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    The Craft of Writing 490

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    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Robspierre » 10 Feb 2011 16:56

    Here's a snippet from that "critical darling" Hemingway:

    Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?

    Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.

    Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?

    Hemingway: Getting the words right.


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    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby merkin muffley » 10 Feb 2011 17:04

    I thought Hemingway was also a dictahiker. Apparently not as good, though, because KJA speaks in nearly-polished prose.

    Or is it nearly-polished SHIT? :think:
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    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Hunchback Jack » 10 Feb 2011 18:16

    Love the Hemingway quote.

    I mostly read purely for pleasure, but there's one writer - the late Richard Stark - that I read mostly for the writing. I'm not a reader of the genre at all, but his writing is so spare, so economical. I love reading it just to see how he conveys so much in so little space. His opening lines are little masterpieces in themselves.

    Don't know why I brought that up. It just came to mind while thinking about writers' use of language.

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    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby TheDukester » 10 Feb 2011 18:26

    Stark is fantastic. And, yes, the language is perfect. It's a great example of a writer at the absolute top of his game.

    (He's also enjoying a bit of a renaissance. After many years of being somewhat hard to come by, the entire Stark catalogue is being reprinted, converted to e-books, etc.)
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    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Robspierre » 17 Feb 2011 22:52

    From Keith's latest self-wanking interview.
    How do you think your writing has evolved over the years?

    I hope that it’s improved – I mean, if you’re writing 100 books you don’t want to get worse! I keep trying to stretch myself and do something that’s more complex and more vivid and more emotionally satisfying with each book. I try to make the plotting more complex – I don’t just want to write the same book over and over again, because that would be dull.

    Sometimes, when I re-read my earlier books, it surprises me. Because with some I think, “Wow this is really good, did I write that?” And others I think, “Oh, that needed another edit.” But at the time it was the very best I could do.

    I think the easiest way for a writer to see when he’s doing something wrong is to publish something and then read it. Because you never notice it before it’s published!


    Bold is my emphasis. Every book he writes is the same!

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    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Kojiro » 17 Feb 2011 23:08

    And his writing has retained a steady line in lack of quality to boot, so it's certainly not getting any better.
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    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby SandChigger » 18 Feb 2011 03:46

    :hand: But the important thing—YOU HATERS!!!—is that he THINKS it's getting better! :snooty:
    I have heard of only one mistake that doesn’t have an explanation for a careful reader...with an open mind. (And, no, I’m not going to tell you what it is!) —KJA

    I don't like every writer's style; for instance, I have never been able to get through Ursula LeGuin, China Mieville, or Iain Banks, all of whom are critical darlings. —KJA

    I...had written a bunch of Star Wars and X-Files books...that proved not just that I'm a hack, but that I could write in somebody else's universe... —KJA
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    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby Sev » 19 Feb 2011 12:20

    From the recent interview that Rob mentioned above come these quotes:

    The Hack wrote:Hellhole will be a trilogy – we’ve got books two and three plotted.


    The Hack wrote:And Brian Herbert and I are about to go on a US tour for Hellhole, at which point we’ll be plotting the second book in that trilogy.


    And we wonder at the lack of consistency from chapter to chapter, let alone book to book - bloody hack can't even be consistent within the course of one small interview :crazy: :laughing:
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    Re: The Craft of Writing (Work in Progress)

    Postby D Pope » 19 Feb 2011 14:39

    the hack wrote: I think the easiest way for a writer to see when he’s doing something wrong is to publish something and then read it. Because you never notice it before it’s published!

    Because you (I) never notice it (doing something wrong) before it’s published!(and is pointed out to me by the haters)
    He could also have said, "I never notice how horrible my dictahing crap is till I see it on Jacurutu."
    Rob wrote:
    merkin muffley wrote:
    A Thing of Eternity wrote:
    Rob quotes Ernest who wrote:The first draft of anything is shit. Ernest Hemingway

    And to add to that, doing some editing doesn't qualify as a whole new draft, unless you're really getting nit-picky over the 10th or 15th draft.

    Another draft means a full "rewrite" (may not actually be rewriting parts that are left the same in the modern digital world, but at least analyzing every sentence and deciding whether or not to change it). This is not the same as skimming and looking for gross errors and gramatical mistakes.

    Especially if you dictated the first draft while hiking. Oh, I forgot, it's nearly-polished prose as far as KJA is concerned.

    He isn't focusing on what he is suppose to be doing, writing. Instead, he is spending three to four weeks puffing up material that should become the basis for a first draft and calling it done. Tis is something my students would do all the time. They believed that anything they did was "perfect" and there was no need to look it over, have others read it and offer feedback. They were "correct" all the time.
    Leto II is gone for good, except for OM. The "pearl" was just that; a miniscule portion of what Leto was, and not a compressed version of the whole. The pearl that the worms have do not make them Leto, or in any way similar to him.
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    Re: The Craft of Writing 490

    Postby Robspierre » 11 Mar 2011 00:49

    Keith is did another ass kissing "interview here:[urlhttp://bryanthomasschmidt.blogspot.com/2011/03/science-fiction-and-fantasy-writers_10.html][/url]

    Some good stuff for us to pick over.
    louisbshalako: @TheKJA How much of any SF book is ecology, world building, inventing of critters? 5%? 10%?
    TheKJA: @louisbshalako depends on book; some r ABOUT the world, some r character studies, some r survival stories against env. & critters


    Stock planets that all sound the same, our good guys are good and the bad guys bad because we say they are, and a sprinkle of Deus Ex Machina to get us out of the plot holes big enough to fly a heighliner through.

    TheKJA: @AUChief My favorite character is Duke Leto, and favorite book in series is DUNE. Of ours, my fav is MACHINE CRUSADE. #sffwrtcht


    I'm not surprised that "Dune" is KJA's favorite, of the original trilogy, "Dune" follows the hero's journey the closest. A simple reading without digging into the story would have many believe that by the end Paul had succeeded and in his quest despite Frank clearly laying out what was to come and Paul's inability to make the sacrifice that his son would eventually make. This veneer of populist expectation that Frank used and riffed off of like a master jazz musician, is the simple, safe fluff that is regurgitated ad nauseum by KJA. There is no depth because there is an inability to understand what Frank was doing. KJA writes simplistic boring crap because he is incapable of understanding anything other than spoon fed pap.

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    Re: The Craft of Writing 490

    Postby Ash » 11 Mar 2011 11:46

    Not to say I’m better than KJA but when I read Dune at the age of 13 I loved the Paul jihad story element. I wasn’t the least bit surprised in DM when Paul was seen has a evil blood thirsty emperor.

    How did KJA or anyone for that matter not the get clues in Dune about Paul’s future reign as emperor? And why was an interquel necessary?
    "Dune can be read on so many different levels. I really get different things out of it every time I read it. You can read it as just a plain old space adventure story, people being stranded on a desert planet that has giant sandworms on it, but you can also read it and get politics and economics out of it."
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    Re: The Craft of Writing 490

    Postby Robspierre » 13 Apr 2011 20:12

    I've just started Steering the Craft by that critical darling Ursula K. LeGuin.

    Here are some tidbits from the back cover:

    Writing can be these things; but first of all - and in the end, too - it is an art, a craft, a making. To make something well is to give yourself to it, to seek wholeness, to follow spirit. To learn to make something well can take your whole life. It's worth it.


    and

    "Once we're keenly and clearly aware of these elements of our craft, we can use and practice them until - the point of all practice - we don't have to think about them consciously at all, because they have become skills. A skill is something you know how to do. Skill in writing frees you to write what you want to write. It may also show you what you want to write. Craft enables art. There's luck in art. There's the gift. You can't earn that. You can't deserve it. But you can learn skill, you can earn it. You can learn to deserve your gift.



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    Re: The Craft of Writing 490

    Postby Robspierre » 13 Apr 2011 20:28

    Our first guest lecturer class, Ampoliros! The following are taken from his Smellhole Notes thread.

    I'm wondering if its become a pure case of pathological ego. KJA literally believes that he can publish anything. So he doesn't have to put any effort into it at all.

    -We know he doesn't edit in any real since of the word.
    -We've seen him lash out at editors for 'spelling errors'
    -His source of pride comes from completion of a project rather than quality.
    -He drops names, talks numbers. Rarely does he ever talk about ideas.
    -Considers it to be a business and is a proper capitalist about it.
    -Taunts and ridicules the artists in the writer community for not treating it like a business.
    -Very seduced by the illusion of his own 'celebrity', which is only compounded by the fanboy element and his 501 guards.
    -Ironically, the celebrity aspect of his personality causes him to question why the community doesn't give him the recognition he feels he and it deserves.

    I think that explains why his work makes no sense. It doesn't have to.


    what Keith apparently thought he was saying versus what he actually said in publication.

    This x2. Its obvious that there is much that KJA had to have considered while writing, but totally fails to carry it into the story. things that would be added through editing or rewriting. I'd love to get my hands on a first draft and a finished product to compare how much actually gets changed. Right now my working theory is that Smellhole is nothing more than the things KJA wanted to add to Dune but couldn't for one reason or another. The only reason I'm bothering to read it and take notes is because it is essentially another BH & KJA Dune movement.


    Well if its anything like the book, then its already seen its burst of speed.

    I'll also add, for those who don't actively join us but love to mine this for ammo, that I found a passage in the book that was actually 'well done' and in such a different voice that I'm pretty sure it came from Brian rather than KJA. (It was a philosophical passage and iirc that's Brian's department.)

    By well done I mean it revealed that someone had stopped and thought about what they were writing, rather than just committing verbal masturbation into a microphone. It dealt with the meaning and consequence behind the new alien human hybrids vs individuality rather than just byzantine blustering of their awesome psychic powers.

    I'm also wondering if KJA actually put his gift of repetition to work for him because the persistence that the aliens have in asking humans to become their hosts is downright creepy uncle disturbing. At least it gives him an excuse to bring in his trademarked superpowers.

    That almost cancels out the half-assed justification for having wheat fields. (They grow ultrafast. That's a little joke, they don't actually say ultrafast there. Still, the justification for the wheat fields surviving on Hellhole is that they grow fast.)

    Also this book has so much repetition it bears an actual exploration of the ratio of new material to repetition. I'm not exaggerating when I say that probably close to 10% of this book is repetition. That's 51-52 pages worth of material out of a 500+ page book. (Not counting the appendices. Did I mention the book has appendices? And a glossary. Hey, all epic tales need appendices. Yeah, but not like Dune.)


    Well think of it this way

    Hellhole is:

    1 part Dune, without the consequences and depth or harsh environment.
    1 part Firefly, without the witty banter and deep, lovable characters, and any real hardship.
    1 part Tea Party Uprising. (by this I mean that the majority of the complaints against the 'corrupt' government are that they are evil and that they tax too much without representation. And they are evil, and corrupt. The cause of the first rebellion was second-born nobles retaliating after the most powerful families conspire to kill them off even though they've already stripped them of inheritance rights. As per usual, there is a groundswell of support for the 'wronged' nobles against the richer more powerful nobles. Did we mention that NAH! is a noble who voluntarily gave up his inheritance rights then fought a rebellion when he wanted them back? No? Oh, well its because the rebellion was against the evil corrupt government run by a mean old lady that plays sonic-polo. Who taxes too much.)

    Stringline space travel is a direct metaphor to the railroads, except that one person controls all the rights to them, and they all have to go through the same hub.

    Really, you need to think of these things like backdrop settings on a green-screen, because that's all they are, and they rarely if ever actually matter in the action of the moment. the best visualization is to find a video where the background is obviously CGI or a sound-stage, like the Dune miniseries where the sand suddenly ends at one point and becomes a flat background with all the shadows reversed and all the actors are having to react to things that will be added in in post production, so that some pull it off, and some are obviously just yelling at some hidden object off screen.

    Quote:
    patches of water, empty continents,


    If it has patches of open water, then wouldn't it be a pangea, with one large continent? (I know it has more to do with plates than oceans, but still...)

    Also, the open scar has lava visible from space. and smoke storms are a problem. But luckily we never have to deal or even mention earthquakes, volcanoes, or the resulting ash clouds which would cause...an ice age.


    I mean it was really hard not to scream and smash stuff when it got to the part about solving the defense of the deep zone problem with the DMD just giving them the ships. They wrote it in a way where logically the characters involved didn't know at the time, but the reader knows, and gawd-damn KJA knows that its more of a fucking cop-out even than the "oh we're secretly buying warships and hiding them in case it comes to war..."

    I know I'm repeating myself again: but Hellhole is literally a book written on a sound stage with a CGI background. The depth of this book is absolute proof that KJA writes purely in the moment, that nothing matters except what is going on right then and there, not something you read 5 seconds ago or the thing you are about to read. This book is written for people who have no short term memory.

    I really don't get how people can ignore that many flaws in the books own layers. Every book has flaws, its inevitable. But dammit, THAT'S why authors take time to craft their stories Kevin. Its a Pyrrhic victory to celebrate "delivery on time" when your product falls apart at the first inspection!

    Small consolation, I had a good Dune night at the store tonight, one guy bought a bargain Winds of Dune, and we talked about the new books being crap, and he just wanted to see how bad it was. Another woman was buying a copy of one of the nuDune books in paperback, because she had called the store doing the book signing in Allen and they only had one copy.(I'm sure hoping just per smart business that they have them on order!) I said that if Brian was going to be there I would go, since I'd actually like to talk to him, and she hesitated, saying "Oh, its just going to be the other guy?" That put a smile on my face all night.

    Oh, one last quote. This is from the glossary, and its the worst offender, most of the terms are actually things from the book, but I just had to include it.

    Pg 526
    DOZER-large construction machine.

    Aside from the irony of including a glossary in a book that repeats everything about something anytime its mentioned, lets include definitions of common modern day equipment!



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    Re: The Craft of Writing 490

    Postby Ampoliros » 16 Apr 2011 15:36

    And now class, your homework is to find a 5 star review from someone who obviously actually read a KJA book, AND gave a reason from the text as to why!
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    Re: The Craft of Writing 490

    Postby D Pope » 16 Apr 2011 20:35

    Ampoliros wrote:And now class, your homework is to find a 5 star review from someone who obviously actually read a KJA book, AND gave a reason from the text as to why!

    "Because" counts as a reason, right?
    Leto II is gone for good, except for OM. The "pearl" was just that; a miniscule portion of what Leto was, and not a compressed version of the whole. The pearl that the worms have do not make them Leto, or in any way similar to him.
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    Re: The Craft of Writing 490

    Postby Robspierre » 16 Apr 2011 23:07

    From Steering the Craft by Ursela K. LeGuin
    Some people interpret story to mean plot. Some reduce story to action...A story that has nothing but action and plot is a pretty poor affair; and some great stories have neither...Plot is a mavelous device. But it's not superior to story, and not even necessary to it. As for action, indeed a story must move, something must happen; ... unceasing violent action is usually a sign that there is, in fact, no story being told (p. 117)


    Poor Kevin, no wonder he doesn't like the critical darlings, they tell stories, all he does is plot crap.

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    Re: The Craft of Writing 490

    Postby Robspierre » 17 Dec 2011 15:35

    Charlie Stross a few days back posted about why he does not write on his iPad. A comment in response to another comment was made about "speaking" your stories.

    Charlie Stross replied to this comment from Dirk Bruere | December 12, 2011 16:04 | Reply
    6:
    Voice input is Not Fit For Purpose if the purpose is writing. Written linguistic usage is fundamentally different from spoken; yes, you can dictate to a machine, but it's a highly artificial form of speech and the cadences/structure of verbal speech doesn't fit with written text. For example, in written text there's no need for pauses to draw breath! Moreover, dictating lengthy chunks of text to a computer denies you the use of your voice for out-of-band communication with, say, your office cat.

    I've known a couple of writers who switched to speech-to-text; their writing style changed markedly, and not for the better.


    Now no names are mentioned but I wonder who he could be referring to?

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    Re: The Craft of Writing 490

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 17 Dec 2011 15:52

    I think recording speach is an awesome way to get down ideas for worldbuilding, characters, scenes, dialogue, etc - to get down ideas though, not to attempt to actually create prose.
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    Re: The Craft of Writing 490

    Postby SandChigger » 19 Dec 2011 10:20

    Basic note-taking, in other words? ;)
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    Re: The Craft of Writing 490

    Postby Robspierre » 26 Mar 2014 22:35

    Gods I love this class.


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