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Post Reply How do I tell whether or not my writing is awful?
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21 / M / California
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Posted 2/24/14
Being here means the obvious; I'm more or less of a writer of some kind, and if you've caught a glimpse what I post in the general discussion, I do my best to be one that's clever enough to entertain people. The thing is though, I can't help but think that I might actually be fairly bad at what I do. Sure I tend to get praise when I make my writings public for either here or my classes, but how does one go about determining whether or not what they put out is truly something good? Should the author even care, or just go the octopus mother route, letting the greater community decide the fate of the offspring?
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21 / M / California
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Posted 2/24/14
Your silence suggests that really I was awful for writing this, and that I just might be kind of awesome. At the very least I'm a solid writer.
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Posted 2/24/14
I think what makes a good writer is truth. They talk about truth. You can have as much intellect as you want, but if you can't see the truth, then it doesn't matter.

Not in terms of politics or anything of the sort. Personally, grammar is subjective, so I don't try to focus on that. I think material is the strongest part of a writing.

You commented on my post. That's what I'm feeling right now. That's the truth. Anyone can extrapolate information from sources and cleverly combine them and summarize them into your own writing. But I don't think that's what makes a good writer. I think what makes a good writer is someone who can see and admit there flaws and speak about them. They can relate their feelings and thoughts to others and have others relate to them. That's what I found very satisfying in my one writing called "The Loner Club" (which is in this writers section as well). People related to what I wrote, and I was able to help them through my experiences indirectly because I made them think. I didn't tell them what to think and what is and what isn't. I let them decide.

In classes you are often told not to include questions that engage the reader. I tend to disagree. I think that the writings that engage the reader with questions, some obvious and some not so obvious, are what make a good piece of writing.

Granted I would never consider myself a writer, nor would I expect anyone else to ever consider me a writer. I only write about me - experiences and feelings.

Sure you can write a book about freedom of speech, or a book on the history of the Titanic. But those aren't really writings. When you go back to the ancient philosophers (NOW THOSE WERE TRUE WRITERS), they engaged the audience. They made the audience think. They let them think for themselves, while at the same time guiding them to their ultimate point.

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Posted 2/24/14 , edited 2/24/14
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21 / M / California
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Posted 2/24/14


Ah. So Vegeta is real, and you're him. he he. Freeza made you cry.
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Posted 2/24/14

Lethargic_leopard_Seal wrote:



Ah. So Vegeta is real, and you're him. he he. Freeza made you cry.


Yup I'm Vegeta..... and It's PRINCE VEGETA! to you!
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21 / M / California
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Posted 2/24/14

schnipdip wrote:


Lethargic_leopard_Seal wrote:



Ah. So Vegeta is real, and you're him. he he. Freeza made you cry.


Yup I'm Vegeta..... and It's PRINCE VEGETA! to you!


Bitch, Freeza still made you cry
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Posted 2/24/14

Lethargic_leopard_Seal wrote:


schnipdip wrote:


Lethargic_leopard_Seal wrote:



Ah. So Vegeta is real, and you're him. he he. Freeza made you cry.


Yup I'm Vegeta..... and It's PRINCE VEGETA! to you!


Bitch, Freeza still made you cry


where did you even get that from? I never even mentioned DBZ lolz
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21 / M / California
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Posted 2/24/14

schnipdip wrote:


Lethargic_leopard_Seal wrote:


schnipdip wrote:


Lethargic_leopard_Seal wrote:



Ah. So Vegeta is real, and you're him. he he. Freeza made you cry.


Yup I'm Vegeta..... and It's PRINCE VEGETA! to you!


Bitch, Freeza still made you cry


where did you even get that from? I never even mentioned DBZ lolz


Vegeta's a proud loner.
Phersu 
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20 / M / Existence.
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Posted 2/25/14
Hmm. I think a good writer creates interest. If you can write something interesting, readers tend to forgive minor mistakes.
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25 / M / Smack-dab in the...
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Posted 3/4/14
It's crap. It will always be crap. Get that out of the way, and get it done. So you can get on to writing more crap.
Also, "Read a lot and write a lot."
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23 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 3/5/14
*crying hysterically* I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE THAT FELT THAT WAY!!!!

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33 / M / Denver
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Posted 3/15/14
The answer to this question (which I salute you for having the guts for asking) isn't what most people think. Here are things that I know for sure:

Are you writing for yourself, or for others/to be published? If you're writing for yourself, do whatever you damn well please, you only have your own writer's neurosis to worry about. If it's the second answer, read on.

You should already have, or be currently reading a lot in the genre of what you're writing. It'll help you avoid the well-mined conventions. It'll also teach you the expectations people have and the kind of audience(s) that read that kind of work. You'll build vocabulary naturally. Do make an effort to read examples in that genre that are GOOD though. You want that stuff to osmose through your work.

A well-written story that does nothing special will sell/be enjoyed. A poorly executed story that had one or more great ideas is a damn shame, and will be forgotten. That should take a lot of stress off of you, depending how serious you are.

Every book I write has different rules - determined by the above, and by that book. There is no end to the tweaks you can make, but apart from stylistic considerations (which depend on preference, genre, grammar, etc), every work will lay down its own rules that you cannot violate after you've set them down. Not without redoing the whole damn thing. As strange as it sounds, you need to be constrained by the limitations you set down, because that will tell you whether or not you've succeeded (whether or not it's any good). This happens a lot with characters, especially. Highbrow things like theme emerge AFTER you've written the piece, and it's the job of editing to bring it out.

Oh yeah. Learn to edit. Everything that's "bad" gets fixed in editing. People who don't edit are not writers, period. It sometimes takes me hours to fully edit my longer forum posts. It's also editing that will tell you what you need work on in general.

There are, of course, different emphasis on different types of writing. In poetry you're supposed to be as lyrical as possible. If you write a novel that way, you'll be laughed at, and rightly so. If you want to write comics, there's a lot of descriptive language you can skip over, because you'll have pictures doing most of your job for you.
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Posted 3/15/14
If your writing uses correct grammar and follows the basic rules of published fiction (correct formatting, etc.), then by all means your writing is 'good'. Anything else is subjective, because aside from the basic rules of grammar and formatting, there's no 'right' or 'wrong' way to write.

Of all the art forms, writing is truly the most subjective. Take, for example, art; in art, there are many rules and theories to follow, and a piece of art can be judged fairly in entire objectivity (color theory, perspective, anatomy, etc.).

In literature, style is almost always taken into account. It's very difficult to judge a piece of literature otherwise. Therefore, the answer stands as your own; are you satisfied with your writing? If you are, then that should be enough, but if you are not, then continue striving to improve.
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25 / M / California
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Posted 3/15/14 , edited 3/15/14
There ARE correct ways to write that are not good. But you must take into consideration what your writing is for. Is it a creative piece? A scientific article? A satirical play? You need to know why you are writing and who you are writing for. Grammar is easy. Grammar is dead. Style is alive and changes along with writers. Good writing goes beyond proper word usage and grammar. It should go without saying that everything you write should adhere to the rules of the language, with a few exceptions. If your standard is that you are good if you didn't break any rules, I feel that such a standard is too low and pulpy and cheap. That's lazy, plain and simple. For any sort of writing to be taken seriously, it HAS to be correct. Proper grammar falls below even the bare minimum for decent writing. It is something that you should have pounded into yourself until it seems natural to follow the rules. After that, style comes into play.

If you're writing something that aims to tell a bunch of regular folk how something works, dumb it down as much as possible. Say what you need to say as simply as you can say it. Avoid jargon but if you must use it, make sure it is fully explained.

If it's a poem, you need to make a lasting impression. There is so much freedom in poetry that it can be daunting. You can even break rules and people will not bat an eye. Make associations between things normally not associated. Do not write the first thing or two or three that come to your mind. Dig deeper, otherwise you may become a victim of the cliche pitfall, which is death to creative writing. Make your associations and images fresh, vivid, memorable. If readers have heard something before, it will feel weak. Sort of like how if you repeat the same word several times in one paragraph, it becomes weaker and less important, less memorable. Finally, the ending line(s) of any poem should be as powerful as possible.

Is it a story? Make things matter. If a gun appears in the story, it has to be fired at some point. Introduce characters in interesting ways. Make readers care about your characters by making them accessible and human. Also, you must EARN twists in the story. Do not jar your readers repeatedly for no good reason.

Ultimately, unless you are only writing diary entries for yourself, you will need other like-minded people to read your work. I'm not talking about just telling a friend to look at it. Find other writers of the same or higher level and share. You should also, as odd as it sounds, not care too much about what the community at large thinks about your writing. Most people are tasteless when it comes to literature. Their favorite books tend to be something they read in high school, which tells me that they have not been reading anything decent since high school. Just as there are bad TV shows and good TV shows, there are good books and bad books. Just as how much money a person has does not necessarily indicate how hard he worked, how much attention and fame a piece has does not necessarily indicate how good of a book it is. It merely indicates how many people read it...and tasteless people like some pretty sh*tty things.
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