about doing that.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


eytanz

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Reply #33 on: January 22, 2013, 10:34:43 PM
If you have a 1000 word story which you need to cut down to 500, and you actually achieve that that by cutting down on unnecessary words (as opposed to cutting down on unnecessary ideas), then you probably have bigger problems with your writing.

If you have a 600 word story which you need to cut down to 500 words, then McLean's advice is useful.

I'm not criticising you for posting that link, by the way. It is probably more helpful and appropriate to this thread than anything I posted. I just get frustrated how so much writing advice seems to be focused on sound bites and easy to memorise concepts ("show, don't tell", "kill the adjectives"), that - as I said above - are good ways to avoid really bad writing, but will not get you anywhere near good writing.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 10:42:57 PM by eytanz »



Scattercat

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Reply #34 on: January 23, 2013, 03:26:17 AM
But even in the example you gave, Ivy, notice that the short, choppy sentences set up a kind of rhythm; it sounds abrupt, a sudden decision on her part to close the book and go to the Internet.  Placed properly in context, you can do a lot with that kind of underlying connotative effect.

Not saying everyone has to prefer that as their default style, but spareness has a use and should not be dismissed out of hand, any more than one should dismiss Bulwer-Lyttonian excess simply because of its density.



Devoted135

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Reply #35 on: January 25, 2013, 03:11:19 PM
2) Word choice becomes highly important.  If you can compress two sentences of adverbial phrases into a single more potent verb selection, you should do so.  Yes, you'll have to use some "said-isms."  This is not the capital sin it is reputed to be.

Please forgive my ignorance, but what is a "said-ism"?



Umbrageofsnow

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Reply #36 on: January 25, 2013, 03:23:35 PM
Please forgive my ignorance, but what is a "said-ism"?

Best explaination, courtesy of TVTropes:

Quote
"Said Bookism?" Alice interrogated. "What's that?"

"Well," Bob exposited, "it's a variety of Purple Prose in which the writer goes out of their way to avoid the word said."

"Why would they do this?" ejaculated Alice.

"Because," explicated Bob, "it was the fashion at one point. There were even 'said books' you could get mail order with lists of the words that can be used instead of said. That's where the name of the trope comes from," he further proclaimed.

"But Said Bookism a Discredited Trope these days?" Alice queried.

"Absolutely," confirmed Bob, "it's considered redundant," he proceeded, "because dialogue should speak for itself without needing fancy tags to convey its meaning and intention."

"That makes sense," Alice concurred.

"In the worst cases, the dialogue tags end up repeating what the dialogue itself is telling us," Bob stated in addition, revealing that in the worst cases the dialogue tags end up repeating what the dialogue itself is telling us.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 03:25:48 PM by Umbrageofsnow »



Devoted135

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Reply #37 on: January 25, 2013, 03:43:04 PM
Please forgive my ignorance, but what is a "said-ism"?

Best explaination, courtesy of TVTropes:

Quote
"Said Bookism?" Alice interrogated. "What's that?"

"Well," Bob exposited, "it's a variety of Purple Prose in which the writer goes out of their way to avoid the word said."

"Why would they do this?" ejaculated Alice.

"Because," explicated Bob, "it was the fashion at one point. There were even 'said books' you could get mail order with lists of the words that can be used instead of said. That's where the name of the trope comes from," he further proclaimed.

"But Said Bookism a Discredited Trope these days?" Alice queried.

"Absolutely," confirmed Bob, "it's considered redundant," he proceeded, "because dialogue should speak for itself without needing fancy tags to convey its meaning and intention."

"That makes sense," Alice concurred.

"In the worst cases, the dialogue tags end up repeating what the dialogue itself is telling us," Bob stated in addition, revealing that in the worst cases the dialogue tags end up repeating what the dialogue itself is telling us.

LOL! I never knew this had an actual name, thanks for enlightening me! :D



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Reply #38 on: January 25, 2013, 07:30:40 PM
A similar take that I did, for your entertainment.  :)

Quote
“As we both know, I’m here to learn good dialogue. Is this good dialogue, Susan?” Brandon posited quizzically.

“No, no,” Susan said. “You don’t need to say what we both already know. Also, people don’t posit, they say.”

“What?!” Brandon questioned loudly. “But all those ‘said’s will get repetitive! Won’t they, Susan?”

“Actually, no. ‘Said’, unlike most other words, is nearly invisible to the reader, even if its repeated. And try to cut back on your exclamation points, too. You’re going to give yourself a hemhorrage.”

“But I’m upset, Susan!!” Brandon countermanded huffily. “I have to use exclamation points!!!”

Susan shook her head. “No you don’t. If the dialogue’s written well enough, the tension of the words will come through to the reader. If you use too many exclamation points, people will accuse you of trying to inject tension in with punctuation instead of writing it in. And multiple exclamation points at the end of a single sentence is a sign of a mentally unbalanced individual. Ask Terry Pratchett.”

“There’s just so much I don’t know,Susan,” Brandon moped depressingly.

“You can’t ‘mope’ a sentence. Stop trying. Even if you don’t stick to ‘say’, you still can’t stick just any old verb back there. Are you trying to do everything wrong or is it just coincidence?” She put her hand to her head. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. I’m just frustrated. Why do you keep saying my name in every sentence? Real people don’t talk like that. Why are you putting a speaker attribution after every line? There’s only two of us, so a few lines without an attribution won’t be confusing, especially since our manner of speaking is unique from each other. Have you ever heard of beats?”

“I don’t think so, Susan,” Brandon cogitated placatingly.

“They’re actions you insert between lines of dialogue. You can use them instead of saying ‘said’, to show who’s speaking.” Susan sipped her coffee. “And it adds some pauses to the dialogue to give the reader a feel for the intended pace, while giving a bit of characterization at the same time by showing the speakers actions.”

“Now I understand, Susan!!” Brandon roared intricately.

“I don’t think you do.” She sighed. “And could you PLEASE stop using so many -ly adjectives? If I can’t tell how you said something, the dialogue is probably weak and you should work on that instead.”

“Look at me, Susan! I’m dialoguing!!!!” Brandon ejaculated profusely.

The door slammed shut.

“Susan? Susan? Where’d you go?” Brandon queried querulously.

http://www.diabolicalplots.com/?p=199



Fenrix

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Reply #39 on: January 25, 2013, 10:20:31 PM
I think a reasonable word of caution is that "said" is not nearly as invisible to listeners as to readers, particularly with short sentences.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Umbrageofsnow

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Reply #40 on: January 25, 2013, 10:34:52 PM
"I think a reasonable word of caution is that 'said' is not nearly as invisible to listeners as to readers, particularly with short sentences," Fenrix ejaculated.
----------
Fixed that for you, your post is now ready for audio production.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 10:40:46 PM by Umbrageofsnow »



daneyuleb

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Reply #41 on: January 25, 2013, 10:48:43 PM
Hope the narrator in that audio production knows how to make very clear the difference between a comma and a period.



Sgarre1

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Reply #42 on: January 25, 2013, 11:10:47 PM
exactly - Dave Robison did an absolutely heroic job handling all the "saids" in his reading of one of those Stoker Nominees on Tales To Terrify last year.  It' s just one of the many problems of reading fiction aloud - contrary to popular belief, good writing is not *always* that which sounds best read aloud (see Henry James)

And Robert Anton Wilson did a great riff on "said" ism in.. THE TRICK TOP HAT iirc



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Reply #43 on: January 28, 2013, 02:39:07 PM
I think a reasonable word of caution is that "said" is not nearly as invisible to listeners as to readers, particularly with short sentences.

That's true, especially with a full cast recording where you can use the sound of the voice to differentiate between characters, or where a single reader uses different enough reading styles to differentiate.  I know that the Dunesteef, when producing some stories with full cast, has intentionally cut out all of the "he said, she said" stuff because it's just empty wordage at that point.



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Reply #44 on: February 07, 2013, 01:10:31 PM
Second story submitted.  Bring on the contest!  :)



will write for beer

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Reply #45 on: February 07, 2013, 10:23:27 PM
When we submit our stories, should we use italics in the body copy, or use _this format_ to indicate italics? If we do use _this_, will the mods put the words in italics before the story is posted?

thx.

Yeah, they're dead... They're all messed up.


Thunderscreech

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Reply #46 on: February 08, 2013, 12:12:18 AM
If I want to submit one-half of a picture (should be equivalent to 500 words), what image format is most appropriate?  PNG?



Scattercat

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Reply #47 on: February 08, 2013, 04:14:29 AM
I send my stories pre-formatted with italic tags a la < or [.



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Reply #48 on: February 08, 2013, 02:23:46 PM
I use underlines, though I generally try to avoid things that need to be italicized.

If I want to submit one-half of a picture (should be equivalent to 500 words), what image format is most appropriate?  PNG?

But wait a minute, isn't half-a-picture still a picture?  So you're going to be above the word limit!



Thunderscreech

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Reply #49 on: February 08, 2013, 03:41:52 PM
But wait a minute, isn't half-a-picture still a picture?  So you're going to be above the word limit!
Good point.  I'll just submit half of half a picture. 

Problem solved.