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Why Am I Here? Why Are You Here?

Ross at Play
Updated:

The questions in my title are not rhetorical and not intended to be sarcastic in any way; I seriously want to know the answers.

I want to ask all here to ask themselves this question:

What possible harm could come from me doing that?

'That', of course, means the experiment I outlined in the thread 'A Request for Examples of Awful Formal Writing'.

DO NOT post your answer here! That would be walking in front of a firing squad! Please just ask yourself and answer as honestly as you can.

I calculated the posts made on that thread. After deleting everything I'd written, system links, etc., they came to almost 3,000 words.

I struggle to find any positive motivation for a single word of them. A lot of people have spent a lot of time being destructive, but none is willing to spend any time on something that may produce a valuable positive outcome. Why?

Motivation is an extremely ill-defined concept in everyday language. There are always some positive outcomes people tell themselves to justify their decisions to act. Many times those conscious motivations are the entirety of why they act. But many other times, there are unconscious motivations. Ones driven by their egos – the most creative, plausible, and convincing liars all of us ever encounter in our lives!

To ALL who posted on that thread

I ask you to ask yourself, "What really motivated your decision to act?"

I could not have been more clear about my intentions. I have a hypothesis. I think a good enough writer can make any piece of technical writing clear enough for non-experts to comprehend, and pleasant enough to read. I am not sure that is correct, I am not sure I am good enough to prove it, but I want to try!

I am confident at least some here are very interested in seeing the results of my test. But it was foolish of me to think that could be enough for them to put their names forward – not here – not when they know precisely what this pack of hyenas does to anyone who sides with the Devil, and implies any belief in the possibility an accepted orthodoxy here might not be totally true.

My problem is I cannot test this theory all on my own. To be a valid test, others must select the samples of poor formal writing which I will then attempt to fix.

I know there will be vicious objections once I present my "fixes", that they're still awful. I am okay with that. But what harm can come to anyone while I am still just trying to produce some results? Who needs to be protected from that? What do they need to be protected from?

Why does anybody here need any protection BEFORE the results are even produced?

How could I have been so naïve to not know another flame war would erupt when I just stated simply how limited my intentions were?

If those who posted there cannot answer those questions, then whatever conscious reasons they told themselves to justify their decision to act were nothing more than convincing lies, told to them by their egos, which they just swallowed.

There were no possible positive outcomes from the posts they made. The inevitable and only possible outcomes were destructive, discouraging others who may have been interested and making it virtually impossible any results could ever be produced. I have a word for what was motivating those egos and the lies they told. It's not a pretty word, but it's the logical explanation that fits these facts: sabotage.

To ALL who DID NOT post on that thread

Perhaps you were interested but unwilling to face the backlash you knew to expect if you put your name forward? I get that.

Are you willing to work with me privately? I need a few people to select the right types of samples for me. The results would prove nothing if I selected the samples. You only really need the ability to tell me if my fix means precisely the same thing as the original.

Please contact me via the SOL mailing system if you are willing to make a small effort just to help us get some results that would be, if my theory is correct, significant for us here to ensure the advice newer authors are getting is actually right.

I really cannot think of a reason I should bother with anyone here if nobody is willing to lift a finger to help me get this done.

Haven't I established some credibility here? – at least for questions directly related to how to construct one good sentence and then form a few good sentences into one good paragraph. Can you at least the accept the possibility I might be right?

Doesn't it terrify anybody here that I am saying I believe advice being given to new authors on learning those skills – not anything else authors of fiction must learn – is very wrong and harmful to their development?

Doesn't anybody here at least believe that I believe all this? Even if they're convinced I'm wrong, don't they see some value in helping me fall flat on my face?

Doesn't anybody here care enough about the quality of advice being given to newer authors to devote a little time just be sure what I fear is not the case?

Why should I care about anybody here if nobody gives a damn about the real quality of advice being given to newer authors here?

If I cannot get THIS done, I see no benefit coming from my remaining here. There's nothing here for me I can't find elsewhere and nobody wants the help I could give them.

Ross at Play

WHAT I REALLY WANT in two simple statements:

I want to look at what is DIFFERENT between good formal writing and bad formal writing.

I have no intentions of pushing grammar, punctuation, or rules of formal writing down anybody's throat.

sejintenej
Updated:

@Ross at Play

What a so-'n-so of a request.

As regards bad writing I have a story on SOL in mind; I will try not to embarrass the author but the first line ends suddenly after just a few words and the second sentence continues the first. The second sentence also contains information which is (or appears to be) totally irrelevant to any possible story. Next we get just a snippet about the MC - but just a snippet.

I won't comment on paragraph two contents except for strange language

Paragraph three starts about the MC's background ....

So, we have sentences split in strange ways, we have background information partly in one paragraph about a different subject with the rest far below(?-I gave up at that point). There was no hook to make me wonder what is coming next, the information offered was clearly and too obviously far from complete.

What is "good" writing? Everyone has their own ideas but to me there must be logical and clear progression, understandability (see penultimate papagraph), surroundings defined so one can visualise the interior of the spaceship, the encampment 10,000 years ago, the apartment in 2017 New York and also what I call a hook (or many) which forces me to continue to see the outcome. Much of that, and especially the hook should be on page one**.

I commented on incomplete information - it can be incomplete if the reader is made to automatically assume something; I was reading a story which included a tall gorgeous girl in a clearly white setting - fine but it took several chapters to even imply that she was coloured

You ask that we ignore quality grammar and spelling. OK but if either is atrocious then the writing will star to fall into the bad character.

** I have somewhere the description of someone who through the ages has broken the spear of the prehistoric hunter, who terrified the rulers of ancient Egypt when he caused the River Nile to dry up to the Siberian shaman whose spells he made to fail even probably as far as the etherial palaces of Alpha Centauri. It went on and on like that to 498 words before he was named. Those are what I call hooks!

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I want to look at what is DIFFERENT between good formal writing and bad formal writing.


Good for you, and I wish you luck in your endeavor. That said, I am completely puzzled as to why you think that this endeavor would be relevant to anyone else here?

Replies:   Ross at Play
richardshagrin

Why Am I Here? Why Are You Here?

My parents had sex. I assume that is why you are here, your parents allowed your fathers sperm to meet your mothers ovum. Nine months later, after some hours of labor, your mother gave birth to you. Fed, clothed, housed, educated, and grown older if not up, and then on the internet you visited Stories on Line and its Forum Author Hangout. (Authors should zip their fly, it shouldn't hang out.)

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Good for you, and I wish you luck in your endeavor. That said, I am completely puzzled as to why you think that this endeavor would be relevant to anyone else here?

Thank you for that constructive question.

Briefly, I think of formal writing as a subset of fiction. If I can find and define what improves writing within that subset, I believe those principles will also improve fiction. They are all writing.

By a "subset", I mean formal writing always has a strictly limited purpose, and the intended audience is usually fairly identifiable. I do not mean to trivia such as punctuation and a stricter adherence to grammar. Those are often enforced by the expectations of the audience (a university paper will be marked, an academic journal will insist on them). For fiction I would continue to apply those only to the extent that they enhance clarity and readability.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ross at Play

@richardshagrin

Authors should zip their fly, it shouldn't hang out.

I'm not sure what you mean, Richard. I am only asking to be left in peace while I produce something I consider will be evidence.

For this I need some help from others for much the same reasons as a "double-blind" approach is needed for various types of experiments.

After I produce something, then I will consider ir fair game for questions such as: does it prove anything?, what does it prove?, is what it proves relevant to what we do?, what implications does it have for how authors attempt to develop their craft?, ...

Replies:   richardshagrin
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

If I can find and define what improves writing within that subset, I believe those principles will also improve fiction. They are all writing.


Whether or not any answers you may or may not find will be relevant to other authors here is an entirely separate question from whether or not your search is relevant to them.

Replies:   Ross at Play
oyster50

Depends on your definition of 'here'.

SoL? because I enjoy writing and apparently some people enjoy the stories I tell and the manner in which I tell them.

This forum? Because there's this predilection when driving past the scene of a trainwreck to want to look out the window and see if there are any gooshy bits showing.

I'm neither a collegiate-level grammarian nor a 'professional' writer. I tend to put words on the page in a vernacular sense, thinking that I get a point across, a picture painted, a story told, and some people will read it and think the time they spent was worth the effort.

I have no further aspirations.

richardshagrin

@Ross at Play

I'm not sure what you mean, Richard.

I think "Author Hangout" can be understood several ways. What is likely to hang out of your fly?

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

What is likely to hang out of your fly?


It's proboscis?

StarFleet Carl

@richardshagrin

What is likely to hang out of your fly?


I think that's why going to the Men's Room is rather popular. After all, it's where all the dicks hang out ...

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Whether or not any answers you may or may not find will be relevant to other authors here is an entirely separate question from whether or not your search is relevant to them.

... and neither of which I could answer now.

Quite probably, I will not be able to declare about my answers any more than, "... and these are my reasons for believing authors of fiction would benefit from adopting a similar approach too." I think that's better than, as I see what is happening now, others simply declaring their opinions to be facts.

What others do with what I find is up to them. I will have done the best I could to ensure my advice to them is as valid and as fact-based as I could manage. That is what matters to me. To paraphrase an old line, "You can take a bunch of old whores to literature, but you can't make 'em think."

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I want to TURN MY DESCRIPTION ON IT'S HEAD for what I'm really trying to do here.

I believe there are things great authors of fiction do that formal writers should try to emulate.

If so, I don't think the subject matters at all. Provided its scope is not too large, a good enough formal writer should be able to produce something logical, understandable, and readable.

I think ALL any formal writer who is good enough needs to know to achieve that is:
* the primary goal or function they need to cover
* the details they need to include to achieve the primary goal
* any extra message, subtext, or tone they want to employ
* who their intended audience is

I know a formal writer who can do that with anything, provided only that he understands the subject matter well enough. Me!

I think it is worthwhile to close examineg what good formal writers do that is different to the bad ones we all loathe so intensely. I think that because formal writing is so limited. What they are trying to do is always obvious; how different approaches produce different-quality outcomes should be easy to detect.

If I can find and define those differences, I will take it as an article of faith that similar improvements will be achieved for fiction if authors do those things - not everything else formal writers feel obliged to do for various reasons. If others doubt a similar cause and effect will result, I will not argue with them.

If I achieve what I want with this exercise, I'll probably recommend to newer authors that the techniques I identify are one of their worthhile priorities for learning in their early days.

The main reason I would recommend that is the task is so small. It can be completed quickly. The evidence I shall cite for that is me. Two years ago I had never heard of an Oxford Comma or the rule about hyphenating compound adjectives before nouns - yet now I was capable of pulling apart pieces of awful formal writing (I did not select) and revising them so the meaning was identical meaning, but they were now easily understood and readable.

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