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Have you grown as a writer?

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Zelda View Drop Down
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    Posted: 12 Apr 2020 at 9:09am
Have you grown as a writer? I ask because I found a short story I wrote about five years ago. It was before I was doing NYC Midnight, but it would fit these contests perfectly. I think the plot of the story was brilliant (although I'm sure the judges could poke about a million holes in it), but from a beta-reading perspective, I wanted to attack the story. 

How I think I've improved if I were to write the story today: 

  • Better, more realistic dialogue
  • Better clarity about who's speaking (giving the character's dialogue its own paragraph separate from the story's overall narration)
  • Less use of dialogue tags (he said) instead of just showing an action or thought that person's engaging in, to indicate who the speaker of that paragraph was
  • More showing, less telling
  • Less use of adverbs
  • Better accurate use of words
  • Less filler words for better flow
Has anyone else grown as a writer? If you're not sure, go find something you wrote five years ago and see what you think! I feel oddly encouraged by everything I'd change in the story. Practice and refinement really work. (But you can't pay me to say I've been "honing my craft". That sounds so snooty to me! Let's please not hone!) Shocked
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kizernix View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote kizernix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Apr 2020 at 12:17pm
In the last year and a half since I've returned to writing I have grown a lot. The biggest difference I see between my earlier writing and now is a focus on 'showing' instead of 'telling' a story. By that I mean, if I have two characters who don't like each other, I don't just write - Klaus hated Mark, I write a confrontational scene and let the reader interpret the hate.

I joined a writing group that meets regularly online and this year have committed to entering the Writers of the Future contest every quarter with a new story. I need real deadlines to avoid procrastinating! 

One tool that has helped is the ProWritingAid app. It is the best editing software I have used and easily points out use of adverbs, passive language and sticky sentences that slow down pacing. I recommend it to every writer!




Edited by kizernix - 12 Apr 2020 at 12:21pm
SS1:The Jewelry Box of Hildegard von Dideritz
SS2:The Silverfish
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DukeREK View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote DukeREK Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Apr 2020 at 8:29pm
Nice question Zelda - It's good to take stock of our journeys.

For me, apart from the technical skills that come with practice, one of the mains skills that I have learned in theory and am trying to master is that in all forms of writing - Less is More

I'm not talking about wordcount, but about refining the content to:

1. That which advances the plot
2. That which develops the character

I'm a pantser. I'm always going to end up with something big and bloated for my first draft. I pay homage to Hemmingway's statement about first drafts. I'm amazed at some of the feedback the plotters have given me in other posts in this forum - but I am resigned to the fact that my writing comes from a place of anarchy locked away deep in my psyche. 

And it tells me "I'm done when I'm DONE Censored"

But I'm becoming more practiced at refining that first massive dump of ore into something more useable :)

Duke


EDIT: Reading the submissions on writing forums such as these and offering comments has also helped me to grow as a writer and to critique my own work.





Edited by DukeREK - 13 Apr 2020 at 6:57pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote DukeREK Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Apr 2020 at 8:42pm
Originally posted by kizernix kizernix wrote:

One tool that has helped is the ProWritingAid app. It is the best editing software I have used and easily points out use of adverbs, passive language and sticky sentences that slow down pacing. I recommend it to every writer!

Absolutely. Tools like this (or Hemmingway, or Grammarly or Refly or Cleartext or Expresso or...) can be a great way to learn about your own writing blindspots and remind you of some really important techniques.

The thing to remember though is that these tools don't give you your style, or voice or tone or story. Good writing is an important part of the equation. Good style and Good story are part of who we are and how we think and how we view the world. My favourite writing rule comes from C.J. Cherryh:

Cherryh's Law: NO RULE SHOULD BE FOLLOWED OFF A CLIFF
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Apr 2020 at 4:27am
Originally posted by kizernix kizernix wrote:

In the last year and a half since I've returned to writing I have grown a lot. The biggest difference I see between my earlier writing and now is a focus on 'showing' instead of 'telling' a story. By that I mean, if I have two characters who don't like each other, I don't just write - Klaus hated Mark, I write a confrontational scene and let the reader interpret the hate.

I joined a writing group that meets regularly online and this year have committed to entering the Writers of the Future contest every quarter with a new story. I need real deadlines to avoid procrastinating! 

One tool that has helped is the ProWritingAid app. It is the best editing software I have used and easily points out use of adverbs, passive language and sticky sentences that slow down pacing. I recommend it to every writer!




Sent you a private message instead.



Edited by Suave - 13 Apr 2020 at 4:49am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote juliaro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2020 at 3:49pm
I've participated in two NYCM competitions (FFC 2019 and SSC 2020). I professionally write academic history, so these stories give me a chance to produce much more descriptive, creative, and plot-driven writing than I'm used to. 

The forum/judge feedback has been really useful for me, and I managed to do away with some odd writing habits that I used in my first couple of stories. I would say that my NYCM experience has definitely helped me to develop plots and characters, and now I feel more comfortable writing fiction. I might even work on some side projects to preserve an outlet for creative writing! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote DukeREK Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2020 at 8:39pm
I groan as a writer.

Does that count?

*drops dad joke and runs*
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Zelda View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zelda Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Apr 2020 at 12:27am
Originally posted by DukeREK DukeREK wrote:

I groan as a writer.

Does that count?

*drops dad joke and runs*

Clap

Oh yes, that counts. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jennifer.quail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Apr 2020 at 9:00pm
I started writing when I was in second grade so I'd certainly hope so by now. 
FFC 2020 Ch 1 Gr 21: Cellared
Ch2 Gr 21: The Spy Who Came in For The Cake
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