Pretty words

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eno1
 
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Pretty words

Postby eno1 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:34 am

For a writer I seem to be stumbling for a description of what I am asking.
I am yet unpublished. I have had my short stories read by dozens of people, Fanstory, writing.com etc.. Everyone loves my story lines, ideas,plot etc... However, my writing lacks that something extra that gets one published.
I read award winning stories from various sites and to be blunt, they stink. The writing has flowery, pretty words, but you have to work to get to the end.
How does this stuff win awards?
I don't put superfluous adjectives and adverbs in my sentences, or use a thesaurus.
Is there a magic formula for making my prose more descriptive with few words. I am not thin skinned about my writing, I just want to make it work.
I know READ READ READ
I am reading Hemmingway at the moment.
Jon

James A. Ritchie
 
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Re: Pretty words

Postby James A. Ritchie » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:08 am

You'll have to give examples of award-winning stories you think stink. "Superfluous" to you may be beautiful writing to someone else. Writing can certainly get too fancy, but it can also get too simple.

My suggestion would be to read Ray Bradbury. I don't think a writer ever lived who was better at producing magic from simple words.

Other than this, you have to remember that story lines, plot, ideas, etc., are important, but people read stories because of how well you execute these things, how well you tell the story, and how well you develop character. Readers want good writing, which means not too fancy and not too plain, they want realistic, three dimensional characters they can empathise with, and they want little surprises, quick and unexpected left turns into a new truth or insight.

Hemingway, I think, was a great writer, but not nearly as simple as his imitators seem to think. Unpublished writers often go to extremes in style. Many get far too fancy, but many other get far too simple. There has to be a balance that gives rhythm and flow, that sets both mood and tone.

After this, what you have to say is every bit as important as how you say it. But, yes, read, read, read. Find a current selling writer you love, and do as he does.

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DrG2
 
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Re: Pretty words

Postby DrG2 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:09 pm

James A. Ritchie wrote:
After this, what you have to say is every bit as important as how you say it. But, yes, read, read, read. Find a current selling writer you love, and do as he does.


You might want to even restrict it to writers that have recently published their first novel or their first breakout novel.

James A. Ritchie
 
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Re: Pretty words

Postby James A. Ritchie » Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:42 am

DrG2 wrote:
James A. Ritchie wrote:
After this, what you have to say is every bit as important as how you say it. But, yes, read, read, read. Find a current selling writer you love, and do as he does.


You might want to even restrict it to writers that have recently published their first novel or their first breakout novel.



I never have bought into that. If it's writing you like, it's writing you should imitate, whether it's a writer's first book, or his fiftieth.

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mammamaia
 
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Re: Pretty words

Postby mammamaia » Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:34 am

i agree with james...
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updog
 
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Re: Pretty words

Postby updog » Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:54 am

mammamaia wrote:i agree with james...


Me too.

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DrG2
 
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Re: Pretty words

Postby DrG2 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:09 pm

James A. Ritchie wrote:
DrG2 wrote:
James A. Ritchie wrote:
After this, what you have to say is every bit as important as how you say it. But, yes, read, read, read. Find a current selling writer you love, and do as he does.


You might want to even restrict it to writers that have recently published their first novel or their first breakout novel.



I never have bought into that. If it's writing you like, it's writing you should imitate, whether it's a writer's first book, or his fiftieth.


I suppose it's possible I have been misinformed. I've been told that authors with a track record are given much more slack than someone trying to get published for the first time, so looking at first-time authors gives you a better idea of what an agent/publisher might like to see from a first-time author.

I don't know that "imitate" is the best term, but other authors can provide some guidelines.

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gesler0811
 
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Re: Pretty words

Postby gesler0811 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:42 pm

eno1 wrote:For a writer I seem to be stumbling for a description of what I am asking.
I am yet unpublished. I have had my short stories read by dozens of people, Fanstory, writing.com etc.. Everyone loves my story lines, ideas,plot etc... However, my writing lacks that something extra that gets one published.
I read award winning stories from various sites and to be blunt, they stink. The writing has flowery, pretty words, but you have to work to get to the end.
How does this stuff win awards?
I don't put superfluous adjectives and adverbs in my sentences, or use a thesaurus.
Is there a magic formula for making my prose more descriptive with few words. I am not thin skinned about my writing, I just want to make it work.
I know READ READ READ
I am reading Hemmingway at the moment.
Jon


I don't know where you're trying to get published, but a snag I ran into was that I was submitting my stories to journals that did not publish the kind of thing I was writing. It doesn't matter how great your story is, if you submit a science fiction story to a journal that does not publish science fiction, you are wasting your time.

A lot of the "journals" I was looking at like to publish literary fiction, which is quite different that the kind of stories I write. I realized I needed to look for magazines/publications that published genre fiction, specifically sci-fi/fantasy/horror. I don't have enough info from your original post, but I was in a similar boat because when I bought the back issues of some of these journals that I was submitting to, I couldn't help thinking that everything in there was terrible. I kept saying, "Where is the plot? This story makes no sense? It has no beginning, middle, or end. It just goes and goes and then it stops! The people in these stories are weird!" That was my wake-up call. The stories I was reading were not bad in their own right, they just were not what I like to read. So I don't know what your particular situation is, but make sure you have researched yor market and you're submitting to the right kind of publications!
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James A. Ritchie
 
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Re: Pretty words

Postby James A. Ritchie » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:23 am

Many think proven writers get more slack, and in a way it's true, but that slack is given because those writers have proven they can please hundreds of thousands of readers. The "slack" they're given is added length, and the benefit of the doubt when they try an experiment. But the best writers out the still receive rejections when they get it wrong. Ray Bradbury always said he received a rejection every week of his life, including this week.

Any good magazine wants famous names on the cover, and in the table of contents. Established writers do have this edge, but they still have to write very, very well because every established writer out there is trying for the same few slots. This means an editor does not have to give "slack" where quality is concerned. At most, an editor has five or six slots to fill, and probably a hundred established writers to choose from.

The problem new writers face is not that established writers are cut any slack, it's that the name matters, and these writers do provide high quality stories on a regular basis. This means a new writer must write better than the established writer in order to get published. The new writer must say something original, or something old in a new and original way, and he must make the editor thinks, "I don't care if I do have to reject Stephen King's story to open a slot, I have to buy this story."

So it isn't that established writers are cut any slack, it's simply that new writers have to write something spectacular to break in. This is a good thing. Every last one of those established writers were new writers at some point, faced the same challenge, and managed to break into print. Meeting this challenge is how we become better writers, how we become established writers.


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