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 Post subject: Re: Any writers here?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, '14, 8:12 am 
I write. Mind you I have a bad habit of not updating and procrastinating. There is one story though that I have been working on in my head for around ten years now. It is a zombie story which I planned three "seasons" of. I wish I had the courage to actually start writing it, but I think the big zombie boom craze that we had turned me off.

I've actually codenamed the story "Project Legacy" because if I ever get around to writing this story. It will be my legacy.


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 Post subject: Re: Any writers here?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, '14, 10:49 pm 
Silver_Surfer1 wrote:
Bragatyr wrote: I just signed a contract for my latest short story today, for an anthology coming up in November, for which I'm very happy.


Just wanted to say congratulations to Bragatyr on the above! :clap:


Thank you very much, Silver Surfer, I really appreciate it!

I think you have some interesting ideas there, Hukos, especially in dealing with a difficult, even hateful main character. It's always tough to do that, of course, despicable mains and especially narrators are interesting but difficult to relate to. Patrick Bateman of American Psycho and Humbert Humbert of Lolita come to mind. Definitely fascinating characters, but some people find them hard to bear and are put off the books entirely. You'd have to watch for that, and make her real, believable, and compelling in some way. She can't only be self-pitying and unbearable, she has to attract the reader and give him or her a reason to hear her story.

I really like the idea that the character is fairly irredeemable, at least in the beginning. I would actually personally be interested to hear whether you've considered having her remain constant in her hatred throughout the story; examining some of the causes of her pain and worldview, perhaps giving the reader a reason to see the world through her eyes in a small way. A character doesn't necessarily have to change throughout the narrative. My personal favorite imperfect narrator is Alex, of A Clockwork Orange, and he of course does evolve in the end. That's cool in its own way, but done a lot; I actually liked American Psycho's Patrick Bateman a lot, too, totally irredeemable but charismatic and compelling in the end, by sheer virtue of his bizarre obsessions and neurotic inner life. For my money it's just as interesting to present a real character without a lesson and say, hey, some people are hateful, unlikeable, and they're never going to change, but they're interesting, too (Joseph Stalin would be a good example).

I could definitely see character development in this one, but I think it might be fascinating to examine the changes in the characters around Rebecca rather than a total sea change in Rebecca. As a gang leader and a hugely strong personality she would obviously command some measure of affection and respect; her servants would obviously be working for her attention, probably as impoverished and hopeless figures themselves. That alone would provide powerful contrast; some people change, and some people simply don't. Since Rebecca is heartless and self-serving it would also be very easy to show a rival figure working against her in some way who resembles her in some ways but who comes to change, someone with maybe some loyalty and understanding with her fellow gang members, something that perhaps the narrator main (if she is the narrator) doesn't have. That alone would be a powerful thematic and character study, to examine a life with some measure of love and human companionship against a life that has shut it out.

That's the vibe I'm getting so far. From what I've read so far, I would be really interested in reading a character study, rather than a direct philosophical novel. The psychology seems stronger to me here than any larger underlying ideas; I would personally be very interested in reading a novel with this premise if it were truly about the life of the characters. The world-building sounds fascinating, too, so far, I really like the idea of controlling magic in a more real-world way and dealing with difficult psychological issues. My advice would be to keep it as grounded as possible, stark, bare, something reading like Hemingway or Cormac McCarthy and unfolding this brutal destruction and inner crisis with a quiet sadism. In my opinion commenting on the darkness too much in a narrative way would muddy the waters too much; you have a very clear, very dark kernel of a story here, and I think it could very easily tell itself.

For that reason I think it might be worth considering working against your natural inclinations and thinking about a third-person narrative. It would be easy to show Rebecca's inner life in first-person, but it would also be easy to slip into self-obsession and unnecessary musing (I know this from experience, ha ha). If you do decide on first please make her as unreliable as possible; she's damaged, obviously, she doesn't see the world in a balanced way, and she's clearly a manipulator and possibly a liar. I would definitely think about all the Alex's and Patrick Bateman's and Huckleberry Finn's of the world, and check out as many novels as you can with unreliable narrators, characters who are imperfect and ignorant and young and inscrutable.


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 Post subject: Re: Any writers here?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, '14, 8:54 am 
Bragatyr wrote:I think you have some interesting ideas there, Hukos, especially in dealing with a difficult, even hateful main character. It's always tough to do that, of course, despicable mains and especially narrators are interesting but difficult to relate to. Patrick Bateman of American Psycho and Humbert Humbert of Lolita come to mind. Definitely fascinating characters, but some people find them hard to bear and are put off the books entirely. You'd have to watch for that, and make her real, believable, and compelling in some way. She can't only be self-pitying and unbearable, she has to attract the reader and give him or her a reason to hear her story.


Oh I agree which is the hardest part of writing this kind of thing, hence why I want to do lots of reading so I can brush up on the proper techniques to make this work. Nothing worse than having a great idea and not having the writing chops to make use of it.

Quote:I really like the idea that the character is fairly irredeemable, at least in the beginning. I would actually personally be interested to hear whether you've considered having her remain constant in her hatred throughout the story; examining some of the causes of her pain and worldview, perhaps giving the reader a reason to see the world through her eyes in a small way. A character doesn't necessarily have to change throughout the narrative. My personal favorite imperfect narrator is Alex, of A Clockwork Orange, and he of course does evolve in the end. That's cool in its own way, but done a lot; I actually liked American Psycho's Patrick Bateman a lot, too, totally irredeemable but charismatic and compelling in the end, by sheer virtue of his bizarre obsessions and neurotic inner life. For my money it's just as interesting to present a real character without a lesson and say, hey, some people are hateful, unlikeable, and they're never going to change, but they're interesting, too (Joseph Stalin would be a good example).


Well the whole idea behind the character was to see if something such as secular redemption was indeed a possibility. The intended growth pattern is something along the lines of - Villain Protagonist -> Tragic Villain -> Byronic Hero. This way, it puts the emphasis on the self and the individual as the catalyst for redemption and not some otherworldly entity

Quote:I could definitely see character development in this one, but I think it might be fascinating to examine the changes in the characters around Rebecca rather than a total sea change in Rebecca. As a gang leader and a hugely strong personality she would obviously command some measure of affection and respect; her servants would obviously be working for her attention, probably as impoverished and hopeless figures themselves. That alone would provide powerful contrast; some people change, and some people simply don't. Since Rebecca is heartless and self-serving it would also be very easy to show a rival figure working against her in some way who resembles her in some ways but who comes to change, someone with maybe some loyalty and understanding with her fellow gang members, something that perhaps the narrator main (if she is the narrator) doesn't have. That alone would be a powerful thematic and character study, to examine a life with some measure of love and human companionship against a life that has shut it out.


That's an interesting idea and certainly one with some merit, but thematically it wasn't quite what I was going for. Though I do have something sort of like that, but its more along the lines of said rival taking what she has away from her, which is sort of a catalyst for her own change.

I do plan on having a foil character, one more empathetic and easy to sympathize with be her right hand man, however. Gives someone a bit more likable to the audience, especially when she's manipulating and abusing him the whole way.

Quote:That's the vibe I'm getting so far. From what I've read so far, I would be really interested in reading a character study, rather than a direct philosophical novel. The psychology seems stronger to me here than any larger underlying ideas; I would personally be very interested in reading a novel with this premise if it were truly about the life of the characters. The world-building sounds fascinating, too, so far, I really like the idea of controlling magic in a more real-world way and dealing with difficult psychological issues. My advice would be to keep it as grounded as possible, stark, bare, something reading like Hemingway or Cormac McCarthy and unfolding this brutal destruction and inner crisis with a quiet sadism. In my opinion commenting on the darkness too much in a narrative way would muddy the waters too much; you have a very clear, very dark kernel of a story here, and I think it could very easily tell itself.


That's just the problem, I'm flatout bad at writing in a minimalistic way. It doesn't help that when I read authors that use a bit more colorful language I get a lot more moved than when I read prose that's meant to be as bare as possible. I mean Huxley is pretty much my favorite author ever and I wouldn't at all call him minimalistic. And nothing else puts me in a good mood like reading some of Nietzsche's prose.

Quote:For that reason I think it might be worth considering working against your natural inclinations and thinking about a third-person narrative. It would be easy to show Rebecca's inner life in first-person, but it would also be easy to slip into self-obsession and unnecessary musing (I know this from experience, ha ha). If you do decide on first please make her as unreliable as possible; she's damaged, obviously, she doesn't see the world in a balanced way, and she's clearly a manipulator and possibly a liar. I would definitely think about all the Alex's and Patrick Bateman's and Huckleberry Finn's of the world, and check out as many novels as you can with unreliable narrators, characters who are imperfect and ignorant and young and inscrutable.


That's part of why I'm outlining and then focus on the writing later when I feel like I've picked up on the right literary techniques to pull this off. I do plan on focusing the part you mentioned though, the fact that she's a damaged person and doesn't see the world is a balanced or logical way. One of the classic features of a pathological narcissist is justifying any damage they do to other people because they negate any damage done to themselves, and see no reason at all not to continue the cycle because that's normal to them and that's precisely what Rebecca does to other people.

I definitely appreciate the feedback!


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 Post subject: Re: Any writers here?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, '14, 6:03 pm 
Hukos wrote:That's just the problem, I'm flatout bad at writing in a minimalistic way. It doesn't help that when I read authors that use a bit more colorful language I get a lot more moved than when I read prose that's meant to be as bare as possible. I mean Huxley is pretty much my favorite author ever and I wouldn't at all call him minimalistic. And nothing else puts me in a good mood like reading some of Nietzsche's prose.


I totally feel you on that, I personally tend to go for more ornate stuff myself, both in my reading and writing. I started out writing poetry, which I know you write, too, and I think that's always a big influence on a writer. When you know there are more beautiful or ornate ways of expressing something it's hard to tone it down and do it the simpler way. Also gets down to the question of preference on narrative perspective. For the longest time I felt like I couldn't write anything but first-person narrators, usually with a kind of distinctive voice, but I've forced myself to write in 3rd-person for a while and I've gotten where I like it, too. Some stories definitely demand one or the other. For this one I feel like you could go either way (which is always tough to decide), but I really do think that even Rebecca as narrator would sound better if she were terse and stark in her style. Someone that dark and brutally efficient in her work wouldn't waste a lot of time sharing her thoughts, I think. She would be very organized and pragmatic.

Which, of course, can be pretty in its own way, that's why I listed Cormac McCarthy. He's known for being one of the most purple writers out there right now, at least when he wants to be, but he has a kind of stark, blunt, brutal directness that can be very disarming. That kind of dichotomy can be very effective when used right.


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 Post subject: Re: Any writers here?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, '14, 12:09 am 
I'm probably sounding like a broken record at this point, but I really think the best way to find a style/voice you feel comfortable with is just to write write write and see what works, what's a good fit for the story you want to tell. It's tricky because (obviously) it's one of those things that's so subjective, and what I like to read and write isn't necessarily what you'd like to read and write, and someone else probably has a third preference. For example, I have little patience for reading a dozen pages on describing scenery, regardless of how beautiful and poetic the prose may be, if there's not some action going on at the same side. On the flip side, there are people who enjoy the immersive descriptions and don't want to feel rushed or unsatisfied with their reading material.

And so I'm not just spouting out my own navel-gazing, I'll whine a little bit about my current writing issue - coming up with made-up names for people and places in a fantasy setting. It's hard to think of names that are unique and don't sound dumb, and somehow it just doesn't seem right to write about brave knights or powerful sorceresses named Bob and Susie. (Though Monty Python managed to pull off "Tim" in the Holy Grail....)


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 Post subject: Re: Any writers here?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, '14, 5:25 am 
Tim is the most immortal sorcerer we have ever known.

I totally agree about simply writing. Gene Wolfe's two-word advice on writing is simple; keep writing. I personally love coming up with names in fantasy novels, because I either steal some obscure word from an ancient or crazy language or use the language pea soup of my brain to come up with one that is probably ultimately from said source!

That would be my advice about fantasy names: use a Romanian or Ancient Egyptian dictionary and go to town!


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 Post subject: Re: Any writers here?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, '14, 5:58 am 
In that case, I'll add McCarthy to my list of authors I need to eventually read. My backlog is huge.

Quote:but I really do think that even Rebecca as narrator would sound better if she were terse and stark in her style. Someone that dark and brutally efficient in her work wouldn't waste a lot of time sharing her thoughts, I think. She would be very organized and pragmatic.


I agree on the pragmatic part but at the same time, I want to capture the sense of grandiosity associated with narcissism. They always view themselves as grandeur and more magical than they really are and I want to capture that in 1st person.

Quote:For example, I have little patience for reading a dozen pages on describing scenery, regardless of how beautiful and poetic the prose may be, if there's not some action going on at the same side. On the flip side, there are people who enjoy the immersive descriptions and don't want to feel rushed or unsatisfied with their reading material.


Well, I do think there's a middle ground between purple and minimalistic. I lean closer to purple, but I'm not a full blown purple prose type of writer either. There is a limit to how descriptive you can be without boring the reader.

At the same time, taking a story and reducing it down to "Billy did x, Sandy replied with y" in a very dry, bland way leaves for a boring story. And that's kind of my issue with minimalism. Its good to cut out the unnecessary fat, but if you cut too much there really isn't all that much available to enjoy.


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 Post subject: Re: Any writers here?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, '14, 6:19 pm 
Can we turn this into a motivation/accountability thread as well? Because I haven't had a lot of good writing mojo flowing this week, and I could use someone to light a fire/kick my butt into gear. :D

Quote:That would be my advice about fantasy names: use a Romanian or Ancient Egyptian dictionary and go to town!


What I've done in the past sometimes is go to Google Translate, plug in some words that describe whatever I'm trying to name (person or place), and translate into a few different languages and see what comes up. Swap out a few letters and syllables and I can usually come up with something workable. I think I've finally named my heroine for the current story, and for right now, I'm going to see if I can get away with leaving the places unnamed. (And if that winds up being awkward, I'll try Romanian words first!)


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 Post subject: Re: Any writers here?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, '14, 8:03 pm 
augmentedfourth wrote:Can we turn this into a motivation/accountability thread as well? Because I haven't had a lot of good writing mojo flowing this week, and I could use someone to light a fire/kick my butt into gear. :D


We absolutely need a motivation/accountability/get-your-butt-a-writin' thread! (Mostly because I've been rather slack on my writing as of late.) =p


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 Post subject: Re: Any writers here?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, '14, 5:16 am 
augmentedfourth wrote:What I've done in the past sometimes is go to Google Translate, plug in some words that describe whatever I'm trying to name (person or place), and translate into a few different languages and see what comes up. Swap out a few letters and syllables and I can usually come up with something workable. I think I've finally named my heroine for the current story, and for right now, I'm going to see if I can get away with leaving the places unnamed. (And if that winds up being awkward, I'll try Romanian words first!)


Romanian is awesome for kind of exotic, vaguely Latin sounding stuff, ha ha. Sort of priestly or dignified and very East European. I was actually just thinking, Welsh is an awesome one to go to for the more typical high fantasy sound. That's where Tolkien got a lot of his stuff, really pretty (but weird) language. I mean, who wouldn't want to be named Gwynllyw?!

I probably need a writing motivation thread, the novel I'm working on right now feels like a lead weight, I'm really struggling to figure out where to go from day to day. Although I will say this is the first one where I've written partially from the perspective of the antagonist, and I actually find that a lot more fun. You seem to have an awesome drive for writing, augmented, I really envy that. I write almost every day, but sometimes it's really hard to get a sense of direction.


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