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  1. lawrencelpy

    lawrencelpy Member

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    How do you see flaws in your own writing?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by lawrencelpy, Dec 24, 2017.

    Apart from re-reading your own work after a long time laying it untouched, or having people to commented on your own work, what practices do you adopt to allow yourself to see your flaws in your own writing?
     
  2. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Get other people to point them out to me is the best I've found. Other than that, sometimes I go through my manuscript and cross out every 5th word, then try to rewrite my manuscript without using the words I crossed off or at least cut my word count down accordingly. I don't always succeed, but it helps me eliminate wanton wordiness focus more on how my sentences are structured. The worst downside I've found to this is that I occasionally get kind of sentence blind, where I focus solely on the sentence I'm working on and don't really take into account as to how it works in the paragraph as a whole, but that's what multiple drafts are for.
     
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  3. Teladan

    Teladan Active Member

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    Not sure if this counts, but a member from this forum approached me a couple of days ago to do a story swap and after critiquing his short story I learned quite a lot about a very different style of writing and got a few dialogue tips. He ended up saying my feedback was excellent. It's a valuable experience for everyone to try. It immediately makes one think more critically about how they approach writing and to be more focused in hunting for flaws.
     
  4. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Apart from re-reading your own work after a long time laying (1) it untouched, or having people to commented (2) on your own work, what practices do you adopt to allow yourself to see your (3) flaws in your own writing?​

    I critique the work of others. It's a reflexive process more then one with a direct object.

    (1) We don't use the word laying like that in English. We might say laying it aside instead, but with the surrounding syntax you've used, the word should be leaving. Now I wonder if I have any lie vs. lay errors in my own work. I bet I do! It's a common mistake.

    (2) You've combined the infinitive form of the verb with the past tense. It should be just comment, not to commented. Now I wonder if I have any verb tense (not likely) or verb mood (more likely) errors in my own work. I bet I find at least one!

    (3) You're making redundant use of the possessive. The only errors that should be found in your work are the one you make. No need to say your errors in your work. The errors in your work suffices and sounds more natural. Now I wonder how often I've been guilty of redundancies. I bet I find several occurrences in my work!

    Critiquing the work of others offers a window of objectivity that is often difficult to pry open when regarding our own work.

    ETA: The above examples are small scale, grammar / syntax issues. I would apply the same paradigm when looking at larger scale concepts like characterization, pacing, setting, etc.
     
  5. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    Okay, the medium I write in is Blank Verse. When I write my original draft, I don't write a scan to go with it. When I return to edit, I start to scan my own work. I'd say 5% of my lines are usually botched.

    My number two mistake I make is a repetition of words and phrases. I like to use the number three rule. I can only use the same noun, verb, adjective, or adverb 3 times within my work. Like right now I have the word 'blue' and the 'bells rung' 10+ time in a 6 chapter story. A lot of rephrasing and cutting goes on.

    (3), my biggest grammar mistake I make is that I fail at grammatical series. Often I will mix, verbs, predicates, or clauses together in a list.

    (4) Another sin of mine is filler verbs. I'm always on the look for (I saw, I heard, I felt, etc.)

    (5) Sometimes I use the wrong words because it sounds similar to the correct word.

    Being self-aware of your errors is the first step in correcting them (which is why having people read your work is important.)
     
  6. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I use the two methods you cited, mostly. I also try to analyse why I like or don't like published books, to learn from them.

    When I get valuable feedback I apply it to my future writing. If I get the same feedback, I know I need to work more on that aspect of my writing. It's a continual process.
     
  7. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    Sitting it aside for a good long while definitely helps. Mostly, I just try to look at it through the lens of "Would I be annoyed if someone else wrote this way?" - which can be difficult, because of course I know what I was going for. I can always make excuses.

    It honestly helps (me at least) to read things that ... aren't very good. I unabashedly love creepypastas and nosleeps, and while some of them really are quite good, there's a lot of available chaff out there too. Paying close attention to writing that you don't enjoy helps you key in on the things you don't like, and later spot them in your own writing. Often I give the advice to study writing you like and learn from that, but going about it the other way around can help too!
     
  8. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    I make a regualar practice of reading my WIP on my phone. Seeing the writing in a different context other than on my laptop is a huge help and simulates how it might read on Kindle.

    Reading it in a different font than the one you usually use to write is helpful, too. I always use a serif font for edits to make it a little easier on the eyes.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
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  9. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I know I'm going to sound like someone who lives in a 12x12 shack and has good soldering skills, but I like to print my work out. Like, on paper. For some reason, your brain reacts to the printed page differently than the monitor and can spot things that weren't apparent when you typed it out. Reading my work out loud also helps, that really highlights the awkward turns of phrase and overuse of the same word.*

    For example, someone should have done that when Supreme Leader Snoke said "Ah, my faithful apprentice, I had faith that you would..."
     
  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Have you ever tried changing the format? I've found if I compile work so that I'm no longer reading it in my chosen Scrivener editing mode (Palatino 13, indented, blank lines between paragraphs) and am instead reading it in my chosen PDF compile mode (a larger-point typewriter font, double spaced, no extra lines between paragraphs) and read it in the compiled mode, I find new errors. Reading the compiled document and hopping back to edit in Scrivener is a regular thing for me now.

    Just in case you're out of paper some day. :)
     
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  11. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'll try.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. raine_d

    raine_d Active Member

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    Me too - print it out then get several multicoloured pens and scribble all over the pages.
     
  13. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Just for fun, or to make corrections and comments? :)
     
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  14. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I read it through, editing, over and over and over and over and over. Then it gets stale for a day and I read it and edit it a few more times. Then a few weeks later I'll likely go through a few more cycles.

    There are a variety of things that I've learned that I tend to do wrong, and a variety of "right" things that I tend not to do, so I look for those things as I go through those sweeps.

    But the question may be more about how I found out that I do those things wrong/not-do those things right? That depends. A fair number of them have come from other people's critiques of my writing, other people's critiques of other people's writing, and my critiques of other people's writing.
     
  15. raine_d

    raine_d Active Member

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    The latter (though it is more fun than editing online... scribble scribble) I can just write 'ick' or "???' or 'what?' or 'could do better' and then have a think about just those points before going and correcting them...
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2017
  16. lawrencelpy

    lawrencelpy Member

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  17. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    I don't like printing stuff out (I'm a cheapstake, don't want to waste ink and paper).

    but yeah, I do basically the same thing. I load it onto my kindle and pretend it's a published book. Somehow it helps.

    Or I pretend I'm posting it online. I'll paste it into a comment here, hit "preview," and read it as if it's a post on this website.
     
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  18. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    I read, I study numerous subjects, and then I think about them.

    The only other method I can think of is paraphrasing your own work. This is more applicable to non-fiction, but now I think about it it's probably a very useful exercise for writing fiction and an interesting exercise to explore different styles of writing too.
     
  19. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    You're actually right about that!
    It's why I can't work in MS Word, and why I choose to write within Adobe InDesign. I see a very accurate representation of the pages of a real book when I'm writing; two page spreads, the exact size of a typical piece of fiction (6"x 9"), or as spreads as I work in (12"x 9"), and complete with a background image that looks very much like the worn pages of a library book. All the fonts, spacing, special typography, illustrations... all as they would appear as if in real book form.
     
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  20. crappycabbage

    crappycabbage Member

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    I usually don't do much except opening the Word document, and there they are: flaws, as far as the eye can see. Reading outloud is always part of my editing though. I aim for an easy-to-read experience, so I need to hear that the sentences flow right and are not too convoluted.
     
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  21. Quanta

    Quanta Senior Member

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    In Word, I use speech to listen to my writing. For me, it works better than reading out loud because since I speak English with an accent, I have to make efforts to articulate the words properly, so I'm listening to my voice as much as I'm listening to the story.
     
  22. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    I always print it out periodically, too. It's too easy for the eye to skim over errors on a computer screen. I print out articles that are meant for online publication during the editing process to keep myself from skimming, too.

    Also, similar to @Iain Sparrow and @CoyoteKing I print out in a font similar to whatever font a mass-market copy would be (novel, magazine article, newspaper article...whatever I'm working on). It makes it easier to be objective of whatever I'm editing.
     
  23. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    Man, I feel you on that one :D
     
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  24. waitingforzion

    waitingforzion Banned

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    Are you saying that you first write a draft without meter, and then revise it so that it has meter?
     
  25. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I think copying pages from good books is money. The first time I did it, I had started out thinking my writing was getting close to as good. It wasn’t until after that I realized how much better this person was than me, which helped me see all kinds of things I was doing poorly.
     
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