Saturday, January 3, 2009

Getting Opinions

I am not one for writing advice. By that I mean all those self-help styled writing tips. Yeah, I know, on my twitter account I do follow two people who offer that sort of stuff, but I don't actually read it. There's a story behind why I follow them. I'll tell it some other time. I rather prefer things like my friend Bayley's twitwall where she asks questions such as where do you find your inspiration and why do choose first or third person. That's interesting. I like to hear why other people do something rather than being told why I should do something in a certain way,

Anyway, what was I saying?

Oh right, getting advice.

I write the character Brame for two different stories on PanHistoria - FLESH which is about zombies and 666 West End Avenue which takes place in present day New York in a creepy apartment building. I had written a post for Brame I was unhappy with and asked my friend Wyatt to read it for me.

There were several problems with it and talking to Wyatt helped bring them to light. Overall the post was fine. Standing on its own, no problem really, but you'd have to see the big picture to understand the problems with it. First, it revealed too much about the building. That was one reason I wanted him to okay it. He's aware of the story line in there and when you're writing in a collaborative novel you have to be concious of the overall story arc. Don't push too soon and I also thought this was giving away too much too soon.

Second the post was too clear. Brame is a confused little mess. Sometimes he is quite lucid, but this post was too lucid. Too clear. It practically sparkled with clarity. It lacked his confusion and his quirkiness. I think part of this was due to I wrote this too soon after writing a post for FLESH-Brame. That Brame has very distinct multiple personalities. 666 Brame has more of a fractured personality. He's erratic, not fully in control of his emotions whereas FLESH-Brame has a personality that when it surfaces everything becomes very clear and precise and focused. I wrote this piece too soon after writing that Brame.

And yes, that was a problem because this post in question was a filler post.

What is a filler post? A filler post is when you write a post just to be writing one and have something to put up. Maybe you haven't written in awhile, maybe a writing partner is pushing you to get something up in response to her post, or maybe you just like to see your character's name on the boards. Whatever, it's a post that doesn't progress your plot, doesn't really serve a purpose. It's just filler.

This post was filler that I tried to make serve a purpose and failed at.

Brame just happens. He's great that way. He pops up, knocks on my skull and says "I want to do this. Now let me out." So I let him out.

What happened was Brame had plans for 666, but I had just put up a post in FLESH where he was about to go out and let the zombies have him. In 666 his next post he appeared quite suicidal also and I thought, hmmm, don't want him going all suicidal in two posts. Looks like I couldn't come up with anything better for him to do. Even though originally these posts were planned very far apart, circumstances have led them to actually go up relatively close together. So I decided I would just write another post in between for 666.

Bad idea. I end up telling more than I want to tell and not writing true to this character. Plus I realize this scene would not really get me to where Brame wanted to be in the first place.

And I got all this just from asking my friend Wyatt to read over my post and give me his opinion.

Some people write completely alone without ever getting to know other writers. They don't want opinions or criticism. They're afraid of construction criticism. They only want the praise. I want both. I probably won't trust your praise without the criticism. And if all you do is criticize my writing and never say one good word about it, I'm probably going to start doubting your word too. Unless of course I'm just that bad.

Find yourself a writers community or even just one person who can be a little objective once in awhile. Praise is great, but you really need that person you can bounce ideas off of or turn to and say "what the hell is wrong with this?" who will honestly tell you what the hell is wrong with it. Plus sometimes it's when you hand that piece over to another person that you start to see from another angle.

It's like a friend told me about painting. He said there's a little trick to do when you're painting and need another angle on it. Put it in front of a mirror and look at it or even reflected in two if you need to see it without being reversed. It gives a new perspective.

Get opinions on your writing. Get a new perspective.

Here are some links mentioned in this post:
Me on Twitter
PanHistoria : check out the new Writers Muses area for daily writing prompts.
Bayley's TwitWall
Wyatt on Blogger
666 West End Avenue*
*To read FLESH or 666 West End Avenue you can sign in as a guest. It's easy. To use the guest login, sign in with pseudonym: guest and password: pan and on the next screen re-enter the password pan. You can sign in from the front page at or use the login link you'll find just below the upper left banner on most all of the pages at Pan. PanHistoria is free, by the way. So don't think I'm trying to sell you something. It's free to use. Free to read. Free to write on there too. You get three characters with your free acount and can delete and remake them all you want. I'm such a shill for the site, I love it that much. I should do a whole post just on Pan.

No comments: