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Linkedin writing groups

Switch Blayde

I joined a few Linkedin author groups and decided to post something on one that has over 100,000 members. Wow, I guess people are nasty on any forum, even one geared toward adult professionals. Here's the post and comments:

https://www.linkedin.com/groups/1697027/1697027-6322157513143914496

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

You have to have a linked in login to see the thread.

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

Yep, and I'm not going to rejoin that rats' nest, despite a steady stream of invites from people who ought to know better :(

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

and I'm not going to rejoin that rats' nest


Same here.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

You have to have a linked in login to see the thread.


Well, this was the worst one:

Just ignore all this shit advice, if you are a real writer. None of the most fantastic authors of the past one hundred years would stand up to any test at all on the basis of such recommendations and analysis. Take Hemingway, for example. He could be torn to pieces for his repetitions, clichés, excessive adverbs and anything you want. And he won the Nobel Prize and wrote this great thought: "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." And to hell with grammar, spelling and so on!

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I joined a few Linkedin author groups and decided to post something on one that has over 100,000 members. Wow, I guess people are nasty on any forum, even one geared toward adult professionals. Here's the post and comments:

The LinkedIn Author groups used to be VERY helpful. However, LI changed how members are allowed to communicate, so most have left LI (as a communications tool), so now the only ones left are those trying to sell something (books on grammar, advice, editing or publishing services). In other words, everyone has an axe to grind and a polishing stone to sell you with which to grind it. As such, everyone is quick to jump on everyone else.

As with ALL social media, it's best to observed for quite some time before saying much of anything, so you can observe what gets attacked, what doesn't and how you need to phrase any questions.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Is it nasty if it's true? IMO, no amount of spelling, grammar and punctuation corrections can ever equal great storytelling.

AJ

helmut_meukel

@awnlee jawking

IMO, no amount of spelling, grammar and punctuation corrections can ever equal great storytelling.


True, but it's great storytelling.
You fail if you can't articulate your thoughts. Articulation implies a modest knowledge of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

HM.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

Is it nasty if it's true?


You don't think this is nasty?

Just ignore all this shit advice,


There are ways to disagree. (I bolded the word "shit")

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Well, this was the worst one:

Just ignore all this shit advice, if you are a real writer. None of the most fantastic authors of the past one hundred years would stand up to any test at all on the basis of such recommendations and analysis. Take Hemingway, for example. He could be torn to pieces for his repetitions, clichés, excessive adverbs and anything you want. And he won the Nobel Prize and wrote this great thought: "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." And to hell with grammar, spelling and so on!

Surprisingly for someone attempting to be so obnoxious, the "grammar, spelling and so on" in their post all look perfectly correct to me.

robberhands

@helmut_meukel

You fail if you can't articulate your thoughts. Articulation implies a modest knowledge of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Unless, you have a really good editor and proofreader.

awnlee jawking

@helmut_meukel

Sadly I think I missed the point :(

The shit advice was probably bubblethink concepts like 'avoid dialogue tags', 'avoid adverbs', 'omit unnecessary words'.

So yes, I agree with you, even great storytelling requires the author to back it up with at least a modest knowledge of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Obviously I'm not familiar with LinkedIn author groups, but most forums I've participated in would regard 'shit' as a relatively mild pejorative adjective.

From the shock you're expressing, is it fair to assume that LinkedIn discussions are tightly moderated?

AJ

robberhands
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

I think Switch just overlooked the fact this forum is much worse when voicing differing opinions.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

is it fair to assume that LinkedIn discussions are tightly moderated?


I'm new to Linkedin groups, but they don't seem to be moderated.

I was just surprised. Linkedin is supposed to be for professionals linking up. Like to find your next job. I expected more from them.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

I was just surprised. Linkedin is supposed to be for professionals linking up. Like to find your next job.


That was still their purpose when I jumped ship because it wasn't doing anything for me. I'm in personal contact with all the significant players in my field so it was a waste of time.

However they seem to have gone downmarket to attract quantity rather than quality, and I can't see that reversing under Microsoft's rapacious stewardship.

AJ

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


have gone downmarket to attract quantity rather than quality


I agree.

But I'm not looking for a job. I reactivated my account to notify people I knew, but don't stay in contact with, what I'm doing now. I didn't even know Linkedin had groups until Crumbly pointed it out to me.

Just for the record, many people gave me a "like" either with the button or agreeing with me. I'll stick to this forum and wattpad's.

richardshagrin

Sometimes this forum is more of an against-um.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

Sometimes this forum is more of an against-um.


Often true, but I thought it got its name from people saying "I'm for ...uhm ..."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

Interestingly, the comments have swayed to agreement/favorable. I guess the haters jumped on it first.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
REP

@awnlee jawking

IMO, no amount of spelling, grammar and punctuation corrections can ever equal great storytelling.


Very true, however proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation enhances great storytelling.

I just finished reading a great storyline, but the problems I encountered in wading through the author's spelling, grammar, and structure errors ruined what would have been a very enjoyable read.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

IMO, no amount of spelling, grammar and punctuation corrections can ever equal great storytelling.


It had nothing to do with that. I hope these authors would agree that all that is important.

It was when not to use adverbs.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@Switch Blayde

It was when not to use adverbs.


If you don't use adverbs, then you can't write well.

Dominions Son

@Geek of Ages

If you don't use adverbs, then you can't write well.


True, but it's possible to use them too much. Of course coming up with an objective criteria for what constitutes over use of adverbs that everyone can agree with is the fly in the ointment.

Switch Blayde

@Geek of Ages

If you don't use adverbs, then you can't write well.


WHEN not to use adverbs.

If you use adverbs when you shouldn't, you aren't writing well.

From a poster:

It's lazy. "It was really good" vs "It was excellent." Which sentence has more impact? Adverbs bog down flow. "hit forcefully" vs "whacked." It's also window dressing for bad writing, in my opinion. "Deliciously refreshing" is interchangable with "Refreshingly delicious." It doesn't make any difference to the sentence. May as well pick one adjective and be done with it.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Bondi Beach

@Switch Blayde

Interestingly, the comments have swayed to agreement/favorable. I guess the haters jumped on it first.


The posting you quoted struck me as pretty mild, albeit not terribly professional. We don't know what the so-called shit advice was, but the posting itself was pretty anodyne---Hemingway was criticized for his language but still won a Nobel [N.B.: More importantly, he had a hell of a lot of readers who liked his stuff]---how original is that observation?

Short of the "You're a poopyhead and so's the horse you rode in on" kind of comment, these days posts such as the one you copied don't seem to mean as much as perhaps they used to.

What was the "shit" advice the poster referred to, anyway? (If it can be summarized.)

bb

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

It's lazy. "It was really good" vs "It was excellent." Which sentence has more impact? Adverbs bog down flow. "hit forcefully" vs "whacked." It's also window dressing for bad writing, in my opinion. "Deliciously refreshing" is interchangable with "Refreshingly delicious." It doesn't make any difference to the sentence. May as well pick one adjective and be done with it.


You no doubt already know my opinion: using adverbs in the ways shown above is a method of slowing the tempo of the narrative.

Kudos to the poster by stressing that it was their own opinion.

AJ

Switch Blayde

@Bondi Beach

What was the "shit" advice the poster referred to, anyway?


So what's wrong with adverbs?

You've heard people advise: "Don't use adverbs in fiction." Stephen King even wrote: "The road to hell is paved with adverbs." So what's wrong with adverbs?

1. It could be an indication of using a weak verb.

----------------------------------
He ran quickly from the house.
----------------------------------

The adverb "quickly" modifies the verb "ran." But why? Because "ran" is boring and non-descriptive so the adverb is used to spruce it up. Instead, change the verb.

----------------------------------
He bolted from the house.
----------------------------------

—or "dashed," "sprinted," etc.

2. It's telling rather than showing.

----------------------------------
"Get out of here," she said, angrily.
----------------------------------

The adverb "angrily" modifies the verb "said" to tell the reader how it was said. Instead, show her anger.

----------------------------------
With a red face and clenched teeth, she glowered at him. Turning to walk away, she took a single step before spinning around and slamming her foot on the floor.

"Get out of here," she said.
----------------------------------

The adverb is no longer needed. Plus, in the telling version, you learn that it was said in anger after reading the dialogue. In the second one, you hear the anger in her voice when you read the dialogue.

There's a place for adverbs. Don't use adverbs does not mean NEVER used adverbs just like "show don't tell" doesn't mean NEVER tell. Rowling uses a lot of adverbs. Whether she does it intentionally, I have no idea, but her target audience was middle school. The younger the reader (less reading comprehension) the more telling so adverbs make sense.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I'm new to Linkedin groups, but they don't seem to be moderated.

It's not actively moderated. Like most social media sites, it responds to complaints, rather than someone sitting over everyone's shoulder. This is especially true because the same people tend to post the exact same things to five or six different groups. Reading each one would be incredibly tedious, since most offer little of value beyond "Buy my stupendous book!"

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I was just surprised. Linkedin is supposed to be for professionals linking up. Like to find your next job.

That was still their purpose when I jumped ship because it wasn't doing anything for me. I'm in personal contact with all the significant players in my field so it was a waste of time.

Not having read the first attachment in full, I'm still not sure I'm following Switch's complaint. Is he suggesting that the LinkedIn Forum isn't moderated because someone used the word "shit", or that they suggested you don't need editors and proper grammar? I ask, because he seems to be agreeing with what many of us keep saying, that it's the story that counts. As long as your story works, you can break all the rules (guidelines) you want, but you better be prepared to defend it if questioned.

I'm guessing the person who posted that got fed up with multiple personal attacks about things not being done a particular way, rather than things being properly edited. In short, he was simply saying "Don't let the trolls wear you down". If that's the case, I don't have any problem with the post.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Often true, but I thought it got its name from people saying "I'm for ...uhm ..."

If that was true, it would be called "Naziums".

Bondi Beach

@Switch Blayde

So what's wrong with adverbs?


I'm not sure I"d qualify the advice as shown as "shit," but it is pretty unremarkable. And, yeah, we all get that sometimes it works to break the rules.

I'm only sorry I haven't found a way to use "erotically" yet, but I'm working on it.

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Joe Long
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

There's a place for adverbs. Don't use adverbs does not mean NEVER used adverbs just like "show don't tell" doesn't mean NEVER tell. Rowling uses a lot of adverbs. Whether she does it intentionally, I have no idea, but her target audience was middle school. The younger the reader (less reading comprehension) the more telling so adverbs make sense.

Don't forget, Rowling was rejected by something like 17 different publishers before someone green lighted her project. Also, don't forget that she didn't come from a literary background (i.e. like many of us, she never studied 'creative writing' in school) and thus she's less likely to understand the nuances of adverb use.

There's a big difference between writing a captivating story and getting a publisher to listen to your pitch.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

I'm only sorry I haven't found a way to use "erotically" yet, but I'm working on it.

"He wrote the story erotically."

"'Welcome to my abode,' he said erotically, the lust virtually dripping from his tone."

Or perhaps:
"He ran erotically from his home, but then tripped over his dick!" 'D

Replies:   awnlee jawking  Joe Long
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Masha was putting on her costume at the next station although, as a fellow lap-dancer, she was taking off far more than she was putting on.

"Linda, you're my friend," she said. "I trust you. You're my erotic ally."

AJ
AJ

richardshagrin

@awnlee jawking

You're my erotic ally

Right up her alley.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I'm still not sure I'm following Switch's complaint.


I expected professionals to be on Linkedin. I don't care if he disagrees, but the way he responded wasn't professional.

Nothing to do with moderators.
Nothing to do with editing or grammar, spelling, or punctuation.

I agree the story is number one, but how it's written is a close number two. Unless the author immerses me in the story, I get bored. The way it's written is what immerses me in the story.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Don't forget, Rowling was rejected by


I sampled the beginning of the first Harry Potter book. She also head-hops. The point was (not made by me but someone on wattpad) is that you write differently for different audiences. And with middle grade, there's more telling.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
richardshagrin
Updated:

What is meant by "professional" varies sometimes on context. Sometimes it means works for remuneration (pay) like "professional baseball". Other times it suggests college level or beyond education and licensing. (Doctor, Lawyer, Minister are all Professionals. There are occupations that require a license that aren't normally considered "professional" like barbers or girls that offer massages. Although they work for money so could be considered professional in that sense. So, are Burglars professional?

People that insult you, unless they do it for money, probably aren't professionals. Even if they post on Linked-In. Unless someone is paying them to do it.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

People that insult you, unless they do it for money, probably aren't professionals.


I don't think that's true. There have been many stories in the news recently about cases of trolling on social media and the perpetrators almost always seem to be 'respectable' professionals.

AJ

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

The way it's written is what immerses me in the story.


The story should be what immerses you in the story. If you are paying that much attention to style issues, you aren't immersed in the story.

Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

"He ran erotically from his home, but then tripped over his dick!" 'D


On the other end of the spectrum - at a family reunion they were giving out the "Dickie Do" awards - if your belly sticks out more than your dickie do.

Bondi Beach

@awnlee jawking

"Linda, you're my friend," she said. "I trust you. You're my erotic ally."


I think we have a winner.

bb
bb

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

I agree the story is number one, but how it's written is a close number two.


Writing a story is like baking a good cake or pie, you can have the world's best ingredients, but you if you don't prepare and cook them properly you ended up wasting them by making a mess. With a story you need and can have a great story, but if you don't write it well the story isn't delivered to the reader and it's wasted.

helmut_meukel

@Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde
The way it's written is what immerses me in the story.

The story should be what immerses you in the story. If you are paying that much attention to style issues, you aren't immersed in the story.


I remember some professors I had back then. The subject of their lecture was quite interesting and I should have paid attention but after some minutes my mind began to wander and when he ended I didn't remember what he had said. In other cases, during interviews I sometimes pay more attention to the interviewee's manerism than to what he says, counting his "Ehmm...", looking for his finger movements (how often is he touching his nose?)...
At least I get distracted from the subject by poor presentation.
An excellent presentation of some mediocre event gets the attention of an audience, while the same event told by a bore gets no attention.
Your "The story should be what immerses you in the story" is wishfull thinking, not reality.

HM.

Dominions Son

@helmut_meukel

At least I get distracted from the subject by poor presentation.


That may say more about you and/or the subject than any objective judgement of the quality of the presentation.

Replies:   helmut_meukel
robberhands

@helmut_meukel

Your "The story should be what immerses you in the story" is wishfull thinking, not reality.

It's also wishful thinking to believe in a 'right style' of writing. It doesn't exist. All you have are preferences, as varying as any other personal taste, and it also changes throughout time.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

The story should be what immerses you in the story. If you are paying that much attention to style issues, you aren't immersed in the story.


Not style issues. I read a story the other day. It could have been good, but the author always told the reader what was coming. No surprise. No suspense. That's not style. That's poor writing.

And then there was another story recently that I simply stopped reading. I didn't feel what the character felt (not immersed in the story). All the author did was tell me what the character thought, saw, etc. It was so boring I couldn't keep reading. Again, that's not style.

robberhands

@Switch Blayde

That's not style. That's poor writing.

And that's mere semantics.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

No surprise. No suspense. That's not style. That's poor writing.


No, it's poor storytelling. In other words, it was a poor story.

It was so boring I couldn't keep reading. Again, that's not style.


You are right, it's not style, it's poor storytelling.

Yes, poor writing will handicap a good story to some degree, but not even the best writing in the universe will save a bad story.

helmut_meukel

@Dominions Son

I wrote:

At least I get distracted from the subject by poor presentation.


Your answer:

That may say more about you and/or the subject than any objective judgement of the quality of the presentation.


You missed the point. Do you want to distract from my next sentences?

An excellent presentation of some mediocre event gets the attention of an audience, while the same event told by a bore gets no attention.
Your "The story should be what immerses you in the story" is wishfull thinking, not reality.


This discussion is about storytelling.
First you need a good story, then you must tell it well enough to captivate the audience.

This is true regardless how the story is told, orally or written.

HM.

jackwill.grimault

@robberhands

Er - "mere semantics"? Is it just me or are these two words that simply don't go together? Or is it irony?

Replies:   robberhands
Switch Blayde

@robberhands

That's not style. That's poor writing.
And that's mere semantics.


Why do you say that? Using an em-dash for interrupted speech is style. Using fragmented sentences is style. Narrator's voice is style.

There are writing techniques and there's style.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@jackwill.grimault

"mere semantics"?

Every story consists of a 'what' and a 'how'. Storyline, plot, and sub-plots are the 'what. It doesn't matter for this discussion if you call the 'how' the style, the storytelling, or the art of writing. To figure out the best term is a 'mere' semantic question.

Replies:   jackwill.grimault
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Dominions Son


No, it's poor storytelling. In other words, it was a poor story.


No, the story (plot) was good. How it was presented was bad (not grammar bad).

If what you're calling storytelling is the same as what I consider writing techniques, then I'm confused because everyone always says "the story comes first."

Dominions Son

@helmut_meukel

First you need a good story, then you must tell it well enough to captivate the audience.

This is true regardless how the story is told, orally or written.


It agree in general, but even within the written form, good writing and good storytelling are still two different things.

Many of the upstream comments are about good writing, not good storytelling.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

If what you're calling storytelling is the same as what I consider writing techniques


No, there may be some overlap, but they are not the same thing.

robberhands
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Why do you say that?


I already answered the question why I think these terms are a subject for a semantic discussion but aren't useful here. If you believe there is more than 'what' and 'how' to a story, I'd like an example of a story with an exciting plot, written with an excellent technique but its author used a bad style.

richardshagrin

@robberhands

semantic

A tick that lives in semen.

jackwill.grimault

@robberhands

Ah, maybe I get it. I would have rather called it something like "merely nomenclature".

"Mere semantics" sounds to me like the stoning scene from "Life of Brian": I don't care what you meant - you said Jehova!

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@jackwill.grimault

I would have rather called it something like "merely nomenclature".

Another semantic discussion?

Replies:   jackwill.grimault
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


If what you're calling storytelling is the same as what I consider writing techniques, then I'm confused because everyone always says "the story comes first."


Here is something to think about.

If a given technique is just as applicable non story driven non-fiction* writing as it is to writing fiction, but would not be applicable to oral storytelling, that's strictly a writing technique.

If it's applicable to both written fiction and oral storytelling but is not applicable to non-story based non-fiction, then it's a storytelling technique, not a writing technique.

Plot, character development and, building suspense are in my opinion storytelling techniques, not writing techniques.


I'm confused because everyone always says "the story comes first."


Because while writing that is bad enough** might sink an otherwise good story, perfect writing does nothing to improve a bad story.

* Some non-fiction is never story based, most textbooks for example. History and news, on the other hand can be presented as a dry presentation of who, what, where and why with little effort to present it as a story or could be very much written in the style of a fictional story.

** This is a subjective issue and tolerance for poor writing will vary from reader to reader. Personally my hand writing is atrocious and my spelling was terrible until I was well into college. Because of this, my tolerance for poor writing is likely much higher than most other readers.

Replies:   Joe Long  Switch Blayde
Joe Long

@Dominions Son

Some non-fiction is never story based, most textbooks for example.


With some, that's true.

I've done much more non-fiction writing and speaking. It is similar to story telling in that I have a message or lesson that I want to teach. The structure is different. Much like a lawyer in court, up front I'll state the conclusion that I want the audience to reach, and then, step by step, lay out the evidence and logical connections that bring them back to that conclusion.

Either way, they are methods of effectively communicating and entertaining.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Joe Long

Either way, they are methods of effectively communicating and entertaining.


As I said above, there is some overlap.

However, no matter how entertaining your lesson is it doesn't have a plot, it doesn't have characters, there is no plot or character development.

There are many aspects of storytelling that are very unique to storytelling. Those are the things that will ultimately make or break a story.

Replies:   Joe Long
jackwill.grimault

@robberhands

Touché! ;-)

Yes, my point was semantic: I didn't get what you meant by a phrase that seemed to disregard meaning.

Know what I mean? ;-)

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@jackwill.grimault

Know what I mean? ;-)

I do, and since my intention to prevent a blurry discussion about differences between the meaning of 'technique' and 'style' obviously failed, it doesn't matter anyway.

Joe Long

@Dominions Son

However, no matter how entertaining your lesson is it doesn't have a plot, it doesn't have characters, there is no plot or character development.

There are many aspects of storytelling that are very unique to storytelling. Those are the things that will ultimately make or break a story.


Absolutely agree.

Switch Blayde

@robberhands

I'd like an example of a story with an exciting plot, written with an excellent technique but its author used a bad style.


Don't know what you mean by "style."

Show don't tell is a technique, not a style.

Using strong verbs instead of weak verbs with adverbs attached is a technique, not a style.

Writing stream of consciousness is a style (James Joyce).

Writing short chapters is a style (Kurt Vonnegut).

I've never talked about style other than you should follow a style guide for consistency (and to be consistent with traditionally published books, the CMS).

Replies:   robberhands
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Some non-fiction


I never addressed non-fiction (or essays or business reports or any other form of writing). My comments have always been the craft of writing fiction. Modern genre fiction.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

I never addressed non-fiction (or essays or business reports or any other form of writing). My comments have always been the craft of writing fiction. Modern genre fiction.


Whether you were addressing non-fiction or not, a lot of the writing techniques you talk about are fully applicable to writing non-fiction.

If it's not applicable to writing non-fiction, but it would be applicable to oral storytelling, then it's a storytelling technique, not a writing technique.

robberhands

@Switch Blayde

Do you believe your differentiation between writing 'techniques' and 'styles' is commonly known? What are the criteria to differentiate between style and technique?

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

I certainly can't see a clear distinction.

If 'stream of consciousness' is a style, then why isn't showing/telling? Some mega-selling thriller writers do very little by way of 'showing' in their novels, so 'telling' seems like a style to me.

'Technique' suggests some sort of artifice, so James Patterson enforcing short chapters on his proteges seems like a technique to me.

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@awnlee jawking

My main point was to ask what would be the use of such a distinction? Whenever I read about writing techniques or styles the terms were used interchangeable, anyway. When an author uses a certain writing technique it is his style and nothing changes when you turn the formulation around - an author author uses a certain writing style, it is his technique.

Joe Long

@Bondi Beach

I'm only sorry I haven't found a way to use "erotically" yet, but I'm working on it.


Well, I just found it used in a column, in an oblique reference to Harvey Weinstein.

To be a normal American is to constantly be scolded, to be lectured, to be treated as a morally bankrupt simpleton in need of the guidance and direction provided by an urban elite ruling class notable for its empty academic credentials, its track record of incompetence, and its idolization of people who erotically abuse the foliage.

Switch Blayde

@robberhands

Do you believe your differentiation between writing 'techniques' and 'styles' is commonly known?


I would think so, but I'm only speaking for me.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

I would think so, but I'm only speaking for me.

And how 'commonly' do you think you are? I've never heard or read about such a differentiation and without naming at least the criteria used to make such a distinction, I can't even personally agree or disagree. Regardless of the question what would be the benefit of such a distinction between style and technique.

Switch Blayde

@robberhands

And how 'commonly' do you think you are?


Makes no difference. I only speak for me.

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

Red Herring Alert - one meaning of style is exemplified by stylesheets and the Chicago Manual of Style (before it turned into bloatware).

AJ

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@robberhands

I've never heard or read about such a differentiation and without naming at least the criteria used to make such a distinction,


As usual, I went to Google. These aren't my words, but they make sense to me.

Style

Every fiction writer has a unique style. The writer's style is based on many choices about diction, syntax/sentence structure, detail, dialogue, literary devices, and rhythm.

The writer's style comes from the diction or word choice he/she uses. Does the writer use simple language or complex language? Is the language concrete or abstract? What does a word connote? What does the word denote?

The writer's style comes from the types of sentence structure/syntax he/she uses. Does the writer use short or long sentences? Sentence fragments? Periodic or cumulative sentences? Simple or complex sentences? For instance, Cormac McCarthy, in The Road, uses many sentence fragments to tell his story.


Technique

Gathering from all the sources I could find, I make my "Cliff Notes for Fiction Techniques"

1) Showing or telling?
2) Characterization?
3) Is your point of view pitch perfect?
4) Does your dialog hold interest and is it sophisticated?


[there's more, but I stopped at 4]

Replies:   REP  robberhands  Joe Long
REP

@Switch Blayde

I was going to ask for the link in order to read the unposted Technique items, but a quick search gave me the following.

http://www.randysusanmeyers.com/blog/2014/09/20-fiction-techniques-quickly/

As a general rule, I don't trust Blogger's remarks. In this case, the remarks are backed up with what appears to be rationale explanations. The article is more than just presentation of an opinion, which is what most bloggers seem to put out.

robberhands

@Switch Blayde

As usual, I went to Google.

If you googled it, I'm certain your search resulted in many entries regarding either writing style or writing technique. You also should have noticed that there wasn't any entry concerning the difference between the terms style and technique.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@robberhands

resulted in many entries regarding either writing style or writing technique.


I knew that would come up. The terms are (unfortunately) used interchangeably. Like "magazine" and "clip." Just because people refer to a magazine as a clip doesn't make them the same thing.

Replies:   robberhands
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

That fits what came to my mind.

Style is a more generalized description of a collection of techniques and preferences, while techniques are more specific tools.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

I knew that would come up. The terms are (unfortunately) used interchangeably.

You knew and I knew it, which leads back to my original question:

What is the use of the distinction?

Everything an author writes is his personal choice and it doesn't matter if you call it style or technique.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I agree the story is number one, but how it's written is a close number two. Unless the author immerses me in the story, I get bored. The way it's written is what immerses me in the story.

Again, I didn't take it as a lack of professionalism, but a frustration with others 'piling on'--you probably didn't see the previous discussions which triggered his response. You see that often enough here, although we're much harsher about it than he was.

Essentially all he said was 'as long as you have a decent story, don't get hung up on style issues', not "NEVER EVER HAVE YOUR WORK EDITED". Again, it seems to be directed towards the others on the forum, a 'don't let the trolls get you down', rather than a suggestion he refrain from completing his work.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Don't forget, Rowling was rejected by

I sampled the beginning of the first Harry Potter book. She also head-hops. The point was (not made by me but someone on wattpad) is that you write differently for different audiences. And with middle grade, there's more telling.

I never read her one 'adult' novel (which got panned and hardly anyone noticed it), but I'm guessing (as I hinted earlier) that Rowling wasn't that experienced as an author, and thus the head-hopping was due to inexperience rather than targeting a specific demographic.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

The story should be what immerses you in the story. If you are paying that much attention to style issues, you aren't immersed in the story.

They're really separate issues. You focus on the story as you're writing, but focus on style issues during editing. However, you keep the things that violate style guidelines when it's essential to the story (i.e. you're consciously trying to write in a different style). Not having read the entire discussion, I don't know whether the original author was trying to get published by a major publisher or not. If not, then strictly following a particular style guide isn't as essential for consideration, although knowing what the hell you're doing IS!

Again, you only violate the rules once you understand them and realize the potential points of failure, and have prepared for them. It's not something you should do because you simply don't know any better.

Switch, when I stated earlier that LI was a more 'professional' forum, I meant that no one called anyone else a Nazi (i.e. insulted them directly), not that there weren't disagreements between various people. The tenor is more polite, but everyone there (aside from those selling services) are struggling to figure out how to succeed, rather than those making big bucks with multi-million dollar contracts.

The key is they cooperate and encourage each other, though they often work is different fields/areas (like fiction/non-fiction, major publishing houses and small independent presses).

Replies:   Dominions Son
Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

Style is a more generalized description of a collection of techniques and preferences, while techniques are more specific tools.


Maybe style is the author's propensity for applying those tools.

Replies:   Joe Long
Switch Blayde

@robberhands

it doesn't matter if you call it style or technique.


Two authors might use the same writing techniques, but it's their style that gives each their own voice.

Techniques are used by all fiction authors (to whatever degree they want), but styles are individual (of course authors copy other author's styles).

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

Two authors might use the same writing techniques, but it's their style that gives each their own voice.

That sounds very reasonable and would indeed mean a useful reason to differentiate the terms style and technique. The problem is the lines you draw are totally blurry and I don't think that's your fault but rather the subject matter. I quote one of your examples:

Using strong verbs instead of weak verbs with adverbs attached is a technique, not a style.

Now compare it to a quote you used to define style:

The writer's style comes from the diction or word choice he/she uses. Does the writer use simple language or complex language? Is the language concrete or abstract? What does a word connote? What does the word denote?

I can't see any clear distinction between those two statements.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

Not style issues. I read a story the other day. It could have been good, but the author always told the reader what was coming. No surprise. No suspense. That's not style. That's poor writing.

And that's mere semantics.

Not at all. It's not understanding the mechanics of foreshadowing. Instead of preparing readers for what will come, he 'told them' what was going to happen. Virtually any editor would have alerted them that this wasn't a wise move, but it all boils down to whether the author understood, listened to or followed their advice.

With style issues, you make a conscious decision to either accept a certain convention or not. In this case, it appears they simply had no clue what they were doing and just bludgeoned their way through.

Replies:   robberhands
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

It was so boring I couldn't keep reading. Again, that's not style.

You are right, it's not style, it's poor storytelling.

Yes, poor writing will handicap a good story to some degree, but not even the best writing in the universe will save a bad story.

The storytelling always comes first. After all, there are plenty of English professors who know all about writing but can't put together a decent story to save their lives. However, once they construct the basic story, they need to review what they wrote (who the hell publishes a first draft?). That's where the style issues arise, and authors should be informed so they can make sensible choices. Many will balk at specific style issues, but you've got to be aware of what you're doing before you violate specific style guidelines (i.e. know that they either don't apply to you, or that you're consciously taking the story in another direction, like Rowling and her head-hopping).

robberhands
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Once again you jump in late and your comment is far off the mark.

ETA: I don't even want to mention your misquotation of my statement.

Crumbly Writer

@helmut_meukel

This discussion is about storytelling.
First you need a good story, then you must tell it well enough to captivate the audience.

Sadly, the two go hand in hand. You either write well, or you don't. You're either a good storyteller, or you're not. You can clean up around the edges, and educate yourself how to approach certain topics/techniques, but in the end, you either know how to tell/write a story or you don't. You HAVE to both write and TELL a story. It's akin to someone sitting around a fire, telling an incredibly scary story but every third word is "Umm..." or "Uh ...".

Who the hell is going to care WHAT the story is about if it's told badly?

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

Do you believe your differentiation between writing 'techniques' and 'styles' is commonly known? What are the criteria to differentiate between style and technique?

Duh! Styles are dictated by a specific style guide, ex: you only use three dots with spaces between them, as opposed to an em-dash. Technique is knowing how to create foreshadowing or flashbacks, and they take knowledge—which if an author misses completely, hopefully an editor will set the author straight before they commit it to print.

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

Do you believe your differentiation between writing 'techniques' and 'styles' is commonly known? What are the criteria to differentiate between style and technique?

Once again, another discussion run aground by a stupid, meaningless argument over terminology.

I was still trying to discover what Switch's objection to the comment was, but I'm not going to waste any more time with someone who has no desire to address a distinction with no difference. STYLE does NOT equal technique!

helmut_meukel

@Crumbly Writer

Who the hell is going to care WHAT the story is about if it's told badly?


That's exactly what I tried to tell my discussion partner,
who insisted if it's a great story the reader should ignore it's badly told.

HM.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

Maybe style is the author's propensity for applying those tools.


Yes, that sounds like a reasonable phrasing.

robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

Duh! Styles are dictated by a specific style guide,...

Yeah right, if you don't follow a specific style guide, your writing won't have any style, obviously. That statement is so ridiculous, it truly deserved the preamble 'Duh!'.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Switch Blayde

@robberhands

Using strong verbs instead of weak verbs with adverbs attached is a technique, not a style.
Now compare it to a quote you used to define style:

The writer's style comes from the diction or word choice he/she uses. Does the writer use simple language or complex language? Is the language concrete or abstract? What does a word connote? What does the word denote?
I can't see any clear distinction between those two statements.


Yes, there's overlap. But I believe the style is more broader. This isn't black and white.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Not having read the entire discussion


Not having read the entire discussion you are missing the fact that what you are replying to is about the reader's perspective, not the author's perspective.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

However, once they construct the basic story, they need to review what they wrote


You need to learn to read the whole thread before jumping into the middle. The subset of the discussion you are referring to is about the reader's perspective, not the authors.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Who the hell is going to care WHAT the story is about if it's told badly?


As a reader, in my experience, a good story written badly is more enjoyable to read then a bad story written perfectly.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

That's where the style issues arise, and authors should be informed so they can make sensible choices. Many will balk at specific style issues,


That's a different style. We're not talking about what you find in a style guide.

You like long, complex sentences. Lee Child likes short, fragmented sentences. You have your style; he has his. Style guides don't address that. And they shouldn't.

Since James Petersen has an army of writers writing his novels based on his outline, I'm sure he's trained them on his style so the novels sound like he wrote them. Maybe he even wrote a guide for them to use.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Duh! Styles are dictated by a specific style guide,


Different style. See my earlier post.

Dominions Son

@helmut_meukel

who insisted if it's a great story the reader should ignore it's badly told.


I was not insisting that bad writing should be completely ignored.

All I was saying that poor storytelling has a much larger impact than poor writing.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

As a reader, in my experience, a good story written badly is more enjoyable to read then a bad story written perfectly.


I won't read either.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

All I was saying that poor storytelling has a much larger impact than poor writing.


To me, storytelling is writing. You start off with a story. Then you tell it, either verbally or written. We authors do the latter.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


To me, storytelling is writing.


Edited:

The problem I see with that view is that there is lots of perfectly valid writing out there that isn't telling a story.

Just because you can write perfectly doesn't mean you can tell a story worth a damn.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

I won't read either.


And that's valid for you. I have said before that the tolerance for poor writing will very from reader to reader and nothing is wrong with that.

My tolerance ,as a reader, for poor writing is higher than most and I've made an effort to explain why.

I wasn't trying to dispute your position or say that it was wrong, I was just trying to explain the "story first" view from my own perspective.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

To me, storytelling is writing. You start off with a story. Then you tell it, either verbally or written. We authors do the latter.

That's the reason I didn't understand why you made a distinction between style and technique in this context. It's relatively easy to difer between the message and the medium used to convey the message. But once you start to subdivide 'Story-Writing' (as the medium) into technique and style, the lines become blurry. In this thread's context I couldn't see a reason to make such a distinction.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Just because you can write perfectly doesn't mean you can tell a story worth a damn.


That's why the techniques I bring up aren't about writing, but writing fiction. But even if you know all the techniques for writing fiction, you still need a great story to tell/write.

You wouldn't "show" when writing a business proposal. You want to present the facts as clearly as possible. My discussions have always been targeted at the craft of writing fiction. How to draw the reader in. How to keep them interested. How to make them live the story.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

the tolerance for poor writing


Poor writing to me isn't poor grammar or spelling, although they detract from enjoying it. Poor writing to me is when I realize my mind wandered and I have no idea what I just read.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

You wouldn't "show" when writing a business proposal.


True, show vs tell is a storytelling technique not a writing technique(I would consider it applicable to oral storytelling), but other techniques you have discussed, such as avoiding overuse of adverbs, would be applicable to writing a business proposal.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Poor writing to me is when I realize my mind wandered and I have no idea what I just read.


That can happen for external reasons unrelated to the quality of the writing and/or storytelling.

For example, some one could walk up behind you and tap your shoulder, startling you because you were so engrossed in the story. You lose exactly where you were at in the story due to the sudden shift.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Poor writing to me is when I realize my mind wandered and I have no idea what I just read.


That can happen for external reasons unrelated to the quality of the writing and/or storytelling.

For example, some one could walk up behind you and tap your shoulder, startling you because you were so engrossed in the story. You lose exactly where you were at in the story due to the sudden shift.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Dominions Son


such as avoiding overuse of adverbs, would be applicable to writing a business proposal.


Most of the adverbs to avoid are those attached to a dialogue tag (he said, angrily). No such thing in business writing. That's the showing vs telling.

But using strong verbs instead of a weak verb with an adverb is also good for business writing and sometimes they're simply not needed. In the movie "Outbreak," the Dustin Hoffman character was dictating a report to the Kevin Spacey character who left out an adverb. Hoffman said to put it in. Spacey said it was not needed and was lazy writing.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

That can happen for external reasons unrelated to the quality of the writing and/or storytelling.


I was being polite. Poor writing is when it's boring.

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Poor writing is when it's boring.


I can't agree with that. That's poor storytelling not poor writing.

Not all writing is telling a story and not all storytelling is done through the written word.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

That's poor storytelling not poor writing.


For these discussions, they're the same.

You have a story. When you tell it, it's storytelling. Authors do that with written words — writing the story for others to read.

So when I say poor writng, it's poor storytelling. Otherwise I'd say poor grammar or poor punctuation or poor spelling if I were talking about the writing itself.

It's semantics.

As I said, on SOL, I forgive poor grammar or spelling or punctuation if the author doesn't bore me (unless it's so bad I'm spending more time understanding the story than enjoying it)

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

I think CW fell for my red herring. Even though I warned about it in advance ;)

AJ

REP

@Switch Blayde

Poor writing is when it's boring.


No, that is poor storytelling. Poor writing is when grammar, sentence structure, improper word selection, etc., makes it difficult to understand the story being told.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

No, that is poor storytelling.


Again, it's semantics.

How about — poor authoring

Replies:   robberhands  REP
robberhands

@Switch Blayde

How about — poor authoring

Kudos for originality!

Avoiding a semantic discussion by inventing a word is a funny approach. Admittedly, the word 'authoring' actually exists but only in combination with words like 'system', 'process', 'software', or 'tool'.

REP
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

No, SB, it is not semantics. Storytelling and writing are 2 very different things with clearly defined boundaries. Namely, storytelling is about telling a story to an audience and story relates to the plot, character development, interaction between characters, etc., while writing is the use of the written word to tell the story.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@REP


No, SB, it is not semantics.


I said it was semantics because the terms were being used interchangeably. I agree, they are different.

There are other forms of writing that have nothing to do with telling a story, at least not fiction which is what we discuss here.

You can tell a story verbally as well, like sitting around the campfire. That's also storytelling. I don't think a journalist writing a news article is storytelling. Yes, he's telling a story, but it's not storytelling as in fiction.

Most of my discussions have been on written storytelling for fiction. The actual rules of writing, of course, come up. If I were concentrating on verbal storytelling, I guess I'd be interested in tone of voice, pauses, speed of speech, even eye contact. But I have to communicate with the reader through the written word so punctuation, spelling, and grammar are important. Knowing when you can break them is also important, but you have to know them first.

When we had the TPA scoring, "technical" for me was much more than spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It also included "how" the story was told. That's what the craft of writing fiction is all about. When not done well, that's when I get bored. It could have a good plot and characters I like, and perfect grammar and spelling, but if it bores me it has technical flaws.

Spelling, punctuation, and grammar rarely change over the years. The techniques for writing fiction do.

Jane Austen speaking directly to the reader was liked backed then. It would be weird today (not that a good author can't pull it off). Third-person omniscient was very common in the past. Today's genre fiction is rarely omniscient (it is, but not as much as 3rd-limited). Telling the story was very common in the past, especially in omniscient. Readers back then loved to read great prose with adjectives and adverbs while sitting under the shade of a tree. Today they want to be drawn into the story and characters, not the writing itself.

My wife loved the classics, having gotten a masters in English Literature and Creative Writing. A while ago, she decided to read "Madam Bovary" again. She couldn't get through it. Said the writing was stilted. This is a novel she loved back then. Writing fiction (authoring) has changed and readers have changed with it.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

Part of this goes to the discussion on style which can also be referred to as 'voice.'

The more time I've spent on this, the more experienced I've become, the more aware I am of my voice. I read other authors and can distinguish their style from mine. I can enjoy stories written in a style I myself can't write if I wanted to, but I'm comfortable with what I am. Problem now is that I've evolved since the beginning of the book, and I'll need to clean up the early writing to conform with how I'm doing it now.

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