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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » For the Writers

   
Author Topic: For the Writers
Jeff C.
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I thought I'd make a topic just for writers, which probably means most of Hatrack. Anyway, I wanted to ask what kinds of experiences you've all had in writing, whether you had been published or not, what genre you write, and what authors inspire you?

I'll post mine after I've seen a few replies.

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Samprimary
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write something

edit it once

edit it again

edit it again

edit it again

edit it again

edit it again

edit it again

sleep on it

hide it forever

Repeat (almost) forever.

I'll be published* eventually. I'm just so self critical that I will hide everything and constantly be going NO, NO, IT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Then I show like a chapter to a friend and they're always like 'what are you talking about this is amazing' and I'm like NO, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND then I snatch it out of their hands and run away to go bury it in a chest forever

*again, but, argh

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Dan_Frank
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I'm curious about this topic but your initial statement seems a little too broad and open-ended. Seems like you're basically just inviting us to talk a lot about ourselves, which is kind of boring, but if enough people respond then I suppose the fun part will be reading about other people. So here's hoping that if I respond I'll get to see some actual writers post! [Smile]

Here's my attempt at an answer. I'm a wildly unsuccessful writer who has only ever "published" lame nonfiction nonbook material like marketing copy, evaluations, business proposals, evaluations, and the rare research article.

Outside of the crap I write that nobody cares about (except, thankfully, the people who pay me to write it) I write a lot of fiction, but I've never even tried to publish it. As far as genres, I used to pretty much exclusively write fantasy, tending towards the darker, grittier style (Think G.R.R. Martin, who has definitely been an influence in the last decade). Occasional short stories, and fragments of novels.

More recently, I've written a more urban fantasy/mystery sort of novel and for the first time am actually considering trying to publish it somewhere (once I get through another round or two of editing.) Don't have terribly high hopes, but it's something I've always told myself I should do.

As I said, I find Martin to be a very inspiring author. I've always found OSC to be inspiring in a general sense, because I really like his approach to writing and his attitudes about the literary community. And I love his stories, even though I've almost never personally been interested in writing sci-fi. I tend to appreciate straightforward writing, and find a lot of literary fiction to be really pretentious and unappealing.

Aaand that's it, I guess.

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Dan_Frank
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Yaaay I'm not the only one responding!

That's a great description of the process, Sam. I'm with you. [Frown]

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Lyrhawn
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I'm in the midst of getting my first journal article published from a halfway decent, fairly well-respected history journal. But I don't think that counts.

I find myself writing all sorts of things these days. It may sound like a "no duh" statement, but my writing habits mirror my reading habits. Sometimes I'll write something childish, like the YA fiction thing I'm working on in another thread, and sometimes I just want to spend a couple hours hammering out reading one of those. And sometimes I write more complicated fiction with symbolism and messages and nicer prose and what have you.

Last year I really got into writing creative non-fiction, which was challenging and fun.

I don't know who I'd consider a stylistic influence. My writing style has evolved organically for a long time, it'd be hard to point out singular influences, but I'll think about it.

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Orincoro
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I'm a staff columnist for a small Czech language literary women's magazine- which I don't think I ever shared here on Hatrack. The editor/owner is also a book publisher, and would like me to write a full length book of essays. Think Bill Bryson, David Sesdaris, and Richard Seltzer (style closer to Seltzer, content closer to the former two).

My approach to writing Is not as above described. It's write, assess, edit, sleep on it. Then it's either rewrite or publish. I don't give a work 3 looks- either I like it enough to tweak it, or im done with it. I learned that process in musical composition. The better is the enemy of the good. You are not smarter today than you were the last two days combined- and last impressions are often the worst.

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Liz B
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I recently joined a writing group. That makes it sound like it was voluntary...not so much. It's part of a class I helped design and am taking, which helps teachers to become better teachers of writing. I'm hoping/ planning to teach the course next year. Part of the class requires teachers to work on personal writing projects.

It has been awesome.

Like all of us, I am busy; perhaps unlike many of us, writing is not my love or passion. If I have free time I want to READ.

Being in the writing group has forced me to write, though--and while it hasn't become my passion, writing and responding to group members has been tremendously satisfying.

I just (literally--as in, five hours ago) submitted an article I wrote for the group for potential publication in a book of practical advice for new teachers. This was huge for me and I'm really proud of myself.

I also do lots of model writing for my students, book reviews online, and curriculum writing for my district.

Hm. I guess it's easy to think that stuff doesn't count if it's not fiction intended for publication...

If I ever try my hand at a novel--maybe for NaNoWriMo when my offspring is a little older--it will definitely be a contemporary romance. The trashier the better.

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Vadon
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I do a similar thing to Sam. I never share my writing with anyone other than my brother, but that's because we have a longstanding competition on being better writers. We challenge each other to small writing projects to get good practice, but I've never written anything I'd consider getting published. As for what I write, I write mostly comedic fiction. By mostly, I mean that it's about all I write. (In fact, my brother's latest challenge is for me to write a short story without a single joke, just to see if I can do it. I don't even know where to begin.)

My brother tells me my writing is funny and always a treat to read, but in my self-criticism I second guess my writing and am not sure if it's actually funny. So I refuse to share it. Instead of writing with the aspirations of making it big, I do it because I have fun with it.

The writers whose works most inspire me are probably Joss Whedon, Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, Aaron Sorkin, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Allen Poe. When I read (or hear) their work, I usually get a dopey grin plastered across my face. I don't pretend to be able to write in their respective traditions, but if pressed to answer whose writing gives me nerd-chills that's my answer. I believe there are better storytellers, better thinkers, and just plain "better" writers, but the ones I listed are simply the ones that make me want to write.

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advice for robots
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I'm working on a Heinlein-esque YA sci-fi novel right now. I've written one draft of it and have decided I'd better work a lot on the structure, so I've stripped it back down to the bones and am slowly rebuilding it. The book Story Engineering by Larry Brooks has been a big help in rethinking how I write that first draft. I recommend it if you're like me and your novels always end up fizzling out because you don't know where to take them.

Working on it every single day, even for just 20 minutes, does keep the thing in my head and keeps me moving on it. There's nothing like having the novel open and having my fingers moving on the keyboard to help me work through those impossible spots.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
I'm working on a Heinlein-esque YA sci-fi novel right now. I've written one draft of it and have decided I'd better work a lot on the structure, so I've stripped it back down to the bones and am slowly rebuilding it. The book Story Engineering by Larry Brooks has been a big help in rethinking how I write that first draft. I recommend it if you're like me and your novels always end up fizzling out because you don't know where to take them.

Working on it every single day, even for just 20 minutes, does keep the thing in my head and keeps me moving on it. There's nothing like having the novel open and having my fingers moving on the keyboard to help me work through those impossible spots.

I'm the king of story fizzle.

I have probably 20 or 30 stories sitting on my hard drive that have anywhere from three to fifty pages written that I did in one or two sittings but just didn't know where to go once I lost steam.

Even worse, I have two stories that I wrote maybe 30 pages for, and I love them to death, and I spent hours working out exactly what would happen with the plot, what the characters were like, lengthy descriptions of the background history, the settings, etc. In once case I even started to create a language from scratch.

And I'm deathly afraid to finish either one of them for fear that I couldn't possibly do them justice.

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Scott R
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(You realize there's a whole forum dedicated to writers here on Hatrack, right?)

quote:
I wanted to ask what kinds of experiences you've all had in writing
Mostly good ones. There was that one time where I got connived into an MMA cage match against Pournelle and Niven, but thankfully Pratchett dropped in and helped me out.

quote:
whether you had been published or not
Yep-- and my novelette, A Discriminating Monster's Guide to the Perils of Princess Snatching is eligible for the Hugo, Nebula, and InterGalactic Medicine Show reader's choice awards.

quote:
what genre you write
I stick to contemporary fantasy and horror, mostly.

quote:
what authors inspire you?
I'm heavily influenced by Orson Scott Card and Ray Bradbury.

My process is:

*Think
*Outline
*Write
*Revise
-Wait for a couple weeks (in the meantime, I'm outlining and revising other work-
*Edit/Revise
*Submit

You can read more about my process here.

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Jeff C.
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Wow Scott, that's impressive. Congrats on your novella!

Personally, I'm like Sam in that I'm overly critical of myself. However, I have slowly been churning out a science fiction novel and it is making decent headway. I'm about halfway through it now. Honestly, by this point, I just want it to be over so I can move on to the next idea, but I know I can't stop writing it.

I was published once, but it was a non-fiction/comedy article for cracked.com that related to various myths about the brain. I think it got about 1.2 million views or something, but that's not uncommon for that website. Honestly, I didn't enjoy the process, but I did enjoy the fact that I could say I'd been published, even if it was in a small way.

My influences include OSC, John Scalzi, Christopher Moore, and Stephen King (although when I say King, I mostly mean his On Writing. The advice I found in that was extremely useful).

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twinky
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A few years ago, The Escapist published a short story I wrote.
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Javert
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I write a weekly podcast that gets performed and published...by me...every week. Does that count? It's about super villains, so mostly science fiction comedy with dashes of horror and fantasy thrown in.

I've written a short radio play that was used on a serialized podcast.

I've recently finished the first draft of a full-length play about Houdini, and begun an outline for my next full-length that I'll be starting soon.

I read far too much to really say who my influences are. Joss Whedon and Jim Butcher both jump to mind, but more due to their naturalistic style of writing. That is, they seem to write more like real people talk. The people I know, any way.

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Stone_Wolf_
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I can write the hell out of the first five to ten pages of a book or story, maybe even the first five or ten pages of the second and third acts too, but never never never have I finished a story in my life.

I'm durn good at turning a phrase, and painting a picture with words (in my nonhumble opinion) but I just have no idea how to get a story from A to B to C. I know where I want to get to, but I have no idea how to tell the nitty gritty story that fills pages.

My writing is fiction, current day, speculative or with a fantasy bend.

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Jeff C.
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
I can write the hell out of the first five to ten pages of a book or story, maybe even the first five or ten pages of the second and third acts too, but never never never have I finished a story in my life.

I'm durn good at turning a phrase, and painting a picture with words (in my nonhumble opinion) but I just have no idea how to get a story from A to B to C. I know where I want to get to, but I have no idea how to tell the nitty gritty story that fills pages.

My writing is fiction, current day, speculative or with a fantasy bend.

Sounds like you may want to look into editing. Have you considered that?
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Lyrhawn
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He'll be working on it soon enough.
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Stone_Wolf_
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I'm editing Lyr's YA book [Wink]
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