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What's the best piece of writing advice you've been given?

Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Stormsong07, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributing Member

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    Another one:

    Describe the character before the reader has the chance to start imagining how they look like. By then, it's too late.
     
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  2. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    Plan and organise first.
     
  3. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    At a writing conference, after a successful mystery writer had gone to great lengths about how one should map out their entire story in an outline, introducing the first subplot and Point A (specific word count) and second subplot at Point B (specific word count), the next speaker (Steven James) got up and said, "I don't see how anyone could possibly write like that."

    He also said, "You don't have a story until something goes wrong."
     
  4. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wow. I'm an outliner, and that sounds absurd.

    EDIT: That first speaker sounds more like an outlier than an outliner.
     
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  5. Stormburn

    Stormburn Senior Member

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    I understand it as a writer being flexible. A quote that I've taken to heart is: "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." by Eisenhower. In my opinion, a writer has to know where his story is going to navigate all the left turns that will be thrown at him during the writing.
    Godspeed!
     
  6. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    1) I was just talking about Eisenhower yesterday :) and 2) that is a fantastic way to put it.
     
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  7. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here's another good one that I remember and for whatever reason has stuck with me:

    "Think of dialogue as mini-conflicts. People rarely say exactly what they're thinking."
     
  8. Karl Derrick

    Karl Derrick New Member

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    Interesting. I tend to use it, but not in the way of your examples. I use it when the character is from a past era. I wonder what your professor would think of this sort of usage.

    For example (from a letter of one of my characters. He's telling a story himself - set around late 1700s or early 1800s):

    "I rested at her [place] a few days, and on the first night, as we were warming our feet by the fire, I told her about our recent work. Yet it was when I mentioned your concerns about the awkward apathetic behavior of your daughter, that her eyes grew wide and her face grave."

    or

    "Yet it was on the day his youngest son was found dead that he became possessed with a [vengefulness?] that not even I or you have ever witnessed in any of the vilest people we have dealt with in our profession."


    I also have an "it would":

    "It would be my wish to be proposing to you a solution for what I’m about to describe, yet if there is even but a shred of hope, I am not aware of it..."
     
  9. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    If you are a professional and have to hit word count on deadline within constraints of previous books/episodes then planning and outlining is mandatory.
    If you are an amateur free of all constraints for genre, word count, deadlines, and previous or future books/episodes then just start writing and play Walter Mitty.

    Much of this comes down to experience and skill. A good and experienced writer may only need 4 plot points in his head.
    But for the rest of us sketching out a logical path from start to finish saves us time and wasted effort.
     
  10. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Dragons, Knights, and Nurses oh my! Contributor

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    It doesn't matter what you write as long as your writing.

    The rest would speak more to a lack of anything overly
    useful. Most treat writing like pickup artists, in the sense
    that just because it worked for them does not mean it
    will work for you.
     
  11. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    What if I do my best Walter Mittying when I'm planning and outlining ;)
     
  12. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    I am still researching this. Pantsing ala Walter Mitty is a form of brainstorming. Not efficient but better than nothing.
    Outlines and gathering content to use are iterative. If your MBTI is not ISTJ then you are more likely to have to do it the WM way.
     
  13. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does "Walter Mitty" mean something more specific than just letting one's imagination run wild? I was thinking that I'm a planner who starts by Walter Mittying scenarios before turning them into words (as opposed to Walter Mittying while I'm making the words).

    Were you using the term differently?
     
  14. Stormburn

    Stormburn Senior Member

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    Speaking in general, I see preparation as getting all my 'left brain' stuff done so my 'right brain' can have the stage to itself. Time is a resource that can't be bought, borrowed or horded. My creative mind, that crazy squirrel running in the wheel, works at its own pace so I really do try to give it as much room to play as I can. Also, as a developing writer, I see now as the time to develop those professional work habits that, Lord Willing, I will actually need one day.
    Godspeed!
     
  15. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    To me Walter Mitty means someone pretending at being an author by just writing. But all they do is fill up desk drawers with mss they never finish.

    Just writing can be an inefficient way to brainstorm. But if that was intentional then I would not put the WM label on it. I would call it planning albeit inefficiently done.

    It is when somebody just sits down to write and expects a novel to emerge somehow that I label it WM. Technically they might actually write a novel, although that is rare, but if your name is not Stephen King the odds are that it will be pure garbage.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017 at 7:07 PM
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  16. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @joe sixpak OK, we weren't talking about the same thing then :)
     
  17. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    That happens a lot here when people have different meanings for words they use.
     
  18. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Especially with totally popular, well-trodden terms like "Walter Mittying."

    :confused::confused::confused:
     
  19. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    I only recall it from many decades ago when we brieflyhad to read it for an English class.
     
  20. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Senior Member

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    It's from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, by James Thurber. It's about this really meek guy who imagines himself in several different heroic roles. There's way more to it than that, but I too, read it long ago in an English class, and so don't remember the specifics. It was also made into a movie starring Ben Stiller in 2013 , I think?
     
  21. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    Exactly. That is how I remember it. All fantasy imagination role playing but not really doing anything just like most pantsers do.
     
  22. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think there's some confusion of terms here.

    "Pantsing" is not procrastinating. It's a method of writing. So, when someone says they're a "pantser," it means that is how they actively write. Procrastinating, or "Walter Mittying" is a totally different thing.

    To say that "most pantsers don't really don anything" is not only wrong, but a little counter-intuitive. Plotting/organizing is not the only way to be productive. And for some people, myself included, it's actually less productive to plan and outline before I write. When I've tried to plot and outline in the past, It's spoiled my excitement for the story. That doesn't mean it's wrong for everyone, but it's certainly wrong for me.

    tl;dr: Let's not make sweeping, incorrect statements, guy.
     
  23. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Dragons, Knights, and Nurses oh my! Contributor

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    "It is a little wrong to call a tomato a vegetable.
    It is very wrong to call a tomato a suspension bridge."- Stewart-Big Bang Theory-
     
  24. Komposten

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    :stop:
    Guys, calm down! I like this thread, don't make me close it.
     
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  25. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    Roger that. I have a tendency to defend myself when attacked by others, which I think is fair.
    I never attack others unless provoked.
     

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