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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "You Are the We of Me"
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From: rhodielady_47 Date: January 1st, 2013 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Happy New Year

In over 30 YEARS of reading science fiction and fantasy, this poem stands out as the most original thing I've ever read, bar none.
Thank you for sharing it with us!
:)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 1st, 2013 05:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happy New Year

*pop* *celebratory beverage* *confetti*

Thank you for the compliment! That is right up there with "new headcanon accepted" as a best-ever piece of feedback.

I love crowdfunding. It lets me make experiments like this and share them in hopes of attracting some new readers.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: January 1st, 2013 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happy New Year

Best of all, you get valuable feedback in what works emotionally for your readers and what doesn't.
I remember back when I was in college and taking English lit. We were often forced to read stuff from writers that simply did not appeal to me personally even though their stuff was technically perfect (according to the professor that is).
:\
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 2nd, 2013 08:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happy New Year

>>Best of all, you get valuable feedback in what works emotionally for your readers and what doesn't.<<

Yes, that makes it much easier to tailor my writing for the people who are buying it -- and to discern wider patterns that generally improve it.

>>I remember back when I was in college and taking English lit. We were often forced to read stuff from writers that simply did not appeal to me personally even though their stuff was technically perfect (according to the professor that is).<<

To date, I have found only one unbreakable guideline to writing: Thou Shalt Not Bore Thy Reader.

I learned early to distill and reflect what was in a story. I learned what worked and what didn't, and how to dissect flaws with ruthless precision even in what was touted as "great" literature, some of which really sucked.

It got me in trouble rather often. But I learned a lot more about literature that way than I would have just writing what the teacher wanted to have parroted back.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: January 2nd, 2013 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happy New Year

No English teacher ever wants to hear that the short story, poem, or novel he or she has assigned is boring enough to make watching paint dry look exciting, or worse, leaves their students in a foul mood.

I got one English professor worked up into a rage when, after he'd spouted off that time was the true test of good literature, I casually mentioned that 'Tarzan, Lord of the Apes' would soon be celebrating its 100th anniversary and that it apparently had never been out of print.
I followed up by saying that 'The Hobbit' had been written back in the 1930's and that it was still in print as well.
:\
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 3rd, 2013 02:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happy New Year

Well said. Too many people have a grossly inferior grasp of literary structure.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: January 3rd, 2013 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happy New Year

"Too many people have a grossly inferior grasp of literary structure."
Agreed!
The most important thing the literary types usually forget about is that people want to be entertained by what they read---even when they are reading to learn something, the learning is easier when it's fun to read.
The other thing the literary types completely forget about is that the fun stuff can be as excellently written as the "literary" stuff they prefer to read.
I secretly think the reason why literary lit is so dull and boring is because it's written by dull and boring people!
;D
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 3rd, 2013 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happy New Year

>>The most important thing the literary types usually forget about is that people want to be entertained by what they read---even when they are reading to learn something, the learning is easier when it's fun to read.<<

I think they often write for different reasons -- to create a puzzle, or to show off. The results are only occasionally good.

>>The other thing the literary types completely forget about is that the fun stuff can be as excellently written as the "literary" stuff they prefer to read.<<

Reading in general, and learning in particular, should be engrossing. If it is not, then somebody is doing something wrong. And while we're on the topic it should also be clear. There's a place for puzzles, but far more people who are trying to write "mysterious" wind up writing "murk" because they don't know what they're doing.

>>I secretly think the reason why literary lit is so dull and boring is because it's written by dull and boring people!<<

Often true, I suspect. At one point they actually banded together and made that the fashion: writing purely objective stories in which, of the ones I read, nothing noteworthy ever happened and no interesting character ever appeared. It remains the high bar of unreadability, even above bad fanfic.

So far one of the best descriptions of structure that I've found is in Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. He describes the six steps as: 1) Idea/Purpose, 2) Form, 3) Idiom, 4) Structure, 5) Craft, and 6) Surface. And then he describes how everyone starts at #6 and works back, most of them giving up before getting anywhere really worthwhile at #2 and #1.

I was stunned. I have always started with idea (I want to explore motif X) or form (I want to make an X thingie). If I see something that I like, I am immediately drawn to take it apart to see how it works. Once I understand how it's put together, why it does what it does, then I can use that knowledge to create something related yet different. I do it when reading literature. I will crunch a stack of fanfic to find out what people find so utterly compelling about it, and then put those core concepts into canon fiction or poetry.

It is glaringly, painfully obvious to me when others do not do this. The structure is flawed. The result in literature is exactly the kind of crud produced when someone attempts to draw humans from outside observation only, without studying anatomy. Without that underlying knowledge the surface winds up looking wrong and the contents do not perform properly.

Actually when I tried my hand at art -- for which I have minimal skill in this body -- I very quickly got into anatomy. Didn't help turn crappy art skills into even adequate art, but it did play strongly into my interests in worldbuilding. When I make a fantasy/alien animal or plant, I by gods know how it is put together, sometimes in ridiculous detail. Frex, I know that my Hailen centaurs have one, two, and three extra vertebrae per cervical, thoracic, and lumbar set which is why they can twist around so far; and they have an omnivore stomach above the herbivore stomach, which is why they eat meat last if they're going to. These things matter. They tell me how and why creatures will behave as they do, which makes them different from other people's creatures of the same rough category (if any) and makes them more useful in plot action.

I think the primary thing wrong with entertainment as a whole industry is that McCloud nailed it: most people start at the surface and work backwards, and a great deal of rubbish results. Very few people find their way to the core of creativity and produce something new. Most are just ... basically copying someone else's ideas and rubbing off the serial numbers. They don't even look for the factory.

Me, I want the spare parts, the factory, the blueprints. I want to make whole new factories. I want to fling interesting new parts to geek friends and say, "Hey, let's have a robot war and see what y'all can make with this cool shit."

And we will see whose writing is read under a distant sun, a thousand years from now, won't we.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: January 3rd, 2013 10:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happy New Year

I think lions definitely have the right idea: eat a big meal and then go lay up somewhere comfortable and digest a while.
You've given me something big to think about...
Thank you.
:)

"And we will see whose writing is read under a distant sun, a thousand years from now, won't we."

Should I tease you about having an ulterior motive?
;D



ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 3rd, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happy New Year

>>I think lions definitely have the right idea: eat a big meal and then go lay up somewhere comfortable and digest a while.
You've given me something big to think about...
Thank you.<<

Glad I could help.

>>"And we will see whose writing is read under a distant sun, a thousand years from now, won't we."

Should I tease you about having an ulterior motive?<<

Eh, it's hardly a secret that I build to last and write for deep time.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: January 4th, 2013 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happy New Year

"Eh, it's hardly a secret that I build to last and write for deep time."
And that's how it should be.
:)
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