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10 Common Problems that Dismiss You As An Amateur

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  #1  
Old 05-05-2009, 06:24 AM
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Default 10 Common Problems that Dismiss You As An Amateur


So I can't take credit for this one, but this link was passed along to me. Very good read and it really helps bring forward mistakes that I know I can sort of catch even in my own work, but I can't exactly recognize what they are.

Here is the article. http://www.holtuncensored.com/hu/the-ten-mistakes/

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  #2  
Old 05-05-2009, 08:01 AM
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Thanks Paige. We all should commit those ten guides to memory.
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:10 PM
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That was most certainly definitely an article which I could read with adheringness and continuously and constantly and certainly an article that, behind the windowpane, under the chest-of-drawers, under the pile of laundry, around the corner, was absolutely stunning, marvelous, revealing, thought-provoking, interesting, grungey, clean, good, nice and made my face pinken slightly.

That was hard to write.

I enjoyed the article! I find my writing going flat occasionally, as tip number for mentions, though not grammatically, the way they had it. When I'm feeling uninspired, my writing doesn't change but my story tends to drag. Bthaugh. Anyway thanks for posting!
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Old 05-07-2009, 01:13 PM
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That's ACTUALLY pretty helpful! haha. No seriously I'm glad to have stumbled upon this, cheers.
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Old 05-10-2009, 12:20 PM
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Fantastic article. Thanks again for sharing it with us.
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Old 05-11-2009, 01:55 AM
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Isn't everyone an amateur? Never heard of a pro. writer.

Still, like the article.
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Old 05-11-2009, 02:25 AM
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Surely journalists are professional writers? (The ones who actually make a living at it, that is.)
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Old 05-11-2009, 02:40 AM
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Oh yes. Pardon me.

Was thinking more of the other side. Fiction, that is.
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Old 05-11-2009, 02:54 AM
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Oh, I see. I think for fiction, writers are writers (or authors, if you prefer) but professional wouldn't really apply. Some make money and most don't.
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Old 05-11-2009, 03:42 AM
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Which is why I didn't think there are pros in this area... you can have a book published, but you're still just an author.
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:36 AM
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Saying that, no one would deny that Iain Banks, Neil Gaiman, Martin Amos and many others are 'professional' authors. Still, it's not really an adjective that's used in these circumstances.
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:44 AM
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I suppose one could consider "professional" writers to be ones that use it as their key profession - in other words, writing is their day job, not just a hobby that may or may not make them money.

And I'm glad you guys enjoyed the link!
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Last edited by Paige Bruce; 05-11-2009 at 08:44 AM.. Reason: Re-read BEFORE pushing post for typos...
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:02 AM
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Hey this is a very good list, thanks.
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:56 PM
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Actually, totally, absolutely, completely, continually, constantly, continuously, literally, really, unfortunately, ironically, incredibly, hopefully, finally - these and others are words that promise emphasis, but too often they do the reverse. They suck the meaning out of every sentence.
EVERY sentence.


What a crock.
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:58 PM
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Sometimes, “to be” words do earn a place in writing:
Oh, what a relief. One can actually use the most common verb in any language. But only if it earns the right.

Next week: How to sneak "the" into your work without being gauche.
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  #16  
Old 06-12-2009, 06:02 PM
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Here's a list of ONE tip for writers.

Don't take seriously articles on how to write by people who've never sold anything.

God this crap makes me tired. It's just foaming out of the internet like a backed-up toilet.
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Old 06-12-2009, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Lin View Post
Oh, what a relief. One can actually use the most common verb in any language. But only if it earns the right.

Next week: How to sneak "the" into your work without being gauche.
I remember in Junior High if we used any of the "to be" words we got like penalized for it, hard core.

I try to take them out, but not because they are what they are, but because I can use them too much .
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Old 06-12-2009, 08:15 PM
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Re: the use of "to be"... geez! I don't see how it could or why it should be avoided. I've heard some say it shouldn't be used at all, or--as here--only if it "earns a place".

People who suggest this show a lack of linguistic understanding. Specifically, they don't understand the importance of content and function words. Verbs are content words, meaning that they carry meaning; they have content. Words which do a job in a sentence but don't have inherent meaning are function words. Prepositions, verb inflections, and articles are functors.

So let's look at "to be". It's a verb, but what meaning does it have? Ever try to define it? In the end, you have to define it by what it does... a sure sign of functionality. Another sign of a funtion word is that it gets unstressed, just as "is" and "are" do when contracted. "To be" acts more like a function word. If it's a functor, then deleting it is as impossible as deleting any other functor. We can't delete "of", "and", or "-ed"! Function words are part of the grammar of a language!

As far as I can tell, the people who make this recommendation have the idea that verbs must carry meaning. Well, this verb doesn't. This verb has functions. If that doesn't "earn" it a place, I don't know what does!

In the end, I have to wonder what author truly wants to avoid parts of the language. I don't curse a lot, but when I'm pissed (American sense of the word), I'm glad to have the f-word at my disposal. I like adverbs and adjectives. I understand that different situations call for different ratios and uses, but I'd never say never to any word.
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Old 06-12-2009, 09:47 PM
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People who suggest this show a lack of linguistic understanding
I'd diagnosis it as a broader-based lack than just that.
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  #20  
Old 06-12-2009, 09:50 PM
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[I LOVE this:

QUOTE]Once your eye is attuned to the frequent use of the “to be” words - “am,” “is,” “are,” “was,” “were,” “be,” “being,” “been” and others - you’ll be appalled at how quickly they flatten prose and slow your pace to a crawl.[/QUOTE]

And note this jewel: Shakespeare is bland and just "lays on the page". Much better model is Ms. Holt with her single biography sale after a lifer career inside publishing.

The “to be” words represent the existence of things - “I am here. You are there.” Think of Hamlet’s query, “to be, or not to be.” To exist is not to act, so the “to be” words pretty much just there sit on the page. “
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Old 06-12-2009, 10:12 PM
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Maybe the author is a Shakespeare scholar; I once had to read an interminably long thesis on how inaction is a primary theme in Hamlet. "To be" doesn't stop Hamlet's soliloquy from coming to life, though! Existence is a pretty vital thing!

And marking existence is only one function of "to be". Did the article mention any other? The copula, for instance, or the auxilary? Those are important, too. Too bad they just "sit there".

-----

I think this article points out common problems but overgeneralizes them, leading to silly prohibitions. For instance, if almost every sentence in a paragraph is a simple copula sentence (X is Y. Z are A.), it can be dull. That's a common problem. But it's a problem of variety, not a problem inherent in the verb. There's no reason that "to be" needs to "earn a place" in writing.
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:18 PM
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There's just this flood of crap on the net. People write articles just to be writing articles (95% of all blogs that have been started have already been abandoned, by the way) or to cram SEO.

People who know how to write well enough to produce martketable (or even useful) work are out doing exactly that, not putting up these nitwit shopping lists with a number in the title.

That list of "how to write fight scenes" blew my mind, even though I've commented before on how useless this crap is. People who can't write their way out of a paper bag using their pathetic work as examples to convince people to accept their insane precepts. Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:22 PM
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I'm currently compiling a list of the ten worst lists...
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:30 PM
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There are lists of what people are tired of in fantasy writing, some of them are just repeating the same things, some of them are just whining...

http://scott-lynch.livejournal.com/211853.html
http://truepenny.livejournal.com/456453.html
http://matociquala.livejournal.com/853011.html
http://stillsostrange.livejournal.com/329865.html
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Old 06-13-2009, 12:53 AM
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Oh the irony...
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Old 06-13-2009, 01:12 AM
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You can use those for your list, right Mike? "Add 'em to the pile! Add 'em to the stack! / Here among the sewer rats, a breath away from hell, / you get acustomed to the smell!"
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Old 06-13-2009, 01:38 AM
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There are lists of what people are tired of in fantasy writing, some of them are just repeating the same things, some of them are just whining...
Oh, brother. Well, all right. According to some of these lists (and many others I've found browsing around at random times) I should give up on my novels.

Pfft. Like h*ll. Oops. Yes, in fact, it is.

As for the original post's link, some of it I found useful. "To be"? I don't know. I usually try to avoid "was" and such things in my own writing, but don't completely avoid it. It serves a function, just like any other word in any language.

Why do people need to go to extremes with so many things? Why can't they be done in moderation? Need to use an adverb? So use the darned thing. Want to use "screamed" or "yelled" instead of "said"? Why not, if it helps to convey what the writer needs to get things across.

One part of me says that some of these rules are created to make new writers jump through hoops in order to get past the slush pile. Some of it helps, and is good to know and implement throughout a piece (and couldn't hurt to an extent, if someone follows them using common sense), but isn't it all subjective anyway? What one publisher/agent thinks is great (which might be filled with cliches, passive wording, adverbs, etc.) might be garbage to another.

I don't know. Maybe I will throw in the fantasy towel, since so many miscellaneous people are averse to fantasy cliches. *grumble, grumble* If there's one thing I've learn while spending time here at WB it's: think for yourself and write the way you need to write something, the way it needs to be written.

Oh, sorry, that was two things. Now I'm rambling.
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Old 06-13-2009, 01:55 AM
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How much of this dung is floating around the Internet? I'm glad there's people like Lin around to expose this for the crock it is, otherwise a lot of unsuspecting writers will start professing this as bible truth. What am I talking about? They're already doing it, for crying out loud.

But the best one I've heard so far, sprouted from another writing forum a few days back, is this one: "You shouldn't use words ending with '-ing'."

How wonderfully inane. So, what, I'm not allowed to say that I'm going to the shop, or that I'm coming home? What, then, should I say? "I am about to leave for the shop"? Please, I sound like a poncey git.

Then, some other genius came along and furthered on this ludicrous rule by saying that sentences like this were "weak" writing: "Jack stepped into the room, closing the door behind him". S/he said something about the part after the comma being "grammatically incorrect" too.

Oh, but it gets better. Sentences like this are a big no-no too: "Stepping into the room, Jack closed the door behind him". Well, gosh, why don't you just take away all the variety that a writer can possibly have? Soon, you'll be starting every other sentence with "he" or "she". That, to me, is "weak" writing.

I say bollocks to your whole "list". It's a bunch of cack.
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Old 06-13-2009, 05:00 AM
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There is a pattern that "no-no" advice follows when challenged.

First the declaration: You shouldn't use verbs that start with the letter "w".

Second: How dare you challenge this, may great writers advise it and here is a list of ten lists of lists that list this.

Third: Okay, maybe these verbs shouldn't be outlawed, but it's worth warning about them because new writers use them badly. Therefore they should be used only with great care by certified professionals who have read my book.

Fourth: Well go ahead and use them if you want to get rejected by agents and publishers who will print out your stuff and take them down to that bar in the Upper Eighties where they all hang out and ratify rules and read them to each other and laugh at you while putting your on their black list.

Fifth: It's probably a good idea to avoid ALL words that have a "w" in them.
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Old 06-13-2009, 09:32 AM
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It's probably a good idea to avoid ALL words that have a "w" in them.
Who? What? Where? When? Why?? Lol.
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