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I accept 'Show' is better than 'Tell' ... But how, why, when, ...?

Ross at Play
Updated:

I post this as a new thread, instead of on the existing one I planned, in deference to the wishes of one regular contributor here who has decided to avoid that particular thread.

I wish to express some observations and doubts on this topic which I suspect are representative of those of use here who really do not have a clue.
There's a suggestion here that 'I saw her crying' should be replaced with 'She cried'. I can see that 'saw' is functioning as a 'filter word' and the suggestion results in changing a sentence that 'tells' to one that 'shows' … but is it "better"? I do not know, and I don't see why!
It's possible I would choose to make the same change myself, but my reason would be to achieve the same result with two less words, not a better result.
My assessment is one sentence has a construction which tells while the other shows - but both are showing the character of the female equally as well.
I am totally prepared to accept the principle that showing is generally better than telling as an 'article of faith', and one which cannot be proven. I've seen enough advice recommending that to conclude it would be unwise for me to not proceed with the assumption it is true – whether or not it can ever be proven, and whether or not I can understand how or why that is so.

I have some limited anecdotal evidence to support that view. I was reasonably satisfied with the first version of the first story I ever attempted to write – but I had not ever seen expression 'Show, Don't Tell' then. I cringe when I read that version now. I received some feedback from others along the lines it had some good elements, but I had a group of main characters who were difficult to tell apart. That was spot on. I would struggle to find more than a few adjectives describing ways in which those characters were different to the others.
I started writing a new version, sadly stalled for a long time, and tried to use dialogue instead of narrative when that seemed practical. I also selected which characters would say said which types of things, for example, having one make most of the timid statements, another the risk-taking statements, and another the cynical jokes.
I find my new version, as far as I've managed to go, much more engaging, and those who have read both have said that too. I tried to use show instead of tell, I at best did so only partially, and the result seems much better to me.

I am still very unclear about the extent to which showing should be preferred over telling.

I have seen plenty of clarifications here stating that showing is definitely not a universal good: that telling is better for some situations. I'm a long way from being able to make those kinds of judgement calls. I suspect there are many times I cannot even detect something is telling, much less know how to revise telling to replace it with with showing. :( Still, I think I should continue doing the best I can.

So, to the experienced authors here who've been trying to help newer writers acquire this important but difficult skill, I very much appreciate your efforts but they haven't really succeeded in penetrating my (thick) skull.
I have some questions about the mechanics of what you do, why you do it, and what, if any, evidence exists supporting beliefs it does improve writing. I expect the best you could do for some questions is to provide examples of choices you have made in the past and your reasons for those choices.

Please try to be precise in distinguishing between facts and opinions. Dominions Son has recently complained that some tend to phrase statements in ways suggesting they are facts, when they are merely strongly held opinions. I can see his point! Personally, I find the weight of supportive anecdotes is enough to proceed as if I accepted them as fact, but I think others should be able to assess the "evidence" when deciding whether they choose to accept the well-intentioned advice you make.
Although I have no suspicions your advice is incorrect, I strongly suspect some authors would be best served by not focusing on this point too closely?! If the time they can devote to writing is limited and their goal is for many others to gain enjoyment from their ideas, surely some are better off completing more stories than working on refinements to fewer stories which only improves them marginally!

So my questions about showing vs telling, and I'll surely have more later, are:
-* Why is 'She cried' better than 'I saw her crying'?
-* Can you identify situations where telling is necessary, or better than showing?
-* It's not always obvious to me when something is telling. Can you describe any tests you use in making that assessment?
-* Can you suggest any ideas for a "Showing Lite" that may suit some authors better? Are there some simple things that can achieve most of the improvements possible from showing? I guess generally preferring dialogue over narrative would be one of those.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

There's a suggestion here that 'I saw her crying' should be replaced with 'She cried'. I can see that 'saw' is functioning as a 'filter word' and the suggestion results in changing a sentence that 'tells' to one that 'shows' … but is it "better"? I do not know, and I don't see why!

Removing "saw" from that sentence won't help much, since the sentence is still telling the reader that she cried, instead of showing her. A better approach, is to simply have her wiping her eye, with no explanation, letting the reader figure out, on their own, that it (whatever happened) impacted her emotionally. Both the "saw" and the "she cried" removed the reader from the scene, as they're no longer watching events unfold, instead being told, by someone else, what happened.

It's okay for the narrator to describe events, but when he instead summarizes events so the author doesn't have to bother with them, readers understandably feel cheated of the event.

I started writing a new version, sadly stalled for a long time, and tried to use dialogue instead of narrative when that seemed practical. I also selected which characters would say said which types of things, for example, having one make most of the timid statements, another the risk-taking statements, and another the cynical jokes.

Rather than giving each character separate roles (serious, timid, brash), try giving them each unique personalities, and focus on their reactions to events (ex. stepping behind someone else, or demurring in discussions). A final step, more difficult to implement but well worth the time involved, is to give each character their own motivations.

If each character has a different motivation, wanting to achieve slightly different results, they'll each naturally have different reactions to any event in the story. This is especially useful for the 'explanation' scene where someone explains what happened (say after a big fight scene). As each character describes what happened, another can relate his perception of the same events.

The back and forth helps define each character, while also adding a needed dramatic element to otherwise slow passages. Plus, over time, those tensions will grow, until soon, you have a fight developing between your good guys, at the same time they're trying to resist the efforts of the 'bad' guys.

That's getting Way beyond mere showing and telling, but it provides a better means of getting into each character's head and understanding what drives them and how to portray them on the page. Once you get to know them this way, and the character establishes themselves, you'll no longer have to 'wonder' how they'll respond, as they'll jump off the page and assert themselves on the page.

I have seen plenty of clarifications here stating that showing is definitely not a universal good: that telling is better for some situations. I'm a long way from being able to make those kinds of judgement calls. I suspect there are many times I cannot even detect something is telling, much less know how to revise telling to replace it with with showing.

This biggest determining element, is how important the event is. If you're describing something that doesn't really impact anyone in the story, then feel free to tell all the minor details. However, if it impacts the characters, or if it will help define who the character is and what they stand for, then you'll want to show how they respond, rather than merely saying "they cried".

You'll want to show them dabbing their eyes, have their breath catch in mid-sentence, possible pausing a conversation as they regain their composure. There are a thousand details which convey 'tears' much more efficiently than "she cried", without ever actually telling the reader what's actually happening. What's more, since they're more subtle, the readers typically won't notice that they're even happening (which is always why it's so hard to imagine examples of showing, because, if done marginally well, they seem to be as obvious as the passing current in a stream. You don't stop and analyze the current, you just adjust your movements, never giving it a second thought.

If the time they can devote to writing is limited and their goal is for many others to gain enjoyment from their ideas, surely some are better off completing more stories than working on refinements to fewer stories which only improves them marginally!

That's why many author don't invest time in revising stories once they're posted, as they're more interested in investing the time in newer stories. But again, they key is always the emotional weight of a scene. If it's an inconsequential scene, or if the characters are only minor tertiary characters, then don't waste your time. But if the scene in important to the story, or defines the characters for the readers, then it's worth investing more effort, as the payoff for the time invested is MUCH bigger.

Thus a scene where, after making love, the main character breaks down, confessing doubts of his actions, it's worth exploring how the events impacted him, rather than merely summarizing them for the reader.

Can you suggest any ideas for a "Showing Lite" that may suit some authors better? Are there some simple things that can achieve most of the improvements possible from showing? I guess generally preferring dialogue over narrative would be one of those.

You're right. Dialogue is perfect for this, but only if you're comfortable with natural dialogue, as otherwise it'll come across as forced. I also like dramatic pauses in dialogue, which is why I'm such a fan of the ellipsis (to show hesitation) or the em-dash, to show when one character interrupts another (showing their emotional response to what the other character is saying), or even the hanging sentence (ending the sentence with an ellipsis to show the character has second thoughts about what he's just revealed, perhaps seeing the situation in a new light—which is then perfect for someone else to press him about his hesitation, so he can then reveal his newest thought, and why his previous ideas were flawed and short-sighted.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


readers understandably feel cheated of the event.


You know that any reader who isn't you would feel cheated how exactly?

This is stated as if it were a fact, but you can not have any basis to know this as a fact.

Crumbly Writer

Thinking about examples, I ran across this in my most recent story:

They stood in silence, but Phil didn't see any openings. While the Berserkers weren't active, they were more alert than usual. Stymied, he held a finger up, signaling Meg.

This short paragraph is ALL telling. There's no showing at all. However, it fits the situation. We already know the characters, Phil and Meg, and the new character they're watching isn't worth the effort to show, because his own actions will define him much more clearly than any slight 'showing' moment would.

While this opening scene is essential to understand what follows, it's perfectly fine to tell what's happening, since the readers doesn't need to feel what the characters are experiencing (other than the fact that Phil is nervous about what's about to happen, which is shown, quite simply, by his refusing to speak, silently signally his partner that something significant is about to happen).

In this way, you also see a very subtle use of 'showing'. Sometimes, a character's silence will speak louder than anything he could tell the readers.

Phil is guarded, on edge, nervous and preparing for things to go south, though he's not sure exactly what's wrong yet.

As this stage, the readers don't want any more detail than that. They too want to see what's going to unfold. Telling is fine here, and while there's a 'touch' of showing, it's purposefully kept to a minimum, only highlighting the most essential detail.

Just as a personal aside, for me, showing vs. telling is vitally important, because if highlights my inherent weaknesses as an author. As a victim of Asperger's Syndrome (and inability to read, process or show emotions), showing is important to me because I'm always aware of just how much I don't pick up in everyday encounters.

Since I can't see what's happening emotionally, I've learned to focus on other external cues, hence my concentration on dialogue to reveal what's happening emotionally. I can process words, especially the delivery of unspoken messages in how the spoken words are delivered.

Thus, for as much as I TALK about showing, I'm actually quite limited in how well I can do it. However I'm at least aware of my inherent limitation, and thus I work overtime to reveal important details in the few ways I can process them.

I can marvel at how easily other writers SHOW emotions, but translating that into my own work is incredibly difficult.

robberhands
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Removing "saw" from that sentence won't help much, since the sentence is still telling the reader that she cried, instead of showing her. A better approach, is to simply have her wiping her eye, with no explanation, letting the reader figure out, on their own, that it (whatever happened) impacted her emotionally. Both the "saw" and the "she cried" removed the reader from the scene, as they're no longer watching events unfold, instead being told, by someone else, what happened.


"I saw her cry" vs "Tears wet her cheeks" was the example I orginally objected in the "Filter Words" thread. If 'I saw her' isn't the message you want to impart, it's simply superflous to mention it, but it's not a good example for 'show' vs 'tell'. The verb 'cry'
doesn't need any showing. If you exchange "She cried" with 'tears wet her cheeks', you change the style of your writing from plain to flowery, not from telling to showing. Of course, that's only my opinion. Writing is no science and raising 'show' above 'tell' is also only a preference. There is no final truth rendered by an ultimate authority. However, there is the taste of time, and at the moment 'show' is undoubtly the preferred style.

ETA: I should have directed this comment at CW, no idea why I didn't.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Dominions Son


You know that any reader who isn't you would feel cheated how exactly?

This is stated as if it were a fact, but you can not have any basis to know this as a fact.


That's a fair critique, but in certain cases, because the scene/passage is SO central to the story, the reader will feel disappointed, not that it was TOLD, but because the scene wasn't expanded, that there wasn't as much too the scene. They don't feel cheated because of the technique I used, but by how little I (or any author in this case) felt the scene warranted more attention.

How many times have we all read a pivotal scene and thought: that's all there is? That's a case where something deserved more attention, more expansion to play on the emotions of the scene, but the author bypassed the opportunity.

That's how you tell which scenes are worth expanding, by how important the scene is emotionally to the characters in the story.

But no, there are no hard and fast rules about when you SHOW or TELL. You either understand the difference, and utilize it, or you do the best you can. However, recognizing when something needs to be expanded, you'll consider the options, hopefully ending up with a scene that show a little more, whether you intended to or not.

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

Of course, that's only my opinion. Writing is no science and raising 'show' above 'tell' is also only a preference. There is no final truth rendered by an ultimate authority. However, there is the taste of time, and at the moment 'show' is undoubtly the preferred style.

That's why it's essential to determine which scenes are worth 'expanding' (which I prefer over 'showing') and which simply aren't. If a simply summary of events is fine, then why belabor the issue. However, if it's a pivotal passage, the reader will won't the author to spend more time on the details. In that case, it's not 'flowery', instead it's 'fulfilling reader expectations'. They want to see what happens, and they won't be satisfied with a quick resolution (unless, of course, you've screwed the entire scene up, at which point they'll hope to finish the mess up as soon as possible to get it over with).

In my opinion, "I saw her cry" and "tears wet her cheeks" are both examples of hamfisted telling. That than describing the evidence of her crying, focus on the experience. Don't tell us she cried, show how she's trying to hold her emotions in check, so we'll know that something is about to break. When it does, and her lip begins to quiver, we'll be prepared for what follows.

If you STOP focusing on what's showing vs. telling, it'll be MUCH easier to manage! In this imaginary scene, it's not that you're showing anything, it's that the scene deserves more attention, and so you invest more time building the 'big reveal' up. You show the character is hesitant, unwilling to 'fess up'. She show her near the breaking point, so you (as a reader) lean in to discover what her 'big issue is', and then you, as the author, deliver the emotional impact by having her break down, throwing her arms around the characters and confessing whatever is bothering her.

That's NOT showing vs. telling, that developing a scene.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

the sentence (She cried.) is still telling

I knew I was not good at this, but I thought I could the the answers for two-word sentences correctly. :(

A final step, more difficult to implement but well worth the time involved, is to give each character their own motivations.

[An opinion stated as if fact and] not something I recall thinking about before, but I'm willing to accept that as an 'article of faith' already. :)

That's getting Way beyond mere showing and telling

And way before too ... don't even start until you've defined a central conflict and associated characters' motivations?

something that doesn't really impact anyone ... feel free to tell all the minor details.

I can see how briefer for that's not important is better. A greater proportion of the story is important.

That's why many author don't invest time in revising stories once they're posted

My little effort has not received any votes since a few weeks after it was posted. :(

Me : Can you suggest any ideas for a "Showing Lite"
You: You're right. Dialogue is perfect for this

Thanks. I've learnt a lot from that ... sadly including the fact the target is further way than I had thought. :(

EDIT TO ADD:

when something needs to be expanded ... hopefully ending up with a scene that shows a little more

That's a How To Guide with instructions I can understand, and possibly even follow. :)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
robberhands

@Ross at Play

Removing "saw" from that sentence won't help much, since the sentence is still telling the reader that she cried, instead of showing her.

Sorry CW, but such sentences just increase confusion. 'She cried' is not 'Telling' in the context we're discussing. To cry is simply a well known verb, that usually needs no further explanation. Don't build examples on one-liners without any context.

Ross at Play

@robberhands

@Ross at Play
... quote
Sorry CW ...

Just an FYI. You hit the wrong button to direct that at me.

Replies:   robberhands
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

-* Why is 'She cried' better than 'I saw her crying'?


Better? I'd say different depending on what the author wants to accomplish.

Both are telling. You're not showing her crying; you're telling the reader she's crying. The difference is the distance between the action and the POV character. With the filter word, the reader is looking at the character looking at the crying girl. Without it, you see her crying through the POV character's eyes. But since they're both telling it's not much different.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

Just an FYI. You hit the wrong button to direct that at me.


I noticed, just not sure how it happened, since I quoted CW. That's the second time today.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

but my reason would be to achieve the same result with two less words,


The goal shouldn't be to remove as many words as you can. It should be to choose the correct word and remove those that make the sentence weaker.

Ross at Play

@robberhands

I noticed ... second time today.

And once it's there you cannot edit it out.
... and none taken. :)

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play


-* Can you identify situations where telling is necessary, or better than showing?


1. To recap. Let's say you showed a scene. Maybe later you need to recap that event. You would simply tell it.

2. How important is it to the story? Let's say it's not so important that it's snowing so you would tell the reader, "It was snowing when he left the house." But let's say an important scene is someone trying to get to his girlfriend's house because he had promised and wasn't going to break that promise. You'd show him, "leaning into the wind, clutching his collar around his neck, the cold stinging his face, etc.).

robberhands
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Both are telling. You're not showing her crying; you're telling the reader she's crying.


She cried is a two word sentence, and not more than that. 'She cried, wildly waving her hands in the air and hopping from foot to foot. The janitor closing the door to the women's restroom walked away without a second glance in her direction.'

That is a showing scene, and 'she cried' is a part of it.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play


-* It's not always obvious to me when something is telling. Can you describe any tests you use in making that assessment?


This is just my opinion.

If the reader comes to the conclusion on their own, it's showing. (e.g., you can tell the reader the father is abusive, but if you have scene after scene where the father is being abusive, the reader will finally say, "That father is an SOB!").

If the reader can experience/feel something the character does, it's showing. In my previous example of the snowstorm, in the telling version it's information passed along to the reader, but in the second version, hopefully the reader can feel the cold, wind, etc. It's engaging the reader in the story, having them live it.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

But since they're both telling it's not much different.

I interpreted your comments in the Filter Words thread as suggesting removing a filter word will change telling to showing.
This is an example when what is left is still telling.
In your opinion, is something acting as a filter word always going to result in something that is telling, but removing the filter word is not necessarily enough to create something showing?

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

If the reader comes to the conclusion on their own, it's showing.

THANK YOU.
That is the kind of test I can use.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

I hope to not get too drawn into this one, because I think it's been hashed out a lot in the past without reaching a definitive answer as to where you draw the line. What follows is my opinion based on my observations as mostly a reader, but reinforced as an editor and an author.

A story that is all tell is unlikely to be a good read, while a story that is all show is also unlikely to be a good read. Some scenes are better as show, and some are better as tell. A good read needs a mix of both, and the level of mix should vary with the needs of the story being told, and it's very hard to state what is needed for every story.

Below are some examples of what I've seen go wrong in stories.

I've read stories where the quality of the whole story was lowered by the author having a section where they says things like: He said he would do it, and he said they were OK, and he said - it was all as narrative. If it had been put in dialogue it would have been better.

I've seen a story where the quality was lowered because of the way every conversation took forever to be done. Person would ask a series of simply questions of the same person and get a simple yes in reply to every question. In my opinion these types of scenes could be better handled (in most cases) with the one longer dialogue paragraph with each question being followed with a statement like: He nodded yes in reply, then go on with the next question and nod, etc.

.........................

Now, I'm not going to weight in on the 'she cried' example beyond saying how you word that will depend on what you're trying to present to the reader, simply because the various wording options will carry different meanings and levels of activity. I would see the level of emotional response carried with tears as a scale rising from: eyes misted over, teary eyed, tears on their cheek, cried, bawled, tears streaming down their face - each phrase implies more water and more emotion and can be used to either help show or tell the scene, depending on how you word the sentence and paragraph.

typo edit

Replies:   REP  robberhands
Switch Blayde

@robberhands

She cried is a two word sentence, and not more than that


"She cried" is no less telling than "He was angry." In your example, you told the reader she was crying, but showed her waving and hopping. Waving and hopping wasn't crying. It was showing something else while she was crying (couldn't tell what out of context). And that might be perfectly fine.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

In your opinion, is something acting as a filter word always going to result in something that is telling, but removing the filter word is not necessarily enough to create something showing?


I don't know.

From what I understand of filter words (and it's new to me) is they create distance between the reader and character. The reader sees the character doing something rather than seeing it through the character's eyes.

I guess the former is always telling, because you tell the reader what the character sees, feels, etc. instead of experiencing it as the character. But there's more to telling than filter words. "He was angry" has no filter word but it's telling.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

It should be to choose the correct word and remove those that make the sentence weaker.


Can you provide a clear and objective (not tied to personal aesthetics) definition of what it means to make a sentence weaker?

If not, how can this constitute useful advice?

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

In your example, you told the reader she was crying, but showed her waving and hopping.


Some people, particularly some women will cry because they are excessively happy. Have you never heard of tears of joy?

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Ross at Play

A final step, more difficult to implement but well worth the time involved, is to give each character their own motivations.

[An opinion stated as if fact and] not something I recall thinking about before, but I'm willing to accept that as an 'article of faith' already. :)

It's merely a technique, one which is difficult to pull off, since it doesn't 'fit' many stories. However, since you were discussing ways of 'fleshing out' your stories, I offered it as an option. It, by no means, is a silver bullet for writing, but it's something that I've found useful.

Note: I seem to have lost a quote here, as I was responding to something which is no longer included.

No. They're simply two different techniques. Use one, use both or neither. They're simply options, but they won't solve all you're problems. They're NOT a golden panacea.

But, more than anything else, I think we're ALL getting too involved with labels, giving them more weight than they're worth. 'Show vs. tell' is hard to fathom, because it doesn't actually identify anything, it's simply a way of thinking about writing. I prefer 'expanding' a scene. Thus, you ask 'does this scene need something more?'. If so, you approach it like any other scene, you foreshadow the issue (so the reader anticipates it), you build the tension (so they're waiting for the delivery), your provide a tipping point, and then you provide a clincher. That applies as much to emotional scenes as it does action scenes.

It's NOT about embellishing, which is more akin to putting tassles on a sofa. Instead, it's about providing what readers are interested in. If a scene is worth spending time on, then spend a little longer developing it, not because you're "supposed" to, but because your readers will appreciate it more.

They don't need more 'detail', they need more Story!

Replies:   Ross at Play
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

"She cried" is no less telling than "He was angry."

Yes it is, that's why 'to cry' is a verb and 'angry' isn't. Anyway, I'd prefere we drop that silly example. It isn't helpful at all.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

Sorry CW, but such sentences just increase confusion. 'She cried' is not 'Telling' in the context we're discussing. To cry is simply a well known verb, that usually needs no further explanation. Don't build examples on one-liners without any context.

In this context, the narrator is literally TELLING the reader what the character is doing. You're not allowing them to discover what's happening on their own (by reading about it), instead, the authors is telling them upfront: she cried, end of story, everyone pack up your bags and go home, there's no more story to tell in this scene.

Instead, I'm suggesting authors, in these situations, invest a little more time adding more to the scene than a simple summary of events they didn't bother to include.

Replies:   Joe Long
REP

@Ernest Bywater

A story that is all tell is unlikely to be a good read, while a story that is all show is also unlikely to be a good read. Some scenes are better as show, and some are better as tell. A good read needs a mix of both, and the level of mix should vary with the needs of the story being told, and it's very hard to state what is needed for every story.


Thank you! In my opinion, it gives the whole discussion a better perspective.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

The goal shouldn't be to remove as many words as you can. It should be to choose the correct word and remove those that make the sentence weaker.

Excellent point. The goal isn't to remove stuff from the story, it's only to remove whatever doesn't ADD to the story. Some words are just 'fluff', (like embellishments), they don't really add much to the story beyond just more words. We're talking about judgement calls about the value of each component of a sentence. If you review certain 'questionable' content, you can usually figure out whether it's necessary for the story or not. However, if you leave it in, it won't KILL the story, it's merely superfluous: 'of little value'.

Replies:   Joe Long
robberhands

@Ernest Bywater

A story that is all tell is unlikely to be a good read, while a story that is all show is also unlikely to be a good read. Some scenes are better as show, and some are better as tell. A good read needs a mix of both, and the level of mix should vary with the needs of the story being told, and it's very hard to state what is needed for every story.

Add to it that 'Showing' generally needs much more space (i.e. words) and you'll come to the conclusion that you should use 'show' where the story improves from its higher intensity and not just add to it's word count.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I interpreted your comments in the Filter Words thread as suggesting removing a filter word will change telling to showing.
This is an example when what is left is still telling.
In your opinion, is something acting as a filter word always going to result in something that is telling, but removing the filter word is not necessarily enough to create something showing?

Nope. They're two different things. Showing is merely helping the reader appreciate something, rather an merely summarizing it as you would an unimportant detail. With both "filler" and "filter" words, you're specifically removing the detritus of literature, (i.e. those spare words which add nothing of value, but which don't actually detract from the story either).

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

From what I understand of filter words (and it's new to me) is they create distance between the reader and character. The reader sees the character doing something rather than seeing it through the character's eyes.

You've got that backwards. "He said" ("said" is a 'filter word) is putting the narrator between the reader and the action. Including the actual dialogue (or replacing attributes with actions) allows the reader to experience the character's actions themselves.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Can you provide a clear and objective (not tied to personal aesthetics) definition of what it means to make a sentence weaker?

If not, how can this constitute useful advice?

In the case of "filler" words, it's words which don't add anything, like "that", or "then", which, when removed, don't change the meaning of the sentence at all.

In the case of "filter" words, it's trickier because it's based on how important the scene is. You can say "He said it was fine" if the statement wasn't particularly important, but if it IS, then you'd want to flesh it out, building the scene up so the reader can understand just how important the statement is.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

Add to it that 'Showing' generally needs much more space (i.e. words) and you'll come to the conclusion that you should use 'show' where the story improves from its higher intensity and not just add to it's word count.

Excellent. Now you're grasping the difference between the two.

Replies:   robberhands
Switch Blayde

@robberhands

Yes it is, that's why 'to cry' is a verb and 'angry' isn't.


Good point.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

"He said" ("said" is a 'filter word)


I hope you don't mean as a dialogue tag. "Said" as a dialogue tag is not a filter word. It's a critical word if needed.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

In the case of "filler" words, it's words which don't add anything, like "that", or "then", which, when removed, don't change the meaning of the sentence at all.


Except you told Ross that it's not about word count.

If removing them doesn't change the meaning of the sentence at all, how (other than by a pure word count criteria) do those words make the sentence weaker?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Can you provide a clear and objective (not tied to personal aesthetics) definition of what it means to make a sentence weaker?


Probably not because, as I've said countless times, creative writing is not like black and white math. But...

Get off of the horse.
Get off the horse.

I believe the second is stronger. Why make the reader read "of"? The second is more direct. Gets to the point quicker. More forceful. Stronger.

He was a big giant.
He was a giant.

Okay, if your story is about giants, one might be a big giant, but if all you're doing is saying someone is large by calling him a giant, then "big" adds nothing to the sentence. If it adds nothing, it makes it weaker.

robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

Excellent. Now you're grasping the difference between the two.

I could have done without the 'Now', but thank you anyways.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
Updated:

@robberhands


He was a big giant.

He was a giant.

Okay, if your story is about giants, one might be a big giant, but if all you're doing is saying someone is large by calling him a giant, then "big" adds nothing to the sentence. If it adds nothing, it makes it weaker.


Absolutely, and the word of the day is tautology.

ETA: At least now I'm misdirecting my responses at myself.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

The second is more direct. Gets to the point quicker.


So it is all about word count for you?

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I think we're ALL getting too involved with labels, giving them more weight than they're worth.

Yes, but a basic understanding of a label is needed to use a technique judiciously.
I didn't understand what the technique was until this clarified it for me as whether something shows the evidence rather tells tells the conclusion.
It then made sense to me that noticing telling should prompt the question whether something is important enough to expand the scene.
They seem like two simple questions novices can ask to begin achieving (what we agree are) the benefits of this technique.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Okay, if your story is about giants, one might be a big giant, but if all you're doing is saying someone is large by calling him a giant, then "big" adds nothing to the sentence.


Redundancies are, in my opinion, an entirely different issue than "filler" words. Almost any word can be used redundantly.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

So it is all about word count for you?


Nothing to do about word count. If it was, I would tell, not show. Showing takes many more words.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Then going back to your example,

Get off of the horse.
Get off the horse.


If there isn't a difference in meaning between the two sentences and it isn't word count, what makes the second stronger?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
robberhands
Updated:

@Dominions Son


So it is all about word count for you?

Redundancies are, in my opinion, an entirely different issue than "filler" words. Almost any word can be used redundantly.


It's not just about word count, nor 'filler' or 'filter' words. A shorter sentence with the same substance is a stronger statement because it's focused.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Redundancies are, in my opinion, an entirely different issue than "filler" words


Actually, I believe redundancies are not as bad as filler words. At least redundancies add something. It may not be right, but they do describe it more. Filler words add nothing.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Filler words add nothing.


Of course if they add nothing, by definition removing them adds nothing.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

With both "filler" and "filter" words, you're specifically removing the detritus of literature, (i.e. those spare words which add nothing of value, but which don't actually detract from the story either).

I think filter words are a different kind of detritus entirely. Removing them does change meaning. Doesn't removing words in bold from these change the meaning? I saw she was crying. He seemed angry. I thought I had made a mistake.
Isn't the difference the sentences state something rather than telling the conclusion of a character?

robberhands

@Ross at Play

I think filter words are a different kind of detritus entirely.

I'd agree with that statement.

Isn't the difference the sentences state something rather than telling the conclusion of a character?

I saw she was crying.

No matter if he saw her or not, she was crying.

He seemed angry.

Indeed a conclusion. A 'telling' conclusion I might add.

I thought I had made a mistake.

Sounds like a conclusion, but since it's about himself he is an acceptable authority and it should count as a statement of fact. Mostly phrases like "I thought" at the end of a sentence are simply superflous.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I thought I had made a mistake.


But what if he didn't make a mistake, but only thought he did? Thought would be needed.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

But what if he didn't make a mistake, but only thought he did? Thought would be needed.

In that case we still could assume 'he thought', his thought just proved wrong.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@robberhands

But what if he didn't make a mistake, but only thought he did? Thought would be needed.
In that case we still could assume 'he thought', his thought just proved wrong.


I meant, "I thought I made a mistake, but was actually correct."

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

And I mean, if it's not a dialog, and a first person narrative, the addition of 'I thought' is superflous, because it's obvious that the MC is thinking.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I hope you don't mean as a dialogue tag. "Said" as a dialogue tag is not a filter word. It's a critical word if needed.

Sorry, I was referring to something like, "He said/told her that it was okay." That's the narrator standing in for the character, not allowing them to speak for themselves, but it illustrates the problem with filter words.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

If removing them doesn't change the meaning of the sentence at all, how (other than by a pure word count criteria) do those words make the sentence weaker?

If the words don't add any value, then why ask your readers to wade though them? While it won't kill a story to leave them in, my professional pride insists that I remove anything that doesn't contribute to the story in some way. Essentially, it's just glitter or fluff, extra material which does nothing but fill up space.

If you don't want to be bothered with it, then don't cry about how I'm 'insisting' you cut your word count. But for me, they're unnecessary words which take longer for readers to process. While one "that" won't take long, by the time you read 30 or 60, most readers will have lost some time processing what there's no need for them to.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Redundancies are, in my opinion, an entirely different issue than "filler" words. Almost any word can be used redundantly.

That's true, but it illustrates the point of filter words. If the extra word doesn't help the reader or the story, then it's just taking up space, making the story harder to process (as readers have to read, and then discard, the extra words).

It may or may not take much time, but why even bother with it if it doesn't add anything?

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

If there isn't a difference in meaning between the two sentences and it isn't word count, what makes the second stronger?

It's more direct, the object and verb are closer together (easier to tie together). In short, it grabs the attention, despite only removing two letters (three, including the extra space).

"Get off of the horse" sounds like a command by someone trying to sound polite. "Get off the horse" sounds like someone unwilling to waste time with pleasantries. As a reader, I'd recognize the character was pissed, and likely to respond if the other character didn't. That's a LOT to convey in only three letters!

Replies:   Dominions Son  Joe Long
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

but it illustrates the point of filter words. If the extra word doesn't help


You meant "filler" not "filter."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Actually, I believe redundancies are not as bad as filler words. At least redundancies add something. It may not be right, but they do describe it more. Filler words add nothing.

Case in point: "A giant giant" is redundant, but it conveys and especially LARGE giant, whereas "I specified that I was pissed" doesn't add any more than "I was pissed!" It just takes longer to process, and much of the impact is lost in trying to get to the end.

You aren't reducing the overall word count, instead you're making the entire story tighter, more direct and more engaging by dumping the unnecessary fluff.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Of course if they add nothing, by definition removing them adds nothing.

The same as removing a 50,000 word backstory does nothing to a story. The plot doesn't change. Only, how many readers will you lose when they get sick of waiting for the plot to begin?

Are you trying to justify writing poorly just because you don't want to be bothered writing more efficiently?

If I can make the story more engaging, more captivating and more compelling, I'll do it, even if I spend time cutting out a bunch of minor two or four letter words ("then", "that", not "SHIT" or "Fuck!").

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Essentially, it's just glitter or fluff, extra material which does nothing but fill up space.


Again, that sounds to me like there is nothing to it but word count.

If you don't want to be bothered with it, then don't cry about how I'm 'insisting' you cut your word count. But for me, they're unnecessary words which take longer for readers to process.


I'm not crying about it and I am not accusing you of insisting on anything. I am honestly trying to understand something that is thus far incomprehensible to me.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Joe Long
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

It may or may not take much time, but why even bother with it if it doesn't add anything?


If removing it doesn't add anything and you wrote it in the first place, why bother with the time to look for it and remove it?

Replies:   robberhands
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

You meant "filler" not "filter."

Guilty. They're hard to separate sometimes (showing just HOW much of a difference one letter can have in processing time, as opposed to a thousand random and unnecessary "that"s you throw in).

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

It's more direct


Again, I do not agree that one can be more or less direct than the other if there is zero change in meaning.

"Get off of the horse" sounds like a command by someone trying to sound polite. "Get off the horse" sounds like someone unwilling to waste time with pleasantries.


Valid for the case of dialog for a particular character, but it is not a reason to remove such words from all of the stories text

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

I hope you don't mean as a dialogue tag. "Said" as a dialogue tag is not a filter word. It's a critical word if needed.


SW, I think CW meant when you use 'he said' as part of a narrative and not as part of dialogue or a dialogue tag.

In A story I'm reading there's a few cases where the main character interacts with others, but instead of having dialogue there's a narrative along the lines of (paraphrased):

I asked him if it worked, and he said he worked well. He said it saved a lot of time and money. He said the others all liked it and agreed with it.

Personally I think would have gone better as:

I asked, "Does it work?"

He said, "Yes it does. It works well while it saves time and money. Also, the others like and agree with it."


As a narrative that isn't a dialogue tag phrases like 'he said' do step the following text back from the reader. When used as part of a dialogue while recounting what another said makes the immediate scene closer and the recounted scene more distant. And using it as a dialogue tag makes it more show than tell.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Are you trying to justify writing poorly just because you don't want to be bothered writing more efficiently?


No, I fundamentally disagree with your contention that what you consider writing "efficiently" is better, therefore I would not be writing poorly by not writing "efficiently".

Statements like this only move me further away from understanding or agreeing with your point of view.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Again, that sounds to me like there is nothing to it but word count.

It isn't the word count itself, instead it's how direct, how involving and how effective the words are. If it takes the brain a few extra milliseconds to process each letter, then adding multiple words to each sentence is going to make the story start to plot along.

I'm unconcerned with the total word count, but I am interested in presenting the strongest story I can. Anything that gets between the reader and the story is something I don't want, whether those are filler, filter words or overly detailed back-story. I want the maximum impact from my story, and anything that lessons that impact makes the entire story weaker.

Replies:   Dominions Son
robberhands

@Dominions Son

If removing it doesn't add anything and you wrote it in the first place, why bother with the time to look for it and remove it?

I often read long rambling speeches from politicians that could be easily reduced to 'I don't know, and I don't care'. Adapting your flawless logic, they also shouldn't change their style.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

If it takes the brain a few extra milliseconds to process each letter, then adding multiple words to each sentence is going to make the story start to plot along.


I assume you meant "plod" here, not "plot"

Beyond that, I simply can not agree with this statement without a strong proof, because it is utterly contrary to my own experience and preferences as a reader.

Dominions Son

@robberhands

I often read long rambling speeches from politicians that could be easily reduced to 'I don't know, and I don't care'. Adapting your flawless logic, they also shouldn't change their style.


Of course they shouldn't change their style. If they actually said "I don't know and I don't care" directly, no one would vote for them.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Dominions Son

Of course they shouldn't change their style. If they actually said "I don't know and I don't care" directly, no one would vote for them.

Right, because if they'd shorten their speeches to their essentials, everyone would notice their real statement. But thats what you try to achieve as an author. So shorten your statements makes them clearer and more significant.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@robberhands

So shorten your statements makes them clearer and more significant.


No, that is simply not true as an absolute statement.

Yes, wordy statements can be used to obfuscate, but simplification by shortening them does not add clarity in a infinite linear progression.

The shortest possible statement is an empty string.

He said ""

By your criteria, the clearest and most significant story is a series of blank pages.

robberhands

@Dominions Son

By your criteria, the clearest and most significant story is a series of blank pages.

And what statement would that be?

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I found this by some SciFi writer (Robert J. Sawyer). I'm quoting him but not bothering with the quote tag (and I bolded some words). It addresses two of your questions. It's interesting that in the reason for telling he used the same snowing example I used. I wonder if I had read this once before and it's stuck in my subconscious memory.

-----------------

"Telling" is the reliance on simple exposition: Mary was an old woman. "Showing," on the other hand, is the use of evocative description: Mary moved slowly across the room, her hunched form supported by a polished wooden cane gripped in a gnarled, swollen-jointed hand that was covered by translucent, liver-spotted skin.

Why is showing better? Two reasons. First, it creates mental pictures for the reader. When reviewers use terms like "vivid," "evocative," or "cinematic" to describe a piece of prose, they really mean the writer has succeeded at showing, rather than merely telling.

Second, showing is interactive and participatory: it forces the reader to become involved in the story, deducing facts (such as Mary's age) for himself or herself, rather than just taking information in passively.

Are there any times when telling is better than showing? Yes. First, some parts of a story are trivial — you may want your reader to know a fact, without dwelling on it. If the weather is only incidental to the story, then it's perfectly all right to simply tell the reader "it was snowing." Indeed, if you were to show every little thing, the reader would say your story is padded.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

No, I fundamentally disagree with your contention that what you consider writing "efficiently" is better, therefore I would not be writing poorly by not writing "efficiently".

Statements like this only move me further away from understanding or agreeing with your point of view.

Fine. We're argued the exact same points, ad-infinitum, endlessly, with you and a couple others effectively halting ALL discussion as you whine about the rest of our inability to PROVE that eliminating a few works 'improves reading'.

I frankly don't care any more. If you don't want to write better stories, than include all the crap you want in your stories. It won't impact me at all.

I've tried to convey, all along, there there are NO requirements that you follow our techniques, yet you continue to hammer the point, not leaving us alone to discuss it among ourselves but jumping in every other comment.

Do it, don't do it. I don't friggin' care. But I'm sick of arguing over something you never had any intention of trying in the first place.

In all, this whole non-debate is spoiling both the forum and my entire SOL experience.

If you'd rather have a non-author Forum, without those pesky authors discussing writing, then you've made your point!

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

I often read long rambling speeches from politicians that could be easily reduced to 'I don't know, and I don't care'. Adapting your flawless logic, they also shouldn't change their style.

But in the politicians' cases, they don't want more efficient speeches. They'd rather have (like I suspect many here in this discussion do) no one questioning what they're doing. In short, they don't want to be understood, they just want to continue what they've always done without anyone questioning their actions.

Replies:   robberhands
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Beyond that, I simply can not agree with this statement without a strong proof, because it is utterly contrary to my own experience and preferences as a reader.

Then there's absolutely no point in continuing to demand answers you'll never listen do.

If there's no way you'll ever accept what the rest of us are trying to discuss, then WHAT the fuck are you doing in these discussions in the first place?

At least in REP's case, he honestly seems to be confused over what the issue is. In your case, it sounds like you simply couldn't care less what the point is.

robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

they don't want to be understood

Exactly.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

The shortest possible statement is an empty string.

He said ""

By your criteria, the clearest and most significant story is a series of blank pages.

Exactly! That's often the most clear and concise statement. It means he clearly doesn't want to say anything. And yet, you continue to badger us about something you clearly don't give a fuck about.

richardshagrin

Redundant. What is a dundant? There doesn't seem to be a definition of dundant, which is strange because re-dudant looks to me like being dundant again. Like re-view is looking at something (viewing) again.

If redundant words are excess, perhaps dundant words are necessary?

Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

In this context, the narrator is literally TELLING the reader what the character is doing. You're not allowing them to discover what's happening on their own (by reading about it), instead, the authors is telling them upfront: she cried, end of story, everyone pack up your bags and go home, there's no more story to tell in this scene.

Instead, I'm suggesting authors, in these situations, invest a little more time adding more to the scene than a simple summary of events they didn't bother to include.


I've been trying to read through as much as possible before responding, but here goes.

I'm not disagreeing with what you say here (and much of this is not in direct response to you), but what everyone has appeared to miss so far is why she's crying? Something happened, she cried in response, which then leads to something else.

These are a logical sequence of events unfolding in real times. Each new event is a consequence of something previous (or else it doesn't belong.)

She wiped her eyes as she stepped away from the casket.

In this case it's not the crying itself that's important, but why. It shows an emotional connection to the occupant of the casket.

Besides real time events you have backstory - things that have already happened that set the scene or establish facts about the characters but less directly cause the current events.

I prefer dialogue but sometimes the first person narrator is by themselves. They may walk down the hallway at school, describing the people around them and their opinions of those people. Technically it may be telling, but it's a sequential observation of real time events.

Back story and flashbacks (things which have already taken place) are best done in dialogue and should be spread out, unveiling things for the reader.

My names's Joe. Back in 1979 I was a nineteen year old college student living at home with my parents. Despite being good looking and having a ten inch cock, I'd never yet had a woman.

That's just info dumping. There is info about the characters and their past that we want the readers to know. We need to find a way to work that into the conversations. Have one character ask another, but only because the question was a reaction. I think of the story as a cord composed of threads wrapped around each other, those threads being a series of logically connected events. A to B to C, etc, down a thread must connect. Thread 1 and thread 2 exist in parallel, sometimes influencing each other.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

The goal isn't to remove stuff from the story, it's only to remove whatever doesn't ADD to the story.


Yes. Choose the words which conveys the thought clearly and succinctly ()whether in writing a novel or a response to a forum post)

Joe Long

@Dominions Son

So it is all about word count for you?


It's about being clear. Even when my family is speaking to me they often ramble around, leaving me confused before they get to the point.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Joe Long

@Dominions Son

Again, that sounds to me like there is nothing to it but word count.


Not the word count itself but efficiently and accurately expressing the thought.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

"Get off of the horse" sounds like a command by someone trying to sound polite. "Get off the horse" sounds like someone unwilling to waste time with pleasantries.


There's also dialect and voice.

My story is set in my hometown in my youth. Nearly everyone I know here would say "Get off of the horse." There are just sum filler words (like "just") that they won't give up. Therefor I will use the longer form in dialogue.

The narrator, especially a first person, will have a voice that's usually similar to the time and place of the story. I view the narration as written language versus the spoken dialogue, so it's cleaner with generally better grammar, but will still include some idiosyncracies to keep the narrator in the world of the story.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I've tried to convey, all along, there there are NO requirements that you follow our techniques


And yet you continue to say that if I don't want to use your techniques that must mean I want to write poorly.

If you don't want me to keep pounding on this, stop saying that those who don't follow your aesthetic view write poorly.

Dominions Son

@Joe Long

It's about being clear.


Shorter sentences are not necessarily more clear.

Dominions Son

@Joe Long

Not the word count itself but efficiently and accurately expressing the thought.


1. That's a contrived definition of efficiency that amounts to little more then sentence length.

2. It was stipulated up front by those proposing the examples that both the longer and the shorter version have exactly the same meaning.

If the shorter version has exactly the same meaning as the longer version it can not express the thought more accurately.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Dominions Son

Accurate AND efficient. The less succinct the greater the opportunity for confusion. What my wife told me may well have been accurate, but after a thirty word sentence I'm lost.

*I had a word and lost it. The probability that the reader will understand what's being said. I use a lot of subtext, not directly saying something but leaving clues. I at least want to be clear in communicating those clues.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Joe Long
Updated:

I mentioned writing voice, and here's a clip from a writer's blog posted today


Your Voice Should Celebrate Your Imperfections

Okay, strong writing voice. Got it. But… what is that exactly?

Naturally, there are many factors, but if we had to boil a good writing voice down to one core element, the one I would choose would be: imperfection.

As Spatz says above, a good writing voice is "idiosyncratic." It is unusual, unique, personal.

A good writing voice is representative of humanity: decidedly imperfect, but deliciously fascinating and possibly even lovable not just in spite of the flaws but because of them.

Normal-Is-Boring

Which of the following is more interesting?

The straightforward, properly parsed:

My father warned me I would be punished if I hit someone again. He informed me I was now too old to behave so badly.

Or Scout Finch's slangy frankness in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird:

Atticus had promised me he would wear me out if he ever heard of me fighting any more; I was far too old and too big for such childish things, and the sooner I learned to hold in, the better off everybody would be.

None of us speaks perfectly. We all have pet phrases, tics, favored slang, mispronounced words, emotion-driven fragments and run-ons. From all these things, our personality emerges vividly to those around us. The same is true in our writing: the limitless possibilities of imperfect language allow us to reveal to our readers our own personalities and, by extension, the personality of our stories and our characters.

Dominions Son

@Joe Long

The less succinct the greater the opportunity for confusion.


If the meaning between the two versions is exactly the same then the opportunity for confusion is exactly the same between both versions.

What my wife told me may well have been accurate, but after a thirty word sentence I'm lost.


Fallacy of the excluded middle. The fact that I don't except one extreme as "best" does not mean that I believe that the opposite extreme is "best"

Simplicity and clarity are not synonymous. At some point, greater simplicity becomes less clear.

More complexity does not necessarily reduce clarity.

The example of political writing/speaking used above is false example for this. It is unclear not because it is complex, it is unclear because it is deliberately written to be devoid of meaning and complexity is deliberately used to hide the lack of any real meaning.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Dominions Son

Simplicity and clarity are not synonymous. At some point, greater simplicity becomes less clear.


I agree. I said the first priority was word choice.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Fine. We're argued the exact same points, ad-infinitum, endlessly, with you and a couple others effectively halting ALL discussion


You have the holy writ, divine truth passed down from God and none may question it.

Anyone who does not accept this on blind faith must WANT to be a poor writer.

But of course, I'm the one halting discussion.

robberhands

@Dominions Son

No, that is simply not true as an absolute statement.
Yes, wordy statements can be used to obfuscate, but simplification by shortening them does not add clarity in a infinite linear progression.

We're not talking about religious dogmata. Why is it so hard for you to accept a simple concept, or call it a guideline? The fewer words you use to convey a message, the easier and clearer it is to understand.
'Would you please refrain from running away,' versus 'Stop.'

Dominions Son
Updated:

@robberhands


We're not talking about religious dogmata.


CW acts like that exactly what he's talking about.

Why is it so hard for you to accept a simple concept, or call it a guideline? The fewer words you use to convey a message, the easier and clearer it is to understand.


Because I do not believe that it's true as stated.

It is entirely possible to use too few words to convey some messages clearly.

If you can't clearly explain objective (as opposed to subjective aesthetics) criteria for both what is too much and what is too little, it's useless to me as a guideline.

'Would you please refrain from running away,' versus 'Stop.'


They don't mean remotely the same thing.

No, 'Stop' is not universally clearer.

What if the context is a conversation is between a parent and a child that has run away from home repeatedly already. Then 'Would you please refrain from running away' is clearer than 'Stop'

ETA: in the context free environment in which you posit these two examples, 'Stop' is far less clear than 'Would you please refrain from running away'.

Stop what? Stop moving? Stop asking stupid questions? Stop talking?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@robberhands

Why is it so hard for you to accept a simple concept, or call it a guideline? The fewer words you use to convey a message, the easier and clearer it is to understand.


CW and SB always start this with a pair of sentence that are the same except that the second is missing one or two words that they consider unnecessary.

They stipulate up front that both sentences have exactly the same meaning. That the words they suggest should be removed should be removed because removing them does not change the meaning.

If removing the words does not change the meaning of the sentence, then removing them can not make the sentence clearer or less ambiguous. A change in clarity necessarily requires a change in meaning.

To my mind the whole idea comes off as absurd.

Maybe you can find a way to explain it without the nonsense about not changing the meaning of the sentences that will make sense to me.

Replies:   robberhands
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

that is simply not true as an absolute statement.

Please, just go away with this kind of nonsense.
It is not nonsense because you're not entitled to have and state an opinion; it is nonsense because what you're doing is harassment. I've seen you make the exact same trivial point here literally hundreds of times. We get it! We understand you do not agree that removing words (usually) improves the readers experience when doing so makes absolutely no change to meaning.
You know we already know what your opinion is.
What are you trying to achieve by constantly restating it?
The only reason I can imagine is that of a "troll": you enjoy causing annoyance to others.
I dare you! Are you prepared to ask others here to vote on whether they consider these forums would better serve our needs if you were banned?
My honest answer to that question has to be yes! You make some insightful contributions, but the damage you cause is far greater from all the times you stymie constructive exchanges by stating this opinion, and a few others, over and over and over and over again.
I expect you will not actually get banned, so I have searched for another "remedy" for the problems you cause.
I suggest a new acronym we should adopt in these forums. I'm sure it would make our lives much more pleasant if we responded to the many posts for which it's totally appropriate with nothing more than this acronym, TURDS, for The Usual Rubbish from Dominions Son.

You have complained about answers by others to questions you've raised being dismissive and making unsubstantiated statements. That is sometimes so. But is it any wonder people see a question from you and conclude it's a waste of their time to prepare a precise response? How many times does it take for a lab rat when they receive a nasty electric shock every time they do something before they start avoiding it? How often do you respond explanations of why someone believes something is generally desirable with objections it's either not possible to be sure those reasons are valid, or there are some times when it is not valid.

It's not just me who has similar opinions about your motivations. I just noticed this post above CW directed at you.

Then there's absolutely no point in continuing to demand answers you'll never listen do.
If there's no way you'll ever accept what the rest of us are trying to discuss, then WHAT the fuck are you doing in these discussions in the first place?
At least in REP's case, he honestly seems to be confused over what the issue is. In your case, it sounds like you simply couldn't care less what the point is.

That's a succinct way of expressing the same sentiments I have, except I have an answer for the question he put in bold. The only reason I can fathom for you making many of your posts is you enjoy being a troll.

You recently said you recognised you have some 'bad habits' you are 'trying to break'. I stated I had seen evidence of that, over a quite lengthy period, but it feels you've returned to the 'bad old days' recently.
May I make a constructive suggestion if you really want to stop annoying so many of us so very much. I suggest that every time you are about to write a post to make some contrary point, or that may sound negative, begin with a brief summary of what parts you agree with in the post you are responding to.
There was an example recently when I objected to a post you had made and you answered that you intended it to provide extra information. It did not sound anything like that. I read it as being nitpicking, nasty, and sarcastic. But, you would have changed the tone of your post entirely if you'd just started with "Agreed." It would then be clear you were not implying phrases you put in quotes were opinions of the person your post was directed at, rather things others had said before.
Please try this. I'm sure less people here will view you as someone who's often negative and nasty, and we'd be better off without.

robberhands

@Dominions Son

Maybe you can find a way to explain it without the nonsense about not changing the meaning of the sentences that will make sense to me.

That would only be possible if you would stop searching pedantically for any loopholes you can find in propositions meant as general guidelines.

Yes, 'Would you please refrain from running away,' and 'Stop,' are not exactly the same. The first is more polite and wordy, but the basic message they convey is the same. The guideline is, the more words you use to convey a mesage, the more it weakens its expressiveness. Simply because your audience will shift its focus from the message to how you worded it.

Well, I tried...

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

The guideline is, the more words you use to convey a mesage, the more it weakens its expressiveness.


But previously someone stated that showing is wordier than telling.

I think the two statements taken in conjunction opens a can of worms :(

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

Beyond that, I simply can not agree with this statement without a strong proof, because it is utterly contrary to my own experience and preferences as a reader.


My personal preference coincides with yours. I find stories written with filler words included tend to flow better and be less tiring to read than those written like Twitter posts. I find sentences missing the word 'of' to be particularly jarring eg 'I held a pair aces in my hand'.

For my own stories I now have an editing phase specifically to check the usage of filler words. I tend to remove a few occurrences of eg 'that' if I feel it's appearing too often in a paragraph, but overall the result is usually an increase in the wordcount.

AJ

Ross at Play

@Joe Long

My names's Joe. Back in 1979 I was a nineteen year old college student living at home with my parents. Despite being good looking and having a ten inch cock, I'd never yet had a woman.

That's just info dumping.

Don't I know it.
I recently gave an author some 'first impressions', having promised as an editor a very detailed review would follow.
The author was more experienced than I thought. They'd written a story and posted it some time ago on asstr, but they've given up posting there.
I said I found the story, once it got started, 'engaging' and I was not surprised it was scoring well. However, I thought the first paragraph was the 'worst I'd ever seen,' and if I'd opened this story myself I'd have 'abandoned it to look for something better before reaching the end of that paragraph.' (Note. I did have a specific other reason for needing to state how much I disliked this one paragraph.
The author responded with, "Wow, harsh ... but I do recall not being happy at the time with my opening."
The sins, of the info-dumping variety, I saw in it were:
* It began with the words, "My name is."
* It continued with a summary of narrator's background, then hundreds of words more up until they met the other MC.
* It included the obligatory list of numerical values of the girl's height and weight, descriptions of build and hair, and grade on the prettiness scale, i.e. the list obligatory for all writers of stroke stories who want to warn readers they haven't got a clue.
The author woke up in the middle of the night, re-read that paragraph for the first time in years, and emailed me he thought, 'it was awful.' :-)

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

But previously someone stated that showing is wordier than telling.

I think the two statements taken in conjunction opens a can of worms :(

It wouldn't surprise me either, but actually there is no contradiction. 'Showing' takes more room because you cannot use all the nice discriptive adjectives invented for especially that purpose. If you want to 'show' someone is angry, you need to have him act angry, and describe visible expressions of his anger. But every sentence you use to do that, can individually be shortened to its essentials.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

My personal preference coincides with yours. I find stories written with filler words included tend to flow better and be less tiring to read than those written like Twitter posts. I find sentences missing the word 'of' to be particularly jarring eg 'I held a pair aces in my hand'.

I can see a point where that is so.
I have seen writing where authors have struggled to eliminate "needless" words, but their solution requires the use of an introductory or parenthetic clause. Whether or not the author omits the extra comma(s) that would be required in technical writing, the effect can be readers must still parse the sentence as if it has a comma. At that point I probably would prefer a sentence with no interruptions and one simple preposition more. My personal definition of 'minimising word counts' includes considering any commas that would be needed in technical writing are about as bad as extra words.

I don't find your 'pair aces' examples relevant to this discussion. I consider that is simply non-standard usage of the word 'pair'. Every example in my dictionary has adjectives modifying the noun 'pair', but 'pair of' modifying other nouns.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ross at Play

@robberhands

But every sentence you use to do that, can individually be shortened to its essentials.

Thank you. And up to a point close to taking that to the extreme I prefer writing which does that.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I don't find your 'pair aces' examples relevant to this discussion.


'Of' is usually included in lists of filler words and there are times when removing it is probably a good idea eg the 'off of the horse' example.

However, evidence suggests that novice writers told to 'eliminate filler words' are taking expressions including eg 'pair of' and nuking the 'of'. The meaning is still usually accessible but I recently came across an example where the fluidity of nouns, verbs and adjectives meant considerable back-tracking and reparsing to discern the intended meaning.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer
@Switch Blayde
@Ernest Bywater
and some others

I want to say how much I have appreciated and benefited from your contributions to this thread.

I have been living on these forums for over a year but this was still one point I could not grasp. I'm sure I am not the only one.
I have learned more from this thread than I even hoped for while writing the OP. I had a breakthrough when I saw the words 'state the conclusion'. 'Tell' does not tell me what it really is; 'state the conclusion' does.
I think, but I've been wrong before, I may now be able to spot at least the most glaring examples of telling. I then have a test for whether something should be done about: is the scene, as opposed to this sentence, important enough to expand. If so, I know that including dialogue will often be the best approach to take.
These are surely only the first baby steps that could be taken, but they're plenty enough for me to cope with for now, and possibly enough to get me a fair way along the right path, perhaps to the point that fine judgement calls are required.

It did occur to me while writing the OP, "This is going to become a shit-fight, real fast." To those who dared run that gauntlet to help others in need, I admire your fortitude. I gather EB saw how low it already gone before he reached it and limited himself to a few important pointers. I can understand that.

Replies:   Joe Long
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

However, evidence suggests that novice writers told to 'eliminate filler words' are taking (it TOO FAR). The meaning is still usually accessible (but ...)

DEFINITELY. I think there's a tipping point when reducing word counts becomes truly awful.
I see a tiny range just before the edge of the cliff. There is sometimes a trade-off between removing the last possible glue word and making the sentence more disjointed.
But within that range the language is still, not as grammatically correct as CMOS would dictate, but within the very broad church of almost all people would naturally say, except those using dialectic alternatives.
I've seen writers omitting the subjects and verbs of sentences, not just connecting words like prepositions and conjunctions, seemingly on the grounds readers are able to infer the meaning. I hate that. To me, that is not sparing me effort of reading one extra word, it's forcing me to work out the missing word and insert it in their text - a much more time-consuming task that simply reading a word.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

Here's a guideline for scene construction.

goal, conflict, semi-disaster, react, dilemma, decision

I ask myself what each scene is supposed to accomplish for the story. There's one main thing and may be other subplots touched on.

The character has a goal, runs into a conflict blocking them from that goal which creates a semi-disaster. They react, not always well, and have to make a decision.

Again, a guideline. I don't always hit it 100% but I have those instructions pinned.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Joe Long

Here's a guideline for scene construction.
goal, conflict, semi-disaster, react, dilemma, decision


Thank you.
It actually occurred to me to ask CW to describe precisely that when he mentioned showing the motivations of characters was important when deciding how a scene should be expanded.

I think I shall raise you to the status of demi-resident-guru. :-)

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I encountered a twofer in a story last week. A character went to the store for 'a couple pints milk'. Presumably the author thought that was cleaner and stronger :(

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

A character went to the store for 'a couple pints milk'.

They could have gone one better, 'a quart milk'.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Because I do not believe that it's true as stated.

It is entirely possible to use too few words to convey some messages clearly.


That's not a valid argument. Of course you can leave out critical words (like the verb) and it wouldn't be clear. That has nothing to do with the premise.

The point is, there are words that are not needed. Keeping them in is grammatically correct, but taking them out still makes the sentence clear but stronger (because the extra baggage is removed).

Prove to us why leaving the extra words in the sentence makes the sentence better/stronger. Not a subjective reason, an objective one.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

But previously someone stated that showing is wordier than telling.

I think the two statements taken in conjunction opens a can of worms :(


Totally different.

Showing takes more words because a simple 3-word sentence like "He was angry" would require actions and dialogue to show his anger. A sentence doesn't have more words, there are more sentences.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


'I held a pair aces in my hand'.


"Of" is required in that sentence, just like "that" is required in some sentences.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

stronger


I've seen that adjective used a lot, along with 'cleaner', but I have yet to see a definition.

Prove to us why leaving the extra words in the sentence makes the sentence better/stronger. Not a subjective reason, an objective one.


I don't think it makes the sentence stronger, not that I understand what 'stronger' means in this context, but I believe that the extra words can make the sentence read more smoothly.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Showing takes more words because a simple 3-word sentence like "He was angry" would require actions and dialogue to show his anger.


Not necessarily, in my opinion.

'He was incandescent.'

'His face turned the colour of ripe plums and spittle flew from his lips as he spoke.'

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@awnlee jawking

I've seen that adjective used a lot, along with 'cleaner', but I have yet to see a definition.

Strong in this context: intensive, powerful, acute. Meant is the expressiveness of a sentence, i.e. the message it conveys. A black coffee is usually described as stronger than a coffee with lots of milk and sugar.

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

Not necessarily, in my opinion.

'He was incandescent.'

'His face turned the colour of ripe plums and spittle flew from his lips as he spoke.'

If you wanted to prove "showing" needs more words than "telling", you did admirably. But I understood that wasn't your intention.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Prove to us why leaving the extra words in the sentence makes the sentence better/stronger. Not a subjective reason, an objective one.


I can't, nor have I claimed that it does.

My argument is that by your own premises removing the filler words makes zero change in meaning, therefore, both must be equally strong.

The point is, there are words that are not needed. Keeping them in is grammatically correct, but taking them out still makes the sentence clear but stronger


Again, by your own premises there is no change in meaning. With no change in meaning there can be not change in clarity or strength.

Unless of course all you mean by strength is sentence length.

CW at one point went on about shaving milliseconds off reading time.

Okay, pandering to the laziest readers might make your work more marketable to a broader group. However, not all of us are trying to sell our writing.

Dominions Son

@robberhands

Strong in this context: intensive, powerful, acute. Meant is the expressiveness of a sentence, i.e. the message it conveys.


Okay, solid definitions, but I still don't see how the strength of a sentence is separable from the meaning/message conveyed.

Replies:   pappyo
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

No, it was a puerile jibe at supposedly needing more sentences.

AJ

robberhands

@Dominions Son

My argument is that by your own premises removing the filler words makes zero change in meaning, therefore, both must be equally strong.

That sentence makes no sense. The meaning of a sentense is not the same as its strength (i.e. expressiveness).
Pedantry needs more effort than that, try harder.

Replies:   Dominions Son
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

intensive, powerful, acute


I'm not sure those adjectives are much of an improvement.

With respect to your coffee analogy, do most people really want to drink black coffee all day? I'm not a coffee drinker but, while my friends might want the occasional black coffee as a wake-up, they mostly drink white.

AJ

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

I don't think it makes the sentence stronger, not that I understand what 'stronger' means in this context, but I believe that the extra words can make the sentence read more smoothly.

I think introducing undefined terms like 'stronger' and 'cleaner' is only making this fight more difficult to end.
If I was SB I would stick to the term 'better', and add an 'in my opinion' - because it is value judgement and debatable.
Still, I see no reason for anyone to object that the words 'in my opinion' are omitted - it very clearly is just an opinion.
I can see no reason for anyone even asking for a clarification of that opinion.
SB provided a specific example and stated precisely what he would do: delete the word 'of'.
He stated the reason he would do that: it can be done without changing the meaning of the sentence.
That is all anyone else needs to make their own value judgement about whether or not it makes the sentence better.
Anything beyond simply stating - in a non-confrontational manner - they make a different value judgement, at most a couple of times, is just starting a fight for the sole purpose of starting of a fight.
You and DS have stated very similar opinions, but you have done so in a way which does not make others feel consistently compelled to defend themselves against personal attacks. :-)

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@robberhands

The meaning of a sentense is not the same as its strength (i.e. expressiveness).


To me, claiming that expressiveness is distinct from meaning makes no sense.

Replies:   pappyo
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

but I believe that the extra words can make the sentence read more smoothly.


That's a subjective argument, just like mine.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

You and DS have stated very similar opinions, but you have done so in a way which does not make others feel consistently compelled to defend themselves against personal attacks.


I have made no personal attacks. In point of fact, the only personal attack on this thread was made by CW when he said that if I don't accept his "opinion" of what's better and how to accomplish that I must want to write poorly.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

I can't, nor have I claimed that it does.

My argument is that by your own premises removing the filler words makes zero change in meaning, therefore, both must be equally strong.


It has nothing to do with meaning. It has to do with how the sentence reads. I can't prove it reads better just like you can't prove it reads better with the extra words because it's subjective. It's how it sounds to the ear.

And that's what creative writing is all about — rhythm, flow, pace, etc. That's what you don't seem to understand. You want black and white rules. There ain't none in creative writing and there shouldn't be.

Someone said people follow this "rule" by automatically taking out every "of" and "that." That's ludicrous. "That" was needed in my previous sentence. If that's what creative writing was all about, computers would write our novels.

robberhands

@Switch Blayde

Since I couldn't say it any better, I'll abstain to further comment on this subject.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

I can't prove it reads better just like you can't prove it reads better with the extra words because it's subjective.


Here is part of the misunderstanding. it has never been my contention that it reads "better" with the extra words.

My position from the beginning of the first thread on this issue, it I don't think either is better.

That they are different does not mean one has to be better than the other.

It's how it sounds to the ear.


That's the first thing said on this topic that I have found remotely comprehensible.

That's ludicrous.

I agree, that would be ludicrous, but to me, CW frequently and you occasionally come across as that is exactly what you are advocating.

Why do I see CW and your posts that way?
Because I can't see any comprehensible limiting principle, no lower limit is defined for when you shouldn't remove them.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

That's a subjective argument, just like mine.

It was a subjective opinion, just like yours, specified explicitly, unlike yours, as just an opinion.
It doesn't matter whether you agree with that opinion or not, it gives no cause for anyone to even raise an eyebrow.

Can you see how you have triggered this fight? All you needed to do was to include the words 'in my opinion' in your original statement. Don't get me wrong, I would sincerely love to drive down my phone line at this moment and viciously throttle DS, but why didn't you just respond when he first challenged you with just, 'That was an opinion. I didn't say so because it seemed so obvious it was just an opinion'? Then if he challenged you to justify your opinion you simply say, "I'm not going to do that. I've stated my reasons and others are welcome to draw their own conclusions."

If you don't want to fight about something that cannot be proven, just say it cannot be proven, ASAP and often.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

the only personal attack on this thread was made by CW

AGREED!

I said 'others feel consistently compelled'. I did not say that was rational. I see lab rats becoming irrational after receiving a multitude of stimuli.

Switch Blayde

Here's a real life example. I just wrote the following:

Steele cupped both of her buttocks


Is "of" needed? Does't matter. I noticed the "of" so I took a second look and ended up with:

Steele cupped her buttocks


Didn't need "both." "Buttocks" is plural and she only has two. IN MY OPINION, the version without the "both of" is cleaner, stronger, whatever adjective you want to use to say it sounds better to my ear.

pappyo

@Dominions Son

Okay, solid definitions, but I still don't see how the strength of a sentence is separable from the meaning/message conveyed.


The precision. The opportunity for it to be misunderstood. Those are correlated but not synonymous with fewer words. It's the best words.

Replies:   Dominions Son
REP
Updated:

The discussion on filler and filter words has been interesting. I can see reasons for eliminating unnecessary words and for leaving them if they aren't a distraction.

There has been talk of these types of words as: getting between the reader and the character and being unnecessary fluff. Throughout the discussion a variety of examples have been used, which reminded me of a related factor in why filter words might be a good thing under specific instances; especially when using the 1st POV.

I typically write using 1st POV, so I find the use of filter words can be very helpful in Character Development. For example: If I am trying to portray an MC who is not certain of himself, I might use "I thought I was wrong ..." in the narrative of the narrator thinking to himself to develop or reinforce the idea that the MC has a tendency to question his judgment. I might word it as "I'm positive I was right about ..." to show an MC who has few if any doubts about himself and his abilities.

When we encounter these filler and filter words during our review process, we as the author should first ask ourselves 'Why are the words there?' If in our judgment, there is a valid reason for the words to be there, then leave them. If not, then deleting them will get the reader through the passage quicker. Either way it is a judgment call.

Replies:   robberhands
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I would sincerely love to drive down my phone line at this moment and viciously throttle DS


Communication skills have never been my strong point.

It's not even that I don't agree with their opinion, I don't understand it.

Despite what CW thinks, I am trying to make an honest effort to understand their point of view, even if I never end up agreeing with it.

I just can't seem to ask questions that will get me answers I can comprehend without pushing CW's buttons.

It's frustrating, and The frustration just make it harder for me to be nice about it.

Replies:   REP  Ross at Play
Dominions Son

@pappyo

The precision. The opportunity for it to be misunderstood. Those are correlated but not synonymous with fewer words.


Yes, but that correlation means that if one changes the other must change as well, even if they aren't synonymous.

Replies:   Joe Long
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

IN MY OPINION, the version without the "both of" is cleaner, stronger, whatever adjective you want to use

I shall form my own opinion about that one. :-)

robberhands

@REP

When we encounter these filler and filter words during our review process, we as the author should first ask ourselves 'Why are the words there?' If in our judgment, there is a valid reason for the words to be there, then leave them. If not, then deleting them will get the reader through the passage quicker. Either way it is a judgment call.

Absolutely.

REP

@Dominions Son

I just can't seem to ask questions that will get me answers I can comprehend without pushing CW's buttons.


It may not help but, CW seems to be saying that leaving unnecessary words in a story is the same as: 'putting 10 lbs of shit in a 5-lb bag' - if it isn't needed, get rid of it for the bag only holds 5 lbs.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

it sounds better to my ear.


I'll agree on this particular example.

But for many of the other examples you have used, while they are different, I can't see one as being better than the other outside of a larger context that makes one preferable to the other.

I just can't see a usable general principle out of all of this.

Dominions Son

@REP

It may not help but, CW seems to be saying that leaving unnecessary words in a story is the same as: 'putting 10 lbs of shit in a 5-lb bag' - if it isn't needed, get rid of it for the bag only holds 5 lbs.


I can't agree. CW has explicitly said that overall story length is not the issue, so it's not a 5lb bag, it's an infinite bag.

Replies:   REP
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

Didn't need "both." "Buttocks" is plural and she only has two. IN MY OPINION, the version without the "both of" is cleaner, stronger, whatever adjective you want to use to say it sounds better to my ear.

I also like the version the most, where he cupped her clean strong buttocks.

Replies:   Joe Long
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

and you occasionally come across as that is exactly what you are advocating.


Then you misunderstood me. How many times have I said they're guidelines and not rules? That there are no black and white rules in writing fiction. That one should never say never. That "show don't tell" does not mean never tell. That "don't use adverbs" doesn't mean never use adverbs.

And how many times have I said that a person needs to understand what's behind the guideline? Why do you want to show? If you know that, you'll not only know how to show but also when to show (and when to tell). Why are adverbs bad? That doesn't mean to delete all your adverbs. I even said Stephen King uses adverbs even though he says, "The road to hell is paved with adverbs," in his book on writing.

I've given examples for everything I bring up here. Often it's examples I find in articles that I think make the point better than I can.

All I can do is offer writing techniques and let authors decide if they want to introduce them in their writing. Even if your mind isn't open, others here are. Those are the people I'm addressing.

Replies:   Dominions Son
REP
Updated:

@Dominions Son


overall story length is not the issue, so it's not a 5lb bag, it's an infinite bag.


From your perspective true. Perhaps CW looks at a story to be a 5lb bag, so unnecessary words that do not help or hurt the story should be deleted.

My opinion is it is a judgment call as to whether those words should be left in and since you as the author are in the driver's seat it is your call to make.

pappyo

@Dominions Son

To me, claiming that expressiveness is distinct from meaning makes no sense.


I have a thought in my head that I want to communicate to a reader, either here or in a story. That's "meaning." It's a piece of information.

Expressiveness is the quality of how well that meaning is communicated. What percentage of people won't clearly understand the meaning I was attempting to convey?

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Then you misunderstood me.


I have never claimed otherwise.

How many times have I said they're guidelines and not rules? That there are no black and white rules in writing fiction.


Frequently, but then you turn around ad phrase the guidelines in terms that sound absolute while providing no comprehensible criteria for when the given guideline does or does not apply.

To my mind, this is an irreconcilable contradiction in your position.

That "show don't tell" does not mean never tell. That "don't use adverbs" doesn't mean never use adverbs.


I actually agree in general on the show don't tell issue, and I have been trying to use it. Our only disagreement from my perspective is in the details over whether or not certain specific things are "telling".

Joe Long

@Dominions Son

Yes, but that correlation means that if one changes the other must change as well, even if they aren't synonymous.


Correlation is a general change. Some more precise sentences will have fewer words, some will have more. On average, there's likely to be fewer.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Joe Long

@robberhands

I also like the version the most, where he cupped her clean strong buttocks.


But what if she only cupped one? "She cupped a butt cheek in one hand and a breast in the other."

Dominions Son

@Joe Long

Correlation is a general change. Some more precise sentences will have fewer words, some will have more. On average, there's likely to be fewer.


A change can not make the sentence more precise if it doesn't make at least a subtle change in the meaning of the sentence.

If removing a given word has zero effect on meaning, then removing it has zero effect on precision.

Replies:   Joe Long
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

I just can't seem to ask questions that will get me answers I can comprehend without pushing CW's buttons.

Okay ... making the effort to specify at the start of your posts what you can find to agree with in their post will definitely lower the frequency they automatically go into battle mode when they see you have directed a post at them. Why-ever, it's not working well now.

You could try framing your questions more as snquiries. Beginning with 'would you explain' instead of 'how does' may lower their stress levels and result in them attempting to answer your in a calm, matter-of-opinion manner. You have sometimes say you are only asking a question, but to be frank, I hear the words 'I don't think so' screaming at me in many things you write using the words of questions.

Also, you may need to lower your standards for the answers they provide. The best you can possibly get for many questions here is a list of the reasons they have used in forming their opinions. If you can't understand their reasons, or you cannot see how those reasons led to their conclusions, that's tough. I think all you're entitled to do then is politely ask for a clarification, which they may be unable to do.

I understand your dilemma as someone who instinctively seeks to understand the how and why of various processes. We become better equipped than most to use processes effectively once we understand their internal mechanics, but sadly, that is not always possible here.

My approach when I cannot understand something fully is to accept I must make some, interim, decision. I try to do so on the balance of evidence I can see, and that often means relying on the opinions of those I find insightful and who usually express opinions close to what I see as the consensus for various topics. I cannot see how rejecting opinions I cannot fully understand leads to anything other than a lot of poor opinions.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Joe Long

@Dominions Son

If removing a given word has zero effect on meaning, then removing it has zero effect on precision.


You're again conflating the meaning with the probability that the meaning will be properly understood (precision.)

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Joe Long

You're again conflating the meaning with the probability that the meaning will be properly understood (precision.)


No, I'm not. they are not synonymous, but they are inexorably linked together to the point that they can not change completely independently.

Replies:   Joe Long
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

making the effort to specify at the start of your posts what you can find to agree with in their post will definitely lower the frequency


To the the way my mind works, they speak in contradictions.

I refuse to agree with things I can not comprehend, and I find very little in their posts on the filler words topic that is comprehensible.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Frequently, but then you turn around ad phrase the guidelines in terms that sound absolute while providing no comprehensible criteria for when the given guideline does or does not apply.

But you should not object his statement sounds absolute. State he has done that in about six to ten words then move on! Why does it matter to you if he was careless in his statement? Think about what you really want. Ask, politely, what criteria he has for when the guideline does or does not apply.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

phrase the guidelines in terms that sound absolute


The way you interpret it. Not the way I present it, which you even agreed.

So now you're contradicting yourself. First you say I frequently say there are no hard and fast rules and then you claim that I "phrase the guidelines in terms that sound absolute."

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Joe Long


She cupped a butt cheek in one hand and a breast in the other."


There was a reason he used two hands and he cupped both. I didn't bother with the rest of the sentence (or what preceded it for that matter). I hate showing anyone a rough first draft, but here it is:

Steele stood and removed his clothes. Sitting back down, he held out his hand palm up. Zhenzhen took it. When he tugged, she climbed onto his lap, straddling it, and rocked back and forth, her soft pussy lips caressing his cock, spreading her juices on it. Steele cupped her buttocks, sinking his fingers into the flesh, pulling, mashing their groins together.


I'm sure it will change when I edit. I literally just wrote it.

Replies:   Joe Long  awnlee jawking
robberhands
Updated:

@Joe Long


But what if she only cupped one? "She cupped a butt cheek in one hand and a breast in the other."


SB needs to rewrite the sentence. It obviously wasn't clear to you that 'Steele' is a second person, assumingly a man, who cupped her steely buttocks...no wait. Now I'm confused too.

ETA:

Steele stood and removed his clothes. Sitting back down, he held out his hand palm up. Zhenzhen took it. When he tugged, she climbed onto his lap, straddling it, and rocked back and forth, her soft pussy lips caressing his cock, spreading her juices on it. Steele cupped her buttocks, sinking his fingers into the flesh, pulling, mashing their groins together.

That cleared it up nicely.

Replies:   Joe Long  Dominions Son
Joe Long

@Dominions Son

No, I'm not. they are not synonymous, but they are inexorably linked together to the point that they can not change completely independently.


OK, I can agree with that. Not the same, not independent, nut inexorably linked.

Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

Makes perfect sense, except you need a comma before "palm up."

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Joe Long

@robberhands

who cupped her steely buttocks


Love those buttocks you can bounce a quarter off of.

There's an amateur photo forum going on at another site. I like them sort of short (4-10 to 5-3), thick, hard thighs, with hard butts that stick out in the back. Boobs not that important - smallish cones held way up high do just fine. And a cute face. That's a must.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

But you should not object his statement sounds absolute.


That's not really what I am trying to do at this point.

It's not about objecting to the absolute phrasing per se.

It's about finding comprehensible and usable criteria for when it does and does not apply.

Ask, politely, what criteria he has for when the guideline does or does not apply.


I have, worded almost exactly that way, and I got a snide non-answer out of CW and ignored by SB.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

To the the way my mind works, they speak in contradictions.
I refuse to agree with things I can not comprehend, and I find very little in their posts on the filler words topic that is comprehensible.

If that really is so, respond with a simple list of statements that you do not understand, such as 'I don't understand this', I cannot see how this links to that.

The only possible way I can see for you to consider their statements contradictory or incomprehensible is for you to be approaching theor posts with a self-fulfilling negative attitude.
I see no evidence that you have ever tried to look for things you agree with.
I totally "get" your mind works differently to most. I suspect we both look at everything with a skeptical eye, seeking to understand how things work and looking for potential improvements. That is what those I edit for appreciate most about me.

Surely you are capable of framing your posts in ways that do not carry implication the others posts are incorrect or inadequate? You can frame them in ways that imply they are incomplete to your needs, or ways that make clear you are not disputing what they say, merely adding additional information or some contrary opinion.

I am not going to continue these exchanges any longer. To do so may allow you the maintain a delusion that the things I have suggested are in any way difficult. They are not! I have given you more than enough ideas for you to transform your relationships with others here. But you must try! Your current tone suggests you have no intention of doing that.

Dominions Son

@robberhands

, who cupped her steely buttocks


I had no idea that you were into fembots/cyborgs :)

Replies:   robberhands
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

ignored by SB.


I try to explain, but only to a point. As I've said, it's not my job to convince anyone of anything. It's their job to assimilate the information and make up their own minds. So after a while, I give up and don't respond anymore.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

I have, worded almost exactly that way, and I got a snide non-answer out of CW and ignored by SB.

You're welcome to send me an email if that happens, or anything else that seems egregious to you.
I'll be glad to explain why I think you're barking up the wrong tree, or piss on their tree for you. :-)

Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

Makes perfect sense, except you need a comma before "palm up."


What if instead of writing:

Sitting back down, he held out his hand, palm up. Zhenzhen took it.


I wrote:

Sitting back down, he held out his palm. Zhenzhen took it.

Replies:   Ross at Play  Joe Long
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

I try to explain, but only to a point. As I've said, it's not my job to convince anyone of anything.


I'm not looking to be convinced at this point, just for something I can comprehend.

How am I supposed to make up my mind if I can't understand.

So okay, filler words, I am going to make one last go at this on this thread.

For me, understanding and comprehension must start with why. When I ask why on this, I'm not asking for proof (unless you are claiming it as an objective fact) just a comprehensible reason.

Remove filler words.

I am fairly sure I comprehend what you mean by filler words.

You constantly say that you don't intend this as an absolute, but I can not comprehend it any other way without a comprehensible limiting principle, without a clear criteria for when it does and does not apply. Can you articulate one?

But why should they be removed?

You say clarity, but you also say that removing the filler words does not change the meaning.

As I understand clarity in this context, yes, it is not the same as meaning, but it is linked to meaning. I do not comprehend how clarity can change without meaning changing at least a little.

You say it's stronger without the filter words. I can not comprehend what you mean by this in any way that my mind doesn't link strength with meaning the same way clarity is, I can not comprehend how strength can change without meaning changing at all.

CW literally raised the issue of how long it takes to read each individual sentence and how that accumulates over the totality of the story (while denying that it was about word count???).

Is that what it's about? Pandering to the laziest readers?

I suppose that would improve marketability to a broader audience. For someone trying to sell their writing, I can understand that enough to at least leave it alone, as long as you and CW can refrain from saying or implying that those who don't see this as a desirable goal are uninterested in improving their writing.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Sitting back down, he held out his palm.

That sounds unnatural to me. It suggests asking for money, rather than inviting.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

Either way, and dare I say the second is more succinct.

Sitting back down, he held out his hand. which Zhenzhen took.


Palm is a part of the hand which only has significance if you are stating that the palm is up, and I doubt it means much (unless it's something cultural that I'm unaware of.)

Replies:   Switch Blayde
robberhands

@Dominions Son

I had no idea that you were into fembots/cyborgs :)

That would need a better man than me. I only can admire them from afar, but I lack the strength to get into anything steely.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

I'm not looking to be convinced at this point, just for something I can comprehend.


There's just so many ways I can say the same thing. At some point I give up. How many ways can I say the same thing.

I never brought up filler words. If I remember, when I read filler words in a thread I read it as filter words so I started a thread on filter words. That, btw, is a new concept to me so I'm learning day by day.

As to filler words, they're not going to make or break your story or even the sentence. I simply believe when the word isn't needed, it sounds better (to my ear) without it. But I have plenty of "of"s in my stories, and "that"s too. When it sounds right, that's the way I do it.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

That sounds unnatural to me. It suggests asking for money, rather than inviting.


It's asking for her hand.

Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

Either way, and dare I say the second is more succinct.


For now (I have a tendency to change things multiple times) I chose the second, but not because it was shorter. When I put the comma before "palm," I didn't like the flow of the sentence — xxx, xxx, xxx. It seemed choppy.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

Sitting back down, he offered Zhenzhen his hand, which she accepted.


Lots of ways to do it.

I'm writing a new intro and posted it at a critique site. After some constructive feedback, I'm changing a few words here or there to best introduce the setting and protagonist. At some point I may be satisfied.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

It's asking for her hand.

I don't think it's necessary to mention the palm to imply that.
To my ear, holding out a palm has a definite connotation of wanting money.
If you can imagine a North American saying 'palm' then go with that. I can't really imagine an Australian saying it.

Ross at Play

@Joe Long

At some point I may be satisfied.

And here I was thinking thinking you're a real author. :-)

Replies:   Joe Long
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Steele cupped her buttocks, sinking his fingers into the flesh, pulling, mashing their groins together.


I can think of many contexts where including 'both of' would make better reading, in my opinion, but in this case I think you made a better choice.

(Was that an in-joke, 'literally just wrote' as opposed to 'figuratively'?)

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I can't really imagine an Australian saying it.


Did you ever watch a movie where the guy asks the girl to dance? He holds his hand out, palm up.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

I spent a year going from a newbie to a decent writer when I decided I had to start over with my novel. Now it's nearly two years after that and I'm getting much more comfortable, but I see where my voice has evolved since the early chapters - and I'm drawn to go back and edit.

I prefer to write linearly, but right now scenes are popping into my head all over the story and I'm writing them down lest they be forgotten.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

It's asking for her hand.


Without a larger context, it's also something that certain service workers who expect to be tipped do as a hint.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

(Was that an in-joke, 'literally just wrote' as opposed to 'figuratively'?)


No, I was writing in another window. I had just written it. When I saw the "of" I thought of this thread so I posted the comment.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Joe Long

I spent a year going from a newbie

Did you miss my smiley face?
I meant real men don't eat quiche; real authors don't ever stop fiddling.

Replies:   Joe Long  Joe Long
Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

when I decided I had to start over with my novel.


When I got the rejection letter with the show don't tell and don't head-hop, I ended up completely revising the novel countless times. Everyone said it's better to start over, but as I learned something I applied it to the rewrite.

So I rewrote the entire novel, changing telling to showing. I did it again to get rid of the head-hopping. That was the hardest and most time consuming one. As I learned other stuff, I rewrote or at least did a major revision. And then I edited and edited the hell out of it. And for me, editing isn't just fixing typos and grammar. It was word choice, sentence structure, even where I started a new paragraph.

It took years so the people who said I should start over would think they were right. But I saw it as a learning exercise. It was where I practiced what I learned.

Thankfully the head-hopping wasn't too bad. I once started revising an old short story of mine to post on SOL. The head-hopping was so bad I gave up. Maybe someday I will revise it in 3rd-omni. I think that would be easier.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play


To my ear, holding out a palm has a definite connotation of wanting money.


Just changed it again to "he offered his palm."

ETA: Just changed it back. Time to move on. :)

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Did you ever watch a movie where the guy asks the girl to dance? He holds his hand out, palm up.

Yes. The gesture is palm up, but I would write or say 'hand'. If the intention was to invite I would assume the palm was up.
All examples I can find in dictionaries have negative connotations or suggest money: grease their palm, cross their palm, palm-off, in the palm of a hand.

Replies:   Joe Long  awnlee jawking
Joe Long
Updated:

@Ross at Play

Oh, I know - I just launched into exposition about my history of fiddling. I've reached the 2/3 point twice, and each time have the urge to start over.

Joe Long

@Ross at Play

That's why I suggested, "He offered [her] his hand"

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Unless you get an opinion on the revised story from that same editor, do you have any objective measure of whether it's better?

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I would assume the palm was up


If the palms are up, International Rescue are back at base ;)

AJ

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Joe Long


That's why I suggested, "He offered [her] his hand"


I use that when he offers his hand in a handshake. And, *hold your breath* this is the latest.

Sitting back down, he held out his palm. Zhenzhen laid her hand on top of it.


I wanted the image of that in the reader's mind, like when the girl accepts the dance.

Replies:   Joe Long
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

Unless you get an opinion on the revised story from that same editor, do you have any objective measure of whether it's better?


The next time I submitted it to them they wanted me to change the wife to a fiancé. So I guess they thought it was better. When I explained why she had to be married, the editor agreed, but adultery in a romance novel is a no-no so that was when I decided to self-publish it.

But what's better? I can't stand the way Hemingway writes, yet he won a Pulitzer and is considered one of the greatest 20th century American writers.

Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

adultery in a romance novel is a no-no


How about deflowering your 14 year old cousin?

Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

Looks good

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

I agree, they preferred the revised version.

By one objective measure you're a better author than Salman Rushdie. I've finished every one of your stories that I started. I started 'Midnight's Children' but didn't finish it (99% of people who start the book never finish it).

:)

AJ

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

But what's better?


But if it's so hard to say what's better, and you have limited time to write, how does one decide what techniques to devote time to?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

But if it's so hard to say what's better, and you have limited time to write, how does one decide what techniques to devote time to?


Oh, I know what's better to me. I was referring to "better" in general.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Oh, I know what's better to me.


Yeah, but that isn't exactly helpful to the those of us with less experience.

I still have a day job. I don't have as much time to spend writing as I would like. I don't have the capacity to just experiment with all these different techniques and see what I like and what I don't.

Maybe once I'm retired...

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Yeah, but that isn't exactly helpful to the those of us with less experience.


That's why I post tips here. I spent countless hours scouring the Internet to learn the craft of writing fiction. When I find something that makes sense to me, I offer it up here. But what works for me might not work for someone else. What I think is better might not be to someone else.

I said I like Stephen King movies but not his novels. Someone said someone in their writer's group said he loved the novels and hated the movies. *shrugs*

Is it so bad to head-hop? I sampled the first page or so of Harry Potter. It was full of head-hopping. Did that affect sales? (rhetorical question)

But when I read a story on SOL or elsewhere that is tell, tell, tell, it bores me. Some have very high scores so it doesn't bother many people. In fact, some want to be told what's happening, they want to be told how tall a character is, the color of his eyes and hair, etc. I've read one that even put that information up front (actually, I didn't read any further than that).

Spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. are not important to most of the teenagers on wattpad. I won't read those stories. In fact, one title caught my eye. It was something about a girl teaching in an all boys school. Written by a teenage girl about bad boys. I couldn't wait to read it. I plowed through the first chapter and gave up. Boring.

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

They could have gone one better, 'a quart milk'.


That would depend on where the story is set, and when. In some places milk is old, or was sold, in only pints and gallons.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

just like "that" is required in some sentences.


I absolutely detest the excessive use of the word that required by most formal forms of English, yet I still use the word that whenever it's appropriate for me to use it. Thus I agree with you on this.

Ernest Bywater

Part of this discussion seems to have wandered down the trail of wordiness in stories. I've got two points to make on this:

1. Too few words do not paint the picture you want to provide to your readers. This is because you can not safely assume the reader uses or understands every words in the exact same way as you do.

2. Too many words will often confuse the reader as to what you're trying to present to them.

Classic examples of the points are:

1. A US author who simply says We went from the meeting to Denny's will tell US readers they went to a place to eat, while those unfamiliar with restaurant name will assume they went to the house of their friend Denny, and wouldn't understand why they're asking him to feed them. While writing We went from the meeting to a Denny's Diner will convey the full meaning to everyone.

2. In the first version of Shiloh Mike used over 1,200 words to describe the study / office in the house at one point. After he asked me to take over the story I asked him why he used so much detail, and once he said he wanted to build a picture of a comfortable room we worked together to reduce that section of the story to about 200 words to convey that image without leaving the reader wondering what the hell it was all for. He agreed the new version was much better than the original.

I'm sure we all can find examples of too few words and too many words. The skill in writing is finding the right number of words (and right words) to convey the scene we wish to present to the reader in the way we want to present it.

StarFleet Carl

@Ernest Bywater

A US author who simply says We went from the meeting to Denny's will tell US readers they went to a place to eat, while those unfamiliar with restaurant name will assume they went to the house of their friend Denny, and wouldn't understand why they're asking him to feed them. While writing We went from the meeting to a Denny's Diner will convey the full meaning to everyone.


Except that it's Denny's Restaurant, not diner.

That's where you're also running into a culture thing. A diner here in the U.S. tends to be a small, hole in the wall, place. (Thus the TV show, "Diners, Drive-In's, and Dives".) If you've seen Men In Black 3 - the place where they ate pie - that's a diner.

So instead, using more words is needed if you really want to convey understanding. "After the meeting, we wanted to go grab a quick bite. The local Denny's was the only place open." or "When the meeting ended, everyone wanted to go to a restaurant. Denny's was the closest."

It could be worse - since we have Outback Steakhouse and the Subaru Outback, if it was in your neck of the woods, it could be an Outback parked out back of the Outback that's in the Outback.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

While writing We went from the meeting to a Denny's Diner will convey the full meaning to everyone.


I'm not sure that ends the confusion for most non-US readers.

A Diner is a very particular style of restaurant.

Diners were at the very heart of the start of the fast food movement, but wouldn't really be considered fast food by most in the US today.

The Diner style of restaurant falls under the current term short-order.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@StarFleet Carl

Except that it's Denny's Restaurant, not diner.


According to my research they operate under 2 names - Denny's restaurant has just 'Denny's' on the signage, while some of the stores have 'Denny's Diner' on the sign.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

A Diner is a very particular style of restaurant.


I used 'diner' because my research showed their signs say either "Denny's" or "Denny's Diner" so I used their name.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

I used 'diner' because my research showed their signs say either "Denny's" or "Denny's Diner" so I used their name.


Yes, Denny's is a generally a diner style of restaurant. But the diner phenomenon is regional even in the US, The regions where the concept of a diner would be reasonably well known/understood are the US northeast, the US Midwest, Parts of Canada, particularly those parts that border the US regions and western Europe.

StarFleet Carl

@Dominions Son

But the diner phenomenon is regional even in the US


Oh, the folks in the south understand the concept of a diner, too. It's called Waffle House. Nothing quite like that little brick building with the counter and half a dozen booths. When I was growing up and we'd go on vacation from Indiana to visit relatives in Florida, that's how I knew we'd hit the South - the appearance of a Waffle House along the road.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

even in the US, The regions where the concept of a diner would be reasonably well known/understood are the US northeast, the US Midwest, Parts of Canada, particularly those parts that border the US regions and western Europe.

I'm sure that 'parts of Canada' and 'Western Europe' will be thrilled to learn they are now 'in the US'. :-)

Replies:   Dominions Son
StarFleet Carl

@Ernest Bywater

According to my research they operate under 2 names - Denny's restaurant has just 'Denny's' on the signage, while some of the stores have 'Denny's Diner' on the sign.


In looking at their own corporate website, I can see where that could confuse you - since they call themselves Americas Diner now. If you google 'aluminum diner', you'll see what basically everyone in America that's American (I say it that way due to our immigrants) recognizes as a diner.

Replies:   REP
Joe Long
Updated:

@Ross at Play

real authors don't ever stop fiddling.


I have a draft of the climax of the 3rd act. An important statement is, "I thought you hated me." Then I reconsidered a scene at the 60% mark where she was angry and refused him a BJ. I wanted a prequel statement. I simply wanted to add the sentence, "I just need to know you aren't mad at me" but I wanted it to be a serious moment and as soon as possible after they meet in the next scene. I had to rearrange around 200 words of dialogue, discarding some of it, to comfortably fit that new sentence into the scene.

Of course, this is subject to revision (They're in the bleachers at a high school football game)

Her head on my shoulder, Hannah said softly, "I'm so sorry."

"For what?"

"Yesterday, dummy."

"Oh, yeah."

"It wasn't your fault but I was taking it out on you. I just need to know that you're not mad at me."

"I'm not mad at you. I was disappointed but I figured I'd have other opportunities."

She punched me in the arm. "Oh, so now you're taking me for granted." Turning her head to face me, she continued. "This is serious. Do you understand how much I love being with you? Knowing you want me? Knowing I make you happy?"

"Maybe I don't, but you need to know that I love you and I wouldn't do anything to hurt you."

She poked a finger into my belly. "Better not! I'm still mad at my mom though. That'll take a while."

I kissed her on top of her head and pulled her in closer to me. Neither of us spoke much while we relaxed and watched the game, punctuated by her joining the folks around us in cheering whenever Pineland made a good play.

After a while I said, "You know, It's hard to root for my team over here. I'm afraid I'll get beat up if I yell too loud."

Hannah pointed to the far side of the field. "You're free to go sit in the visitor's section."

"Nah, I'm, good."

As the game approached halftime she squeezed my arm. "This is nice."

"You don't have to rub it in that you guys are winning."

"No, silly – us."

I smiled and pulled her closer. "Yes it is."

"Out here, spending time together, being like everybody else."

"Are you sure we want to be like other people?"

Hannah leaned forward and gazed to my left. "Like Susie? Eh - I don't know if I'd go that far."

"I heard that, little girl."


And even that little quip at the end is important - Hannah really doesn't want to be like Susie, as she's a one-man girl to Susie's bed-hopping ways, and Hannah tells him later, "She would do you in an instant."

Ernest Bywater

@Ernest Bywater

Part of this discussion seems to have wandered down the trail of wordiness in stories. I've got two points to make on this:


Earlier I made a post that started with the quote above. I used an example of each situation. In one example I used the name of an actual eatery that exists in the USA, and I find it very interesting there has been nit picking on the definition of one word in the company name, with most of it aimed at me for not knowing how many people in the USA define the word. That continued, even after I pointed out I used the name the company uses for some of its stores.

In all this no one has commented on the content of the the points I made in the post. Since the focus is on the name of an eatery in an example, I can only assume everyone finds the content of the informative part of the post as being perfectly correct, and they agree with it, despite them not commenting on that part of the post.

Joe Long

@Ernest Bywater

I can only assume everyone finds the content of the informative part of the post as being perfectly correct


Because, hey, if we didn't agree we'd be quick to tell you, amirite?

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I'm sure that 'parts of Canada' and 'Western Europe' will be thrilled to learn they are now 'in the US'. :-)


Not officially yet, but there is an ongoing cultural invasion. :)

Ross at Play

@Joe Long

I had to rearrange around 200 words of dialogue

... having been working in Annoying Pissant Mode when I noticed your post ... :-)
I would:
* Replace 'have other opportunities' with 'get other opportunities'
* Delete 'her head' from 'Turning her head to face me'
* Replace the full stop after that with a comma
* Change 'you guys' to 'your guys' - unless it's an idiom your character might use when speaking
* Change 'Are you sure we want' to 'Are you sure you want us'
* Delete three out of six uses of 'that'.
Then, to rub it in, "She'd do you in an instant."
Ending Annoying Pissant Mode ... Now!
I like it.

Replies:   Joe Long
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

I can only assume everyone finds the content of the informative part of the post as being perfectly correct, and they agree with it, despite them not commenting on that part of the post.

I agree with the informative part and think the examples are good ones: be willing to add an extra word so the meaning is clear to all readers, but ruthlessly murder 1,000 out of 1,200 darlings to spare readers details (you assess) don't add to their enjoyment.

Joe Long

@Ross at Play

"She'd do you in an instant."


That will be in the next scene I write, about two weeks after this in the timeline. Susie is Hannah's brother's girlfriend. Two players trying to go steady (but she gives him a threesome for his 18th birthday)

Thanks for the comments. Set near Pittsburgh, there are some idioms. Check out this just released short film for excellent examples of culture & dialect https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fFqcnuWam0&feature=youtu.be

Replies:   Ross at Play
REP

@StarFleet Carl

In looking at their own corporate website, I can see where that could confuse you


I was going to respond to EB's post also, so I went to their official website to see what they had to say about signage. I followed the franchise link and in the photos displayed there were signs that said just Denny's and there was also a sign that said Denny's Diner.

I suspect the Denny's Diner sign is a franchise and Denny's allows it, since the sign is in a picture on their website.

Replies:   Joe Long
Ross at Play

@Joe Long

Set near Pittsburgh, there are some idioms.

It's not as if it's an idiom readers will not have heard and would have difficulty understanding.

Joe Long

@REP

Googling images for "Denny's sign" it appears they come in

Denny's
Denny's Restaurant
Denny's Diner
Denny's - America's Diner

StarFleet Carl

@Ernest Bywater

Since the focus is on the name of an eatery in an example, I can only assume everyone finds the content of the informative part of the post as being perfectly correct, and they agree with it, despite them not commenting on that part of the post.


Actually, in my original comment I did make a notation that, due to your usage of the name in an attempt to be global, that it would actually cause confusion among the audience originally least likely to be confused - Americans.

Your point 1 was:

1. Too few words do not paint the picture you want to provide to your readers. This is because you can not safely assume the reader uses or understands every words in the exact same way as you do.


and you used the example:

A US author who simply says We went from the meeting to Denny's will tell US readers they went to a place to eat, while those unfamiliar with restaurant name will assume they went to the house of their friend Denny, and wouldn't understand why they're asking him to feed them. While writing We went from the meeting to a Denny's Diner will convey the full meaning to everyone.


I said:

So instead, using more words is needed if you really want to convey understanding. "After the meeting, we wanted to go grab a quick bite. The local Denny's was the only place open." or "When the meeting ended, everyone wanted to go to a restaurant. Denny's was the closest."


In other words, you attempted to use too few words yourself in your own example that you thought was appropriate. So saying 'We went from the meeting to a Denny's Diner' is also wrong. Saying 'We went from the meeting to a Denny's Restaurant' would have obviated the whole conversation about the name of the stores.

There's a similar reason behind this as to why it probably appeared to you that I was giving you a lot of grief over your latest story. You live half a globe away, but you base most of your stories in the USA. The old saying is, write what you know. I apologize if this sounds harsh, but you don't know midwest and southern America. You may have known someone from here, but I would recommend that if you're going to base a story here in the US that you have someone from here proof it first.

You were absolutely right, someone in the US would have understood if you said they were going to Denny's. But you were then wrong by choosing 'a Denny's Diner' because most of the US doesn't know it that way.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ross at Play

@Joe Long

"She would do you in an instant."

I suggested 'She'd' instead of 'She would', but would also suggest 'a flash' instead of 'an instant'.
Severe insomnia has one collateral benefit. Sigh!

Replies:   Joe Long
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@StarFleet Carl


In other words, you attempted to use too few words yourself in your own example


The fact I used a name the company uses is an issue you can take up with the company. Calling it Denny's Diner (one of their official brands) makes it clear they are not going to the home of their friend Denny, which was the intent of the example. The fact some people in the US choose to not understand the company name is their fault, not the fault of the rest or the world or me. The choice of some, to focus on a company name used in other parts of their USA than their own is their problem, not mine.

Replies:   Joe Long
Ross at Play

Does anyone else follow golf?
The first six players to complete one hole at The Open (the British one) averaged one and two-thirds over par. If they keep that up they'll average an even ton for their rounds.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

Does anyone else follow golf?


Only when paid to run the cart with the bags on it.

Ross at Play
Updated:

I came across this sentence in the narrative of a 1-POV story while editing a story for someone.

My cheeks grew warm.

That is showing the MC becoming embarrassed, right? ... but I can't imagine anyone saying that, even to a close confidant.
It seems more natural to me someone would use filter word!?

I felt my cheeks grow warm. (or perhaps 'turn red')

... but I still dislike that, just a bit less.

... brief segue ...
Don't blame me if you need to look that up in a dictionary. I knew the meaning and pronunciation, but looking up the spelling was not easy. Let me tell you!

I think I've got it!
The context is the MC feels awkward because the compliment he was just given was so strong. The other character then says:

"I love it when you blush like that."

That 'shows' he feels embarrassed too. The statement before need not, should not, show that too. It should show something different but consistent with that. How about?

I cringed a bit and shrugged.

Well, this certainly feels like a My Fair Lady moment to me. I'm hoping there is a Professor Henry Higgins out there who'll say:

By George. He's got it. By George, he's got it.

... or will someone come along and rain on my parade?

Joe Long

@Ross at Play

I suggested 'She'd' instead of 'She would', but would also suggest 'a flash' instead of 'an instant'.


I do like the contraction better and have changed it but 'a flash' isn't a phrase I commonly hear around here.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

Another sentence from the same, unnamed, guilty party ...

I could smell her fresh hair, the smell of her shampoo and her perfume.

First things first! That sentence uses 'her' three times and 'smell' twice in one short sentence. The repetitions should all be cut if possible.

To those who've been protesting some of us place too much importance on 'eliminating unnecessary words' - are you unwilling to concede it's "better", as undefined as that may be, to eliminate words which are needlessly duplicated within the same sentence?
Do you at least agree it's generally better to find ways so those words are implied as repeated by the construction rather than repeated explicitly?

The second obvious thing is to cut out the 'could'. If he could smell those things, why doesn't he?

A non-obvious thing is how others choose between 'smelled' and 'smelt'. I tend to use 'smelled' as an active action, e.g. I bent over and smelled the roses.; but 'smelt' as a sensation, e.g. I smelt roses walking past the garden.

I'm struggling to find an efficient construction which includes the nouns 'shampoo' and 'perfume', and the adjective 'fresh'.
It seems wrong to say he smelt both 'fresh hair' and 'shampoo'. That's too close to being redundant.
There wouldn't be a problem if he was smelling three nouns: I sniffed at her pussy and smelt her perfume and shampoo too. ... Okay, if you insist, I smelt her shampoo, perfume, and pussy.

Any suggestions?

* * *
BTW, how do others use 'smelled' and 'smelt'?. I guess those using British English distinguish between them the same way I do, but Americans always use 'smelled'. Is that right?

Ross at Play

@Joe Long

I do like the contraction better and have changed it but 'a flash' isn't a phrase I commonly hear around here.

Fair enough. That's a newsflash for me.

Joe Long

@Ernest Bywater

The fact some people in the US choose to not understand the company name is their fault


I've been eating on occasion at Denny's for over 40 years and don't recall every hearing it referred to as "Denny's Diner" until this conversation, even though I myself have been able to Google up images of that sign.

"Hey, you guys want to go out and grab a bite?"

"How about Denny's?"

"Sounds good to me."

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
awnlee jawking
Updated:

@Ross at Play

To those who've been protesting some of us place too much importance on 'eliminating unnecessary words' - are you unwilling to concede it's "better", as undefined as that may be, to eliminate words which are needlessly duplicated within the same sentence?


Way to rig the question!

I like the three hers - to me it adds a quality of wistfulness or longing. I'm not keen on the two smells though, they sound clumsy together. The merits of could depends on the context - I think it fits with the three hers.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@Joe Long


I've been eating on occasion at Denny's for over 40 years and don't recall every hearing it referred to as "Denny's Diner" until this conversation, even though I myself have been able to Google up images of that sign.

"Hey, you guys want to go out and grab a bite?"

"How about Denny's?"

"Sounds good to me."


I'd never heard of it until it appeared in a story I read recently where they were building a Denny's Restaurant, so I looked it up.

However, in the conversation in the example the person simply said We went from the meeting to Denny's which implies, to most of the English speaking world, they're going to visit their friend Denny at his home, there's nothing in the statement to imply a commercial operation or food to anyone not very family with the restaurant. I had similar issues with people going off to an IHOP - it must have been the 40 or 50th time I saw it in a story before someone had they were going to IHOP for breakfast - until then they could have been going to a gym or clothing shop for all the story context implied.

The point being, in both cases the use of something that's common in only one area needs to be fully explained or the readers don't understand it, and think the author is an idiot.

Replies:   Joe Long  REP  Switch Blayde
Joe Long
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I don't like to repeat words (unless it's to make a point) and it helps me follow this principle.

Writing With Brevity

2. More Vivid Word Choice

When you start chopping extraneous words, you're forced to select verbs and nouns that are as colorful and powerful as possible.


This is part of the new opening that I'm working on now. I use repetition as a form of alliteration to hammer home the point.

If I wanted peace and quiet, a little solitude, I could always stay behind my bedroom door with no one to bother me - except Dad, of course.

That solitude, however, often fueled my heartache. When there was no one else to depend on you had to depend on yourself – or go without. It felt like I was always going without. Even at home I was on my own. Every time his words cut me to the bone I had no release. There was no one really close to share with. Nowhere to vent. No brothers or sisters, no cousins within an hour's drive - and no girls.

Not ever having a steady girlfriend was both a symptom and cause. It was just an example of wanting something so bad that it tore my guts apart – while being afraid to try. Afraid of being rejected. Afraid of being told, yet again, that I wasn't good enough. Wanting, fearing, failing. Maybe he was right.


The first instance of 'solitude' I equated it with 'peace and quiet' but then I brought it back to redefine it. I also repeated 'without' to suggest that he isn't skilled yet at depending on himself.

The middle paragraph ends with "No...no...no" while the last uses "afraid..afraid...afraid...fear" An earlier paragraph, and the first in the scene (not quoted here) used 'terrified' to describe the thought of being in a new city of his own, but didn't want to repeat that strong word so here scaled it back to 'afraid' in his existing day to day life. Afraid of the known present, terrified of the unknown future.

Joe Long

@Ernest Bywater

Correct - if they simply say "We went to Denny's" there's lots of ambiguity. It has to be put in context, such as in my example.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

Way to rig the question!

Yeah. I seriously expected others would view as a subset, they would agree with, of a general principle they do not.

I'm not keen on the two smells though, they sound clumsy together.

Would you be more inclined to agree if my question was reworded to remove its bias and limited to the sub-subset of less common "major words", nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs; but excluded the more common and connecting words, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, articles and determiners?

I like the three hers - to me it adds a quality of wistfulness or longing.

Okay? I guess all I can do is to go back and un-enjoy your stories that I've already read. :-)

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

I like the three hers - to me it adds a quality of wistfulness or longing.


Or being caught up in the moment.

Her x, her y, her z. It shows the emphasis is on 'her' and the other stuff is interchangeable. It all reminds him of her.

So it can be used for effect, but only sparingly in a targeted way.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Joe Long

That should have been addressed to AJ.

I wouldn't want anyone to think I'd contemplate using a word like 'her' more than once in a single sentence with some damn good reason for doing that.

Joe Long

@Ross at Play

I agree - it takes a reason, and perhaps I was giving the original author too much credit.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Joe Long
Updated:

@Ross at Play


That should have been addressed to AJ.


My reply was likely misdirected. It's like we're having a three-way. (Are there any ladies in the room?)

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I wouldn't want anyone to think I'd contemplate using a word like 'her' more than once in a single sentence with some damn good reason for doing that.


I think the more important issue is the approach you'd adopt as an editor. Although I'm happy for anyone to proofread my stories and point out typos, to edit them I require they show empathy for my style and voice.

AJ

Replies:   Joe Long  Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Joe Long

I agree - it takes a reason, and perhaps I was giving the original author too much credit.

Yeah, and a wistful tone might not have seemed such a good thing if AJ had seen the entire paragraph.

So assuming it's not important enough to justify unnecessary uses of 'her', any ideas for how to reword it?
I cannot find anything that sounds okay using the three words 'fresh', 'shampoo', and 'perfume'.

Replies:   Joe Long  robberhands
Joe Long

@awnlee jawking

I think the more important issue is the approach you'd adopt as an editor. Although I'm happy for anyone to proofread my stories and point out typos, to edit them I require they show empathy for my style and voice.


I concur

REP

@Ernest Bywater

The point being, in both cases the use of something that's common in only one area needs to be fully explained or the readers don't understand it, and think the author is an idiot.


While I don't disagree with the concept of explaining things that may not be familiar to a reader, there is a problem with doing so.

As individuals, we are familiar with our surroundings. We use terms and make references to things without realizing they are not known outside our area. Basically, we write using what we know without realizing others may not be familiar with our terms.

If we don't know that others may not be aware of a term's meaning, we will not know it needs to be defined. For example: I can go to almost any country and say 'Let's go to McDonalds' and most people will know I am referring to a fast food place that serves hamburgers. IHOP and Denny's are common terms in the US, but they may not be as well known in other countries as McDonalds. As an American, I write using the terms I'm familiar with, and I don't know if readers outside of the country will understand what they mean.

While I don't recall all of the terms EB, I remember having to go look up some of the terms that you used in your stories. I recall 'Ute' being one of those terms. You are so accustomed to the term UTE that it never occurred to you that the rest of the world didn't know what a Ute was.

Replies:   Joe Long  Ernest Bywater
Joe Long
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I could smell her fresh hair, the smell of her shampoo and her perfume.


Hair and shampoo seem redundant, as the hair likely is acquiring it's smell from the shampoo.

If you're going to highlight 'her' I could go with "I could smell her hair, her shampoo, her perfume" but 'fresh' is getting in the way unless each noun has it's own adjective.

"I snuggled in close and lost myself in the fresh smells of her hair, her shampoo, her perfume."

"I drank in the fresh smell the shampoo had left in her hair, mixed with that of the perfume dabbed behind her ear."

Replies:   Ross at Play
Joe Long

@REP

You are so accustomed to the term UTE that it never occurred to you that the rest of the world didn't know what a Ute was.


Running to the dictionary...Without context I would have never guessed a car.

Replies:   REP
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

I think the more important issue is the approach you'd adopt as an editor. Although I'm happy for anyone to proofread my stories and point out typos, to edit them I require they show empathy for my style and voice.

My approach depends on the experience of the author, but is always as they explicitly instruct me, after negotiations considering what they want and what I'm capable of doing. I'm upfront with developing authors that, although they might benefit a lot from working with me, if we have worked well together there will come a time when they are better off with someone who does competent, simple proofreads.
How long does anyone in Boot Camp?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

To those who've been protesting some of us place too much importance on 'eliminating unnecessary words' - are you unwilling to concede it's "better", as undefined as that may be, to eliminate words which are needlessly duplicated within the same sentence?


No at all. I have said from the very beginning of this argument that I consider redundancies a completely separate issue from "filler" words.

Redundancies should be eliminated.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I smelt her shampoo,


Smelt is a type fish. I think they are similar to anchovies. :)

Ross at Play

@Joe Long

"I snuggled in close and lost myself in the fresh smells of her hair, her shampoo, her perfume."
"I drank in the fresh smell the shampoo had left in her hair, mixed with that of the perfume she had dabbed behind her ear."

Thanks.
I'll suggest the author reads those for ideas.
They are quite different to the original version which seems to me like of dump of details that actually doesn't provide any new information to the reader. 'He smelled ... ...' Okay, but I already guessed he was probably breathing.

Replies:   Joe Long
REP

@Joe Long

I would have never guessed a car


I seem to recall it being a small vehicle similar to a small truck that has a small rear deck for carrying cargo.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Redundancies should be eliminated.

Thank you. Redundancies are important but filler words not really seems, IMHO, an entirely rational view for someone to take. :-)

Joe Long

@REP

I've heard 'utility vehicle' but not 'ute'

Replies:   REP  Switch Blayde
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

They are quite different to the original version which seems to me like of dump of details that actually doesn't provide any new information to the reader. 'He smelled ... ...' Okay, but I already guessed he was probably breathing.


I like to visualize so I got a picture of what might have been happening and then reworded, leaving the key nouns.

REP

@Joe Long

I think Utility Vehicle would be accurate. Ute is Ford's name for the model.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

My approach depends on the experience of the author, but is always as they explicitly instruct me, after negotiations considering what they want and what I'm capable of doing.


That sounds like a very good approach.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@REP

What would you expect of a Crossover? :)

(Assuming that term isn't common in the USA)

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

What would you expect of a Crossover? :)


What they call a Ute in Australia is not what we call a crossover in the US.

A crossover is a small SUV built on a car frame rather than a truck frame.

A Ute in Australia as I have recently had explained to me is a sedan or coup with a pick up truck style external cargo bed. For something a US citizen might be familiar with, think of something along the lines of the Chevy El Camino.

The Ute is to the Pickup Truck what the crossover is to the SUV.

Replies:   Joe Long  awnlee jawking  REP
Joe Long

@Dominions Son

Last year I bought my wife a Ford Flex which is described as a 'full-size crossover utility vehicle', but she insists on calling it a car.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Joe Long

If it's a crossover, it is a car.

Replies:   Joe Long  StarFleet Carl
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

A crossover is a small SUV built on a car frame rather than a truck frame.


Drat! You knew!

In the European market their image is big and butch as though they're full off-road vehicles, but at best they're only soft roaders.

AJ

Joe Long

@Dominions Son

But it looks like a minivan

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Joe Long

But it looks like a minivan


If it doesn't have the sliding side doors, it's not a minivan. If it does, it isn't a crossover.

Replies:   Joe Long
REP
Updated:

@Dominions Son


A crossover is a small SUV built on a car frame rather than a truck frame.


We have a Toyota Highlander, which is built on Toyota's Camry frame. So I guess I have a crossover.

Using a truck frame for a SUV has never made any sense to me. Trucks typically have a stiffer suspension, so a rougher ride. Yes, SUVs are marketed as vehicles to carry passengers and cargo, but the cargo capacity is not that much in volume or weight. I am certainly not going to use an SUV to pickup a half of a cubic yard of gravel, which is about 3,000 lbs in weight.

Replies:   Joe Long  Dominions Son
Joe Long

@Dominions Son

Things I learn at my age.

It does have the big lift hatch on the back and third row seating, but no sliding doors on the side.

Joe Long

@REP

Yes, SUVs are marketed as vehicles to carry passengers and cargo, but the cargo capacity is not that much in volume or weight.


We managed to squeeze four adults, four children, an infant and a week's worth of luggage into our crossover for a fourteen hour drive each way to the beach.

Replies:   REP
Joe Long
Updated:

Thought I already mentioned this, but it must have evaporated into the ether.

Last night I started reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I've already finished The Catcher in the Rye and Bastard Out of Carolina.

I'l looking for 1st person, past tense, told by a teen or younger, coming of age, social commentary types in order to study the writing.

Reading about the protagonist Bone in Bastard Out of Carolina gave me the idea for redoing my introductory paragraphs. I thought of how much better I had it growing up than she did, and how my struggle was internal and emotional, and came up with this.


Really, what did I have to complain about? I put the novel down on the stand beside my bed and thought about it. That girl in the book grew up dirt poor in the Deep South. We were rich enough...


I also noticed in the two novels set in the South how important family identity was, to the point of a defacto caste system, with the blacks on the lowest 'untouchable' level. There was some racism where I grew up, near Pittsburgh in the 1970's, but I don't recall anywhere near that degree of family identity. It did give me some ideas for my protagonist's grandparents back on the farm. I'm sure I'll be doing some editing, already did one (added the Stiffler reference)


An attractive young waitress sauntered over and asked, "Are you ready to order?"

Her name tag read, 'Karen.' She was sort of tall and slender, long legs with smallish boobs and a bubble butt, topped off with long blonde hair pulled back in a pony tail - and a wide smile.

Uncle Jerry ordered first, then Grandma, and around to our side of the table, leaving me last. I glanced back down at the menu, then told her, "I'll have the roasted half chicken, uh…with broccoli and mashed potatoes."

She looked up from her pad, smiled and said, "Sure thing" then took the three menus from our side when I handed them to her.

As she walked away, Jerry reached over to tap me on the hand. "Nice, huh? I know her dad."

I looked down and felt myself blushing. Dad said, "She's probably some kind of cousin."

Jerry smiled. "Not that there's anything wrong with that."

Dad looked over at Grandma and she stared right back. "Yes, my parents were first cousins. Your father has Keiths on his side, and I have Longs. Nothing wrong with that – but she's one of them Stiffler girls. You know what they say – every Stiffler has a Peter, and every peter has a Stiffler."

Mom looked down the table at me before turning back to Grandma. "So…Martha…how's the farm been doing?"

Dominions Son
Updated:

@REP


Using a truck frame for a SUV has never made any sense to me. Trucks typically have a stiffer suspension, so a rougher ride.


The suspension may attach to the frame, but it isn't part of the frame.

Yes, SUVs are marketed as vehicles to carry passengers and cargo, but the cargo capacity is not that much in volume or weight.


Mid and full size SUVs are also marketed for their towing capacity. The strength of the frame and how much added stress it can handle are important factors.

Mid size SUVs (not a large category) have a towing capacity around 5,000 pounds, Full size SUVs run from 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of towing capacity.

ETA: Crossover SUV towing capacities are under 3,000 pounds, even with a towing package that includes engine and transmission mods. Without a towing package, they typically max out at 1,500 pounds.

Replies:   REP
Ross at Play

@Joe Long

I've already finished The Catcher in the Rye

Can you explain why it is so highly regarded?
I thought the MC was a far bigger phoney than all those he whinged about, no action to speak of, no central conflict.
Was it because the style was so innovative?

Replies:   Joe Long
robberhands

@Ross at Play

I cannot find anything that sounds okay using the three words 'fresh', 'shampoo', and 'perfume'.

I guess I'm not romantic enough. I would go with, 'I could smell her freshly shampooed hair and perfume'.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@robberhands

Visualize it.

He has to be close to be able to sense those smells. They are likely embraced, either standing or reclining on a couch or bed.

The smells are only a vehicle. Describe the closeness and the effect that and the then detectable smells have on him.

To me, it reeks of intimacy.

Replies:   robberhands
Joe Long
Updated:

@Ross at Play


Can you explain why it is so highly regarded?

I thought the MC was a far bigger phoney than all those he whinged about, no action to speak of, no central conflict.

Was it because the style was so innovative?


The book interested me and I read through it quickly, but I wouldn't call it great.

The style was actually somewhat grating to me. It was like Hayden was on crack and just wouldn't shut up, but perhaps that was intended to fit his situation as a mental patient.

I think it's attraction was the message. Holden Caulfield was from an upper middle class family with no material worries. When he rebelled and labeled those around him 'phonies' he was recognizing the lack of free will and individuality. In proper society, even in the urban North, everyone had an assigned role to play. It's like today's 'political correctness', where to be accepted and get ahead one has to acting a role, displaying actions and attitudes that one may not personally believe.

This encouraged a budding 'counter-culture' movement that wanted to rebel against this societal structure and be free to choose their own paths in life.

Today these people are teaching gender studies in college to students who will pay $100k to get a degree that qualifies them to become a barista.

I'm a libertarian who treasures personal freedom and free will but also accepts that comes with personal responsibility.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Joe Long

Thanks. It's appeal makes more sense when I think of 'phonie' as timid compliance with prevailing behavioural norms.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play


I smelt roses walking past the garden.


I guess those roses were walking real slow if you were able to smell them. LOL

ETA: Should be:

I smelt roses while walking past the garden.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I could smell her fresh hair, the smell of her shampoo and her perfume.


He's not smelling fresh hair and the shampoo and the perfume.

I think shampoo and perfume make the hair smell fresh. They're defining fresh.

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

Denny's Restaurant


I only know it as Denny's. In fact, I would write that as Denny's restaurant. I don't see "restaurant" being part of the proper noun.

Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

When there was no one else to depend on you had to depend on yourself


I'll return the comma favor. One is needed after the first "depend on" ("...no one else to depend on, you had to...").

Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

I don't like to repeat words (unless it's to make a point)


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of...

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Redundancies should be eliminated.


See my Tale of Two Cities example.

Ernest Bywater

@REP

As individuals, we are familiar with our surroundings. We use terms and make references to things without realizing they are not known outside our area. Basically, we write using what we know without realizing others may not be familiar with our terms.


It's simple to place them in a better context than just a plain statement that conveys nothing to the unfamiliar.

In stories where I use the local term Maccas I include context to show they go there for food and soon after mention the full name of McDonalds while most US authors seem to think the whole world calls them MickeyDs - I've yet to find out how they get that, but instead of saying Let's go to MickeyDs they say Let's go to MickeyDs for a burger then the context tells the reader what's going on, even if the name is unfamiliar.

Where I've used the term ute I've had context to show it's a vehicle, and I have full explanation in my blog. There are many ways to cover such things, and it's easy to just cover them if they aren't a standard dictionary word.

Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

I've heard 'utility vehicle' but not 'ute'


Ute is a Native American people. Utah is named after them.

Ernest Bywater

@REP

I seem to recall it being a small vehicle similar to a small truck that has a small rear deck for carrying cargo.


Some are sedan bodies and front, like an El Camino, while others are on a 1 tonne truck frame and like a US pickup truck - more details have been in my blog for years, and I often repost the blog to see it stays there.

Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

I'l looking for 1st person, past tense, told by a teen or younger, coming of age, social commentary types in order to study the writing.


Ha, that 's my novel LAST KISS. But I guess you're talking about classics. :(

btw, to show how choosing the right POV is so important to a novel, imagine how different To Kill a Mockingbird would be if it was told from the POV of the Atticus (a lawyer). Grisham would have written that story. Or if told from the black man's POV. Or the sheriff. Or the girl who said she was raped.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

imagine how different To Kill a Mockingbird would be if it was told from the POV of the Atticus (a lawyer).


Scout's a good choice because she's young and innocent. She hadn't yet formed opinions about the grown up stuff going on around her. (I'm to to where Atticus was camped outside the jail, waiting for the cars to arrive)

Ha, that 's my novel LAST KISS. But I guess you're talking about classics. :(


I've started with the ones I'd heard of and which had a good reputation, but I'm willing to give your's a try.

I'm actually 60 some percent done (at 95k words) and have several first drafts of scenes later in the book, but it's been nearly two years since I started rewriting the thing from the beginning. Now that I know a little something about what I'm doing I'm having concerns about the old writing back in the first few scenes. (I also write computer code and I retch when I look at some of the stuff I wrote a few years ago). So I'm trying to fine tune the opening and am reading other well regarded works to see how they went about world building and introducing and developing their characters.

StarFleet Carl

@Dominions Son

If it's a crossover, it is a car.


If there is a sedan (or hatch) car equivalent that the crossover vehicle is based upon, then it's a crossover. Otherwise it's an SUV.

Thus, the Subaru XV or Crosstrek and Subaru Outback are crossovers, because of the Impreza and Legacy, while the Forester is a straight SUV since there's no passenger car equivalent.

With slight modifications (metal skid plate for the engine and transmission and then play with as desired), tell me a Subaru Outback isn't a full off-road vehicle.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@StarFleet Carl

tell me a Subaru Outback isn't a full off-road vehicle.


If you have to take it to a custom shop for mods, it isn't a full off-road vehicle. Most of the full size SUVs are off-road capable completely stock, fresh off the showroom floor.

In any case, off-road capability doesn't make it an SUV. The Jeep Wrangler, particularly the CJ which is a modernized version of the WWII army jeep is off road capable, but it isn't generally considered an SUV.

Again, all of the original SUVs were built on pickup truck frames, and that remains the defining characteristic of full SUVs, a fully enclosed vehicle built on a truck frame.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

I give you three out of four for that lot.

Me:
I smelt roses walking past the garden.
You:
Should be: I smelt roses while walking past the garden.

I will go and stand in the Dummy's Corner for a long time and seriously consider my actions.

Me:
I could smell her fresh hair, the smell of her shampoo and her perfume.
You:
I think shampoo and perfume make the hair smell fresh. They're defining fresh.

I will not be alone and clearly indicated I was quoting what someone else.

@jplong
When there was no one else to depend on you had to depend on yourself
You:
I'll return the comma favor. One is needed after the first "depend on"

I agree. When a dependent clause is placed at the start of a sentence, before its subject, it certainly needs to be ended by a comma for formal writing. For informal writing I think the introductory clause is this sentence is too long and complex to even consider dropping it.

@jplong
I don't like to repeat words (unless it's to make a point)
You:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, ...

Unless you explicitly indicate you are making a quote, you should any correct grammar and punctuation mistakes made by the original author, which in this case was to use commas where semi-colons are required.

jplong had specified the type of exceptions he makes for his dislike of 'repeat words'. Why do you cite an example using the same exception he noted in a post which appears to suggest he belongs in the Dummy's Corner, alongside me and the other guilty party?
I frequently use the exception jplong noted, but I would be a little more specific about the way I use it. I repeat words to achieve a rhetoric flourish in series of statements which have a common component. That emphases the components which are different. Orators like Churchill, Kennedy, and King Jr. used that technique frequently; it was one of the main reasons they are considered such great orators. When using this technique I take care to repeat exactly the same words and punctuation every time. I find if you get that even slightly wrong the result can become very tedious, very quickly.

REP

@Joe Long

Try fitting a King size mattress, box spring, bedframe, refrigerator, and stove in your SUV. They will fit in my pickup.

REP

@Dominions Son

The suspension may attach to the frame, but it isn't part of the frame.


Never said it was.

I'm addressing the vehicle itself only.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@REP

I'm addressing the vehicle itself only.


Just because an SUV is built on a truck frame, that doesn't mean is has to have a truck suspension.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Dominions Son

that doesn't mean is has to have a truck suspension.


but it does. When I bought my first Highlander, it was the only SUV using a car frame and suspension. The rest used truck frames and suspensions.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@REP

but it does. When I bought my first Highlander, it was the only SUV using a car frame and suspension. The rest used truck frames and suspensions.


No, they have heavier suspensions than cars, but it's not because they are built from truck frames, it's because they are built for off-roading and towing. An 8000 lb trailer is going to put an extra 500-600 pounds on the hitch and therefore on the rear suspension.

However, there is no technical reason why if you were willing to forgo towing and off road use, you couldn't build a vehicle with car suspension on a truck frame.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Dominions Son

You obviously missed my original point.

Most SUV bodies are mounted on existing truck frames that use the existing suspension systems designed for that truck frame. That makes the ride rougher than my Highlander, which is an SUV body installed on a Camry car frame using the Camry's suspension system.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@REP

Most SUV bodies are mounted on existing truck frames that use the existing suspension systems designed for that truck frame.

I didn't miss your original point, you have apparently missed mine.

It's true that truck frame based SUV's typically use the suspension designed for the applicable truck. This is required by function not form.

There is no reason you couldn't design a suspension as smooth as that that of the Camry to fit a truck frame.

The main reason that they don't do that for most SUVs built on truck frames is that such a suspension is unlikely to be able to stand up to either off road use or heavy towing.

SUVs need the heavy truck suspension for their intended uses for the same reason that they need the heavier truck frame, not because they use the truck frame.

Replies:   REP
robberhands

@Joe Long

To me, it reeks of intimacy.

Whatever it reeks of to you, intimacy is no excuse for writing rubbish. 'I could smell her fresh hair, the smell of her shampoo and her perfume.' That line is rubbish, and that's all I smell.

Replies:   Joe Long  awnlee jawking
Ross at Play

@jplong
To me, (that suggestion) reeks of intimacy.
@robberhands
(The other) line is rubbish, and that's all I smell.

It's nice to have been joined here recently by two so willing to just state their opinions clearly. :-)

Replies:   robberhands
Joe Long

@robberhands

I didn't say it was well written. I meant that I visualized it as an intimate setting - which needed rewriting.

Joe Long
Updated:

@Ross at Play


@jplong

When there was no one else to depend on you had to depend on yourself

For informal writing I think the introductory clause is this sentence is too long and complex to even consider dropping it.


What I'm trying to establish about the character in the opening paragraphs of the book is that he's suffering emotionally and looking for a lifeline. This particular paragraph says when there's no one else to depend on one has to depend on themselves. I believe this is true and fitting for the character. However, it suggests the character may be self-sufficient which undermines my point.

So I added the other option of going without, and in the following sentence says he feels like he's gone without a lot - meaning that so far he's generally failed at being self-sufficient, and that's part of the reason he's down. Given his shitty options, he knows what he must do, but finds himself failing at it.

Replies:   Ross at Play
robberhands

@Ross at Play

It's nice to have been joined here recently by two so willing to just state their opinions clearly. :-)

I find it makes discussions easier to state things as clearly as possible. Although I can see, why people more familiar with this forum, try to place as many safeguards as possible around every voiced opinion.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Joe Long

I WAS NOT questioning the meaning you were going for in that sentence, your reasons thinking that meaning was appropriate, and the value to others of making your post, i.e. I would support your post just as much if I disagreed with your opinion.

My post was merely responding to a point about correct punctuation SB made. I agreed with him your suggested sentence needs a comma after the first 'depending on', explaining why I thought a comma there was mandatory for informal writing, and it is very poor if it's omitted from informal writing.

Replies:   Joe Long
Ross at Play

@robberhands

I find it makes discussions easier to state things as clearly as possible. Although I can see, why people more familiar with this forum, try to place as many safeguards as possible around every voiced opinion.

I find such clearly stated opinions refreshing. Sadly, it seems, some here may take them personally ... which for the life of me, someone with Asperger's like me, who tends to read things very literally, I cannot fathom why others do that.

Joe Long

@Ross at Play

I have no problem with adding the comma. I'm generally good at grammar but find myself focused more on the macro aspects of story construction and sometimes miss these micro things

I misread this:

For informal writing I think the introductory clause is this sentence is too long and complex to even consider dropping it.


I thought it was advocating for dropping the introductory clause because it was too long and complex, but in fact it's the opposite. I was therefor arguing for it's inclusion.

Pulling this back to showing vs telling, I made earlier comments about keeping the narration in the timeline of the story. I thought of the opening line and then the first paragraph after reading a novel, so I pulled that paragraph into the timeline by adding "I put the novel down on the stand beside my bed and thought about it" as the second sentence. Now I'm looking at doing something similar to the second paragraph - taking the first sentence about being 19 and having finished two years of college and moving that to the first paragraph lamenting the economic prospects of his hometown, wrapping it with something like "less than two years until I'd be on my own"

That allows the discussion of being an only child to be it's own paragraph, adding "People often asked if I was lonely being an only child, and I'd always tell them..." and then admit it was a lie to mask his problems.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Joe Long

I recently commented to an author, as an editor, I wasn't surprised his story was scoring so well, but if I had started reading I'd have abandoned before reaching the end of the two-hundred-plus-word first paragraph, and started looking for something better.
The sins I found most intolerable were, in fact, nothing more than succumbing to a natural inclination to tell the story with a totally linear timeline, My name is ... My background is ... I first contacted her by ...

Find something interesting to gain readers' interest in the first few sentences of all stories! It's easy enough to concoct ways to backtrack later on to explain background information that's necessary, but tedious, before the reader actually needs to know it.

Fortunately my very damning assessment did not create another enemy of this author. It was the first story they ever wrote, and was posted on asstr a while but only recently transferred here. The now-quite-experienced author read it for the first time in years and emailed to me, "It is awful."

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

totally linear timeline, My name is ... My background is ... I first contacted her by ...


That's what I totally wanted to avoid, but when I posted the first draft on a crit site I found I was too vague. The subtext wasn't sufficient. I added, "I put down the book" in the first paragraph and "looked at the calendar on the wall" a little later to make it part of the story rather than a recitation by the narrator. Now I'm hoping it's not too heavy handed. There's a balance somewhere in the middle.

Here's the up to the minute version

Really, what did I have to complain about? I put the novel down on the stand beside my bed and thought about it. That girl in the book grew up dirt poor in the Deep South. We were rich enough - three bedrooms (even if one was made into a family room) and two cars. Even had a second TV, one of those little black and white ones, in the kitchen. Dad gave us a good life in the suburbs, better than he had growing up on a farm or Mom as a coal miner's daughter – but most of the kids I knew were eager to get the hell out.

It was a dirty, dingy, dying steel town, like several in the valleys surrounding Pittsburgh – but for me, it was home. It was terrifying to picture myself anywhere else - all on my own, not knowing anyone. On the other hand, how could I stay in a place with twenty-five percent unemployment? I'd barely made it through two years of college, living at home and driving to the branch campus on the other side of town. It was less than two years until I would be all on my own.

People often asked me about being an only child. I recited my practiced lines about how there were always enough other guys in the neighborhood to hang out with and for a few years I'd played baseball nearly every summer morning down at my old elementary school. If I wanted peace and quiet, a little solitude, I could always stay behind my bedroom door with no one to bother me - except Dad, of course. But I never told them that. I learned a long time before to never talk back or saying anything bad about my father.

That solitude, however, often fueled my despair. When there was no one else to depend on, you had to depend on yourself – or go without. It felt like I was always going without. Even at home I was on my own. Every time his words cut me to the bone I had no release. There was no one really close to share with. Nowhere to vent. No brothers or sisters, no cousins within an hour's drive - and no girls.

Not ever having a steady girlfriend was both a symptom and cause. It was just an example of wanting something so bad that it tore my guts apart – while being afraid to try. Afraid of being rejected. Afraid of being told, yet again, that I wasn't good enough. Wanting, fearing, failing. Maybe he was right.

I looked at the calendar on the wall. Friday, July 20, 1979. Six weeks until school started again. Six months until a new decade, a little more than a year until I could vote for president for the first time. The day itself meant nothing to me.

Restless, I didn't want to read anymore. I couldn't sit still in my room. I had to do something.

On my way out the door, keys in hand, my mother asked, "Joe Long – just where are you going?"

"Oh, sorry Mom - bowling alley. Won't be long."

"Supper's in an hour. Don't be late."

The pinball machines suddenly sounded exciting and I didn't have enough patience to walk. Five minutes later I was parked and heading inside to look for an empty machine. Amy was there with another girl. She was always there. I swear she lived at those alleys. When she looked up and gave me a bit of a smile I muttered, "Hey" and stared for a second. As always, I wanted to say more, but the words never formed. She turned away and went back to whatever they were talking about.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, ...

Unless you explicitly indicate you are making a quote, you should any correct grammar and punctuation mistakes made by the original author, which in this case was to use commas where semi-colons are required.


No, I think the author got it right. Read his whole sentence. Putting semi-colons after each bit would divorce them from them from the actual sentence which follows - when he eventually gets round to it.

Empathy!

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

That line is rubbish, and that's all I smell.


That's definitely a man's opinion, and supports my theory that men are better at explicit sex scenes rather than erotica.

(If you're a woman, I apologise for insulting you.)

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


That's definitely a man's opinion, and supports my theory that men are better at explicit sex scenes rather than erotica.


You are correct, I am a man, so there is no need to appologize. That aside, I'm sure women are as versed at smelling rubbish as men are.

ETA: Your theory is just a prejudice. It misses falsifiability to be viewed as a proper theory.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

It misses falsifiability to be viewed as a proper theory.


Please could you explain that. I don't understand what you're saying.

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@awnlee jawking

Please could you explain that. I don't understand what you're saying.

Your theory neither can be proven right, nor can it be proven wrong. That's a necessity halmark of anything counting as a theory.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

Your theory neither can be proven right, nor can it be proven wrong. That's a necessity halmark of anything counting as a theory.


Thanks.

In a sense you're right. My assertion can never be proven in an absolute sense. Even the categorisation of sex scenes into stroke versus erotica and shades in between is very subjective. However I've found it relatively easy to determine the gender of an author based on their style of sex-scene writing, and men do tend to concentrate on describing how Tab A fits into Slot B whereas women concentrate more on feelings and sensations.

You're welcome to do your own research to either confirm or rebut my own.

AJ

Replies:   robberhands  Joe Long
Joe Long
Updated:

@Ross at Play


Orators like Churchill, Kennedy, and King Jr. used that technique frequently; it was one of the main reasons they are considered such great orators.


Churchill:


We shall go on to the end.
We shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air,
we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be.
We shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender,
and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.


A call to action -
We shall go on...fight...fight...fight
We shall defend...fight...fight...fight...fight
We shall never surrender

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

You're welcome to do your own research to either confirm or rebut my own.

I'll pass on it. Actually I like all the differences between men and women. My initial objection was directed at your implied observation, that I called a line rubbish because I'm a man, not because it is rubbish, gender independent.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
REP

@Dominions Son

you have apparently missed mine.


I didn't miss it, I just wasn't interested is discussing what 'could be, if ...'.

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

We'll have to disagree on that. A whole scene written in that style would indicate to me that the writer was almost certainly a woman. However, since Ross implied that the sample wasn't representative of the whole scene, I guess the point is moot.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

A whole scene written in that style would indicate to me that the writer was almost certainly a woman. However, since Ross implied that the sample wasn't representative of the whole scene, I guess the point is moot.

But the point does give me something that my get through to the author better. His, and yes he is a he, initial response suggested he thought my main objection was to the words 'her' and 'smell' being needlessly repeated. That was merely a symptom of the real problem I saw, that it was waffling and not achieving anything. Perhaps he'll understand better if I say, "It makes you sound like a girl!"

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Perhaps he'll understand better if I say, "It makes you sound like a girl!"


But that would be a compliment!

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play  Joe Long
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

No, I think the author got it right. Read his whole sentence.

It took me four tries after a Google search to find the whole sentence.
YES! The entire sentence would be ludicrous if the author had used the standard conventions of punctuation.
I would probably have chosen only one semi-colon: after the last of the ten 'it was' clauses, before continuing with another four 'we had' and 'we were all' clauses.

Still, I'm conceding my crown as reigning Most-Annoying Nitpicking Pissant champion to SB, however worthy his challenge was. :-)
He quoted something without explicitly showing it was a quote, by using either quote marks or a block quote. That suggests he was paraphrasing, with nothing to assure readers he was using the exact words and punctuation from the original. When paraphrasing I expect others to view anything non-standard as a choice I made, and assess me for whether they consider my choices justified. I grade SB 'D minus' for that particular effort. :-)

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Me:
Perhaps he'll understand better if I say, "It makes you sound like a girl!"
You:
But that would be a compliment!

Not with the intonation I will use when saying it. :-)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Not with the intonation I will use when saying it. :-)


Audio file required!

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Audio file required!

Nah! Real writers can manage it with only punctuation and fonts ...

It makes you sound like a GIRL!

Joe Long

@awnlee jawking

But that would be a compliment!


Are you a girl? (Just wondering)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Joe Long

Are you a girl? (Just wondering)


Funny you should ask. There used to be a utility on the internet which would predict your likely gender based on your writing. After a couple of minor tweaks to my style, my stories regularly achieved a probability of my gender being female of about two thirds.

Unfortunately the big giveaway is my sex scenes - I can't seem to master the art of making them truly erotic. My real gender is betrayed by their "Insert Tab A into Slot B, rinse and repeat" nature :(

AJ

Joe Long

@awnlee jawking

my stories regularly achieved a probability of my gender being female of about two thirds.


But this is still a non-answer answer. You're making me search the thread to find which gender is alleged to not be able to write erotica well.

BTW, are you not going to finish Evelyn? (my favorite was Harriet)

robberhands

@Joe Long

But this is still a non-answer answer. You're making me search the thread to find which gender is alleged to not be able to write erotica well.

awnlee jawking:

Unfortunately the big giveaway is my sex scenes - I can't seem to master the art of making them truly erotic. My real gender is betrayed by their "Insert Tab A into Slot B, rinse and repeat" nature :(


HE answered your question.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@awnlee jawking

whereas women concentrate more on feelings and sensations


As my novel continues with new chapters and also edits to what's been previously written, I'm attempting to soften the sex scenes to avoid being clinical and focus on conversations, motivations, emotions and sensations - although my intention is to make it more palatable for a main stream publisher such as Amazon (or maybe even print.)

Joe Long

@robberhands

HE answered your question.


Not directly. I did search the thread, and now I know!

Both the statements you quote are correct.

awnlee jawking

@Joe Long

But this is still a non-answer answer. You're making me search the thread to find which gender is alleged to not be able to write erotica well.


I was showing, rather than telling ;)

BTW, are you not going to finish Evelyn? (my favorite was Harriet)


Ouch! I have one more chapter virtually complete and two more well sketched out. They're sitting on a dead machine. I have hopes that a techie friend can rescue them but somehow our schedules never seem to intersect.

Spoiler Alert:

When Dave gets home, he finds Harriet has been a naughty girl. (Well, admin did classify it as a spanking story at one time.)

AJ

Replies:   Joe Long  REP  Ross at Play
Joe Long
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


I have one more chapter virtually complete and two more well sketched out. They're sitting on a dead machine.


I wrote for 15 months and when I realized I wasn't that good when I started, I went back to the beginning. At first I edited but soon was rewriting from scratch, sometimes even without rereading the original draft.

If you know the story, it's in your head. Just write!

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

Unfortunately the big giveaway is my sex scenes - I can't seem to master the art of making them truly erotic. My real gender is betrayed by their "Insert Tab A into Slot B, rinse and repeat" nature :(

Of the few erotica I read, and am sure were written by women, I only remember works of Anais Nin and Erica Jong. I don't remember their sex-scenes being significantly different from those written by capable male authors. That's what I differ, good or bad writing.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

my stories regularly achieved a probability of my gender being female of about two thirds.

An anecdotal comment ... someone (unnamed) proffered to me the thought something (non-fictional) you had written suggested to them you were "probably female". I couldn't see it - but I definitely don't consider that it's necessarily a bad thing. There may be a huge market of bored housewives out there for you if you learn how to write 'slot B caressed tab A' scenes. :-)

REP

@awnlee jawking

I have hopes that a techie friend can rescue them


One way to rescue them is to remove the hard drive and install it in an external hard drive case (or your current computer). Connect the case to your new computer and then start the computer. It will recognize the hard drive and allow you to access the contents of the external hard drive. Of course that assumes your old hard drive was not the reason your old computer failed.

If you upload everything you want from that drive, you can reformat the drive and use it as a backup drive.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

REP's point is correct, but a word of caution.

I recall being mightily pissed when a techie told they couldn't recover data from a Western Digital hard drive because they build $10 components (which are almost always what fails with external drives) onto the $200 components that are very reliable. I buy only Seagate HDs now.

I don't know what questions you should ask, but this should be enough for a techie to know what you require.

Replies:   Dominions Son
awnlee jawking

@REP

Of course that assumes your old hard drive was not the reason your old computer failed.


I'm still hoping the whole computer can be resurrected.

AJ

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I recall being mightily pissed when a techie told they couldn't recover data from a Western Digital hard drive because they build $10 components


That techie was probably wrong. Assuming that the platters themselves haven't been damaged, there are companies out there that will for a fee transplant the platters from the failed drive to a new drive.

It is however horrendously expensive.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

That techie was probably wrong.

I don't doubt it is technically possible ... but the guy working in a hole in the wall in Singapore "couldn't" do it, and I "wouldn't" pay the amount anyone who could do it would ask.
Do you agree my revised approach when buying external hard drives is correct? I ask if I can, and the cost of, transferring the hard drive to a new case if the attached USB drive fails, as they so often do.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I don't doubt it is technically possible


It's not just technically possible. There are companies out there that actually do it.

I agree, the cost is excessive for the typical home user. On the other hand, if you are worth millions and the drive contains data upon which your income is dependent, it might be worth it.

Do you agree my revised approach when buying external hard drives is correct?


My recommendation for external had drives would be: Don't.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

My recommendation for external had drives would be: Don't.

But if you have almost 8Tb of data, none of which is critical, and no access to high-speed uploads to the cloud, isn't 16Tb of external hard drives the least bad option?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

But if you have almost 8Tb of data, none of which is critical, and no access to high-speed uploads to the cloud, isn't 16Tb of external hard drives the least bad option?


No. Build your own data server with 16TB of internal hard drive.

If you want to, think of it as building your very own, very large external hard drive. :)

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

No. Build your own data server with 16TB of internal hard drive.
If you want to, think of it as building your very own, very large external hard drive. :)

But if you're an extremely lazy SOB ...? :-)

Replies:   Dominions Son
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

No. Build your own data server with 16TB of internal hard drive.


Why internal and not external?

I have an external hard drive and, one, it's my backup. If I lose my laptop I still have my data. If my laptop gets a virus, my external hard drive is protected (I only turn it on when I back up individual files).

And, two, it's how I build my new computer when my old one doesn't boot.

It even allowed me to migrate to a Mac from a PC. Thankfully it was formatted so that the Mac is able to access it without having to reformat it (and lose all my data). And I believe it's a Western Digital (and has to be almost 10 years old).

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

But if you're an extremely lazy SOB ...? :-)


The more points of failure you have the more likely things are to fail.

In my opinion, that many external drives is going to require more maintenance effort in the long term, than a data server will.

The path of least resistance in the short term is not necessarily the path of least resistance in the long term.

Do you want to be smart lazy or stupid lazy?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Do you want to be smart lazy or stupid lazy?

I thought my last post, with smiley face, suggested I was too lazy to consider whether my choice was stupid. :(
I'm probably waiting for the time when external hard drives can hold 8Tb or 16Tb, and would then keep enough copies to be safe.
As I understand it, that is going to need a change in operating systems. I recall a time when the maximum size of hard drives was 8Gb. Software changed boosting the maximum theoretical size to 2Tb but it was a decade or more Moore's Law resulted in drives that size being available to the mass market.
I think I've read that another software change is planned which I'd assume would increase the maximum size to about 500Tb. I can't imagine anyone wanting a collection of TV shows and movies of such high resolution to that amount of storage capacity.
Any idea when the next software upgrade is planned expanding the maximum capacity of a logical hard drive beyond 2Tb?

Replies:   Joe Long  paliden
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

My PC for personal use is in the shop right now for a (boot) hard drive that isn't being recognized. All my database stuff is on this (the production PC) and the genealogy is on a SSD, but I don't back up often enough and I have a dozen years of emails and photos at risk.

For under $100 I can get an external HD of at least 1TB that makes it easy to back up the files I don't want to lose. Now I just need to stop being lazy and get one.

paliden

@Ross at Play

Any idea when the next software upgrade is planned expanding the maximum capacity of a logical hard drive beyond 2Tb?


Software has already passed that limitation.

Replies:   Joe Long  Ross at Play
Joe Long

@paliden

and I have a 500gb SSD on each PC

Dominions Son

@Joe Long

For under $100 I can get an external HD of at least 1TB that makes it easy to back up the files I don't want to lose. Now I just need to stop being lazy and get one.


Back when 500 GB was high end, I had a 500 gb external hard drive, It failed long before my computer's internal hard drive. Using an external hard drive for backup, especially if it's your only backup isn't smart.

Replies:   REP  StarFleet Carl
REP

@Dominions Son

I recall being happy that I could upgrade to a 50 MB hard drive at work back in the 80's. Things have really changed.

Replies:   Joe Long  Switch Blayde
Joe Long

@REP

My first PC had 128k of RAM and no hard drive

Replies:   REP  Dominions Son
REP

@Joe Long

My first PC had 128k of RAM and no hard drive


That sounds like my Apple II, but I don't think it had that much RAM, 64K is what I recall, and as you said no hard disk.

Dominions Son

@Joe Long

My first PC had 128k of RAM and no hard drive


My first exposure to a computer was an Apple IIe, two 5.25 floppy drives and no hard drive.

Switch Blayde

@REP

I recall being happy that I could upgrade to a 50 MB hard drive at work back in the 80's. Things have really changed.


Ha. My first PC was a 2 floppy IBM back in 1980. When the hard drive came out I had someone replace one of the floppies with a 10MB hard drive and never thought I'd ever run out of storage.

Ross at Play

@Joe Long

Now I just need to stop being lazy and get one.

May I suggest you get two! Their failure rates are very high but they usually just need a new, cheap case. Get ones of a type that if allows the hard drive to to be simply transfer into a new case.

Ross at Play

@paliden

Software has already passed that limitation.

Thanks. The last time I looked there were 4Tb and 8Tb hard drives on the market, but I gathered they were logically partitioned into multiple drives.
I guess I'll wait until Moore's law brings 8Tb or 16Tb drives into the range of my price tolerance. Typically the price of storage devices increases by perhaps 90% with each doubling of capacity, until the cutting-edge size is reached which is well over double the price. Just wait a few years and ...
I've certainly experienced the point DS has made. Relying on one external hard drive for backup is unwise. I'm not ever sure two is enough fordata that is critical. :(

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Thanks. The last time I looked there were 4Tb and 8Tb hard drives on the market, but I gathered they were logically partitioned into multiple drives.


Nope, they can get partitioned that way when you install them if you want to, but they don't come like that.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

The computers on board the Voyager space missions an interesting curiosity to look up. I think they had 64K in total memory.
They were launched in the late 70s. Many years later they'd passed the planets they were originally designed to investigate, but a slingshot onto the next was possible and that was done.
The problem was then that the signal was so feint that data needed redundancy to be useful. The programs were rewritten and the spacecraft returned slightly less, but high quality data for its additional planetary bypass.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Nope, they can get partitioned that way when you install them if you want to, but they don't come like that.

Paliden mentioned above a software limitation has been removed. I've no doubts what you say is correct now, but I'm talking about a few years ago.
I'm not certain I understood what I was told, nor whether their explanation was correct, but it seemed consistent with what I'd been told many years before to explain why 8Gb was the largest drive available at that time.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Paliden mentioned above a software limitation has been removed. I've no doubts what you say is correct now, but I'm talking about a few years ago.


Even a decade ago, when it was necessary to partition the largest drives, they didn't come that way. You had to set the partitioning up when you installed and configured the operating system on the machine. Hard drives have never come pre-partitioned from the factory.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

when it was necessary to partition the largest drives

Okay, thanks. I understand the distinction you were making now.

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

Paliden mentioned above a software limitation has been removed.


In the past there were two major restrictions on drive space, one was software and one was hardware related.

1. The hardware issue was due to the physical size of the drive and how good the read/write heads were at saving and reading data. That meant a space was needed between the tracks. Over the years the width of the track needed has shrunk with higher quality heads being made to work with narrow tracks. That also resulted in smaller spaces between the tracks. The overall result was the ability to stuff more data onto the same sized platter.

1.a. Related to this was improvements to allow them to put the platters closer together and thus stuff more platters into a case with the same overall outside dimensions.

2. The major software issue limitation was the address location limitation imposed by a 16 bit then 32 bit allocation system. For some time you could get drives that exceeded that size, but some operating systems could only access to the 32 bit limit, thus you had to partition the drive to below that limit. This all goes back to the 4 GB limitations in Win 2K and Win XP, which aren't relevant to the modern 64 bit systems.

awnlee jawking

@Joe Long

My PC for personal use is in the shop right now for a (boot) hard drive that isn't being recognized.


Danger Will Robinson. If you took it to PC World (and that's not a bad choice, IMO), make sure you tell them NOT to reformat the drive and reset the machine to factory defaults.

AJ

Replies:   Joe Long  Dominions Son
Joe Long

@awnlee jawking

It's a local guy I trust who I've used a few times over the years.

StarFleet Carl

@Dominions Son

Using an external hard drive for backup, especially if it's your only backup isn't smart.


That's one thing that reading the stories on here have made me conscious of doing - multiple daily back-ups.

And by that, I don't mean I back up multiple times during the day, I mean that I do a back up each day, going to: External HDD hooked to the PC I normally use.
Internal HDD on my server.
External HDD hooked to my server.
USB stick (which is also how I write at work - simple file transfer).

Of course, while I'm not as much of a software geek as some, I do tend to collect hardware. Two desktop PC's, one server, and two laptops - and a pile of old internal HDD's from older computers that I need to run the drill through at some point.

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

f you took it to PC World (and that's not a bad choice, IMO),


Why would you take a computer to a magazine for repairs?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

Not seeing a smiley, PC World is the name of a UK chain of stores selling principally computers but also mobile phones, televisions etc.

They have a repairs department called KnowHow.

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

is the name


In the US, PC World is a popular computer Magazine.

http://www.pcworld.com/

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

A version of the magazine is published here too. IIRC, the UK edition mentions the stores in some of its articles, although the two are not part of the same company.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

the two are not part of the same company.

... and no lawyers have spotted the opportunity to make some money?

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