Key learnings that make a difference!

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
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Key learnings that make a difference!

Postby Henckel » Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:07 pm

When I hear about a new writing technique (one that’s new to me, anyway) I always take the time to learn it. I don’t just loosely read-up on the topic—I study the technique from every angle until I can apply the it in my writing.

Some of these include: Orson Scott Card’s M.I.C.E. Quotient; differentiating conflict, action, and suspense (and when/where each are/are not appropriate); and writing consistent character voice.

Perhaps my best learning from 2016 was on plot and structure. I’d known about them for years and THOUGHT I understood them. But once I really take the time to dig deeper, I managed to improve my writing tenfold.

A couple weeks ago, I encountered a phrase I’d heard before—Scene and Sequel. As with the other topics and techniques, I intend to flog this new one until I understand it from every angle and can use it in my writing.

…this leaves me wondering… what other topics and techniques are there that I still haven’t heard of.

What key learnings have you discovered lately? What is it that has made a difference for you?

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Re: Key learnings that make a difference!

Postby kentagions » Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:33 pm

This thread on the forum had a number of good book ideas:

The best kick in the head my writing has ever received was from a good friend who kindly read one of my stories. She asked a simple question after reading it. "What were they wearing?" I had failed to provide even a single reference to clothing. Big eye opener.

Telling the story is about sculpting a world in the readers imagination. Where are you if you see overalls, flannel shirts and bandannas worn to keep profuse sweat from weary eyes? Where are you if you see shark skin suits, heavy gold jewelry and sunglasses worn indoors?

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Re: Key learnings that make a difference!

Postby Jeremy25 » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:10 pm

This is very informative. Thanks for the share.

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Re: Key learnings that make a difference!

Postby amyhg » Sat Apr 08, 2017 6:25 pm

I was introduced to WOTF March of last year so I've spent the last year making drastic changes to my writing technique and learning new techniques. I've dabbled in writing for a long time and took a Creative Writing course in college, but the last year has made quite a difference. Some of things I've learned are as follow:

Brandon Sanderson's idea of the "crew," meaning that every character has a distinct purpose, personality, and appearance/behaviors. Not only do they each have a distinct purpose in the story (what they contribute to the rest of the cast), but also a distinct purpose in the plot. Not only did this improve my character development a lot, but it also forced me to remove, combine, or create characters (mostly the first two).

Another of Brandon Sanderson's is his idea of "promises." I believe David Wolverton also talks about this. I hadn't realized establishing expectations/promise for what's to come in a story is a primary function of the intro.

Plot structures has also been a big learning area for me: researching things like 3 Act Format, Hollywood, Try-Fail Cycles, Nesting and Mapping, the Monomyth... I find that learning these techniques don't really help me start stories, but they help me if I get stuck or to identify plot issues after a story is written.

I also discovered "copywork," which you may already know--typing/writing out another writer's piece that imitates the tone and/or style you're going for. Investigating this technique not only made my style and tone more consistent despite taking breaks from a story, but it also impressed on me how influential the books I'm reading are on my ideas and style. Now I read books that maintain similar tones and styles to the stories that I'm writing to prevent tone/style changes and writer's block.

This last one has been a hard thing to learn: deleting scenes that don't contribute enough to the story. A number of how-to writers describe this process in different ways so I won't quote anyone, but it's been the most difficult and rewarding thing to learn. I have to consider every scene and conversation in my stories and ask, "Do I already cover this somewhere else?"; "Is this essential to understanding the story?"; "Does this have multiple functions for the story?"; "Can I combine any of these scenes/conversations?"

Anyway, hopefully some of these ideas are new to you or someone else who reads the thread. I like your prompt though so I hope others contribute.
v33: Q3, Q4 - R
v34: Q1 - R, Q2 - SECOND PLACE!

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Re: Key learnings that make a difference!

Postby kentagions » Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:50 am

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5
Writer's Guide to Character Traits, Linda N. Edelstein, PhD

I was compiling list after list of character traits because it's essential to maintain character integrity when the character remains static throughout a story. It's just as essential to know the key features of characters if they are to change. As part of her job, a woman I knew used the DSM-5 and pointed it out as a good resource for specific disorders. Then, I was browsing the bookstore a while back and noticed the Writer's Guide to Character Traits, a more practical book listing traits without the lengthy diagnostics and discussions of the DSM-5.

There are 27 adult personality types listed in the Writer's Guide and 297 diagnosed disorders in the DSM-5, so the number of character permutations one can derive is astronomical.

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Re: Key learnings that make a difference!

Postby LDWriter2 » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:20 pm

Two things-at least I hope they a difference in my writing. They do by a couple of events,

Anyway using the five human senses from the pov of the main character

And working at getting down deep into my characters psychic. At least three of my favorite writers do that and I think it is one reason they are best sellers

That last is the hardest
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM

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