1. Kommodo
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    Kommodo New Member

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    Writing Practice

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Kommodo, Dec 9, 2013.

    Hello,

    I am very new to the writing world and through my research I found that most people do recommend reading and writing a lot to sharpen your skills. The question is, writing for the sake of practice feels fruitless. It is pretty hard sitting there every day writing a short story and giving it your best, only that you know you will through this story in the trash in the end of the day and tomorrow you will start another one.

    I just want to know from more experienced writers, is this how it works?
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Prior to the Internet, that's pretty much the way it worked, unless you had friends or family members who would critique your writing. Now, there are many, many websites (including this one) where you can submit your work and receive feedback.

    There is one genre for which there is an insatiable demand, and regular readers are willing, even eager, to critique your stories: erotica. I write a lot of it myself, and have learned a lot from readers.
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I don't think you should write with the expectation that your work will go right into the trash. Try to write all of your exercises as best you can. Get feedback on things you write -- either put them up for critique here or on another site, enter some short story contests, see if you can find a local in person writer's group that either does critique or where you can find some other people to critique with.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    and while you practice, it's important to keep comparing what you write to the work of authors who are generally considered to be good writers... and 'good' doesn't mean just being 'popular' enough to turn out bestsellers...
     
  5. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Sometimes this happens, but mostly you write your short story, or novel, or whatever, and come back to it in a few weeks' time. The story will then improve because your writing will have improved (yes, it's that fast when you're just starting out).

    Also, it can seem fruitless even if you hate it and you do want to throw it in the trash, but refrain from doing so. Keeping your work means you can learn from them later on ("Oh, is that how I write dialogue? I really need to tighten it up."). Waiting a while before editing pieces of work makes you read it as an outside person, or as near as, anyway. Keeping those pieces can give you story ideas when you're still writing in fifteen years. Would you have had those ideas if you threw them in the bin? :)
     
  6. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Write write write bud. Keep it all.
    Go on the internet and look things up (everything is on the internet)
    Come here (promotion!) and ask questions.
    Keep on writing because with practice comes improvement. My old band teacher always told us, "Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes better."
    There are no set 'rules' to writing really. Learn the fundamentals like grammar, punctuation, paragraph structure of course.
     
  7. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    Now this is the exact state i was in when i first began writing. Oh how i loved those days when i was just a beginner... :rolleyes: But back to the point. Yes, reading is a must. And if you plan to write a book in a certain genre, i suggest you read a lot of that genre and make sure you love it to pieces so that you won't get bored of your book and just drop it. I myself have been writing a fantasy novel for four years, am still not done, but am still not sick of it.

    As for me, I was writing for about two years before i came across this forum. But when i did begin writing, it was mostly by hand, and i usually just rewrote the same scene over and over again, getting practice on description and the emotions the character was going through just by having her sit under a tree waiting for her brother to come home from hunting. The repetition wasn't on purpose -i just was so picky that i ended up re-writing that same scene over and over again until some subconscious part of me said "Okay already! Do something else!" then i ended up changing the whole story and wrote as a woman on a blood-red horse and companion eagle galloping into a burning village to fight off evil-doers. That inadvertently gave me practice in combat and dialogue, which i am now very happy to have done even though i did the same repeating thing over again...

    I'm not exactly sure how i broke that cycle and got 42 chapters into my book. :D But i can safely say that practice has helped me tons. Also, your writing skills will continue to get better over time, no matter what. I recently improved a great deal in my writing and now i go back to my latest drafts in my story and my jaw just drops because i can make things to much better.

    But then that drives me nuts because i already spent so long writing that darn draft and now i have to edit it AGAIN. Yet i cannot control myself.

    I am a perfectionist.
     
  8. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I don't throw away anything I've written. I put it in a notebook and I like being able to read back on it occasionally.
     
  9. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    One thing I do is take my characters out of their stories and put them into others already created. For instance, what would Cael do in Tomb Raider's shoes if he was stranded on Yamatai? Reading around your genre is also a prerequisite, both the good and the bad, to see what works and what doesn't. You get addicted to seeing the change that comes with your own writing when you read a lot, sort of like how bodybuilders get addicted to working on their physique. It may seem like effort at first, but, trust me, you'll get hooked.
     
  10. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    I'm impressed. In many years of visiting sites like this you are the first person to recognize this.

    Here's the problem: all of our training for writing during our primary education is aimed at giving us the skills we will need in order to be productive and employed adults. So we learn to write reports, essays, and letters, all nonfiction, all meant to inform, and all fact based.

    But people read fiction for entertainment and they taught us nothing about how to write with that goal because it's a skill unique to the profession of fiction writer, and our primary education gives us only general skills of use to everyone.

    You'll often be told that reading will teach you to write. And it will. Just like watching TV taught us to be successful screen writers, and eating out taught us to be chefs. Seriously, reading is necessary, but it teaches us to appreciate the quality of the product, not the process and the decision-making skills necessary to create it.

    And while you can get good advice from a forum like this, and it's all sincerely given, you haven't the knowledge, at this point, to tell the difference between good and bad advice.

    So the trick is to use forums like this as sounding boards, for beta reader reaction, and to discuss our favorite subject. But get your writing education from the pros because we know that their advice works for them, at least. And if they all agree on a given point...

    After all, if it's your hope to be a published writer, and thought to be serious about your craft, doesn't it make sense to spend a few dollars and some time to acquire the skills the pros take for granted?

    My personal recommendation as a place to learn the nuts-and-bolts issues of writing fiction is here.
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Basically, yes, that is how it works. Either you write short stories (why not save them?) or novels, you have to write about something you care about or find intriguing enough to give it your very best and finish it. Polish it until it is as good as you can make it. Get feedback from other people, preferably not just your sister or best friend, because those are not the best sources of unbiased critique. Rewrite, rewrite and edit until you think it's perfect. And other people think so too. Then submit it. Get lots of rejection letters. Wondering what your story/writing is lacking. How you could make it better. Sometimes you'll get a hint from the recipients of those submissions. What you need to do to get this sh*t published. That is rare though, so don't count on it. Publishers and agents don't have much time to teach beginning writers their craft.
    More work, either a new story or the same one, again and again until someone says it's worth publishing. Then celebrate, before you start working on your next project. ;-)
     
  12. Kommodo
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    Kommodo New Member

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    Thanks to everyone, I certainly didn't expect this many replies. I am overwhelmed.

    I am surprised that there are people out there who are willing to read and criticise other writer's work to help them with their work. I thought I might be paying for it.

    At the current time I am not looking forward to being a best seller author, I want to understand what makes a good story from a bad one. I want to learn the tools of writing and I am pretty sure there are formulas to certain genre but I just can't put my finger on it. I am just getting my hands on literally devices like metaphors , irony, genre , themes. I kind of have an idea about them because I did study them ions ago in middle school when we read Shakespeare .

    I am not exactly sure where to start but I did order Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell to get me going. JayG, I will look into your advice and get that book on Kindle.

    I know I sound ignorant next to all of you guys, but I hope that is not a reason for you to look down on me. Sorry for my English, as it is not my first language.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    don't look for any 'formula'... fiction is 'creative' writing and as such does not benefit from following a template set up by this or that how-to guru...
     
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  14. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Both the book you ordered and the one that JayG suggest are very good in my humble opinion. I've learned a lot from them.
     
  15. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Think of the short story as a scene, sequence, chapter etc. writing em helps you put the bigger thing together. The small stuff is easier to manipulate, correct, chuck, get right.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    and doesn't take up a year or more to complete, while bad writing habits become immured in your brain...
     

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