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BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?

katlaughing 04 Sep 07 - 12:16 AM
Riginslinger 04 Sep 07 - 12:10 AM
katlaughing 03 Sep 07 - 11:39 PM
Little Hawk 03 Sep 07 - 10:28 PM
Riginslinger 03 Sep 07 - 10:20 PM
Little Hawk 03 Sep 07 - 02:03 PM
Riginslinger 03 Sep 07 - 01:54 PM
Little Hawk 03 Sep 07 - 01:25 PM
John Hardly 03 Sep 07 - 12:42 PM
katlaughing 03 Sep 07 - 10:49 AM
John Hardly 03 Sep 07 - 10:11 AM
Folk Form # 1 03 Sep 07 - 09:54 AM
John Hardly 03 Sep 07 - 09:09 AM
Riginslinger 03 Sep 07 - 08:55 AM
katlaughing 02 Sep 07 - 10:52 PM
GUEST,leeneia 02 Sep 07 - 08:05 PM
Uncle_DaveO 02 Sep 07 - 03:36 PM
Stringsinger 02 Sep 07 - 01:37 PM
Little Hawk 02 Sep 07 - 01:16 PM
Uncle_DaveO 02 Sep 07 - 12:29 PM
Riginslinger 02 Sep 07 - 11:50 AM
Uncle_DaveO 02 Sep 07 - 10:45 AM
Uncle_DaveO 02 Sep 07 - 10:33 AM
Jeri 02 Sep 07 - 09:49 AM
Bert 02 Sep 07 - 02:32 AM
Amos 02 Sep 07 - 12:53 AM
Riginslinger 02 Sep 07 - 12:05 AM
GUEST,Cruz 01 Sep 07 - 11:52 PM
katlaughing 01 Sep 07 - 06:37 PM
Slag 01 Sep 07 - 05:37 PM
GUEST,mg 01 Sep 07 - 05:22 PM
Little Hawk 01 Sep 07 - 05:20 PM
GUEST,mg 01 Sep 07 - 05:15 PM
katlaughing 01 Sep 07 - 04:39 PM
Big Mick 01 Sep 07 - 03:25 PM
Little Hawk 01 Sep 07 - 03:06 PM
Stringsinger 01 Sep 07 - 03:03 PM
Amos 01 Sep 07 - 02:51 PM
Little Hawk 01 Sep 07 - 02:33 PM
Jeri 01 Sep 07 - 02:02 PM
Riginslinger 01 Sep 07 - 08:56 AM
GUEST,leeneia 01 Sep 07 - 01:09 AM
Jeri 31 Aug 07 - 11:28 PM
Little Hawk 31 Aug 07 - 11:10 PM
GUEST,AR 31 Aug 07 - 07:55 PM
Little Hawk 31 Aug 07 - 07:49 PM
GUEST,AR 31 Aug 07 - 07:35 PM
Riginslinger 31 Aug 07 - 06:43 PM
Little Hawk 31 Aug 07 - 04:09 PM
Riginslinger 31 Aug 07 - 02:30 PM

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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 12:16 AM

You may read all about them in This Thread, Frank. We haven't really kept at them the way we used to. They usually just started with someone's bright idea for a plot, so posted and those of us who wanted to added our own characters, etc. There is an index of them on that thread, a ways down, one of my postings. Ah, Here it is.

Have fun!


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Riginslinger
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 12:10 AM

kat - I'll have to try the Mudcat story threads. How were they composed?


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 11:39 PM

Hmm..I'll have to watch for some of Parker's books. I like what I read HERE.

If you like Chandler, you probably would like two Mudcat story threads: The first of the True Detective story threads and, The Return of Blake Madison.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 10:28 PM

Ah. Well, that all sounds pretty good to me.

Raymond Chandler was amazing. I read all his books a few years ago, one right after the other. Went on a big Chandler spree for awhile.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Riginslinger
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 10:20 PM

Right now I'm reading "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I'm also reading some material about the life of Big Bill Haywood, a book entitled "Big Bill Haywood & The Radical Union Movement," by a professor named Joseph R. Conlin, and some other stuff.

          I think Haywood was right in recognizing that in order for labor to be effective, they had to be organized world wide. He had trouble gaining an audience when he lived, I just think he might have lived a hundred years before his time.

          I will buy anything Robert B. Parker publishes, and read it within a few days time. It's a compulsion I can't explain. He is suppose to be the heir apparent to Raymond Chandler, but I find him to be much more compelling than Chandler.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 02:03 PM

Well, it's hard to be interested in something one simply can't relate to. That's why I don't read novels about rich people's love affairs in Hollywood or whatever...but they seem to be very popular. ;-) On the other hand, I love spirituality, some (though not most) science fiction, and some (though not most) fantasy. I also like history.

What do you most like to read about, Rinslinger?


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Riginslinger
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 01:54 PM

"This says nothing about the quality of the writing, but rather says something about the background, tastes, and interests of the reader."


                Your certainly right about that, but I can't even get interested in something with a spiritual theme. I stay away from science fiction and fantasy as well.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 01:25 PM

Some people are instinctively drawn to spiritual themes, and I think that would include me and Kat. Other people are instinctively put off by them.

This says nothing about the quality of the writing, but rather says something about the background, tastes, and interests of the reader.

I hardly read anything that doesn't have a spiritual theme anymore.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: John Hardly
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 12:42 PM

"But, different strokes for diff. folks, eh?"

As a guy who make a living in the arts, I thank God every day that that's true!


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 10:49 AM

Hmmm...never have liked Koonzt.

As for Hillerman, it's not his spirituality, but that of the Navajo and, sometimes, Hopi Nations. Also, far from being fantasy, his portrayal of reservation life and people is spot on. But, different strokes for diff. folks, eh?


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: John Hardly
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 10:11 AM

Oh, there's no doubt about the similarity throughout his writing. He even repeats motifs -- Elvis, dogs, elevated menial/manual labor.

One thing he does often that I enjoy is making a strong female protagonist that saves herself rather than being rescued by some male hero. I guess I kinda like that because I was raised by a woman who was never "rescued" by a man.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Folk Form # 1
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 09:54 AM

Koontz is very a good writer, but his characters are all the same: A traditional family who, through a comittment to the protestant work ethic, have moved into the middle class. Something evil comes along and threatens to take away what they have got. He is a bit like Ayn Rand, although a lot more talented.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: John Hardly
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 09:09 AM

I never cared too much for Hillerman. His characters always seemed not to be real, but rather, his version of what I felt he thought someone wanted to read about. Like fantasy.

I just finished the best book I've read in YEARS -- The Highest Tide -- the first novel by Jim Lynch. It brought home yet again how important an interesting pov (in this case, a young boy) is to good writing.

I think that's one of the strong suits to Dean Koontz -- an unabashed fantasy writer. In fact, in that sort of way, Koontz is like the anti-Hillerman. Koontz is writing fantasy, but with strikingly real people, while Hillerman is proposing real life drama with stick figures.

Koontz points of view are endlessly fascinating and quite often REALLY funny.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Riginslinger
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 08:55 AM

I suspect it's Hillerman's spiritualism that makes it not work for me.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 10:52 PM

Well, I do have to admit I was a bit disappointed in Hillerman's last novel, but he is in his 80's and in not the best of health, so I give him a little leeway. I love his main characters, Joe Leaphorn and Jm Chee. I identify so strongly with a lot of the spiritualism he writes about and love the country most of his novels take place in. His works have always engaged me and I found several of the women characters to be much more than "cardboard." I think of his novels as fast, good reads and I greatly respect him as a person esp. considering the honour the Dinee/Navajo Nation have bestowed on him.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 08:05 PM

A person can be a good writer and be worth reading without being a great writer. Tony Hillerman, for example. I have been out west quite a bit, gone hiking and so forth, not just driven through. Sometimes I can read a passage by Tony Hillerman which evokes the desert so vividly that I can almost smell the hot, rock-scented air.

However, his women characters seem made of cardboard - mere stick figures put in there to advance the plot.

One day I was reading a novel where a man with a name like McManany might have been the villain. Then a man named Taggert might be the villain. I knew that Taggert was the villain, because no Hillerman villain would have a soft name with a lot of M's and N's in it. At that point I quit reading Hillerman.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 03:36 PM

Frank, the use of the semicolon is never (as far as I can see) required for joining two clauses. It's a matter of the writer's style.

Now, suppose I left out the parenthetical and said, "The use of the semicolon is never required for joining two clauses. It's a matter of the writer's style." Okay, you'd buy that, and it's perfectly grammatical.

But suppose I as the writer feel that those two clauses really amount to one grand thought, more closely related than merely two different statements of principle. I might want to indicate that closeness by using the semicolon. If I were speaking that larger thought, my speech cadence would indicate that closeness, and I'd want the written form to show that.

I know you don't like it, but it's not wrong either way.

In a way, I see the semicolon in that sentence as the equivalent of inserting ", but instead", joining the two parts of the combined thought.

The only sin would be to do a comma run-on to accomplish the same end.

I assume you are not criticizing the use of semicolon(s) for a complex series. If you are, then we've got a serious disagreement.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 01:37 PM

"The semicolon has two uses: As the period's cousin, and as the comma's big brother."

I think that the "semicolon" is invariably "half-assed".

I'll take two complete statements. I assume if one follows another, they are related contextually.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 01:16 PM

Bert, I have not read Conan Doyle's "Sir Nigel" or "The White Company". I have read the Sherlock Holmes stories and "The Lost World", and I thought they were marvelously well written tales. "The Lost World", in particular....it's a simply wonderful flight of imagination. It's a shame they have never managed to make an even half-decent movie based on it, but that's Hollywood for you.

For one thing, they insist in implausibly putting some good looking women (at least one, anyway) in the expedition party (for the usual reasons) which inevitably screws up the story utterly....the chances of a woman going along on such an expedition at that time in history would have been virtually nil.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 12:29 PM

"Aww, gee whillikers, shucks!" said he, lowering his eyes, blushing, and scrubbing the dirt with his toe.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Riginslinger
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 11:50 AM

"Most writers are consistently competent, thanks to their proofreaders. 'Good' is a step above 'competent' and I'm pretty sure we can find passages in every author's work that we find lacking..."   
    "The question isn't 'who', it's 'why'? What is it about the author's writing that makes it good?"

                Jeri - Yes, that's a good point. In today's market place well placed writers are often revised extensively by editors and proofreaders. In a sense it kind of becomes a writer's conspiracy. I suspect this is especially the case in nonfiction. I was watching Glenn Beck on television--in a weaker moment, and somebody was ragging on him because he "didn't even write his own book."
                His response? "Nobody writes their own books anymore."

                In the case of both Ernest Hemingway and Robert B. Parker, they both insist they never revise. I find this incredibly hard to believe, but it keeps them from falling into the catagory of a writing factory with a big name for promotional purposes.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 10:45 AM

Jeri said, in passing:

There's also the unimportant communication that involves a writer wanting to tell me something and being completely competent, but I don't want to read it. From the reader's point of view, it may be good writing, but it doesn't matter. From a writer or an editor's point of view, is it good writing if most people don't want to read it? The writer's communicating his little butt off, but that doesn't matter. There is something needed beyond communication.

Seems to me that communication is not a one-way street. If the writer gives you a long paragraph (or even a whole article) of inconsequentials, and loses you as a result, there is no communication. In that case the writer put a lot of stuff down, but he's not "communicating his little butt off", to use your enchanting phrase. As a parallel, take a schoolteacher who knows his subject, organizes it well, but fails to motivate the class to pay attention: No learning is going to occur.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 10:33 AM

GUEST,Cruz, asked in part:

Er, I do have 1 question: when DO you use a : instead of a ; and. . .

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether a poster is serious in asking a question or if it's a tongue-in-cheek rhetorical joke, but I'm going to assume it's a real question. I'll try to give some guidance, on that basis.

A colon expresses a sense of expectancy. It's an introduction of an expansion or explanation of the first part of the sentence. I was going to say that it's the equivalent of "as follows" or "that is to say" or something like that, but often the colon actually follows that kind of phrase. It says to the reader: "Here comes an explanation or expansion."

The semicolon has two uses: As the period's cousin, and as the comma's big brother.

As the period's cousin, it is used to put what might have been two full grammatical sentences together as one, when the thoughts of those two units have a particular relationship that's better understood together. Unfortunately, you often see people try to do this with a comma, which in my high school and university English classes was a no-no; it would earn you an automatic F, regardless of other merits of the paper.

As the comma's big brother, the semicolon is used to separate a series when one or more of the parts of the series already calls for a comma or commas, which would make the whole thing an incomprehensible mess if you then tried to separate the series with commas in addition.

Oh, and there's another, not-so-common, use of the semicolon, which you will see in legal writing quite commonly, but not generally in general writing. In legal (and maybe other complex) writing there may be a series of thoughts which would justify paragraphs in themselves, and which should be separately considered. The writer will present the thoughts as a series of paragraphs on the page, but ending each with a semicolon rather than a period before the change of line and the indentation of the next paragraph.

Now, I just hope that the question was asked seriously. Otherwise, I've just unnecessarily bored you to tears.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Jeri
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 09:49 AM

Stringsinger, "Creativity in writing is a form of communication."yes I agree. I think I was interpreting 'communication' to be more surface-level and obvious. Amos, sometimes I just talk out of my ass, but I think what I meant was what I said in a vague sort of way.

On communication being not the most important thing: sometimes creative writing asks questions and makes you think, sometimes it leaves things unsaid so you can fill in the blanks. Get a group of people to agree on what certain lines by ee cummings or Bob Dylan mean, and you'll understand what I mean. If you want to call the empty space that calls you fill it up with your imagination 'communication', I can understand. Questions are communication of a sort and I don't want to quibble, just explain why I said what I said.

There's also the unimportant communication that involves a writer wanting to tell me something and being completely competent, but I don't want to read it. From the reader's point of view, it may be good writing, but it doesn't matter. From a writer or an editor's point of view, is it good writing if most people don't want to read it? The writer's communicating his little butt off, but that doesn't matter. There is something needed beyond communication.

Riginslinger, I was trying to avoid listing favorite authors/good writers because the thread's about what makes good writing. Most writers are consistently competent, thanks to their proofreaders. 'Good' is a step above 'competent' and I'm pretty sure we can find passages in every author's work that we find lacking. I think we've had author fan lists before. (I don't know the thread titles off the top of my head though.) The question isn't 'who', it's 'why'? What is it about the author's writing that makes it good?

I think when we get rid of all the opinions about good writing we don't agree with, we may be left with this: good writing is that which readers want to read. Then again, someone will feel that some other aspect is more important, so Cruz probably has it write: there are no absolutes in the Universe. (Almost always never.)


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Bert
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 02:32 AM

Jeri says,

"Communication's important, but it's not what makes good writing. Well, it does in technical writing. I understand maybe that appeals to some, but I still sort of like creativity."

I dunno Jeri, if you are not communicating, then nobody is going to continue reading. It doesn't matter how creative and original your thoughts are; if you don't communicate them, then your readership has fallen asleep after the second paragraph.

And Little Hawk, Did you ever read Sir Nigel, or The White Company? Such a dreary load of CRAP and Sir Arthur thought they were his best works. His Sherlock Holmes books were good though.

Some authors seem to have one masterpiece in their life which stands out amongst a lot of mediochre work.

For instance, did Tom Sharpe write anything better than "Wilt"
or did Brian Callison write anything better than "Trapp's War"

Although they both wrote other books that were OK. did they contain "the absolutes of good writing".


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Amos
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 12:53 AM

Frank:

I feel the same way about Steinbeck's stuff.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Riginslinger
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 12:05 AM

I had a long entry, but I clicked on an entry in the middle of it, and lost everything. Lesson learned.
    "Few people are consistently good writers, Riginslinger. Many, many people are capable of good writing."

                     
          "I read mostly works of fiction."


             I disagree. I think there are people who are consistently good writers.

             The only writer I've tried to read on katlaughing's list is Tony Hillerman, and I didn't find it very compelling. On Little Hawks list I agree with Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and C.S. Forester. I suspect there's an element of gender bias in this.

             I can read anything by Robert B. Parker and be thoroughly entertained. I don't know why. I've tried to immitate him, on occasian, with limited success.

             Anyone who reads Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea," and can say that's not great writing is brain dead.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,Cruz
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 11:52 PM

I always say there are no absolutes in the Universe. However, there is now one absolute I have learned by reading this thread, when I did not nodd off to sleep, and following my many years of searching for the Holy Grail of Science:

Absolutely never-ever-no-how-for-sure-fire-and-for-certain ever come to a place like the BS section of any such forum as Mudcat, especially so, to inquire about the absolutes of good writin'
























Er, I do have 1 question: when DO you use a : instead of a ; and should I use the numerical 1 instead of 'one' in my scientific abstracts, and etymologically when should I ........................


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 06:37 PM

LOL, Slag! Ya done well...er..weller...or, I mean ya did good!

LH, I think you would really like Anaya's writings. They are really quite beautiful. Also I think you'd really enjoy reading about this fellow's exploits AND, this gal from seventh century Ireland, not only a religieuse, but also a dalaigh, an advocate of the ancient law courts. Really interesting and engaging.

Oh, and I agree with your list, too.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Slag
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 05:37 PM

And there you have it, boys and girls: The bare bones absolutes of good writing. Study the foregoing and I am confident that you too, will be a Good Writer whom can write well, er, as good or even gooder then me!


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 05:22 PM

Good writers here.scratch that..people I enjoy reading..well, I would say Big Mick, John in Kansas (I can't remember his style one way or another, but he seems knowledgeable as though he writes engineering books for a hobby), Sir John of Hull, Alice, Marion, CapriUni, oh that is enough for now. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 05:20 PM

I have not read most of those on your list, Kat.

If I were asked to name some really fine writers I've read, then I'd pick...

Mark Twain
H.G. Wells
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
H. Ryder Haggard
Rudyard Kipling
C.S. Forester
Sri Aurobindo

I don't tend to read modern novels much, so I'm sure I've missed out on a lot of great contemporary writers.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 05:15 PM

True what Jeri said about good writing..but the position in question is an editing position..probably not a proofreading/copyreading one, but one that selects or improves on good writing..but an editing position nevertheless...mg


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 04:39 PM

That's exactly it, Mick. I cannot often name the exact element of what may be wrong or write right in a sentence without looking it up, but I know when it is either. I had excellent teachers in that they also focussed on creativity from first-grade SRA writing program and on. Some were sticklers on grammar, etc., but they all encouraged creativity. Lots of times people who've read something of mine are surprised when I tell them I didn't graduate from high school, but have a GED. I believe my jr. and sr. high education was better then, than college is today and I am grateful to all of my teachers and my parents for being so encouraging.

The other question the chief editor asked of me was "What authors/works are examples of great writing?" Here is what I answered, though there are many more I could have named and, I agree, they do not all need to be known except for the purposes of the specific job test I was taking. I've seen equal or better writing than all of the following, right here on Mudcat. I also learned about a few of these from other MUdcatters:

Rudolfo Anaya – Bless Me, Ultima; Alburquerque: A Novel; Bendiceme Ultima

Tony Hillerman – any title

Marion Zimmer Bradley – any title

Judith Thurman – Secrets of the Flesh: The Life of Collette

Peter Tremayne – any of the Sister Fidelma series

Lindsey Davis – any of the Falco series

Morgan Llywelyn - 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion

Anything by M. R. James and other "classics," i.e. Kipling, Scott, etc.

Nevil Shute – Round the Bend

James Herroit - any


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Big Mick
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 03:25 PM

So many things go into the mix that I think, on a personal level, it simply comes down to what grabs me and holds me. Due to the fact that Union Organizers spend weeks on end alone, and in places far from their homes, I tend to read a great deal. Sometimes it is for pure entertainment, sometimes it is inspirational, sometimes it is information oriented so that I may come to know my adversaries, and most of the time it is research oriented so that I may sing my songs from a position of understanding what the conditions were that spawned them. I consider myself strong in the empathy suit, so that if I can find a really well written treatise on a person, act, event, conditions, around which songs were built, then I can sink into that song and relate it to the audience that I am singing it to.

Which brings me to a point about good writing. I am unschooled, and unsophisticated, when it comes to understanding what constitutes good writing. I have never studied the elements of it, and when I write something, such as some of my Vietnam posts, or posts for the kids in Why We Sing, it is usually from the heart. But when I am reading, it is easy for me to discern good writing, as it relates to me. If it turns into "white noise" and I realize that I have read several pages, or para's, and I don't know what they said, then I am reading from an author that just fails to hold my interest. If I am reading something, I am interested in what it says. But if the author lacks the ability to phrase, and as Frank says, fails to paint pictures that I can see, that content is going to go by the wayside for me.

Mick


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 03:06 PM

People's writing can shine when they are truly inspired,   when they really mean it from the depths of their being (as Amos just said). That happens, but it doesn't happen too often. For most of us, it happens quite rarely.

I read mostly works of non-fiction, primarily spiritual philosophy of one kind or another. In other words, I am drawn more to reading about ideas, than reading about personalities, life stories, and specific events. I want to understand my position in life itself, my spiritual nature and purpose, that sort of thing. Still, I have read some fine fiction now and then.

I think the book that hit me most powerfully in the last 10 years was Mark Twain's "Joan of Arc". Why? Well, that would be a long story. The idea of the sacred female, the heroine, seems to be at the centre of my being. It is for me the strongest of all archetypes. For me, the Christ figure ends up being a female. Don't ask me why, because I don't know. It's a mystery.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 03:03 PM

Jeri, I submit to you that if writing is not authentic, but specious and insincere, this does not qualify as communication. To me, communication is when something is clearly written, evokes an emotion of empathy or understanding on a deeper level than some tripe written for effect.

Creativity in writing is a form of communication.

There's always this caveat. Some writing communicates to some people and not to others.

There are authors who I have been told write well but they do nothing for me personally.
Since they have been touted as good writers, I am expected to go along with the program.
I don't see this as valid or necessary.

The writer that communicates to me personally in a way that evokes thought, feelings, empathy, paints pictures that I can see, opens my mind to new ideas or conveys something human and personal is my idea of a good writer.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Amos
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 02:51 PM

Communication's important, but it's not what makes good writing.

Ya know Jeri, you have a hell of a roundhouse. My first instinct was to blather in protest when I read this. After all, the only measure of writing's success, I would have said, is what, how much and how well it communicates; communication is the whole burrito.

But I think you mean something else, far more subtle -- that if writing is well-crafterd, but does not come from the authentic own depths of the writer hisself, the writing can miss even if it seems polished as communication.

This is a very interesting point, assuming I have gathered it in right.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 02:33 PM

You're quite right in what you say about good writing, Jeri, and yes, the Black Madison posts are wonderfully done.

However, I think that a great deal of the overtly pedantic posts are done entirely tongue in cheek, don't you? It's just some joshing around between friends. I doubt that any of us would seriously assert that it is perfect grammar and perfect spelling which make for good writing.

I would also say that there are times when one wishes to write seriously and really communicate something significant with others...and there are other times when one wishes simply to amuse oneself, pass the time, and engage in other completely unimportant and non-weighty activities of that sort...activities which have no lasting merit in the world of fine art.

I do not intend to kneel before some digital God of "good writing" and tearfully apologize for having sometimes done the latter, and I don't see why anyone else here ought to either. As you say, many of us are capable of good writing. That does not mean we are under some stern obligation to do absolutely nothing BUT good writing in our time spent in these sacred halls, I hope.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 02:02 PM

Few people are consistently good writers, Riginslinger. Many, many people are capable of good writing.

This Blake Madison post is my favorite bit of writing here, although most of the Blake Madison posts have been remarkable. There have been other pieces of writing, both inspired and inspiring, done by various people. There have been pieces about war and loss, about love and hope, about other people and other times. They didn't share the same author, but what they had in common is that for a while, telling the story was the most important thing. It was more important than self consciousness and fear of ridicule, more important than anything anyone else had to say, more important than projecting an image of themselves.

I read mostly works of fiction. My sole criteria for whether I think a book is good or not is whether I enjoy it without noticing the 'bones'. There are many things that contribute to my enjoyment, but I couldn't begin to analyze all of them. Sometimes, the writing gets my imagination going, and sometimes it rises above that and just sings. When I read for other reasons, my definition of good writing changes. Of course Stringsinger said it here, more concisely than I would.

I score tests for a day job - most of the time, English essays. Every once in a while, a kid will write something that makes my eyes leak simply because the writing is excruciatingly beautiful, and so unexpected on a school test. Sometimes, those kids can write as well or better than current published authors. Of course, they only have to last for a few pages.

I think my point (you HAD one, Jeri?) is that authors' names are irrelevant. Lots of people can shine.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Riginslinger
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 08:56 AM

Jeri - Who would you hold up as an example of a good writer?


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 01:09 AM

Very good points, Jeri.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Jeri
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 11:28 PM

It's indicative of the mood of Mudcat these days that a significant number of people seem to be focusing on the naked and uninteresting skeleton - grammar and spelling. Pedanticism is the refuge of those lacking in creativity or passion. It's not a bad thing to care about the mechanics, but if you think it's what makes good writing, you're missing the point.

Communication's important, but it's not what makes good writing. Well, it does in technical writing. I understand maybe that appeals to some, but I still sort of like creativity.

It's been said that the internet is a 'posters' medium'. People write because it floats their boat to see their little words go sail around the world. They don't have to care whether anyone wants to read what they write and they likely don't read what anyone else writes. If they communicate, fine, but that's not necessarily their primary goal, which is shouting "I AM" to an uncaring and bored-out-of-their-shorts 'audience'. Hell, we have people at Mudcat who continuously write inane and should-be-embarrassing one liners, say the same thing over and over, write an enormous quantity of blather or diatribe, often completely ignoring the subject to go have a wee wank at our expense. They read posts looking for anything to disagree with and they correct grammar and spelling because they lack the ability, initiative or simple the courtesy required to do anything else

Good writing is NOT primarily for the enjoyment of the writer. Good writing feels like the writer is completely engaged in telling you about something that excites them, because they want you to understand too. Good writing does not scream "LOOK AT ME" - it whispers secrets, it shows you dappled sunlight and dancing shadow, it makes you understand pain and celebrate redemption. Good writing sounds like, "Hey, here's something to enjoy... just for you."


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 11:10 PM

It's in how you wield the tool. The tool is nothing without he who wields it.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,AR
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 07:55 PM

No, it's in the tool.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 07:49 PM

"It's all in the wrist."


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,AR
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 07:35 PM

The 'absolute(s)' of good Writing: Use a good pen


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Riginslinger
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 06:43 PM

That's true!


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 04:09 PM

But it would get you a lot of votes.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Riginslinger
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 02:30 PM

Besides, if you talk like a rube you could be mistaken for the president.


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