Saturday, April 22, 2006

Restraint of Trade

I love reading bits and pieces, excerpts and snippits on line.
Many reasons.
Some do make you want to metaphorically slit your wrists over your keyboard in despair that you will never, ever achieve their shining quality.
Others can make you polish your fingernails - discretely in the glow of your monitor - in smug appreciation that your stuff is better than that, at least.
Some are simply funny or sweet, witty or subtle, and any quality comparisons are irrelevant to the sheer delight they produce.
You are just happy there are people out there like that.
Who think like that.
Who write like that.
You learn from them all.
Sometimes just by osmosis, sometimes by clear example.
Sometimes a picture, a word, a phrase, a subject, will set off your imagination, expand your understanding, remove fuzzy perception - and improve your own writing.
One can read all the "great authors" in the world and flounder.
Simple points of writing may be best conveyed by isolated examples of what to/not to do.
The light bulb flashes from 40 watts to incandescent. Ahh.
Some people don't approve of this exchange, this sharing.
They have rigid ideas about where and when a writer should reveal their work.
It is true that there comes a point when all the critiques, all the beta readers, all the beating about over voice and POV, over conflict and character has to be put to the test.
When you need - not critical eyes scanning over your work for quality and content, the dismissive "validation" factor - but business eyes assessing marketability.
Quite a different thing.

Jason of Clarity of Night( side bar) has a flash fiction fun contest going. Read, enjoy, learn - from those who are willing to share, enjoy and learn.

I posted a long time ago a slight, quiet poem:The Dark Fountain. The picture above is the real one.


Erik Ivan James said...

Ignorant about the publishing business as I am, I do, however, believe you are correct. It is, after all, about the "sale ability" of the product. I suspect if one is writing to a "high-brow" level of readership, then technical exactness is the must. If one is writing to the masses, then "good story" is the must. Ignorant as I am, I'll likely learn the lessons for sure the hard way.

Lady M said...

I just write and play online.

If people get to my site - awesome... I enjoy the company.

But I never hope that anyone feels less or more because of their visit - and I always hope I send folks away with a little inspiration.

Your blog does that - inspiration - gives me things to think about during the day as I go about my work schedule, etc.

*Pops an Ambien and goes to sleep*


Bernita said...

You are always positive and generous, Lady M, and your blog shows it.

That's why so-called "crap" gets published, Erik - it sells.

Dennie McDonald said...

B - It's Saturday - I try not to think on Saturday (though there are those that will argue that point all week long)

however... I think Erik hit it right on... It's a product that must be sold so at some point you have to look at it as such... and market it as such

Lady M said...

Hey - I did my first historical romance cover - does that count? COuld I have some Champers after that one?

That was hard as heck - cutting out the people - changing their backgrounds - making life different - adding props to people that they didn't have before.

I'm learning I tell you - learing.

But ---- yeah ---- everything you do - everything you write - every piece of art is possibly a "selling" point. Your ideas - your wording - your structure - it is all out there - and someone might sell it.

Me - I'm passive - one day someone might see my value (besides the dear hubby) and snatch me off to make millions upon millions of dollars.

Dreaming - really - that Ambien hit zee spot,

Bernita said...

Ya think, Dennie?

Doing is learning too, Lady M.

James Goodman said...

I also try to learn from everything i read online. There is definately as much to be learned from blaring mistakes as there are from prose that moves you.

Bernita said...

I agree, James. Something will stick out and you frown at it and then think, "Oops, I've done that too" and go fix.

Robyn said...

Others can make you polish your fingernails - discretely in the glow of your monitor -

I love you.

I like what Stephen King said in the foreword to On Writing-"Fiction writers, present company included, don't understand very much about what they do- not why it works when it's good, not why it doesn't when it's bad." I feel like that most of the time. He says in the book that the first write is for you, with the door closed. The re-write is for others, with the door open. (Your eye to marketability.)

Bernita said...

And I love you, Robyn.
And that' so true.
King's book is such a good read, over and over.

Dennie McDonald said...

Robyn - I'm gonna have to get that book. I had it, but gave it away w/o reading it - but damn I like that w/ the door open/closed -

Ballpoint Wren said...

Some do make you want to metaphorically slit your wrists over your keyboard in despair that you will never, ever achieve their shining quality.

I don't know about the metaphor part, but the rest of it rings true. Sometimes, reading other people's blogs ruins me—I know I can never be as good.

Bernita said...

Wren - who has a most charming blog and style.

Rick said...

I am not much of a snippet/flash reader, for the same reason I'm not a short-story reader: a bias toward leisurely tourism. If I like it, I want to see more of it, and it's frustrating if there isn't any more.

I've never read any Stephen King, but his comments in On Writing sure seem to the point - both about not knowing what we're doing, and writing the first version to love, the revision to sell.

Though they may blur in practice. I don't love my WIP first draft, because it's a first draft mess. So the revision will have both love and vulgar commerce in mind.

Bernita said...

That fits, Rick, with the writer who recreated the lost land of Lyonesse.
I assume King means the good "first" draft - but then he may be a more coherent first-drafter than I - which would not surprise me somehow.
The main emotion I associate with first drafts is "hope."

Bonnie Calhoun said...

And just read for the fun of reading. That's the frame of mind that I'm in when I read blogs.

I have seen times when I've read a piece and it had typos, ocassion grammar mistakes and was not necessarily in the best form....but I enjoyed the heck out of the story!

To be entertained...that's what I'm striving for...and many more times that I thought possible I find "silk purses hidden in sow's ears!"

The only time I judge the quality of a story is when someone says it is being sent for publication!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Bernita. Your insights are always astute.

In my opinion, there are two forms of industry fiction. Published novels and everything else. Short stories, even in paper publications, are wonderful, but no one is going to make a living off them.

The problem with novel writing is that it takes a ton of time to do. You could spin your wheels for 10 - 15 years writing novels which don't crack into print before learning from your mistakes. Maybe longer. It's just too slow.

For anyone who has visited my blog, you will see that I'm focusing on the "everything else" form of publishing. I treat the blog as a sort of free flowing, online magazine. Poems, pictures, fiction, etc.

Am I insane? I don't think so.

Just like Bernita has pointed out, I'm focusing on the reader there. What do people like? What generates the most traffic and comments?

Do people say things just to be nice? Sure. On the other hand, do people give good critiques? Yes again. But the main point for me is learning what draws readers. What they respond to.

With lessons learned, I can then write the best novel I can for the market and my abilities. I won't be pounding on the keyboard blind.

Some say, write the book that you want to read, what works for you, then screw the world if it doesn't accept it. That's the slot machine approach to writing. Sure, some people will hit the jackpot, but 95% will walk away with nothing.

Not me. I want to shape my writing for real people: writers, moms, dads, teenagers, train commuters, college grads, high school dropouts. Everyone. I'm looking for the intersection of two things. (1) the biggest audience. (2) my abilities and style. Somewhere, those two things are maximized. That's my target.

I'm not one for gambling with my time.

Bernita said...

Bonnie, you are light in our bloggy world.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jason.
Well said.

There's that gross old saying: "There's more than one way to kill a cat than choking it to death with butter."

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Bernita???? Huh??? Where in the world did you get that...ROFLOL. You sound like Zeva David on NCIS...LOL!

Bernita said...

Who t'hell is Zeva David? And what is NCIS?

Dakota Knight said...

I'm big into marketing. I also like to visit other writers' blogs, websites, etc. to see what's going on, to pick up on trends, and get tidbits of information (the list goes on). Sometimes, I think I spend too much time online researching and reading when I need to write.

What I like most is when I come across a website or blog I actually connect with; something that keeps me coming back. I also like to see things online that make me want to work harder to make my own online presence better.

Oh, and I think NCIS is a television show.

Bernita said...

Yup, Dakota, there's help, ideas, riches in Blogland.