How do you write?
So here’s today’s fun survey. How do you write? And by that, I mean do you write one book the whole way, edit it, and then move on to the next? Do you write more than one? Do you write in forward motion or do you write each section as they come to you?
Moreover, why do you do it that way?
Personally, I write in chronological order, but much of me thinks that I shouldn’t be doing that all the time. I always gets stuck when I need to move from March to April, and nothing really happens. So then I postpone the writing. I think if I realize that the things I want to write are the really interesting things, well, then, the things I don’t want to write are obviously boring. Maybe?
Don’t know. Just a thought. The one time I did write out of order, the characters were completely different and I kept very little of it. I’m having a harder time deciding how to balance everything that I want to write.
Styles of Writing
What kind of fiction do you write?
What kind of fiction do you wish you could write but know you don’t have enough experience/knowledge to write about it?
spice up the writing
Yesterday I talked about the basic grammar of sentences and what you need to know. That’s all fine and good but in all honestly, basic nouns and verbs only go so far. Even when you add in adjectives and adverbs, you sound wonderful.
One of the things that writers need to avoid is excessively littering your writing with adjective and adverbs. They do serve a place–don’t get me wrong–but using two or three of them per sentence will not result in good writing.
Take for this sentences for example:
The girl ran across the road and entered the library.
I could go on and on how we could modify this sentence to make it sound very good with plenty of description but I won’t. (If you are interested, it can be found in The Art of Fiction somewhere.)
If I were to add perhaps two adjectives/adverbs, it’d sound okay.
The girl quickly ran across the road and entered the grand library.
However, if I litter the sentence with adjectives and adverbs, it doesn’t sound all that good.
The stocky, red-head girl quickly and directly ran across the dusty, pebble road and cautiously entered the tall, grand library.
See what I mean?
So if you can’t add in any number of adjectives and adverbs to get your point, what is one to do? This is where we spice up the writing.
I shall introduce something to you that I call strong words. I don’t know what an English teacher would call them but this is what I call them.
Strong words are words that denote a vivid picture. They are generally adjectives (combining several adjectives into one word) or verbs, although they can occasionally be nouns or adverbs. The goal of these is to create a better picture than flat words.
Here is the sentence when I insert strong words:
The girl darted across the road and slipped into the library.
See? That gives a much better picture. And now, I can still add in a few adjectives.
The ragged girl darted across the road and slipped into the elegant library.
And that still works, it still sound relatively good, and it gives a picture. Pictures, in writing, are good.
Now, something that you must understand about this is that almost every single word has a sliding scale to it. If I say I am sad, then I’m kinda down, kinda so-so, but i’ll be fine tomorrow. If I say I’m despondent, that gives a much clearer picture.
Strong words are always better than adjectives or adverbs when writing. If you need help, try creating a sliding scale. Take your word–say, happy–and insert all the possible words to describe happy from the least happy to the most happy. Then, you should be able to figure out which one fits the best.
Just a note too. Question of the Week due by Saturday night. That’s two days left.
five things all writers must learn…
….to create very good stories.
Many of these things come from my own personal observations and experience and much of what I say is probably repeats of previous posts.
1.) Editing. Editing is the basis of all good books. in fact, I think it is the backbone of good writing. It’s all fine and good if you can write something down on paper. It’s better if you do the extra step (or two, or three, or ten, depending on how you edit) and edit what you write.
2.) Listening to characters: This is an art, and a challenge. You know those stories where the characters (without mental disorders) suddenly start acting strange and awkward? It kinda hits you like, “What on EArth?” Well… that’s because the author didn’t really listen to the character.
In all honesty, I don’t know how to give you a step-by-step instructions as to how to listen to your characters. This (like everything else all my list) takes practice. Once you learn how to do it well, you might find all sorts of information, like, say, one character had a crush on another character but didn’t want to propose to court her because of three certain reasons. It adds depth to the character. But most important, it keeps the reader from looking at you strange.
3.) The good plot: As a new writer, everything that pops into your head sounds awesome. In all honesty, I would never have the time to write down EVERYTHING that I come up with as plots, even if I wrote constantly. One thing that a writer must learn is how to take a plot and decided whether to a) write it, b) save it for something else (meaning it’s okay but not really that good) or C) discard it completely. This again takes practice because you need to know partly what you can write well and what you really kinda stink at.
4.) Observing: Observe everything. As both an author and an artist, I do that. Observe how people interact. Observe character differences. Observe what makes people tick, motivations, fears. How things look, smell, feel, sound. Everything. YOu need it for later character development and description.
Besides observing people and things, observe how people write. I’m not saying to copy one author’s particular style (although, in honesty, I can’t see style differences much.). I’m just saying to notice how the author writes what he/she wants to say. How do they describe things? How do they stick in information? How do they reveal characters?
5.) Avoiding the Infodump: Infordumps = Badbadbad. Infodumps are when you explain everything all at once and are very common in fantasy stories actually. You might spend six pages about the war or five pages on the transportation system or two pages on this guy’s past. Avoid these like the plague.
If you must use them, give small, bite size pieces infrequently. Maybe you can explain on page three why she rides a bike everywhere and then on page 13 about why she doesn’t like any of the clothes at Wal*mart and why she wears dresses all the time. Then maybe on page 16 about how she became enlisted in the secret spy agency. Who knows? But small pieces.
And one more bit of advice: edit. I know I said it before but I’m saying it again. Every single other thing you can improve in your story if you edit the story. Everything you write can be undone. But it will not be undone if you do not edit.
what if or why I write science fiction
I suppose I more write a combination of science fiction and fantasy, since I’ve now written two fantasy books (Dragon Slayers and Giant’s Wife) not to mention ETOLT with a friend. However, my first love and the real reason i write is because of science fiction.
I suppose it’s reasonable enough. I started writing, after all, because of star trek. Then it moved into science fiction thanks to a story in Mars, followed by a series of books that was meant to be similar to Star Trek without the copyright problems and other things. After discovering that worked just as poorly as my star trek story, I totally changed everything and began writing stand-alones.
But why do I write science fiction? I write it, now, because of the control I have in the universe. Before, I wrote it because I didn’t really have to study much of anything. So what if the police force is totally inaccurate? It’s not Earth. Who cares?
Slowly, I began to discover the beauty of having your own universe. It’s not the fact that I can get away with inaccuracies but more that I can make commentary about problems that may not even happen. Based on recent elections in Massachusetts and other surveys, I would have to conclude that universal health care will probably not be passed in the near future. So either I can come up with an elaborate scheme along the lines of Obama gets his friends at ACORN to totally screw with the election results this November, all of Obama cronies get elected into office, he totally brainwashes the media and the US passes universal healthcare. Or, I can create a different country, similar to America but one that readily embraced healthcare fifty years ago and is now reaping the problems associated with it. The latter sounds not only less complicated and more likely, but keeps me from automatically sounding like an “anti-Obama stupid conservative.
Not only that, but I can try things by writing science fiction. My stories are slowly switching over into a case of asking “what ifs”. What if Earth was taken over by aliens? What if a doctor discovered how to give telepathic powers to individuals? What if cars were banned? If I write just general fiction, there is not as many what ifs because they have to fit in the narrow frame of here and now.
Another reason is I love creating universes. I have the ability to formulate things and to describe things on a whole new level. It’s like I have a paintbrush in my hand and given the proper time and the proper imagination, I can create a beautiful picture. Because of this, themes that I don’t normally realize I see in the world are show.
Yes, I do still write science fiction in part because of the inaccuracies. I don’t have to do extensive research on every single aspect of my story. But I also can portray so much more than just mere fiction can portray. All because of asking what if questions and going from there.
why to read
I think I understand now why some authors say to read all of the time. They say to because reading teaches you things.
Take, for example, the two books I’ve been reading this past weekend. I’ve been trying to read Flatland, because it was on my itouch, and i’ve read Fahrenheit 451 and I have comments on them both.
Flatland begins with a long, in detailed explanation of all about the people of flatland, how they recognize each other, what the women are like, ect. If I wrote this today, I would be told that I did an info dump and you probably want to change it around. But he can get away with it. (I, however, am not impressed with this story up until now, because of this dump of information and lack of possible story that comes from it.)
On the other hand, I have Fahrenheit 451. That book starts out very well, with such a wonderful little character and interest mannerisms and ideas. The description, if I didn’t read it so fast, would probably be incredible. But he, too, repeats himself often. He writes things that I would instruct other people to possible consider deleting because you don’t need it. He needs it though and it works.
One two three four five six seven days.
he thing takes that and goes on with something like, Three day, “Have you noticed how dark that house is?” Four day, “Did you ever meet Charisse?”
Also, with Fahrenheit 451, I found the ending confusing. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it should be a case of endings of classic books are confusing for some reason. Because I also found Brave New World confusing and sad and I just did not like it. It’s like they end and I still have hundreds of questions. How does this work? Why did that happen? Ect, Ect.
How do we know the difference between style and proper writing? While sitting here, I keep thinking of the person who sent one of the classics to publishers and all of the publishers sent him rejection letters saying it was not good. I don’t think anyone really knows what works until they try it. And if it fails, well, either it didn’t work or it’s not the time for it.
when the future interweaves with the now
I have been wanting to write a post for several days on heath care and the health care reform. Why when this is a writing blog? Because I believe that with the politicians in WAshing trying for universal health care, there is a lot to be written about. (I say trying due to the fact that there are too many lawsuits out there and that this SHOULD go to the Supreme Court and probably be overturned there, if the judges have any guts to follow the constitution.) I am going to try not to get political.
See, Universal Health Care in American (which I shall now abbreviate as UHCA) can take so many routes depending on what we think the outcome of this bill will be. Will this mean that everyone is now going to live in peace in happiness to the ripe old age of 90? Will this mean that the government will start forcing mandatory exercise programs, like in “1984,” so that people can be better and healthier and then the government doesn’t have to fund so much?
What about the corruption of the politicians? This bill is 3000 pages long! Surely they can slip somewhere between the pages that all congressmen get their own private doctor and a spa built into their own to “promote health.” Nearly every time in history, when a socialist government was tried, it actually resulted in two groups of people. The every day people that were poor and then politicians, that are rich.
HOw does this effect the everyday person? How would a person go to the doctor now? Is it going to end up like Canada, where any serious diagnostic test takes years to have done, any operation weeks to years?
Or maybe it will be bliss. Maybe everyone will be flocking to working in the health care industry now because of how great it is, everyone will be healthy now, America will be the pride of the world and the leader and healthy reformations. [would insert sarcastic remark here but promised she would try to avoid political commentary] Maybe it will be what Obama really thinks it is.
Or what does Obama thinks it is? I’m sorry, but too many people have said that having UHC is a bad idea for a country to do, England included. So maybe it is more of a way to manipulate “stupid” Americans into controlling them. Maybe it will be what Obama wants but it will not be what the people who think it is good wants.
We, as science fiction writers, have just had a door open. We no longer have to explain how UHCA was passed because it has been. If we want to get technical, and depending on what picture we are going to pain, the sudden deaths of a bunch of Supreme Court justices would explain why the bill never was overturned by the Supreme Court. Now, we can let our imagination run wild, free, and do as it wishes.
This sudden change really causes me problems, though, because I have been toying for a while about a story that may take place thirty years from now. The story did involve the results of health care, if it passed, and you can probably guess they were not pretty. Since I have been thinking about what story to write next, I’ve been toying between that one and another one that really doesn’t have a whole lot to say. (It’s based off of a song.) I honestly wonder if this should be the time to write that one.
No matter. Although on some levels, this is bad for writers because they are taxing royalties, this is also good for writers because suddenly we are put in a situation that asks, “What if….”
What if health care is good?
What if Obama is a robot from Mars and is going to posion us all thorugh this health care? (That would explain why he doesn’t want his birth certificate shown.)
What if this becomes like “The Giver”, where the old are terminated as soon as they become “not useful”?
What if the election was rigged in 2008?
What if people are only treated for non-preventable diseases?
What if… the question of a science fiction writer.
I was going to put a link to an awesome youtube video but it doesn’t work as well as I thought.