1. BillyxRansom

    BillyxRansom Active Member

    Jun 3, 2008
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    Getting help to shape up the prose?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BillyxRansom, Feb 17, 2009.

    A lot of times my writing feels slightly flat. It falls short of being able to paint an accurate picture that makes sense and says what I want the scene to say. It's usually the minute details of a particular aspect, not so much mood or atmosphere. I can manage that just fine (I think, although that, along with other aspects, tends to run the risk of suffering when I start to think about the fact that I feel I lack pretty densely in the details).

    Should I get some friend(s) to critique me or give me ideas on how to make a scene come alive just a little more? Or even to tell me when a scene really can't be drawn out or exploited much more before it becomes trite, lifeless exposition, or worse, purple prose?

    Or should I just let it go and try to find that within myself?

    Maybe I just need a dictionary on hand at all hours of every single day ever in my writing endeavors.
  2. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Once you've gotten past problems with writing mechanics - SPaG, word usage, intrusive word repetition, rambling sentences, etc. - most non-writing friends will probably be less than helpful. If you're lucky enough to have some exceptions among your friends, you may be able to go farther with theit help.

    At some point, you'll have to become the critic for your own work. Yes, you will be able to use writing communities like this one to pick out writing aspects you never thought to look for, or you may find it hard to examine your own work as objectively, but you;ll still have to continue to educate yourself to raise te self-reviewing bar.

    Try to find other people's writing that handles similar scenes to yours. Does their scene work better? What is different about how they handle their scene?

    Dictionaries help. So does a thesaurus, althougn they present a danger of making the writing worse if you don't thoroughly understand the alternate word choices. Style guides like Strunk and White can most assuredly help. Occasionally, you may even find a book on writing that does more good than harm, but you need a pretty sharp eye to distinguish between what is a good suggestion, what is not, and when to ignore a good suggestion anyway (I would NEVER recommend one to a new writer).

    A lot of it comes down to the same thing as in any other profession. You have to dedicate yourself to endless study and continual improvement. Look for writers whose work is unquestionably better than yours, and learn from them. At the same time, pay attention to where their writing falls face flat in the dust, too. Not only can you learn from their mistakes, you can feel a little less discouraged when you see that they blunder too at times.

    I don't think the size of te vocabulary is usually the problem. I see many more problems with vocabularies that are large but imperfectly used. The dictionary helps there, but even the dictionary doesn't give enough context for you pick up on the fine shades of meaning for a particular word. There really is no substitute for lots of reading, and reading in multiple genres from multiple authors.

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