1. gatogato
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    gatogato New Member

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    Need help writing a book about my motorcycle trip.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by gatogato, May 20, 2008.

    Hey guys, I am writing a book about a 7 month motorcycle trip to South America that I just finished. I have some very basic questions that will most likely bore all you writers out there. Please have sympathy for me.

    1. From what point of view should I write the book? 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person?
    When looking at "Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson it seems like he writes in the 3rd person unless he is quoting a conversation that he had with another person. In "Straight from the Gut" by Jack Welch he writes in the 1st person using 'I' a lot.

    2. How descriptive does my writing need to be? Should I try and stretch my vocabulary. I here some authors write 300 complicated words before they start a book and than employ them as they write. My vocabulary is okay, but the big words never come naturally in my writing.

    3. How do I write about sexual encounters but not turn off the female reader?

    4. Should I stick to writing in chronological order? It seems to make the most sense, but maybe some readers would prefer to skip some similar topics in the book.

    Thank You,
    Geoff
     
  2. Alex_Hartman
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    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

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    I would write in first or third person, they are the most common. And about the vocab, use a thesaurus, you can find a ton of great words, just make sure you use them right. You can also write in whatever order you want, chronological is the most understandable way, but you can mix things up a bit as long as it makes sense and it isn't hard to follow. Good luck!

    -Alex
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, but your second post in this thread was a review request, and therefore must be posted in the Review Room after meeting the reviewing requirements. The Nonfiction subforum is probably the best place.

    To begin to address your questions above:
    1. Although I generally prefer third person, first person (past tense) is probably your best choice for a work like this.

    2. I'm a strong advocate of "Keep it simple and direct."

    3. That will ba a balancing act, but in general, I'd say avoid going into clinical detail.
    (Note that this site, independent of how you ultimately write your book, has content restrictions)

    4. That's a choice you can make after your book is mostly written. It sounds like a chronological approach is a good starting point, but you might find it reads better if you move some things out of the chronological order - perhaps foreshadowing some key event so people can anticipate what led up to it before they actually read the steps that got you there.
     
  4. feather
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    feather Member

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    I never tell anyone what to do, but since you have experienced the trip for yourself-I see it working great as a first person narration.
    I don't write about sex personally, but try to incorporate sensuality when needed. I still need work on that baby:)
     
  5. ChimmyBear
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    ChimmyBear Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hey guys, I am writing a book about a 7 month motorcycle trip to South America that I just finished. I have some very basic questions that will most likely bore all you writers out there. Please have sympathy for me.

    ~Questions should never bore any of your fellow writers....we are all in this together. :)

    1. From what point of view should I write the book? 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person?
    When looking at "Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson it seems like he writes in the 3rd person unless he is quoting a conversation that he had with another person. In "Straight from the Gut" by Jack Welch he writes in the 1st person using 'I' a lot.

    ~There are a couple of threads posted that address this subject. You might want to take the time to read them. Very good advice! (Personally, I write Third person.) Since you're writing about personal accounts you might want to play around with it and try to determine which style works best for you. Though i think first person would make more sense.

    2. How descriptive does my writing need to be? Should I try and stretch my vocabulary. I here some authors write 300 complicated words before they start a book and than employ them as they write. My vocabulary is okay, but the big words never come naturally in my writing.

    ~I have never done this, though I have heard of it being done by other writers. I am no word smith, so I do try and improve my vocabulary. Just remember that you never want to talk above your intended audience. I think that balance is a good thing to try and achieve.


    3. How do I write about sexual encounters but not turn off the female reader?

    ~Keep it real and tasteful.

    4. Should I stick to writing in chronological order? It seems to make the most sense, but maybe some readers would prefer to skip some similar topics in the book.

    ~Hmm, personally I think it really is going to depend upon what you are wanting to give to your audieance. You want to keep it interesting. There are great people here who I am sure can give you better advice.

    All The Best To You!!
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    only first person makes any sense, if you're going to write a personal account of your trip... imo, third would sound arrogant, referring to yourself that way... go to your nearest major bookstore or library and look at the best-selling books of that type... see how their authors handled the 'i' aspect of first person narrative...

    if you aren't familiar and comfortable with the words you use, your writing will show it and not be reader-friendly, or come up to professional quality... just write as you speak, since for the readers, this type of book is the equivalent of sitting with a friend and hearing him/her tell about what happened on a trip... it should be your own 'voice' telling the tale, not a phony one you assume just for this book...

    keep it to a minimum, don't go into graphic detail and don't make yourself sound like a lecherous braggart...

    let 'em skip!... though you may do well to open with a compelling anecdote to 'hook' the readers, you should then go back to the start and keep it in order, time-wise... nothing else makes sense, imo, since you're telling about a trip, not writing a novel...

    just my 2 cents... hope it's helpful... love and hugs, maia
     
  7. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    travelling on a motorcycle is in some ways a very visceral experience, not at all like doing the same trip in a car, you feel the environment and the road, and on a travelogue, that's one of the major pieces of ammunition you have to load up on your writing. So I'd definitely write something like that in first person, as it allows the reader to put himself or herself in your shoes.

    If sexual encounters are part of the experience, then they should be part of the story too. People don't want to read 'next I ended up in such and such a town, which has some nice buildings' they want to read how the experience changed you and made you a fuller person, which is after all one of the main points of travelling and seeing stuff, and is the way people live vicariously through your experiences when they read your tale.

    That's not to say you cannot describe the architecture and the sights, but you can tie your impressions of those in with your feelings and give the piece some focus. That's a trick Raymond Chandler used in his fictional writing, with the decaying buildings and the depressing weather and darkness generally being a metaphor for the mood of the characters and their negative character development which mirrored the decay of the surroundings. Of course you don't want to make your book depressing, so you'll kind of have to do the reverse of that, but it gives you an idea of an approach you could take to the writing.

    Al
     
  8. gatogato
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    gatogato New Member

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    Hey guys, thank you for the great advice. It feels like I am sitting in English class again, but I am actually anxious to write now.

    Geoff
     
  9. gatogato
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    gatogato New Member

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    I was wondering if first person present would be better than first person past. My English teachers always forced me to write in present saying that it captured the readers attention more.

    I know how much easier it would be to write in past tense but should I change to the present tense to make the reader feel like the story is happening right than and there?

    Thanks,
    Geoff
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I respectfully disagree with your teachers. First person present tense is atrocious for telling a story.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    amen!... ditto that... m
     

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