Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Clarity

It will be another two weeks before I can type at anywhere near my normal speed so I've been reading about writing. So I will share a couple of nuggets that I've run across:

Issac Asimov:
"I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing: to be clear. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might (if I were good enough) get me a Pulitzer prize. I would write merely clearly and in this way establish a warm relationship between myself and my readers, and the professional critics: Well, they can do whatever they wish."

This is much like my idea for my writing that it is always “The story must come first”. All the other stuff is great, but if the story isn't clear to the reader then it is no longer a story.

Robert Heinlein interrupted by Robert J. Sawyer:

"Rule Three: You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order
This is the one that got Heinlein in trouble with creative-writing teachers. Perhaps a more appropriate wording would have been, "Don't tinker endlessly with your story." You can spend forever modifying, revising, and polishing. There's an old saying that stories are never finished, only abandoned — learn to abandon yours.
If you find your current revisions amount to restoring the work to the way it was at an earlier stage, then it's time to push the baby out of the nest.
And although many beginners don't believe it, Heinlein is right: if your story is close to publishable, editors will tell you what you have to do to make it salable. Some small-press magazines do this at length, but you'll also get advice from Analog, Asimov's, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction."

I really can't say enough about all the feedback that I got from “Ray Gun Revival” before they published my first story, that advice was invaluable.

As far as learning to abandon as opposed to finishing a story this is also invaluable. Learning when to leave it alone and stop tinkering with it is a tough thing. In rewriting you hit the point of diminishing returns quickly.

And finally a word on the end objective of writing:
"And how is clarity to be achieved? Mainly by taking trouble and by writing to serve people rather than to impress them."
F. L. Lucas

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