Help definitely needed here

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Comments

  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile

    If there’s no value to the plot/tension/conflict/character arc by showing some mundane but necessary information, telling is preferable. Rather than investing several pages showing every aspect of the trip from packing, dressing, getting a cab to the airport, going through security, boarding the plane, arriving at his destination—you quickly tell that this way: Three days later, after a trip to Washington to get the operation sanctioned by his superiors, Casey packed his weapons and camo clothes and set out to recruit his crew.

    As Jerry Jenkins said in his excellent explanation about "show" and "tell," Ron. That's what I felt about Patsy's trip to the library. It wasn't that important, but getting off the bus was leading up to the very important rape scene. That's what I wanted to "show," but I found it so difficult. I found all 3 sites very informative. Thanks

  • The second and third links make a good point in emphasizing the fact that sometimes telling is the best way to go. The writer just needs to be aware of what is most appropriate at the moment.

    That is so, but I found a  site (not cherry picking! I was looking up how to treat rape in books! Perhaps I should have saved the link, it was a 'respectable' site. not just some writer's personal blog.) it stated that Show is only for use in none fiction. Use a picture rather than pages of text trying to describe something. It went on to say that using a picture would be somewhat difficult when covering in some subjects, and even harder in novels.

    By the bye, I probably should mention that while it sounds very egalitarian to suggest that all advice is equal since it’s all “just opinion,” this is not necessarily true.

    Who said it is all equal? I said they are just opinions, and they are. It's not an insult.

     It depends very much on the source of the advice. Education, training and experience all count. For instance, I would imagine that you would take your doctor’s opinions about your health over those of your grocer.

    What about successful writers who were once grocers or whatever? Or still were until they were earning enough cash to give up their day job, as with my T. Pratchett example. What about the people in Liz's writing group? What are their jobs? What about A. C. Clarke? he had a few positions before and during starting to get published in fiction. What about us here? giving advice?  :)

  • Yes, as I always say to my husband, "Don't tile the bathroom, fix the roof, carpet the living room, -------------- get a professional!"

    I have done all of those things, and more, and professionally  :)

    As to doctors, One admitted to me that they often look for up to 7 things, eliminating each one in turn, until they find the cause of the problem, if that fails they start sending you to specialists, until they find the right one, who then treats you, but by then it's taken so long you have either got over it, or died  :(

  • Mind you I think my husband is a very good writer. He wrote this an excerpt from one of his novels.

    That is a very reasonably executed story. Just because a person is a journalist (which is not the same as a reporter) does not mean they cannot write good fiction. Many a famous writer started off as a journalist. They have a good advantage, they are usually well educated in the art of English. Charles Dickens for one.

    Perhaps your hubby and you should collaborate on fiction, rather than him saying you should get back to your painting ...

  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    Alas, he's given up writing! However, he's a fanatical reader. :) 
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited December 2018
    The excerpt from your husband's novel is very good! And there is probably a little more "showing" in it than he might like to admit! There are several excellent examples, but I thought this was an outstanding one: "A huge cloud of reddish brick dust rose and hid the library completely almost as if an unseen presence wanted to enshroud the sight of a mournful premature death." Here he is conveying an impression rather than merely stating what happens.
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  •  It depends very much on the source of the advice. Education, training and experience all count. For instance, I would imagine that you would take your doctor’s opinions about your health over those of your grocer.

    What about successful writers who were once grocers or whatever? Or still were until they were earning enough cash to give up their day job, as with my T. Pratchett example. What about the people in Liz's writing group? What are their jobs? What about A. C. Clarke? he had a few positions before and during starting to get published in fiction. What about us here? giving advice?  :)

    I am not sure what your point is. Edgar Rice Burroughs sold pencil sharpeners before writing Tarzan. What difference does that make? In the case of Clarke (who I knew: he wrote the forward to one of my books as well as a nice blurb for the cover of another), I would definitely have put more value on his advice about writing fiction after he had become a successful novelist than as an auditor or radar expert. In other words, it makes no difference what he started out as, it's what he became that mattered. 

    And there have been many highly successful authors who have never entirely abandoned their "day jobs." Keeping to the realm of science fiction, Gregory Benford is a highly successful, multiple award-winning author who is still a respected working physicist (he is a Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Irvine). But that has no impact on his qualifications to speak about the craft of writing fiction. It's his two dozen successful, and often best-selling, novels that would make me listen to him.


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  • Larika said:
    Alas, he's given up writing! However, he's a fanatical reader. :)

    Well, the first part is sad, but the second part is good!
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  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited December 2018
    Just as a gesture of fairness, here is the opening paragraph of my novel, VeldaIt is a hard-boiled detective story set in the 1950s about a burlesque queen-turned-private eye and is told in the first person.

    I GET OFF THE BUS IN PLANKTON KEY, FLORIDA AND IT’S LIKE STEPPING IN FRONT OF A GLASSBLOWER’S FURNACE. The dank tropical heat hits me in the face like a blow from a wet army blanket. It’s as easy to breathe as a blanket, too, each mouthful like a bite of wool. The air tastes like dust and my eyes water from a glare that seems to penetrate even the shadows. My body is instantly wet with perspiration, which the over-saturated air refuses to accept, so instead of cooling me like nature intended, it just covers me with a salty, sticky coating. Welcome to the Florida Keys, I tell myself, and a new record for instant misery. My twenty-dollar white silk blouse clings to me like wet tissue. I could have saved my money, I figure, and used a fifty-cent box of damp Kleenex to the same effect. 

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  • LarrenLarren Author
    edited December 2018
    Yes, a good piece of descriptive writing Ron. Thanks both for the response to the excerpt my wife put on here.


  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    I told my husband about your comments so he visited us. Ron is your protagonist a female and is the whole novel written in the first person? We had a long discussion in my writing group about a male having a female character as their protagonist. Many of the females in our group felt a male author would find it too difficult. Both you and Kevin have female protagonists. Was it difficult putting yourselves into the shoes of a woman?
    I like your piece about a burlesque queen-turned-private eye Ron, I could visualise the scene.
    You're right Kevin. My husband has a Bachelors degree from Harvard and a Masters from the University of London.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited December 2018
    Yes, Velda has a female protagonist and is written entirely in the first person. 

    I didn't find it really difficult at all (and one has to ask if any of the females in your group would have made the same comment if the subject had been about writing from a male character's point of view? You might want to ask them!). This might be in part because Velda's appearance is based on my daughter and her personality largely on my wife's. That made it easier to put myself into the character's shoes, so to speak.

    In a very real sense it is like performing a role in a play. You take on the part of your main character while writing.

    In addition to the novel there is a novelette, a baker's dozen of short stories, a series of comic books (also with Velda as the narrator) and several radio plays that have been broadcast nationally---and I am happy to say that I have gotten nothing but good words from female readers...much to my relief, I must say.

    Later: If you really think about it, saying that a woman could not write from a man’s point of view or a man a woman’s is a little like saying you would have to be a doctor to write a book told in the first person by a doctor, or a 10th century Norseman to tell a story in the voice of a Viking.
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  • Also, Kevin can be excessively literal to the point of being obtuse at times. We're not sure if it's OCD or Curmudgeon's Syndrome.

    And I could be your potential 'average' reader.

    Oh, no. I've become the apostle to the curmugeonly. D'oH!
  • Larika said:

    I would imagine that you would take your doctor’s opinions about your health over those of your grocer

    Yes, as I always say to my husband, "Don't tile the bathroom, fix the roof, carpet the living room, -------------- get a professional!" smile. Mind you I think my husband is a very good writer. He wrote this an excerpt from one of his novels.

    As he put his arm around Rachel's shoulders he glanced at his watch and saw that it was just three seconds short of 9:20. Then he looked at the ground and had the odd sensation that it moved a fraction. As he was trying to take this in, a blast that sent a gust of wind bearing powdery dust and millions of pieces of broken bricks hurtled towards them from the direction of the library at their backs. A lot of people fell to the ground instinctively trying to protect themselves from an unknown attack. Avi fell on top of Rachel; Sam tripped and found himself gasping under an overweight university security officer. Varda, the smallest of them all, somehow managed to stay on her feet, perhaps because the dust and flying debris had practically pinned her and a score of others against the wall alongside the exit gate.No one around them appeared to be seriously hurt. The debris stopped pummelling them as suddenly as it seemed to have been catapulted from the seat of the blast. When they began standing up, the sight of the library shocked them into a momentary silence. The whole long side wall had collapsed and had fallen straight down to form a story-high pile of rubble. The exposed floors above the ground level were seen to be sagging, and shelves of books and office furniture, desks, chairs, filing cabinets, computers, had begun slowly and eerily sliding out of the building onto the mess gathering below. Then there was a huge cracking sound as the roof supports gave way and thousands of tiles began slipping down to end up on the growing pile of broken, jumbled wood and masonry so carefully and skilfully crafted and assembled nearly a century before.The only people visible were a few who had been knocked off their feet and were lying on the wide front steps away from the collapsed side wall. Sirens were wailing and men who had earlier been placed on standby carried stretchers to the prone victims. No one knew how many people were trapped under the rubble. "Get your goddamn carcasses away from that pile of shit," a police sergeant was heard screaming at his men. "The rest of the building is going to come down on your thick, stupid skulls? There might be…. Oh, holy shit, get back! Here it comes!"They heard high pitched scraping and grating like the teeth-clenching dragging of fingernails on school blackboards, as more furniture and books came sliding out of the top floors. Next there were ear splitting cracking and snapping reverberations as the structure began collapsing in its centre. A huge cloud of reddish brick dust rose and hid the library completely almost as if an unseen presence wanted to enshroud the sight of a mournful premature death. Then there was silence. As the dust began to lift, not a word was spoken and not a sound could be heard.

    This could also be more descriptive, but it's good. My primary suggestion in this passage would be to break up the paragraphs. Every new speaker gets his own paragraph; each change of subject or of emphasis gets a new paragraph. When in doubt, paragraph every fourth sentence.

    I like that Avi saw the earth move ever so slightly before feeling the shock wave and the pummeling debris. This tells me that the explosion was a detonation, not a deflagration. But it would have been so very boring to say, "The explosion was a detonation, as demonstrated by Avi's observation that the earth moved slightly prior to the approach of the shock wave, as otherwise it would have been a deflagration, with a burn rate less than or equal to the speed of sound at sea level..."

    That is, Burt is doing well there at showing and not telling. Still, if he slowed down a bit, he could possibly tell a better tale yet.
  • I was wondering if maybe the monolithic block of text might be an artifact of losing formatting during the process of cutting and pasting it in. The are occasional places where a space doesn’t follow a period that may have been a paragraph break. 
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  • Alas, he's given up writing! However, he's a fanatical reader.

    I don't see why he cannot write along with you, collaborate.

  • "A huge cloud of reddish brick dust rose and hid the library completely almost as if an unseen presence wanted to enshroud the sight of a mournful premature death." Here he is conveying an impression rather than merely stating what happens.

    He's telling us what happened, it's text   :)

  • I am not sure what your point is.

    You really worry me with your replies. It's obvious what my point is.

    Edgar Rice Burroughs sold pencil sharpeners before writing Tarzan. What difference does that make? 

    You said, would you take writing advice from a grocer (as an example trade.) So you would not take advice from a chap because he used to sell pencil sharpeners then? because that's what you are saying.

    In the case of Clarke (who I knew: he wrote the forward to one of my books as well as a nice blurb for the cover of another), I would definitely have put more value on his advice about writing fiction after he had become a successful novelist than as an auditor or radar expert. In other words, it makes no difference what he started out as, it's what he became that mattered.

    But you said it does matter what their 'day' job used to be. You are saying Clarke, as the same example, would not have been worth taking advice from on how to write before he became a famous writer, and yet he must have become a famous published writer because he knew how to write.

    And there have been many highly successful authors who have never entirely abandoned their "day jobs." Keeping to the realm of science fiction, Gregory Benford is a highly successful, multiple award-winning author who is still a respected working physicist (he is a Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Irvine). But that has no impact on his qualifications to speak about the craft of writing fiction. It's his two dozen successful, and often best-selling, novels that would make me listen to him.

    But he is the same person, even prior to becoming published in fiction.

    http://mentalfloss.com/article/31026/early-jobs-24-famous-writers

    In one way, you are saying that because some of us are not famous writers, our advice is worthless.  :(

  • I told my husband about your comments so he visited us. Ron is your protagonist a female and is the whole novel written in the first person? We had a long discussion in my writing group about a male having a female character as their protagonist. Many of the females in our group felt a male author would find it too difficult.

    I don't find it difficult. If you live with and associate with females, and actually take notice of them, it's not that hard, and there's also my feminine side, of course. As I have said a few times, become the character. (Only while you write though! And only in your mind!)

     Both you and Kevin have female protagonists.

    Well only in one series of stories, and in the one you are reading right now there's also male bad guys, and even more in the other parts.

     Was it difficult putting yourselves into the shoes of a woman?

    Not at all. I do often find it hard to write about people being nasty, though, and I would hate to kill off any of my main characters, as seems to be the trend. I get too attached to them!


    I like your piece about a burlesque queen-turned-private eye Ron, I could visualise the scene.
    You're right Kevin. My husband has a Bachelors degree from Harvard and a Masters from the University of London.

    Get him to write with you then.

  • I was wondering if maybe the monolithic block of text might be an artifact of losing formatting during the process of cutting and pasting it in. The are occasional places where a space doesn’t follow a period that may have been a paragraph break.

    When I copy stuff from Word in to here it seems to quadruple the spacing and reduce the font size.

  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile

    Burt is doing well there at showing and not telling. Still, if he slowed down a bit, he could possibly tell a better tale yet.

    Burt has very little patience. He could produce a best seller if he spent more time on his novels.(he's only written 2} He got an agent for his second novel, but lost patience with him and took the easy route, abandoned the agent and went with the notorious Publish America. Of course they did nothing to promote his book.

    I was wondering if maybe the monolithic block of text might be an artifact of losing formatting during the process of cutting and pasting it in. The are occasional places where a space doesn’t follow a period that may have been a paragraph break.

    It was Ron, entirely my fault!

    Get him to write with you then.

    What's the cliche --not a hope in hell.
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    (and one has to ask if any of the females in your group would have made the same comment if the subject had been about writing from a male character's point of view? You might want to ask them!).
    That was part of the discussion. One women said she could do it easily because she knew men inside out. They don't listen, can't cook, have no patience, won't ask for directions, have sex on their mind all the time, hate emotional conversations and wear any old thing.  We all laughed and that was that!
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    Only while you write though! And only in your mind!
    Read Caitlyn Jenner's autobiography. Her's was in her mind for so long that at 65 years of age it became a reality. :)
  • Larika said:
    (and one has to ask if any of the females in your group would have made the same comment if the subject had been about writing from a male character's point of view? You might want to ask them!).
    That was part of the discussion. One women said she could do it easily because she knew men inside out. They don't listen, can't cook, have no patience, won't ask for directions, have sex on their mind all the time, hate emotional conversations and wear any old thing.  We all laughed and that was that!
    Well, misanthropic misogynist that I am, I have been known to remark that women cannot be understood as individuals, but only in the aggregate, and then only as an abstraction.

    All kidding aside, I had a female lead character -- a couple of them -- in The Atheist's Tale, and I think they were fairly realistic, and distinct from the male characters. But I might just not have the right lens to see my errors (yes, Kevin, it literally takes special glasses to understand certain characters).

    I can usually identify a male character written by a female author, because men and women have completely different methods of processing information. We see information as information and emotions as emotions, whereas women tend to see emotions as information and information through emotions.

    We say "If we do X, we need to consider the effects of Y and Z." A woman hears, "We shouldn't do X, because of Y and Z." We say, "I'd prefer to spend the time available on X instead of Y" and women hear "I hate doing Y and you shouldn't make me do it." It's a completely different processing system. Don't get me started on "Would it hurt to try it?"

    I tried discussing this with some friends once. We used a model of the mind in which a man's brain has a front office and a back office. In the front office, everyone wears suits, they deal with customers (other people) and the maintain a professional decorum. But in the back office, the desks are piled with papers, there are girly calendars on the walls, the file cabinets are overflowing, and everyone wears Hawai'ian shirts. That's a man's mind.

    You know when you see someone on the street, and you know that you know them but the name won't come to you? A front office person phoned the back room, and said, "Do we know that guy?" The back room guy said "Yes, we do." The front office guy said, "Well, who is he?" and the back room guy said, "I'm not gonna tell you, na na na na na na!"

    In a woman's mind, there's one room and the desks are arranged in a circle, facing outward. Each desk has a different function, but different people sit at different desks each day. One friend remarked that in his wife's mind, the intellect lady tended to sit at the emotions desk, leading to, "I don't know why I feel this way!"

    I'll just duck behind this potted plant to avoid the shoes and purses that are being thrown at me...
  • I have lived this:

    and this:



  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    Well, misanthropic misogynist that I am.   
     When I was teaching we had a male teacher, whom we used to say was a misogynist. He knew too! Anyway he became a deputy head at another school and a year later we heard he'd scarpered with one of the female teachers. :)
  • I'm kidding when I call myself a misogynist. I don't know the first thing about massages.
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    All kidding aside, I had a female lead character -- a couple of them -- in The Atheist's Tale, and I think they were fairly realistic, and distinct from the male characters. But I might just not have the right lens to see my errors (yes, Kevin, it literally takes special glasses to understand certain characters).

     I really like the way you gave Brittany a leadership role in the prayer group. In most religions, men play a more important role than women.
    In Christianity this may be based on the Bible. In Genesis it says "the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet fit for him." It suggests that women play a supportive role to men. There are also passages in the Bible that say women should submit to their husbands and  stay silent in their shadow.

    Brittany is very devout, spiritual  and a leader. (However she shows no love interest in any of the men) I have a friend similar to her; so yes, B was a believable character.  My friend Joy knows my views and we are still friends. (I might add that Joy was married but her husband is now deceased) My husband, on the other hand (He is an atheist) cannot understand how J and I can still be friends. However unlike  Brittany, Joy hasn't attempted to draw me into her prayer group; but I know they are evangelicals and one or two behave like Brittany. I think your male characters were also very real and some atheists behave like Nick. (Christopher Hitchens comes to mind) Fortunately my husband is nothing like either of them and although he has no Christian friends he would never do what Nick  did.  Interesting that the strong female professor  was an atheist, but also not likeable. I promise you there are atheists who are likeable.
    I don't think your female characters are stereotypes. Many writers fall into the trap and their females are stereotypical figures.
  • I am not sure what your point is.

    You really worry me with your replies. It's obvious what my point is.

    🤔

    Edgar Rice Burroughs sold pencil sharpeners before writing Tarzan. What difference does that make? 

    You said, would you take writing advice from a grocer (as an example trade.) So you would not take advice from a chap because he used to sell pencil sharpeners then? because that's what you are saying.

    As you surely must know perfectly well, I am not talking about what a person may once have done. In fact, I think I made it clear (at least to anyone else) that I would take advice from Burroughs or Clarke because of their extensive experience and success as authors and that the fact that they may have once sold pencil sharpeners or been clerks is irrelevant. That would be like declining advice from a doctor because they worked in a shoe store before attending medical school.

    In the case of Clarke (who I knew: he wrote the forward to one of my books as well as a nice blurb for the cover of another), I would definitely have put more value on his advice about writing fiction after he had become a successful novelist than as an auditor or radar expert. In other words, it makes no difference what he started out as, it's what he became that mattered.

    But you said it does matter what their 'day' job used to be. 

    No, I didn’t.

    You are saying Clarke, as the same example, would not have been worth taking advice from on how to write before he became a famous writer, and yet he must have become a famous published writer because he knew how to write.

    No one becomes a famous writer just by knowing how to write. If that were so, every Lulu author would be a best-seller.

    And there have been many highly successful authors who have never entirely abandoned their "day jobs." Keeping to the realm of science fiction, Gregory Benford is a highly successful, multiple award-winning author who is still a respected working physicist (he is a Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Irvine). But that has no impact on his qualifications to speak about the craft of writing fiction. It's his two dozen successful, and often best-selling, novels that would make me listen to him.

    But he is the same person, even prior to becoming published in fiction.

    So? He is the same person, just as I am the same person I was before I sold my first book to a publisher. But I am not talking about Benford the person but Benford the author. There are countless physicists who never become science fiction writers.

    http://mentalfloss.com/article/31026/early-jobs-24-famous-writers

    In one way, you are saying that because some of us are not famous writers, our advice is worthless.  :(

    No, not at all, and I am sorry you took it that way. But I should think that even you would agree that experience and success at any endeavor adds value to the advice given. For instance, I would value your advice about writing or self-publishing over that of someone who hasn’t your experience in writing or self-publishing.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • I told my husband about your comments so he visited us. Ron is your protagonist a female and is the whole novel written in the first person? We had a long discussion in my writing group about a male having a female character as their protagonist. Many of the females in our group felt a male author would find it too difficult.

    I don't find it difficult. If you live with and associate with females, and actually take notice of them, it's not that hard, and there's also my feminine side, of course. As I have said a few times, become the character. (Only while you write though! And only in your mind!)

    I could not agree more. Observation, as you say, and observation with empathy, is key. I also like that you tap into your “feminine side,” which is important. No one (except for some biological anomalies) is either 100% male or female. There is part of us that can relate to the other sex if we make even half an effort. Related to this is your excellent advice about becoming whatever character you are writing about. This is akin to my comparing writing in the first person to acting.

     Both you and Kevin have female protagonists.

    All of my books have featured strong female protagonists. In two series they are the lead character, in the rest they are the main secondary characters. My predilection for writing about women like this is undoubtedly inspired by my wife, who you have already met in her alter ego of Captain Judikha.

    Well only in one series of stories, and in the one you are reading right now there's also male bad guys, and even more in the other parts.

     Was it difficult putting yourselves into the shoes of a woman?

    Not at all. I do often find it hard to write about people being nasty, though, and I would hate to kill off any of my main characters, as seems to be the trend. I get too attached to them!


    I like your piece about a burlesque queen-turned-private eye Ron, I could visualise the scene.
    You're right Kevin. My husband has a Bachelors degree from Harvard and a Masters from the University of London.

    Get him to write with you then.

    I second that!


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    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
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