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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Hatrack is Almost Useless Now

   
Author Topic: Hatrack is Almost Useless Now
Spaceman
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quote:
This forum is for writers 18 years of age and older.

I believe in 2005 the regulars, including Kathleen, decided this was going to be judged on behavior rather than ID. Starting a thread on Yugo cards makes it pretty clear we have children on the forum, or at least people who are children mentally. They go, or I do. I doubt Scott wants the forum driving away his former bootcampers.

quote:
First, please be aware that our concern for author's rights means that this workshop is not for stories about someone else's characters or settings;

A proponant of wholesale theft? A thread that says it's okay to steal whole chapters, but stealing entire works would be okay if ony it weren't redundant? This is an assinine statement that has no business here. I guarantee, if you steal my work, I'll sue you (or more likely your mommy and daddy).

quote:
In Open Discussions on Writing, you can discuss all kinds of questions on writing. Feel free to join in any current discussion, to resurrect any old discussion, or to start a new discussion on writing.

There's a placer for non-writing discussion. It's not far. Take your blather here:

http://www.hatrack.com/forums/index.shtml

quote:
And all through the discussion, you must be polite.

Not even attempted recently.


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Christine
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I can sympathize, Spaceman. I haven't been particularly active on this forum for a long time now, but I've been around for years and this isn't the first time. It probably won't be the last. One thing I can say for Hatrack, though, is that we rally and pull through. Partly, this is thanks to Kathleen, who has quickly closed the threads that have caused you concern.

I also think that this place loses interest for people who don't want to have an adult discussion about writing and writing-related topics. That is what we're here to discuss, after all, and the core group of hatrackers consistently does.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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The only topics that stay active are the ones people reply to.

And I really do try to close inappropriate topics as soon as I know about them.


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Spaceman
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I just voiced what everyone else was thinking. I've met too many very good writers here to just abandon the place. Alethea, EJS, Christine, MRK, to name only a handful. The old hands were doing flank attacks inside the questionable forums. I wanted a frontal assault.

Cheers!


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Christine
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I must say that the current number of locked threads is disturbing. I can't recall seeing so many at once.

I think Kathleen has hit it on this one, though -- some topics aren't worth responding to. Best to let them die.


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AstroStewart
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I just thought I'd add that this very issue is beginning to concern me as well. I read these forums regularly, and have found them to be invaluable in teaching me some of the nuances of good writing, and being a writer. I don't tend to add my input that often, as I often consider myself a "writing noob" more likely to gain insight from other people's advice in this forum than actually give out anything useful myself, but I've been actively reading the topics here for I think two years now.

Until now almost all threads have been right on topic of writing related, and polite, insightful... basically they've all been mature with very little juevenille behavior. Until recently, anyway. As usual, I'm not sure if I've said anything more than backing up a pre-existing opinion on a forum, but I just felt the need to add my input on this issue, as I'd hate to begin to lose interest in this forum due to an emergence of immaturity and irrelevent topics.

As usual I'm not sure I've said anything


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Survivor
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We've had a week's worth of silly posts by immature non-writers whom hardly anyone was taking seriously from the beginning. That hardly makes the entire forum useless. It's a very minor annoyance. I would recommend not spending a lot of energy on any thread started by one of the offenders, but other than that it's not exactly a big deal.
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Hookt_Un_Fonix
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I feel bad for contributing to those threads not discussing writing. I agree though, if you think a thread is redundant, don't reply and it will die. I have to admit I am "noob" here, and a "noob" writer. I really don't even consider myself a writer yet, because I have yet to be paid for anything I have committed to text. Hopefully I will learn enough here to get myself in the category of writer. I have met a few people here that expressed themselves well enough that I would like to get their opinion. They know who they are, but I am constantly looking for others. My bad habit here though would be the threads that go political, or refer to a certain groups as bad. I know that those starting the thread are trying to get a rise form people in a juvenile way, but I can't seem to resist the bait at all times. I am getting better. Don't give up on us, the BS will pass. Be patient.
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Elan
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I've been on Hatrack for nearly two years, and have learned a lot. However, lately I've noticed I'm not learning much that is new here. I have extended my attention out to agent and editor blogs, and from them I'm still picking up some valuable tips.

Sadly, the people I COULD be learning from are the more experienced Hatrackers, who rarely participate in this forum any longer.

I try to do my part and pass on some of what I've learned to others, but I fear it didn't take long to begin feeling like a broken record. (Note: RECORD... ancient artifact made out of pressed plastic, set with grooves, that produces musical tones when played on a device known as a "record player.") I have noticed these spates of irrelevant postings tend to come in waves. The good thing is it shows new blood on the forum. The bad thing is the conversation is still irrelevant, and virtually useless to me.

I suppose the next step available to me would be to pony up some money and take a professional workshop from published authors. Too bad that, due to finances, that prosepect doesn't look good anytime soon.


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Spaceman
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Elan, what I've noticed over the past year or so, is that the more experienced folks pop in, make their insightful comments in the appropriate places, then move on to their next task. It's one of the signs that these folks are actually writing.

My beef was that I'd pop into a thread that looked interesting but turned out to be a waste of time.

That said, Survivor is right, Hatrack is not useless. These guys are simply annoying. I did get some discussion going, which was the real intent. We needed to get back on track.


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RMatthewWare
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Perhaps the problem with people who think they don't learn anything knew is that you have moved past the learning stage in most respects and have now become a teacher. If people that were good at crits and such have left, maybe that's because they've become successful in their writing, or have learned as much as they can here. Being my first day on the forum, I could be wrong, but it seems that perhaps it isn't ineffective so much as many have learned a lot and are now seeing the new members as lacking. And of course they are, a new student needs time to learn and figure out things that you take for granted.

Matt


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PatEsden
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When you've got a house with open doors a few flies are going to get in. It doesn't make hatrack any less of a wonderful place to learn and meet other writers.


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Hookt_Un_Fonix
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To add to what RMatthewWare said, if you have learned a lot of what you can here and evolved to the role of mentor thats great. IN the military we had a great way to learn, that gave people the chance to retain the knowledge and improve upon it. See one, do one, and then teach one. You can learn here by seeing a process, then trying it on your own, and you gain just as much when you reaffirm that knowledge by teaching it to someone else.
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tchernabyelo
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Things come and go.

Certainly, I've found very little useful information in recent threads.

On the othe hand, there are still a lot of experienced writers here, and a great deal of knowledge. In general, it's likely that the serious ones WILL stay around and at least keep an eye on the place, while those who don't seem to be able to take the site seriously, or understand what it's actually about, are likely to get bored and move elsewhere. Especially if everyone else ignores them.

I'll keep an eye on the place, and contribute as and when I think I have something to say.


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Christine
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Elan: As with any writing group, you can outgrow Hatrack. Many of the old hands have and it has nothing to do with the newbies. I have spurts where you'll see me and longer spurts where you won't, but the simple truth is that there is almost nothing left for me to learn on this site and there doesn't even seem to be much to contribute -- I prided myself into being the teacher for a while but now, in a way, my students are the teachers and I'm redundant.

When I come back and post, it is mostly nostalgia. I have a soft spot for this place. But this is a site that is mostly designed for beginners and there comes a point when it just can't help you anymore.


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Robert Nowall
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I'm drawn to the debates and discussions...I'm way past the beginner stage...I seem to know a lot about the nuts-and-bolts of story construction but I'm still looking for the answer that will lift me to "published writer."

Besides, a casual reply on another thread a couple of minutes ago gave me something about my writing career to meditate on for awhile. So Hatrack is still useful to me.


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Grandma_Jan
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As a long-time OSC fan who only recently came to the site, I was surprised to find no forum directly related to Hatrack. I imagined there'd be a forum where folks could become a character, tell their story . . . no one here offers anything beyond a few lines. Did there used to be a forum more directly related to Hatrack? (Hatrack historians, please weigh in!)
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Ray
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At the top of the site, there's a link called Forums. Click on that, and you'll find a few different areas, like Battle School and Hatrack River--1830s. Those may be closer to what you're looking for.
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Survivor
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Yeah, but hardly anyone posts in those forums anymore. Maybe they'd welcome some fresh blood...creepy ghost forum misinterpretation coming to mind
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djvdakota
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I'm one of those writers who has mostly 'moved on'. I'm not so concerned about the burrs under the Hatrack saddle. They USUALLY get the hint and move on, if they're as intelligent as George Wythe, anyway.

What keeps me from participating at Hatrack more frequently?
1. A plethora of emotionally immature writers (much inflated since the Young Writer's Forum dissolved) who post for accolades rather than serious interest in improving their craft. They don't want to actually do their homework. They want us to do it for them.
2. A plethora of emotionally immature writers who have driven a steep decline in etiquette. Regulars, not just those annoying burrs.
3. Almost NO stories that I have any interest in critiquing. Too many 13 lines posted from stories that have about 13 lines completed. Too many "Help me with my novel!" No one can help you with your novel, honey, if you haven't learned the craft of writing first--and that is done through writing short stories.
4. FAR too few writers who I can rely on to give me a thorough, carefully read, intelligent critique.
5. This overwhelming fixation on the first 13 lines. It has ONE purpose only, folks. That is to get me to read the next 300 lines.
6. A loss of focus on improving the craft of writing through the medium of short stories. Survivor and others have harped on this point over and over, but few listen. Hatrack serves writers best through the medium of the short story. Not novels, not 13 line fragments. Completed short stories. There is NO better way to study the craft.

Solutions?

Spaceman may have hit on it. Maybe us old fogies should step up and put the naughty little children in their place. When someone posts the twelfth version of the first thirteen lines of a story that is, so far, thirteen lines long, we ought to step up and say he's wasting everyone's time. Maybe we should stop being quite so polite. Except for certain unmentioned trolls, we want to educate these kids, not turn them away.

*Bluntly point out overwhelming flaws and strongly recommend books on the craft.

*Politely tell them that submitting novels to F&F is highly unpopular and futile. Maybe even a Feedback forum specifically for novels? That should cut down the F&F traffic considerably!

*Nicely discourage the practice of posting lone fragments UNLESS the writer needs very specific help/advice on a specific fragment. Tell them you'd like to see them demonstrate that they are capable of writing a whole story.

*STOP critiquing the first thirteen lines as if they matter beyond their sole purpose. If they don't grab you, say so, and explain why. If they do grab you, say so, and offer to read the rest--assuming of course that there IS more than just 13 lines. Don't correct grammar and spelling unless that is the reason the opening fails. Don't rewrite the fragment for them. Just tell them why it does/doesn't work for you.


[This message has been edited by djvdakota (edited January 23, 2007).]


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hoptoad
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This is sad, but true.
We do need to reemphasise the short story as a method of improving the craft of writing. But how?

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TMan1969
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I think some new writer's are nervous to critique some of the old fogies, most of them read your critiques and apply them. I have been one of those guys that edit and post a story, to Kathleen's chagrin. But I have learned since, and like everything you read - not everything is appealling, so don't read it or critique it.

Secondly, you guys with the experience should aim to inspire or at least help prop a nervous new writer up. I have felt welcome here, at least I think so and a new writer reading these will feel overwhelmed.


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Spaceman
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Don't be nervous about critiquing the work of more experienced writers for several reasons:

1) You are a reader, but the opinions that really matter are those of the readers.

2) There will be fewer mistakes. That forces you to look deeper into the story. You can find at least a nit in most first 13. Absolutely the most useless critique is "Wow, I wish I could have written that." Sometimes, that's all you can say, but at least say why you liked it. What was done well. then, think, how could I do the same thing.

Understand that OSC's bootcamp consists largely of critique, and that's because you actually learn a lot about writing by dissecting other peoples' work. Eventually, you'll find yourself doing it subconsciously when you read for pleasure, and you'll start seeing things you don't like even in the writings of your favorite author.


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franc li
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quote:
Sadly, the people I COULD be learning from are the more experienced Hatrackers, who rarely participate in this forum any longer.

So once you reach osmotic stasis you take off? Or do you yourself adopt the role of an experienced Hatracker?


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wbriggs
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Dakota challenges me (knowingly or not!) to examine why I'm here.

I offer my services critiquing, partly because I like it. I admit, though, these days I rarely go past the first 13, because the first 13 have severe enough problems I don't want to go further.

I haven't posted a story here in a while because I haven't written any -- busy with other projects.


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Pyre Dynasty
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As to stupid threads an old Simpsons episode comes to mind, the one where the advertisements came to life and started to wreck the town. Take Paul Anka's advice "Just don't look, Just don't look"

"Guarantee void in Tennesee"


I think there is a generation gap happening right now, but I think it will normalize soon.


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Spaceman
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Generation gap. That's a good way to describe it.
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franc li
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quote:
Politely tell them that submitting novels to F&F is highly unpopular and futile. Maybe even a Feedback forum specifically for novels? That should cut down the F&F traffic considerably!

This is an excellent idea. I think the novel section should include an FAQ section outlining what is involved in a novel query as well. The quantity of a novel that anyone should be critting should not actually be greater than a short story. If your novel is reading, I will be writing to you begging for more after the first... what, 5 chapters?

Not that I actually know what's in a novel query. I believe it's a fewish chapters and a synopsis. Anyway, the existence of NaNoWriMo has guaranteed that there are a lot more quasi-complete novels floating around out there.


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oliverhouse
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quote:
Not that I actually know what's in a novel query.

http://misssnark.blogspot.com

Wear your kevlar.


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Zero
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Well said, Oliver.

Or for anyone who's played CS, I'd wear the kevlar AND the helmet.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I can start a novels-only F&F.

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll set it up in the next day or so.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited January 25, 2007).]


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tnwilz
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I was an inactive member when this thread began and I guess the title is an exaggeration to make a point. (Got a little miffed when I first joined, my bad.) May I put my 2 cents in? If I am wrong or repeat what others already said I preemptively apologize.

Hatrack is a collage of writers and a few twits (very few), but mostly writers with serious intent. However, the members are scattered all across the learning curve. What I have learned here has been invaluable to me along with outright humiliating. But, I needed to know from people like you that I have a long way to go. I probably have made some of the mistakes that annoy some of the advanced writers here. Regardless, THANK YOU for paying attention to me anyway.

I donít know, maybe there could be an, Ďadvanced writersí forum here but I wouldnít like it. I wouldnít qualify and it would put me out of contact with the only people who could really help me until the penny actually drops. There are several locked forums here that are for boot camp alumni; maybe the better writers could congregate there. But then who decides who qualifies?

Personally I like it the way OSC and KDW have it set up now. This is a genuine pay it forward gift from these two. No offence, but if they were doing it out of some LDS mindset compulsion it wouldnít have lasted six months. You just canít get people to do something like this if they donít want to. No, this is pure generosity, well above and beyond the call of duty and I think we all do appreciate the time you give to us Kathleen.

Text can be a very abrupt way of communication. It is mostly devoid of the emotion and facial expression that wish we could see as we read. In the absence of actually sitting with them at Dennyís, I have to trust that people mean things in a constructive and positive way. I donít assume rudeness unless they go out of their way to actually type rudeness. Having said that I should say, I try to. Sometimes Iíve caught myself. Maybe you have too. I guess we just have to laugh at ourselves sometimes, right!

Personally I have been going through a hard time emotionally lately and perhaps that has come through in my comments. I donít mean offence or to be condescending. My son just turned 18 and within two weeks he was gone. Moved out, not dead, but I wish he had stayed with us, heís not ready. Heís done nothing wrong but it left me sad and angry at all the dangers out there. I question all I did as a parent that he wanted to leave but in my heart I know thatís just the way it goes. We are still good friends and I judge him on nothing so it stays that way. Just a little insight on some of the things I may have said. Itís always different when you understand what drives people.

Again, THANK YOU for all your comments and THANK YOU Kathleen for your personal sacrifice of time. Also thank you OSC, I highly doubt this site runs in the black, it is appreciated.

BTW members, if I am out of line, donít hesitate to say something. I take chastisement well, I promise.

Tracy


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Spaceman
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This topic had been inactive for a reason. The trouble was eliminated.

As for an "advanced" forum, there are other places to congregate. Most of the people who have been to bootcamp or make pro sales move onto other venues, but many still stop by here and participate from time to time.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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tnwilz, I appreciate your kind words. It means a lot to know that our efforts here are worthwhile.

Thank you.


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