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Is the phrase "Once upon a time..."
Overused
33%
 33% [ 1 ]
Underused
67%
 67% [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 3
Monthly Writing Prompt
For this month's writing prompt write a scene using the following sentence to start;

The streets were deserted. Where was everyone? Where had they all gone?

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Our monthly writing tips are written by our very own TerishD. You can read more in Terish's Blog located in "The Abstractions" area of the forum.

Look Back

When not able to write ahead, it helps to look back. In my case I had written a paragraph ahead of the story. What I needed to do was add a section of exposition (talking) presenting some facts. In going back, I realized that I could insert a section where a 'tour' of the surroundings could be done. This allowed for character interaction, story development, and other things that enabled me to present the facts in an entertaining manner.

One should not face a writer's block with the mentality of bursting through it. I have found in my own experience that a writer's block is usually due to my mind indicating that it has a problem in 'channeling' the story. One reason might be a re-imagining of certain story points. Another reason however is that there is a problem in where you are at in the story, so you need to look back and find out the problem with the 'journey' that prevents the tale from advancing.

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PostSubject: revised prologue   June 30th 2009, 8:28 pm

---


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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   June 30th 2009, 8:42 pm

still not 100% happy but its better than before i think Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   June 30th 2009, 10:04 pm

Swami wrote:
PROLOGUE: REVISED


Events which led to a mysterious ship approaching the north-western shores of Elemenphis, in the year 1066, had left a trail of blood throughout the ages, seeping from the deepest and darkest reaches of antiquity.

Fog suffocated the ‘Doom that night, as it did almost every night, even in midsummer.

Folklorists from both sides of the bay have debated the ambiguities behind its etymology for many years, some even joking it would take ‘til Doom’s Day to unravel the truth behind it. Sailors and boatmen believe the name of the bay to personify the treacherous fog itself, as it creates peril for unsuspecting ships that come to port on either country via the bay – though the origin of the fog is also another matter of uncertainty.

This seemed to dance all over the place, consider what you want to say here. What exactly do you want me to know about this opening.

Right now, I feel very confused as to what "time Point" I am supposed to be in reading this and what perspective I am approaching from.

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PostSubject: Mean and nasty   June 30th 2009, 10:15 pm

Whoa, dude, you are aware that your first paragraph is a single sentence? I told you that editors do NOT like complex sentences. Break that thing down.

Second paragraph (sentence) what? I don't understand that at all.

Okay, okay, you are attempting to work something with 'Doom.' Present whatever the phrase is clearly, then use simple sentences (one comma maximum) to explain whatever it is you are trying to explain. Don't be afraid of a long paragraph, but be VERY afraid of a long sentence.

'One of the Elemental riders,' One of the who? You spent all that time playing with that 'Doom' phrase, and never introduced the concept of 'Elemental riders.' Fix that.

Swami wrote:
Another of the riders, a much shorter, stouter fellow, with hair like amber, had pulled his bearer next to him, and proceeded to speak. He said:

‘What do you think? A Human transport?’ his voice was wheezy, like he was out of breath.
First, another long sentence. Second, you have "He said," but then don't have him say anything. You then have the quote in the next line, but then you have an explanation. That stuff should have been part of the "He said."

I got bored about there. That is bad. The first few pages are supposed to hook your readers, not get them confused and mentally worn out. Sit down, pick up one of those books you get from the bookstore, and READ IT. Look at what that author is doing. Try to emulate it. I wish you well.

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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 1st 2009, 6:10 am

You think I'd get away with this sentence?

Some say they are named after Saint Anne, the mother of Mary, others that they are named after one general Santa Ana, of the Mexican cavalry, a great creator of dusts; others still say the name is derived from santanta, which means Devil Wind,
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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 1st 2009, 8:06 am

Swami wrote:
You think I'd get away with this sentence?

Some say they are named after Saint Anne, the mother of Mary, others that they are named after one general Santa Ana, of the Mexican cavalry, a great creator of dusts; others still say the name is derived from santanta, which means Devil Wind,
No. So try -

Some say they are named after Saint Anne, the mother of Mary. These are usually those that believe in some Catholic origin of the group, which is not actually true. Those that actually study the history of the group know that they are named after a general of the Mexican cavalry, Santa Ana. Those that simply are good at the game Scrabble will say their name comes from the word 'santanta,' which means 'devil wind.'

Note that I could not figure out whether 'a great creator of dusts' applied to Santa Ana or was a separate origin theory. Anyway, I hope my rewrite helps you see how to break down data and make it a little more appealing.

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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 1st 2009, 8:19 am

I copied that out of a book by a very famous author. I'm now hesitant to take advice from you. Sorry.
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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 1st 2009, 10:15 am

I'm not saying I haven't appreciated your efforts in helping me or other people, and I have even said that to others who have called you mean or whatnot, but you seem to dismiss things systematically when you think they're wrong, and then insult them for it. When they aren't wrong, they just haven't been done very well or could simply be better.

I'm trying to take this seriously, and I read a lot of books as I go along to see how authors do certain things, which is how I know complex sentences are fine if they are broken down with the right punctuations.

I'm stuck now because I don't believe I can get the best advice from this forum.
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PostSubject: Reply   July 1st 2009, 11:59 am

Yes, I accept what you said. I see a lot of poor grammar and such in published books. I have also had a number of editors and English professors tear me apart for what I have duplicated from others successful. It always comes down to THEY did it properly while YOU did not. If I ever meet you, I will buy you a drink as we share our horror stories of attempting to become published.

Note that I enjoyed the works of Asimov, Clement, and other great scientists that wrote science-fiction. None of them are considered great writers by the present set of 'established' authorities. I have banged my head and banged my head, and slowly I am advancing. I wish you well.

No, I don't - hold it. Stay. If you are going to think me stupid or ignorant, then sit down here and provide your own voice of authority. Set up your journal of your attempts to get published. I DARE YOU. Everytime that I give advice, provide your own. Don't go crawling back under a rock, or towards some den of those who will treat you nicely.

You have a long road to travel. You are going to learn things. You are going to gain rejection, but you could also gain a wonderful acceptance. Share your accumulations of wisdom. Don't leave this place to my cruel hand. Be a kinder gentler voice as you try to walk this road with the rest of us.

You can do it. Go for it.

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Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 1st 2009, 12:10 pm

I can see where some issues are coming up here. One thing I would like to put out is that writing styles change and by the era that are in. And there is no doubt in my mind that we could discuss that part of writing as to what is in and what is out or what works for today and tomorrow, vs. what worked for yesteryear and sometime coming, till the end of time.

But I believe it would avail us naught and be little more then musing about trivia.

However, the primary factor in this is the difficulty of the sentence size vs. skill of the writer.

It is a common and for the most part very supported belief that it is always better for starting writers to use short simple sentence structure when writing as it allows them to build ideas, images, and flow of paragraph better.

Like for example, to use an analogy with another art form, you need to learn how to sketch before you can try to paint the Mona Lisa.

But here is something I want you to look at.

Quote :
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

Yes all that only one sentence. But then again we are dealing with Herman Melville's Moby Dick, here, an undisputed master of the craft of word use.

So even if someone can do something really well one way, does not mean it is the best or even most efficient way to do things. We need to concede that we are not him and he is not us.

My advice would be to try different ways, and see what works best for you and where your voice and talents take you.

But who knows, You might discover that short single sentences work best for you. You equally so might discover that compound sentence building works better for you.

In the end however, nor matter what anyone says, it is your work and your voice in this, and only you are the one writing it (of course unless you have co-authors or ghost writers)

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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 1st 2009, 12:53 pm

TerishD wrote:
Yes, I accept what you said. I see a lot of poor grammar and such in published books. I have also had a number of editors and English professors tear me apart for what I have duplicated from others successful. It always comes down to THEY did it properly while YOU did not. If I ever meet you, I will buy you a drink as we share our horror stories of attempting to become published.

Note that I enjoyed the works of Asimov, Clement, and other great scientists that wrote science-fiction. None of them are considered great writers by the present set of 'established' authorities. I have banged my head and banged my head, and slowly I am advancing. I wish you well.

No, I don't - hold it. Stay. If you are going to think me stupid or ignorant, then sit down here and provide your own voice of authority. Set up your journal of your attempts to get published. I DARE YOU. Everytime that I give advice, provide your own. Don't go crawling back under a rock, or towards some den of those who will treat you nicely.

You have a long road to travel. You are going to learn things. You are going to gain rejection, but you could also gain a wonderful acceptance. Share your accumulations of wisdom. Don't leave this place to my cruel hand. Be a kinder gentler voice as you try to walk this road with the rest of us.

You can do it. Go for it.

It's not your cruel hand its the fact you don't know what you're talking about half the time. it's very misleading to a learner if they were to listen to you one hundred percent. Just because you can't do it, doesn't mean others cant. So trying to tell me that something I'm trying to do isn't actually done isn't going to help me improve enough to do it right.

The fact you claim recognised authors have bad grammar is laughable. The fact is, you can't manage to become one yourself so you insult them, and you insult us. You can't do certain things so you claim they just aren't done, period. You talk to everyone like you're superior to them, and you ain't mate. Trust me on that one.


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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 1st 2009, 12:57 pm

Urs wrote:
I can see where some issues are coming up here. One thing I would like to put out is that writing styles change and by the era that are in. And there is no doubt in my mind that we could discuss that part of writing as to what is in and what is out or what works for today and tomorrow, vs. what worked for yesteryear and sometime coming, till the end of time.

But I believe it would avail us naught and be little more then musing about trivia.

However, the primary factor in this is the difficulty of the sentence size vs. skill of the writer.

It is a common and for the most part very supported belief that it is always better for starting writers to use short simple sentence structure when writing as it allows them to build ideas, images, and flow of paragraph better.

Like for example, to use an analogy with another art form, you need to learn how to sketch before you can try to paint the Mona Lisa.

But here is something I want you to look at.

Quote :
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

Yes all that only one sentence. But then again we are dealing with Herman Melville's Moby Dick, here, an undisputed master of the craft of word use.

So even if someone can do something really well one way, does not mean it is the best or even most efficient way to do things. We need to concede that we are not him and he is not us.

My advice would be to try different ways, and see what works best for you and where your voice and talents take you.

But who knows, You might discover that short single sentences work best for you. You equally so might discover that compound sentence building works better for you.

In the end however, nor matter what anyone says, it is your work and your voice in this, and only you are the one writing it (of course unless you have co-authors or ghost writers)

I am just trying to learn to write like everyone else here, including our 'master writer' terish. I don't believe sentence length is a trend, it's just something that needs to be done right. Anyways, after all said and done, i'll post up the newly revised prologue for everyone to have a bash at Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 1st 2009, 1:34 pm

Swami wrote:
Anyways, after all said and done, i'll post up the newly revised prologue for everyone to have a bash at Very Happy

Or swoon over, either is good.

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PostSubject: Reply   July 1st 2009, 2:29 pm

I am not going to talk like I am some bumbling beginner. I do have some experience. I am not afraid to say what I have learned. If you cannot accept the ADVICE -- not demands -- for what it is, so it goes. I teach school, so you are not the only young whipper-snapper that has challenged my words.

You are getting the right attitude. Stand up for what you think is right. You have to tell stories your way. I am in a position to be some punk, but you are about to challenge those that are sitting in a high place with the power to state demands. You can deny what I am telling you without any loss. If you don't obey those editors, you aren't getting published.

The problem is that those editors often are not going to tell you what is wrong with your manuscript. All you get is a rejection letter. You then stare at those 'professional editors' with their thousand dollar price tags to tell you what is wrong with your book.

I will give you a few months. Shoot, I will give you as much time as you need. Take on the system with all you can muster against it. I wish you well, but - PLEASE - come back and tell your stories.

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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 1st 2009, 3:06 pm

Well, terish, if I get the right advice, I won't have any stories to tell. That's the point I'm trying to make. if I get the right advice there won't be any need of editors telling me what was wrong with the book. We're all struggling here, even you. We need to be able to trust our sources. And insulting people just makes you look like an asshat, it doesn't give you any more credibility than us 'bumbling beginners'.

Did John Mac came on here, speaking to everyone like a bunch of novice cock-ends, claiming he's gods gift to literature, and that all other writers have crap grammar?

No, he didn't, and he's actually a recognised, successful writer with an actual right to such claims even if he did.

I think if your attitude and ego deflated, you'd probs find some of that success. You have the grammar and the dedication, but what i read of your story isnt interesting or exciting. You said you start writing a story with merely a scene of information to get you started. I think, personally, and logically, thats why you haven't been successful. You don't plan your stories because there isn't one, not because the fun will be taken out of it. And nobody would want to read a fantasy involving a game of badminton.

Other than that I generally like you, so I hope we can continue to exchange opinions. But you need to get down off the high horse for a moment, because its not doing you any favours up there, its just worsening your situation and pushing people away from this forum.
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PostSubject: Reply   July 1st 2009, 7:38 pm

Thank you for taking a moment to read my story, even one installment of it. Yes, we all have different styles. Yes, we all have our own preferences.

As for giving you the perfect advice, I want to take umbrage at that. You are saying that I denied myself an easy path to becoming a major writer, and also denying you such a future. Gee, I guess that I am stupid and nasty in your eyes. Like I said, take your time to find the perfect advice. Let me know what you find. I wait for the day when you can knowledgeably flame me. I deserve it.

Don't worry. I won't hold this against you. Like I said, I am a teacher and hear such words with annoying precision. I am always glad to see my students again and hear their stories. I will be glad to listen to yours as well.

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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 1st 2009, 7:44 pm

Okay, we've said our pieces, let's try and get this show back on the road folks. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 2nd 2009, 2:43 am

I would like to say that there is not "perfect Advice" one of the talents and marks of a writer is not being perfect, but meshing their style to what they write.

For example, RA Salvatore tells wonderful tales, but his talent likes in fight scents, they are thrilling and alive, whereupon his other aspects lead the reader to the next fight scene. But then again, he writes the Forgotten Realms series, his first book being the Crystal Shard.

For what he writes, his style meshes wonderfully to it (IMHO), but I doubt that I would enjoy his work as much if he wrote a drama, it is not where his gift of word use I think would excel.

I don't want to tell you how to write, as that is like telling someone how to they have to paint, or how they have to draw. Each artiest needs to develop their own style and make it work for them.

However, my advice is a reader, not an author. And I will only give my advice as a reader, nothing else. As such, I will tell you what I enjoy reading, or what I don't.

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PostSubject: Addenda   July 2nd 2009, 9:45 am

Let me throw out a final little detail. It really does not matter what you write. The present publisher looking at me is not really interested in my manuscript, but simply in the fact that I managed to sell my previous books. I sell hardbacks of my first book because that is all I have left -- and not many of those. I can sell my other two books because I bought MORE books. In other words, I am not being sought for my writing ability, but for my ability to sell.

The same is true for most other authors. Most spend years attempting to get short stories published, and only slowly do they get recognized for a good book deal. Those that write novels, like you and me, have to do whatever they can to get recognition. If you think that once the novel is finished all you have to do is sit back and wait for the royalty checks, you are only dreaming.

I have sat at conventions and wasted away hours. I have promoted myself on the internet. I have done what I could. I am looking to my next publisher hoping for more support with promotion (my first two publishers gave me NONE). They are looking at my manuscript wondering if it is worth their money to promote me and the book. Time will tell.

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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 2nd 2009, 9:51 am

I have no expectations. I believe I can make my story work, and i know it will take a lot of time and effort, so I am hesitant to think about publishers at this time. I just want to create something wonderful, and from me. If, when I'm nearing the end of this edit, I believe the next edit will bring me close to home, I will probably research publishing then.
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PostSubject: Re: revised prologue   July 2nd 2009, 11:38 am

Swami wrote:
I have no expectations. I believe I can make my story work, and i know it will take a lot of time and effort, so I am hesitant to think about publishers at this time. I just want to create something wonderful, and from me. If, when I'm nearing the end of this edit, I believe the next edit will bring me close to home, I will probably research publishing then.
Let me say again - you have the right attitude. Persevere. At the end of the experience, remember it is YOUR book. Make it something that you are proud of.

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