11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing!

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ostarella
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Re: 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing!

Postby ostarella » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:10 pm

I guess I'd rather have slightly fewer readers and be happy with my writing than pander to the perceived lowest element. I mean, it's kinda glass half full or half empty - I would say that basic statistics says more people are average or above than are below average.

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Re: 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing!

Postby sammy2 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:24 am

[quote="ostarella"]I guess I'd rather have slightly fewer readers and be happy with my writing than pander to the perceived lowest element. I mean, it's kinda glass half full or half empty - I would say that basic statistics says more people are average or above than are below average.[/quote]


I guess it depends on the writer's objective. Personally I want the most readers because I want more money if I were to write a novel.
If I were writing a technical paper then I would certainly do that at a higher level than a novel. But I would be doing that for career enhancement not to make money.

As to statistics they say by definition that exactly half are above and half are below. However , the higher the level you write at, the fewer people that can read it.

So If you write at an average level then half the people can read it. As you increase that level you lose more people. Keep making it harder to read and at some point only you and a few quantum physicists are left who will be able to read it.

OTOH if you lower the level a little you add more people who can read it and may lose some who wont read it. My guess is that based on the shape of the bell curve you are adding a lot more than you are losing until you get ridiculously low.

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Re: 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing!

Postby ostarella » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:21 pm

[quote="sammy2"]
I guess it depends on the writer's objective. Personally I want the most readers because I want more money if I were to write a novel.[/quote]

I'm not sure that writing down to people will guarantee more money, or even more readers. I guess, all in all, I would find it harder to write well if I felt I had to dumb it down. And I certainly wouldn't be happy with the end product.

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Re: 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing!

Postby sammy2 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:04 pm

[quote="ostarella"][quote="sammy2"]
I guess it depends on the writer's objective. Personally I want the most readers because I want more money if I were to write a novel.[/quote]

I'm not sure that writing down to people will guarantee more money, or even more readers. I guess, all in all, I would find it harder to write well if I felt I had to dumb it down. And I certainly wouldn't be happy with the end product.[/quote]


Nothing can guarantee readers. But making it harder to read ensures that more people wont be able to read it at all and so they wont read it.

I have to disagree that writing simple shorter sentences is dumbing anything down. Was Hemingway dumb? Did he dumb down his stories?
I found them easy to read and also good stories so I wanted to read more of them.

How do you measure happiness with an end product? If you are happy then I guess that works.
Personally I am happier when it makes more money. I stopped worrying about how I felt about what the words I wrote after a few editors butchered what I thought was just wonderful. I preferred them to publish my writing rather than insisting on my perfect words being left alone with myself being the only reader.

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Re: 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing!

Postby ostarella » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:56 pm

[quote="sammy2"]
Personally I am happier when it makes more money. I stopped worrying about how I felt about what the words I wrote after a few editors butchered what I thought was just wonderful. I preferred them to publish my writing rather than insisting on my perfect words being left alone with myself being the only reader.[/quote]

I don't recall saying anything about thinking my words were perfect. Only that I wouldn't want anything of mine published if I weren't happy with the end result. Even with publishing, editors make suggestions - it's still up to the writer to decide if they will actually make those changes. If it becomes a deal breaker, then the author has to decide how strongly they agree/disagree with the editors.

Maybe it's because I've never had a lot of money, but when I put something out there for the public to read, that's my name on it. My reputation. And that matters to me much more than money.

But each writer has to decide for themselves where their priorities lie. I would not advise writers to change their style as a matter of course, but only if it matches what they want to ultimately accomplish.

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Re: 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing!

Postby T.A.Rodgers » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:35 am

Right from the start, writing a novel will be considered at a lower level than academic writing because novel writers don't normally use an abundance of long sentences. With thrillers and/or action scenes short sentences help define the action. I don't think it's writing down to your readers. It's the style of writing that lowers the grade level measurement.

I had a similar conversation with an editor friend of mine just yesterday. I asked her thoughts about using a thesaurus to find the right word or a different word to so that you aren't overusing a word. She said while trying not to duplicate certain words is a great idea, write the novel using the words you want to use. Do not worry about whether you think that other people may not know what the word is that you use. If the editor thinks that a word should be changed, they'll let you know.

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Re: 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing!

Postby ostarella » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:13 am

[quote="T.A.Rodgers"]Right from the start, writing a novel will be considered at a lower level than academic writing because novel writers don't normally use an abundance of long sentences. With thrillers and/or action scenes short sentences help define the action. I don't think it's writing down to your readers. It's the style of writing that lowers the grade level measurement.

I had a similar conversation with an editor friend of mine just yesterday. I asked her thoughts about using a thesaurus to find the right word or a different word to so that you aren't overusing a word. She said while trying not to duplicate certain words is a great idea, write the novel using the words you want to use. Do not worry about whether you think that other people may not know what the word is that you use. If the editor thinks that a word should be changed, they'll let you know.[/quote]

Short sentences work for actual 'action scenes', but that doesn't mean the entire book should use short sentences. Length of sentences and word choices are used for all kinds of reasons - pacing, mood, action, just to note a few. This is where my original objection came from. How a book is written should depend on the story and the various needs within the story, not on any preconceived belief of what the reader can - or can't - understand. Stating that everyone should use short sentences and simple words regardless of the story simply because it MIGHT sell a few more books is bad advice, IMO. You should write your story in your way. And as your friend noted, Terry, if the editor thinks changes are needed, they'll tell you.

And just to note, I don't think novel writing is at a "lower level" than academic writing. It simply has a different purpose.

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Re: 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing!

Postby wdarcy » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:41 am

As someone who has published two academic books and a slew of journal articles, and has also written four (as yet unpublished) novels as well as a number of short stories (two of which are published), I feel I can say with some authority that writing novels is definitely not on a lower level than academic writing. But it *is* different, as Steve Berry emphasized. And it's not just a matter of using less complex sentence structures in fiction, although of course that's part of it. When you write fiction you're doing something quite different from academic writing. You're telling a story, developing characters, creating a world and a sense of place--and obviously you need different tools to do that. The problem comes when an academic author turns to writing fiction yet retains that academic mindset. It's almost unavoidable at first. You have to keep working at it. And it's just as difficult to do well as academic writing is.

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"Elements of Sonata Theory" co-authored with James Hepokoski(Oxford 2006). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 2008.

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Re: 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing!

Postby rob-lost » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:48 am

[quote="T.A.Rodgers"]Right from the start, writing a novel will be considered at a lower level than academic writing because novel writers don't normally use an abundance of long sentences. With thrillers and/or action scenes short sentences help define the action. I don't think it's writing down to your readers. It's the style of writing that lowers the grade level measurement.[/quote]
I don't know if it's considered lower.

Well... maybe. But context is everything here. Academic writing is, by its very nature, more formal, structured. Fiction writing may be formal at times, but it's not bound by peer review, manuals of style, nor even strict functional language. Fiction writers create slang, colloquial syntax, they alter spelling to illustrate accents and dialect. For example, I hear "you'se" in the upper Midwest of the USA quite a bit. If I were writing in that area, I would write that out. It's not a formal word.

I don't consider that to be writing down at all. Not even figuratively. I see it as adding to the atmosphere and bring "meat" to my characters.

I also don't consider short action sentences to be writing down to readers. As above, it conveys feeling, atmosphere, action. These are concepts very rarely applied to academic writing. And that's not a bad thing in my view. It's diversity at its best.
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Re: 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing!

Postby ostarella » Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:40 pm

[quote="rob-lost"]
I also don't consider short action sentences to be writing down to readers. As above, it conveys feeling, atmosphere, action. These are concepts very rarely applied to academic writing. And that's not a bad thing in my view. It's diversity at its best.[/quote]


Just to clarify, I'm not saying that short sentences or simple words per se are writing down. I'm saying that advocating that use based on the premise that readers need that to enjoy a book is faulty. One uses whatever works best for the story.

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