Took a look at your material to give myself a refresher, since I apparently needed one . Found your article concerning capitalization and quoting quite useful. Only thing that still perplexes me is when referring to someone of royal decent. Thought The King/The Queen would be proper, but i'm still unsure.
Ya, that's what really got me into trouble with a story and it just perplexes the hell out of me at times. This would also apply, at least for me in terms of problems, to figuring out a person's title when referring to them beyond royalty. Example would using associate professor in place of the person's name. Not sure if I would capitalize associate professor or not. Only know that in some circumstances you need to apply capitalization to avoid confusion within a sentence when you don't want comedic effect.
Think the example that mostly sticks with me is one I read from an article about writing, talking about the difference between "helping your uncle jack off a donkey" and "helping your Uncle Jack off a donkey."
The first example, as I understand it, carries that comedic effect while the second one gives a clearer explanation to a reader.
Well, to be honest, if you're having a problem that the whole meaning of your sentence is changed unless you capitalise a word, you should probably re-word the sentence. Jack should be capitalised, yes, but not uncle.
And on epithets, you do actually want to avoid them whenever possible. They're horrible, nasty things that show up in purple prose and exist only to flower up the narrative unnecessarily.
The only time they should really be used is if you absolutely need to call attention to that person's station. For instance, "I had dinner with Obama" sounds impressive, but, "I had dinner with the President" sounds even better. (And this is also another case where the capitalisation can depend on the context. Here, president is capitalised, because he's THE president. If it were the president of Ford Motors or whatever, it wouldn't be capitalised because there are plenty of CEOs in the world.)
If you're using associate professor just because you don't want to use the person's name, then associate professor is being abused.
'"Your assignments are due at the end of the week," said the associate professor' is clunky as balls.
'"Your assignments are due at the end of the week," said Professor Webley' flows better. We know exactly who you're talking about, as like the CEOs, there are plenty of associate professors out there.
A general rule of thumb is don't try to say in five words what can be said in three. Words have meaning, but if you repeat them often enough, that meaning goes away. And then when you really need to point out the idea that you're trying to get across, you've no words left to do so.
Don't say infinite when huge is what you mean. When you come to something that truly is infinite, you can't describe it properly, basically.
"Don't say infinite when huge is what you mean. When you come to something that truly is infinite, you can't describe it properly, basically."
Unfortunately, that is a definite problem I ran into when I started writing, still do actually. When I check over my work after i've been writing for an extended period, I catch myself using a particular in several different contest. This ultimately degraded the word, and in the process, probably confuses the reader.
Overall I think my main problem is i'm still fresh when it comes to writing. Though i've been writing for close to a year now, as mentioned, it doesn't automatically make me a "professional" writer, or my work anywhere close to professional no matter how much I would want it to be.
Thanks for the info about the epithets, it's definitely helpful.
Also read your material on show vs tell and a bit on purple prose. One thing that seems hard is striking that good balance between show and purple prose, at least for me. Believe it was your article that talked about a woman's flowing hair and went into expansive detail about it. That definitely seemed like a prime example of purple prose. Though I keep reading about things about one person's Purple Prose being another finer point of explanation when you condense things down.
Not sure where I read it, or if it's true, but I swear I read something that as a writer you are given 3 shots to explain a situation within a paragraph. After that, if you expand beyond those 3 shots it goes into Purple Prose territory.
What would help a lot is finding out what research you've already done. I mean, everyone and their mom has written a blog about show vs tell (yes, even me), there's an active thread on what people like in character quotes, I don't know what "proper use of story elements" or "proper" exposition is supposed to mean here (it varies), etc.
So either we can all reiterate that like you don't know what you're talking about--which I don't think is the case--or, instead of asking a lot of vague questions, you could start asking questions specific to what you need. The best way to do that is, yes, in the critique sticky, but there are other discussion in this forum on using certain devices and such.
One of the things that was mentioned in the detailed critique was the character I used. It is bluntly put that she is a "walking, talking exposition machine," and uses "telling" elements more than what readers want/except, which is elements of "showing" the reader.
I had hopedthat I did, or at least part of me had hoped, a relatively good job at keeping those unwanted "tell" elements to a minimum. Though it seems to be contrary to my desires.
Looked at notable authors outside the realm i'm creating the fictional material for and read several other works by authors within the specific area. I did this so I could get a grasp of how to make a story and apply it towards the fictional material I'm writing about. After reading the guides online, materials here on Deviant Art, and reviewing other works, as mentioned, I had hoped to get past several of the notable problems, show vs tell being just one. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case since I still had trouble in "properly" utilizing that aspect of story writing.
With what was written in the email I do believe it best to retract my story.
Once you go past the notable flaws of show vs tell, exposition, capitalization, etc... , the story would need a major re-write to pass inspection. The only thing happening at that point, in my opinion, is a story being made specifically for that site. I truly believe my story has merit, but to completely re-write it for "one specific site" just seems silly and pointless to me.
I'll be sure to use the critique thread so I can get an idea of where I went wrong. Though the email points out the problems, it feels like it isn't just surface deep, kind of like a water stain in a basement that turns into a huge mess for a home owner.
Hang on, I just got super jealous of your actual personalized response. Which journal did you submit to?
And yeah, there are so many journals nowadays that they have to carve out niches for themselves. Not to mention so many aspiring writers that they can afford to be picky--at least that is what I've seen. I could be wrong.
Maybe you need to 'cleanse your palate' by reading something you admire and then going back and seeing how your piece stacks up?
My background is probably a major flaw when concerning my writing style. Most of my knowledge pertains to writing formal college level critiques of Movies. Example of this would be a piece I wrote about the movie Terminator 2 Judgement Day for a paper. One particular scene was of interest to me where the Terminator is walking down the Mall's service hallway, pulls his shotgun out of the flower box, lets the red roses fall to the floor, and then steps on them. This swift motion gives him an almost instantaneous personification of death, an emotionless being ready to kill without hesitation.
I've never really written stories or any works of fiction to be honest, and only started writing a little over a year ago. Actually, come to think of it, I started back in October of 2011, so it has been a year at least.
A form of "palate cleansing" I read about was taking a break from story writing to let things soak in a bit. Decided to go through with that idea and went into hibernation mode. Guess I need to take a deeper look at other fictional works within the world i'm trying to write about so I can get a better understanding.
One thing I expected there to be was flaws in the story, but not on the grand scale that was mentioned in the detailed critique email I received. Definitely believe it best to retract this story since it truly isn't worth pushing. Altering it to fight the requirements of the sight, it just feels wrong. However, that's not to say I can't learn from the story.
Yup, think the interviews of a couple artists I watched put it perfectly when people start off drawing. Think one of them was Lauren Faust who said something along the lines of, "you have a 1000 bad drawings in you and you have to get them all out."
I think her choice words of wisdom can apply to any field of art, including fiction. Probably have 1000 horrible chapters to write before I start making stuff that can count as passable within the realm of literature. Just hope that what is learned can be applied to a story that i've had on the back burner for quite some time. That is the "REAL" story that I hope to publish one day and make some money with. Though it's in the hopes of not getting sued since almost everything is copyrighted in this day and age .
It's mostly due to the common elements within my story. One example is a wasteland with super powered humans existing in it. This idea is similar to the anime called Needless which has super powered beings in a desert wasteland/post-apocalyptic setting. The other portion concerning the "great cities" within the story is similar to the Judge Dredd comics I guess which has "Mega cities" which act as safe havens, or nearly safe havens, for humanity.
I'm hoping to negate those factors by throwing in various nuances. These nuances act as catalysts as to why things are the way they are, and down the road the reader learns about the MC's potential connection with why things are the way they are in the story. Course that brings ANOTHER problem since the MC in the story is hated much like the anime character Vash The Stampede, though my character didn't obliterate a town with a "special gun" powered by his own body.
One of my favorite all-around references addressing all the points you mentioned is Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern. If you're looking for something more in-depth on a particular area, though, it may not be the reference for you.
Come with me on an adventure through time and space and I will show you the helpful links thread that ~MadOldHag mentioned: [link] There's a lot of snark there, but you'll find useful stuff.
Also, what *raspil said. You'll find a lot of writing blogs with writing articles and advice. I like to read them for fun. I suggest you read some. Use the Google. Some things won't work for you/are written by a pretentious tosser, but you'll learn a LOT. (Here's one on show don't tell from one of my favourite blogs for example [link])
And what do you mean by rejection? They didn't accept your story?
I'll clarify a bit. The story passed an initial inspection for grammar (commas, periods, etc...), however it didn't pass a finer inspection. It was in the finer inspection of my submitted material where trouble was seen with show vs tell, proper character quoting, use of capitalization, and other aspects of a near "professional" story. Those finer points caused the story to be rejected. It was also suggested, possibly highly, that the story be completely re-written due to its poor content despite the pass of initial inspection.
Since English/Written Communication/Grammar was never my strong suit, the first stop I made was to Purdue Owl [link] and the grammar education site [link] to refresh my knowledge. While I used Google when researching story writing I preferred the people on Deviant Art due to their expertise in writing. Made several threads within the literature section, asking for information about Purple prose, why they are bad, and how not to make them while utilizing Show vs Tell. One example I always remember is a poster talking about a taxi cab with a person entering the vehicle. The poster gave a good paragraph of an individual entering the cab, experiencing the smell of it, sight of the inside, the sound of the cab and around it, and other misc features.
Another topic I posted up talked about what makes a great villain so I could re-shape one I was currently working on in another story. The same went for how to make a decent original character. Found several articles that talked about Gary Stu/Mary Sues in differing lights, but general consensus of why they are bad, and how to avoid them. One such article I used, heavily, was here on DA which also led to a sort of Gary Stu/Mary Sue test.
Also, I will apologize if the top post is hashed. Though I was flustered at the time of writing it, I won't excuse my poor wording. After looking it over I do sound like an amateur poster.
Thankyou for the link Rovanna, I will be sure to look them over.
One thing I expected was rejection, few misplaced things here or there, but nothing on the grand scale that was mentioned in the email.
Ah yes, I remember some of those threads. I think the best thing to do besides reading more about writing is to put the story up in the crit sticky, and attach specific questions about the areas you were having trouble with.
I may do that, picking and choosing some parts that were pointed out in the email. In all honesty though, i'm tempted to abandon the story all together. With it "hinted" that a complete re-write is in order to make the story a functional piece, instead of its current quick "muddled" structure, I doubt that it's in my best interest to pursue things beyond a learning experience.
Guess I can equate things to having to get 100+ odd bad stories/ideas out of me, before I can make that interesting piece.
You know, *raspil kinda has a point here. You can also try searching for these topics on dA and probably dig up a few articles posted by groups or individuals on these topics. There are quite a few grammar resources online, or you can consider purchasing a small grammar guide to keep handy when you're unsure about punctuation or whatever.
Everything else...I would have to read the story. I'm don't have those types of references one hand. I usually just learn off or reading, what I took from English class, advice from others, articles that I don't bookmark and a lot of writing and learning through writing. Someone else might have something specific that covers those subjects well. You could just Goggle is and find good advice or just have someone read what you wrote and critique it.
you know where i go to find these links? google. how do i know what is BS and what is not? i turn on my BS detector. how do i know what advice works and what doesn't? trial and error, trial and error, trial and error. practice. time. patience.
all of the things you want to know that you listed above, plug them into google's bar. look at the first 1-3 pages. you'll find your answers. i still do this to this day and i've been writing for a million years, you can do it, too. put in the time for your education, do this on your own. to be honest (which no one wants to hear from me), coming in here with this thread kind of makes you look like you don't know how to use the internet and you're touching it right now.