1. colorthemap
    Offline

    colorthemap Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    Likes Received:
    3

    Writing good or bad

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by colorthemap, Jul 22, 2011.

    So here is my question, simple in essence but possibly complex in answer.

    How can I tell the decency of my writing without showing it to someone or posting it for review?
     
  2. Quezacotl
    Offline

    Quezacotl Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Messages:
    342
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Ponyville
    After you have written your last word, take a break and do something else for a while. Then come back to it and read your writing. Ignore what you want the story to be and focus on they words convey. Then imagine what you want it to be.

    If there is no discrepancy between the two the first time through, you probably need another break. Once you are confident your words convey what you want them to mean, move on. Overthinking writing is a terrible thing to do.
     
  3. colorthemap
    Offline

    colorthemap Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    Likes Received:
    3
    See I don't feel great about my writing but I'm on such a roll, I figure I'll fix it later. I just don't feel I'll be straight with myself.
     
  4. Ged
    Offline

    Ged Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2009
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    2
    You just... sort of know this stuff. Yeah, it sounds mystical and whatnot, but it's true. I usually loathe my writing -- actually, that's a bit of an understatement -- but after finishing a chapter and leaving it alone for a while, and reading it as though I was just a reader, and not a writer, I tend to find good stuff in it: a good phrase, apt characterisation, characters not acting like cutouts animated by wind, etc.

    Provided you've read books in your life -- and I assume you have, a lot -- you'll know whether your writing is good or not by rereading it.
     
  5. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    I think it's very hard to be objective about your own writing, though. You may write like Hemingway, and yet be so insecure you think it's crap. Or you may write like Bulwer-Lytton, and be so conceited you think the publishers will line up to buy your script.
     
  6. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Bad example. Bulwer-Lytton was a hugely successful author, and gave us some memorable phrases ("The pen is mightier than the sword").
     
  7. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I always thought that was Benjamin Franklin.

    EDIT: But, I decided to check it out and digitig is correct. You learn something new every day.
     
  8. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    just compare any page of your writing to that of several of the best writers in that genre... you should be able to see if it suffers by comparison, or comes close in quality...

    if you want a private assessment, you can send me a few pages of whatever you think is the best thing you ever wrote and i'll give you some feedback on it...
     
  9. HorusEye
    Offline

    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,215
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Denmark
    If you feel a slight discomfort, a curling of toes, a twitch on your face... Pay attention to your own reactions and be honest, even if it feels brutal. Thinking no one else will notice, or kidding yourself by saying it's probably great anyway, is doing yourself a huge disfavor. The first and most crucial step towards great writing is identifying bad writing.

    It feels horrible to realize a part of your own writing sucks like a black hole, so remind yourself that this realization is a catharsis, and it leads to growth!
     
  10. Ged
    Offline

    Ged Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2009
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    2
    Not all people suck at writing, at least not "like a black hole." Some of them are great at some bits, and mediocre at others, and not disastrous at any.
     
  11. colorthemap
    Offline

    colorthemap Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    Likes Received:
    3
    Thanks for the offers and responses, I guess I just have to leave it alone and be honest with myself.
     
  12. HorusEye
    Offline

    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,215
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Denmark
    Kinda missed my point. It says "a part of your writing". My post was about identifying bad sections of writing, not about someone -- or anyone -- being bad writers.
     
  13. Steerpike
    Online

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,060
    Likes Received:
    5,265
    Location:
    California, US
    If that's the case I recommend finding a few people who are objective and who you trust and having them review the writing. There's really no other way if you're concerned about your own ability to judge it.
     
  14. colorthemap
    Offline

    colorthemap Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    Likes Received:
    3
    Just gotta find them then.
     
  15. Steerpike
    Online

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,060
    Likes Received:
    5,265
    Location:
    California, US
    I've exchanged with some people here. Could ask around via PM if you've met people here you are comfortable with.
     
  16. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    Old danish wisdom is never wrong ;)
    I agree with everything you said, and I'll pay attention to it myself when rereading my ms during editing. good point.
     
  17. One90proof
    Offline

    One90proof New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2011
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Mobile, AL USA
    I'm new at this myself but I agree with others that suggested stepping away from whatever you wrote for a while then re-reading it with fresh eyes. I've noticed that after a day or two I sometimes have a vastly different opinion of something I've been working on.

    Determining the quality of your writing is a subjective exercise that really depends on the opinion of your audience. If you are the only one to ever read it and decide you like it then there you go. It's good! If you want other people to eventually read your work it might be best to let folks you trust critique it to get a feel for how it might be received by a wider audience.
     
    1 person likes this.
  18. colorthemap
    Offline

    colorthemap Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    Likes Received:
    3
    That's as true as it will be I presume.
     
  19. thewordsmith
    Offline

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    Simple question deserves a simple answer:
    Unless you are one of those rare individuals - one in a few million - who can read your own work and disengage your heart, soul, emotions from your critique of that work, you probably can't. It is incredibly difficult to disassociate ourselves from our own work. That's why we need to have trusted, objective readers to tell us when our work is good as well as when it is crap.
     
  20. Declan
    Offline

    Declan Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2011
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    England
    So true.

    I know when something is good, and I know when something is rubbish- but all the same I never think it's good enough.
     
  21. colorthemap
    Offline

    colorthemap Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    Likes Received:
    3
    Then how can I find an "objective reader" this is probably what I will be struggling with.
     
  22. CosmicHallux
    Offline

    CosmicHallux Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2011
    Messages:
    130
    Likes Received:
    3
    I'm not a very good writer, but I am a good artist.

    What I would do with a drawing is hold it up in the mirror to look at the mirror image, or hold it upside down. If it still looks good from all the angles than it's pretty good.

    So...as for writing...maybe you could read your work into a tape recorder and play it back to yourself to see if it sounds good. (?)

    I am reading The Secret Miracle right now. It is a collection of interviews of published writers. There is a whole section on revision. Some of the authors show their manuscripts to trusted friends, and some don't show them until they are finished. Some admit that when they are working on the manuscript, they really just want to hear praise until it's done.

    One author said that she would print the manuscript out, then read it. She would drink a bit first, then she would use a red pen to mark the places where she found her attention wandering, or where she was skipping ahead.

    One of the most surprising things I've learned from this book is that many of the writers interviewed only shoot for writing 3-5 pages a day, though they might spend much of the day writing. Stephen King says he shoots for five good pages.
     
  23. JeffS65
    Offline

    JeffS65 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    You really should post your work here. It's pretty objective and supportive bunch.

    Otherwise, how do you know? I knew I was ok when I noticed that my writing voice was natural to me and not a projection of something I thought was cool. I stopped getting the 'ugh' factor. That said, I'm still paranoid but I have moved out of that 'it's total garbage' zone.
     
  24. colorthemap
    Offline

    colorthemap Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    Likes Received:
    3
    Thanks again, I guess I just see where I end up.
     
  25. thewordsmith
    Offline

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    And that, Declan, tends to be the biggest problem. Writers generally fall into one of two camps. Either they think everything they write is golden and anyone who doesn't like 'just doesn't understand'. Or they judge themselves too harshly and think nothing they write is 'good enough'.

    The truth is usually somewhere in-between.
     

Share This Page