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sdficklin
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PostSubject: The craft of writing   Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:01 pm

I had someone tell me recently that I was an excellent 'Storyteller'. --Does this mean I'm a bad 'writer'? I'm wondering where the distinction is. My ideas are great, my story is interesting - it draws people in - but my syntax is poor? Is my verbage hinkey?

A friend and I were discussing TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer and she said she perferred the movie to the book becasue it was the STORY she fell in love with and that Meyer's writing was poor and distracted from it.

What are your thoughts? Can a person be a great storyteller and a poor writer? Do you think an excelent story is enough to get a book published? How much weight do the nuts and bolts of writing pull in a novel?
Personally, I think a great story poorly written is still a great story, but a poor story well written is just slush pile fodder.

Ideas? Opinions? scratch
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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:34 am

Oh interesting topic.

Well in my opinion you have to be a good story teller to be a good writer - they go hand in hand. So i wouldn't be worried - i would love to be told that i was a great story teller!!

In my mind we are like the bards of old, except instead of citing our stories orally like great story tellers we use the craft of writing to tell the story.

I think that the craft of writing impacts on storytelling, but i don't think its a question of distraction or bad grammar - i think craft of writing is like story telling, in the sense we use words on a page to portray the voice that a story teller would use when he was speaking.

I think this is what people refer to when they speak of 'voice' in writing. Its about translating the imagery of our story to text and the reader being able to percieve the imagery of our story from some black symbols on white paper without losing the essence

I wonder though in regards to what you mean by 'great story poorly written is still a great story' - in one way i agree but then i think the writing is too important.

In my mind a great story is a balance between the story and writing - the writing is the medium of communication - it would be like asking justin timberlake to play hamlet. The story is excellent but the means of communication (the actor) is useless and the greatness of the story is lost.

Similarly no matter how well you write if the story is stale = 'slush pile fodder'

In regards to SM - well her writing isn't amazing but it was sufficient. We could imagine the story in our minds eye and sometimes thats all a story needs in way of writing.

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AliceKildaire
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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:47 pm

You raise a terrific question.

I do believe a wonderful story can be mutilated by poor writing and that excellent writing can do very little to improve a weak story.

For me the key seems to lie in that while one can certainly learn "how" to write and continuously improve upon the craft itself, one cannot necessarily "learn" the fine art of storytelling. I believe that to be an inherent gift that you either have or not.
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emilycross
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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Sat Feb 14, 2009 3:41 am

AliceKildaire wrote:
.

For me the key seems to lie in that while one can certainly learn "how" to write and continuously improve upon the craft itself, one cannot necessarily "learn" the fine art of storytelling. I believe that to be an inherent gift that you either have or not.

I totally agree with that statement! its a pity (apart from sd case - where people told her) that one can't know if you have that talent until you've been tested by the process of publishing!

I also think that with storytelling its important to think of the writing as an extension of this - take for example twilight, which is a first person novel, the story itself hardly would need literary or high class writing (and it might have taken from the story in itself if it had, bogging the reader down). So in this case i think the writing style suited the story. While take books like 'the book thief' etc which worked better because of the writing style used to tell a magnificant story.

So i wonder, is it important to look to your writing style when thinking of your novel? I know my own writing style has been termed 'poetic', 'lyrical', 'unique and well also 'strange' etc but does this style help or hinder me when i seek to be published?

will my style help a YA - adult fantasy story or hamper it? while perhaps this type of writing may be better recieved in a better genre?

Lol, am i making any sense?

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sdficklin
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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Sat Feb 14, 2009 9:59 am

I totally know what you mean. I write mainly from 1st personPOV because it's easier to me to be able to focus on just the thoughts and feelings of ONE person. Hats off to all you who write in 3rd person. You humble me! I bow to your awsomeness!

Hey, are any of you on AUTHONOMY?
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emilycross
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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:06 am

No but i've heard of it, What do you think of it? Are you on it Sd?


Just for those that don't know, Authonomy is (here is the site blurb)

authonomyTM is a brand new community site for writers, readers and publishers, conceived and developed by book editors at HarperCollins. We want to flush out the brightest, freshest new literature around - we’re glad you stopped by.

If you’re a writer, authonomy is the place to show your face – and show off your work on the web. Whether you’re unpublished, self-published or just getting started, all you need is a few chapters to start building your profile online, and start connecting with the authonomy community.

And if you’re a reader, blogger publisher or agent, authonomy is for you too. The book world is kept alive by those who search out, digest and spread the word about the best new books – authonomy invites you to join our community, champion the best new writing and build a personal profile that really reflects your tastes, opinions and talent-spotting skills.

The publishing world is changing. One thing’s for sure: whether you’re a reader, writer, agent or publisher, this is an exciting time for books. In our corner of HarperCollins we’ve been given a chance to do something a little different.

We’d really love your help.

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Bluepolarbear
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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Sat Feb 14, 2009 5:50 pm

I've never heard of Authonomy, but it sounds interesting. Don't know if I'd join it though.

As for the questions, good storyteller and how it fits with writing, I think it depends. I think when some people say "good storyteller" it's because that's what they see writing as, a story. So if they read it and said "oh you're a good storyteller" then I would take it as a compliment because they read your writing, understood it, and liked it.

Then there are those who do really differentiate between storytelling and writing (I would say it's the really grammatically correct LOL, not that that's wrong) and suppose they heard you tell a story out loud complimented you, then read the story and and you know for sure that when they say "you're a good storyteller" that they mean it for when you talk.

Some people just have a knack for verbally telling stories and have a harder time writing it. That's not bad at all, some people are horrible at storytelling and yet when they write everything flows wonderfully (I'm one of those people. I get so confused when I try and tell a story I haven't written or plotted out loud). I don't think that's bad either. It just means we need to work harder in the area if we want to.

Now after my long ramble, what it all comes down to is the situation when the person says "You're a good storyteller" they could really mean that you're a good writer and use the term "storytelling" for writing as well. Or maybe they think you're excellent in both areas and just combine the term for them. Basically I wouldn't worry too much. Some people wont' like the writing, some people will. Everyone has their own taste!
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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:44 am

Yeah, I'm on AUtHONOMY, It's great for getting feedback. Only my firse 4 chapters are up there, but i've gotten some great insight.
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ReNu
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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:26 am

I've heard of Authonomy and have put off joining till I have more publish-worthy stuff ready.

As per the main issue here, I think this is similar to the "plot" vs. "writing style" argument. You can have many stories about suspicious husbands, sons avenging their fathers' deaths, and tragic love, but it takes Shakespeare to write Othello, Hamlet and R&J.

I've never agreed completely with it - you can always develop your writing style, but unless there's an interesting plot, it's not worth it. So don't worry about it. I'm sure the person who told you that only forgot to add that your writing was great too.
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daeonica
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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:42 am

I think 'good storytelling' is more about the way you tell it, like, the way you phrase a sentence, the word choice you use, etc.

Whereas, 'good writing' is about everything - the plot, the characters, everything that makes up a story.

Great question!


I don't think I would join a site like that just yet - I know my stuff needs a lot more work before I start looking for 'serious' feedback on it. What I do do, though, is post it on deviant Art. That gives me some encouragement to keep writing, which is really helpful for me.

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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Fri Feb 27, 2009 1:12 pm

This Blog post about confidence versus delusionism was highlight on Nathan' Bransford's blog.

Quote :
what are the differences between confidence, and its ugly step-sister, delusion?

Confident writers know they'll be published, if they keep at it.
Delusion writers think they'll be rich and famous.

Confident writers work to get the words right.
Delusional writers think they got the words right the first time.

Confident writers expect to be periodically rejected.
Delusional writers are shocked every time someone fails to recognize their brilliance.

Confident writers take suggestion.
Delusional writers believe their words are written in stone.

Confident writers work even when it's hard.
Delusional writers believe they need to be inspired first.

Confident writers know this is a job.
Delusional writers think this is a vacation.

Confident writers know there's a never-ending learning curve.
Delusional writers believe they've learned all they need to know.

Confident writers know when to move on, and learn from their failures and successes.
Delusional writers keep doing the same things, over and over, hoping for different outcomes.

Confident writers know luck plays a big part.
Delusional writers think there's a conspiracy against them.

Confident writers get published.
Delusion writers don't get published very often, and if they do it's not for very long.

Confident writers work within the system, even though the system is flawed.
Delusional writers work outside of the system, even though they long to work within the system.

Confident writers understand their limitations.
Delusional writers don't believe in limitations.

Confident writers understand sacrifice.
Delusional writers demand everything on their terms.

Confident writers believe in persistence.
Delusional writers believe in talent.

Confident writers believe they owe the world.
Delusional writers believe the world owes them.

Are you confident or delusional?

Chances are high the delusional people will believe they're confident, since self-awareness is in short supply in the writing community.

Here are some questions to ask yourself.

Have you been published by an impartial third party?

Confident writers eventually get traditionally published. Period.

Do you seek out and apply editing advice?

Confident writers know their words can always be made stronger.

At what point do you abandon a project and begin a new one?

Confident writers move on, but first they try to figure out what didn't work, and why.

Would you rather be paid or be praised?

Confident writers know the best form of praise is a royalty check.

Do you help other writers?

Confident writers know it's about what you put in, not what you get out.

Do you understand your failures?

Confident writers don't have failures. They have learning experiences that make them stronger.

Will you be successful?

Confident writers know success is beyond their control. But they keep writing anyway, and will continue to even if success never happens.

It's not about the destination. It's about the journey.

You must believe in yourself.

But first you have to prove yourself worthy of that belief.

any thoughts?

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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:59 pm

Oh, that's a FANTASTIC post, Emily! Thank you so much for sharing! I've got that one on the list of blogs I watch, but I sometimes get behind on reading them.

I think it's so true. The one I especially liked was about taking criticism/advise. Some people just won't listen, and I think that makes it really obvious whether they're a 'real' writer or not.

Thanks for posting that! Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:48 am

No prob DG - i thought post was amazing too!

I think these three - really hit home for me

Confident writers know they'll be published, if they keep at it.
Delusion writers think they'll be rich and famous.

Confident writers work to get the words right.
Delusional writers think they got the words right the first time.

Confident writers expect to be periodically rejected.
Delusional writers are shocked every time someone fails to recognize their brilliance.

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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:53 am

emilycross wrote:
Confident writers know they'll be published, if they keep at it.
Delusion writers think they'll be rich and famous.

Confident writers work to get the words right.
Delusional writers think they got the words right the first time.

Confident writers expect to be periodically rejected.
Delusional writers are shocked every time someone fails to recognize their brilliance.

The money thing is a big one - so many people seem to think that they can work on writing full time. While they might be able to earn a reasonable amount, you're only really going to be able to do that if you have a very supportive partner who earns enough for both of you.

Also, the people who are so offended when they get a rejection that they go off the publisher etc, say negative stuff about them, instead of actually trying to improve something.

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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:48 pm

daeonica wrote:
I think 'good storytelling' is more about the way you tell it.

I agree with this 100%. I think it's one thing to come up with a good story - a strong plot - but quite another to be good at telling the story - unfloding it for the reader. That's surely all about the writing. So for me being a good writer and being a good storyteller are one and the same.

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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:48 am

I'm flicking through 'how not to write a novel' (i think someone on this forum recommended it) and i have to say its both a funny and educational read (v rare). Has anyone else read it?

if i'm being honest i can see there are a few things that i'm doing to 'try and remain unpublished'

1. writing like a literary writer - when your not!!

2. dialogue tags (lots of -ly words).

I've read a few writing books and i have to say i like this because it highlights bad habits which you wouldn't know about until you read their examples.

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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Tue Apr 07, 2009 11:05 pm

Sorry I haven't checked in for a while...I've been working at a new office and I got sick! Finally starting to recover but still a bit dizzy.

Getting sick was a very bad ending to my "NaNoWriMo". BUT I came out of the delusional fever land I was in with the story I've been wanting to write!

For the first time ever am I happy to have been sick! LOL

I have the book Emily talks about above too!
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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:56 pm

What do you think of it Tulsa? i think its quite funny but also very interesting to read and i'd recommend it to all beg writers to avoid pitfals

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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:23 am

I've just been reading 'How Not To Write a Novel', too - and it's a very funny book in its own right. And scary - there's hardly an example in it that doesn't give me a guilty lurch for doing or having done some version of it at some time. The thing about pets - eek! - my books ALL have pets in them!! But I think that althoguh it's great for pointing out some fo the pitfalls, like all books on craft, its 'rules' are to be taken with a pinch of salt and not followed slavishly. There's nothing wrong with the occasional 'ly' qualifier in its place - and even the odd cat or dog!
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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:20 am

Oh i agree Rosy, totally. I think it was good for me though to be able to read it and say 'aw i do that' especially if your a writer who is starting out and thinks everything you write is a 'masterpiece'

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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Sun May 24, 2009 9:29 pm

I bought that book a few weeks ago, and I found it very...awesome. Smile I was holding out on buying it because I thought it would jinx me, but it turned out to be very useful. I haven't committed most of the sins it outlines, but there are one or two that I tend to lean towards.

My big thing is I have a hard time balancing description. I know how to write description, but sometimes I get so rushed while writing that I have to go back and add a lot more in. Other times I get tired and add so much that I have to cut 90% of it out.

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PostSubject: Re: The craft of writing   Fri May 29, 2009 10:00 am

There's a really good list here of things one author thinks are 'important truths' for writers.
Jon Gibbs

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