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Intro and frustrations

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:07 pm
by crit15937
I don't think they had a forum when I first joined critters the last time. It must have been at least a few years ago. I am female, age 35, married, with two kids. I'm a stay at home mom and have a lot of free time. I have always loved reading ever since I can remember. I used to be able to read a relatively thick book in only one day. Now I have trouble reading regular novels at all. I mostly just read manga or light novels now. It's probably my lack of patience. If a book isn't totally intense and a page turner I just can't get into it. I get bored really easily. I started writing almost as soon as I could spell. It's funny I remember basically re-writing one of my favorite movies into my own story. It was "The Last Unicorn". I think I did it with construction paper, tape and crayons. Still, even now a lot of my ideas come from combinations of stories I have read and loved before.

In high school I started art class and immediately loved everything about it. I see things visually in my head before anything else so being able to roughly draw what I was imagining was a great thing. Still although I could copy things pretty well I couldn't draw out of my imagination at all until much later. I feel now that my art is pretty good, though I am terrible at backgrounds and I still have to often use other peoples stuff as reference or take pictures myself. Still I am pretty proud of the progress I made with my art. It is easy to see improvements in art. You can look at two pictures and easily tell if one is drawn better than another. (well sometimes). Mostly I mean it is easy for me to see the improvement in my own art. Writing however is almost impossible for me to tell whether it is good or bad. I used to think I was great at it. I was in an advanced class in high school for grammar and such up til senior year. Boy was I wrong. I lived in a small town and the advanced course there was about as good as the lowest level course almost anywhere else. Until Senior year when the difficulty suddenly shot way over my head. When I got to college I began to see how little I had actually learned. Now it feels like it is too late. I can't afford to take classes and I am bad at learning anything from a book. that has always been the case from me. I can read the same instructions twenty times and still have no idea how to apply what they are trying to say, even if I understand it. I absolutely always need a real person to explain how it really works, sometimes in multiple ways and with several examples. It is seriously frustrating. I mean I don't think I am stupid but I just can't seem to pick things out of writing and understand and apply that knowledge.

How do you make a good "hook" heck what is it exactly and where should it go? How to know if you are "telling" rather than showing? How do you know how to keep things interesting so people aren't bored but still manage to get in all the important info you need for the plot? No matter how many times I read over my own story I feel many things are missing and I can tell that it gets worse the longer I write the same story. I get bored so quickly so I am sure that effects the story too. Still I love the characters and the idea and I want to be a success. Hopefully the critiques will help but I know I will just keep making the same mistakes over and over cause I can't see the mistakes at all until they are pointed out every time. I am blind in one eye but somehow that lack of depth and vision seems to spill over into my writing as well. Sometimes I can't help but wonder if I should keep trying to write something to publish or not. Are my ideas and such really interesting at all? Sometimes I think that maybe my ideas are ok but only to help someone else who is a much better writer than I am. I sometimes feel that if someone would just write some of the ideas I had I would be happy even if I didn't write them. I know though that even if they did a good job it wouldn't be the exact story I wanted. Still I can't help but wish for a writing partner or something but It seems like most people either already have one or don't want one.

I don't know what else to say. I don't even know if anyone will read this and respond to me. I just wanted to get that out and see what happened.

Re: Intro and frustrations

PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2015 11:36 am
by crit19292
I am sorry that it took so long to reply. I usually come to this site daily. I however only login (this site does not not log me in automatically) when I see something new. For some reason I was not registering new material in this forum.

1) How do you make a good hook?
You start off writing something interesting. This means something with action that will initiate the story in a manner that will have the reader commit to reading the rest of the story. Note that the Snoopy opening, "It was a dark and stormy night," is not a good hook. Weather conditions are nice, but you are probably not writing a story of the weather and most readers do not want to read a book of the weather. You want something that gives an idea of the main character, setting, and what the story will be about (generally).

2) How to know if you are "telling" rather than showing?
The best warning is if you are using 'be' verbs. That is what editors focus upon. Those 'be' verbs will kill your writing. If you do not know what the 'be' verbs are (is, are, was, were, etc.) then you should get a book on grammar as there are other necessary lessons that you probably need to learn.

3) How do you know how to keep things interesting so people aren't bored
Well, are YOU interested. I tend to put this way, "If you do not want to read your own writing, why should I read it?" If you get bored reading your material, you should feel certain that others will be. If you find yourself engrossed in what you have written, you should feel safe that others will be enjoying it as well.

Remember, at the end of the day it will be YOUR name on the cover of the book. You thus need to be able to hold the text in your hands, smile, and read a section proudly. Writing should be an exercise in entertaining yourself with the intent to share it with others.

Re: Intro and frustrations

PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:22 pm
by crit15937
wow, thanks for the reply. I didn't think anyone would even bother. Ok starting at 1-I heard over and over to start with action and I did. I think it is a good idea, especially for inexperienced authors to easily grab attention. I don't know if I did it well. One person commented that it seemed abrupt.

2-so I can look for those words but how to rewrite it so it isn't using those words will be really hard.

3- I am interested in the story but mostly the idea and characters. I know that it could be a great story if I just had the skill to do it.

You mentioned the grammar book but again I have trouble using books and being able to apply it. I tend to work best with clear examples from my own writing on how to do it right. Still that lack of understanding and being able to apply things is one of the reasons I wonder if I should continue trying to be an author. I want so much to read these ideas that pop in my head and as yet there isn't a story I know of that matches. So I try my hardest to write a story that matches the images I see. It is really hard to translate images into words that make sense. Plus I have no idea what happened before or after the image in my head. Still just drawing it leaves me wanting more.

I was so excited waiting for my crit. It's such a long wait though of a month. So I put in as many chapters as I was allowed at once. It was over 9,000 words so apparently almost no one wanted to review it. I got back two very unhelpful reviews. They mostly said things like you need to add more details or add character depth. If I knew how to do that I would have done it already. I desperately needed more details on how and where to improve it. Now the next submission has to again wait a month before I get something back. Why can't we have more than one submission in the que at a time? I don't really see a good reason why we shouldn't be able to do that. Otherwise it takes way too long to get the feedback. Now because of that wait I tried to submit more at once and because of that almost no one looked at it. It was the same with my RFDR I submitted one before and NO ONE picked it up. If feels like people only care about their own stories and if something is longer than they like they won't bother. One of the two reviews I got basically was a summery of my story with short one line comments just to make up the word count.

I can't help feeling really frustrated and depressed. I always take my time and comment line by line on others work and really work hard to put as much effort as I can regardless of the length of their submission, though I too would be reluctant to take a RFDR. I hate falling behind on my crits but if the crits I get back are so lackluster and unhelpful why should I continue. I'm sorry I am complaining so much but it is a hard blow after waiting a month impatiently for much needed help meanwhile trying my best to review back and keep up my crit count while doing my best and get paid back practically nothing. It just doesn't seem fair.

Re: Intro and frustrations

PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:51 am
by crit19292
I am the one that told you to add depth. Thus, you can speak to me about providing more help. The problem is that a lot of this you have to just take the time to do yourself.

Let me tell you that I am not a literature/grammar person. My degree is in physics. I am a math/science person. I also felt a need to write. My present level of competence is purely from me starting to work writing and not stopping. I was bothering magazine editors back in the 90s. I then started writing on the internet starting in 2001. Every five days I would write approximately 2000 words installments. I then went to writing a different type of story on some odd site (thus another 2000 words every five days). I learned a lot about writing. I fearlessly went to local colleges and high schools to talk to literature/grammar people to explain things to me. From my effort I gained a bulk of material that I like to read. The greatest gift from my work is that I now have an author whose stuff I like to read. When I deal with people on the internet or at conventions, I am not someone that just wrote the books, but someone that has read them as well (you would be surprised how many really have not done the second step).

Thus, I would say for you not to feel a rush about writing. Take a lesson that I give my children: If you don't like the practice, you really do not like playing the game. The same with writing. If you really enjoy writing, you will enjoy the work involved to get good at it.

Re: Intro and frustrations

PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 2:55 pm
by crit15937
But if the only thing that helps me at all is clear examples from my own work how can I possibly improve. I love reading and am constantly reading other people's work. Still I can't pick out the things in their work that make them good and even if I do I have no idea how to do the same thing. The biggest help someone gave me once was my sister. She took a sentence I wrote and rewrote it into her own words. Because of that fresh outlook I was able to turn it into a whole chapter. It didn't take her long and it wasn't a lot but I desperately need those fresh ideas from my own work. Otherwise I read over and over again and see nothing new in it and just feel there are all these blank spaces and have no idea what to put in them. I have always been terrible at fill in the blank and did very badly. I am much better at recognizing the right answer like in multiple choice. I just can't know it until I see it. It works the same with my writing. Without seeing the right way to do something I just can never get there on my own.

I already knew I lacked depth and details and was hoping for just a few ideas from others, suggestions on what to add. Just a few would have been enough to help me refresh the story. I am hoping the next submission will give me some better feedback since it was a shorter submission, but if it isn't I don't know what to do next.

I kind of feel like I'm drowning and no one will throw me a life boat. I can't help feeling hopeless. Maybe my inability to pick up things by reading and apply it on my own is too big of a problem. Maybe I just need too much help. I mean is my story even interesting enough to keep working on it? I've never really had a lot of confidence and always end up running around in circles. Am I just wasting my time?

Re: Intro and frustrations

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 11:06 am
by crit19292
Yes, well, I (and possibly others) have two major problems.

1) It is not our work
We do not want to influence your writing. Also, it is doubtful that our train of thought will match with yours. The art of writing is to present your ideas, your stories, and get others to like them (or at least read unto completion). We will let you have your ideas with us just doing what we can to advise you on techniques.

2) It would not work anyway
What I would suggest probably would confuse you more than help. I like the odd and unusual with most of my work being how to translate that into a good story that others can follow and comprehend. My biggest complaint to others is that they are not describing enough to get me to visual and understand what is coming from their head. What I would suggest would thus probably not even connect with you.

Now, to me adding depth is a matter of simply asking what would 'normally' happen. Think of what you are doing when you are 'normally' walking down a hallway, driving your car to town, etc. Once you can relate (with words) a normal activity, you then work on the details that would differentiate what is happening in your story (even if the differences is simply the surrounding architecture or the type of people being met). Another biggee for me is simply figuring out ways to describe other people. A mustache is not just a mustache, as us men have different types of upper lips, different ways the hair grows, etc. Adding depth is usually just adding those things that will make the characters, scenes, and actions more vivid in the mind of your readers. That is where reading helps, as you can see how other writers handled the task (or should have been held at fault for not doing so). That is where watching movies help, as you can see (learn to pay attention) what type of locations are chosen, what type of staging is done to affect the actions, and how are the actors dressed and what motions do they perform. As you learn to see all the fine details in life, written words, and media presentations, you can then realize what is missing in your own writings.

Re: Intro and frustrations

PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:36 am
by crit32715
I wanted to offer a suggestion to the poster. I am new to this forum and have not been very active yet in posting here but I have done a lot of writing. I have 3 books published and am on the fifth rewrite of my new sci-fi series. It's a lot of work but the work is a pleasure to me.

I read your posts and the wonderful advice you've been given thus far. I just wanted to throw out the idea to you of downscaling to short stories initially and then mastering those you can gradually increase the length of your work. This has the benefit of allowing in depth reviews of an entire work, it allows for a more focused learning experience minus the frustration of having a large body of work in need of correction or critique.

For a very long time no one was able to run a mile in under four minutes. The first person to do this astonished the world and soon after he had done this others began to do it as well.

But when he was interviewed and asked how he had achieved this feat he said, "I didn't focus on running a four minute mile. I focused all of my energy on running a one minute quarter mile. Once I was able to do that I focused on doing a two minute half mile run. Then a three minute three quarter mile. And the rest is history..."

I hope that this suggestion helps and I wish you the very best with your writing. Cheers!