1. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Lets Talk - Part 1

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ungood, Jul 28, 2008.

    Communication in general has always been a tricky thing to deal with. As we convey our ideas and thoughts into a exchangeable medium like writing there is bound to be some level of error in translation.

    No I am not talking about translating from one language to another, at least not in this post, I am talking about the translating that happens between people.

    I hope to talk about many parts of communication, but in this Opening post I am only going to talk about the person writing and then I hope to work on other aspects.

    For now lets look at the first part of communication.

    There many parts to a story or even an exchange however the primary parts are not what we might assume.

    The First Part is:

    What WE think we have Said. Mainly this the message we are trying to convey to someone else by what ever means necessary. Be it written words, drawings, body language, music, you pretty much name it and we can use it to communicate.

    But the integral word here is "Trying" to say.

    The Second Part is of course:

    What was actually said.

    Now, the question for all of you is how often does it happen when what you have said does not effectively reflect what you had tried to say.

    Or to put it another way, how many of you when re-reading or proof reading your own stories(other medium) and discovered that what you said was not how you "intended it".
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    When writing fiction, I've found that one can be clear in descriptions of characters, events, motivations, actions, responses, etc., yet in the end, the individual experiences of the readers will invariably shade (or influence) how they interpret a character's actions/motivations/views, etc.

    Throughout a story, each of these minor variations can culminate in a bit of a different veiw of why something happened (on rare occasion what I would interpret quite radical), or why a character did what they did. At least that is the experience I've had with the few works of fiction I've had published. Honestly, it is a rewarding and interesting venture getting emails from readers you've never crossed paths with, and reading their response to a story--postive, negative, or any mixture inbetween.

    One of the best measures I've found is when crit partners, or readers read a work and comment, lending their thougths and insight. But I think if the readers are famialiar with the writer, that tends to influence their reading a bit, as they may adjust their insight into characters and events based on the writer.

    With that in mind, it is important for a writer to be sure of the wording, sequence, actions, thoughts, character responses, etc. are exactly as he intend them to be. This often takes outside input, as a writer can be too close to the story. A second method is to put the work down or away for a bit, and come back to it. The writer will read it with more clarity, if not objectivity, and be able to weed out the "this is what I mean to say/write, but this is what I actually said/wrote" situations.

    I think the best method is for the writer to put a work away for a while, go back and revise where needed, and then allow other trusted first readers to give it a look and offer opinions. It will provide more focused and useful responses of first readers.

    In the end, I do not think a writer can effectively micromanage reader views, assumptions, or responses to a piece through precise wording or phrasing (or sequences there of). That doesn't mean they (the readers) are wrong, or the writer did a poor job. The readers just came away with a different experience. If the readers enjoyed the story, then it doesn't matter (keeping in mind a writer can never satisfy every reader). This assumes that there was not a goal or motivation writing the fictional piece.

    With nonfiction, I think it is a bit different, but based on the last restatement:
    , I think fiction was the focus of the topic.

    Just one opinion to add to the mix.

    Terry
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As a corollary to this, never, ever give first readers a prview of your intended meaning. Let them interpret it their own way, and if they perceive it an entirely different way, that itself is information beyond price.

    I recently read a short story and interpreted it in a completely different way than how the author planned it, right down to the level of what events actually took place. Now maybe the author would actually welcome that kind of ambiguity, like the pleasure of creating an optical illusion like the two faces/one vase foreground/background illusion. But it's also possible, or even likely, that the author wants the story to be read as it was written. In that case, the author might want to add more clues to nudge the reader in the intended direction.

    Very interesting thread, Ungood. The abstract theory of communication is of great fascination to me, and has been way back to my first exposure to AI and perception.
     
  4. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    great thread, sensei ungood. i hope to catch more of these little workshops to get better focused on what needs to be done.

    almost always as i'm writing i feel a battle of urges- one to get the material down quickly before the guiding thought fades and another to capture as much precision as possible before the individual details fade. one additional player to contend with is that of the word craftsman who has constant little ideas about how to render the words and phrasing pleasingly. (damn his interfering hide)

    altho i've worked out kind of a compromise between these contending forces, the balance can slip, making writing a rather topsy-turvy enterprise. overall the process of dealing with these forces is not terribly frustrating but one is conscious very often that ideas, insights and memories are continually decaying (or lost) during the writing process simply because one can't capture each and every one in their full glory.

    possibly the most satisfying part of the writing process for me are the second and third passes when i have a chance to clean up, rearrange or greatly improve the original work. altho what i intended to say is never fully realised, it's during these later passes that i observe dramatic improvement in terms of what the audience can take away from the work.

    on a side-note, another very satisfying aspect of revision is the audacious murdering of my children, ie the deletion of material. this was originally a very hard thing to do because of the egoistic and parental instinct, so to speak, but with time came the realisation that sleek and efficient is 90% of the time the correct way to lean. or something like that.
     
  5. Rawiya
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    Rawiya Member

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    For the purposes of communication, there are actually three parts:

    1. What the Speaker thinks they said
    2. What the Speaker actually said

    but also,

    3. What the Hearer actually heard

    H can always have an interpretation that is completely different from what S actually uttered and what S intended to utter. I think that this ties in heavily with what Cogito was saying about reading a short story and getting something out of it that the author didn't intend at all.

    Anyways, to answer the OPs question, it happens more than I care to admit, though more often when I'm speaking. When it comes to writing, you actually have the time to review and edit what you're trying to communicate, its much easier to get across what you're trying to say. In my opinion, that's way everybody should do at least one rough draft.
     
  6. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I am aware of that, but I hoped save that third part for another discussion as that is it's own animal.

    Right now I wanted people to take the time to think about what we say vs what we mean to say.

    These being the critical first steps in any means of communication.

    What we want to express and the final product that we put forth.

    Primary and benign examples would first involve nothing more then editing mistakes on our part: Simple unintentional omissions or even additions that happen, typos and grammar mistakes. Many times these are ignorable and easily overlooked as they do not change the premise of the point being conveyed.

    Allow me to explain some other examples:

    Many of us read our word in our minds as we type, as such we think the words as we type them but many times we might skip words like leaving out "and" or some other conjunction while thinking that we had indeed put them in because we "said" them in our mind.

    In some cases these simple oversights can result in changing our entire point by simple failure to finish out what we meant to say but leaving off suffex or prefixes, IE: The difference between saying "important" as opposed to "unimportant".

    In some cases leaving out a word we thought we put in can totally put forth drastic difference in our intentions causing major word issues like saying "do dump this idea" as opposed to "do not dump this idea"

    Many times when we first read back out words we will mentally put in what we think we have said as opposed to what is written down when mistakes like this arise.

    But that is life for most of us when we type.

    The other type is when we confuse our own intentions as we write. We fail to think though what we are saying and how we are expressing our points and what we wanted to express.

    This can result in using words that might be just "Hot Button" issues IE: Far more insulting then we intended, or on the other end we end up trying to be too PC and do not come off as strong as we intended and our impact is lost.

    To give an example.

    someone might desire to express a scene of loving intimacy, trying to make it seem sweet and decent but end up in actually putting out smut/slash work.

    The author then wonders why it is receiving the reaction it did, until they go back and reread what they wrote and thinking "what was I thinking"

    Their are many other examples but the idea here is what we hope to "put out" and what we realize we have put forth can in many cases have no semblance to each other.

    "I did not mean to say it like that" or "That is not what I meant to say" are common after effects of this.

    Sorry I did not express this in my first post.

    But how many of us have gone back to reread what we have written in the past and been shocked or even stunned by our own words and how they had no bearing on what we intended to say.
     
  7. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    This is exactly what I was thinking of to tell the truth.

    Wonderfully said and just astounding put forth. We write as the inspiration or "Light" as you put it, burns in us and we feel rushed to get the idea down.

    But after the light (inspiration/emotion/what ever you feel to call it, I like the light concept, I find it very fitting) fades and we look back on what we have said, is it what we had hoped to say?

    What we intended to say?

    How we intended to say it?

    This post was exactly what I was looking for.
     
  8. gigantes
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    gigantes Banned

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    thank you, sir. i must admit that i basked in the warm glow of your praise for a good five minutes at least. :)

    one thing that occurs to me is to use a little pocket audio recorder. one could quickly rattle off a bunch of thoughts to later be transcribed and revised. i've used this in the past for personal therapy, but never for writing. hmm...

    perhaps another way to retain as much of the original thinking as possible is to try to remember the circumstances during which you had your ideas. sometimes i completely forget what my core insights were, but returning to a room or a place and focusing on an object in that place can bring them all back with renewed and refreshed life.
     

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