Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Lessons from a debut novelist

   
Author Topic: Lessons from a debut novelist
wetwilly
Member
Member # 1818

 - posted      Profile for wetwilly   Email wetwilly         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Kieran Shea is a new author, just published his first novel. (The novel, Koko Takes a Holiday, is a ton of fun, by the way. I recommend it.) This is a link to 5 things he learned while writing it. I thought it was interesting. I especially like #3.


http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/06/18/kieran-shea-five-things-i-learned-writing-koko-takes-a-holiday/

Posts: 1528 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yay 3.

Yeah, take a stand, support it, and draw to a conclusive end, pretty much the same advice for expository composition, argumentation, research reports, inquiry, all writing for that matter. Fiction and prose generally are only different from the others in their rhetorics.

[ July 01, 2014, 02:53 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5098 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you've discovered the secret of life, by all means spill it, but I think that trying to gin up something profound to justify your writing is at best distracting. At worst it is corrupting.

I've seen too many trite sentiments and glittering generalities bolted onto stories in an attempt to make them seem more thoughtful than they really were -- not that I think this author means! But I think the advice can be made more specific and useful:

MY VERSION OF RULE 3: CULTIVATE THE HABIT OF SHOWING THE READER THINGS HE HASN'T NOTICED YET, AND REMINDING HIM OF THINGS HE'S FORGOTTEN.

Keep at it, and eventually you'll hit on some interesting things. Some of them will surprise you. That's the best and most authentic kind of point you can make: the one that emerges from the material of the story to surprise you.

Trying too hard to be interesting or profound sucks the life out of characters and stories. Of course it's great to BE interesting and profound, but it's like sitting down to write and saying, "I think I'll be creative today." Great, but that's no help getting started.

[ July 01, 2014, 01:32 AM: Message edited by: MattLeo ]

Posts: 1459 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I interpret No. 3 as meaning show agonists' emotional attitude effect reactions to causal stimuli. That to me for prose is taking a stand, expressing an attitude, and supporting it, pulling the trigger. All too often lackluster prose is exactly that no-attitude shortcoming.
Posts: 5098 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Grumpy old guy
Member
Member # 9922

 - posted      Profile for Grumpy old guy   Email Grumpy old guy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
MattLeo, what a bucketful of cold water you are. [Big Grin] I actually like 3, probably because I have the same take on it; I'm quite prepared to shoot sacred cows and poke sleeping dragons if my story requires it. That's what I took from number 3, don't be afraid to say what your narrative needs you to say. Don't wimp out, afraid you might offend some snark somewhere.

Btw, the blurb below the book cover is exactly the sort of blurb we should all be writing. On the strength of that alone, I'd buy the book. Add that to the cover art and I'm hooked even before I read a single word. Sounds like a hoot!

Phil.

Posts: 1605 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
MattLeo, what a bucketful of cold water you are. [Big Grin]

Ha! Nothing wrong with a cold bath and a jolly good scrub with a stiff-bristled brush. Best thing for you. Two baths a year, like clockwork, and it did me no harm growing up! [Big Grin]

I'm not against writing with an ax to grind, far from it. But the problem I have with many novels that strike a polemical attitude is that they're just not very persuasive. They rehash the same old arguments. I don't even think that rehashing the same old arguments is entirely pointless; your fellow partisans on an issue can take comfort in seeing the things they already believe repeated. But it's not enough.

The reason many polemical stories fall short in my opinion is that people who agree with the author walk away feeling vindicated, people who disagree walk away feeling contemptuous, but what nobody walks away is any the wiser.

I assume we all agree here that "racism is bad." Supposing I challenge you to write a story with that message. How would you make that point? What's the first thing that pops into your head?

I know what *I* would do, I'm curious how other people would approach that challenge.

Posts: 1459 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
I interpret No. 3 as meaning show agonists' emotional attitude effect reactions to causal stimuli. That to me for prose is taking a stand, expressing an attitude, and supporting it, pulling the trigger. All too often lackluster prose is exactly that no-attitude shortcoming.

Writing isn't just a way to express your thoughts. It is also a way to develop and refine your thoughts.

It's not enough to take a position when you write, and certainly not enough to express an attitude. There's plenty writers of trite, sentimental, conventional stories who take a position and strike an attitude, and their work is nothing if not lackluster.

I think when you write about an issue you need to learn something new about it, otherwise you're just plagiarizing the commons.

Posts: 1459 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I thought bumping up a notch to express irony was one bridge too far to ask of commercial fiction writing.
Posts: 5098 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
I thought bumping up a notch to express irony was one bridge too far to ask of commercial fiction writing.

Well I have nothing informative to say about what is commercially viable, but you don't have to beat people over the head with irony.

My first novel was an urban fantasy about fascism in the 1930s. The main antagonist in the novel is a eugenics enthusiast who was also a sexually impotent serial killer. Did I point out the irony of someone who fancied himself the genetic pinnacle of humanity being frustrated and impotent? No, because I think the irony works better if the reader doesn't quite put it together. On some level I think a reader not explicitly conscious of the irony can still understand the character's rage.

Likewise I lifted many of this character's thoughts from posts on white supremacist websites, only I juxtaposed them. A clever reader will see that this character frequently contradicts himself depending on the occasion, but the primary effect I was going for was the impression of a man whose reason had slipped its moorings.

Posts: 1459 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
History
Member
Member # 9213

 - posted      Profile for History   Email History         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by wetwilly:
Kieran Shea is a new author, just published his first novel. (The novel, Koko Takes a Holiday, is a ton of fun, by the way. I recommend it.) This is a link to 5 things he learned while writing it. I thought it was interesting. I especially like #3.
http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/06/18/kieran-shea-five-things-i-learned-writing-koko-takes-a-holiday/

I find #2 the most brutally honest and refreshing.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

Posts: 1471 | Registered: Aug 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Any of however many methods for expressing attitude enhances a narrative. Even droll pleasantry conversations are spiced by attitude commentary.

For example, "Hello, Liz, how are you?" Not that Roger cared one wit; politeness demanded he ask. "I'm fine, thank you," Liz said. "And you?" Sneers and arched eyebrows, her hips and torso turned away, as if she already fled from his loathesome presence. He was beneath her contempt. "Fine," he said. "Good to see you. Later." Brass-drawers shrew.

Dramatic irony and verbal irony, though thoughts in that situation. Readers know Roger says one thing and means another, and perhaps Liz doesn't know what Roger thinks of her, but he assumes he knows what she thinks of him. Emotional attitude expressed by ironic commentary.

Irony's many splendored presentations range from specific to a situation, an instance of a few words or phrases, or extended across parts or parcels, to types of irony: verbal, situational--the type where intents go awry and received meaning is different than signal intended--dramatic, courtly, comic, cosmic, Socratic.

Yet irony for its infiniteness is only one method for expressing attitude commentary. Overt narrator is another one common to traditional omniscient narration. Stream of consciousness is another common to contemporary viewpoint agonist reflector narratives, which the above example is stream of consciousness.

Not just thoughts expressing attitude, but actions in general, speech, especially conversation that uses echo, iquiry, colloquy, squabble, and non sequitur methods for expressing attitudes, though the latter may also be irony rhetoric. External life in general, too, how a viewpoint agonist reacts emotionally to a stimulus, say a sunset that is angry, a waterfall that is stubborn, a beach that is grimy, and so on, approving or disapproving attitude, ad infinitum.

Is it not attitude commentary to claim My love is a rose, though her cheeks be not damasked? Ironic too, a poetic conceit type of irony alluding to Petrachan sonnets' hyperbole. Verbal irony, bloom and thorns; beauty and peril.

Challenges and necessities of attitude commentary and irony are that they be accessible and only call due attention to themselves suitable to the audience's sensibilities and their emphasis intents, so that readers feel smarter than the narrative at least, if not the agonists, the narrator, and perhaps at least on par with a writer. And so that readers' intellects are engaged and, through that, their imaginations aroused.

[ July 02, 2014, 03:40 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5098 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2