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Geoff_N
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« on: May 22, 2011, 07:22:36 PM »

Yes, I knew about filters in our writing: words that allegedly get between the reader and action. I thought I'd written my SF trilogy more-or-less without them until a small press publisher expressed interest and said they'd see the full MSS if I'd expunge the words 'felt' and 'seemed'. They are their particular 'nit' words. So I used Edit, Find and found about 40 instances of both in volume one. Not bad out of 100,300 words. Oddly, I found if I just deleted the sentences I found them in, it made little difference to the story. I checked Volume two, also 100k words. Hey, I'd used 'felt' and 'seemed' about 40 times each. I am in a writing rut. I can foresee that no story of mine will ever again use felt and seemed. Then there are those ly adverbs, weak modifiers such as almost, nearly and slightly. Eventually, all my stories will be one sentence long - a really tight sentence.
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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 03:02:50 AM »

Thought they already were  tongue
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marc_chagall
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« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2011, 04:00:30 AM »

'felt' and 'seemed' are ghastly. I never use either and always complain if I see them in someone else's writing, so I'm glad that editor pointed them out to you. 'found' is another one. 'He found himself [doing something]' No he didn't. There's always a better way of expressing that. The modifier argument is a trickier one. I think it's an extremely useful exercise for anyone who writes in any form to try writing for a while with none at all, but then then you've got to let them back in, a few at a time. It's currently fashionable to be very mean with modifiers, but fashions change, so you should have a few good ones up your sleeve to use when permission is granted.
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Geoff_N
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« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2011, 04:48:19 AM »

I agree with you, Delph. Annoying that I give that kind of advice out to writing groups but continue to blunder writing them in my own work. Hence the need for crit groups!
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ozmosis7
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« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2011, 08:09:30 AM »

I have a huge list I keep of clips I find, on what to look to cut from your work when editing. All of those are in there, and many more. I need to update it, but I go back and read it often. I try to train myself to look for certain things in editing, and then hope I can make myself more aware while writing. I do find though, that every rule can be broken if it just sounds better.
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delboy
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« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2011, 08:56:43 AM »

I let my characters say seemed and and felt... if people use particular words in real life then I say let them be used in fiction. Outside of dialogue I don't disagree - but as always, I bet there are exceptions (although I can't think of any right now).

Derek
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"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2011, 09:04:26 AM »

I agree, Derek. I let my characters misuse all the rules in their dialog because, typically, the majority of people break all the rules when talking informally. So, I do keep to the rules more for a formal situation. That is just general, but yo get the idea.

And yes, I can't think of a situation off-hand, but I know I have let those and others slide.

I should try to post my list of things to look for here somewhere sometime. Maybe you all can improve upon it.
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marc_chagall
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2011, 09:06:30 AM »

I let my characters say seemed and and felt... if people use particular words in real life then I say let them be used in fiction.
Derek

The problem with what you're saying is that dialogue in fiction is NOT the same as dialogue in real life. The fictional version misses out pretty much all the umms and errrs and repetitions and goodness knows what else. TONS of stuff. If it didn't, it would be hellishly boring to read. Therefore to miss out 'seemed' and 'felt' in dialogue might well be a good idea, even if in the real world people are using these words.
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delboy
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2011, 04:14:04 PM »

One of the things you can do with a Kindle is search classic texts (all texts, of course, but so far I've just downloaded a few classics) and Henry James, Jack London, and Conan Doyle all used 'seems' rather a lot. I guess times have moved on and what was once acceptable no longer is. That said, I haven't noticed it when reading their stories so either I'm getting caught up in their tales or I'm a poor editor - probably both  Shocked

Derek


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"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
Robert B. Parker
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« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2011, 04:23:49 PM »

I always hear people go on and on about how King was a better writer back in the day when he didn't worry so much about being a great writer.  undecided
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delboy
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« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2011, 05:26:57 PM »

I enjoy early King better than late King, but I'm not sure it's down to quality of writing. I just think by the time his later books came out I was overly familiar with his style, and thus didn't love them so much. Carrie, Salems Lot, The Stand, and The Shining remains one of the better openings in horror novelists' careers, and with Pet Semetary, The Mist, and The Body still to come (not to mention the non-fiction Danse Macabre, and On Writing) the guy will always be on my favourites list.

Derek
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"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
Robert B. Parker
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« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2011, 12:59:31 AM »

I'm an adverb junkie.  I'm cutting down, but old habits are hard to kill.

I was reading some Asimov a few months back and was shocked that he used even more adverbs than I cut out of my own work.
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« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2011, 02:33:58 AM »

In the end I think a good story over-comes all.

Just found an eight page excerpt of The Da-Vinci Code online and Felt, and to lesser extent, Seemed, are all over those eight pages. Imagine how much they'll appear over the entire course of the novel. Yet, popular fiction successes don't come much bigger than the DVC.

Same with Joe Lansdale. These two words are all over the story currently on his site.

Graham Greene did slightly better - across 12 pages the two words only cropped up two and four times.

I'm not advocating the use of these words - long ago Ed and Geoff highlighted the weakness of their usage in crits on one of my stories and ever since I've tried to user stronger words. The results are always an improvement. But I do think it's possible to edit a story to within an inch of its life, make every word strong and unique, slice out every adverbs, delete every cliche and echo (Lansdale uses 'felt' in adjacent sentences) and repetition, cut every unneccesary sentence and still not have a finished product that will sell a thousandth of what someone who just tells a good story can sell. Ideally, we do both - editting thoroughly on a tale that meets all the dramatic as well as grammatical requirements - but the proof (certainly in the books I'm reading), is that the thing that makes the biggest difference is story.

Derek
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"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
Robert B. Parker
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« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2011, 02:50:47 AM »

I agree. A strong story masks a hell of a lot of imperfections, but with DVC I found my enjoyment curtailed by what I perceived as errors in the text. I doubt he could have garnered more sales with perfect prose, but I'm sure he could have increased our enjoyment of his work, and it wouldn't have done his reputation any harm, so I think it's worth striving for cleaner, leaner prose. At the same time, I think it's vital to put those thoughts our of our heads while writing and leave editing to the editing phase, rather than trying to include it as we write.
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« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2011, 06:47:27 AM »

That's what I do now. I just work to get the story out. Once it's out I labor over it to the best of my ability. I will also agree though that old habits are hard to break.
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