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TheresaReel
Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 4:15 PM
Joined: 10/7/2013
Posts: 65


I want to let people here know:  there is NO one way or right way.  Some people find writing is hard work.  Some people find it is fun.  You are doing nothing wrong if you find it difficult OR fun.  Some people will post that you MUST do things a certain way.  Do it your way.  If you feel you must have a prologue, have a prologue.  If you feel you must go directly into action, go directly into action.  But just because another writer doesn't follow "the rules", doesn't mean they are wrong.  Just don't let people tell you that you must do something.  RUN as fast as possible from those posts.  Those are not supportive posts.  Suggestions and ideas are what you need; not fiats from writing imans.
Charles J. Barone
Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 11:06 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120


Good post TheresaReel. It ties in with a couple of quotes (I love quotes)

 

"You give me too much credit for planning and foresight. I don't know what the hell I'm doing when I sit down to start a book."

Robert. B. Parker

 

 

"There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."  W. Somerset Maugham

 


Jay Greenstein
Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 11:51 PM
TheresaReel wrote:
I want to let people here know:  there is NO one way or right way.  Some people find writing is hard work.  Some people find it is fun.  You are doing nothing wrong if you find it difficult OR fun.  Some people will post that you MUST do things a certain way.  Do it your way.  If you feel you must have a prologue, have a prologue.  If you feel you must go directly into action, go directly into action.  But just because another writer doesn't follow "the rules", doesn't mean they are wrong.  Just don't let people tell you that you must do something.  RUN as fast as possible from those posts.  Those are not supportive posts.  Suggestions and ideas are what you need; not fiats from writing imans.
 
Except for one teeny, almost insignificant problem: Do that and it won't sell. It won't sell to a publisher, or to readers if you self publish because readers expect professional quality writing. They're kind of spoiled that way. After all, we're asking them to pay to read.
 
But, if you're writing for fun, have at it. Do whatever comes to mind. Don't bother learning the professional tricks.  No one but friends and family are going to read it, so do what you please and your audience will be most kind—and perhaps hang it on the refrigerator with  a magnet.

Charles J. Barone
Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015 1:45 AM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120


I've come to the belief that everybody in this business spends a lifetime finding the method that suits him or her best, changing it over the years as he himself evolves, adapting it again and again to suit the special requirements of each particular book. What works with one person won't necessarily work for another; what works for one book won't necessarily work with another.

 

Some writers outline. Others find an outline restricts their creativity. A few have no idea what they're going to write until they sit down and begin typing. Still others have a beginning in mind but no end, and there are some who have the ending but no idea what comes before that ending.

 

A few have a glimmer of an idea and trust that they have the skill to develop that ephemeral thought into a full length book.

 

I once read a book on writing. The author had developed a way that worked beautifully for him. When he was ready to start a book, he'd go to the store and buy several packs of index cards. Then, he would write a brief descriptive of a scene on one cafrd. To that he would staple cards, a separate card for every character in that scene, a description of them, when they would appear, how they dressed and what they would say.

 

That's about as far as I got before giving up and realizing that I would never be a writer, because I could never do what he did and make it work.


TheresaReel
Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015 8:26 AM
Joined: 10/7/2013
Posts: 65


I am really surprised at the haters who seem to relish telling others they will not make it.  Diana Gabaldon and Jean Auel were told the same thing.  I say, prove 'em wrong.  Enjoy what you do and success will follow.  Now that epublishers have gotten into the business, I think there is more room for writers to actually make it.  Large publishing houses only want what they know will work, based off previous successes; that just leads to a trap of the suits expecting writers to write just like their previous best-seller so they can make more money on a sure thing.
TheresaReel
Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015 8:30 AM
Joined: 10/7/2013
Posts: 65


Sorry you don't enjoy what you do.

Formulas don't mean quality; they just mean boring.

But I'm bohemian like that.


TheresaReel
Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015 8:35 AM
Joined: 10/7/2013
Posts: 65


You were a cop??? So was I; for a little over seven years.  Then I left to teach.  Big mistake.  Sometimes of have dreams of being back in uniform and when I wake up, I'm disappointed.
Janet Umenta, Book Country Assistant
Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015 9:29 AM
Joined: 4/7/2014
Posts: 142


Interesting discussion! I agree that when you are just starting to write, it's best not to feel anchored to any particular doctrine.
Lucy Silag - Book Country Community Manager
Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015 9:56 AM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


Love the quotes, Charles, especially the first one!

 

 


Charles J. Barone
Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015 2:17 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120


Theresa, I was in a cop for 25 yrs, from patrol to detective. After retirement for some odd reason I went into private security for a few years, and then decided to really try retirement and do what I've always wanted - WRITE!!

 

A curious thing. After abandoning that book on writing that mentioned the index cards, I fiddled around for a month or so and then sat down and began typing on my old Royal manual typewriter. In a few months I had several hundred pages of a novel done. It was bad, really bad, but I did it, and without index cards or a written outline.

 

Since then I've done six or seven more. Three were actually published by small publishers. It could be of significance that all three of those publishers are now out of business. I don't know.

 

 None of the three went anywhere, but they're my claims to fame even if they didn't make enough money to pay for the paper used.

 

The point is, I didn't use an establishd formula to create those books or any others I've done. I had an idea and a beginning. I started with the ideas and began banging away on the typewriter. As I typed, other ideas including possible endings popped into my head.

 

There are certain rules involved. I don't discount the fact. They cover punctuation, decent grammar and sentence structure, spelling, etc. As for writing the book, no 'name' author I've found says there is only one set formula. All use different methods to achieve the end result. Some, like Robert B. Parker (one of my favorites) admitted he often didn't have a clue how he got from page one to the end. He would do three to five pages a day, next day he'd read those pages, make small corrections and that was that. No rewrites.

 

"I'm not writing a screenplay. I'm not about to do ten or fifteen drafts."

 

Of course, if you were Robert B. Parker you could get away with it. He's also noted for writing query letters:

 

"Would you care to publish this? Sincerely, Robert B. Parker."

 

 

 

 


Lucy Silag - Book Country Community Manager
Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015 2:22 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


@Charles--Best query letter of all time!!!
Charles J. Barone
Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015 2:46 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120


I've found Parker to be a wealth of humor and information. My wife and I are also blessed to have met and talked with him once for a few minutes when we were back east. We found him at the Agawam Diner, a place that really does exist and that he's used at least a couple of times in his books. I don't recall the town it's in. I'm hopelessly lost back there.

 

Naturally the subject of writing came up and he had a couple of tips that he shared.

 

"There are no great secrets. First, your characters. Spencer is who I'd like to be. There's a lot of me in him. Second, have a beginning and have an idea how the book will end, then fill in the middle. You'll be surprised how it all comes together."

 

Easy for him to say, and I told him that. He laughed and told me to try it, that it works.


Mimi Speike
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 12:12 AM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014


The only real rule, and I know Jay would agree with me, is: Keep your reader turning the page. We can disagree on how to do this. There are different kinds of readers, turned on by different things. Various genres have different expectations attached to them, but I think that the real successes are the stories that expand those expectations. And, sometimes, to expand those expectations you have to break some rules. Sometimes you break a lot of rules.

.

I'm just now finally reading The Princess Bride. Whoa! I am stunned by Goldman's color-way-outside-the-lines madness. I'm thinking of naming a new character, who is about the show up in my next few pages, I'm thinking of naming her Buttercup.

.

Uh, she's a streetwalker. But she may end up a nun. After my cat gets through with her. After he pretends to be the Virgin Mary. I color outside the lines myself.

 

--edited by Mimi Speike on 2/27/2015, 12:58 AM--


Charles J. Barone
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 12:48 AM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120


Well, Mimi, in my latest book I've got the ghost of a witch who was hanged in 1693, who turns out not to be a ghost and only wishes a Christian burial since she was hanged unjustly. She and my main character develop a kind of affection for each other. It isn't obvious, since she only appears a half dozen times and she scares the hell out of him each time she appears.

 

At the end, he finds the long gone town and gives her the burial she wishes. She tells him when his time comes, she will be waiting for him.

 

There's a lot more going on besides the above. It isn't a perverted love story.

 

 

--edited by Charles J. Barone on 2/27/2015, 12:53 AM--


Jay Greenstein
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 1:35 AM

 

I am really surprised at the haters who seem to relish telling others they will not make it.

You're equating anyone who critiques a work and doesn't praise it with a "hater."

Writing fiction is a profession, and always has been. And like any other has been under constant refinement and development for many years. Learning the specialized knowledge and acquiring the tools of a profession isn't optional, any more than you can become a doctor by taking a blood pressure cuff, putting it around the neck of your patient, and figuring out how to read the blood pressure after you pump it up. Amateurs do not become pros by fumbling, though applying untrained talent, or prayer.

In our schooling we learned grammar. That's useful. So is punctuation. But the writing technique we learned there is absolutely useless because it's designed to inform, not entertain. It's nonfiction technique designed to make us useful to a prospective employer. And that means we graduate high school exactly as well trained to write fiction as to back an eighteen-wheeler to a loading dock between two other rigs. And you no more learn to write by reading fiction than you learn to properly sharpen a chefs knife by eating out. Viewing the product does not teach the process.

The rejection rate for fiction, is greater than 99.9%. Over 75% of what is submitted is, literally unreadable by a publisher's standards, and is rejected before the end of the second paragraph—often before the end of the second sentence. Of every hundred submissions, only three are seen by publishers as written on a professional level-and two of those are wrong for that house.

Do you really believe that the unreadable work will be magically improved by being self published? The number of self-pubs who are successful in fiction is well below 1%. And by successful I mean selling more than a hundred copies to people they don't personally know.

If a hopeful writer is not willing to spend time and money on their writer's education they cannot think of themselves a serious writer. Journalists require years of training, as do playwrights and screenwriters. Believing that we can write and submit fiction with no training is as sensible as making the rounds of newspapers asking for a job as a reporter with no more training than a high school graduation certificate.

 

 Today, on another site, I was pleased to read a chunk of story by someone who has, in about three months, made a huge improvement in the readability of her writing. When I first looked at her work it was pretty typical of most postings on writer sites, written with the techniques we all learn in grade school. In other words, from a publisher's POV, a first paragraph rejection. But this young lady sat down and applied herself. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, she dug into the craft of the profession, and learned how to approach the act of telling a story with a strong POV. She learned why scenes end in a disaster, and why a scene goal strengthens the reader's experience—things she wouldn't have learned by talking with other sincere but uninformed hopeful writers.

Does my telling her that she needed to learn this, or that something in the posted work doesn't work, make me a "hater?" If it does, I'm proud of the title, because that writer is going to end up published if she keeps on gaining skill at the same rate.

In over twenty-five years of talking about writing, on forums like this, I've seen lots of people decry a writers education for a variety of reasons, most claiming that books on writing techniques are filled with "rules" (apparently they have trouble understanding the concept of tools). They have the right to feel that way of course. But in that time not one of them has ever come back to report a sale—though I get about two letters a year from people who have sold a first piece after picking up a few of the techniques the pros take for granted.

So of course anyone can write in any way they care to, without ever cracking a book or talking to the pros about what works for them. And maybe that approach will work. Certainly I wish you luck if you elect to go that way. But if you do achieve a measure of fame don't write a book to help new writers by giving the hints, because you'll have to recommend that people don't read it or risk being given rules

 


TheresaReel
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 7:31 AM
Joined: 10/7/2013
Posts: 65


No one called you a hater.

Touchy, touchy.


curtis bausse
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 9:12 AM
Joined: 11/13/2014
Posts: 37


Well, my first book was 650 pages, purported to have three different 'authors', adopted multiple POVs and hopped around different genres. It found a publisher who loved it, but no readership. I had great fun writing it, sure, and if more had been done in promotion (including by me), it might have found a few more readers. But now I think there are limits to the 'do whatever takes your fancy' approach. As Charles says, people can spend a lifetime finding what suits them. I learnt the hard way, but now I'd actually like to have people read what I write. And I admit to being an avid reader of Jay Greenstein's comments, as he's definitely a master in the Reality Check genre. I do have a bowl of salt by me when I read them, but very rarely have I dipped into it. I may not get many more readers this time around, but I'm doing what I can to put every chance on my side. That doesn't mean following dogma, rules or formulae. Just writing with an eye to what people read and why they read it.
Lucy Silag - Book Country Community Manager
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 10:41 AM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


@Jay:

 

You've made these points in several places on the discussion boards and on reviews all over the site, often with the exact same wording about "the rules we learn in grammar school" or "school days." In fact, I just did a review of several of your posts and reviews and found that wording ten times before I stopped counting.

 

We understand your perspective. Now it's time for you to step back and let others discuss their perspective without you continuing to comment with your own agenda. I've noticed that your comments have a way of turning members off from getting more involved in the community, and we've gotten many, many complaints about your Book Country activity since you joined. That's not productive, and it's far cry from why this community was founded. It's also tiresome and condescending to hear the same thing over and over from a member--we are here to have a conversation, not receive a lecture.

 

If you refer to the Community Guidelines, you can see that there is a specific rule that members are not allowed to "hijack a thread for your own personal agenda." You have an agenda, and you use that agenda to try to get users to click through to your own blog. That's very close to spamming, another violation of the community guidelines. I saw links to your own blog in many of the reviews you've posted on Book Country. Links to outside articles and resources are allowable on the discussion boards, where appropriate, and never on the reviews.

 

Furthermore, you and I have corresponded about this before. In fact, on Monday, I told you to refrain from commenting on this thread, and you commented the same evening. Additionally, you and my predecessor have corresponded about this issue before. That's almost four years of complaints about your Book Country activity.

 

If you can't be respectful of this space and the things I (as the moderator) ask you to keep in mind, you'll be in clear violation of the Community Guidelines, your account will be deleted, and you will be banned from the site.

 

Questions? You can email me at Lucy@BookCountry.com.

 


Amber Wolfe
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 12:48 PM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


Ack! Lucy, I didn't realize you weren't allowed to offer links in the reviews! In some of the reviews I offered links to specific sites on the Craft of Writing, for new writers I felt could use the knowledge those blogs and writing sites offered.

 

Good to know it's not allowed. Won't do it again. Sorry for breaking the site rules . . . embarrassed

 

I'm chastised now.


Lucy Silag - Book Country Community Manager
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 1:06 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


Hi Amber--thanks for being conscientious!

 

I took a look and I don't think any of your linking is very problematic. It would be different if you were always referring people back to your own site, or a site where you work.



Mimi Speike
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 1:11 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014


Lucy, let me get this straight. (Not that I'm anywhere near it.) When I finally get a web site up, am I not allowed to give the name here?
Lucy Silag - Book Country Community Manager
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 1:47 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


Hi Mimi--not at all. On your profile page there are places for you to enter your personal website, blog, Twitter, etc. You can also use your profile page author bio and reading and writing sections to talk about your online presence in as much detail as will fit in the space. We strongly encourage people to showcase their online platform on their profile page!

 

Similarly, it is often encouraged to link to your own site or your own social media accounts right here on the discussion board. You'll also see that folks (including us) share writing resources, contests, publishers, videos, etc. here on the discussion board. If you feel your own site has a link that that is of value to the community, by all means, share it here. Also, we love it when people link to their websites and ask for feedback from the community as they are putting their online platform together.

 

If folks have other questions about how to use Book Country, please start a new thread here.

--edited by Lucy Silag - Book Country Community Manager on 2/27/2015, 1:48 PM--


Lucy Silag - Book Country Community Manager
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 1:56 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


Let's get back to the topic at hand. When you were starting out as a new writer (whether if that was as a kid or 2 weeks ago), what was a "rule" that someone told you about writing that you've never forgotten? Has it turned out to be true or untrue in what you've read, and what you've written?

 

I'll start.

 

One thing I remember from graduate school is that an older, more accomplished student told me that you should never write about dreams in fiction. Then, when I came to work at Book Country, I became familiar with member Kerry Schafer's work. Book Country was celebrating the success of her first book, BETWEEN, and Kerry was getting ready to publish WAKEWORLD and THE DREAM WARS enovella trilogy.

 

Low and behold, here was a writer finding a robust readership, with her books firmly exploring the territory of dreams.

 


Mimi Speike
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 2:16 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014


The big thing I've heard, here and all over the web, to an intimidating degree, is that Author Intrusion disrupts the story, that it is highly counterproductive, that it was once done, but is way out of fashion. I believe it can expand the story in significant ways. And that it can add, rather than detract, it can turn a story into a piece of performance art.

.

Two of my favorite authors, William Goldman and Thomas Pyncheon, use it, Goldman with a spell-binding commitment to his lunacy. I actually find the plot the least interesting part of the book. The plot is amusing, the packaging is mind-blowing.

 

--edited by Mimi Speike on 2/27/2015, 3:35 PM--


Amber Wolfe
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 7:15 PM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


@Lucy:

 

Whew! That's a relief But to be clear, it's not allowed, right? I can't offer links of any nature? I'd like clarification here, so I don't accidentally take what you said for an 'it's okay so long as it's not to your site or to a site where you work--like spamming'. No links are allowed in reviews at all, am I clear on this?

 

Now, on to the question at hand: What was a "rule" that someone told you about writing that you've never forgotten?

 

Assuming you mean on writing Fiction, here's the rule I remember receiving six months ago: Fiction is meant to entertain, not to inform.

 

In all honesty, Jay Greenstein is the one who drilled that one into my head. But it's been a rule that I now strive to follow, and I think I'm better for it. Learning and remembering Fiction is meant to entertain. not to inform has aided me in becoming a more efficient fiction writer. It's always circling in the tendrils of my subconscious as I write. Whenever I feel I might be slipping into informing the reader rather than entertaining them, that rule pops into my head, and I go back and fix my folly

 

So, there's my  "rule". What do you think of it?

--edited by Amber Wolfe on 2/27/2015, 7:17 PM--


Charles J. Barone
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 8:17 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120


A rule someone told me about....... I've got a couple that I learned long ago.

 

1. If you can say it in five words, don't spend ten or fifteen.  (It's one I have a hard time with)

 

2. If there is a .25 cent word that works, don't use a dollar word in its place. (Remember this was a long time ago, when two bits and a dollar were actually worth something)

 


Jay Greenstein
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 11:55 PM

 

No one called you a hater.

Perhaps I misunderstood. You seemed upset when I mentioned that the press you were looking at weren’t real publishers. But they’re not. And you did ask.

I’m not the evil monster you take me to be. Really. I’ve helped lots of people become published, especially when I owned the manuscript critique service. The latest one was Michael Hagan, right here on this site. Read the dedication page. You’ll see that I am a monster, but one who’s on your side:

http://www.amazon.com/Demiurge-Blood-Innocent-Michael-Hagan-ebook/dp/B00NWU1D2E/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418443358&sr=1-1&keywords=DEMIURGE#reader_B00NWU1D2E

Sure I have strong views. I’ve seen too many decent people have all chance of having a career in writing killed by scammers who have not the slightest writing or editing skills, yet who call themselves publishers on the strength of owning a computer and a website—telling people that all they needed to be a success is a pure heart and a good story idea. The first tipoffs? 1) They claim to have a new way of making writers successful, in spite of never having worked for a publisher, or taken any training for that field. 2) They claim to specialize in  “new writers.” That’s because no actual writer would have anything to do with them. And Gecko said both. The third tipoff is that none of their released books are doing any better than the average self-published book, so far as sales. Gecko hit that one too.

And yes I react to the often advanced myth that all ideas on writing are equal, so people should just write what comes to them. But if you trace that idea back in time, it was advanced, in the mid 1800s, by a writer whose name escapes me at the moment, who knew very well that it was a lie when he said it. He had taken training to be a writer. But every hopeful writer he convinced to “just write,” was one less person in successful competition with him for a publishing slot. And that scam is still working, perpetuated by people who confuse knowledge with rules—people who accept the necessity of having spent years in school studying the writing style they know (yet who don’t call them rules), but reject the idea that the profession might have additional required skills. Never made sense to me. Worse yet, that belief is the single most common cause of rejection. So I tend to grit my teeth when I hear it. But can you blame me?




Jay Greenstein
Posted: Saturday, February 28, 2015 12:01 AM

• There are certain rules involved. I don't discount the fact. They cover punctuation, decent grammar and sentence structure, spelling, etc.

That etc. Is a lot bigger than you might think. First, all our schooldays training in writing technique is to be clear, concise, and informative, because that's what business writing requires. Fiction, on the other hand needs to be entertaining. Anyone can say the protagonist felt terror. But our goal is to terrorize the reader. Different goal, different skills.

• As for writing the book, no 'name' author I've found says there is only one set formula. -

There's no one set formula for painting, making sculpture, or designing a bridge. But who in their right mind would expect to be successful at it without mastering the tools of the trade, first?

Did the films we watched qualify us to direct? Write? No more than walking on a carpet teaches us to weave one.

If no one ever explains the role of a scene goal, and why it's a necessity for the protagonist to have one the reader i aware of, would you include one—or know if you had or hadn't? The one who rejects your work won't tell you that the lack of a scene goal made the protagonist seem flat. They'll just reject the work. Will you create a scene that works if you still believe that a scene on the page is the same as on the stage? Of course not. The editor who says no won't tell you that, either. But that's part of the underpinnings of any story, knowledge the pros take for granted, things we should know and use. It's certainly easy enough to acquire that knowledge. Most people aren't aware that it exists any more than I was when I turned to recording my stories.

• Some, like Robert B. Parker (one of my favorites) admitted he often didn't have a clue how he got from page one to the end

And you believed that?  Let' see… He earned his masters in English literature. Later, a PHD. And then became a professor. And you really believe he just made it up as he went, with no knowledge of craft? We all should be so ignorant. At his level, with the quantity of knowledge and practice, he didn't have to think about structuring the novel, it just felt "natural," to do things you and I have to pound our heads on the table to remember.

--edited by Jay Greenstein on 2/28/2015, 1:42 AM--


Jay Greenstein
Posted: Saturday, February 28, 2015 1:38 AM

• I saw links to your own blog in many of the reviews you've posted on Book Country.

Those links lead to articles, many of which were written at the request of one of my publishers. I'm good at what I do. And people paid me to tell them why their manuscript wouldn't sell. We don't bad-mouth your work. So please show your members the same respect. If you don't agree with a given article says, say so, and why. That's your right, of course, but disrespecting someone's work, simply because they were the one it write it is discourteous.

• Links to outside articles and resources are allowable on the discussion boards, where appropriate, and never on the reviews.

Are you out of your mind? If someone is using a lot of filter words we're not allowed to direct them to a fine article that will explain it to them in detail? Must we type out the advice as if we came up with it? That's not going to happen. Seriously, are you against hopeful writers looking at what the pros and publishers view as necessary knowledge? Critiques are probably the place where such links are the most useful and effective.

You are the only site on the Internet with such a short-sighted rule.

At the moment, though returns show on the page as a given critique is typed, your software deletes paragraphing in the posted review, creating a monolithic block of text that's almost impossible to read. To that you add this rule? Do you think perhaps the difficulty of reading the responses may be why we get so few people asking for reaction to their writing these days? Somehow, I doubt it's because Jay includes links in his critiques. It is, though, the reason you won't be seeing any critiques with my name on them in the future.


Charles J. Barone
Posted: Saturday, February 28, 2015 4:31 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120


Jay, I have read and heard Robert B. Parker comment about his books enough that I think there's a grain of truth there. I can't prove it's true, and you can't prove it isn't.

 

Regarding writing methods, processes, ways to build a book.There are quite a few different methods available. I've tried several that happened to be popular or famous. They didn't work for me.

 

 If you have a method that works, great. No harm recommending it, keeping in mind that it isn't the only way and might be an aggravation for others. My writing method is a mix: I don't outline but it isn't quite SOTP either. I have ideas, or notes, of things that might work in various sections of the book. Sometimes they get used, often they might show up in another book.

 

 Outlining works for some people. Some famous authors can’t write without a lengthy synopsis. Others would prefer drinking lye to following an outline. If you’re an outliner, you’re in good company. It doesn't work for some people. Some like the freedom of Seat of the Pants writing. If you choose to take some from one method and something from another, I've no doubt there are quite a few who do that.

 

 

 

--edited by Charles J. Barone on 2/28/2015, 4:32 PM--


Jay Greenstein
Posted: Saturday, February 28, 2015 9:22 PM

• There are quite a few different methods available.

 

 Looking for a method is akin to looking for a formula, and there is none. Knowledge, on the other hand, is quite another thing.  Mose of the things I mentioned to you, when critiquing your story weren't do this kind of things. They were comments on structural points, and the changes I saw weren't a slavish following of advice, or a "method."It was you taking the information, applying your own skills and voice to is, and enhancing the work as you saw fit.

 

 But suppose I'd not mentioned those points, and you subscribed to the dictum, "Do what seems right to you." Yes, you might have picked up on those issues, and as they say, reinvented the wheel. My point is that the information is out there for the taking. The only reason more people don't take advantage of it is that they literally don't know it exists. And who's going to tell them? Certainly not people like themselves, who acquired their writing skills, and a belief that writing is writing, in first grade.

 

 YI learned better, because  was hit over the head with it when, after six unsold novels, I paid for a critique. But that was when the only game in town was going to a publisher and hoping for a yes. So you either learned your craft, competed with the pros, or it was game over. And there was no Internet, with writing sites filled with people who knew no more than I did, being honored for saying to just have at it, and all will be well. There were no pretend publishers shouting about how easy is is to be a real published writer, and that they specialized in helping new writers, with their "new" approach to publishing.

 

 So, I tell people, as gently as possible, that there's more to writing than just desire and a good plot. The vast majority don't believe me, and complain that I'm discouraging writers. People mail letters to site management complaining that I'm negative, nasty, and telling them something they don't want to hear—even though it's what they would hear from any editor, agent, or teacher of writing.

 

 You can see the result of that here. I've been ordered to stop telling people that we only learn nonfiction skills in school, because I say it too often, not because it's untrue. The viewpoint of publishers, agents, an teachers is relegated to my "perspective," as if it's opinion not verifiable fact.

 

 Management told me to stop posting anywhere but in this folder, a few months ago. And now, they say I shouldn't post here, either, because by providing facts I kill discussion. Reality is ugly that way.

 

 I'm not all that great writer. Truthfully, I made less than a thousand dollars last year from my work. My desire and my talent can't seem to do better than that. So I don't give my personal view of how best to write when I critique and comment. But I am knowledgeable in the area of craft, and how the publishing field works. And, want to hear it or not, any pre-published writer who doesn't take active steps to learn what publisher and readers react positively to is only pretending.

 

Perry
Posted: Saturday, February 28, 2015 10:35 PM
Joined: 9/17/2013
Posts: 104


Jay,

 

I’ve been to your website and blog, and I promise to return. I think you have some important things to say, but then you might tell me that I’m not qualified to have an opinion on that.

 

If you  have important things to say about writing, your impact is limited by the way you treat other people. I wasn’t the one who first called you the Grumpy Writing Coach. Some of us don’t like to have to deal with grumpy people. 

 

You remind me of two men I used to know (they’re both gone now) who were grumpy, and they were not as effective or productive as they might have been because of it.

 

The first was a friend of mine. I put up with and in fact was entertained by the curmudgeonly persona he cultivated for himself, but he drove away a lot of people who might have been friends or who might have been customers for his family business.

 

The second lived in the small community where I was living at the time. He had a house that backed up on the elementary school playground. He hated children, and was at war with the School Board over the noise the children made at recess. He was also at war with the City Council for allowing public parking on the public street in front of his home. He was a persistent as well as grumpy and even abusive man, and I saw him led away from School Board meetings a couple times in handcuffs. Then he went to war with the Police Department. Once he tried to enlist me in one of his causes, and once he asked me for a service that he thought I could provide. He started off nice enough, but when I would not or could not comply, he became caustic, then abusive. People shunned him.

 

I didn’t say you were as bad as these two. I said you remind me of them. Both of these men had talents to share, and both of them fell short of their potential because of the way they treated people.  

 

It would be a shame if you did have something useful to say, but people wouldn’t listen because you treat them poorly. 

 


Amber Wolfe
Posted: Sunday, March 1, 2015 1:56 AM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


@Robert G. Moons:

 

Great script layout, Robert. I enjoyed reading it. Trying to add levity to a heavy conversation is nice of you.

 

@Jay Greenstein:

 

Jay, you were the very first person to review Destiny's Bond. And I'll admit your words stung . . . a lot. But even as I wallowed in a haze of a bruised writer's ego, I realized you were right. I didn't have the techniques needed to write fiction. I hadn't learned the tricks of the trade. Others on the site affirmed this, albeit in a softer, more encouraging tone. Your review was the kick in the pants I needed to begin studying, and practicing. And although I can't call myself proficient yet, I'm hoping to one day be.

 

In all honesty, I started studying and practicing because I wanted to show you I can learn. You came across as harsh, and it made me mad enough to want to prove that I could acquire the skills, so I could one day say, "Hey, Jay. Look! I've been published! And it's because I'm actually good! Thank you so much!"

 

Would I have preferred that the intended message of 'You need to learn Craft' had come across in a nicer way? Perhaps. But it might not have goaded me enough to really buckle down.

 

Despite what others say about you, you're my Grumpy Writing Coach--and I mean that as a compliment. I go to your site often. I read your Rants, your Writing Advice, and the stories you upload. I recognize your talent. Your posts aid me in my journey of learning to write decent Fiction.

 

Should the day come when I'm good enough to be published, I'd love to mention you in my Dedication Page. You've helped me grow a thick skin when it comes to reviews, and to keep trying.

 

I will, Jay. Even if I don't ever reach my goal of actually being a proficient Fiction Writer, I'll keep trying. If for no other reason than to honor you.

 

Thanks for being my Grumpy Writing Coach.

 

Amber


Charles J. Barone
Posted: Sunday, March 1, 2015 1:39 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120


Jay, I have no problems with your critique of my work. In fact, I took everything you said to heart. You mentioned many points that I missed, and I'm doing a rewrite of much of the book to try and correct those discrepancies.

 

 When I post something for review, I want solid criticism even if it's being told I'm not fit to write my name in the dirt with a stick. My posts above were about the various methods of structuring and building a book. There isn't just one way, as you've now said.

 

In any case, your critiques were much appreciated and extremely helpful.


Lucy Silag - Book Country Community Manager
Posted: Sunday, March 1, 2015 1:54 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


Hi everyone--

 

Jay Greenstein's account has been deleted and he's been banned from Book Country. His comments above were in clear violation of the Community Guidelines. We're protective of the tone here on Book Country. By all means, debate is welcome. But it always, always has to stay respectful. Among other things, asking someone if they are out of their mind is disrespectful and it can't be tolerated. Furthermore, Jay overtook this thread twice with comments about his own qualifications as a reviewer, rather than respecting the topic that was up for discussion. That was after I specifically asked him not to do that.

 

If you have questions, please email me at Lucy@BookCountry.com or Support@BookCountry.com.

 

Lucy

 

 



Lucy Silag - Book Country Community Manager
Posted: Sunday, March 1, 2015 2:04 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


For Amber, to answer your question about links in reviews, I would use your best judgment. Certainly, there are tons of resources online that can be helpful to illustrate a point in a review. But the reason there is not a hyperlink capability in reviews is because the best reviewing and feedback happens when you keep it right on the page. Explain what you mean rather than post a link. So for sure, if something occurs to you that would be helpful for another member, suggest it. But if you find yourself suggesting the same thing over and over again to many, many different members, you would be better off placing it on this board so that more people will see it and so you'll have the chance to discuss why it's been so helpful to you.

 

Furthermore, every situation is different. But at Book Country, I always reach out to members if they're behavior feels like it's close to or crossing a Community Guideline. That gives the member a chance to explain what's going on before we make a decision, and often I find out that the member just wasn't aware of what was happening. So please don't worry, Amber--we are in touch via PM and email, and I would definitely reach out if I had questions about anything. And you can always email or PM me with questions of your own!


Mimi Speike
Posted: Sunday, March 1, 2015 2:31 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014


I did not find Jay offensive, or threatening, and I know that if he had ever reviewed my work he would have said the same to me. To me, he only demonstrated a limited appreciation of possibilities. What I disliked heartily was a feeling of being trapped in a Book Country Groundhog Day. 

 

--edited by Mimi Speike on 3/1/2015, 3:55 PM--


Amber Wolfe
Posted: Sunday, March 1, 2015 5:19 PM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


@Lucy:

 

Thanks for answering my question. I think I'm going to refrain from offering links from now on. In reviews, I'll simply try to explain my points to the best of my abilities. If I do decide a member would benefit from a certain Blog or Website, I'll mention it, but not unless I truly think they could appreciate it.

 

I'm going to miss Jay, but he was in violation of the Community Guidelines. I support you in your decision.

 

Gonna feel a bit bereft without my Grumpy Writing Coach, though . . .


 

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