1. MarcG
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    MarcG Contributing Member

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    How to improve my writing..?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MarcG, Feb 25, 2008.

    I'm at a loss. I know where many of the problems with my writing lie, but I am unable to fix them. And even then, it feels like anything I see wrong is something that many other people enjoy, and vice-versa. But then, I realize there is no sure-fire way to find out what to change, because everyone has their own preferences in writing. And it doesn't really help that I recieve next to no reviews suggesting style changes! :p

    It seems like my biggest problem is description; I make it dull, rather sparse, and uninteresting, while dialogue seems to be my strong point. At the same time, I have no idea how to improve and it just seems like every time I try, I fail. It feels like I am missing some major element, something key to good writing... Any suggestions on what I can do/try would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    MarcG,

    The best way to improve in the area of weakness you've identified in your writing (weakness) is to read.

    Not just read, but read with a purpose. Preferably several novels by different authors, and probably in the POV you prefer to write in is best. Novels you really enjoy and have read before is handy. First, you won't get caught up in what is coming as opposed to how the writer is accomplishing their description. Second, it'll be slow at times doing this, and maybe take reviewing a couple of times...so better to do it with something you like than something that you just pulled off the shelf because.

    As far as purpose...read and note how it was done. Even jot down ideas and specific examples to illustrate, so when you go back it'll make sense. Look for patters, word choice, style. Where do the authors fit it in/place it. What methods are used? Not nly where does it occur in the narrative and dialogue, but when.

    Then try the description methods they used. Try to mimic the styles at first, then begin to apply your own voice, method, placement and word choice, etc.

    It'll take time and it won't happen at once. Maybe description will never be your strongest point, but if you're at least competent at it, it will not detract from your writing, especially in other areas...and may come to complement them.

    Really, this is a method that I think can be applied to many other areas of writing, such as dialogue, action, characterization, etc.

    Good luck and hang in there.

    Terry
     
  3. (Mark)
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    (Mark) Contributing Member

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    There are a couple of different ways you can improve your writing. The first is to read constantly. The more you read, the better writer you become. You can't just read anything however, you have to read good writing. For me, the latest New York Times bestseller doesn't cut it. Try the classics. For example, if you're having trouble describing characters, try F Scott Fitzgerald. He's a master at that.

    The other big part of becoming a better writer is writing more. By constantly writing short stories, you will find that you have more confidence in yourself as a writer. I don't recommend tackling longer projects until you have a firm base in short story writing. This will only lead to getting two chapters in before you run out of steam. Writing a longer work is not easy, and requires dedication and absolute belief in oneself to succeed. You can get this by considerable amounts of practice.

    A good way to improve your descriptive writing is to only write about what you know and see around you. I believe that the very best of writers usually only write what they actually know or have experienced. Elegant wording doesn't come as easy when you only have a picture in your mind to go off of.
     
  4. EagleSpirit
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    EagleSpirit New Member

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    You could also try the review section on this forum. And by that I mean, read other peoples' work, cretique it yourself, and then see what others have to say... maybe somethings they say about the person's work will help you with your own and help you see things differently. But research into what you are writing about and practice are always key elements to becoming good at what you want to be good at.

    Darren
     
  5. MarcG
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    MarcG Contributing Member

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    Hmm... thanks for the suggestions. I try constantly to read; if I like a certain aspect of the author's writing, I'll focus especially on it. I'll see if I can't look at other little phrases and wordings and the like, and see how 'the masters' do it. :p

    I was planning on re-reading Crime and Punishment anyways, so I suppose that would be a good start.

    I had started a story last night; I decided to rewrite it entirely, focusing on what I found lacking in my writing. I like it so far - maybe that's just what I needed to do. Or, when the afterglow fades, I'll see that it's just as bad as the others. But hey, that's life! :)
     
  6. floydianslip6
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    floydianslip6 Member

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    Well there are any number of writing exercises you can do to increase your descriptive abilities and perception of detail. I would say the best may be to just find a new space and explore it physically.

    Later write a description, go back to that place and re-read your description for the first time there. See if you captured the MOOD of the scene with the details you chose. If not, try again.

    Though I would advise focusing on your strong points... try writing a screen play, or work completely driven by dialog. Experiment.
     
  7. Tripleeagle
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    Tripleeagle New Member

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    Get friends and family to read it as well ^^
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i counsel all new writers to never let anyone they're related to or sleeping with read their work... reason is, they most likely won't get the truth, or a knowledgeable critiique... you need to have feedback from neutral parties, not those who love you...
     
  9. -NM-
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    Read ;)

    Read, read and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on. Every different genre, but many different authors. Have a look at their styles, note things that you like, things that you don't like, and use that to adapt your own style.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Maia: Generally true, but there are exceptions. My mother and my son are both creative in their own right, and know the value of critical feedback. I've gotten some excellent feedback from both of them, and I am just as honest when I provide feedback on my mother's paintings or my son's game designs.

    NM: Reading is important, but so is just writing, writing, and more writing, even though most of it may be junk. Indeed, much of it WILL be junk, but over time you will be able to raise the bar as to what you consider beneath your abilities, as your writing improves.
     
  11. -NM-
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    Indeed it is. I have written many short stories to simply try different things out and to just keep in the habit of writing so i don't stagnate. So that is another thing you could do, write a few short stories and use them to develop your style before you tackle a big project, and there's no harm in writing more of them during your project to try new things out as well ;-)
     

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