ILB Writing Club

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Let's keep this open-ended for now, but discussions from earlier today have indicated that there would be interest in a space to support one another's writing endeavours.

Ideas for how such support could manifest are welcome.

Other threads exist for this purpose, of course, and there was an 'anonymous writing' clinic run a few years ago, but a clean slate will probably do us all a power of good. Besides, I think the emphasis should be less on shared extracts (although I'm certainly not ruling it out) and more on discussions of discipline, technique, achievements, ideas and so forth.

Perhaps the endgame is some kind of collective, perhaps it's just a way of allowing us disparate souls to grow happier with our writing. We shall see.

(fwiw I think the protocol should be that anyone can introduce themselves and their writing at any time, so long as we don't then ignore those who've been posting beforehand.)

imago, Wednesday, 4 October 2017 19:52 (one year ago) Permalink

(is it fiction only?)

mark s, Wednesday, 4 October 2017 19:56 (one year ago) Permalink

I wrote ILB Fiction Writing Club then deleted the word Fiction because, thinking about it, non-fiction is writing too

imago, Wednesday, 4 October 2017 19:59 (one year ago) Permalink

yr thinking was correct and good

mark s, Wednesday, 4 October 2017 20:03 (one year ago) Permalink

Shall we?

imago, Monday, 9 October 2017 13:35 (one year ago) Permalink

"I think the emphasis should be less on shared extracts (although I'm certainly not ruling it out) and more on discussions of discipline, technique, achievements, ideas and so forth. "

On board for this and the general idea of the thread, but my interest lies mostly in what you wrote ^^ here.

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 9 October 2017 13:38 (one year ago) Permalink

This seems good. I prob wouldn't post actual writing itt but personally I'm happy enough to read people's stuff and exchange feedback, on a reciprocal basis or otherwise. Might take me a week or two at times but as a general thing I would be okay with doing this.

One lecture into the masters I'm doing I can tell it's going to be a really good thing - I need to learn how to create my own deadlines and respond to them, but the level to which I get things done and their quality improves hugely due to deadlines set by uni and the fear of showing awful work. I wrote and edited a story in the last seven days which feels like one of the best things I've done. That's after months of much slower progress. In a given week we are reading three pieces of published fiction and three pieces of fiction from people in the class, and critiquing all of these, then there's usually one or two writing assignments as well.

I dunno how feasible it'd be to set up these kind of routines for yourself but I already feel like I'm analysing writing so much that it feeds into the reading I do for my own enjoyment as well.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Monday, 9 October 2017 13:49 (one year ago) Permalink

Yes, this thread is a good idea. One of my favorite things about ILX is the extent to which it has consistently reified professional writing as an actual thing that real people do (even though I do also know IRL people who also do that actual thing). After decades of people badgering me about it, I feel like I'm finally on the cusp of getting over my shit and making a go of it myself. So, yeah, it would be good to have a dedicated place to discuss the ways in which one might make that happen.

the scarest move i ever seen is scary move 4 (Old Lunch), Monday, 9 October 2017 13:53 (one year ago) Permalink

I actually started a secret I Love Writing board a few years ago and neglected to invite anyone to it. It's probably still there.

Matt DC, Monday, 9 October 2017 16:48 (one year ago) Permalink

full boardname: i love writing except when it's by you

mark s, Monday, 9 October 2017 16:49 (one year ago) Permalink

I could invite people who express and interest and keep it on 77 rules.

Matt DC, Monday, 9 October 2017 16:50 (one year ago) Permalink

So I've got this one piece I've been castigating myself for not shopping around--but the idea before attempting was to deliberately hold fire, try to get enough distance on it for more perspective (than certain published thingies that look so or just a bit wrong now). And! Just a cpuple days ago, I woke up knowing that the ending was wrong. Took a look, and it was, still is (pretty sure, though haven't looked today...)
It's more intentionally self-revealing than almost anything else submitted, which makes it harder, maybe. I might just ditch it---who cares about more Creative Nonfiction for a mostly imaginary audience---though think some others could relate; it seems like one of those why-has-nobody-ever-written-about-this-befores, though surely someone has. But not *my* experience of it.

dow, Monday, 9 October 2017 17:21 (one year ago) Permalink

I improved the ending, but also (and this is what I thought when waking up) realized it really wasn't necessary, though without it the memoir just stops, abruptly, but at a good point (and you know about how overly contrived a lot of endings are).

dow, Monday, 9 October 2017 17:26 (one year ago) Permalink

my sister sent me this:

The weapons-grade anti-health diet that kept Patricia Highsmith alive and writing for 74 years:

Novelist Patricia Highsmith ate the same thing for virtually every meal: bacon and fried eggs. She began each writing session with a stiff drink – “not to perk her up”, according to her biographer, Andrew Wilson, “but to reduce her energy levels, which veered towards the manic”. Then she would sit on her bed surrounded by cigarettes, coffee, a doughnut and a saucer of sugar, the intention being “to avoid any sense of discipline and make the act of writing as pleasurable as possible.”

We can discuss diet if anyone wants to -- can writing be done w/o caffeine? -- but the most provocative idea here (relevant to the practice of writing itself, rather than its necessary conditions) is: “to avoid any sense of discipline and make the act of writing as pleasurable as possible”

mark s, Wednesday, 18 October 2017 13:03 (one year ago) Permalink

lol the rituals are madness. the last two good drafts i wrote, which felt like a real relief and return after months of crap, both happened on planes. on my phone on a plane with a massive hangover. i think sometimes that sort of lowness that can happen after a v sociable few days is conducive to good writing for me.

do people write with alcohol? i don't really - i feel like i drink enough at weekends and my writing evenings are mon/tue/weds so i don't need more booze. i get good snippets of ideas or notes i take in my phone when drunk tho. (sometimes they're good lol)

tho the pressure of being in a class works well for me too. i submitted a first piece of work last week and for a first draft i'm p happy with it. it went down well, especially with the lecturer which was really good for my confidence. her comments were instructive in places about what to change, but also really strong in praise of the piece generally, that really drives me on. got a tutorial one to one about it this evening.

editing scares me. i have so many unedited first drafts. it's like the fear of pulling asunder something that's 65 per cent good, the return of total power, ie the ability to change anything once again, the idea that all the original work is for nothing. of course i know that you don't have to edit it all, and it's not that i'm precious about the original thing, more just that i find it maddening to know what to take out and what to put in. i am really hoping to get better at learning what is missing in a 6/10 first draft. starting tonight hopefully.

we've been talking a lot about character defining plot, in my class, and while i've always known it to be a thing people say is true, and believed the logic of it, i don't think i've ever understood it until this last couple of weeks. i think i prob bounced from fear of all character no plot to hurtling through the plot and in the end my story is just plot and a character with no agency.

my lecturer last week said "if you find a point in your story where you are feeling something which the character feels, and it feels real for you, the reader will feel that too" - that feels like dangerous advice wielded wrongly but it has such a ring of truth for me - like these flashes of a paragraph where i've thought "this is what this character is" - it was one of those in my submitted piece which almost everyone in the class marked out as a bit that worked. so there is some kind of logic to it all!

the other thing i'm finding, tying into mark's final quote just now is that sitting down with a blank page is madness. i don't know how people do it. for me i am having ideas as i go about my daily life, noting stuff down constantly, maybe there are three or four notes or formed paragraphs before i then sit down to write a thing about that character. i guess ymmv but when i hear fellow students anguishing about "sitting down to write" with no ideas it sounds like torture. half the thing, and i'm like 20 per cent of the way to where i want to be, seems to be honing the part of your brain that wants to give you ideas, it's like coaching a dog to bring you the paper.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Wednesday, 18 October 2017 13:33 (one year ago) Permalink

Agree that having a catalyst like a class is helpful. Corny tricks like "write something that includes the color blue" or "include a scratch and a very small person" have produced better work from me than a blank slate.

I've been writing for a living for twentymumble years, and have found I can really only produce quality work on deadline. If given a month or a year to do something, I know I will procrastinate until the very last minute. Perhaps unfortunately, I know I will probably get away with it, so there's essentially no incentive to change from an adrenaline-based work style.

For more personal writing (essays/reviews/fiction/lyrics/poetry) I don't have the same pressure. Occasionally I will take a class or join a group, if only to supply deadlines and challenges.

looser than lucinda (Ye Mad Puffin), Wednesday, 18 October 2017 13:44 (one year ago) Permalink

This is surely well-trodden territory but it can't be said enough that "NaNoWriMo" is the single worst name ever given to anything and whoever coined it shouldn't be encouraged, or frankly allowed, to write anything else as long as they live

The Suite Life of Jack and Wendy (wins), Sunday, 29 October 2017 16:31 (one year ago) Permalink

Also: is there a writing app that generates exercises like the ones in ymp's post? Feel like there must be but if there isn't this is my fortune-making idea NOBODY STEAL IT

The Suite Life of Jack and Wendy (wins), Sunday, 29 October 2017 16:34 (one year ago) Permalink

having ideas as i go about my daily life, noting stuff down constantly

^ this is urgent & key.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 29 October 2017 18:05 (one year ago) Permalink

Corny tricks like "write something that includes the color blue" or "include a scratch and a very small person" have produced better work from me than a blank slate.

See also: A thread where you commission a poem from ILE to examine this dynamic in detail.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 29 October 2017 18:53 (one year ago) Permalink

I pronounce it "Nanny-Knee-Moe-Why-o" for some reason, probably because I can't be bothered to read it properly. Been thinking about trying to write something longer actually, maybe I'll do it in November while not participating in naninimowhyo.

めんどくさかった (Matt #2), Sunday, 29 October 2017 19:35 (one year ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

did this go anywhere - ?

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Tuesday, 21 November 2017 05:10 (one year ago) Permalink

LG and I have taken it offboard, which strikes me as a good way to do it, but this should still be a good corralling point

imago, Tuesday, 21 November 2017 08:07 (one year ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

how do you go from having a strong sense of w character, strong sense of place, and/or a strong sense of what you want to communicate...... to finding the plot to locate these in? this is the hardest thing for me. I’m quite good at telling stories (verbally) but struggle finding stories worth telling coming to me

can see why bernhard just had all his protagonists sit about ranting into the void

||||||||, Wednesday, 6 December 2017 16:19 (one year ago) Permalink

dreams make for the best plot generators

imago, Wednesday, 6 December 2017 16:24 (one year ago) Permalink

some people say the more character and voice you have the less plot you need. i struggle with plot also, but i've struggled less with it when i have characters (more than one!) who have a relationship with each other and want things, maybe big existential things but also small story or scene-specific things.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Wednesday, 6 December 2017 16:38 (one year ago) Permalink

thanks, that's helpful.

earlier it also occurred to me that I didn't really understand what 'show, don't tell' actually means so I did a little research. by the end of that I'd realised I was maybe doing a bit more telling than is necessarily recommended. fine, I can work on that. I realised though that most of the 'showing' example text was.... kinda awful, even in comparison to the markedly plainer 'telling' text that these examples had for comparison. then I read donald barthelme's 'the visitor' and I was, like, there's actually quite a a lot of (albeit very skilful) 'telling' here. maybe I've read too much translated fiction, which tends to have a real plainness and flatness of affect... which I really prefer.

||||||||, Wednesday, 6 December 2017 22:37 (one year ago) Permalink

Dreamt up a plot of a novel (or short story) a few days ago.

can see why bernhard just had all his protagonists sit about ranting into the void

Well, I don't think this was an easy choice. Its remarkable he made that kind of thing work over and over again.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 6 December 2017 22:59 (one year ago) Permalink

The thing about 'show don't tell' is that as soon as you start thinking about it you also start noticing how many writers, including universally acknowledged canonical greats, do a fuckload of telling, so take that with a pinch of salt. But it's also something that requires a lot of skill and control, you can really tell a bad writer from the way they need to spell everything out. One line of dialogue can do more here than a whole page of explaining.

Matt DC, Wednesday, 6 December 2017 23:11 (one year ago) Permalink

A lot of rules like 'show, don't tell' are only really applicable as rough guidelines for traditional narrative fiction, if that. Most authors do both showing and telling, and sometimes showing can be even more of a bludgeon than just telling the reader something, particularly if it's done with clichés. "Jim got up at the same time every day. He put on his grey clothes, fastened his grey tie and ate his grey muesli" is much more annoying than just saying that Jim is a boring fuck.

|||||||| OTM about translated fiction and flatness of affect, I love that too.

emil.y, Wednesday, 6 December 2017 23:26 (one year ago) Permalink

isn't the thing about character that it's defined by what it lacks, and therefore by what the person in question is attempting, consciously or subconsciously, to repair over the course of the story? i.e. plot? granted that's usually the "b-plot" and the a-plot will be a rogue russian agent or a frozen leg of lamb etc etc but still - character is brought out by circumstances

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 6 December 2017 23:45 (one year ago) Permalink

There's a guy I worked shifts with in a cable factory once- I later found out he was local to the island but this was at a time when I was living on the mainland myself so had no reason to make any link- and I spoke with him twice, each occasion prompted by his sitting beside me and launching into the middle of his own conversation in the brittle, determined and resigned manner of a guy long since inured to the fact that nobody was ever going to like him either on sight nor with longer exposure and what else was he to do?

He said "of course, I'm a painter decorator, painter decorator"

Twice this happened, six months apart. I don't remember anything else about the conversations, just the yorkshire singsong staccato "of-course I'm-a painter-decorator (painter-decorator)"

There was more story in his inflection of 'of course'- let alone starting with the term as if there had been a general doubt on the floor as to the fact- than I think I've ever taken from any amount of show or tell in written fiction.

Writing just frustrates me because I never feel like you (I) can come close to trapping that level or feel of character, the essential stuff.

remember the lmao (darraghmac), Wednesday, 6 December 2017 23:47 (one year ago) Permalink

richard ford does, i'm tellin you man

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 6 December 2017 23:52 (one year ago) Permalink

and actually his plots are close to nonexistent so who knows

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 6 December 2017 23:52 (one year ago) Permalink

I will take note

remember the lmao (darraghmac), Wednesday, 6 December 2017 23:53 (one year ago) Permalink

have you read kevin barry's short stories deems?

A lot of rules like 'show, don't tell' are only really applicable as rough guidelines for traditional narrative fiction, if that. Most authors do both showing and telling, and sometimes showing can be even more of a bludgeon than just telling the reader something, particularly if it's done with clichés. "Jim got up at the same time every day. He put on his grey clothes, fastened his grey tie and ate his grey muesli" is much more annoying than just saying that Jim is a boring fuck.

show don't tell is about stopping people informing you of the plot minus any images or scenes. telling is always a part of any story, just a part that's overemphasised in how we might begin to write a thing.

in the above example the problem is the character, not the showing or telling. character is the big thing. once the character is working, and you believe the character, and maybe they have relationships with other characters and want things, and there's conflict between what each character wants, a lot of the rest becomes quite easy. setting scenes and place and even dialogue can seem difficult until you realise character is key, plot too can be a torment, it's all obviously always a torment, but i dunno, i've prob written some character-driven stuff for the first time after about 3/4 years of writing, in the last few months, and it's been a revelatory leap.

the only problem is i knew it to be true but didn't get it until i got it. just kinda happened by being in a class where we technically analyse things.

still miles to go before i get to the level i want to be at tho.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 00:13 (one year ago) Permalink

like i had a tutorial this week and my lecturer was like, for a few lines or whatever, "this is good telling" - it's not like telling is banned. it's inevitable.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 00:14 (one year ago) Permalink

'show don't tell' is a facile piece of advice doled out in undergraduate courses by teachers who can't be asked to explain the whys and wherefores of switching between narrative and narrative summary, and used (in my experience) by inexperienced writers who don't have a grasp of the scope of their story.

rb (soda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 00:19 (one year ago) Permalink

teachers who can't be asked?

seems a way of stopping people writing boring internal monologues or telling first-person stories via indirect speech. or hurtling past things which could be scenes.

if it was actually used simply as a mantra rather than the cliched title for a form of teaching which explains the whys and wherefores you mention then it might be useful to criticise it in that way,

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 00:23 (one year ago) Permalink

imo the diff between fiction and eg talking to your friends or thinking is show v tell.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 00:24 (one year ago) Permalink

I've read and generally adored Kevin Barry's short work, how much of that is down to a resonance such that I know/get the detail he is either leaving in or leaving out is kind of a related point I think

remember the lmao (darraghmac), Thursday, 7 December 2017 00:25 (one year ago) Permalink

Eh, the example I made up was based on something I read a bit ago, and while the characters were kind of poorly-drawn my real issue was with the cliched delivery of 'showing'. I guess maybe the lesson is just "don't write in cliches", but I've always had a problem with 'show, don't tell' and it felt like a pertinent example of why you shouldn't always obey.

And yeah, of course, I wasn't saying that 'show, don't tell' is thought of as a hard rule, in fact I basically said that in my post, I was just emphasising that it also shouldn't be.

xxxxp

emil.y, Thursday, 7 December 2017 00:25 (one year ago) Permalink

I dunno if I agree completely, LocalGarda. I do think 'show don't tell' *is* used as a mantra. Often when I lead writers' workshops, summary ('telling') scenes are the first things to come under fire during critiques –– even if they're an expedient and appropriate means for moving the narrative forward. I think there's a popular style in fiction (and memoir, especially) to select key scenes and present them one right after another, as if they were in a screenplay, and with only minimal connective tissue / summary between them. It's a fine style, but it's deeply mannered, and there are a lot more ways to write narrative that use summary 'telling' to great effect.

rb (soda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 00:33 (one year ago) Permalink

but I also ate a buttload of cold medicine today, so I might not be entirely clear-headed on the issue

rb (soda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 00:34 (one year ago) Permalink

i think it's more than not writing in cliches, feels like it's about not skipping past narrative by telling people what's happening or how a person is feeling instead of allowing the space and time for a scene. i dunno, i think telling is so deeply engrained that it is massively useful and true to talk about show don't tell, in ways i am ever-realising. most of the writing cliches are more true than i originally realised but only noticed by practice, imo. i feel p strongly evangelist for some of them, and i wouldn't say the ma i'm doing is some deeply conservative homogenising force, far from it.

I've read and generally adored Kevin Barry's short work, how much of that is down to a resonance such that I know/get the detail he is either leaving in or leaving out is kind of a related point I think

v real characters imo.

xxpost to soda - it prob is used as a mantra but there is a lot of truth behind it imo. i do kind of agree tho that telling is not a thing to eradicate. like as i said i think telling is inevitable. there prob should be more emphasis on how to tell well. every story needs telling. i guess i just think show don't tell initially is emphasised because telling dominates so much when someone first starts writing. telling felt v alluring to me for a long time and shedding some of that impulse has helped my stories a lot. i sense that's true in most of the other relatively inexperienced writers i'm studying with.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 00:38 (one year ago) Permalink

sorry slightly garbled post. i meant to say most of the writing cliches are more true than i originally realised, but i've only noticed this by practice.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 00:40 (one year ago) Permalink

a common thing for me with writing is to read a thing about it that has the ring of truth, but fail to understand it or practice it for many moons after, then suddenly it dawns by practice and donkey work. i think there's a show don't tell problem in writing teaching.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 00:41 (one year ago) Permalink

in most kinds of teaching IMO: basically you have to get the kid to practice their scales (or whatever) anyway, whether or not they understand why, and some of the mantras are just bullshit to help get the scales-practice happening when the why hasn't taken (and probably can't except in hindsight)

mark s, Thursday, 7 December 2017 01:09 (one year ago) Permalink

In my students I see a strong tendency (whether innate or as the result of previous instruction) to favor either “telling” or “showing” as the default mode of storytelling. It’s about 50/50 as a preference, and I think that a deeper conversation about pacing and the purpose of story is the best way to progress forward.

What I teach, in actual practice, is that showing and telling (IME) aren’t separable nor do they exist in opposition any more than, say, major and minor scales do from each other.

But if you’re a “teller,” scene work is great. And if you’re a “shower,” summary practice is essential.

I’ll cop - personally - to over-showing, and realizing relatively late into my writing career that sometimes a simple “he was late to work because of the turkeys in the road” is often preferable to a long scene in which with a turkey the protagonist has been cultivating a tentative friendship with gets struck by an angry motorist who, due to the low angle of the winter sun cutting through crystal-specked air, is temporarily blinded while heading to pick up his i unappreciative ex-wife at the airport.

rb (soda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 01:28 (one year ago) Permalink

Fact: two years ago I spent an entire morning writing about my protagonist passing a Certain Fencepost in whose quality of lichen and state of decrepitude I invested ~2000 words. Cut it to a clause in the subsequent revision.

rb (soda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 01:31 (one year ago) Permalink

yeah i get scared that if i stop i will never have another idea again! so even after progress on a thing that feels good, if i put it in a drawer i tend to have to start something else.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 23:05 (one year ago) Permalink

Definitely think that using both computer and longhand/hard copy is the best route to go - the mix that works best for me is writing out sketched ideas on paper, typing up & outlining structure & fleshing out on computer, doing some editing (e.g. individual words, adding bits, rearranging order) on computer, editing as LG describes on paper and then going back to the computer (repeat as necessary). It might sound a bit arduous but honestly I feel like it keeps things fresh.

Mind you, if you're worried about deleting stuff you should try Scrivener and you can either use 'track changes' or the 'snapshot' function. I prefer the latter, it's basically keeping a separate save file of your work but it'll be in the same project folder and easy to find. Track changes is probably preferred by most, though. Honestly, I recommend Scrivener for any writers, it's got so many useful functions.

emil.y, Thursday, 7 December 2017 23:08 (one year ago) Permalink

Via the routine I detailed, I've filled maybe one and a half 200-pg. notebooks in the past year. If I at some point develop a skill for editing my mountains of unwieldy prose, I'll be unstoppable. But you'll be surprised at the volume you can accrue if you stick with it.

Smoothie Newton (Old Lunch), Thursday, 7 December 2017 23:09 (one year ago) Permalink

I want to hire someone on Craigslist or something to transcribe all of my longhand stuff so I can more easily edit. But christ knows I do not want to type out all of that shit myself.

Smoothie Newton (Old Lunch), Thursday, 7 December 2017 23:11 (one year ago) Permalink

this probably sounds eccentric but i also print stuff out in different fonts (cochin, geneva and courier are the three i use most) for rereads and mark-ups -- i want to read and reread at different speeds if possible, because you see and hear different things

mark s, Thursday, 7 December 2017 23:13 (one year ago) Permalink

Okay, wait, this is actually the first time I've done any explicit accounting of my output in a while and it's only now sinking in that I've written something like 600 pages in twelve months. BRB, gotta go call some book agents or whatever it is that people who write for a living do.

Smoothie Newton (Old Lunch), Thursday, 7 December 2017 23:16 (one year ago) Permalink

that's an interesting idea, must try that, xpost.

i bought scrivener about a month ago but still haven't used it or watched a tutorial :/

i can't really do much by hand, it makes me feel hamstrung by how slowly i write.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 23:18 (one year ago) Permalink

I did transcription work a long time ago for a guy who advertised in my local post office. His writing was THE WORST. It was hilariously bad, and as such, wound up being a pretty good job. (Not saying anything about OL's work, obviously!)

emil.y, Thursday, 7 December 2017 23:19 (one year ago) Permalink

i know it's mean to criticise but i did a class at faber about two years ago and this one person who was particularly rude/unpleasant about everyone else's work was so bad that i almost thought it was like a practical or performative joke.

we had to do a piece where we scribbled down some stuff we saw on our journey home, the first night, and hers began "a gay-looking man gets on at oxford circus", at which point you think "hmm, not such a pc way of putting it" - then a few lines later it was "a woman is wearing a leopard print scarf - does she think we are in africa?" - alarm bells close to ringing now.

finally it ended with a huge islamophobic rant about someone wearing a headscarf needing to obey the laws of this country. i was surprised the teacher didn't intervene in a way, but i suppose it would have been awkward.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 23:30 (one year ago) Permalink

Man, it would be so weirdly comforting to find out that I'm actually a terrible writer. No need to waste any more energy on that pursuit!

Smoothie Newton (Old Lunch), Thursday, 7 December 2017 23:39 (one year ago) Permalink

For three of the last four years, I’d write from 4:15 to 6:15 every Monday to Friday morning, and for a longer chunk on Sundays. Since I work 65+ hours each week (teaching writing, and editing with private clients) that time of day was the only chunk of time available to me. But keeping those hours lead to a bunch of health problems, including a fairly severe concussion, and I found that my weight/exhaustion/illness needed addressing before I could return to writing. So I’m not writing very much right now, and going to the gym before work. But in a typical morning of work I’d manage 750 - 1000 words. I have always written slowly. I usually have one main novel in progress and one piece of creative non-fiction. My last novel, 95K words in its last reading, collapsed into itself in a way that doesn’t encourage me to continue with long projects.

rb (soda), Thursday, 7 December 2017 23:58 (one year ago) Permalink

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda)
Posted: December 7, 2017 at 18:30:56
i know it's mean to criticise but i did a class at faber about two years ago and this one person who was particularly rude/unpleasant about everyone else's work was so bad that i almost thought it was like a practical or performative joke.

we had to do a piece where we scribbled down some stuff we saw on our journey home, the first night, and hers began "a gay-looking man gets on at oxford circus", at which point you think "hmm, not such a pc way of putting it" - then a few lines later it was "a woman is wearing a leopard print scarf - does she think we are in africa?" - alarm bells close to ringing now.

finally it ended with a huge islamophobic rant about someone wearing a headscarf needing to obey the laws of this country. i was surprised the teacher didn't intervene in a way, but i suppose it would have been awkward.


One of the workshops in which I participated last year had a super macho Serious Writer Type whose manuscript frequently talked about wanting to destroy “betta males” and “screw their women on the pavement in front of their dying eyes.” It became clear to many of us, by late in the workshop series, that this was a barely-veiled biographical stance and not a character voice. The writer running the workshop, who is famed for his vulnerability and sensitivity, clearly felt implicated as a “betta” and praised and fawned over the macho writer’s pose in this really sycophantic way, while a few of the other participants tried to gently suggest that the narrative read as ... damned creepy.

All of this came to a head when, egged on the sycophantic sensitive writer running the workshop, the Serious Writer Type submitted a graphic revenge rape that would’ve caused Bret Easton Ellis to puke. It was horribly uncomfortable watching the workshop leader desperately back-peddling. It was also kind of fun to glance around the room and share a knowing gloat with the co-participants.

rb (soda), Friday, 8 December 2017 00:14 (one year ago) Permalink

No doubt not uncommon enough (anymore?), and also reminds me of a somewhat similar student who went on to do what most such only write about, before killing himself as well: see Nikki Giovanni's account of her and her class's experience with him at Virginia Tech (she and they were terrified when he read this stuff aloud; she told her supervisor, "Either he goes or I do"---the supervisor said that she herself would teach the guy,in her office).
Uh, originally meant to say I've use an outtakes file on gdocs, c&p from the manuscript. But may try Scrivener.

dow, Friday, 8 December 2017 03:58 (one year ago) Permalink

(In the outtakes file, I precede the paste with a brief indication of where it came from, and why I removed it.)

dow, Friday, 8 December 2017 04:01 (one year ago) Permalink

ronan if you're around on sun i can pop over --- or you can come to mine -- and i can talk you through the basics-that-you-need of scrivener (which i love)

the tutorials and how-to that they provide spend a *lot* of time on the many many little bells and whistles you won't need from day to day, and don't make it at all obvious which these might be

mark s, Friday, 8 December 2017 09:30 (one year ago) Permalink

yes that'd be good! also good to catch up.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Friday, 8 December 2017 09:40 (one year ago) Permalink

cool

having deplayed the cliche i now faintly want a version of scrivener with actual bells and whistles, to celebrate when i complete a thing and think it's actually any good 🎉

mark s, Friday, 8 December 2017 09:43 (one year ago) Permalink

I used to write 500 words a day, just engrained into my daily routine, because there was always a 2hr window before my wife would come home from work and it was just perfect for it. That doesn't really happen any more, but one of the things that made it possible was just not caring whether I was writing complete shit or not, just getting something down and moving forward was the point. If it's shit you at least know why it's shit and can deal with it later, editing is so much easier than writing for me, rather than sitting there and spending hours trying to get the perfect sentence first off.

Like, just the little voice inside your head that reads over a sentence or a paragraph and goes 'hmmm, not sure about this' is just incredibly useful and should probably be obeyed. But if you're working on something longer you tend to hit structural problems as you go along so I'm trying to find the balance between planning something out and just letting it flow and that's incredibly hard.

If we're on a 'terrible writers you have known' kick then I once encountered someone at a writing group who had rewritten Jerusalem as a poem about Nigel Farage. It was only after we had spent several minutes critiquing it that we realised from his face that this wasn't actually a work of hilarious satire and was in fact delivered in deadly earnest. Virtually everything he read after that would trade in dubious racial caricatures of one type or another.

A few of us are starting a group for writers in our immediate local area and I'm really not sure how to go about filtering out people who want to write Islamophobic rants or violent rape fantasies or whatever. The prospect of willingly inviting weirdos into your life is not especially appealing.

Matt DC, Friday, 8 December 2017 11:06 (one year ago) Permalink

does that mean i'm not invited ;)

have been part of various meetup dot com affiliated writing circles over the years. most recently one in woolwich. my gf even came along! the quality of the writing was not high (with a couple of possible exceptions) and the round-table crit was sort of nauseating and we left early. it always seems like a good idea to join a writing circle but as you say, it's very hard to legislate for the members being on your wavelength. we've tried to start our own more discerning group on meetup as well, but only like 4 people have joined and there's never been a meeting - in being selective about membership we've sacrificed there being any kind of momentum to meet

imago, Friday, 8 December 2017 11:38 (one year ago) Permalink

Something something committee something Sistine

remember the lmao (darraghmac), Friday, 8 December 2017 11:56 (one year ago) Permalink

^ will clean that up later

remember the lmao (darraghmac), Friday, 8 December 2017 11:56 (one year ago) Permalink

it's incredibly difficult to find a good writing group, mostly i found them frustrating, offensive or painful at worst.

it's annoying because a group of readers commenting on something is invaluable. my masters has a really good environment like this but i'm already thinking of what i'll do when it ends in about two years. i want to start a writing group at that stage but i don't know how to screen people. it's hard because i don't want to put up a wall and exclude people, i think commitment is the most important thing, but equally you want a certain standard. i'm sort of hoping maybe i'll just do this with people from my class.

xpost

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Friday, 8 December 2017 12:01 (one year ago) Permalink

Yeah I think I was quite lucky to find a really good one on the first go but the guy who was running it couldn't really keep it going and the whole thing sort of dwindled once it was forced to switch venues.

Even if people don't get what you're doing it helps if they fail to get it in interesting ways, that show up things maybe you hadn't thought about and might want to change.

Matt DC, Friday, 8 December 2017 12:10 (one year ago) Permalink

i have been trying to adapt to scrivener lately and oh boy i am not grokking it at all

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Friday, 8 December 2017 12:11 (one year ago) Permalink

Even if people don't get what you're doing it helps if they fail to get it in interesting ways, that show up things maybe you hadn't thought about and might want to change.

yeah and like an entire class saying they liked or disliked a particular bit, or didn't understand a certain bit, is particularly useful.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Friday, 8 December 2017 12:24 (one year ago) Permalink

I think that most groups succeed or fail on the strength of a strong facilitator. The facilitator can be external or a participant, but IME unless there’s somebody driving the bus, most configurations of writers turn into Rogersish encounter groups that’ll fall apart due to weird psychological undercurrents.

rb (soda), Friday, 8 December 2017 14:41 (one year ago) Permalink

Thomp, I use scrivener in a really simple way! I create a separate “chapter” for each scene, and each individual writing session becomes is a sub-file under the “chapter.” Sometimes I’ll even write a scene two or thee times and stick it in the same so-called chapter.

This helps me to write in a more associative (as opposed to strictly linear) manner. When I get around to editing, I print a “chapter” at a time and massage/mix-and-match/revise based on the overall concept. During the course of a long project this allows me to write lots of varients of individual parts of the narrative, without settling on a right or authoritative version.


Initially I’ll use the notecard feature to set up the “chapters” and not revisit until I drag ‘em around until late, late in the revising. I never use the compile feature, but I love to create research files that are basically just vision boards or piles of nifty words and images.

rb (soda), Friday, 8 December 2017 14:58 (one year ago) Permalink

If I were to start or join a writing group, I'd also like to try recruiting people who were mainly good readers---sometimes posting astute comments, for instance, but not trying to be a Writer.

dow, Friday, 8 December 2017 20:04 (one year ago) Permalink

cross out the 'astute' from that and I'd be in.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 8 December 2017 20:10 (one year ago) Permalink

Yeah I am personally quite done with trying to Be A Writer. But I would be happy to kick it with, converse with, and non-self-interestedly critique the work of people who were trying to Be A Writer.

didgeridon't (Ye Mad Puffin), Friday, 8 December 2017 20:30 (one year ago) Permalink

That's what I mean, the back and forth. What's so rong w "astute" ppl? I don't mean self-important etc., but actually sharp, while reading for pleasure more than zings (well some zings of course but no trolling).

dow, Friday, 8 December 2017 21:18 (one year ago) Permalink

prob not so many zings when face to face with Writer.

dow, Friday, 8 December 2017 21:19 (one year ago) Permalink

If I were to start or join a writing group, I'd also like to try recruiting people who were mainly good readers---sometimes posting astute comments, for instance, but not trying to be a Writer.

anyone in such a group should be trying to be a writer - and abandoning the kind of fear that leads to embarrassed capitalisation of that idea. the group should be destroying the latter.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Saturday, 9 December 2017 01:19 (one year ago) Permalink

Not embarrassed, just internet shorthand (far as I'm aware of). I just like to hear from some without a certain kind of filter, shield, angle, preoccupation, competitiveness---good to have an *audience* that isn't entirely silent. Not that audience members can't have these, but different kinds from those of colleagues, ideally anyway.

dow, Saturday, 9 December 2017 02:35 (one year ago) Permalink

so if people aren’t using scrivener are they using something else to sync drafts between computer and phone? or are they just.... not?

||||||||, Monday, 11 December 2017 23:14 (one year ago) Permalink

Dropbox for word docs?

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 11 December 2017 23:25 (one year ago) Permalink

Wow, the euphony of that line ^^^

rb (soda), Monday, 11 December 2017 23:29 (one year ago) Permalink

:)

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 11 December 2017 23:40 (one year ago) Permalink

so if people aren’t using scrivener are they using something else to sync drafts between computer and phone? or are they just.... not?

do you mean like putting something from your phone onto your comp? i email it to myself! when i had an iphone i would send it via airdrop.

tho i prob never did a full draft on my phone, more extended snippets.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Tuesday, 12 December 2017 10:29 (one year ago) Permalink

I use a google doc

Zelda Zonk, Tuesday, 12 December 2017 10:51 (one year ago) Permalink

google doc’s a good idea

was their not someone up for the goldsmiths prize this year that wrote their book on their phone while commuting? I can’t imagine

||||||||, Tuesday, 12 December 2017 15:25 (one year ago) Permalink

Thomp, I use scrivener in a really simple way! I create a separate “chapter” for each scene, and each individual writing session becomes is a sub-file under the “chapter.” Sometimes I’ll even write a scene two or thee times and stick it in the same so-called chapter.

This helps me to write in a more associative (as opposed to strictly linear) manner. When I get around to editing, I print a “chapter” at a time and massage/mix-and-match/revise based on the overall concept. During the course of a long project this allows me to write lots of varients of individual parts of the narrative, without settling on a right or authoritative version.

Initially I’ll use the notecard feature to set up the “chapters” and not revisit until I drag ‘em around until late, late in the revising. I never use the compile feature, but I love to create research files that are basically just vision boards or piles of nifty words and images.

― rb (soda), Friday, December 8, 2017 2:58 PM (five days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

thanks for this! it's helpful to hear ways in which a real person uses it -- the tutorial is very 'you can do this or this or even this, if you want' -- as i guess mark points out above -- but doesn't really explain why a person would do this (i) or this (ii) or even this (iii)

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Wednesday, 13 December 2017 08:06 (one year ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

kudos to anyone who has ever wrote one book. the work it must take to control theme, character, plot, pace, continuity, dialogue, scenes, novelty etc etc across book length

||||||||, Sunday, 7 January 2018 19:10 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I settled on just writing into a text file saved on dropbox, with notes in notes.app synced across icloud. it's kinda messy (offers none of the organisation of something like scrivener) but think it will work, at least for first/vomit drafting

||||||||, Sunday, 7 January 2018 19:12 (eleven months ago) Permalink

'control' haha

dropbox is fine. i use google docs and that's fine too. don't know scrivener so can't comment rly but can't imagine how it'd make me more productive

#TeamHailing (imago), Sunday, 7 January 2018 19:14 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I was just finding google docs slow, on my old computer

I'm interested in people's process for drafting too. like, say, do you try and get it as good as possible first time round? or do you just try get the story down and work it all out in the edit? will you partially write scenes and leave markers to go back and fill in details, or do you try and write them as full as possible? do you write the story sequentially or jump about the timeline, as ideas for scenes come to you? that kind of stuff

||||||||, Sunday, 7 January 2018 19:18 (eleven months ago) Permalink

i write it sequentially and try to get it good although of course it isn't ever quite good enough until after several subsequent passes, and even then...

last time around i had a giant wodge of plot, sentences i knew i'd include later, ideas etc at the bottom of the document, underneath what i was writing, and this both expanded and diminished as i went through. at no stage did i go past a scene leaving it blank although i can see a case for that now, especially as i had to completely retool a couple of them later. it made sense to write in order as there were so many balls being juggled and so many intersecting plotlines that a continuity screwup would have probably happened otherwise. also despite overarching structural certainties a lot of it was kind of improvised and skipping ahead would have maybe lost the thread, or felt like cheating. idk though when it comes to writing, all cheating this side of plagiarism is probably ok. psychologically it would have left a void between two written bits, which would have sat ill with me

current book i've planned what's going to happen in every chapter before writing it, which will hopefully enable me to churn it out p quickly (although nothing for 2 months over winter, been mulling). of course i'll probably butcher the damn thing afterwards, because butchering something that's already done is kind of much more fun than filling in blanks or maybe even writing the original draft itself sometimes. a block to carve is a delightful thing. although yeah as i say, i do try and get it right first time around too. it's laborious

#TeamHailing (imago), Sunday, 7 January 2018 20:13 (eleven months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

how do people refine their idea of what their story is /about/ (theme rather than plot, accepting their symbiotic to an extent)

I'm interested particularly how people push through their first drafts (crafting scenes etc) while maintaining something which is at least semi-coherently /about/ something which can be moulded and refined in later drafts

||||||||, Thursday, 25 January 2018 17:57 (ten months ago) Permalink

It's probably a horribly inefficient way of working, but wrt the thing I'm currently trying to piece together, I'm initially writing a lot about it rather than, y'know, actually just writing it. Loads of expository passages, delineations of character relationships, etc. Stuff that's only intended to figure into the finished piece in an oblique way, as if I'm writing a history book about the story I'm trying to write. When I sit down to actually write parts of it, I already have a pretty deep sense of how pieces fit together and what I'm trying to comment on and many of the potential inconsistencies have already been preemptively resolved and meandering quasi-themes quashed.

Keeping in mind that this is all in the service of a final product that, knowing me, will probably never actually manifest. But hey.

Senior Soft-Serve Tech at the Froyo Arroyo (Old Lunch), Thursday, 25 January 2018 18:22 (ten months ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

scrivener is a god send for longer stuff

belcalis almanzar (||||||||), Tuesday, 20 February 2018 08:52 (nine months ago) Permalink


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