1. M.J.Rahman
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    M.J.Rahman Member

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    Craft of Writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by M.J.Rahman, Feb 19, 2014.

    I wanted to share with you a link to a blog I recently started on the craft of writing.
    I'm not selling any books on writing, nor do I think they help. I just spent three years writing and editing two novels (250,000 words worth of work) and learning. So, now that I'm taking a break, I wanted to share my massive OneNote file full of all my self-teachings and thoughts.

    I will be focusing entirely on craft; so, there will be no information on getting you motivated to write; there are tons of those blogs out there with lots of shiny kindle books for you to buy.

    I simply wanted to share my thoughts on technique, and not ones I ingeniously discovered, but ones I found inside the works of all the writers I, along with millions, have admired.

    So, if you like lots of examples and the thinking process of a writer as he goes about writing, then you will have a good time.

    And just to be clear, this is not out of the goodness of my heart, I too hope to learn as I go along, both on my own, and from you. The blog is new, but I've already begun posting several lessons/ruminations, and will continue until I exhaust my stack of digital notes.

    Writer In Perpetual Training:
    http://writerinprepetualtraining.wordpress.com/
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    an odd way to endear yourself to the members!

    in any case, before touting your website, you might want to check out the rules 'n regs governing this site... and perhaps introduce yourself in the introductions section first, then establish yourself as a helpful member, before expecting those who've been here a while to go off-site to see your 'massive' file...

    that said, welcome to the forums!

    love and hugs, maia
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Just so I understand, books on writing don't help, but your accumulated "self-teachings and thoughts" do?
     
  4. M.J.Rahman
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    M.J.Rahman Member

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    Yep. No book on writing out there breaks down sentences or describes to you every different method of description, narration, exposition, or projection of consciousness. They are either grammatical (Quirk), linguistic (Chomsky), stylistic (Tufte: Artful Syntax), or philosophical (exe: David Lodge or Booth or Stephen King or books like On Writing Well).

    I've yet to come across any book that breaks down the work. After reading all the different offerings, it became clear that the only way to actually grasp command of the craft is to sit down, read, find patterns, compare, and come up with our own opinions of what were the underlying reasoning behind the choices the authors made.

    If it sounded like I was making my blog some sort of higher authority on writing, I apologize. It isn't. It's my work that I've done, hours and hours, and instead of hitting the delete button, I decided to share it. Not everyone can live on a university campus with a hundred thousand book library at their disposal, nor the time to do the hours of active reading.

    I don't have the benefits of having many writer friends in my social group (i'm a computer engineering student and the sort of writing we do is rather bleak), so it would be helpful to me to get people to bounce ideas off of.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I would agree with this, except for your claim that it is the "only way". My own opinion is that each writer has individual learning styles as well as individual writing styles, and that both impact the process of learning writing. There have been some extensive discussions on these forums about what methods work best, and after participating in them I came to the conclusion that what works for one writer will not necessarily work for another because of the differences I mentioned. What's more, even if I follow your method, I may come to different conclusions, because my goals in writing may well differ from yours, the works I've studied may differ from the ones you studied, and a particular technique with which you are comfortable may just not work for me.

    I appreciate you sharing the fruits of your labors.
     
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  6. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    And none ever will, so let's declare that straw man dead.
    Or structural -- where any writer, fiction or nonfiction, had better know what he is about.
     
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  7. M.J.Rahman
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    M.J.Rahman Member

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    That is where I disagree. I'm not exploring how to write a certain style of genre. If you looked at my blog so far, you'd see that I've covered topics like Clusters and Phrases and the structural methods of description writing. All of which is independent of what you want to write. It is simply the tools of the English language. The Absolute construction is the same in erotica as it is in magical realism, the same holds true for description by attribute or detail or comparison.

    As I said, it isn't about philosophy of how to write, simply the deconstruction of the work put forth by great writers (great as in having a long career and extensive and consistent body of work). Willa Cather uses the same sentence style that Don Delillo uses, but one dwells into the metaphysical world by employing lots of successive noun clusters and backtracking absolutes, while Cather writes raw Frontier fiction with heavy verb clusters and verbals. The tools are the same, the frequency in use is what sets them apart.

    As for the poster bringing up structural, well, after you read enough body of fiction, you realize how utterly pointless structure is; as Neil Gaiman once said, he'd rather not know the Hero's journey or act structure or any other. I tend to agree. Structure goes out the window the moment you discover a writer whose work resonates with you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  8. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    You don't have the foggiest idea what George Gopen means by structure.
     
  9. M.J.Rahman
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    M.J.Rahman Member

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    Actually, I do. I just didn't click that link and assumed you meant structure as in you know, Russian formalist and all the other connotations with that word. I've read Gopen, and I've gone beyond and read pretty extensively on affective lexicon and mimesis and emotional arousal. It just isn't all that important. It is only important if you are writing Genre, because in there, the readers have a premeditated quota of expected emotional arousal. They buy a book already being prepared for the emotions they will feel, and any deviation is met with severe condemnation. But all of that is irrelevant to learning the craft of writing. You need to learn how to swim before you dive after the sunken treasure.
     
  10. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    I think you're a bullshit artist.
     
  11. M.J.Rahman
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    M.J.Rahman Member

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    Lol. What exactly do I have to gain from bullshiting? Good God. I am simply letting people on this board know that there is relevant information available to them. So, why don't you read my blog, come back, and then tell me if you found me to be a charlatan.
     
  12. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    I did.
    I did.
     
  13. M.J.Rahman
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    M.J.Rahman Member

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    Why don't you offer counter information to the stuff on my blog?
     
  14. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    I looked over the articles. My personal opinion is that you're focused on words and description and ignoring the actual craft of writing for the printed word. And, you've not presented any of your own writing to show what such advice looks like in practice.

    So...you've yet to convince an editor to offer a contract, yet you presume to tell people how to write based on your own personal analysis? You offer your opinions as being worthwhile, while at the same time being unable to demonstrate that your advice yields prose a reader will seek out? I'll admit to being confused as to why you feel someone working to improve their work would benefit from what you say.

    After all, the measure of any advice lies in how well it works for the one giving it.
     
  15. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    Sorry, but I have a sock drawer that needs rearranging. Your blog is way down my priority list from there.
     
  16. M.J.Rahman
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    M.J.Rahman Member

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    Again, the blog has been up for two days! Lol. I'm building one post at a time, incrementally. And I'm not posting my own work because I'm showing the techniques used by proven writers, so, why would I not use them myself.

    If you notice, in the two days, I've built up the 8 different constructions in the english language, and now I'm applying each of them to description. I will do the same to for narration and the other rhetorical modes of fiction.

    I'm not presuming anything. I'm showing people how the language functions and how the different constructions are used. As for my lack of a contract, I don't think writing has anything to do with the market. Would you as a publisher buy a 150,000 word manuscript about a contemporary urban fantasy with a nihilist main character who shits on Gods, country, and everything else know to man as he eats chocolate and contemplates how utterly useless it all is? Nope. You know why I wrote it? Because I liked his cadence. He spoke and I wrote, and it was a blast. I'd give anything to write like that again, and I am going to write like that again. Lol. Please, don't come at me with lack of sales. Joyce wandered for a decade peddling his manuscript. Yeah.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  17. M.J.Rahman
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    M.J.Rahman Member

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    Yeah, exactly.
    Oh, and I'll just go on and show you why I'm not just making shit up as you claimed. Here is a bit of the reserach I've done on affective lexicon and reader-expecations:

    AFFECTIVE LEXICON:
    When is a feeling an emotion?
    Some criteria must be established for separating emotional from non-emotional feelings.

    For example:
    • it does not seem unreasonable to question the status of the following terms:
      • sleepy, tired, and relaxed
      • puzzled, curious, and receptive
      • boredom, impatience, and inspiration
      • luckiness, conflict, and rectitude
    • Do these words refer to emotions?
    The term affective to refer to the positive or negative evaluation, or valence, inherent in the meaning of a term.

    The phrase affective lexicon to refer to that subset of words in a language that are about affect or affective conditions.

    Many of the words in the affective lexicon refer to emotions.
    Affect is being treated as a more general concept than is emotion:
    • All emotions are affective, but not all affective conditions are emotions.
    The first main distinction is between words that refer to
    • External Conditions.
      • Words that do not refer directly to experiences of the person of whom they are predicated.
        • Two kinds of External Conditions can be distinguished
          • Subjective Evaluations such as
            • sexy, peculiar, and weird
          • Objective Descriptions such as
            • alone, abandoned, and welcome.
    • The reason called External Conditions is that when one describes a person as
      • sexy, or as abandoned
    • one is not referring directly to any particular experience of that person.
    and those that refer to
    • Internal Conditions
      • Words that refer to conditions of the person of whom the term is predicated. These are typically, but not exclusively, experienced states.
        • Nonmental Conditions
          • include only Physical and Bodily States, referred to by terms such as aroused, sleepy, and well.
        • Mental Conditions
          • give rise to five categories, depending on which of three major meaning components,
            • affect
            • behaviour
            • and cognition
          • are referentially focal.
            • a referentially focal meaning, component is one that constitutes a predominant part of the reference of a term rather than something that is merely implicated in its meaning
          • Of the categories for which affect is focal
            • Affective Statesin which only affect is focal. Such terms as
              • happy, on-edge, dejected, and learning
          • Of the category for which both affect and behaviour are focal.
            • Affective-Behavioural Conditions to accommodate terms such as
              • cheerful, grouchy, and mournful
          • Of the category for which both affect and cognition are focal
            • Affective-Cognitive Conditions. Such terms as
              • encouraged, malice, despair, and worried.
          • The two remaining are those for which affect is not focal
            • Cognitive Conditions category. Such terms as
              • certain, prejudiced, bewildered, and surprised
            • Cognitive-Behavioural Conditions for which both cognition and behaviour are focal
              • careful, greedy, and virtuous.

    We hypothesized that the best examples of emotion words :
    • ones that refer to
      • internal (as opposed to external)conditions,
    • those that refer to
      • mental (as opposed to physical)conditions,
    • and those that have a significant focus on
      • affect in the sense just described
    Of the 22 verbs with the highest rating in the present participle form

    • 18 were non-causatives.
      • Of these 18
        • 17 appeared originally in one of the affect-focal groups in the taxonomy
          • the affect-focal groups are perceived to contain the best examples of emotions
        • These 17 verbs are
          • admire
          • appreciate
          • desire
          • enjoy
          • grieve
          • hate
          • love
          • resent
          • adore
          • despise
          • detest
          • disapprove-of
          • dislike
          • forgive
          • like
          • Loathe
          • want
    • Only 4 (of the first 22) were causative
      • cheer
      • inspire
      • terrify
      • Excite
     
  18. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    @M.J.Rahman, I read through some of the entries, and I appreciate what you're trying to go for. But you need to go more in depth. Right now you're just listing out various methods. You need to talk about why using such-and-such a method is effective.
     
  19. M.J.Rahman
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    M.J.Rahman Member

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    From entry # 2:
    All of your eager to improve your descriptive-narrative writing (which should be any aspiring fiction writer) just hold; we are moving steady through the dark forest, trying our best to avoid Mr. Delillo’s dark magic from haunting our dreams.

    From entry #1:
    There was a reason Plato despised the great orators, and warned against their evil ability to string together words capable of manipulating the heart. Well, hopefully, I will get close to learning that piece of dark magic haunting the forest, and you, you free-loaders lounging in your chairs eating ice cream, you can hop along for the ride :).

    From entry #7:
    And if you were keeping a count on that Hemingway example, yes, there are five Absolute constructions in that sentence; and if you were thinking that that is because Absolutes are a match made in Heaven for descriptive-narration, you would be correct. But more on that later.

    ----------

    I keep asking you to be patient. Once you see have an overview of all the different structures, then we can go into their applications, and see the choices the authors made, and see what happens when we substitute another construction for that choice.
     
  20. M.J.Rahman
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    M.J.Rahman Member

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    For you, and those wanting a more subjective analysis of a piece of work, I've posted one such example. It's entry #12. I hope you found it helpful, and if you didn't, well, you can always come back and denounce me as a bullshiter.
     
  21. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Nonsense. You're showing excerpts from various stories and presuming to know why those lines were included. But you are not including the words of those authors speaking about the process, you're only showing the product, and giving your personal opinion. But what's your qualification for making that analysis? Apparently, that you're an engineering student.

    And given that you show nothing of your own writing, and admit that it was both rejected and that you took no meaningful steps to correct that, where's the demonstration that what you say matters does?

    No you're not. You're talking about how you think it was used. And given that after using those theories to construct your own novel it was rejected. So which of the points you state so assuredly as being accurate caused the rejection? Unless you can identify it with some level of confidence, demonstrably, you're giving some bad advice. We just don't know which of it is and which isn't.

    So you wrote it to pleasure yourself? Unfortunately when doing that we have the kindest of critics. And in any case that's a cop out. You're making excuses why it wasn't accepted, not giving reasons. Unless and until you can sell what you write you can only say, "I think this is true," unless you're quoting an authority on the subject.

    Michaelangelo did not have a college degree, nor did Leonardo da Vinci. Thomas Edison didn't. Neither did Mark Twain (though he was granted honorary degrees in later life.) All of these people were professionals. None of them were experts. Get your education from professionals, and always avoid experts.” ~ Holly Lisle
    Ahh... the old, "So-and-so had a problem selling a first story and he was a genius. I was unable to sell my story. Therefore I am the same as So-and-so." If only.

    Here's the deal. Forget whether your novel sold or didn't sell. Post a thousand words in the workshop, here. Then you'll see if you're writing on a professional level. And your readers will see if they want to take advice from you.

    But all that aside, you're making the basic mistake of believing you can argue someone into liking your work. You can't. Your reader, be that for fiction or nonfiction, is the customer, and their opinion is final. If they don't get the message you intended it's your fault, because it's the reader and what your words mean to that reader. Your intent is irrelevant.

    Moderator: I suspect that this thread has outlived its usefulness.
     
  22. M.J.Rahman
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    M.J.Rahman Member

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    Lol. My writing is available to anyone who wants to sample! Just click on the link to amazon and take a peak. It's not that difficult.

    I'm not one to wallow and sit around crying over my manuscript. I didn't even bother sending out my second one. I self-published. It's out there and you can read it any time you want. Just open it, and start reading. It's free to look inside.

    And as for not posting my own work; you have clearly dismissed me before even waiting more than a day of my blog because I don't have a contract. No one wants to follow the techniques of a no name, and they are not even techniques, they are the inherent built up mechanism of our language. If you don't want to learn that, it's fine.

    I don't understand the mentality of this forum. I'm not selling you anything, yet some of you are acting as if I'm conning you out of money.

    It's a free blog.
    It's free.
    Read, take what you find useful, discard what you don't.
    It's free.
     
  23. eleutheria
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    eleutheria Member

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    So because you're not selling it we should believe it? Uh, no. People have taken you to task over the quality of your attempts to help, and yes, that is up for discussion. No one should take advice to heart before looking at it critically.

    And yes, credits do matter. I wouldn't go to a doctor who hadn't been to medical school. Sheer talent can overcome that, but ... I don't see that in your blog.
     
  24. M.J.Rahman
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    M.J.Rahman Member

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    That is fair. I have no problem with that. And I never asked to be believed. I came, posted a link, wrote an abstract that stated my intentions for the blog, and that was it. From there, I think people assumed I was selling a product or leading people to a portal where they would be forced to buy something. It isn't.

    And as the blog says, Writer in Perpetual Training. I've been at this for three years, and it would be silly of me to claim any mastery. I happened to have seen improvements in my work from when I first wrote, and wanted to offer help to those who were on a similar path.

    I made no claims that you would somehow get published if you come to my blog. I simply said you'd become a better writer. I still believe that.
     
  25. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I think any knowledge gained is worth sharing. Two thousand ways to not make a lightbulb and all that jazz.
     
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