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Re: Scene & Chapter Length
Having recently finished a 350k word doorstopper as a debut novel, we have very different styles XD. I see the wisdom in this (I'm currently doing it for my WIP), and I think limitations are great for learning the more disciplined aspects of writing, but I feel like I lose a lot of the other half (voice, style, characterization), when I put limits on myself.
Yeah it's interesting, a lot of people seem to think like that in all walks of life. For example, when in college (doing graphic design) the other students found it increasingly difficult when the projects were more limited, since they felt it limited their creativity. I think it's because their approach was generally the designer's equivalent of discovery writing: they created and developed their ideas in a linear fashion from start to finish.

Both my partner and I found that our best work always comes when we have strict limits. When we're allowed to do whatever the hell we want the number of possibilities is completely overwhelming, because we would generally see hundreds if not thousands of approaches to take. It's like being told to paint anything, the sheer number of things you could choose is ridiculous. When there are stricter limits, we can use those limits as a structure to which we add our creative flair - ending up with a result that fits the brief flawlessly without seeming limited at all.

That's the designer's equivalent of plotting - we first develop the underlying logic and structure of the work and only then add the creative bits. We've both always worked that way to some extent, but years of doing projects like that make it the easiest way of thinking of things. Our approach also had the advantages of taking a lot less time and giving a more polished final work (we were both top of our respective class, and my partner's grades were the highest in the history of the course).

IMO, (Take my opinion and like it! Seriously though, do what you think is best, but I'm now going to give you advice which is really nothing more than me justifying my own choices  ;D ):

Your first book should be about experimenting with whatever nonsense you can think of. Play with tense, play with structure, with first person, third, even second if you feel like it. Rather than build your limits from the start, test them. You're going to be naturally skilled at certain aspects of writing, and fail miserably at others. You won't know which skills you've got until you try it all, and find ways to work around those you suck at. The first book should be about looking at every tool available to you, feeling their weight, and then dropping them on your toes.

Look at all the rules every want-to-be writer/editor has regurgitated on their blog over the years, and mangle them. Then see what happens when you listen to them. Find out which ones really apply, which ones have been repeated so many times over the years to have lost all the original meaning (mantras suck), discover the kernel of truth which originally inspired the advice, and then adapt it to fit in with your own style.
I think all of that kind of experimentation is hugely important, but it's much more efficient (and easier in our case to maintain motivation) to explore all the different possibilities by writing shorter works for that purpose. It'd bug me to try all sorts of different things within the same piece of continuous prose, and learning to be flexible while maintaining consistency within each project is also important imo.  :)

EDIT: I might have more to say on this as I think. (Protoss voice:) I shall return.
More please! Really interesting post. I'm still tempted to make a separate thread for discussion of discovery vs planning and all the different ideas and reasoning surrounding each...

March 25, 2015, 03:25:00 PM
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Re: Miscellaneous Musings
Wow you're even worse than me ;D I usually also have a few tabs open, but it's only one for each site hehe
Yeah I open all the unread posts at once, each in their own tab. Far more efficient that way...
I do the same. :)

All the no's in the world.   I have to do one at a time to keep up with the conversation.   I wonder if their is a correlation between multiple tabs of the same site & reading multiple books at once (which I cannot do).
I don't do that, so it's definitely not the same for everyone  :P

March 26, 2015, 03:11:25 AM
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Re: Scene & Chapter Length @Justan (boo at the space in your username which breaks the tagging system) - I'll reply to your posts when I have a bit more time, loads to get through there. Please continue your rant if you have anything more to say  :P

Interesting stuff.
As a novice writer my first attempts have been more freeform, less constrained, and they produced some good results. My next ones have been more tightly plotted and planned, they too had their strong points.

Now the thing is, the first ones are better stories, but I learnt more as a writer from the second.

Working within constraints and using the well trodden advice is a better way to find your feet as a writer I think, before then taking those training wheels off and using them to beat the constraints to death.

Picasso could paint conventionally long before he began his adventures in cubism.
Yeah that's a very good point, I can't think of any skill other than writing where the general advice is often to explore and experiment first, rather than working on the basics before experimenting. I'd guess most people feel it's not comparable and that you can go about it that way around, but the fact is that that's actually the case for everything  :P

March 26, 2015, 03:16:45 AM
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Re: Miscellaneous Musings
Wow you're even worse than me ;D I usually also have a few tabs open, but it's only one for each site hehe
Yeah I open all the unread posts at once, each in their own tab. Far more efficient that way...
I do the same. :)

All the no's in the world.   I have to do one at a time to keep up with the conversation.   I wonder if their is a correlation between multiple tabs of the same site & reading multiple books at once (which I cannot do).
I don't do that, so it's definitely not the same for everyone  :P


Thanks for killing my theory in the first post!
You're welcome!

March 26, 2015, 03:17:38 AM
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Re: Highly Regarded Books that You Have Struggled Through Stormlight is fairly good, you can see his writing improving in that series. What I'd recommend is what @Gariath mentioned - his shorter works. The Emperor's Soul is my favourite of all of his books, Legion has a very interesting concept, Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell (the one Gariath mentioned) is fairly decent. Sixth of the Dusk is okay, but more of his typical flaws seemed to creep in. I think it's definitely a case of him spreading it too thin in his novels, can't think of a single one that would not be a lot stronger if he cut the word count by 30%-50%  :-\
March 27, 2015, 10:02:37 AM
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Re: Miscellaneous Musings
So, Gariath and Doctor Chill seem to be in competition with each other for the Most Like Button Spamming Person award. Just look at the "Like-section" of the recent posts on this topic. On the other hand, they might just be very easy to please.  ;D

EDIT: Yeah, I should have read the thread dealing with this rivalry of "churches" better before posting, but I didn't realize that it had THREE PAGES OF POSTS SINCE I LAST CHECKED (which was yesterday). Damn you all!!!  :P
8)

March 27, 2015, 10:03:51 AM
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Re: Avoiding writing, or: How many words didn't you write today?
It's been about two years since I last wrote my story. Okay okay, I have been rebuilding the world and getting ready for a re-write, so I have written some things relating to the story. But do I still get some sort of prize for writing avoidance?  :)
It's possible, though I think worldbuilding might count, since it's still working on the story...  :P

Done a bit of work today - simultaneously working on the outline at chapter, scene, and sub-scene level. However I keep getting distracted, reloading the FF unread posts page/reading new posts, and researching a few things. I'm even considering finally get around to replying to Justan's monolithic posts in the Scene & Chapter length thread. Even worse, I'm very tempted to stop and play a game for a bit...  ???
All of that ^

But NOT THIS!
Quote
reading another forum I'm on
;D
Lol I actually have somewhere between three and four times as many posts on the other forum...  :o
Even more posts than here!?!? Please teach me that time-stop spell of yours, Raptori. Maybe then I could solve my time management problems.  :P
Yeah, though there are a lot of people on there with many more posts than me. The person with the highest number of posts has been there since 2006, and has 74,063 in total... so over 8,200 per year. There's another guy a few places below him with over 50,000 posts in 6 years, so almost 9,000 per year. I've been there about six months, so my post rate there is just under 3,000 per year.

Moral of the story: Raptori's time-stop spell is second rate!  :(

(my partner's ill, so I'm gonna take a break and hopefully help make her feel a bit better)
One Get Well Soon wish for your partner.
Thanks!  ;D

March 27, 2015, 06:24:46 PM
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Re: Highly Regarded Books that You Have Struggled Through

Interesting. I thought the plot was pretty cliché, the characters the worst mary sue and marty stu I've come across in a published work, and the setting not all that interesting... Plus the dialogue and prose in general were fairly uninspiring  ???

Mistborn had a handful of characters who were more rounded, a much more interesting plot and setting, and marginally better dialogue in my opinion :D
That's probably why Mistborn did nothing for me @Raptori. I'd already read Elantris and it had all the same flaws you picked up on, and I put it down to it being his first novel. Then I read Mistborn and got exactly the same feel from it as with Elantris and realised that for whatever reason Sanderson and I simply don't click as author and reader. However I still preferred Elantris, it interested me more overall, whereas Mistborn I struggled through.
Yeah makes sense. He does seem to have improved at least, Stormlight is a little better. He's ridiculously prolific though, makes you wonder whether his commitment to producing quantity is impacting the quality...
I have occasionally wondered that myself, although other authors have been prolific without impacting the quality. I immediately think of the late Sir Terry Pratchett.
Isaac Asimov also springs to mind. I guess it just depends on the writer.  :-\

March 27, 2015, 11:13:17 PM
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Re: Highly Regarded Books that You Have Struggled Through Yep, plus in a lot of cases they were pioneering their genre, so it's possible that they didn't have to work as hard to come up with something original. Nowadays if you think of something cool, chances are it's already been written... :-\
March 27, 2015, 11:21:04 PM
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Re: Highly Regarded Books that You Have Struggled Through
Yep, plus in a lot of cases they were pioneering their genre, so it's possible that they didn't have to work as hard to come up with something original. Nowadays if you think of something cool, chances are it's already been written... :-\
I think there's a saying that there are only 5 original ideas and they've all been done. Everything else is a variation.
That's probably more a fact than a saying  :P

March 27, 2015, 11:24:43 PM
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