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Old 01-17-2013, 04:23 PM   #1
kennyc
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Three Tricks that aren't tricks at all

I happened across the minimalists blog. (very interesting in itself) one guy is a huge writer and here is a recent blog entry:

http://www.theminimalists.com/tell/
Quote:
As far as I can tell, there are no magical writing secrets....

There are, however, ways to hone your focus:...

The three things I look for in my own stories—whether fiction or nonfiction, essay or short story, novel or scribbling on the bathroom wall—are…

Urgency. The first sentence has one job: make the reader want to read the second. ....

Details. God is in the details. But so is the devil. Details, even minute ones, are incredibly important; ....

Fun or funny. Every good story is either fun or funny (or both). Said another way, a story is fun when it is engaging, when it has a payoff, when it makes you think differently. ...
I wouldn't call the third one "Fun" myself, but maybe "Provide a Payoff" - maybe that's fun, a laugh, a life lesson, insight into another's life, etc. etc.

Thought?

What are your "tricks?"
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:07 PM   #2
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I'd say all 3 of those points come down to one word, "focus." If a story lacks focus it won't seem engaging as the details will be too scattered and the reader won't understand what is going on.
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:10 PM   #3
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I suppose, I guess I really would consider them separate things though, I've read some very detailed books/descriptions/etc. That were totally without urgency or pay off, and I've certainly seen urgency without the others. I think in any good writing they are all there and they are integrated into perhaps focus.

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Old 01-17-2013, 07:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennyc View Post
I happened across the minimalists blog. (very interesting in itself) one guy is a huge writer and here is a recent blog entry:

http://www.theminimalists.com/tell/


I wouldn't call the third one "Fun" myself, but maybe "Provide a Payoff" - maybe that's fun, a laugh, a life lesson, insight into another's life, etc. etc.

Thought?

What are your "tricks?"
For the third one, I suggest "Cause the reader to experience an emotional response." I'm not sure "fun" is the appropriate word for some works by King, Card, or Donaldson.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:17 PM   #5
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I suppose, I guess I really would consider them separate things though, I've read some very detailed books/descriptions/etc. That were totally without urgency or pay off, and I've certainly seen urgency without the others. I think in any good writing they are all there and they are integrated into perhaps focus.

Perhaps, though the author does have to choose if the story is to be humorous or tragic or scary etc. as most stories can't be more than one all at the same time I don't think. I mean the writer has to chose an overall tone and stick with it rather than blur the lines between one and another. That's what I meant by focus covering the third point. And as far as details how many stories can be more than one genre? While a mystery can have some romance and a love story can probably be set in a science fiction or fantasy world one genre has to be chosen as the main one. As the main focus. After all if the author isn't certain if their story is science fiction or mystery or romance or whatever how will the reader be able to tell?
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:00 PM   #6
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I'm really not sure what genre has to do with it. Even story type. All those things have to do with any kind of writing, that was kind of the point. That's why I thought the third one 'funny' didn't really apply to some types of writing but 'payoff' would. His 'urgency' is really just narrative pull. It applies to fiction, non-fiction, etc.

Focus alone doesn't really say much to me, whereas narrative pull, detail, and payoff do. Regardless of what type of writing.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:46 PM   #7
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True there are differences between fiction and non-fiction. But even with non-fiction there has to be a choice of which details to empathize while making a point I'd think. The slant of the article if you will. So the writer will choose points so as to focus the article in the direction they want. If two people are writing articles about Pres. Obama for example and one is positive and the other negative they will focus on different points or present them in different ways to represent their view. The same thing happens if two critics are reviewing a movie. One may like it and point out reasons why it's a good film and the other could hate it and bring up points why they think it's a bad film. I mentioned genre because if the author doesn't have a clear idea what story he/she is trying to tell (if it isn't in focus for them) then they can't be sure that the reader won't be confused as well. So they (the writer) have to have a focus. At least that's how I look at it. Everyone has their own way of viewing things. It would be a very dull world if everyone had the same viewpoint I think.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:50 PM   #8
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I think the Miniskirt Rule applies to all writing: It should be long enough to cover everything but short enough to remain interesting.
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:45 AM   #9
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I think the Miniskirt Rule applies to all writing: It should be long enough to cover everything but short enough to remain interesting.
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:51 AM   #10
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I think the Miniskirt Rule applies to all writing: It should be long enough to cover everything but short enough to remain interesting.
I definitely believe in concision.
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:59 AM   #11
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If one wants to read minimalist fiction, then I very highly recommend the work of Raymond Carver.



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Old 01-18-2013, 07:08 AM   #12
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Great stuff. He's one of my heros. (I don't care for his poetry though).
I keep his collection "Where I'm Calling From" by my chair and pick it up and (re)read one every now and then.

What We Talk About When We Talk about Love
So Much Water So Close to Home
and of course
Cathedral
...
and Flannery OConner .... A Good Man is Hard to Find...
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:04 AM   #13
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I agree being concise is important. If the author is vague about details and about what is going on why will the reader want to keep on reading? A story should be clear as to what is going on, who is involved and what the stakes are should the protagonist fail to reach his/her goal.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:08 AM   #14
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Heaps of great insight, not so much into writing process but into the purpose and goals of good wrtiing by George Saunders in the NY Times a couple weeks ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/ma...pagewanted=all I like his point that you're trying to move the reader to a certain place and it doesn't matter what you put in the writing to make it happen, it just matters that you make it happen.
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Old 01-19-2013, 07:33 AM   #15
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If one wants to read minimalist fiction, then I very highly recommend the work of Raymond Carver.
I'd also recommend Delaney's work. He manages to convey whole panoramic images and mind-numbing social contexts, but when you go back and look at the page, there are hardly any words there.

I still haven't quite figured out how he does that.
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