Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby austinDm » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:53 am

I actually think I'm the opposite of most here (and most genre readers in general). I grew up reading MG and YA speculative fiction, but my training began with the classics, which is probably why I tend to gravitate a bit more toward the lush sort of prose that Dave seemed to be referring to in his kick. I spent so much time focusing on the sound and effect of language during my "writing infancy" that it seems to come more naturally to me than plot-focused stories. Plot is what I'm consciously focusing on improving, and as with everything else, some days it seems like I'm an exceptionally slow learner. wotf001

I'm also not sure that these kicks can be taken as a "roadmap to how to win the contest." A lot of them are taken from Dave's books, which are general purpose. Imo, it's better to develop the tools needed to build a full career and create stories that can be sold to any number of markets and reach a wider audience than just the contest can provide. While prestigious, the contest is still just one market, one you can only win once. There's something to be said for tailoring a story to a particular market, but my goal is to learn how to write a good story every time (or at least most of the time), and that's the same goal I keep in mind when reading Dave's kicks.

Just my two cents on the discussion.

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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby preston » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:53 am

Your treatment can be the best there ever was, and it won't mean anything without an original trope. I'm almost done reading the latest volume and what stands out for me is the uniqueness and "quirkiness" (as DF mentioned in the intro) of the stories.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:15 pm

preston wrote:You're treatment can be the best there ever was, and it won't mean anything without an original trope. I'm almost done reading the latest volume and what stands out for me is the uniqueness and "quirkiness" (as DF mentioned in the intro) of the stories.


I agree, completely.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby s_c_baker » Sun Apr 20, 2014 4:48 pm

That's usually what stands out to me, as well.

I spent so much time focusing on the sound and effect of language during my "writing infancy" that it seems to come more naturally to me than plot-focused stories.

Right there with you, Austin. wotf001
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby bobsandiego » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:14 pm

s_c_baker wrote:That's usually what stands out to me, as well.

I spent so much time focusing on the sound and effect of language during my "writing infancy" that it seems to come more naturally to me than plot-focused stories.

Right there with you, Austin. wotf001


I'm the polar opposite. Plot and character have always engaged my brain first and only recently -- last few years - have I made any real progress in crafting sentences beyond the most basic needs.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Wailea » Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:48 pm

Over the last 10 years I have tried to find a writers' group that made me feel "helped." Every one I attended was pushing at least two of your ten issues, but pushing them the wrong way around, especially the bit about "overwriting." A popular line from members was, "I want to know . . ." I ended overwriting and had to dump the first five chapters of a novel because I was trying to stuff too much into the beginning.

"Implied" situations were way over their heads. If my character took off in his skimmer and, in minutes, disappeared over the horizon, that is enough. If my character was age 9 when "A" happened and it is now 5 years later, I implied that he is 14. DUH.

I wish I could avoid such "help," but they come out of the woodwork and attack. I am not secure enough in my skills to avoid all the pitfalls of advice. I will re-read your list and avoid as much as I can. TY

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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Ishmael » Mon Apr 21, 2014 2:49 am

Wailea wrote:Over the last 10 years I have tried to find a writers' group that made me feel "helped."


I suggest that you have now found one. This forum is remarkable. Not only will your rivals for the prize try to help you win it, they will genuinely applaud if you do. There is no suggestion here that one writer's success diminishes another in any way; indeed those who have enjoyed some success will frequently try to explain how they did it, in case their method can help others.

The fact is that individuals with different strengths and weaknesses need to find their own individual path. There is no single golden rule and what works for one may not work for all, even if we all had the ability to replicate it. The great thing is behave like friends rather than foes.

Welcome, by the way. And good luck. wotf008
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby E.CaimanSands » Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:31 am

s_c_baker wrote:That's usually what stands out to me, as well.

I spent so much time focusing on the sound and effect of language during my "writing infancy" that it seems to come more naturally to me than plot-focused stories.

Right there with you, Austin. wotf001


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Hopefully most of my stories have *some* plot now. Though there are probably still a few that don't have much. wotf004
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby bobsandiego » Mon Apr 21, 2014 5:44 am

Wailea wrote:Over the last 10 years I have tried to find a writers' group that made me feel "helped." Every one I attended was pushing at least two of your ten issues, but pushing them the wrong way around, especially the bit about "overwriting." A popular line from members was, "I want to know . . ." I ended overwriting and had to dump the first five chapters of a novel because I was trying to stuff too much into the beginning.

"Implied" situations were way over their heads. If my character took off in his skimmer and, in minutes, disappeared over the horizon, that is enough. If my character was age 9 when "A" happened and it is now 5 years later, I implied that he is 14. DUH.

I wish I could avoid such "help," but they come out of the woodwork and attack. I am not secure enough in my skills to avoid all the pitfalls of advice. I will re-read your list and avoid as much as I can. TY


I'll second what Ismael has said and throw in that some of the hardest skills to learn are the ones involved with critiquing. It very hard to know when to listen and accept a criticism as valid but it is equally hard to know ehn it is wrong and should be ignored.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby s_c_baker » Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:41 am

bobsandiego wrote:
Wailea wrote:Over the last 10 years I have tried to find a writers' group that made me feel "helped." Every one I attended was pushing at least two of your ten issues, but pushing them the wrong way around, especially the bit about "overwriting." A popular line from members was, "I want to know . . ." I ended overwriting and had to dump the first five chapters of a novel because I was trying to stuff too much into the beginning.

"Implied" situations were way over their heads. If my character took off in his skimmer and, in minutes, disappeared over the horizon, that is enough. If my character was age 9 when "A" happened and it is now 5 years later, I implied that he is 14. DUH.

I wish I could avoid such "help," but they come out of the woodwork and attack. I am not secure enough in my skills to avoid all the pitfalls of advice. I will re-read your list and avoid as much as I can. TY


I'll second what Ismael has said and throw in that some of the hardest skills to learn are the ones involved with critiquing. It very hard to know when to listen and accept a criticism as valid but it is equally hard to know ehn it is wrong and should be ignored.

Agreed. The best advice I've ever seen on this comes from Neil Gaiman:
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.


Unpacked: if a reader says "this part of the story doesn't work too well for me," they clearly know what they are talking about. If a reader says "this part of the story where you have your protagonist turn into a giant sentient leek doesn't work at all because you need to add in six extra pages of foreshadowing and/or transformation description in order to convince any reader anywhere ever that it's done right," they are full of it.

Each reader's opinion is valuable as that reader's opinion, and possibly as an opinion other readers will share. But you are the writer of your story, and know what you want it to do. Listen to their advice, then read the story with it in mind and see whether or not it makes sense. Then either take it or discard it.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby george nik. » Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:08 am

s_c_baker wrote:
bobsandiego wrote:
Wailea wrote:Over the last 10 years I have tried to find a writers' group that made me feel "helped." Every one I attended was pushing at least two of your ten issues, but pushing them the wrong way around, especially the bit about "overwriting." A popular line from members was, "I want to know . . ." I ended overwriting and had to dump the first five chapters of a novel because I was trying to stuff too much into the beginning.

"Implied" situations were way over their heads. If my character took off in his skimmer and, in minutes, disappeared over the horizon, that is enough. If my character was age 9 when "A" happened and it is now 5 years later, I implied that he is 14. DUH.

I wish I could avoid such "help," but they come out of the woodwork and attack. I am not secure enough in my skills to avoid all the pitfalls of advice. I will re-read your list and avoid as much as I can. TY


I'll second what Ismael has said and throw in that some of the hardest skills to learn are the ones involved with critiquing. It very hard to know when to listen and accept a criticism as valid but it is equally hard to know ehn it is wrong and should be ignored.

Agreed. The best advice I've ever seen on this comes from Neil Gaiman:
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.


Unpacked: if a reader says "this part of the story doesn't work too well for me," they clearly know what they are talking about. If a reader says "this part of the story where you have your protagonist turn into a giant sentient leek doesn't work at all because you need to add in six extra pages of foreshadowing and/or transformation description in order to convince any reader anywhere ever that it's done right," they are full of it.

Each reader's opinion is valuable as that reader's opinion, and possibly as an opinion other readers will share. But you are the writer of your story, and know what you want it to do. Listen to their advice, then read the story with it in mind and see whether or not it makes sense. Then either take it or discard it.

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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby george nik. » Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:11 am

Treatment.
Setting.
Character.
Plot.

I believe I've got a few stories with really great plots.
And a few with really great characters.
Some great settings, too.
And some with really great "treatment", as defined here.

The hard part is fitting all of these in the same story, that's what's been eluding me yet. wotf007
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby austinDm » Mon Apr 21, 2014 3:21 pm

s_c_baker wrote:
bobsandiego wrote:
Wailea wrote:Over the last 10 years I have tried to find a writers' group that made me feel "helped." Every one I attended was pushing at least two of your ten issues, but pushing them the wrong way around, especially the bit about "overwriting." A popular line from members was, "I want to know . . ." I ended overwriting and had to dump the first five chapters of a novel because I was trying to stuff too much into the beginning.

"Implied" situations were way over their heads. If my character took off in his skimmer and, in minutes, disappeared over the horizon, that is enough. If my character was age 9 when "A" happened and it is now 5 years later, I implied that he is 14. DUH.

I wish I could avoid such "help," but they come out of the woodwork and attack. I am not secure enough in my skills to avoid all the pitfalls of advice. I will re-read your list and avoid as much as I can. TY


I'll second what Ismael has said and throw in that some of the hardest skills to learn are the ones involved with critiquing. It very hard to know when to listen and accept a criticism as valid but it is equally hard to know ehn it is wrong and should be ignored.

Agreed. The best advice I've ever seen on this comes from Neil Gaiman:
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.


Unpacked: if a reader says "this part of the story doesn't work too well for me," they clearly know what they are talking about. If a reader says "this part of the story where you have your protagonist turn into a giant sentient leek doesn't work at all because you need to add in six extra pages of foreshadowing and/or transformation description in order to convince any reader anywhere ever that it's done right," they are full of it.

Each reader's opinion is valuable as that reader's opinion, and possibly as an opinion other readers will share. But you are the writer of your story, and know what you want it to do. Listen to their advice, then read the story with it in mind and see whether or not it makes sense. Then either take it or discard it.


Absolutely. This is advice I try to follow in the critiques I give as well as receive, but they'll sometimes break through. I'm not entirelt confident in my Q2 entry, partly because I tried to turn the story upside down on request of a beta reader, which completely derailed the whole piece for me. I hope I got it back to some semblance of coherence, but it's still tough to take a critical eye toward critiques when everything a reader says sounds like gold. wotf001

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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby LaurenRitz » Wed May 07, 2014 7:59 am

I think these are guidelines. My first quarter entry got HM, but the character was never named. If the first few sentences or paragraphs are enough to keep him reading (i.e., if it's good enough that he doesn't notice) then he would probably ignore other issues.

That being said, if the story has bad grammar, punctuation, spelling, oddly phrased sentences, lack of description (my own weakness) and overly wordy prose, he'll notice the other problems more easily.

When I'm editing, the first problem I come across triggers my brain to look for other issues as well. It's just the way our brains work.

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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby LDWriter2 » Sat May 31, 2014 7:44 pm

I thought this would fit here even though I think we are past 10 reasons..... wotf011



As you may know Dave has been doing a series on "What's Wrong With Your Story" he is up to number ten in that series.
Which just happens to be the one I want to discuss

Here is a http://www.davidfarland.com/writing_tips/?a=379 to it.

If you have read it I would like to say two or three things about Number ten:

First is the opening that he picked to use as an example. I would have said it's cliche-ish, old and over used, however, he doesn't bring that up at all. Which could mean he isn't worried about old and tired openings if they are done right.

Second he states--a few paragraphs down--that this opening has "several instances" of was. That makes it sound like he doesn't mind one or two instances of was. Because of what other editors have stated I strife to do away with all of them in the opening and most throughout the story.

Later he ends a paragraph by saying we need to strife to do well from the outset. I do that and I would think most of us here do that. Of course we make up a small number of the total entries, so it could be possible that many who entry don't try to do that. And a second of course even though we try--I try--that doesn't mean we actually succeed in doing our best work from the beginning.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:33 am

From reading these Kicks, I have come to the conclusion that Dave approaches the contest very analytically. He's not just looking for writing that catches his eye or moves him; he's very seriously looking for the best writing that best represents the breadth of the field. Thus his repeated comments about stories that might be good in their own right, but not excellent, when this is a contest for excellence. From other comments, I think he makes an effort to be a good curator: he's not guided solely by what he likes, but also by his professional appraisal of what other editors like and are currently publishing.

This analytical approach can sound a bit cold when he applies it to a story as in these examples; but overall, I see the point of it. He really wants the anthology to represent the best across the range of styles and subgenres. He's only human, and there's still a lot of subjectivity in there, but he's trying.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Matthias » Sun Jun 01, 2014 6:46 am

LDWriter2 wrote:First is the opening that he picked to use as an example. I would have said it's cliche-ish, old and over used, however, he doesn't bring that up at all. Which could mean he isn't worried about old and tired openings if they are done right.


In what's wrong with your story part 3, Dave addressed cliche openings to a story. After listing 7 examples, he concludes that:

If the concept isn’t crisp and new, I’m going to demand that you write the piece to higher standards. I’m going to look at your treatment—at your style, tone, voice, pacing, description, plotting—and demand that you write beautifully.
Oh, and then I’m still going to demand that there be elements of originality to it. In the field of science fiction and fantasy, if there isn’t something new about your tale, then it is fatally flawed, even if your writing itself is brilliant.


thus cliche openings don't seem to be cause for an instant rejection, but in doing so, the writer seems to have dug themselves a hole that they will have to work pretty hard to get out of.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Fobok1 » Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:04 pm

There are times, reading Dave's daily kicks, that I think he and I have almost completely opposite tastes in stories. Most of today's kick I agree with, but a bit at the end just threw me totally.

From today's Kick:

A similar problem arises when the author is afraid to set things in stone, so they’ll say “she looked about 20” and “she seemed hungry” and “there were about 20 ducks at the pond.”

As my old writing professor Leslie Norris used to say, “As an author, you are omniscient.” So you tell us, “She would turn 19 on Tuesday,” “she hadn’t eaten in 36 hours,” and “there were 17 mallards swimming in the pond.”


Personally, I far prefer third person limited point of view, omniscient is not my cup of tea (certain particular stories aside). But here, he's saying writing in limited is a 'problem'. In limited, if a character is meeting someone for the first time, there's no way they'd know that she would turn 19 on Tuesday. There's also many characters who would estimate that there were about twenty ducks in the pond, rather than counting out all 17.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby AlistairKimble » Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:11 pm

I have to admit, this Kick had me scratching my head as well. On one hand he discusses specificity, but actually generalizes on the Glock trigger pull vs. Smith & Wesson: there are many models of Glock (granted they are all very similar, but from generation to generation they do vary--to include trigger pull), and there are also many many many Smith & Wesson models. He should have been more specific there: like, Glock model 22 trigger pulls are way smoother than Smith & Wesson (insert model here).

And then he goes on to want specificity on ages and ducks on the pond. But I understand your point, Fobok, and agree with it: if you're writing 3rd person limited, then on certain details the person would be guessing. I think he could have used better examples of being specific (or setting things in stone as he put it), personally.

Fobok1 wrote:There are times, reading Dave's daily kicks, that I think he and I have almost completely opposite tastes in stories. Most of today's kick I agree with, but a bit at the end just threw me totally.

From today's Kick:

A similar problem arises when the author is afraid to set things in stone, so they’ll say “she looked about 20” and “she seemed hungry” and “there were about 20 ducks at the pond.”

As my old writing professor Leslie Norris used to say, “As an author, you are omniscient.” So you tell us, “She would turn 19 on Tuesday,” “she hadn’t eaten in 36 hours,” and “there were 17 mallards swimming in the pond.”


Personally, I far prefer third person limited point of view, omniscient is not my cup of tea (certain particular stories aside). But here, he's saying writing in limited is a 'problem'. In limited, if a character is meeting someone for the first time, there's no way they'd know that she would turn 19 on Tuesday. There's also many characters who would estimate that there were about twenty ducks in the pond, rather than counting out all 17.

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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:36 pm

I think the basic rule of thumb is: write a f*cking awesome story.

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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby AlistairKimble » Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:10 pm

ThomasKCarpenter wrote:I think the basic rule of thumb is: write a f*cking awesome story.

wotf007


Yes. That is a great rule of thumb. wotf008

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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Kary English » Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:35 pm

Hmmm. My read on this Kick is a little bit different. I think the issue is the use of the word "about."

Also, when he says omniscient, he's not talking about writing in the omniscient voice. He means that we, as authors, are omniscient. We know everything there is to know about the story, the characters, the setting, etc. So the point is to be more precise in your descriptions.

As an example, Dave critiqued a line in my novel a year or so ago where I'd mentioned a character seeing a raptor overhead. Dave told me to name it. Was it a falcon? An eagle? Be specific.

When you're in a character's voice, yes, it's sometimes OK to be non-specific, but do it on purpose. Do it in voice. Don't just throw in a vague description where you haven't thought out the details. There's a difference between this:

1) Ephraim was about 80, with some missing teeth and arthritic hands.

And this:

2) Ephraim was in his 80s as best I could tell, with a gap-toothed smile and hands that twisted like mandrake roots.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Isto » Thu Jun 05, 2014 3:20 pm

Kary English wrote:Hmmm. My read on this Kick is a little bit different. I think the issue is the use of the word "about."

Also, when he says omniscient, he's not talking about writing in the omniscient voice. He means that we, as authors, are omniscient. We know everything there is to know about the story, the characters, the setting, etc. So the point is to be more precise in your descriptions.

As an example, Dave critiqued a line in my novel a year or so ago where I'd mentioned a character seeing a raptor overhead. Dave told me to name it. Was it a falcon? An eagle? Be specific.

When you're in a character's voice, yes, it's sometimes OK to be non-specific, but do it on purpose. Do it in voice. Don't just throw in a vague description where you haven't thought out the details. There's a difference between this:

1) Ephraim was about 80, with some missing teeth and arthritic hands.

And this:

2) Ephraim was in his 80s as best I could tell, with a gap-toothed smile and hands that twisted like mandrake roots.



Good example and distinction. A character would guess at the number of ducks in the lake. But if you have the author 'guess', it makes the author step out of the background almost as if he, himself, is a character. Yes?
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby LDWriter2 » Thu Jun 05, 2014 5:13 pm

Fobok1 wrote:There are times, reading Dave's daily kicks, that I think he and I have almost completely opposite tastes in stories. Most of today's kick I agree with, but a bit at the end just threw me totally.

From today's Kick:

A similar problem arises when the author is afraid to set things in stone, so they’ll say “she looked about 20” and “she seemed hungry” and “there were about 20 ducks at the pond.”

As my old writing professor Leslie Norris used to say, “As an author, you are omniscient.” So you tell us, “She would turn 19 on Tuesday,” “she hadn’t eaten in 36 hours,” and “there were 17 mallards swimming in the pond.”


Personally, I far prefer third person limited point of view, omniscient is not my cup of tea (certain particular stories aside). But here, he's saying writing in limited is a 'problem'. In limited, if a character is meeting someone for the first time, there's no way they'd know that she would turn 19 on Tuesday. There's also many characters who would estimate that there were about twenty ducks in the pond, rather than counting out all 17.



I agree with you. Even as a reader I see nothing wrong with "she looked about twenty". At the same time I can see how the word "about" could be one of those over used words. Wonder how it would work if we said in a different word or even two words? I used to write in omniscient as my default style, but supposedly readers today do not like it even in 3rd person, so I changed over time to non-omniscient third, sometimes First. So I try to use terms that indicate the MC doesn't know the specifics--like exact age. However Dave isn't the only one to not like about or a not exact description. Half a dozen or more critters have corrected my use of about and have wanted exact comments or descriptions. So I change it now. But as I said I see nothing wrong with a character not knowing something and if you are suppose to be writing from the character's POV the narrator doesn't know either.

But it looks like with Dave the narrator should know.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Thu Jun 05, 2014 7:10 pm

LDWriter2 wrote:I agree with you. Even as a reader I see nothing wrong with "she looked about twenty". At the same time I can see how the word "about" could be one of those over used words. Wonder how it would work if we said in a different word or even two words? I used to write in omniscient as my default style, but supposedly readers today do not like it even in 3rd person, so I changed over time to non-omniscient third, sometimes First. So I try to use terms that indicate the MC doesn't know the specifics--like exact age. However Dave isn't the only one to not like about or a not exact description. Half a dozen or more critters have corrected my use of about and have wanted exact comments or descriptions. So I change it now. But as I said I see nothing wrong with a character not knowing something and if you are suppose to be writing from the character's POV the narrator doesn't know either.

But it looks like with Dave the narrator should know.


There's an overused phrase: "muscular writing", meaning writing that grabs the reader and demands attention. One of the big arguments against passive voice is that it's noncommittal, like the writer wants to avoid taking a stand. I think Dave's advice here is to take a stand. To make firm statements, not qualified statements, so the reader has no doubts what's happening in your story. And if your point is to be vague, be confidently vague. I think Kary gave a good example of that.

I myself am extremely fond of qualifiers in my writing. In this forum or Facebook or the like, I'm all about bombast and hyperbole. To quote Meat Loaf: "Everything louder than everything else!" But in my writing, I tend to qualify, to try to be precise: between happy and angry, there are shades. So I don't want my character to flip straight to angry, I want her to be a little bit angry. I always mean it to convey shade and nuance; but I wonder if that has held me back with Dave. If he has to choose between two stories, the more confident one reads more like a winner.

I'm trying to work on this, but it's hard. Instead of a little angry, I try to pin a word on it: miffed, peeved, annoyed, frustrated... Instead of a weak qualifier, I go for a strong descriptor (unless that's unnatural for the character's voice).

Like all writing "rules", it applies except when it doesn't. If we could list actual, unbreakable rules, somebody would turn them into a program that would put us all out of business.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Tamlyn » Fri Jun 06, 2014 12:11 am

I like being vague. If I want a bird in the sky in passing, I'll put a bird and let the reader choose its type, colour, mating call... If it is more important, I'll be more specific. I don't think it's necessary to know a character is 22 years, 3 months, 2 days... about twenty or early twenties is fine. I'm not afraid to set things in stone; it's that I don't want to.

Maybe that's why I only get rejections.

The previous kick with the use of 'was' made me sad. I actually had to do a 'find' to figure out where all these supposedly millions of wases were in the segment, and then I went "That's all?" I know 'was' is often used where a stronger verb could be used... but it's also a very handy word in its own right.

So I guess that could be the reason for the rejections instead :P
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Ishmael » Fri Jun 06, 2014 2:52 am

I would suggest that precision needs to be relative to the voice being employed. How precise would you like me to be about this bird (previously featured elsewhere):

Image

This is a white leucistic variant Indian Blue Peacock. I suppose if I am seeing it through the eyes of an ornithologist that terminology is fine, but not if I'm seeing it through the eyes of somebody who can't tell sparrows from seagulls. Will the reader make do with white peacock? When I read Kary's comment I was thinking of all the effort I need to put into the observation in order to tell a hawk from a falcon at all, let alone a goshawk from a peregrine.

On the other hand I do get very annoyed with writers who don't give me enough information to let me picture the scene for myself. For example the words 'old church' could cover every style from Roman(esque) to Gothic Revival and every size from a tiny chapel to a great cathedral.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Pat R Steiner » Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:05 am

The way I've taken it--after hearing similar comments at Baen's Bar--is to avoid those vague quantifiers: seemed, about, appeared, almost, etc.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Pat R Steiner » Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:38 am

. . . and as to the omni/tight 3rd, I didn't take Dave to mean write in omni but that as the author you know exactly what your POV character knows and doesn't know so don't be wishy-washy with your word choices.
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Re: Dave Wolverton's 10 reasons why he rejects a story

Postby Pat R Steiner » Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:42 am

Just read further up in the comments thread--I see that Kary had the same/similiar take on Dave as I did. Sorry to be redundant.


Pat R Steiner wrote:. . . and as to the omni/tight 3rd, I didn't take Dave to mean write in omni but that as the author you know exactly what your POV character knows and doesn't know so don't be wishy-washy with your word choices.
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