Forum: Writer's aids

Discussing: New writers

New writers

As a new/less skilled writer, I would like to discuss improving one's writing, methods of getting help, what is helpful, etc.

I am transferring some of a good discussion from a different forum to start us off.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: New writers

It isn't a bad thing to be known for resources rather than acceptance, but I have heard several people comment that they wanted to get MORE people involved and writing. These are just a few of my observations as to why I haven't felt like more than an 'unwelcomed guest'. Perhaps if you wanted to be more 'newbie' friendly you could try and be more aware that people other than your tight circle of friends was reading what you post?

Ariel, I have been a member since August, and have felt some of what you are feeling. I haven't read some of the popular works, or they haven't inspired me to discussion whether I liked/disliked them. And I'm crazy about some works that don't get discussed, such as Miss Padfoot's 'Exile.'

My take on this is that's it's like being the new kid in school. No one's being rude, but it's up to the individual to get involved and find the area they want to talk about. For me, it was Resources and research articles. I do see what you mean about new people. I've been thinking about how to get the newer, or in my case, less skilled writers to feel that there is a place to focus on them. Whether to form small groups to workshop each other's writing, or some other method.

So, I challenge you to come up with some suggestions as to how make new members/writers more a part of HASA. Established friendships will exist, and those with particular interests in each other's work will continue to discuss it. Many of us have limited time. What new and wonderful thing can we craft out of this?

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: New writers

I've been thinking about how to get the newer, or in my case, less skilled writers to feel that there is a place to focus on them.

I must confess that this is very much on my mind too. I am forever finding the stories with the fewest reviews on ff.net and reviewing them! And some of them are darned good stories! I tend to favor the underdog, the unsung and the forgotten - all but one of the stories I recommended were recommended by me alone! I feel very strongly that no one should be left behind and that writing skill is something that anyone can develop given some intelligence and hard work.

So, I challenge you to come up with some suggestions as to how make new members/writers more a part of HASA.

And you were saying something about limited time? LOL I will have think about it. I am not part of the powers that be and also have little time to become so, but I will see if I can't come up with some ideas to encourage less acknowledged writers.

Besides, you never know. One of them may turn out to be a heck of a lot less of a PITA than me!

Ariel

 

 

Re: New writers

And you were saying something about limited time? LOL I will have think about it. I am not part of the powers that be and also have little time to become so, but I will see if I can't come up with some ideas to encourage less acknowledged writers.

I believe that good suggestions that are feasible technically can be implemented, although it may take time depending on technical issues. Having been considering this myself, I am most eager to hear other takes on how to accomplish it.

On ff.net, I see several things in my own behaviour, that probably influence many others as well:
I tend to read only stories in genres and with characters that I have a high chance of enjoying - which means some very good stories will go unread.
I tend to review only when I like the story a lot, or when I see someone writing well that in my opinion only needs some nudging this way or that.
There are definite taste issues as well. There are writers that many people seem to like, but are simply not my cup of tea. This is obviously true of the classic, published greats also.

I will only do comprehensive reviews and point out all issues I see when I have been specifically asked to beta, and even then, I am cautious until I KNOW the author wants thorough commentary.

I find the beta back and forth exhilarating, and can see the great benefit from 4 or 5 people discussing/brainstorming one writer's story. The problem is that unless one is already writing very well (not me) how does one induce others to go through this process?

I look foward to see your ideas on this.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: New writers

I find the beta back and forth exhilarating, and can see the great benefit from 4 or 5 people discussing/brainstorming one writer's story. The problem is that unless one is already writing very well (not me) how does one induce others to go through this process?

You have hit the nail on it's proverbial head. I also fall into that catagory of not being an accomplished writer already (though I work very hard at it). It is difficult to get better when you aren't good enough to interest anyone in your stories and you feel too self concious to ask someone in particular to read them! Just putting up your story as a beta and attaching a discussion to is *should* count as asking for your story to be beta'ed, but let's face it. Who has time to go searching for a story to beta? LOL.

Ariel (still thinkin')

 

 

Re: New writers


Just putting up your story as a beta and attaching a discussion to is *should* count as asking for your story to be beta'ed, but let's face it. Who has time to go searching for a story to beta? LOL.

Exactly.
I, and others, have already found that this isn't sufficient. You are putting a story out, and asking that anyone who cares to comment, do so. But many people are already up to their ears in obligations. I have commented on beta stories only 3 or 4 times since I joined, and always cautiously since I don't know how the writer will react. As on ff.net, I'm most likely to comment on a single issue that I feel very sure about. Even when I have specifically emailed people asking them to beta, here and on other beta lists, the rate of return is quite low. You are, after all, asking people to do it as a pig in a poke. They have no idea of what they are getting into.

My experience on ff.net is that even with the ease of reviews, and even when the reviews are nice and make one feel good, they don't necessarily help you write better. I'm grateful for every single review I've gotten, but out of 21 reviews on 3 stories, there was one comment that showed me how to improve. Actually, it's the reviews that DON'T make you feel good that can be the most helpful.

I'm moving this discussion to resource forum, under "Writer's aids."
I think a lot of others are probably in this situation, will be interested, and may have ideas of their own. Let's torture them with having to think up ideas, also.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: New writers

A suggestion from a non-newbie re: beta works and feedback.

I'm not much into beta-reading unless someone specifically approaches me (you'll note I'm not on the beta-reader list, either). And even then, I tend not to take that on, because I'm usually up to my ears reading and writing other things (not necessarily fanfic--bloody term papers...). I've once left a writer dangling for six months on one beta chapter, and after that, I swore off beta reading, unless the work was short.

However, the point is, if you want to talk about a story, the best way to make that happen is to e-mail specific people who are most likely to be interested. Chances are good that even if the person won't beta read, they will read and give some feedback, I'd say, particularly if you present the work one chapter at a time.

Another essential tool in getting feedback is learning how to focus on the specific points of your story that you feel need polishing. Don't just say "I have a fic that's complete--ten chapters. Anyone want to give me some feedback?"

Try something like: "I've written [title] but this one passage bothers me [insert passage]. I can't figure out what's wrong with it exactly, but here are some thoughts. It's in [location in story--this is so that the reader can read around the passage to see how it attaches to the material on either side]. Could anyone offer suggestions as to what might be bothering me?"

Or: "I have problems writing [the first kiss, death scenes, sex scenes, endings, Elves, etc.]. I suspect that it's because [supply speculative reasons: mechanics are not my strong point, my vocabulary is weak in this area, I don't have any knowledge of the psychology involved, etc.]. How do other people handle these kinds of scenes/races/emotions? Do you have examples of passages? Here's my latest attempt at this particular kind of scene/dialogue/race. What do people think?"

Not only does this make the conversation more accessible to your potential commentators, it's a good way to develop a critical attitude towards your own work that goes beyond "I'm not a good writer" or "I try hard." We all suffer from those feelings some days--"Dreams" was a bear to write and I wasn't sure of it. But notice what I did in the summary of the story: I asked readers for specific kinds of comments based on what I perceived as the weak points or problematic points of the story. If you can identify the specific areas where you need help, that's a big step towards improvement right there.

There's also a psychological factor at work here: presenting yourself as open to criticism is a good thing; presenting yourself negatively as a writer who lacks confidence in his or her work is not. It will drive others away--who wants to read a fic if the author gives the impression that she has little faith in it? I'm not saying go the other direction and be painfully perky, giving the impression of having no critical edge, but try for that happy medium. Be specific in your questions and concerns. I think you'll find that as you improve in that area of self-criticism, you'll need beta readers less and less.

I hope this is somewhat helpful. I don't think anyone is intentionally trying to snub you. Ariel, you may have specific difficulties because there are relatively few hobbitists (if you'll permit me to coin a term) on the list, at least insofar as I've been able to tell. I think that trying to do what I've outlined above will help make your fics in particular more accessible to a broader range of readers and allow them to feel that, even if they'r not hobbit writers, they can still contribute to your discussion.

 

 

Oops, I forgot!

One more thing: to ferret out those who are interested in the same characters or types of stories that you're interested in, I'd say make good use of those member bios. Look at the common posters to HA the yahoo group. Note them well. Go look at their bios to see what they find interesting. If you don't see anyone with your particular fanfic interests, check their recommended list. See anything good there? Click on that author's bio, etc.

If you absolutely run out of resources on this, you might e-mail some of your personal favorite fanfic authors and ask them if they've seen any good fics at all in a given category, or if they can recommend a member/non-member who is both a good writer and also interested in a specific genre or character. That way, you have a chance of finding examples (if nothing else) of well done stories about characters you like or genres you enjoy.

You may have figured this method out already, but I thought I'd post it anyways for future reference.

 

 

Re: Oops, I forgot!

Thanks Dwim.
You give me courage to start a story discussion, and get feedback to fix the beginning of Friends Like These...

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Oops, I forgot!

One more piece of advice (then I swear that I will indeed shut up!): getting people into your discussion forum is a bit like getting people to answer challenges. Use the list to snare people into a discussion, then suggest transferring the discussion to your forum, possibly even copying list postings if there's something particularly fruitful or useful that someone has written. If you can get the first batch of reader through your virtual door, you'll have a much easier time dealing with other stories of yours.

That is all. Glad I could be of some service. :-)

 

 

Re: New writers

There's also a psychological factor at work here: presenting yourself as open to criticism is a good thing; presenting yourself negatively as a writer who lacks confidence in his or her work is not. It will drive others away--who wants to read a fic if the author gives the impression that she has little faith in it?

Well, if she DOES have little faith in it, at least she's being honest. -
I am a horrible judge of my own stuff and what I like others don't seem to. It is as much lack of confidence as an insecurity about my own taste.

I prefer dealing with people who aren't 'painfully perky' and anyone who is over confident of their work usually gets my eyebrow cocked. There is also the fact any time I have felt somewhat good about something I wrote, I read something that is really good and feel like hitting the delete button. I will try to be less negative - but without feedback it is easy to assume the worst. You are right about the lack of hobbit readers on this list and that may be part of the issue - and it also may be that my stuff isn't interesting enough to get a notice. I guess I have always just figured it is better to whisper over something good than to crow over absolute garbage.

Ariel

 

 

Re: New writers

Ariel said:

Well, if she DOES have little faith in it, at least she's being honest. -
I am a horrible judge of my own stuff and what I like others don't seem to. It is as much lack of confidence as an insecurity about my own taste.


Honesty is the best policy, of course, but there are ways and ways of being honest. I didn't have the utmost faith in "Dreams," to take my own example again. But I kept my concerns in the form of specific questions, and assumed that if the fic was *really bad* that people would in fact tell me that. They might e-mail me to tell me that, and sometimes when I solicit feedback, I flat out tell people: "Comments welcome, on or off list, whichever is most comfortable. I don't bite." That lets my potential readers know that they do not have to give feedback in public if they feel that their honest opinion would embarrass me or cast a bad light on other reviewers' high opinions, à la the little girl in "The Emperor's New Clothes"; it also lets them know that I'm a reasonable individual with a sense of humor (well, that's quite possibly debatable, but I do my best to fool everyone on that account. ;-) )

It's a funny thing: here we all are, writers with stories who are dying of anticipation to know what someone thinks of our work, and yet the reviewer is in exactly the same position that we are. You know how it is: you post a comment or send that e-mail, and all the while, you're sweating bullets. It took you two hours to write that e-mail, to try to be as positive as possible while pulling no punches and admitting your own fallibility. That review in itself is a work of art! What if the author thinks you're full of it? What if she disagrees? Will she flame you? Will she glomp onto you? Did you make a typo that would cause her to think you're a moron with no right to critique her work? Did you totally miss the point of this story, and will your comments prove you an utter philistine with no appreciation of the subtle? And on, and on, ad nauseum.

So just remember that that anxiety and uncertainty you feel while waiting for comments or presenting your story is mirrored in the reviewer; and the more nervous the author, the more nervous the reviewer is going to be, as well. It's a scary responsibility to review somebody's work: people have ceased writing because of comments made about their stories. Sad but true. But if you make the reviewer comfortable, by finding ways to communicate both your own reservations but also your pride in your story, then it's much more likely that you'll get more feedback and that it'll be helpful feedback instead of "Nice story, write more." Took me forever to figure that out, but once I did, it made my life oh so much less stressful!

 

 

Re: New writers

*waves* Newbie writer here =)

Dwim wrote:

if you make the reviewer comfortable, by finding ways to communicate both your own reservations but also your pride in your story, then it's much more likely that you'll get more feedback and that it'll be helpful feedback instead of "Nice story, write more." Took me forever to figure that out, but once I did, it made my life oh so much less stressful!

You've hit it right on the spot, Dwim. I'm very anxious to polish my writing abilties and one of the best ways I find is to through thoughtful reviews.

I try to respond to throughtful reviewers, not only to show my appreciation for their time, but also in hopes to eliciting more details about their feedback and suggestions. But I'm leery of coming across as being greedy/ungrateful ala that infamous scene from Oliver Twist ("More?! You want more?") and i really do not want to impose on their time either.

And it seems like i'm perpetually wracking my brains to convey that I truly mean that "(Constructive criticism appreciated)" bit plastered at the end of the summary! And i do proclaim right at the top of every piece that i'm a novice, no Tolkien scholar and appreciate feedback either through the online review board, or via private email. So far, I've had limited success garnering feedback. I've come to a few possible reasons:
1) Not many read my writing: and then I need to ask myself "why?" The most obvious would, I don't have the readership -- then I ask myself, are my fics that bad? But judging from the review I do get, my writing's not quite abysmal ...
2) My readership is not inclined to interaction. I'm cool with that, though I wish there was a way to know how big the readership is in this case
3) Since I publish on ffnet, and am not a prolific writer, it's the sheer volume of traffic that's limiting my readership, and hence the number of reviews, and therefore the number of thoughtful reviews (one can always delusionize right? LOL)

For a newbie/unknown writer, especially when one's main outlet is ffnet, I consider it a blessing when I get a review that tells me something about style/content etc. Not that I thumb my nose at the simple "I like it!" review ;) because those do tell me that the piece is being read.

On the other hand, as a reader, if a writer comes across as being uncertain of his/her work, I'm more than likely to give it a miss. So it's really a fine art to be able to come across as confident yet open/inviting/appreciative to feedback.

rambling newbie
~W

 

 

Re: New writers


----"Well, if she DOES have little faith in it, at least she's being honest. I am a horrible judge of my own stuff and what I like others don't seem to. It is as much lack of confidence as an insecurity about my own taste. " - Ariel

I feel the same. When I write, then read through my work again, I always find myself going, - "and just WHO is going to read this junk?!"

Often I don't like how my chapters turn out. I always worry about my writing style, my description, and always the tediousness of how my writing tends to unfold, and paragraphs, etc. In other fandoms, it is somewhat easier, but for some reason I find Tolkien's universe harder; though it is obvious why; the archaicness in writing and in speech, etc.

Ditto with reading someone else's work and then going to work on my own. I find myself overwhelmed at the quality of other people's work, and then, going back to edit a chapter which I am usually previously happy with, I question how good it really is. Then, after that, I nitpick on every detail until the chapter is only 'satisfactory', wheras before reading another story it was 'good enough to post', lol.

Being honest: I find it veeeeery hard to have confidence in my own work, because in truth, I have no idea what other people think of it, and, I suppose, this iiiiiiis kind of related to feedback. Because I severely get sick of the usual "Great work, keep going." "I loooooooove it, write more!" ...etc.

- That kind of response, and ONLY that kind of response gets me freaked. Sure, occasionally I'll get the nice long critique - which I love, but with only brief, undetailed responses telling me to keep going, which are my usual replies on sites like ff.net, I still find I lack encouragement to keep writing.

It is also with these responses that I lose confidence in my work; "if I don't know how I'm going, then how am I supposed to improve?"

...that always runs through my head. For example, Dwimordene, in many of your stories people give nice loooooooong feedback. Man would I kill for that! - well, maybe not kill ;), but you know what I mean.

I think what would really help for every un-confidant author, would be someone experienced in writing/grammer/Tolkien-verse, etc..., not necessarily to beta read, but to review their work/chapter at every post. That way, an overall commentary would help the writer know what they need to work on OVERALL, and not just have their stuff picked at without justification.

If a writer knows what they need to work on, they can get help with that, and keep working on it until they improve and become a better writer for it. But, just like all new/previous "ff.net" authors, the site does/doesn't help, depending on the quality of story/reviewer. That is why HA is such a huge step - here, everyone is a good writer, and is recognised as such; also why I have such a huge lack in confidence in my own work, lol. Whereas on ff.net, it is rare to have quality reviews and work.

It could also be my location; I know no one else around here who writes fanfiction, or even writes at all. And anyone who does (which is NO ONE, lol), knows nothing about Tolkien's stuff. And so thus, I am stuck.

Ah well, all I can say is having confidence in my writing is a damned scary thing. Like Ariel, I am being entirely honest when I say I'm unsure of my work. But, who knows, maybe that's just another newbie thing? ~_^

Cheers,
Skaara!

PS: Sorry this post sounded so negative. I assure you, it isn't intended that way, and tone-of-voice is always hard to discern over the internet, lol.

 

 

Re: New writers

Ditto with reading someone else's work and then going to work on my own. I find myself overwhelmed at the quality of other people's work, and then, going back to edit a chapter which I am usually previously happy with, I question how good it really is. Then, after that, I nitpick on every detail until the chapter is only 'satisfactory', wheras before reading another story it was 'good enough to post', lol.

Oh, do I understand this! I feel this way a lot.


It is also with these responses that I lose confidence in my work; "if I don't know how I'm going, then how am I supposed to improve?"

Yes, yes, yes. I finally hooked up with a regular beta, which helped a lot. But I've also gotten a lot out of the forums here, and finally got the courage to start a discussion for myself.

I think what would really help for every un-confidant author, would be someone experienced in writing/grammer/Tolkien-verse, etc..., not necessarily to beta read, but to review their work/chapter at every post. That way, an overall commentary would help the writer know what they need to work on OVERALL, and not just have their stuff picked at without justification.
That would be nice...sigh. Dwimordene's 'The art of getting feedback' thread on this forum was helpful for me. I see now that most people don't have time to take on everything about a fic. If you break the task into pieces, someone is more likely to take it on. Pick one or two things, and ask in your forum "does it sound Tolkienish?" or "does my plot work?" or whatever.

. That is why HA is such a huge step - here, everyone is a good writer, and is recognised as such; also why I have such a huge lack in confidence in my own work, lol. Whereas on ff.net, it is rare to have quality reviews and work.

Not all who write or post here are published on HASA. Many of us are here because we want to improve, not because we are so good. But you are right, a big difference from ff.net- we want to improve.

Ah well, all I can say is having confidence in my writing is a damned scary thing. Like Ariel, I am being entirely honest when I say I'm unsure of my work. But, who knows, maybe that's just another newbie thing? ~

I think so, and some of us who've been here a bit longer still feel that way. I think the point being made in the above post was that if you put in your summary or open your story with "I know this is bad..." Most people will pass it by. That's very different from "There's some things here I'm working on and I'd like comments on xyz."

Anyway, you are here, you are posting, you are writing, good steps!

Do you have a discussion? I didn't see one.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: New writers

Well, I can assure you it is *not* a "newbie" problem. Perhaps the biggest distinction between a new and an experienced writer is the latter knows how to fake being confident.

I'm always jazzed when I'm writing, and then I am just mortified when I re-read it. "Who is going to read this CRAP?" I wail. So, what I've learned to read over for obvious typos (though Celandine will tell you I'm pretty hopeless on that count), and for logic errors (Oh, wait, could Bilbo have been there at that time? Was that the year thus and such happened?) and then I just send it on to my beta reader, and do my best to forget it.

If I could figure out how to get comments on every chapter of a story, I'd patent it. But you're right about one thing - gushes are not much help. Great for the ego, not good for the writing.

The unhelpful final answer, I guess, is that you have to want to write for the sake of the story itself, and do so in an environment where you won't be looked at like a total freak. I'm very lucky that my spouse is a semi-Tolkien fanatic (I read him LOTR & The Hobbit, and am reading him some of JRRT's letters as I go through them), and that I have other like-minded friends. But the rest of my family thinks I'm wierd, and hubby won't read anything with Hobbits & sex in any combination. Finding this list was the ONLY reason I'm posting any stories, or going on with writing.

ff.net is encouraging in a kind of negative manner - there is so *much* gag-awful stuff that you know you can do better. But it can't really offer support or point you in a new direction. HASA is one scary place to start - all the best are here. OTOH, it is also inspiring, it is full of great people who care that stories be well written, and if you get praise here, well, one short "This was good, but you need to work on that. Can't wait to see the next chapter," from *anyone* here is better than an armload of squees on ff.net.

So, I write and write and write... OK, I code and write and code and code and write, etc... and post it here because this is where the best authors *and* most discerning readers are to be found. Intimidating, but ever so rewarding.

Ang

 

 

Re: New writers

Hi Wayfarer. Back from the depths of RL, eh? Hope you've been well.

1) Not many read my writing: and then I need to ask myself "why?" The most obvious would, I don't have the readership -- then I ask myself, are my fics that bad? But judging from the review I do get, my writing's not quite abysmal ...
2) My readership is not inclined to interaction. I'm cool with that, though I wish there was a way to know how big the readership is in this case
3) Since I publish on ffnet, and am not a prolific writer, it's the sheer volume of traffic that's limiting my readership, and hence the number of reviews, and therefore the number of thoughtful reviews (one can always delusionize right? LOL)


All good possible reasons, and ones which occur to everyone, I think, who has had a story garner limited readership (as judged by numbers of reviews). I mean, "Religion" really languished at FF.net--I got more reviews for the *German* version of it than I did for the English original, which was really quite amusing to me. Was it particularly bad? I don't think so. Did it simply not appeal? Possibly the title was alienating (but I'm not changing it!). Was it buried at FF.net? Given when I published it, no, it wasn't buried. It just wasn't as interesting to readers as other things I'd written, and that's that.

There's really no way you can control possibility two or three directly, especially now that the Tolkien section has been deluged. Therefore, work on number one. Even then, it's not necessarily going to be the case that you get a large number of readers--how many times have we seen the really rather mediocre fic get reviews in the double or triple digits where a small gem slides through the cracks, unappreciated by most? Even larger stories can be ignored.

What I would suggest, Wayfarer, is using the discussion boards. I note you have two entries--"Etchings in Futility" and "The Twelve Days Of Gollum"--which could be discussed either in your own Challenge discussion or in the "Carols Challenge" discussion. But if you want them discussed, best to bring them up yourself.

This is another thing I have learned: if you don't talk about your work first, the chances of someone else doing so are relatively low. Some authors, because they are perceived to be known figures in the fandom, will have people start talking about their work without their having to do much more than say "Hi, I've posted such and such, come talk in my forum." Most of the rest of us have to work a little harder and start the discussion ourselves. And once it's begun, you have to tend it--this *is* a conversation, and if no one responds to a reader's comments, it's likely that that thread will die. So if you don't want it to die, keep talking. Keep questioning.

 

 

Re: New writers

I think what would really help for every un-confidant author, would be someone experienced in writing/grammer/Tolkien-verse, etc..., not necessarily to beta read, but to review their work/chapter at every post. That way, an overall commentary would help the writer know what they need to work on OVERALL, and not just have their stuff picked at without justification.

Hm. The few times that I have beta-read for someone, I have tried to give (after the particular comments) an overall impression of the chapter/work--the good, the bad, the lumpy. You might ask for that from your beta reader, or you might ask for overall impressions for "Together We Stand" from your reviewers. Again, though, start the discussion. Ask for specific kinds of feedback, and do ask for an overall impression of the story/chapter.

Another thing that you can do, and which might be helpful, is to get a reviewer to comment extensively on one chapter, with the intention of providing you with specific things to concentrate on as you continue writing. It's essentially making your reviewer a beta-reader for one chapter, and then asking for a summary at the end of the major areas to work on/major areas where you're doing well.


It could also be my location; I know no one else around here who writes fanfiction, or even writes at all. And anyone who does (which is NO ONE, lol), knows nothing about Tolkien's stuff. And so thus, I am stuck.

It is always lovely to have people in your RL who can share in the creation of your stories. If you do find someone who even just writes fanfiction (if not necessarily Tolkien fanfiction) you'll have a lot of fun. Otherwise, the net is a wondrous invention. But I do understand--for the first few months, I didn't know anyone else who wrote fanfiction. I felt as though I was alone in this, which didn't necessarily bother me--I'd written a lot of fiction before without ever showing anyone or discussing my all-consuming hobby. But it is helpful and very fulfilling to have others to talk to about fanfiction--yours and other people's.

 

 

Re: New writers

Message: Well, I can assure you it is *not* a "newbie" problem. Perhaps the biggest distinction between a new and an experienced writer is the latter knows how to fake being confident.

I laugh when it seems that I am being thought of as an "experienced" writer. This is my first fandom, I hadn't written a word of fiction since high school until last May, and my total fiction output is still under 150K words.

Having feedback is great, sure - and I tend to post in a couple of different places, which helps. I got some very nice early feedback from several folk here *waves at Dwim in particular* but I have to agree with Ang that in the end, you write for yourself more than anything else. Squees are momentarily nice, but that's it.

Knowing that there are people out there reading it helps too, even if they're not reviewing. Every once in awhile someone delurks to tell me that they've been reading one of my WIPs, and I bounce excitedly in my chair at that knowledge. It encourages me to go on. But I would go on anyway - I want to know what happens next, too!

Celandine

 

 

Re: New writers

Hello Dwim
Thanks for the welcome back ... alas the siesta's expiry is too short ...

Dwim wrote: What I would suggest, Wayfarer, is using the discussion boards. I note you have two entries--"Etchings in Futility" and "The Twelve Days Of Gollum"--which could be discussed either in your own Challenge discussion or in the "Carols Challenge" discussion. But if you want them discussed, best to bring them up yourself.

This is another thing I have learned: if you don't talk about your work first, the chances of someone else doing so are relatively low. Some authors, because they are perceived to be known figures in the fandom, will have people start talking about their work without their having to do much more than say "Hi, I've posted such and such, come talk in my forum." Most of the rest of us have to work a little harder and start the discussion ourselves. And once it's begun, you have to tend it--this *is* a conversation, and if no one responds to a reader's comments, it's likely that that thread will die. So if you don't want it to die, keep talking. Keep questioning.


Oh yes, I am much much tempted to. In fact, I want very much to get views on the other stories I've got on ffnet too. But RL is relentless, and I just felt it would be really bad form to set up a board, get a conversation going and then disappear into the depths of RL :| *steals guilty glances at Denethor poetry challenge forum* by the time i can crawl back into the conversation, all i'd see is cobwebs and tumbleweeds. Knowing how I myself would feel, I don't think I could easily get another discussion going after that.

So I'm biding my time ... I expect RL would be easier, erm ... right around the middle of 2004, so meantime i talk to musie and i tell my preciousses "Patience, my loves, patience"


Dwim wrote: It is always lovely to have people in your RL who can share in the creation of your stories. If you do find someone who even just writes fanfiction (if not necessarily Tolkien fanfiction) you'll have a lot of fun. Otherwise, the net is a wondrous invention. But I do understand--for the first few months, I didn't know anyone else who wrote fanfiction. I felt as though I was alone in this, which didn't necessarily bother me--I'd written a lot of fiction before without ever showing anyone or discussing my all-consuming hobby. But it is helpful and very fulfilling to have others to talk to about fanfiction--yours and other people's.

Oh yes! it makes a tremendous difference that.

And to skaara and lyllyn's comments about newbies asking for and getting feedback: I'd agree with Lyllyn there. It makes a world of difference how it's worded. Though the sentiment may be the same, between a piece where the writer says that feedback on the piece is appreciated and another saying "Here's something I wrote, but I'm not sure of it, please read and tell me if it's good", imho, the former would be more favourably looked on by readers simply because the writer's wording his/her feelings about the results of his/her work is more inviting, at least at the onset.

oops, ramble overflow ... before I go, Merry Christmas!
~W

 

 

Re: New writers

"So, I challenge you to come up with some suggestions as to how make new members/writers more a part of HASA. Established friendships will exist, and those with particular interests in each other's work will continue to discuss it. Many of us have limited time. What new and wonderful thing can we craft out of this?

Lyllyn"


I think this thread is a good way to do that. Knowing that there are others out there with the same concerns we share is a first step in learning how to do things better. I have personally enjoyed this thread very much; I noticed there are other writers who feel just as scared as I do! And I also had the chance to read the thoughts of more experienced writers (Dwim, Anglachel, Celandine, Wayfarer) regarding this matter. This site has been a tremendous help and inspiration, and everytime I read someone's work I try to think about why it is successful, how does the author handle dialogue, what do I like about plot development, scenery, what new devices does s/he use, etc. and I comment on that when I write my review. I find that writing reviews has been one of the most helpful tools I could ever use, and not only do I help the writer, but I help myself as well.

I guess the only way to make your way through the fanfiction writing world is to work hard. You have to read, learn, and sometimes your own insecurities get in the way and, boy, it is discouraging! I know this because I always fear that I will not be able to explain myself properly since english is not my native tongue... this might be my greatest fear. But, writing has helped with that too, so it is a twofold process, I guess.

I like Dwim's ideas about asking for specific things you would like others to look for when they read your work, and I will put that to practice next time I post something.


"So, I write and write and write... OK, I code and write and code and code and write, etc... and post it here because this is where the best authors *and* most discerning readers are to be found. Intimidating, but ever so rewarding."

I think Ang is right. I have posted stories where I get from two to five reviews, but some of them have been written by members of this site... Those have been my most rewarding, helpful reviews.

Yesterday I watched "The Muse," again... Have you ever watched that one? This lady (Sharon Stone) goes around telling everyone that she is a muse and she will inspire everyone with ideas to become better/successful in their chosen field. The wonder is that she does!! Everybody seems to be inspired by her; gathering the courage to try something new, they all start broadening their horizons and making a lot of money... It just so happens that, right at the end of the movie, they find out that she is not 'a muse' but she suffers from a mental disease and has multiple personalities. It is too funny, but it also makes you reflect... She did not help them triumph, they did it of themselves; it was their own insecurities that were barring their way. This realization has helped me a lot, and I hope it helps you all as well. We are, of course, afraid to fail, but if we don't try, we will not gain anything. The writing experience is very rewarding and enriching. Even if nobody else reads our work, we would still be learning so much (in my own case, I improve my grammar, lexicon, I learn about new subjects as I do research, and I meet new friends...) I think if you present yourself as a serious writer who is sincerely trying to get better, you are likely to get helpful feedback. Thanks for sharing your concerns with the list, you have truly made my day (:

 

 

Re: New writers

I think if you present yourself as a serious writer who is sincerely trying to get better, you are likely to get helpful feedback.

I have certainly found this here at HASA. My experience is limited, my muse elusive, and I write so blasted SLOW. But people are willing to give feedback when I make it clear I'm serious about wanting to receive the bad with the good. I too found that reviewing others helped me to look at my own work more clearly.

I have not watched 'The Muse.' Thanks for the suggestion. I'll put it on the (sigh) list.

 

 

Re: New writers

I've read various complaints that new writers, both new to HASA and new to writing, find it hard to get feedback, especially if they don't have the time or expertise to beta other writers' fiction.

I'm willing to try to help any writer, new or experienced, who is serious about writing. See the beta-reading thread in my personal discussion area (Tavia Thoughts) for more details.

Tavia (aka Firerose)

 

 

Re: New writers

Can I encourage anyone who is serious about writing to take Tavia/Firerose up on her offer? She's an absolutely first-rate editor. More valuable than mithril; you don't get an offer like this every day.

She's also very patient with primadonna writers who refuse to make even tiny changes to one story, and then agree to everything she suggests on another when she's spoiling for a grammar-fight

 

 

Re: New writers

Tavia, I would love to avail myself of your help, and it is very generous of you to make this offer. I will be posting 'In Defense of the Light' in beta in the next day or so, and can use all the help I can get. I know I tend to have pacing problems, and I'm sure other problems that I am less aware of.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: New writers

Because I severely get sick of the usual "Great work, keep going." "I loooooooove it, write more!" ...etc.

Darn it all I'd like to get sick of that ;-) I'm sorry, but coming from fandoms where one doesn't normally get any feedback at all I just find it slightly boggling (though, yes, I guess I can see where you're coming from) to see people complaining about too much positive feedback ;-)

Avon
(OT again, sorry) ;-)

 

 

Re: New writers

Darn it all I'd like to get sick of that ;-) I'm sorry, but coming from fandoms where one doesn't normally get any feedback at all I just find it slightly boggling (though, yes, I guess I can see where you're coming from) to see people complaining about too much positive feedback ;-)

I'll take any positive feedback I can get, even the "Great work" ones. But of course, everyone likes the juicy ones best. I got one that was nearly a page long once. That was fun!

--Ainaechoiriel

 

 

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