izanobu wrote: Hmm. Who else who writes spec fic?
If you want to write beautiful prose,
kyle wrote:Something that is well-plotted and well-paced will keep me reading even if the prose stylings are so awful it feels like fingernails on a blackboard
vanaaron wrote:Orson Scott Card, "Unaccompanied Sonata"
Rebecca Birch wrote:I've read McKee's "Story." It's big, dense, and I've never used a highlighter so much in my entire life. It was stuffed with useful information, but I think it will take me a few times through to really wrap my head around it all. Brain overload.
Rebecca Birch wrote:I got a comment recently that's making me take a close look at what I write. It was something like, "I liked the writing better than the story." Unfortunately, I tend to agree with the commenter. My prose works fine. It's the underlying stories that need improvement, and that's a lot harder to fix. Nothing to do but keep working at it--both writing and reading to get a feel for story rather than lyrical prose.
izanobu wrote:I'd also recommend later Stephen King. "After the Sunset" and "Full Dark, No Stars" are brilliantly written. The man has an amazing mastery of his craft. He does things that I can barely recognize as deliberate (and some I didn't until I'd taken a bunch of craft workshops and had the techniques pointed out to me).
gower21 wrote:Gwen Clair--her story I think that was either in Clarksworld or Daily about the artist using her/his (can't remember) own blood to paint pictures with more emotion...
You may just be focused on story rather than wordsmithing. I agree with the commenters above that story is essential -- I have no interest in fancy language without a story (which is why I generally don't read much poetry). But for me, if you have a good story, beautifully composed language can help pull me even deeper into the story. Not everyone feels that way, and even if they do, people have different views of what makes for beautiful writing.Strycher wrote:As I work my way through these suggestions I'm finding that the problem seems to be that I lack taste. Many (maybe all) of them are lovely/brilliant/beautiful stories, but I can't put my finger on a line of prose I'd call pretty.
vanaaron wrote:I'm thinking of posting excerpts of what strikes me as elegant writing in some of the stories I suggested. That might help us figure out if we all mean something similar or something completely different when we speak of "beautiful prose."
Then she ups the ante by criticizing her own story, saying she can't really do justice to Omelas, with a thought-provoking explanation of why:In the silence of the broad green meadows one could hear the music winding through the city streets, farther and nearer and ever approaching, a cheerful faint sweetness of the air that from time to time trembled and gathered together and broke out into the great joyous clanging of the bells.
Usually I'm annoyed when authors go off on a tangent like this (Margaret Atwood does the same thing and I hate it), but LeGuin's tangents work for me, I believe because her word-choices resonate.The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.
LeGuin does things you're not supposed to do, like repeating the words "walk" or "walking" six times and "alone" three times, but they work, and I don't really know why. Notice that the last sentence of the story is in iambic pentameter, which I think is part of the reason I've never forgotten that line since the day I first read it.These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman. Night falls; the traveler must pass down village streets, between the houses with yellow-lit windows, and on out into the darkness of the fields. Each alone, they go west or north, toward the mountains. They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go toward is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.
You can say story is all that matters, but if Gaiman told the same story but without prose like this along the way, the reader would lose a lot."The island. You asked if it would be there. Surely, an island is there, or it is not there."
Calum hesitated. He seemed to be weighing his words, and then he said, "The Misty Isle is not as other places. And the mist that surrounds it is not like other mists."
We walked down a path worn by hundreds of years of sheep and deer and few enough men.
He said, "They also call it the Winged Isle. Some say it is because the island, if seen from above, would look like butterfly wings. And I do not know the truth of it." Then, " 'And what is truth? ' said jesting Pilate."
It is harder coming down than it is going up.
I thought about it. "Sometimes I think that truth is a place. In my mind, it is like a city: there can be a hundred roads, a thousand paths, that will all take you, eventually, to the same place. It does not matter where you come from. If you walk toward the truth, you will reach it, whatever path you take."
Calum MacInnes looked down at me and said nothing. Then, "You are wrong. The truth is a cave in the black mountains. There is one way there, and one only, and that way is treacherous and hard, and if you choose the wrong path you will die alone, on the mountainside."
-from "With Morning Comes Mistfall" by George RR Martin.Only a few feet below balcony level the mists rolled, sending ghostly breakers to crash against the the stones of Sanders' castle. A thick white blanket extended from horizon to horizon, cloaking everything. We could see the summit of the Red Ghost, off to the north, a barbed dagger of scarlet rock jabbing into the sky. But that was all. The other mountains were still below mist level.
But we were above the mists. Sanders had built his hotel atop the tallest mountain in the chain. We were floating alone in a swirling white ocean, on a flying castle amid a sea of clouds.
-from "True Trash" by Margaret AtwoodThere ought to be a teardrop, painted and static, on her cheek. There ought to be a caption: Heartbreak.
(cutting for space here)
Ronette's face seems rounder, healthier, its angles smoothed out as if by a hand. She is less watchful, less diffident. She ought to have a caption too, thinks Joanne. Was I Too Easy?
There are rustlings from the darkness, small murmurings, breathing noises. It's like a movie theatre on a Saturday night. Group grope. The Young in one another's arms. Possibly, thinks Joanne, they will disturb a rattlesnake.
(...skipping more) Nor is it Darce she wants, not really. What she wants is what Ronette has: the power to give herself up, without reservation and without commentary. It's that languor, that leaning back. Voluptuous mindlessness. Everything Joanne herself does is surrounded by quotation marks.
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