1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Some thoughts just don't want to flow.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by waitingforzion, May 19, 2016.

    Maybe it's just because I've barely practiced, but I feel as thought a direct rendering of some thoughts simply don't possess the rhythm I'm looking for. Somehow in the past, I managed to write this:

    I have no idea how I was able to write this and why I am unable to replicate the effect. I did this five years ago. I read the book, "The Elements of Style". I struggled for half an hour to come up with the first sentence, (this above is the second paragraph), which I revised away. I put into practice all the rules of the elements of style, and I revised the same paragraph over and over again. But the odd thing is, these sentences have no circumlocations or any indirect way of speaking. They are completely concise.

    If I wanted to change the thoughts in the paragraph, I would have to substitute some of the words, thus destroying the rhythm. That bring me to this sad point. It seems that somehow certain thoughts are not able to be express in certain voices without indirect phrasing, and for some strange reason the thoughts in that paragraph just happened to be thoughts that, when expressed, come out elegantly.

    A passage from the Bible to consider is this:

    It seems perfectly concise to me, yet it has excellent rhythm, We can of course attribute much of the elegance to parallelism, but each clause in itself have perfect rhythm.

    If we take the thought:

    For I wish to befriend you, that I may converse with you, and that we may abound in our thoughts to each other.

    Well, it doesn't sound as awful as I intended, but I've done much worse. This example did not work. For some reason it did not come out so bad. But the point I am making is that often I try to be concise, but the phrase doesn't come out rhythmic and I hate it. I want to sound eloquent and beautiful, but not all thoughts seem to be expressible in the manner I wish.

    Any thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Your title already has your answer - Some thoughts just don't want to flow. Exactly. You're a writer some sentences aren't going to come out pure gold. That's what redrafting is for.
    You're trying to edit at the core stage which is sabotaging your writing.
    The first stage is intent - the actual story. If you're trying to worry about wording, rhythm, word choice at that stage you're not going to get anything but a headache.
    Quit looking at finished works as though they were written that way. They were edited that what - there's a process involved.

    You're also boxing yourself in with your concepts of rhythm. If you don't let them go you won't write anything you're satisfied with. Rhythm to me isn't a strict adherence to poetic rules or guidelines. As far as I'm concerned that's cutting up a diamond to fit a box mentality - especially for a fiction writer. Rhythm is more about sentence variety and choosing words by sound and meaning. And finally the importance and impact of your images and pace. It's not ignoring the quality of function or the impact of abruptness. And that doesn't always come out in the first draft it must be cultivated according to the needs of the story, scene or character.
    Why don't you give your story some breathing space? Let it come out before you see it as not good enough.

    But if you really want to go after this specific style - studying will get you nowhere. This isn't like learning math, writing prose isn't a formula you can crack. If you're going after a set style you need to re-train your brain to think a certain way in order for the words to come out that way and the only, only way that's going to happen is by constant reading of that style, writing and time. Not by studying. Studying keeps you in the editing stage.
    It's like you're trying to learn how to Conga when you rarely step on the dance floor. Stop studying - start writing. Complete something and then go over it. Then start something else and then go over it.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @waitingforzion, don't take this the wrong way, but have you ever read anything you thought was written beautifully other than the Bible?

    It seems to me that you're trying to limit yourself far too much. The Bible is not the only source of beautiful rhythm in existence. I think you should read some poetry, and by "some" poetry I mean tons of poetry. Modern poetry - poetry written in the past 100 years. Some of it will surely speak to you, and it won't sound anything at all like the Bible. You'll find that some of it adapts to prose quite easily, and you'll start pleasing yourself - amazing yourself - in voices far more varied than the dusty, creaky one found in the Bible.
     
  4. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Can you give me links to some of this poetry?
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You have to go find it yourself, I'm afraid. What speaks to me won't necessarily speak to you. I'd advise getting a couple of those big anthologies with titles like "Best Loved Poems" or "Best Poetry Annual". You could also look at the list of Nobel Prize winners and sample their work, or lists of winners of other prestigious literary and poetry prizes. That should get you started.

    Good luck!
     
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  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    What is it, exactly, that you're trying to write? A short story? A novel? Maybe you're aiming for the wrong thing. If you're searching for poetry in your use of language, perhaps you should be writing ...poetry.

    As @peachalulu said, your first draft (of a novel or short story) is for getting your story out on paper in tangible form. If you're getting badly sidetracked at the first paragraph, perhaps you're trying to do the wrong thing. If it's capturing a thought or a feeling that attracts you to writing, maybe you should be a poet. And maybe, as @minstrel suggests, become familiar with poetic works that are not the Bible. You're not re-writing the Bible, so look at some other things, if you haven't already.

    You might try googling 'famous fantasy poets' or something like that, if turning a fantasy into poetic language is something you would like to try doing. Here are a few: http://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poems/best/fantasy

    Or you could read a few fantasy novels that are very poetic in nature. The Ghormenghast books are a good place to start.

    However, if your words don't 'flow' then probably you need to step back a bit. Take a break. Or concentrate on simply getting the story out there, if it's a story you're trying to write. Work on the wording once you've got the story in place.
     

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