Any writers?

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by MelissaAnne, May 19, 2006.

  1. Undertow

    Undertow My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Location:
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    I've heard this before, and I've heard the same thing with adjectives, similies, odd-punctuation, etc. And we've all heard of "thesaurusitis", a vague complaint that assumes the author is being needlessly verbose, and thereby is using words he/she should not normally use.

    It seems to me, there is always a critic of some particular literary technique, or particular voice, or particular style, on and on, ad nauseum.

    I say, write how you write; develop your style and voice. If it sounds good, say it. If it sounds stupid, and you aren't comfortable standing behind what you've said, cut it. Take a look at Blood Meridian: written entirely in third person with no quotation marks to indicate when someone is speaking. I'm sure some editor would deride the author for his choice in style, but anyone else would admit it's genius narrative. Or read through a Stephen King novel; some of his stuff is terrible and boring, but you find yourself magically enthralled. I think the same can be said for Herman Melville. Critics panned Moby Dick as entirely too long, boring, stupid, verbose, unbelievable, etc. I've read the unabridged edition and loved it. [huh]
     
  2. Undertow

    Undertow My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Location:
    Des Moines, IA, US
    And just to follow up on this thought - sometimes a "said-ism" helps you show something, instead of tell something.

    He rubbed his chin, "Maybe, maybe not." implies he's thoughtful (or what have you).

    He said, "Maybe, maybe not," thoughtfully. No implication, the reader is bored. Allow the reader to use their imagination a little. Would you rather tell them exactly how the character is feeling, or would you like the reader to see it for themselves?
     
  3. They're actually called 'filters' or 'tags', and I think balance and rhythm is the key to usage. I just edited a book with nothing but 'said', and it did start to get on my nerves. On the other hand, I just read a short piece online where nearly every filter was different (he mused, he chortled, he chimed) and that also got annoying very quickly. Certainly, 'said' should be the dominant filter, but I don't believe that tripe about how it should be used exclusively. If you're shooting for economic writing, why not rely on the perfect filter?

    For example:

    "Women," he said.

    or

    "Women," he groused.

    I think the first fails to capture the characters sentiment in the three words. "Women . . . " What? What about them? You can say "women" in a thousand different ways ("Women. I love 'em.", "Women. There they are!", "Women. I'm desperate.") but '"Women," he groused' tells you exactly what he's thinking.

    Okay, so you say the reader should understand what "Women" means by the context. Well, how about if it's the first line of a chapter? If that's the case you have to explain what the sentiment is - what the tone is - but with 'groused' you can go in any direction you want. We know he's fed up with them. It doesn't need explanation, and it doesn't need to be addressed. Ex:

    "Women," he groused.

    The train had come to a halt and . . .


    See? Sometimes dialogue is just used to establish a scene. It's a set-up, a little bit of throwaway rhythm like "sha-la-la" or "dip-da-dip-da-dip" in a song. I think a writer just needs to have a bit of rhythm in his or her head to know where to throw it in.

    Cheers,

    Jack
     
  4. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I had been writing professionally for over a decade before I ever heard of any "using anything but 'said' is for amateurs" rule. And I still don't buy it.
     
  5. Pompidou

    Pompidou One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,242
    Location:
    Plainfield, CT
    I avoid using any quote tags like he said or she exclaimed, if at all possible. My current writing is in verse, so sometimes a "she said" happens to fit the bill for a line, but when I'm not bound to rules, I prefer shooting for distinct speaking patterns and pairing quotes with actions, such that the person about to speak is described doing something first. There are always exceptions, but avoiding what I've always seen as redundancy is my general goal. To me, the quotes imply something was said without having to tell the reader the things in quotes were said, and the context should be able to imply who said it - all in a perfect situation, of course.
     
  6. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
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    Location:
    The Swamp
    I've gone back and turned several of the "saids" into action tags when two of them were close together. Here I had one in the first paragraph and one in the second, and I took out the second:

    ****
    "Mr. Solo we can disguise," the agent-in-place, their contact in El Paso, had said when they'd flown in from New York a week ago. "But you, Mr. Kuryakin -- Let's just say the locals wouldn't take kindly to a Russian, or to most Germans, either."

    "Den I can be Svedish." Illya's lilt and Stockholm accent were so perfect that Solo was startled. "My name is Sven Holstrom. I love your America, yah?"

    The agent grinned. "Okay, Sven. Glad to meet you," and Solo had wisely resisted the urge to say, "Yumpin' yiminy."

    ****
    Better?
     
  7. I liked Senator Jack's insights into the "Said's." :eusa_clap
    For me when reading it is important for there to be a certain amount of clarity that lets me into the mind and feelings of the characters and the action tags (?) gives that insight. The writers I like tend to set moods and give color to the conversation as well as the settings. I have a fair imagination so I can paint the picture in my mind but if the writing does not give enough direction and is some what lifeless then I become lost trying to ascribe my reactions to the characters. I don't deal with what appears to be ambiguity very well.
     
  8. monocle

    monocle New in Town

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Northern NY
    Perhaps I should have posted here!!!! I am first time writer encouraged to do so after I returned to school for a night course is sociology! My spelling is atrocious and my grammar... well it actually suits the lead character!

    Great Times?

    Okay I am 56, not a spring chicken, but not an old crow either! I have a Mystery Book in the works, Set in the 40's, Actually 1940. But the story bounces back and forth from early childhood (20's) then back to 40's as present day. It is a detective book involving contra-band Liqueur and Gangsters, both well and lesser known! Though fictional it has deep roots in actual events of the time, mainly my gradfather's history as he worked as an Iron Worker on the Empire State Building NYC, City Hall Cleavland OH, and many other lesser known structures like the Quebec Bridge spanning the St. Lawrence River in QC Canada plus He was a rum-runner who knew many underworld characters from Albany and NYC to Montreal! I have the general plot & story line down, but some dates and events to justify the story are lacking. Is there someone out in Fedora Lounge who can direct me to locations for research? Mostly I am stuck with Hi-way routes before the Interstate was built! Any help here please!
    Francis
     
  9. Yep, big problem if you want to keep it authentic; you don't realize how many roads, turnpikes, bridges, parks, etc. have been renamed over the years till you try to write an authentic period piece. You'd have to try the libraries for old city and street maps. Even skimming through the newspapers and periodicals of the era are immensely helpful. Try to find stories about the construction of the new highway and they might have references to the old routes. Of course, you could always make it up.

    I recall coming across a post somewhere in which he wanted to know why in the film of Breakfast at Tiffany's Holly Golightly's cab was going north on 5th Ave. when traffic runs south. He thought Blake Edwards had shot the cab the opposite way for aesthetic reasons, but the fact is till around 1966, 5th Ave traffic ran in both directions. i could see how a modern writer who chooses to write about the period might screw up a detail like that. Will people generally notice? No.

    Good luck,

    Jack
     
  10. Pompidou

    Pompidou One Too Many

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    Location:
    Plainfield, CT
    I just got back to my writing today after a long hiatus. Relatively long, anyway. I have my fingers in so many pies right now, and sometimes the writing pie suffers. It's chugging along. I should spend more time coming up with content than trying to make the existing content look cool when exported to a PDF file.
     
  11. The Good

    The Good Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,363
    Location:
    California, USA
    Unfortunately, I'm still on a hiatus from focusing on writing efforts, myself. As it is right now, I have little time to devote to writing, due to class homework, textbook readings, exams, and the occasional job. Good luck with what you're trying to accomplish, the literary arena is very competitive.

    In my own writings so far, I tend to use these tags sparingly, with an emphasis on "said." I agree that it should not be exclusive, though.


     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2011
  12. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,936
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Finally moved from the apartment to the house, and now that I have my own office (pictures to come), I am ready to get busy. I've got three historical articles to write a nonfiction book proposal to put together, and my novel. Which one is calling the loudest? The novel, of course. At heart, I will always be a fiction writer.

    How is the writing going for everyone else?
     
  13. Pompidou

    Pompidou One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,242
    Location:
    Plainfield, CT
    I'm in the same boat. I have two competing writing obligations. One is fact and one is fiction. My fact is writing a business plan, bylaws and all those handy business start up documents. My fiction is writing my poem-novel. I have to go where the money is, and writing the former is 90% of my effort. At least the former is pretty much done, minus a chapter.
     
  14. pasnthru

    pasnthru New in Town

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    How do you find paying gigs? Let's say you write something. Do you then take it to an editor? Do you look on craigslist?
     
  15. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Nebraska
    pasnthru - It depends on what you write. Do you write short stories? Novels? Articles?
     
  16. pasnthru

    pasnthru New in Town

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    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Let's say articles.
     
  17. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,936
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Well, I can only recommend the old-fashioned way: querying. Look up freelance writing websites (a google search will point you to these). There are some content-mill websites (Suite101 and DemandStudios are two - google them, as well) that you can work for, as well, but it's been my experience that those pay low.
     
  18. pasnthru

    pasnthru New in Town

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Thanks AmateisGal. I appreciate your advice. I've not ever really considered writing in the online realm before, but I'd definately like to give it a try.
     
  19. Derek WC

    Derek WC Banned

    Messages:
    599
    Location:
    The Left Coast
    I thought I might announce this: Due to encouragement from Pompidou, I have decided to write a book in verse based on a poem of mine, being:

    The Grave Robber and the Grave Digger

    As I deftly picked the lock
    I soon came into shock

    For out of the ground behind me
    came two hands, cold and bony

    As they grabbed my feet
    I let out a shriek

    And could feel the ground
    coming up to my crown

    How I fought with such rigor
    so did the grave digger

    Now I know what happened,
    that dreary night, so dampened

    When Mr. Crigger
    the grave digger
    pulled the trigger.

    I'll give more information on the book tomorrow if I remember, as I am exhausted and really need to get some sleep, however here's a tidbit: it's going to be set in 1910's rural new york.
    That is, I'll give more information on it if anybody wants, and shall be careful not to give spoilers.
     
  20. jameson

    jameson New in Town

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    california
    Hey there. That's a mighty nice poem Mr. Derek WC.
    I wrote a short story and then proceeded to shop it around to the usual mystery magazines.
    I got a lot of help from sites like Ralans.com and duotrope. I finally got it published digitally and it's currently available for e readers and downloads. This is the Amazon/Kindle link to it:
    http://www.amazon.com/One-More-Night-Kill-ebook/dp/B004U2FLA8/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_i
    Love them pulps!
     

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