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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » analysis

   
Author Topic: analysis
robertq
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Is there a value in studying published authors'
works? What's been peoples' experience with this?

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Matt Lust
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I don't know if "studying" is the most correct way to term what I do when I read a work with the express purpose of examining their craft.

But I do find that I am often able to see "tricks" or hints or what ever in good writing that helps me write better. Its not a methodical process however.

Its more that I "condense fact from the vapor of nuance*" and this helps me be more me when I write.


*Neal Stephenson


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nitewriter
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Are you kidding? There is not only value, but immense value. I'm not sure what you mean by "studying" - but I think that if you do no more than read a story you are studying it. You are exposed to dialogue, pace, narrative and plot. What you have read will mingle with what you already know, most likely from reading, and new ideas will germinate. Reading provides the foundation upon which your own ideas and story will be built.
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Robert Nowall
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I can't see how anybody can learn anything about writing unless they (a) like to read, and (b) study what they're reading.

(Sidebar---it kinda hit one of my buttons---I like the TV show "Everybody Loves Raymond," but I find it hard to buy into Raymond's occupation---a sportswriter who shows no interest in reading anything that doesn't have something to do with his job. I see him as guy who'd kind of have a "blue collar" occupation---say, a construction contractor, but not a writer. Can a guy be a "blue collar writer?")


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goatboy
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See, I thought the script writers made Raymond a sports writer as a jab at sports writers. Sort of a "look, here's a dumb lazy guy, and he's a _sports_ writer."
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Phanto
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Right, there're probably only two ways to improve writing.

A) Write.
B) Read/study a lot.

Reading other works will let you find the things that worked and add them to your stuff and the stuff that, well, doesn't -- so you can excise it surgically from your own stuff. It also exposes you to new styles, which will probably let your writing take a turn from the repetitive.


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Marzo
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I can't say I've "studied" any published authors' works, but I do approach every book I read from the point of view of a writer. It's something that comes without any need to remind myself to do it, now. I find myself asking, "why did the author write that sentence that way? How else could they have written it? Why did they structure these scenes in this order? What is/isn't effective about this story to me, and why?"

By using published works as a template from which you question your own approaches and methods, you gain valuable insights. I think it's invaluable to read like a writer. I can't imagine I'd be learning anything if I sat down with a beach read and just absorbed without question.


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Antinomy
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My favorite bywords: "To become a good author one must read good authors. Often."
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Robert Nowall
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The only other sportswriter / TV character I can think of is Oscar "The Odd Couple" Madison---kinda cut from the same cloth, though Oscar seemed more passionate about his job than Ray Barone. There are sitcoms about sports ("Sports Night," "Coach,") but they've never grabbed me. I may have missed something. Anyway, in both shows, it's not about the sportswriting.

(Phil Rosenthal, the creator / exec. producer of "Raymond," has an excellent book out about how he went about it. I'll recommend it here for all writers wanting to know what writing for TV is like.)


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Robert Nowall
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Should'a put down the name of the book: "You're Lucky You're Funny: How Life Becomes a Sitcom."
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