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Be wary of rules.

Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by U.G. Ridley, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Senior Member

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    I think if the opening doesn't present the reader with something unusual - about the character, the situation, the scene - about which they might want to know more, that's probably a mistake. So,

    "I'd have given my right arm to see the chaos at Central that day, if I'd had it at the time."

    Something's interesting going on at Central.
    On some day, we don't know which.
    And on that day, in particular, the narrator didn't have their right arm. They might now.

    Now my brain wants desperately to spin a story based on this opening. LOL
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2016
  2. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @ChickenFreak - I like the way you've rephrased "start with action" :) and I don't know that I'd call you an amateur - an amateur is someone who doesn't know much, maybe not even the basics, and is at the beginning of their journey to learn whatever it is. You're unpublished, but that doesn't make you an amateur. I don't think "amateurs" ever make it to publication - by the time you get your first book published (I'm assuming it's of at least decent quality), you're likely actually rather experienced. It's just not been recognised until you get published, or perhaps you're not at the pro level needed for publication. But whether you're an amateur is surely based upon the amount of experience you have in something, and if you've spent 10 years writing critically (by that I mean with an eye to constantly improve, studying the craft, editing your own work, expanding your horizons etc), then you might not be a professional writer, but you certainly aren't an amateur.

    Or maybe I'm just being super duper pedantic? :bigtongue: I don't know though - these terms have emotional relevance, I feel, and to an extent the words we use to describe ourselves reflect how we see ourselves and our confidence in our own skills. The words we use, even to describe ourselves, matter. And I'm not sure it's productive to describe yourself as an amateur if you've accumulated a lifetime of experience and insights that are far from amateurish - to me it would seem as though you don't appreciate your own skills lol.

    And as for "caring" - you're right that if you want someone to die, technically you "care" about them, but now I think you're taking the word out of its general social context, or whatever this context is called lol. eg. how a word is generally interpreted and the implications people naturally take with the word that goes beyond its dictionary definition. (is this "social" context? What's the term??)

    @Steerpike - yeah there was one time, I was reading Lee Child's book and there was this page that made me read and reread it, over and over - it was written so wonderfully. I don't remember the details now but it was a page describing Reacher alone in the night, standing by the water - I think he may have been standing on a bridge by the sea - and he thought of his childhood. I loved it. I read this when I was a student or maybe even earlier, so it's like, a decade ago. I still remember it. It was then I finally realised: if I think Lee Child's writing is a little blah, it's because he chose to write that way. To write tailored to one's own genre, to write with such control - now that takes skill. However, I also felt it was a bit of a shame - he could be producing beautiful work, contemplative work, yet he churns out Jack Reacher books :bigconfused: Reacher's entertaining for sure, but y'know...

    @123456789 - I guess the problem is taking any advice at all when it is not tampered by one's own extensive experience in the field :crazy: You just don't know how far to go, what nuances might there be, when to filter. In general terms, I'd probably classify this level of good judgement as wisdom, although wisdom in writing sounds a little... pompous? :-D
     
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  3. deadrats

    deadrats Contributing Member

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    That's not what the literary canon is.
     
  4. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I realize that :S My bad.
     
  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose Contributing Member

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    'Reacher slammed another round into the literary cannon," this one would be on the money" he thought. He remembered reviewing these for the army but his recommendation had be Berettas instead "too bad" he pulled the trigger and prayed...
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @Mckk yes, the Reacher books are mostly lean, spare prose. I agree with you that Lee Child could probably put out work that is more beautifully written. You see glimpses of it. However, writing in the style that he chose for the Reacher books looks deceptively simple and isn't. I've come across other authors who try to emulate it and don't do a very good job of it. Elmore Leonard is another writer who could pull it off.
     
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  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose Contributing Member

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    He does keep saying that he's taking a break from Reacher and writing something else ... but then he said that before he wrote personal , so I guess its the lure of the massive advance (not to mention teeny tom buying the film rights) that keeps him coming back to jack
     
  8. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh Tom Cruise was such a bad choice for Reacher :bigmeh: I mean, c'mon! Reacher's supposed to be a rough, tough, BIG lone wolf. Tom Cruise is none of those things with a pretty boy's face and surely much too short? I did actually watch the Reacher film and I can't say I remember anything of it except that it was bad.

    I wonder though, how would you react if an obviously bad choice was cast for your beloved MC but said bad choice was a huge Hollywood celeb like Cruise?

    I had no idea Lee Child wrote anything other than Reacher books (by the by, I think his real name is Jim Grant :D I've always thought he'd got such a stereotypical name for someone boring stuck in his study of old books and wearing a tweed jacket :coffee:) I can imagine it might be hard to write something else if you've written one character and one type of story for so many years - and old familiarity is always attractive. Since it makes money to indulge in nostalgic in his case, it does make sense he'd just keep on writing Reacher books.

    Makes me think I should go read one now :read: I used to be a huge fan when I was a teenager when I first discovered Lee Child, then fell out of love at uni when I got super critical. Now I'm just like, what the hell, as long as it entertains me, I'm game :bigcool: :geek:
     
  9. big soft moose

    big soft moose Contributing Member

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    He was but he owns the production company so what are you going to do ? I also heard somewhere that he paid a quarter of a mil per book If thats true you can't really blame child for saying yes ... for that kind of cash i'd not quibble if they wanted to cast teeny tommy as my MC

    As far as I know he hasn't written anything else, but when 'no going back' first came out the word was that he was going to take a break from reacher, but I guess it either wasn't true or he changed his mind.

    Talking of being hyper critical the main issue I had with the killing floor was that i'd seen the plot about bleaching money and reprinting it before -in 'indigo slam' by Robert Crais (Elvis Cole #6) .. i'm not saying child lifted it, its possible they both came up with the idea independently , but it did kind of spoil the suspense on KF that i realised what was going on considerably before reacher did.
     
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  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Crais is another guy who writes this sort of thing well.
     
  11. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Tom Cruise owns the production company and then cast himself as the MC? Sounds a bit vain... but yes, for a quarter million per book, I wouldn't complain much either. Besides, Cruise draws a certain secure fan base, which can only be good for your book. Even with a bad film, you'd get people who'd be curious about the book afterwards, or those who wanna see how bad the book might be, if the book was this bad etc. Either way, it means broadening your reach of readers.

    I don't even remember Killing Floor, but I do know that that was my first ever Reacher book :) (which also happens to be Lee Child's first Reacher book I believe, a happy coincidence) I was most disappointed to find his other books written in third rather than first person, but still faithfully devoured every single one for the next couple of years!
     
  12. bonijean2

    bonijean2 Ancient Artists And Storytellers Rock

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    That's a very good question. Although I appreciate any and all critques on my work here on this forum, most have been based on what is important to the member who responded. And that's okay too but they range from just a couple of things to crossing out whole lines of text on the same writing. Although I realize good editing is important in a grammatical sense, I tend to adhere to most rules only if they don't interfere with the story I am trying to tell.
     

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