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Author Topic: One Wish
Member # 8019

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A djinn muse grants you one wish. The wish gives you an opportunity to go back to an earlier self and time and advise the earlier self about one writing principle. What age is the earlier you or year date and what one -- only one -- singlemost writing principle would you choose?
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Member # 10234

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A college student adjusts his neck at two o'clock in the morning. He stretches backward on his wooden desk chair and rubs his eyes. Leaning forward once again, a steady snapping can be heard through the brick and glass walled dorm study cubicle that he occupies. The 1984 college fiction contest deadline approaches and he's typing the second draft of his entry.

I would knock on the cubicle's oak door and talk with him over a couple of beers. He needs to create memorable images in the mind's eye of his readers. Readers need to see T-shirts and blue jeans, they need to smell cinnamon-sugar on golden brown breakfast toast, taste sandy dirt, feel the slick blood of a fresh kill.

He needs to understand that painting the entire picture includes more than the senses. Character past and culture, religion and social relationships must be included. Only then will his audience be able to fully connect with his story. Milieu is the principle of writing I would impress upon my former self.

I'd also tell him to throw out the portable manual typewriter, because even his mother was using a computer by then. [Smile]

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Robert Nowall
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Just one? I'd go back to me some point in the mid-to-late seventies and tell myself, "Work on your grammar, kid."
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Member # 5638

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I'd go back to the kid in the library and tell him not to just dream of writing, to do it. That every time he put a disappointing story down over the next several decades thinking, "I could write better than that," he should write.

I'd cheat a bit and point him at Heinlein's Rules of Writing. Rule One was, "You must write."

I'd show him this summary from the future by Robert J Sawyer:


There's little chance that kid would listen - but he loved Heinlein's stories, so maybe he'd listen to the master.


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Member # 3413

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"Don't be tedious."

Heh. I kid . . . but not really. Besides, it would be impossible to follow.

This might have better results:

"Find what connects your story to the reader, and write about it." (And, given the opportunity, I would follow up with some tedious discussion about the theme, a/b stories, etc. as they relate to what connects the reader.)

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Member # 9148

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Interesting premise there.

Probably is that I like Robert's comment but I would probably tell and earlier self, age late twenties to start serious writing then instead of waiting, even if other stuff was going on.

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Robert Nowall
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I was fourteen when I started submitting stuff.
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Member # 8019

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Fabulous contributions so far: on topic, to the point, and insightful contributions.

Kent A Jones' contribution, though, is remarkable for its economy of words that demonstrate the milieu-culture principle and related mythology development of the one wish realized. Milieu development as narrative authentication is a rich tapestry in the contribution.

Though about milieu, the contribution develops idea, setting, character, and event as well, plus is a complete action in terms of plot, and the voice is emotional, appropriate and proportioned to the subject matter. Almost a micro-narrative -- creative nonfiction -- for its content and organization fullness and start, middle, and end dramatic complication action and satisfaction completeness. Exquisite.

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Member # 1818

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Hey, kid. Listen up. You've got to make time to write. Daily. Even if it's just a little bit.

What? You don't have time? You're really busy. I know you are. I remember my mid twenties, where you are now. It really was crazy busy. Worked myself to exhaustion most days, and then the day wasn't even over yet. It was tough.

But here's the thing. You have a passion for writing. This is your dream. You really want to succeed at this. You can't be too busy for your dream. Many of the world's great stories were written during those brief moments after the author finally got the kids to bed, before their body and mind crashed. Or after they got off fifteen hours of work, before they let themselves fall asleep. Or during lunch breaks, when the author said this other work that wants me to do it can wait, because this is my time, and I want to get some creative words on paper. Or while the baby is crying in their arms, and the laundry is waiting to get folded.

It's all about priorities, kid. If you really want to write, then write, damn it.

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Pyre Dynasty
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Ten years ago I'd tell myself to choose option B and be honest with myself about what I wanted to do. Cryptic I know, and I doubt anything would be that different but right now I'm really regretting option A.
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Member # 9682

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I recently watched Tom Cruise's EDGE OF TOMORROW (which should have kept the much better title translated from Japanese, ALL YOU NEED IS KILL), and as with all fiction in this genre, it brought to mind inherent plotholes of time travel narratives.

If a djinn (by the way, a bit of a trick question as djinn's are known for their trickery, unlike genies) were to give me one wish to advise a younger me on writing, the smartest answer would be to decline.

I don't know how my writing career ends, and I don't know what from my past either effects that ending negatively or positively. Here I am, present me, still human and still full of mistakes yet to be made, thinking that I can *wisely* make some change to my past that would have some benefit to my present/future?

If you have regrets, learn from them. If you've made mistakes, don't repeat them. But try and erase, or modify, them? Life is too complicated, and the recipe for success is a mystery. Unless you can see the future, tinkering with the past is a fool's errand.

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Member # 10320

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I'd have to agree with Denevius on this one. Plus, I'm not far enough along to have made any major writing mistakes. The one regret I have is that I haven't written more at this point. I've known for some time that I should be writing but I put it off for far too long.
Granted, I also know I've learned a lot since then. I'm a better writer now that I ever was before. If I could wish for anything, it would be the ability to pause time and just write to my heart's content. The only way I'll improve is through practice and only the constraints of time prevent me from getting in more.

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Member # 8019

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Not too long ago, I came upon dramatic complication as a kernel essential of prose's highest expression. I'd first encountered the term in The Poetics of Aristotle, though overlooked it due to being espoused late in the poetics' organizational sequence and undefined by the text. I next a handful of years later encoutered the term when defining "denouement."

I'm generally put off by French loan words used for narrative arts. The French have a hasty habit of borrowing from other theorists and theories and converting the principles of the borrowed phraseology and principles to Frankish patriotic propoganda. I delayed interpretation of dictionary definitions of denouement.

If I had learning prose writing to start over again, I'd suggest to my eleven-year-old rejection-frustrated progenitor to focus on what an agonist personally wants to satisfy and keep the agonist from easy want satisfaction. The child would be like, Huh? Daydream writing, I'd say, what you do now, is easy, nonproblematic satisfaction of wants. Your agonists are writer surrogates of your daydreams.

The child would ignore the guidance as too authoritarian-discipline driven -- no allowance for creative expression and bell and whistle spectacles. The child would expend no less time or effort disproving the dramatic complication principle's essentialness than when the child was much older, learning the principle through denying it, and instead latch onto "conflict" as what everyone else claims is the crucial core of dramatic and creative expression. The child would still wander in the dark for decades until the child as adult now could synthesize numerous writing principles.

The child would be as literal-minded all along the Poet's Journey as the next writer and dozens if not millions of other ambitious writers. The child would deny the future self's contributions as messy interference.

The child and later adult of a decade prior to now would not realize the djinn wish grant is a metaphor for what would you focus writing study on now, this moment in time, if a grantable shortcut that's the hard-way easy could assure publication success. If there's one hard-way easy principle, what is it? Pay attention, child. This is important. Dramatic complication flavored with artful rhetoric's persuasions is the hard-way easy. The child would still expend a half century coming to understand all the figurative language people express every day, meant to befuddle, confuse, and refuse the child and later adult access to their closed social circles.

The time has come for the guidance the child refused long ago to be realized in total. The child is now ready.

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