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Nov. 9th, 2009

Hello goalsetters :)
I'm Schemer, and my goal is to write a creative writing piece and accompanying essay in five weeks. It's for a university module, but it's become more personal in the last few days and I've frozen! Looking for much needed advice, coaxing and con-crit.

Face the music and blog. Gulp.

Five weeks ago I embarked upon a Creative Writing module, having bypassed the *this will emotionally drain me* stage to the *this is a piece of cake* level of calm. Having now submitted my piece, I'm back at *I'm draining, I'm DRAIIINNING* ***

Each week a member of the group submits their piece for group discussion. This Friday it was my turn. I'll say this fast: It did not go well. It went worse than any other person's submission. All of which went very well.

I'll admit, I shed a tear afterwards. In RL, I have't yet told anyone about this, which is a hell of a restraint for my fat gob, so subconciously I must be really upset about this.

Still, no use wallowing in self pity; the point is to achieve a good grade. As well as writing a piece of creative writing (about 2500-3000 words long for prose, although obviously this is only the roughest of guides. The idea is not to bore anyone. Which I did.) you submit an accompanying essay, talking about the piece's creation, inspiration etc. Mine is so far all about the radical rewriting I'm going to have to do.

I had initially thought to include the current draft of the piece every Sunday, but we'll omit the inclusion this week as my baby can't take any more attention in its current state. Next Sunday, rain or shine, a marginally shinier version will exist.
Over the next 6-10 days (a reasonable goal!) I will go through all the notes submitted by the group and the professor. Here's what they've turned up so far:

Fun facts:
Novel's current title: Crackers and Rappers
Piece's current title: Chapter Eight: All Over the Floor
Piece's current word count: 2402

Initial goals:
  More than one person complained that the father and daughter Eddie and Ellie were named too similarly. I quite liked it as a feature. Is it really too confusing? Regardless, as a concedence to public opinion, one name will be changed. Ellie was originally 'Brighde' (unpronouncable) and Eddie was always Eddie (loosely based in my mind on Mr Izzard). What oh what should I call them?

TWO: The opening paragraph of a man with a hangover rushing to the toilet to vomit initially went down well. Then the group started complaining: too depressing; too out of sync with the comedic tone of the rest of the chapter; too short; too long; (and my favourite injury) 'we already know that he has only one sock on, don't tell us he has one off as well'. A pedantry point is ever I heard one. Still, that's going too. But should the whole submission be similar in tone, ie. humurous or serious? Can't I blend? How should I blend?

THREE: The first instance of Brit-picking I have ever encountered in Real Life: is it 'cookies' or 'biscuits' in the UK? Well it's blatantly a bastardization of both, and I preferred the sound of 'cookies' in this instance. But it's gonna become biscuits. And I may scrap it altogether. This is demoralizing.

FOUR: Dashes. Too many dashes. 'What are they for?' one person asked. I studied my piece. Well, they appear in dialogue to indicate a strained pause, I realized. But if that is not immediately apparaent to the reader than what are they for? I don't know.

FIVE:  Intentionally, none of the characters are particularly likeable. Though this was not said aloud, it's come up in notes. Especially Ellie: childish, having a tantrum, unreasonable, defensive. Apparently either she or her sister Rebecca have to be likable, as the fued is between them and the reader needs a favourite. But I don't know how to write likeable people.

SIX:  And only one--ONE--count it--grammatical error. Wasn't even an error, it was a typo, a full stop got left at the start of speech after a sentence was scrapped. Very different to every other punctuation wasteland that has been submitted so far. But if I say things like that I can't make these posts available to RL people, can I? :)

Final point for today: I'm thinking very seriously if giving RL people, friends, members of the module group, anyone, the LINK to this posts, for comments and advice. Is this even remotely a good idea?

*** Question: do capitals cheapen dialogue? If used sparingly, ie. once per story?


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 9th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC)
Here's the advice I can give.
1. I actually think that people get too clever with names. I like both Eddie and Ellie, but not in the same story. Also, since the sister is Rebecca and you were orginially thinking Brighde, perhaps Bridgett.

2. You can mix, but it needs to be balanced, I'll be able to give better advice once you post an actual draft, but if this is the only dark part then, it would be out of sync. You either need to add more or remove it. Keep in mind that I haven't read it and use your own discretion.

3. It's biscuits. Now, I was jsut over there and a tour guide told me that most words we use are getting blended over there a bit more since of US television taking over the world, but yeah, it's still biscuits.

4. Any punctuation like that dashes, elipses, parenthesis, once over used seem more confusing and distracting than helpful for getting certain points across, like extended pauses. possibly try to edit some.

5. I actually disagree with a character needing to be likeable. In fact there are some great pieces of literature where every single character is a moron and needs a two by four smack between the eyes. Don't believe me, may I suggest As I Lay Dying. The thing is, if you've got unlikable characters, it's helpful if they're relatable. I think that if the story is about a feud between sisters, then it's ok for both to be unlikable as long as they seem realistically unlikable.

6. Be proud of your good grammar!

Answer: I think capitols cheapen dialogue when over used. Capitols are text screaming. However, one in a story is probably fine, as long as it's not a particularly long once. Like no more than a sentence. I've seen people do entire paragraphs of text screaming and that does cheapen the dialogue.

Hope, some of this is helpful, welcome aboard.
Nov. 9th, 2009 10:53 am (UTC)
Wow, thank you for such a great response. All of your advice is helpful. It's made me act a lot faster than I thought I could, so soon after Friday.
Hopefully, later today (possibly tomorrow) I'll have made some really solid progress. Stay tuned :)
Nov. 9th, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)
p.s. You are more than welcome to invite any friends and family RL or otherwise to this group, however, and this is entirely up to you, it may be a good idea to keep this a little more anonymous. This kind of depends on your level of sensitivity. I know hearing tough things can sometimes be easier from total strangers.
Nov. 9th, 2009 10:51 am (UTC)
I agree, and it seems to be the general consensus. It was a lot harder hearing it from people in the same roon! I'm glad I didn't act rashly.
Nov. 9th, 2009 11:52 am (UTC)

1. If the names are too similar people get confused, sad, but true.

2.You can mix humor and seriousness. It's finding a balance so neither one seems out of place.

3.Biscuits. It's always biscuits. Some over there may say cookies but use biscuits. My writing partner has Brit picked me for 3 years...

4.Dashes, too many can be distracting. Though I tend to over use them. My editor can deal with it if needed ;o)

5.Characters do not have to start out being likable. The trick is to find their flaws and vulnerability and make the read come to care about them.

6.Woohoo! Congrats on only one typo!

7.Giving the link - tough call. Sometimes its easier getting crit from strangers

8.Caps - yes they cheapen dialogue. It's text yelling and you can accomplish that without caps

Again, welcome and good luck!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )