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1:23 AM
@standback @justkt What do you think?
0
Q: Most effective path to become a great writer?

glitchI've recently followed the advice of our very own Jeff Atwood and started a blog site in order to become a better writer and communicator. I'd like to figure out how exactly I can improve the fastest, as I suspect that I will not go too far just by blogging frequently without any external input....

Pretty amazingly general and vague, but it'd be a shame to lose Patches's answer.
 
 
4 hours later…
5:10 AM
@NeilFein :
PATH TO BECOME A GREAT WRITER
Step 1: Go to Writers.SE, ask for path to become great writer.
I think this question needs a heroic edit into "How do I use a blog to practice/improve my writing?".
Patches' answer is sweet, but it's kind of missing the point.
He's not talking about fiction. He wants to improve on technical writing, clarity, business writing.
Writing groups and OSC are kind of beside the point :-/
 
@standback - I'm inclined to agree. I'll close it and reference this discussion.
Closed it as "not a real question", although it could have easily been "not a good fit" as well.
This, my friends, is why I prefer to close early. (Note added later: This is about the question above, not the one below this.)
-1
Q: Incorporating religion in writing without being hamfisted

Gabe WillardAs authors, our influences can come from many places. Religion is definitely one of many influences on people's work. I believe a work should be a reflection of its author, yet religion can be really polarizing. How can I incorporate my belief system into my writing without marginalizing my audie...

Thoughts on this? I don't think it's close-worthy, but it could be a better question if it were clearer.
 
5:39 AM
Well I was asking in reference to writing in general. I could apply suggestions to any type of work, so I don't understand why the question has to mention one thing. I certainly didn't expect a close storm all over it that fast.
 
It's not a close storm, it's trying to improve the question.
General questions attract general answers.
Which isn't much different than you'd get on a forum.
From the FAQ: You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.
 
How is it general though? It's about one specific aspect of writing that I haven't been able to find any good input on: managing your influence. Some fiction reads like propaganda, while some has a lot of hidden meaning without being obstructive to the point.
I don't think it is chatty or open ended. It has answers.
 
Then maybe get into that. Fiction that reads like propaganda is the problem. How do you avoid doing that?
Preachy fiction is something that turns you off. Okay. It's easy to say "don't do that", but what are the warning signs?
(I hope this is helping.)
 
I think I'm having a communication bug tonight... those happen every so often. I thought that's what my question said... lol. sigh :-/ :)
Not trying to be an ass; I'm just really confused by the negative response to it. I suppose I could reword it a little.
 
No, no worries. It's a collaboratively edited site, discussing this is a good thing.
Thanks for being open-minded about it.
 
5:48 AM
I added a clarifying statement, I hope. Is that better?
 
"Some fiction reads like propaganda, while some has a lot of hidden meaning without being obstructive to the point." Maybe add that you need to know how to recognize when you're doing that? (Have I divined that correctly?)
Yeah, I think it does.
 
Ok. Stealing that. Man my phrasing is off tonight.
 
Most of it is your phrasing from this chat session that I stole from you, so feel free!
If you had a specific project you were applying this to, I'd recommend you get into that. But any thoughts about how you might apply this advice, or examples of how you've not been able to in the past? (If not, then not; just brainstorming.)
 
lol. ok. I think I'm done editing. Idk why, but I've been really off today. Having a hard time focusing thoughts into sentences, lol.
 
I broke it up into three paragraphs, but I think it gets the point across much better now. Thanks!
 
5:52 AM
Well, it's more I have read various works in the past that did a horrendous job of it, and despite being good otherwise, it ruined the story for me. The His Dark Materials series really did that for me. I want to avoid ruining my story for someone. But I didn't want to say that in the question, becasue I feel like it has broader application.
because*
 
because?
 
was just correcting my spelling in the previous message, lol.
can you edit chat messages?
 
Yep, I just edited one of my own.
20 mins ago, by Neil Fein
-1
Q: Incorporating religion in writing without being hamfisted

Gabe WillardAs authors, our influences can come from many places. Religion is definitely one of many influences on people's work. I believe a work should be a reflection of its author, yet religion can be really polarizing. How can I incorporate my belief system into my writing without marginalizing my audie...

Um, that's not the right link.
28 mins ago, by Neil Fein
This, my friends, is why I prefer to close early. (Note added later: This is about the question above, not the one below this.)
 
oh, i see it now. slowpoke.jpeg
 
I was talking about closing an earlier question, not yours.
 
5:57 AM
yeah I guessed that from the context.
 
Okay, I added a link to all that to the question. I really want people to see that, yes we're closing terrible questions, but when we can just make them a little better and clearer, then that's awesome and excellent.
We don't hate everybody.
Except on Mondays.
 
Well I posted it Monday. :P
 
True!
I'm kind of sad that this question isn't getting more answers. I'm editing a short collection of essays in a few weeks, and I'd actually appreciate the advice.
 
Maybe that's why I'm off today. That, and I still blame DST.
 
I really don't see the big deal about DST. Even when I got up at 5:30 for a 2 hour commute, it didn't bother me.
 
6:00 AM
Huh. I know next o nothing about publishing. :/
 
It is a PITA when converting time zones, though.
 
Well I put mornings about equal with weedwacking poison ivy on my list of irritations lol.
 
Well, still waiting on the user's comments on the edit to the title. I'm pretty sure that's what the user meant.
That's... colorful.
I imagine it's conceivable you'd inhale bits of it or get it in your eyes.
 
It's horrible. I've done it before. It goes everywhere, and the oil gets sprayed in the air. You basically break out everywhere you have exposed skin. Or thin clothes.
 
Ouch!
 
6:03 AM
On the bright side, after that, I think I'm immune to it. I havent had it since then, and I know I've been in the stuff lol.
The things you encounter from working at a summer camp lol.
 
I'm pretty sure I've never had it, although I have no memories of ever really being exposed.
 
It's pretty crappy. Sort of a mosquito bite, but more itchy and painful.
 
My cousin had it all over his legs when he was a kid and he lay in a patch of it.
 
Yeah... I did that too lol. It sucks.
 
Anyhoo, gonna go to bed. Night!
 
6:13 AM
Peace out
 
 
3 hours later…
8:45 AM
@NeilFein : Patience is a virtue. A 9-hour-old question is far from a lost cause :P
 
9:43 AM
Yeah, yeah, yeah, patience. :D
 
 
9 hours later…
6:50 PM
@GabeWillard Heya, i'm looking over your question. Feel like a stream-of-consciousness session as i work?
You wrote: I think the idea carries over to other types of writing: nonfiction, critical review, modern fiction, science fiction, and virtually anything else you could name.
That's definitely true, but there's a million different ways the idea can carry over, and they can be vastly different - at very least, between fiction and nonfiction.
A simple example:
Orson Scott Card has written about how people read his "nonreligious" work - the Ender series, Treason, some others - and went "You're mormon, right?".
Because his beliefs filtered through right into his writing, his worldview, his story cosmology.
OTOH, he's also got books about religion, about Mormon characters, or with clear Mormon connections - Homecoming is an SF-retelling of the book of Mormon; Alvin Maker is explicitly based on the life of John Smith; there's another book, Saints, which is simple historical fiction about Mormons.
and on the other hand, he's drawn a ton of fire for being very anti-gay - particularly in opinion pieces he writes, which are entirely nonfiction. and most people attribute that to his religion as well.
So... when you're asking "How do I let in religion without being preachy..."
Do you mean "how do I write about religious characters?"
Do you mean "how do I draw inspiration for my worldbuilding from my religion?"
Do you mean "how do i express opinion informed by my beliefs but without being preachy?"
These are very different questions.
Some focus on "things to avoid."
Some focus on "how to draw inspiration," which is positive and active.
What do you mean by incorporating your beliefs?
Do you mean you want those beliefs to be 'true' or partially true in your book?
Do you mean you want to draw inspiration from those beliefs?
Do you have a message or a theme that ties to your beliefs, but you don't want to be preachy about getting it across?
Do you have something existing that you want to make sure isn't preachy? Or are you starting from scratch, and looking for an element to bring in that won't feel preachy to you, and having trouble finding one?
Another good way to tackle this is to use examples. Do the following strike you as examples of "incorporating belief into writing"? Which are good examples; which are bad ones?
* Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy
* Lewis's Narnia series
* Any of the Orson Scott Card books I mentioned
* Speigelman's Holocaust comic, Maus
* Chick tracts
* The Sol Weintraub arc in Simmons' _Hyperion_
 
7:19 PM
Now, you see,
if your question covers such an immense range of possible topics,
then responses will each be addressing something different. You can't compare them to each other; they're each talking about something else.
And what you've really got is a discussion - "What insights do you have to offer about religion in writing?".
So, yeah, I agree with those who said the question's too broad.
Does the above help you point more specifically at what you're trying to ask? Is there stuff I brought that you think is entirely unrelated to what you're interested in?
 
 
1 hour later…
8:30 PM
Do you mean "how do I write about religious characters?"
Do you mean "how do I draw inspiration for my worldbuilding from my religion?"
Do you mean "how do i express opinion informed by my beliefs but without being preachy?"

Yes, all of the above. That's why I made the question the way I did, deliberately, because I want answers for that. Making three questions for something like that that is so closely related seemed pointless, especially since answers that I would need are interrelated across all three.
I am interested in examples like you listed, which is why I asked for them, in the question.
I am in the beginning stages of the work in question, and I do want my beliefs to be true in them.
@Standback Forgot to tag you i here. Sorry lol. I'm sort of nonplussed by this process. It seems like the site is designed to make it incredibly hard to ask multi-leveled questions. If you want to ask something simple, SE is good. Anything complicated and everyone throws up their hands and shouts discussion.
I'm here to ask what in my mind is a simple question, and frankly, feel insulted by the level of outrage on the part of other users.
Especially since I had already been dragged through this last night with Neil.
I'm not trying to be caustic or cause problems, I just can't see the problem.
 
9:09 PM
@GabeWillard: I don't see it as a simple/complex problem. I see it as a 'solve my problem' vs. 'talk about this subject' divide. That's the nature of SE; that's what it's good at. Obviously, that's... rather more restrictive for a creative-oriented site like Writers than it is when talking about programming questions.
SE is no good at multi-leveled questions. You wouldn't want to read a Q&A with multi-leveled questions; it'd be a mess.
I'm sorry you see this as so much of an effort. I really hope you understand that what you're seeing here is criticism - not outrage. If you interpret people saying, "listen, the format here just isn't working" as "outrage," than... you might be taking constructive criticism too personally. Or, a site with such a strict structure and moderation policy might just not be for you.
BTW, what SE would do great at is if you broke your broad, multi-level question into a whole bunch of smaller questions.
Each of those could be answered really well. And you'd be directing people towards the specific goals and solving specific problems, rather than the free-for-all "everybody contribute whatever you associate with the topic."
I hope that makes sense :)
We are what we are. I promise you, there are dozens of great forums across the web where you could post that question and get a great discussion out of it. We're not saying otherwise, not for a moment.
 
9:34 PM
But it'd be a discussion, with everybody adding whatever they thought. It'd start springing tangents and sub-conversations, and people might start a whole discussion just on OSC's religious writings, etc. etc. And that'd be fine, for there.
 
I suppose I can see your point. A lot of the finer points of SE make absolutely no sense to someone who is new to the site, myself included. In fact, that's my main criticism of the site. Unless you have been here for a long time and know what you're doing, it feels like a very difficult environment to get acclimated to. I do a bit of usability analysis as a web developer; I'm not just talking out of my face. The usability of the site is great. The educating new users, is much lacking... :-/
 
SE is a Q&A, because its power is being able to focus only on the questions that can have answer, without discussions. that's how I see it, anyway.
Working on that... :)
 
Again. Not claiming to know everything. I'm no Jeff Atwood, or Spolsky.
 
You can see we're willing to devote a whole lot of attention to individuals :D
I've gotta go.
ciao!
 
Would a question about copywriting belong in writers.stackexchange.com ?
 
9:36 PM
This is true. And that saves a lot of potential problems.
@DesignerGuy per the FAQ, yep that's well within the scope here. In fact it mentions it by name. :)
 
10:11 PM
@GabeWillard - Thanks
 

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