1. waitingforzion

    waitingforzion Banned

    Dec 13, 2009
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    Inability to organize thoughts and other issues

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by waitingforzion, Oct 12, 2013.

    Greetings! I have an earnest desire to write with eloquence, and to bind words together in a manner which is syntactically, semantically, and phonetically rich, and conveys my thoughts with power. But to be rich in syntax, I must have a skill with grammar, and to be rich in semantics, I must have a skill with thoughts, and to be rich in phonetics, I must have a skill with sound.

    Now I know many rules of grammar, but I don’t have a large repository of the forms a sentence can take. For this reason I was wondering if sentence combining would benefit me. Also, I have many thoughts throughout the day, but I cannot keep them all in mind at once, nor can I bring them to mind at the time that I choose. For this reason I was wondering if you had any insight as to how I could improve my thinking. Moreover, I have knowledge of syllables and accents, but often have trouble applying them along with the other two things. For this reason I was wondering if there is any way that I could improve my rhythm.

    Can anyone help me with these three things, and with the unified application of these three things? Thank you in advance for your help.
  2. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Jul 17, 2008
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    The first thing you should do is read a lot. That will help you improve your grammar and vocabulary (among other things). Get a good grammar guide as well. I'm sure there are lots of good ones online, but there's also the Chicago Manual of Style, which is used by a lot of people (including most publishers).

    If you have trouble remembering ideas, get a notepad or something similar and write down your ideas so you won't forget them.

    For syllables and accents, consult a dictionary. Are you writing poetry by any chance?
  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Mar 9, 2010
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    I think that writing is a skill that builds from simplicity. So even though your eventual goal appears to be a sort of baroque eloquence, I think that it's best to start out with clean, simple writing, and lots of it. The clean simple writing will directly address the question about organizing your thoughts--a simple structure and simple words highlight any confusion in meaning.

    And that discipline of simplicity and clarity will give you a strong base for adding the richness that you crave. But I think that it's important not to add that richness merely for the sake of it. In cooking, you don't add another pound of butter to a sauce just to make it richer--you add it to achieve a very specific goal in terms of flavor, texture, or some other attribute. The same should be true of adding the heavier, richer elements of writing.

    This means that you should avoid thoughts like:

    "That sounds plain."
    "How can I make it sound fancier?"

    Instead the goal should be:

    "That doesn't express quite what I meant."
    "What word or phrase would make my meaning clearer?"

    And ideally, the meaning would be clearer *without* adding complexity. There is no inherent value in complexity, or in longer or fancier or rarer words. In fact, all of those things have a cost, and they should pay back that cost by expressing your meaning more successfully.

    As an example, in your post you said "bind words together" in a place where I would have said "combine words." To me, "bind" has negative nuances in this context--it suggests to me that the words are unwillingly tied together ("bound") in a way that they cannot escape and that may not be altogether natural. Now, to you it may instead mean that the words are part of a combined, seamless, strong structure of meaning.

    If "bind" has nuances that make your meaning clearer, then it's perfectly appropriate. But if you just felt that "combine words" was too plain and prosaic and you sought a synonymous phrase that sounded fancier, then I think that that's a problematic strategy.

    So, again, I would suggest that you start out by seeking clarity and simplicity, a clean plain beautiful skeleton of words, and only when you've really mastered that should you try to add richness.
    Wreybies and obsidian_cicatrix like this.
  4. obsidian_cicatrix

    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

    Jul 15, 2013
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    Belfast, Northern Ireland
    Nice catch. I was struck by the same.

    To me, there's nothing worse than reading a piece, where it seems the writer is trying too hard. It is a distraction from what's being said. Many favour an economical approach to start with, as ChickenFreak suggests. This is the route I've taken, and it's serving me well. I'm able to get to grips with word choice, without being blinded by poorly written, florid text. There are just too many words to contend with, and sort through.

    No point trying to play Bach's Prelude, when you can't even tune a guitar.

    Read the kind of lit you wish to write, and pull it apart to see what makes it tick. Learn from it, without resorting to imitation. Apply what you learn to you own writing, and see what happens. Style guides are useful as a starting off point, and give a firm foundation. I'm still not at the point where I can write a piece like you describe, without coming across as unnecessarily wordy and pretentious. It could be a case of, if I plug away at it long enough, it will come. Or it could be that it'll never happen, because it just isn't my voice, and the attempt will always come across as forced.

    Attempt to write well, no matter how it spills out on to the page/doc, and look for ways it can be improved over time. You are setting yourself a very high bar, in my opinion.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  5. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh

    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

    Aug 29, 2013
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    Music Room #3
    For starters, don't use such fancy words. I don't know what they mean, and quite frankly, don't really care. I agree with everyone else here, read a lot. Read books, magazines (both Time and People), read everything!

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