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What makes you a better writer?

A board for the discussion of anything related to writing or roleplay. Here you can request feedback on anything writing-related, whether it be an RP concept, world building, character sheets or general writing, you can share guides and tips and encourage discussions on topics relating to writing and RP.

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Sammy
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What makes you a better writer?

Post by Sammy » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:54 pm

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Years and years ago (more of them now than I'd care to admit), I took a University level course in Creative Writing alongside my other school studies. I remember e-mailing my tutor who I'd become quite close to at the conclusion of the course, asking if he had any advise for me going forward. He sent me a long list of books about the art of writing and told me to keep writing, every chance I got. I still have that e-mail but I have to admit that I never read any of those books. Regardless, flattering as my tutor was, my writing is leagues better now than it was back then. I think having a place like RPGFO/The Collective has certainly helped in providing me with people I love writing and creating with, as well as encouraging me to keep those writing gears well oiled. Not to mention, having encountered fantastic writer's here over the years who have driven me to try harder, to push myself to keep up with their level of talent.

Perhaps most importantly though, and this takes me back to my high school English teacher who made a really conscientious student cry when she told her "You work harder than any other person in this class and it must be frustrating for you to keep getting the same mediocre grades when others who try hardly at all are getting straight As. Unfortunately, writing comes naturally to some, usually those who read a great deal as children and if you haven't got it... well, you haven't got it." She was an awful teacher - one of those types who adored the naturally and obviously gifted (those she'd taught previously most of all) and ignored everyone else. Having never had her until my last two years and being one of the largely ignored, I took great pleasure in telling her that I'd absolutely destroyed her two favourite students in the aforementioned course... ANYWAY, I digress. Teaching skills aside, there was some grain in truth in what she was tactlessly trying to convey. As far as I'm concerned, nothing benefits writing, both the technical and creative aspects, as much as reading. The more I read, the wider the range of books I read, the better my ideas become, the more readily those ideas come to me and the better the overall results when I write. In my personal experience, reading for pleasure does far more for writing ability than studying books designed to tell you how to write ever could.

Of course... that's just one person's experience. So what I would like to know is what do you think makes you a better writer?
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Nicodemus
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Re: What makes you a better writer?

Post by Nicodemus » Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:06 am

Sammy wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:54 pm
As far as I'm concerned, nothing benefits writing, both the technical and creative aspects, as much as reading. The more I read, the wider the range of books I read, the better my ideas become, the more readily those ideas come to me and the better the overall results when I write. In my personal experience, reading for pleasure does far more for writing ability than studying books designed to tell you how to write ever could.
I agree...99 percent. The best and most enjoyable way to learn is to read the works of others. However, I think my learning process was made more efficient after I went through a few how-to-write books. These books break creativity down to a formula. Inciting event, body, climax, resolution, etc. Of course, it's rarely that simple, but they did help me to analyze why stories were good, or bad. Instead of thinking 'this character's boring', I'm able to see that the character's not interesting because their motives aren't consistent or they're too infallible. Sometimes the bad ones help just as much as the ones you enjoy, in that they help you to keep those mistakes out of your writing.

As far as the RP world goes, yes. I'm brand new around here, and in the short time I've been studying the incredible writers on this site, I feel my prose has improved.

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Re: What makes you a better writer?

Post by Masiris » Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:05 pm

Hardship and frustration were once my prime motivators to write and I found a lot of psychological aid in channelling my emotions into word, it let me take the mess in my head and put it out there for me to look at, poke and deconstruct. The joy and relief that came from doing this pushed me further into the hobby and has helped me drop the less productive or destructive vices I've adopted in the past during my down periods where I've abandoned the pen and paper or keyboard for more 'intense' forms of escapism. In times were I felt voiceless, the pen gave me my voice. For these reasons and more I have come to cherish this hobby and pursue it more intensely.

For me writing has often been the solution or an aid to finding ways to manage some personal problems and to that extent I have endeavoured to expand and refresh my vocabulary as well as my knowledge so that my personal writings can more coherently and eloquently represent the feelings and thoughts that I find hardest to vocalise or understand. I don't know if this is normal or not but I actually feel empowered by my ability to translate an issue or problem into (often poorly constructed and angsty) stories or essays for my journal. Even though these stories, poems, translations, etc don't solve anything tangibly, the issues and ways to manage them become clearer and I can always look back on those things as a tangible method to see how far I have come from who I used to be.

To put it bluntly, I believe my problems motivate me to become a better writer while writing gives me a better quality of life.
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Filth
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Re: What makes you a better writer?

Post by Filth » Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:37 pm

nickraborn wrote:
Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:06 am
Sammy wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:54 pm
As far as I'm concerned, nothing benefits writing, both the technical and creative aspects, as much as reading...In my personal experience, reading for pleasure does far more for writing ability than studying books designed to tell you how to write ever could.
I agree...99 percent....I think my learning process was made more efficient after I went through a few how-to-write books. These books break creativity down to a formula.
While reading constantly is definitely the best thing you can do and the good "how to books" can be a huge help, I'd add to this that when writing a scene, take some time and go back to a book you enjoyed where a similar scene happened. Check how that author pulled it off. Chances are you'll be surprised at what the writer actually did versus what you remember.

For example: Not too long ago I was trying to write a scene about an outdoor celebration. It vaguely similar to the Dothraki(?) wedding from Game of Thrones so I went back and reread how Martin pulled it off. To my surprise, there was only a handful of sentences throughout the entire scene actually describing how the scene looked and the rest came from descriptions of character actions and dialogue. Which seemed crazy for how vivid my mental image of that entire scene was. I'd used as many sentences in the first two paragraphs and still felt like mine was significantly weaker.

It is helpful to deconstruct something you're reading the first time through, actually going back and seeing how another author pulled something specific off can be a huge help. Eventually, you'll just find yourself no longer needing to go back and look for examples on things you struggle with. I no longer feel the need to go back and find examples of dialogue but I still struggle with the opening to a scene.

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