1. SMTM
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    SMTM Member

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    How do you know if its good?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SMTM, Jan 22, 2008.

    How do you know if what your writing is good? After a certain point I've read over the same stuff I've written bout ten times and I almost read it without reading it straight from my memory. Its close to 5k words at this stage and I might be able to write it from memory right now. Its hard to know if its exciting or well written anymore not that I ever knew. And whenever I give it to someone for reviewing they just shrug or say its okay or its just good and one dude even said it was sub par which was kinda funny but doesnt help for blank.

    So, what do you think of it? Um yeah, its kinda... i dont know?... good? No, sub par but okay. Okay, but what do you think of it then?
     
  2. SMTM
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    SMTM Member

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    If someone with experience can really help me know where I stand I will post an excerpt or the first couple pages of what I got.
     
  3. mercy
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    mercy Senior Member

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    Post your work in the review room. Believe me you will get honest answers here.
     
  4. SMTM
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    SMTM Member

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    dont think Im allowed to post in the review forum
     
  5. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    You need to review two pieces from other members for every piece of your own. If you want to get some of you stuff here go to the review room and try and give helpful advice or support to another member. Do it twice and you'll be free to post one of your own pieces. Its a system that got put in to encourage more reviews.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    One advantage of posting a New User Introduction post is that you receive advice on how to use the site. :)
     
  7. SMTM
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    SMTM Member

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    Okay. Im kinda picky when it comes to what I like to read and Im not much of a writer unless Im missing something but ill give reviewing someones work a shot.
     
  8. Sophronia
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    Sophronia Member

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    If it's good or not comes down to what the writer thinks. If you think it's good, then it is, even when others may think it isn't. (I'm not saying it is bad; I haven't read any of your work yet heh) If you keep writing aka practicing writing you'll find yourself getting better and better at it.
     
  9. Bluemouth
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    Bluemouth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, that's the source of most problems. When the writer thinks their work is good they're less likely to take on board criticisms. In most circumstances, the work is in fact quite poor and would greatly benefit from other opinions.

    It's good to have confidence in your work, but if you follow the mentality: 'If I think it's good then it is, no matter what anyone else thinks' - then expect yourself to fall in a pit.

    SMTM, if you post your work, I'll give it an honest critique.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    short of getting someone knowledgeable to review your work, the best way to tell if it's good or not is to compare a page of yours to one of a similar type story by one of the acknowledged best writers in that field... and by 'best' i don't mean the most popular, because too many of those are not really good writers, they just sell a lot of books, since the folks who like the stories they tell can't tell good writing from not-so...

    if you can't or don't want to post an excerpt here, you can send one to me and i'll let you know if it's marketable, or needs work... and, if the latter, how much and what kind...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  11. Sophronia
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    Sophronia Member

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    I agree with Bluemouth: a good writer, artist, or whoever will take critique and use it to their advantage and improve their work based on the critique. I've also been told that family members or friends probably aren't the best critiques around because they don't want you to feel bad by giving you an honest opinion. It definitely wouldn't be bad to get feedback from this forum.
     
  12. andycerrone
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    andycerrone Member

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    How much do you know about writing? This will ultimately help you critique your own work the most. Understanding what to look for that will signify poor writing (I.E. redundancy of vocabulary, monotony, cliche, etc.) will help you pick apart your writing. Don't look for what you DO like, but rather what you don't. Be your worst critic and if you satisfy yourself at that point, then throw it in the lion's nest and see what the folks say about it. Just do NOT expect to hear good things; I don't mean it won't be good, but rather it will rather become more malleable and less personal.
     
  13. Stinger
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    Stinger Senior Member

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    Quoting from Stephen King: "If a good writer enjoys his work, readers will enjoy it too."

    I think writers are like parents: Work is their child, and they can't really judge them. They love them like parents and yet they don't see the work itself, they only see their original wishes about the child.

    And I promise you no great review from this forum. Majority are honest but too soft.
     
  14. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    If you take a step back, and see the forest, not the tree.
     
  15. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    I heartily disagree with just about everything there.

    1.) Writing isn't good via telepathy or wishful thinking. Even though writing is certainly subjective, one person's belief (most of all the writer's) stands for little. There's a distinction between what you think is good and what is good. The former is willy-nilly dependent on individual bias and opinion, the latter is based on some kind of consensus reached by knowledgeable readers. The individual reviewer can only try his/her best to understand what makes writing good or bad, they can harness the consensus and, to some extent, represent it by emulation. This leads directly into my next point.

    2.) Practicing writing helps--but doesn't help much. Reading is the most important and quickest way to improve your writing. The more you read of good writing, the easier it will be for you to produce good writing. This is a fact, and it's obvious why: If you truly examine the act of writing and the way the human brain works, you'll realize that we're really just organizing other people's thoughts (even the very words we use are others' as well--they gain meaning from popular use). The larger your library of other thoughts, the better the product of their synthesis will be.

    In summary: READ! It's the best thing you can do for your writing. It will help you in all aspects of the art, including grammar and developing plot and characters.
     
  16. Lengo
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    Lengo Member

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    This is difficult for me to answer. I'm no expert, and my education is old and brittle. I need to brush up on the basics. But perhaps I can help a little.

    There a few things most educators agree makes good writing. Here is a short list of things I can remember.

    1. Write for a specific audience. Use grammar and vocabulary that your audience can easily understand. For example, newspaper articles commonly write for readers with an 8th grade education. The articles are written in mostly simple sentences, using a vocabulary that 8th graders won't need a dictionary to read. Clearness (lucidity) is paramount.

    2. Write with brevity. Keeping it brief will attract more readers and make your writing easier to digest. If an work is unnecessarily long, your readers will pick up on that. Generally, briefer is better, but this is not a hard and fast rule.

    3. Write about subjects your target audience is interested in. You're not going to see "How to Decorate with Lace Curtains" in Popular Mechanics. Likewise, "Dressing Barbie for Success" won't go over well in Boy's Life, a magazine for Boy Scouts.

    4. Write descriptively. Use adjectives and adverbs that make your sentences illustrative and interesting, and use the correct ones. You can achieve brevity this way, and pack more into a few sentences by using the most effective descriptive words. Make every sentence count. Only reiterate a thought to create emphasis on the important point of the paragraph. Don't elaborate unless you're emphasizing the main idea.

    Wrting descriptively also involves using connotations that your audience can draw meaning from, without you having to lengthen the sentence or paragraph that the sentence resides in. For example, using the word ignorant instead of uneducated, draws the reader to a concept without you having to illustrate the concept. A connotation can replace a lengthy simile or a metaphor that might confuse your reader.

    Avoid using too many similes when writing. Seeing the words "like" and "as" too often, will distract your reader. Instead choose better adjectives and adverbs or words with connotations that will do the job better and more succinctly. Similes are good, but overuse of them will distract your reader, and cause your writing to have less impact.

    Alliteration is a good tool for keeping the reader's attention and keeping him entertained. For example, rouse your reader. This is far better than inspire your reader. It sounds better, therefore it works better. It rolls off the tongue, and there is some delight in it's poetry.

    Write with force. Avoid the word "seemed" and phrases such as "as if". Put power in your writing by eliminating these and other similar things.

    Use meter effectively. Use a short sentence, then a moderately long one that includes one comma, then another sentence that continues the flow. Meter has mood! Mix up your sentences effectively, to draw emphasis to dreary melancholy, or swift action, or anxiety, by mixing the meter in a way that is similar to the mood or action you want in your paragraph. Good meter adds to a paragraph. Poor use of meter will detract from one.

    5. Above all, avoid triteness. "The golden sun" is so commonly used, it is no longer entertaining. "The mustard sun" has more meaning than "the mustard colored sun". "His sheepish grin" is descriptive and illustrative, but if you can find something that is less trite, your words will have more impact and be more entertaining for your readers. Triteness is THE most common mistake by new writers. Why? Because they haven't read enough, and they repeat what has already been said before. Read more. Write newness -- the word 'Novel' means new. However, sometimes it's necessary, and there's no way around it. So be on gaurd for it. This way, you're more likely to avoid it. If you find yourself thinking "this is trite", then most likely it is. If you suspect it, change it.

    6. Punctuation; punctuation; punctuation! This is a personal peeve of mine! I find nothing more distracting than poor punctuation. It shows illiteracy when someone uses '.....' when a double dash is the right way. Don't use a comma when a semi-colon is correct. Don't overuse the exclamation mark! Illiminate all ambiguity by using correct punctuation. A complete lack of punctuation is terribly upsetting. Just because T.S. Elliot never used captitalization, doesn't give the right to avoid punctuation and call the lack of it poetical. It's just plain lazy. It's ignorant. To me, improper punctuation is downright villanous! It makes reading difficult. If you need help with this, or are even uncertain about it, go read up on it! Get educated! Use punctuation correctly! Either that, or give up writing now.

    One last thing -- try to think outside the box. Look at the world in a new light. Don't follow the norm. All great writers have broken the rules. Their perceptions lead the reader to new conceptions. If your reader learns something new about how to view the world around us, then your writing is good. Erm... that is, if it's not schizophrenic. Don't break too radically, or people will think you a crack pot or worse yet, a crack head! Stay reasonable and remain focused. Lead your readers to a new concept, and educate. This is, ultimately, the goal of writing. Good style is not enough. You need a message. Have one before you get started with your pen.

    I hope this helps a little, and I hope so for selfish reasons. I see bad style used all over the Net. It can be found in message boards and blogs, and MySpace and other social networking sites. All to frequently, I think I'm surrounded by idiots or lazy dolts that care little about improving themselves and/or other people's image of them. I can tolerate these people, but I don't like them. Seeing that some people are interested in writing better is encouraging. I can only hope that I helped a little.

    Keep at it! Write daily. Practice. Read what's known to be good. You'll gain confidence, and that too, is a good style element.
     
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  17. Bittergrace
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    Bittergrace Member

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    Whenever someone asks me this I always quote W.S. Merwin's poem Berryman at them, mostly this passage:

    "I had hardly begun to read
    I asked how can you ever be sure
    that what you write is really
    any good at all and he said you can't

    you can't you can never be sure
    you die without knowing
    whether anything you wrote was any good
    if you have to be sure don't write"
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    to go a bit further... i always say that the only thing we humans can ever really be sure of, is that we can never be sure of anything!
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Are you sure? ;)
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup!... i'm 100% sure that we can't ever be 100% sure... ;-)
     
  21. Lengo
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    Lengo Member

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    Well then how.... oh nevermind! :D

    I think was Benjamin Franklin that said the only things you can be sure of are death and taxes, and I regret that they don't come in that order. :)
     
  22. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    SMTM,

    A good bit of decent advice has been given in this string. I think that in the end, one way to tell is to simply push ahead, and finish the project. And then see if you can get it published. If you can find a reputable publisher to accept the work, that says one thing about it's quality--the quality of the writing (still subjective as it is the editor or editorial team that made a decision based on their preferences and what they think their readership will like or are looking for). Then, once it is out there, what does the general public think of it? Do they like it...back to your original question--Do they think it's good?

    Terry
     

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