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Jan Hurst-Nicholson said:
... what historian Andrew Roberts said about Winston Churchill. Writing about an exhibition of Churchilliana he notes:

"Here was a man who could not write or say a boring sentence, but the reason was - as these documents show time and again - that he would rework and revise with a perfectionist's commitment until he got it absolutely right.
The result was ultimately sublime, of course, but it was not without an extraordinary amount of time spent continually rewriting until he was happy with the cadences, rhythms and meaning of his words. He respected the power of words, and this exhibition shows just how much effort he put into making them live in his readers' and listeners' minds."
And this counters with Dean Wesley Smith -- and others -- who, essentially, are advocating publishing one's first drafts. They say the art is destroyed by revision. This seems almost an analogy to a musician publishing his demo tapes or studio jams rather than developing the piece to its (arguable) full potential.

The only reconciliation I can see between the two -- and I think what Smith is saying -- is to raise the quality of one's first effort, through practice.

Musically, this would be like creating near masterpieces on first takes. It does happen, though not every time. But then the ninth take doesn't always do it, either.
 

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Just think, if 50 Shades was repeatedly revised and polished, then all that introspective fidgetting would have surely been taken out and the character would never have come across as neurotic as she did based on the opening. Or.....was the character originally more composed and James put all that fidgeting in there, knowing it would appeal to to bookwormish, meek secretary types who had a little freak in them waiting to be dragged out by the hair at the hands of a wealthy control freak?

I think Kathleen's right. Know your audience, and write for THEM. If what you've written will fly with them, then quit. If you need to change it to better suit the audience you're trying to reach, polish it some more.
 

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T.L. Haddix said:
Love this description. Just had to say that.
Thanks! He was seriously goofy. The whole time I was thinking, stop talking and just sing!

folly said:
I have a brother named James with down's syndrome. He LOVES JT. I mean like nobody's business. we had to go hunting last week for a greatest hits cd b/c he wore out the last one. I can't tell you how many he has bought. so it's funny that you mention him :)
I'm with him. JT's music is amazing. Definitely a rare and talented musician.

While I respect DW Smith in many ways, I think he's almost entirely wrong with his idea that one should publish first drafts and forego polishing. Yeah, you might find a few individual cases where this works to the better, but I think it's safe to say the vast majority of stories need revision. Perhaps his school of thought stems from modern society's lack of patience? We're instant, microwave people these days. We demand fulfillment downloaded at screamingly fast speeds or delivered Next-Day Air. That mindset doesn't square comfortably with slogging through editing and revising and polishing.
 

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As we (readers) are flooded with more and more product, distinguishing yourself as a writer and distinguishing your work is more and more important.

I've never written a first draft of anything that couldn't be improved. If someone else can spew out perfect prose on the first draft, good for them. But it isn't me.

I've rarely had a scene occur to me full-blown, merely needing to be written down, like a dream, quickly before it vanishes. I have to think about what happens, where it comes from and where it leads. I try to push the scene to make it different, less predictable, more multi-functional. It takes time.

I'm not going to push a work out the door and publish until I'm satisfied that it's as good as I can reasonably make it. This stuff has to compete in an over-saturated market. If it isn't my best work, it's like sending a soldier into battle with a wooden sword and a paper shield.
 

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T.L. Haddix said:
This worries me with regards to the future, not just for writers, but for society in general. A lot of our master craftsmen are being lost. The new generations aren't interested in learning the crafts, because they take time, both to learn and to perform. People, at least in this country, are becoming so impatient, they're willing to settle for less in order to get it sooner. Also, they're being taught that unless your chosen career is to be a doctor or a lawyer or something equally prestigious, then you are equivalent to the guy working at McDonald's. Without going into the political arena, I can't say much more, but it's a very real problem that's only going to get worse in the future. The long and short of it is that we'd better start learning to do for ourselves, because the people who do for us - the little stuff that no one really thinks about - is a dying skill set.

Same thing applies in writing. Look at Arkali's thread about Indies not being the only recipients of one-star reviews for obscure reasons. http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,137088.0.html We're moving away from literary fiction to an alarming degree, and moving toward books made entirely of texting speech, incorrectly used words, and just plain dumb writing. Now, I'm not advocating everyone pick up a 150-year-old dictionary and start trying to emulate Bram Stoker or Mark Twain to preserve the language. But this new trend to publish whatever crap you want and make a million dollars (or however many millions people like E. L. James has made) scares me. It also makes me angry. Those of us who do actually give a dang if we put a quality piece of work out there are losing big time to people who don't care. That's very frustrating. The message is very simply that hard work doesn't pay off anymore.

There is a book climbing the YA charts now that is Mystery Science Theater 3000 worthy. Not in a good way. I won't name it, but it's pretty big and growing. Books like that make me question why in the world I even bother with editing and beta reading. I will continue to do so, because I'm constitutionally unable to put crap out there and put my name on it, but it stings every time I see a new title pop up that is the "bestest book ev-ur wroted." Call it sour grapes if you want, but that's my two cents.
I respectfully disagree,though I do see why you might perceive the world this way. As an artist and writer, I know many, many people who spend years mastering their craft and value quality over speed. My inner circle is filled with people who take pride in their work (whatever that may be), and continually push themselves to be be better. Fear not. Humanity isn't lost in a sea of text messaging.

Some people do not require the very best to appreciate something. And still, those people who are putting out drivel today, but stick with it, will likely be putting out high quality work in the future.
 

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Sadly if given the choice between having the success of Ralph Ellison or the success of EL James, I'd take EL James, I believe in fast writing, great stories, and hefty amounts of editing making every sentence flow in the sense of the story.  I believe in good writing.  But, I never let good writing concern me over that of a good story.

Personally, I'm an aim for the heavens and fall to the stars type person, I strive to write like Faulkner, but am happy when my writing's as good as James Patterson.
 

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MPTPGV said:
Sadly if given the choice between having the success of Ralph Ellison or the success of EL James, I'd take EL James, I believe in fast writing, great stories, and hefty amounts of editing making every sentence flow in the sense of the story. I believe in good writing. But, I never let good writing concern me over that of a good story.

Personally, I'm an aim for the heavens and fall to the stars type person, I strive to write like Faulkner, but am happy when my writing's as good as James Patterson.
Like others, you assume a distinction can be drawn between writing and story. Most of those who disagree with the "fast writing school" do not believe there is one. The difference between Faulkner and Patterson, for example, isn't fast and slow but something like baroque literary prose and tightly written genre fiction prose.

In simpler terms, some of us just don't believe in the creature called "the poorly written good story."
 

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It's all a matter of personal preference, isn't it. I wouldn't want to have "written" 50 Shades of Grey and to have all of EL James' money. Same with Dan Brown. He sold millions of copies of Angels & Demons, and I find the book to be boring, unreadable nonsense. I wouldn't want my name attached to it, forever and amen.

Anyone can sell a boatload of books if they are willing to push enough buttons, to give readers what they obviously really, really want, given human nature--sex, gore, glamour, psychic harm done by one character to another, stories of power exercised and taken away. If other people want to follow this path, I say good on them and best of luck with it. Non mihi.

And I do enjoy prose that is almost poetry. Style matters to me, and revision is required for that level of writing. That said, what I do write, I know, is not serious literature. I wouldn't care to try to be Dostoesvky or Joyce, even if I could be.

I write about things that matter to me. Probably things in the "recent" past that I would like to relive to a certain extent, and to make some sense of. To revisit times and places and people that I find to be fascinating. And I want to have fun while I do it, because I have decided I'll never make money at this.

Also, not that I do a lot of it, but I think the best literature makes people better people. I do think that's important.

Sorry to ramble, but sleep has been in short supply.... (Is this the Churchill thread or another one? He was a flawed man, but we'd all most likely be goose-stepping around very neatly kept concentration camps if it weren't for his spine.)

P.S. I enjoyed the story about James Taylor at the Scottish castle. Lot of musicians like that. They can come out with the most wonderful music and lyrics, and can't string two sensible words together in conversation.
 

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T. B. Crattie said:
Anyone can sell a boatload of books if they are willing to push enough buttons, to give readers what they obviously really, really want, given human nature--sex, gore, glamour, psychic harm done by one character to another, stories of power exercised and taken away.
Errrr....hmm. Anyone? I'm not so sure. I get what you're saying, and I know I'm making a few conscious choices in my own writing AWAY from a quicker paced read that might've been geared more toward what I know has been popular in the past, so my WIP will probably be too slow-paced for mass popular appeal. But I don't know that I could write something even if I made the conscious choice to go all out for that mass appeal that could even come close to touching the heights the best sellers reach. I don't think sex, gore, glamour, etc.. in and of themselves are what makes those books popular.
 

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If just anyone could do it, a lot more people would have done it. ;)
 

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I once read an epic fantasy book by an author here on KB that I bought on Amazon. Amazing story, fabulous story, enough that it kept me going while struggling through the NUMEROUS and HORRENDOUS amounts of editing issues. Before writing a review, I contacted the author and pointed out just the errors of the first 2 pages, explained that the rest of the book needed just as much help as those first two pages, and gave the author the option of having me leave a 3star review which would have been 5 star if it had been edited better. The author thanked me, took the book down off of Amazon, and started the editing process. That was 2 years ago, and I am still periodically waiting to see if the book ever shows up again so I can give it the 5star review the story deserved, if the editing is corrected.
 

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The issue with editing for self-publishers is essentially one of diminishing returns. Unless you are willing to hire a profesional copy editor, there comes a point when a few more weeks of editing would only catch a few typos and not change the content much. At that point, when you feel like your content is where you want it, it might be time to let go. Readers who enjoy your story can overlook a few typos... I hope.
 

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Guy Hepp said:
The issue with editing for self-publishers is essentially one of diminishing returns. Unless you are willing to hire a profesional copy editor, there comes a point when a few more weeks of editing would only catch a few typos and not change the content much. At that point, when you feel like your content is where you want it, it might be time to let go. Readers who enjoy your story can overlook a few typos... I hope.
True, but not even Dean Wesley Smith is saying to send stuff out with typos.
 

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CarlG said:
True, but not even Dean Wesley Smith is saying to send stuff out with typos.
You do realize that when he says "my wife looks my work and says go ahead" he is talking about one of publishing's highly respected editors. Not to mention that he has done a fair amount of editing himself.

Anyone who thinks he doesn't edit his work isn't really paying attention to what he says.

ETA: His writing isn't particularly to my taste, I possibly should say. That doesn't affect the fact that his method is rather different than an inexperienced author putting their unedited work up for sale.
 

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I'm one of those who doesn't rewrite much. That doesn't mean my books aren't edited. One, they are all seen by first readers who are there to point out major issues (or minor ones).  Then they are copy edited by professionals.

As a writer though, I've found that, for me and my process, rewriting does not help me. It slows me down and makes me hate writing, which makes what I'm writing more of a mess than if I just make sure I write it right the first time.  Sometimes I fail and my first readers tell me I've failed and then I throw out what I did and start over. So in some ways, my method is more work sometimes than rewriting, but it works for me.

I would never put out a book I didn't feel was professional quality (that includes formatting, editing, and covers).  But I also think everything I write is terrible, so if I only published books I thought were good, I'd never publish anything. I've learned to let readers decide that for me, because I'm a terrible judge of my own work.
 

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T.L. Haddix said:
This worries me with regards to the future, not just for writers, but for society in general. A lot of our master craftsmen are being lost. The new generations aren't interested in learning the crafts, because they take time, both to learn and to perform. People, at least in this country, are becoming so impatient, they're willing to settle for less in order to get it sooner. Also, they're being taught that unless your chosen career is to be a doctor or a lawyer or something equally prestigious, then you are equivalent to the guy working at McDonald's. Without going into the political arena, I can't say much more, but it's a very real problem that's only going to get worse in the future. The long and short of it is that we'd better start learning to do for ourselves, because the people who do for us - the little stuff that no one really thinks about - is a dying skill set.

Same thing applies in writing. Look at Arkali's thread about Indies not being the only recipients of one-star reviews for obscure reasons. http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,137088.0.html We're moving away from literary fiction to an alarming degree, and moving toward books made entirely of texting speech, incorrectly used words, and just plain dumb writing. Now, I'm not advocating everyone pick up a 150-year-old dictionary and start trying to emulate Bram Stoker or Mark Twain to preserve the language. But this new trend to publish whatever crap you want and make a million dollars (or however many millions people like E. L. James has made) scares me. It also makes me angry. Those of us who do actually give a dang if we put a quality piece of work out there are losing big time to people who don't care. That's very frustrating. The message is very simply that hard work doesn't pay off anymore.

There is a book climbing the YA charts now that is Mystery Science Theater 3000 worthy. Not in a good way. I won't name it, but it's pretty big and growing. Books like that make me question why in the world I even bother with editing and beta reading. I will continue to do so, because I'm constitutionally unable to put crap out there and put my name on it, but it stings every time I see a new title pop up that is the "bestest book ev-ur wroted." Call it sour grapes if you want, but that's my two cents.
It's not that crazy Tolkien fellow, is it? That guy is such a talentless hack. Just kidding, in case that went over anyone's head.

Yeah, I hear you on the loss of craft. I read an article in the Wall Street Journal some time back about the disappearing craftsman in America. One of the focuses of the article was the art of making extremely fine gears. Kind of an invisible thing in terms of society, but vital to so many industries and products. The makers are becoming a dying breed. I guess it's not that sexy to make little gears.

Whether it's a story or a gear or a proper loaf of French bread, there's a beauty in the making if it's done right. And, usually, that sort of thing takes a lot of time to learn.
 

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I reserve the right to admire great writers regardless of their politics... Or not to... Based solely on the quality of their writing.

I means, c'mon folks, the election's over... Let's not muddy up the waters by dividing our ranks over politics.

Something is either well-written or not, based on the writing itself. Otherwise no one would have realized, ever, how skilled Stephen King is....

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD
 

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CraigInTwinCities said:
I reserve the right to admire great writers regardless of their politics... Or not to... Based solely on the quality of their writing.

I means, c'mon folks, the election's over... Let's not muddy up the waters by dividing our ranks over politics.

Something is either well-written or not, based on the writing itself. Otherwise no one would have realized, ever, how skilled Stephen King is....

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I don't think Winston Churchill was in the recent US election. At least I didn't see his name there, so I don't see what that has to do with anything, but I will also at times take other considerations into my opinion of artists in all areas. Supporting people, for example, who are openly racist isn't something I can bring myself to do whether I might otherwise admire their work or not.

ETA: Although darn if I know what that has to do with the OT. As a matter of fact, what WAS the OT? ::)
 

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JRT, I had the post in mind that someone put up listing writers by their personal political views....

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CraigInTwinCities said:
JRT, I had the post in mind that someone put up listing writers by their personal political views....

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Ah, I think he was trying to say we shouldn't judge writers/artists by their political views. Mostly I agree with you but there is a point at which I draw a line. Each of us has to decide for ourselves where a line is or whether to draw one. Had Pol Pot been a writer (a thought to make one shudder) I wouldn't have cared whether he was good at it or not. An extreme example of course.

ETA: I don't really put Churchill into that category largely because it is also unfair to judge someone by the standards of a different age. His rather racist, classist views were rather typical of his period. On the other hand, I'm not an admirer of his to the extent of some people and this isn't really the forum to discuss that. :)
 
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