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Old 04-25-2013, 10:29 AM View Post #11 (Link)
Georgy (Offline)
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So, we formed two schools: the first is the school of rules and clear scientific instructions, led by Dabs; and the second one is the school of free literary anarchists, headed by Spiders.
I'm in a deep quandary. What I'm to choose: Dabs' strict technology or unbridled explosion of imagination?
I think eating a cheesecake would help somehow.
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Old 04-25-2013, 01:52 PM View Post #12 (Link)
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A couple of my favourite quotes:

'There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree what they are.' (Somerset Maugham)

'There is no satisfactory explanation of style, no infallible guide to good writing, no assurance that a person who thinks clearly will be able to write clearly, no key that unlocks the door, no inflexible rules by which the young writer may steer his course. He will often find himself steering by stars that are disturbingly in motion' (E B White)

I believe one school is about selling your work and the other is about writing it in the first place.
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:31 PM View Post #13 (Link)
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Literary style, like almost every societal concept (including literary popularity), changes. Yes, there aren't any 'satisfactory' explanations of style but there are trends.

And by extension there are impermanent 'rules'. Unsatisfactorily, literary quality and literary popularity obey and yield to current conventions.

The whole idea of critiquing relies upon the idea that some styles of writing are superior to others. And the whole idea of this thread is aimed at writers who may not know better: who may justify their writing, falsely, with the argument that 'there are no rules to writing'.
  
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:59 PM View Post #14 (Link)
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Originally Posted by Spacepirate View Post
Literary style, like almost every societal concept (including literary popularity), changes. Yes, there aren't any 'satisfactory' explanations of style but there are trends.

And by extension there are impermanent 'rules'. Unsatisfactorily, literary quality and literary popularity obey and yield to current conventions.

The whole idea of critiquing relies upon the idea that some styles of writing are superior to others. And the whole idea of this thread is aimed at writers who may not know better: who may justify their writing, falsely, with the argument that 'there are no rules to writing'.
Thank you.
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Old 04-25-2013, 04:33 PM View Post #15 (Link)
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Originally Posted by Spiders View Post
What you're talking about, Infinity Man, is trying to sell your work. It's a different ball game to simply being a writer. In the words of Jules Renard, 'Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.'

The thread should be titled 'How not to open a story you want to publish'. And even then, I still have my list of 'exceptions' in waiting.

All in all, a writer should focus on trying to do something more, rather than something less. The former is creativity. The latter is editing.
I'm curious, then, why you've joined a forum whose main focus is providing constructive criticism to aspiring writers. Yes, there's something to be said for the atmosphere of writers, talking to each other about your craft, but at the end of the day at least half this forum is sharing your work with the express purpose of being criticized. When you open yourself to criticism, you shed the "I'm writing for myself" mantle and accept the "I'm writing for other people" otherwise why would you share it in the first place?

If there are no "rules" or writing (and I'd like to point out that, like Dabs, I'm always careful to say that there are always exceptions and, like I said, rules are guidelines based more on what is most often successful in a good story) then what exactly are we criticizing? How can we offer improvement if everyone is in the mindset of "I'm just writing for myself"?
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:49 PM View Post #16 (Link)
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As far as I could understand, Spiders, you'd been talking something about the power of creativity.
Well, why not to expose some of your extremely marginal work to convince everybody that the violation of rules can't spoil a masterpiece?
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Old 04-26-2013, 08:50 AM View Post #17 (Link)
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The main difference I have to most young writers, it seems, is that I have no care whether I get into print or not.

I'm 'story-first'. I think that's the best term for it.

This entails not writing for one's self, or for an audience, but writing for the story itself. The process of writing focuses on what the story requires - the right events, the changes in characters that make the whole experience from start to finish more wholesome. Once the story is written, it can then have excitement and entertainment added to it, and then be tailored to audience and modern standards, but until then, all that matters is the truth of the story.

So if the story starts with it raining, the 'story-first' direction states that it is perfectly okay to begin your story by stating this, as long as you can then progress as a writer through the story, and hence write more of the story. Later, when editing the story, you'll find a better opening.

I hope that answers your question, Infinity Man, and your implied question, Spacepirate. I don't have the same mindset when it comes to writing as most people here. There is another forum I visit far more frequently where the mindset is more the norm.

I see critique as purely audience feedback. I'll say what I like and what I don't. I'll say what works for me and what doesn't. I don't call upon the notions of rules or trends, unless my personal impression directly taps into them.

All in all, I don't write for myself or for other people. When I write I write for the story, and if you can't understand that mindset you won't understand what I'm saying when I say that a young writer does not need rules.

And Georgy, I'm not going to post my work on this forum. Not to prove or disprove anything, and not for any critique. I'm writing with the door closed at the moment, and I have nothing to prove.

By the way, I used to agree with you on the subject of rules. When that screwed me over, that's when I discovered the 'story-first' approach. It's worked wonders for my creativity and writer's morale, and prevented me from ever getting writer's block again. Perhaps my perspective is inferior to writing with rules. It might, rather, be a step up from that.
  
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Old 04-26-2013, 12:53 PM View Post #18 (Link)
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Topical: http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-n...-to-avoid-them

Particularly No. 3. As a young writer using the 'story-first', I don't ignore the craft. I don't know it yet, and I'm not going to pretend that I do or that reading articles about it will impart the knowledge of the craft to me. I'm learning the craft, but putting the story first. You can craft a good story in a story that's good to read. But you can't get a story that's good to read without a good story in the first place.
  
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Old 04-26-2013, 04:32 PM View Post #19 (Link)
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The main difference I have to most young writers, it seems, is that I have no care whether I get into print or not.

I'm 'story-first'. I think that's the best term for it.

This entails not writing for one's self, or for an audience, but writing for the story itself. The process of writing focuses on what the story requires - the right events, the changes in characters that make the whole experience from start to finish more wholesome. Once the story is written, it can then have excitement and entertainment added to it, and then be tailored to audience and modern standards, but until then, all that matters is the truth of the story.

So if the story starts with it raining, the 'story-first' direction states that it is perfectly okay to begin your story by stating this, as long as you can then progress as a writer through the story, and hence write more of the story. Later, when editing the story, you'll find a better opening.

I hope that answers your question, Infinity Man
I guess what I'm not really getting is why you can't have both. I think this discussion is assuming that neither I, Dabs, or Spacepirate also put great care into our stories, but just write for what other people want to read. I can't speak for them, but I still write what I think are pretty good crackers of a story, though my personal goal has always been to be a great storyteller.

This also sounds similar to a lot of advice that I give young writers, which is to just finish the story before worrying about any of this stuff. It's far better to have a completed first draft rather than an amazing first ten pages, and then you can worry about all the other stuff. So in that way I think we're on the same page. But this guide is here for the people who actually want to learn their craft. Whether they've completed their first draft or not, here's a fun little craft-building guide to peruse and keep in mind. Sure, they should write their story first and then they can later find a better opening, so why not have this guide for people who are at that level? Or have it in the back of their mind when they go back to edit the opening and can remember "hey, maybe opening with a paragraph of describing the clouds is a bad idea?"
EDIT: Dabs communicates this thought much more clearly in the next post.

Originally Posted by Spiders View Post
Topical: http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-n...-to-avoid-them

Particularly No. 3. As a young writer using the 'story-first', I don't ignore the craft. I don't know it yet, and I'm not going to pretend that I do or that reading articles about it will impart the knowledge of the craft to me.
(I'm assuming you're arguing against this article in my next responses)

I don't think when the article says not to ignore the craft that it's assuming all writers should already know it. The craft is, after all, a constantly changing entity. In fact, the article gives pretty overarching advice on how to keep learning the craft, how to keep examining yourself.

I also find the idea that reading articles can't be educational to be premature. Articles can be a good condensation of literary study, in an entertaining and quick passage, that can incite a writer to think about the topic at hand.

I'm learning the craft, but putting the story first. You can craft a good story in a story that's good to read. But you can't get a story that's good to read without a good story in the first place.
The wording of this really weirds me out. Can you reword this to get your point across more effectively? Because right now how I'm reading it is "if your story is good its good, but if your story is bad it's bad" which seems like a no-brainer to me.
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Old 04-26-2013, 04:34 PM View Post #20 (Link)
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Okay, I understand what you're saying, but I think it's silly to say that your method is exclusively oriented toward "story-first". Everyone writes like that; they just have different ways of expressing that very vague concept. You like to go back and edit the opening later, and just let the story be what it needs to be. I think that's cool. That said, I don't think that your way necessarily averts the rules I've posted; you just utilize them at a different point.

Some people prefer to start with something more solid. That doesn't mean creating an opening so perfect that it doesn't need to be edited later. It shouldn't mean forcing yourself to write something for the sake of having a rule-oriented opening.

Maybe I'm an optimist, but I think that rules exist in writing and art not to limit you, but you help you reach a place where you're not limiting yourself, where you can readily split your ribcage open and bleed your beating heart over the page.
  
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