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I feel like the worst writer EVER!

Got a question/comment about the creative process of writing? Post it here!
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Post by bevgray » Fri April 6th, 2012, 11:13 pm

Hi Divia, I went through a phase of reading the "how to" books and joining writers' communities. I got so muddled and confused, writing became a chore instead of enjoyment. Then, I came across something Hemingway said. Don't recall it exactly so I'll paraphrase. "Don't let other writers read your work. If it's better, they'll be jealous. If it's not, they'll be superior. Just sit down and write the damned thing and stop worrying about pleasing anyone but yourself."

I would extend that to writing style books. Since writing is subjective, no one really has the answer as to how to write a break out novel. Break outs are often by luck and accident and have nothing to do with rules. If the style books are interfering with the flow of your narrative or your enjoyment of your craft, then they are probably not the correct references for you to use. Deep breath, we've all been in that spot.
Beverly C. Gray
Army Brat and Lover of Historical Fiction
Guests are always welcome at my Web Site

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Post by Divia » Sat April 7th, 2012, 4:26 am

I wont lie. There are times I still feel like the worst writer ever. ;) However, I did send out a manuscript, so I guess that is one hurdle conquered right? :)
News, views, and reviews on books and graphic novels for young adult.

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Favourite HF book: Welsh Princes trilogy
Preferred HF: The Middle Ages (England), New Kingdom Egypt, Medieval France
Location: Temple of Isis

Post by Nefret » Sat April 7th, 2012, 4:37 am

I'm the worst writer ever. At least, of those on this forum.
Into battle we ride with Gods by our side
We are strong and not afraid to die
We have an urge to kill and our lust for blood has to be fulfilled
WE´LL FIGHT TILL THE END! And send our enemies straight to Hell!
- "Into Battle"

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Justin Swanton
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Location: Durban, South Africa

Post by Justin Swanton » Sat April 7th, 2012, 6:50 am

Divia, in my opinion 'how to' books on writing are just roadblocks. They confuse and complicate the mind and make a mess of one's self confidence.

For me, writing a novel means exploring a world. Your characters should take you on a journey, a journey that does not go where you expect it to. This means writing from the heart or, as John Brain says it, always telling the truth - letting the story come out from yourself, not artificially constructing it according to the rules of some 'how to' guru.

When writing, the main thing is to get the story out. Once that's done then it is time to concentrate on turning it into deathless prose. The best way of doing that is to find an intelligent and perceptive friend to read through your MS with a red pen. We each have so many blind spots - a phrase which looks good to us (especially after the twentieth reading!) will be seen as contrived or obscure by an objective proofreader. Listen to his/her crits, see their validity (or lack of it), and find substitute words that better express what you are trying to say.

I find the 'how to' books useful in that they confirm what I already know. Otherwise I just dispense with them.
Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus.

Author of Centurion's Daughter

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Post by LoveHistory » Sat April 7th, 2012, 8:21 pm

How to Write books are good for picking up the odd hint, but what works for one writer won't for another.

Stephen King's On Writing is a good example. The man locks himself in a room until he's met his daily wordcount. Nice, but obviously Mrs. King was raising the children. We don't all have that luxury. Here's another bit of trivia for how different writers feel about that particular book. I gave it a three star rating, my sister gave it five. She must have found more helpful information in it than I did.

Writing is far too individual for any book to have all the answers. All they can do is tell you what works for one person.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat April 7th, 2012, 8:27 pm

Very true, LH. If I ever got successful enough that anyone would care how I wrote, my advice would be singularly useless to anyone else, but it would go like this: "Live my life for fifty-odd years. Then you will write the way I do."

Each writer has his/her own history, passions, and more pertinent, READERS. What works for one set of consumers would completely turn off another. So when someone further down the ladder than myself asks for adivice, I always ask them "Which readers are you writing for?" Because until they know what that group wants and why, they are going to be missing the mark.

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Post by Shield-of-Dardania » Mon April 9th, 2012, 5:13 am

Just my tuppence, Divia & others:

So that book is really powerful, aye? I bet it can also grow claws and wings, fly at you and pluck your hair out if you so much as dare threaten it with retirement. Right.

Seriously, I don't think anybody could really one day, out of the blue, decide that he's going to be the best writer on earth. The best author for me may not be the same one for somebody else. The most readable authors, to me, are those who write with boldness, audacity, fearlessness, conviction and complete freedom of imagination, aware of but uninhibited by convention. What makes them enjoyable to me is that those positive qualities touch something in me and resonate.

I do read 'how to' books once in a while, but you've got to not forget that that's what they are, just general pointers and instructive guidance. Judging by the number of 'How to Become a Millionaire' books that I've read, I should be a millionaire ten times over by now. No, that hasn't happened yet, unfortunately, but at least I've picked up some valuable tips on how best to manage and maximise the use my meagre income.

You know, I think reading authors whose styles you like is potentially more powerful. You pick up bits and pieces of their different styles, gradually plait those into your core style, and eventually craft one you could feel like your own.

I think one should keep doing all 3 things: read that 'how to' book but without letting it overwhelm you; read that favourite author; and work on your own WIP, the first few drafts of which - at least - should be done totally without restraint.

A writer's forum is not bad either, or else none of us would be up on here now. It's good for keeping your own flame on the burn, for bouncing off one another's ideas and for feeding off one another's energies. I in fact learned much of what HF writing skill I have now from a forum on science fiction & fantasy, sometimes pretending to be an experienced writer and critiquing - for all I was worth - WIP extracts posted by writers obviously much more proficient than I.

I don't even know if my own WIP will find its way into print ever, although I dream fantastic dreams sometimes. Well, who doesn't? Still, I enjoy reading what humble stuff that I have written, and I'm not going to give two hoots to anyone who says it's crap. Like heck. Alright, I'll give one hoot if he/she is a reputable editor.

There are rules, but none of them are iron-clad. And there's this one rule that I like: It's your yarn. You spin it any way you want.

Now, there's currently this growing penchant for the first person POV, which is now being sold to us as the most creative and challenging form of writing. I myself still find it daunting, although I feel that I should experiment with it some time. Interestingly, there're some experienced authors who are up against it, disdainful of it as being self-absorbed and narcissistic.

I mean, can you remember anyone recently relating a story which was all about himself? Yep. Grate, didn't he?

Beautiful stories can be written in first person, according to these authors, but the writer has to give a credible reason why the POV character needed to tell that story at all, in the first place, rather than simply providing a vehicle for the writer.

BTW, Divia, how's that book of yours progressing? The one with a character named Lily in it, I think. You were asking around, searching for a title for it, some time back.
Last edited by Shield-of-Dardania on Tue April 10th, 2012, 12:46 am, edited 24 times in total.

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Post by bevgray » Mon April 9th, 2012, 11:45 am

How things change (or stay the same). Twenty years ago, one of the thou shalt nots for new novelists was first person POV because "it just doesn't sell any longer. That is soooo Mary Stewart last decade ago".
Beverly C. Gray
Army Brat and Lover of Historical Fiction
Guests are always welcome at my Web Site

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Joined: January 2019
Currently reading: Just finished Chickenhawk, by Robert Mason
Interest in HF: My brother had a book with a striking cover about the battle of Agincourt. At that stage I couldn't read, however, just the visual image grabbed me. From then on, the imagery, manners, violence, wilder society in the natural sense, the heraldry, savagery, of the middle ages, has fascinated me
Favourite HF book: Two, Norah Lofts, The Suffolk trilogy, and, Time of the Unicorn, Barbara Jeffris
Preferred HF: Celtic history, any period.
Location: Australia

Re: I feel like the worst writer EVER!

Post by CelticBlood64 » Thu January 31st, 2019, 9:54 am

What's important is spending time writing. That's how you get good. Just doing it. Of course it going to be bad to begin with! I wrote the most horrendous drivel ...

Writing touches you as you touch it and you're the plant, the writing is the water.

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