i have a really hard time ending novels
a really hard time
can you use the term, “i shit you not” in an english essay or is that unprofessional?
nonononono, never use “I” statements in formal essays.
One shits you not
Also acceptable: This author shits you not
It’s best to avoid the “general you.”
“One would not be considered shitted,” is probably the best way I could think to word it formally.
…my revisions process.
You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.
the lesson for today, class, is when to use epithets rather than names or pronouns — and when not to.
- when the character’s name is unknown, so there’s really no other way to refer to them:
Two goons in suits blocked my way. “You ain’t going nowhere,” said the ugly mook. The even-uglier mook just grinned.
- to draw attention to the role or function described:
Bill was so excited to meet Obama, he was a little worried he’d end up remembering today as the day he threw up on the president.
- as in-character commentary to flesh out the POV’s voice:
You stand back and nudge the door open with your toe in case of falling buckets, but it seems the windy dipshit has given up on that particular tired prank.
(NOTE: use this last one SPARINGLY. consider your own internal monologue. how often do you think of people by anything but their names? too much of this trick breaks immersion.)
DO NOT USE EPITHETS:
- to avoid using pronouns.
- to avoid using names.
- to remind the reader of physical characteristics you should’ve described elsewhere.
- to remind the reader of physical characteristics they already know perfectly well because they wouldn’t even be reading your damn fanfic if they weren’t familiar with canon, come ON people.
- to try to sound erudite or poetic.
- for any other stupid reason. i’m serious. i will come over there and hit you.
- i’m not kidding.
- fucking stop.
even if your thought process is that you’re doing it because you’re trying to avoid repetition of names, or avoid “the pronoun problem” in slashfic, just, no. don’t. DO NOT.
the names of characters aren’t like other words. they blend seamlessly into the background when used as necessary. the slashfic problem can be solved by using character names all the way through the first draft, and then going back and rereading to see where you can insert third person pronouns without confusing the action. if you find yourself repeating a name several times in a sentence or two, that is okay. as readers, we’re trained to absorb character names differently than other words, and won’t be bothered by frequent usage.
epithets, however, blech. those are far more jarring.
Generally, I agree with the post. Especially when the point is about trying to be poetic or erudite. AUGH no.
But I STRONGLY disagree with the last point. As a reader, reading the same name four times in a sentence is too much for me. I don’t know who trained you to absorb character names differently, but I guess I skipped that workshop.
That said, I don’t think overusing epithets is the solution. Breaking or restructuring the sentences helps. … all things that take too much effort when writing slashfic, generally, but still.
tiyarny asked: It is said that you cannot create great works if you are happy or content some say that you need conflict or some kind of suffering in your life it's in order to want to tell your story. I know stories must have a point of conflict, some direction, or goal. My question is how does a average plain person create conflict?
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.
The idea that you can’t write or create art of any kind if you’re not desperately depressed, unhappy, or content at all is a load of bullshit.
Looaaaaddd of bullshit.
I’ve been through the “art is suffering” mantra, the idea that pain and suffering are necessary to create brilliant works of art because the tortured human mind experiences the world and can express the world/a world that ordinary banal boring “happy” people can’t and I just hate that belief. I hate it so much. We had a quote from Ursula K. Le Guin a few weeks ago that sums it up nicely: “The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pendants 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.” There’s some more commentary on the linked post that I think is integral as well, but what I truly feel strongly about, and will quote myself on, is this:
I see the debate of happiness versus tragedy being made specifically in regards to complexity of character and narrative a lot of the time, and it’s something that infuriates me.
The idea that happiness isn’t complex, can’t be complex, or can’t create complex stories, is sofundamentallya lie. If you as a writer don’t know how to explore the complexity behind happiness (behind joy, love, exhilaration), then that is half the range of human emotions you aren’t conveying. You’re ignoring the fact that as human beings our happiness exists at the expense of others (other humans, other animals, other plants, even at the expense of the Earth itself), and struggling with that, learning about that and how to deal with that, is a hugely complex process. It’s a lifelong process.
And if you think you can tell a full story lacking that range of human emotion just because you think only pain and frustration and tragedy and evil are interesting, think only those emotions and themes create complex storytelling, well—you might create a cynical, nihilistic masterpiece, but it’s not going to be a very interesting story.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be researching to broaden your creative pot if what you’re writing is beyond your life experience! You always should be doing that, with whatever you write. When it comes to systemically marginalized groups and portraying them (say, a male writer trying to write a story about a lesbian couple, a white writer creating a story with Korean characters living in contemporary Japan or a Kenyan woman moving to France), there will definitely be conflicts in the lives of the people being portrayed that the writer will need to research for their narrative. That’s they key: research. That writer will need to read up on lesbian histories, autobiographies, memoirs, homophobia, etc, or the cultures and languages of Kenya, the populaces there, Kenyan relations with France and other European or Western countries, racism and cultural clashing in France, and so on, and so on. It all comes down to research, and researching good sources from the people one is writing about in order to create their narrative and characters and story.
I’d also recommend reading The Significance of Plot Without Conflict; I’m pretty sure we’ve reblogged it here before but I always link it when I get a chance because it’s been one of the most foundational pieces I’ve read about narrative and conflict in the past few years. It breaks down what is considered conflict in Western philosophies of narrative and storytelling and what that says of Western philosophy about the world in general—and the different kinds of obstacles that can exist in narrative without that Western idea of conflict.
Basically: will suffering and pain and angst in your life make you a better writer because you’re a tortured artist so cynical and disillusioned with the world you can show the world in all its complexities that the plebes miss out on in their happiness? Heck no. Absolutely no. 100% no. Happiness is just as complex in human life as sadness and tragedy are, and I really, really do not believe in the grimdark cynicism that’s taken hold of art and storytelling. Will researching about people and things outside of your life experiences help you to create a myriad of stories and songs for your characters and your narrative? Absolutely.
1. Only you can write this.
2. You were born to write this.
3. People need you to write this.
4. The world is waiting for you to finish this.
5. One day, someone will tell you how much they needed to read this.
6. You can write anything you set your mind to.
7. This has a glimmer of brilliance in it.
8. The crappy words will fall away in revision.
9. My vision of the world matters.
10. I see people in a new way.
You don’t need to believe that this is going to be a bestseller. You don’t need to believe that you’re going to be a household name. You don’t need to believe that someday people will study your book in college. But you do have to work to counteract the relentless voice of defeat in your head that says:
1. No one will ever read this.
2. I am banging my head against the wall here.
3. Who am I to think I could be a writer?
4. My father/mother/partner is right. I should give up.
5. I don’t know how to do this. I never learned. No one ever taught me.
6. My voice doesn’t matter.
7. My experience is too different from anyone else’s to connect with readers.
8. I don’t know what happens next.
9. I feel too exposed. I want to hide and protect myself more.
10. I can’t expect anyone to pay me for this when they can get so many other things for free.
Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.
a woman who is covered from neck to toe in very “modest”, covering clothes who partakes in sex whenever she fucking feels like it and has multiple partners
a woman whose wardrobe is entirely made up of mini skirts and belly shirts but is asexual
together they fight crime
… I want to write that.
so Charlotte Bronte read Emma by Jane Austen and was really interested in this minor character named Jane Fairfax who was poor and would have been a governess had she not married well and then Bronte wrote her own novel exploring the plight of the poor governess who married this guy named Edward Fairfax Rochester in a novel called Jane Eyre and my point is don’t let anyone tell you shit about fanfiction.
I love stories and protagonists that are not cynical
I love protagonists who believe wholeheartedly in something
I love protagonists who hate hurting anyone
I love stories about kindness in very unkind worlds
I love stories about people promising to be good to one another even if they cant know how to save the world or be good for any thing else
You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices. They may like Henry James, but what if you don’t want to write like Henry James? They may like John Irving, for instance, who’s the bore of all time. A lot of the people whose work they’ve taught in the schools for the last thirty years, I can’t understand why people read them and why they are taught. The library, on the other hand, has no biases. The information is all there for you to interpret. You don’t have someone telling you what to think. You discover it for yourself.
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