1. waitingforzion
    Offline

    waitingforzion Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    33

    Questions about Writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by waitingforzion, Dec 13, 2009.

    Hello everyone. I have aspired to be a writer for quite a few years now. I have been somewhat successful writing essays and poems, even some unfinished short stories. Nevertheless, I am have severe problems writing well consistently and writing other kinds of things.

    I have a few problems. Sometimes, I cannot hardly generate an idea because I focus so much on cadence and trying to find words. Other times, I have an idea, but it gets chocked because I try so hard to make the words flow and be original. If I write a two word phrase that sounds like it's been written before, I will most likely not feel comfortable with it and will reject it.

    This is the thing. I've written essays before and one research paper. In fact, I'm in college. I have decent grades so far and hopefully I passed the class.

    The trouble is, I have a developed abstract vocabulary that helps me to write essays and research paper, but I am at a complete loss at how to write stories. It seems that my vocabulary simply does not suffice to write them. And any attempt to describe an event or scene always results in cliches.

    I don't need help with grammar. That's the easy part. Right now I'm not trying to craft my sentences or anything like that because I just want to get the point across right now. I need help overcoming these problem because I really do want to write. I just want it to be professional.

    I know at I'm able me to write sophisticated sentences, and those are the times I enjoy writing. What also helps is when I am driven vigorously by strong emotions. I already know I'm not supposed to be wordy. I know I'm supposed to keep my sentences concise. Content, sound, and brevity are the three things I aim for, but these mental blocks hinder me.

    I'd like someone to help me with this. Also, I'd like to ask these three questions:

    1) If I use a two-word phrase that has been used many times before, does that count as an embarrassing cliche?

    2) If the most concise form of a sentence does not produce the sound effect I want, is it okay to use a slightly wordier version to achieve the effect?

    3) If I have trouble generating ideas and get mental blocks, does that disqualify me as a writer. And is there a way to overcome these obstacles?

    4) Is there away for me to quickly build my vocabulary of descriptive, story like words without spending months and months reading various stories and looking up every single word I encounter.

    I' already know I have the capacity to do it because I've done certain things before. I just don't want to have to build an extra wall after I spent so much time laying down the bricks of another one. But if I have to, then I have to.

    Any advise/input would be nice. Just don't be harsh. And remember, this post is not an example of my writing. I'm just humbly asking for help.
     
  2. lavendershy
    Offline

    lavendershy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    310
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Sparks, NV
    You know, I'd love to see what people have to say, because we're in much the same boat. I'm a decent technical writer, but I have a terrible time with stories. It's not really my vocab that's the problem, but I'm still eager to see what everyone else says. So make that a double petition, please.

    Cheers,
    lavendershy
     
  3. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,915
    Likes Received:
    10,108
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    There is no quick fix.

    There is no shortcut.

    Are there writers who have achieved fame and renown at unprecedentedly young ages?

    Sure. Of course.

    Everyone else has to slog it out. Read and read and read just like you have mentioned.

    Write and write and write. Just like you are doing now.
     
  4. Kas
    Offline

    Kas Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    The ***hole of the world
    Can't say without examples.
    I don't see why not, assuming the end result is a nice sentence, and you're not waxing poetic with odiferous cheese. The most concise version certainly isn't always the best.
    To the first, of couse not. That happens to everyone on some scale. As I like to say, when you're mentally constipated, there's no need to pop a vein. Just let it go. Don't force it too hard--you'll make a mess.

    Unfortunately, there's no ex-lax for writers. Everyone seems to have their own solution. You just need to find yours. It sounds bad, but alcohol helped me to overcome my initial anxiety, which, I think, is the primary cause of so-called writer's block.
    Cheater! You said three questions. . .

    Read, read, read. But honestly, you don't need such an extensive vocabulary, anyway. I have a great many words in my arsenal I'm unlikely to ever use--mainly because, when I wasted my time on lesser books, I used to constantly look up words. I found that quite often when I had to look something up, the author (and I, the reader) would have been better off with something more commonplace. Those writers don't impress me any more, and so I don't mimic them. . . They appealed more to the immature mentality I had as a child--that bigger is better.
    Perfect. I came into this with the same feeling. I'm not sure what you mean by "certain things," but it really doesn't matter. You've proven, at least to yourself, your capacity to learn, so you won't have any good excuses for giving up.;)
    It need not be such a chore. The learning process is fun in itself, for one who really wants to write--especially when things start coming together. I'm sure you know what that's like. We tend to value our successes according to the effort put into achieving them. Were I already capable of brilliant prose, I doubt I would be so interested in writing it.
    Hey, no worries. We might cut your throat and throw you in the drink when you post in the review room, but until then, we're generally an amiable lot.

    Edit: By the way, welcome to the forums! I hope you stick around. Both the site and the community have a lot to offer. And I thought your post was quite well-written.
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i mentor aspiring writers/poets full time, so drop me a line any time...

    it could, depending on whether it's used on purpose to be cliche, or not... can't tell without seeing an example...

    again, there's no general yes/no answer to that...can't tell w/o seeing it...

    the only thing that'd disqualify you is if can never generate any workable ideas, and/or you're such a terrible writer that you can't ever turn out anything that's even close to being marketable...

    as for 'mental blocks' only you can tell if they're serious enough to keep you from doing what writers do...

    no quick fix, sorry to say... but the best way to increase your vocabulary beyond reading all kinds of things constantly, is to do the ny times daily crossword till you can do them with a pen, in less than 30 minutes and when you get to that stage, do the sunday ones... they can be obtained in book form at amazon... and cheaply, 'used' [not really 'used'... just not totally 'new']...
     
  6. DvnMrtn
    Offline

    DvnMrtn Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    250
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Canada - Winnipeg
    The best way to write great stories is to be familiar with what makes a great story. That means reading great stories. Read. Read Lots. Also, read books that are designed to further your writing skills. Writing Fiction: A guide to the narrative craft by Janet Burroway, although expensive is a great book. Also there are many books with titles like 'reading like a writer' that will help you be able to see the story from a writers perspective.

    Next time your watching a movie try to focus on the rise and resolution of the many conflicts that go on and how the writer integrated them all together. What made ____ such a great and likable character? These are the types of questions to be asking yourself.

    There is no guaranteed formula to follow to become a great writer. The same way there is no guaranteed formula to become a great musician or painter. The only thing all artists share in common is a love for their craft and the dedication to put in the time to become great.
     
  7. writingitout
    Offline

    writingitout New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Read, write, repeat. :)
     
  8. ManhattanMss
    Offline

    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    14
    It almost sounds to me like you're more interested in writing as a profession than writing as an artform. My thoughts, though, are (naturally) more along the lines of thinking of writing as an artform. So they may or may not be useful to you.

    1) If I use a two-word phrase that has been used many times before, does that count as an embarrassing cliche? Depends on what two words and the context.

    2) If the most concise form of a sentence does not produce the sound effect I want, is it okay to use a slightly wordier version to achieve the effect? I don't know why not.

    3) If I have trouble generating ideas and get mental blocks, does that disqualify me as a writer. No. And is there a way to overcome these obstacles? Let the writing speak to you and help shape your story ideas, even as you shape the written word into the story you imagine. Most artists I think are really good don't just use a particular medium to communicate; they work with their medium as partners. I feel like writing works the same way. (See, there's that artform vantagepoint:))

    4) Is there away for me to quickly build my vocabulary of descriptive, story like words without spending months and months reading various stories and looking up every single word I encounter. No, for two reasons. For one, there's no such thing as descriptive, story-like words. Words become descriptive and story-like because of the way the writer uses them in the story he tells. And two, really good writers simply can't ever read enough stories or learn so much that reading and learning more doesn't improve them. There simply are no shortcuts.

    I' already know I have the capacity to do it because I've done certain things before. Then you know more than most writers I know (who are always doubting their capacity to "do it"). I just don't want to have to build an extra wall after I spent so much time laying down the bricks of another one. But if I have to, then I have to. This is the part that makes me think you're speaking specifically of just being a professional "author" (so my thoughts may be irrelevant). But if storytelling as an artform is your aim, then, yes, Virginia, you'll have to spend the time and rebuild your wall. Still, writing stories (fiction) is something that could easily be said to incorporate every possible experience you've already had or will have. So, nothing significant that you've already done is likely to be wasted. Nor is exercising your imagination likely to be wasted on anyything else that you do.

    Any advise/input would be nice. Just don't be harsh. And remember, this post is not an example of my writing. I'm just humbly asking for help. In my own humble opinion, every writing a writer does should be treated as an example of what he can do. Why "waste" an opportunity to hone your craft?
     
  9. bruce
    Offline

    bruce Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, there is. I read my favorite dictionary frequently.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Not necessarily. The question is really far too general to answer meaningfully.
    Again, far too general to answer in a meaningful way. But often, the problem is not always what it appears. Often it is what you are trying to stuff into the one sentence.
    See Maia's answer. But the more you write, the more easily the ideas will flow.
    No. There is no substitute for reading words in context. Dictionaries do not provide sufficient context for good writing. Even when the context info is provided, most people don't grasp those subtleties when looking up a dictionary definition. You have to read enough that you even recognize when other writers use the word poorly.

    With all due respect to Maia, crossword puzzles will not help you use vocabulary correctly. The clues are deliberately obfuscated, so you won't learn the correct context that way. However, it will train you to search your internal database for choices among related words. It will still be up to you to recognize which words are a good or a poor fit in a particular situation.
     
  11. Sound of Silence
    Offline

    Sound of Silence Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Close to madness
    Well, I have a paper on how to concrete the abstract in fiction, if it's any use, hun. Just drop me a pm if you're interested.
     
  12. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    with all due respect to you, cog, i didn't say it would... all i said was that it's the best way to increase one's vocabulary... that is, to add to the number of words one has seen/heard of... i should think it's a given that the words would subsequently have to be looked up in a dictionary, to learn how and where to use them properly... didn't think i had to add all that... do you really think i do?
     
  13. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Nope, but I thought it needed to be said, for those who are not you. :)
     
  14. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    true... thanks for the extrapolation...
     

Share This Page