The SolAARium: Discuss the craft of writing - Alphabetical Index in the 1st Post

unmerged(93390)

Corporal
Feb 22, 2008
25
0
Adding humanity is a good idea!

Most historical books I tend to read don't attempt to do this to a great extent (not that these types of books are in anyway bad) so I'm not very familiar with this overall style. But those books which do usually prove to be very fascinating indeed. For example, I've recently read a book on the Romanovs and the author's personal knowledge of the "characters" and their private lives, relationships and correspondences was key to captivating my attention.

Thanks so much for your input! :cool:
 

unmerged(93390)

Corporal
Feb 22, 2008
25
0
The task is harder than I at first realized. I'm irrevocably compelled to incorporate everything into this book: general history, biography, theology, religion, tradition, customs, legend, folklore, geography, flora, fauna, art and literature! I cannot bring myself to aim any lower. I let fly my arrow in hopes that it may strike the most distant but most glorious target. Yet, by my choice, my object is made that much harder to even reach!

Woe is me!

Even so, may my aim be true!
 

Rensslaer

Strategy GuidAAR
26 Badges
Jun 24, 2004
7.720
3
www.orinthia.net
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Field Marshal
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Victoria 2 Beta
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Crusader Kings II
  • 500k Club
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III
Chase Mii Da said:
Adding humanity is a good idea!

Most historical books I tend to read don't attempt to do this to a great extent (not that these types of books are in anyway bad) so I'm not very familiar with this overall style. But those books which do usually prove to be very fascinating indeed. For example, I've recently read a book on the Romanovs and the author's personal knowledge of the "characters" and their private lives, relationships and correspondences was key to captivating my attention.
This sounds an awfully lot like Robert K. Massie, who did write a book on the Romanovs, but has also written a truly brilliant book about the British and German royal families, and tracked their crazy path over a few decades toward an eventual clash during World War I. It's called Dreadnought, and it was one of the inspirations for my AAR, Fire Warms the Northern Lands.

Since then, he has also written a book about the Imperial German Navy, and the Royal Navy, (I think) called Castles of Steel, centered on much the same time period.

Both are of the style you describe -- intensely personal, and very readable. Addictingly so. I would certainly recommend either, if you need further inspiration!

Rensslaer
 

unmerged(93390)

Corporal
Feb 22, 2008
25
0
How knowledgeable you are to readily find a wonderful example of what I described! But, unfortunately for myself, the book I was referring to is by a W. Bruce Lincoln. I say "unfortunately" because the book you describe actually seems -I get the feeling anyway - to be even more intriguing on a personal level.

Its a coincidence you should mention Dreadnought since that book actually caught my eye while in the library a few weeks ago. And yes, the sheer bulk of it as well as its quite thorough and personal style did indicate its brilliance even at a brief glance.

I very much appreciate your comments.

Edit: I've made a decision- perhaps somewhat insane - to cover the entire history and known prehistory of Poland (and Lithuania as appropriate). Some degree of personal detail may be lost as a result of the great range of coverage but I do intend to make this rather epic. And all of the above categories will be discussed also. I'm only wondering if they should be entirely separate or incorporated into a single narrative. I'm leaning toward the former option as the later would be quite difficult to accomplish in a comprehensive way. Hopefully, accomplishing my goal of completion will only be a matter of discipline.
 
Last edited:

Woody Man

SWMH Bretwalda
116 Badges
May 12, 2004
4.808
405
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Lead and Gold
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Ship Simulator Extremes
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Supreme Ruler 2020
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Pride of Nations
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
Not sure if this is the right place to ask, but it seemed most applicable..

How do you guys stay on track when writing an update? I seem to get sidetracked every few lines and it means that updates take hours :(
 

comagoosie

Perennial Dreamer
53 Badges
Apr 14, 2007
8.761
44
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Surviving Mars
  • Rise of Prussia
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Cities: Skylines Industries
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
English Patriot said:
Not sure if this is the right place to ask, but it seemed most applicable..

How do you guys stay on track when writing an update? I seem to get sidetracked every few lines and it means that updates take hours :(
I force myself to write the update on paper (it also increases the quality of the update, imo) then when the forum is down I type as rapidly as possible (70 wpm) and in an hour I am done and the forum is back up!
 

Amric

Hurricane Sergeant of Arms
2 Badges
May 4, 2003
5.643
1
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • 500k Club
I've been known to hand write an update myself on more than one occasion. Here's the thing, though. There are those who spend hours on an update. It's not how long it takes you to do it, but the end result. If it takes you a long time to write one, so be it. It's not the end of the world.

Now if you are concerned with focus.....Leave distractions on the wayside. Don't have the television or radio or other noises going on when you write, if those distract you. Myself, I tend to turn on some music and let it set my mood, as it were.

But whatever is causing your distractions needs to be kept away from you. Again, if it is a matter of focus that you need. If it is RL issues that keep distracting you that you have no real control of...well I've been known to write bits and pieces of an update over several hours or even days or weeks.

once again, it is the end result that matters, not how long it took you to get there.
 

unmerged(83622)

Zealous Firebrand
11 Badges
Sep 7, 2007
1.530
1
i-wellington.blogspot.com
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
English Patriot said:
Not sure if this is the right place to ask, but it seemed most applicable..

How do you guys stay on track when writing an update? I seem to get sidetracked every few lines and it means that updates take hours :(
My solution is to not write updates too often -- if I've got a week or one and a half between the updates, I can go and think about it every now and then, and when I actually sit down and write it I have gathered enough ideas to stay afloat all through.
 

likk9922

Perpetually Confused
39 Badges
Nov 12, 2006
2.444
0
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Sengoku
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Pride of Nations
  • Rome Gold
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • Cities in Motion
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
I you're worried about focus, perhaps you can try what I do- before writing, simply look at the computer/piece of paper. Know what you are going to write, plan how to write it, and the write it. Establish focus beforehand.

And, of course, Amric has some good ideas there.
 

unmerged(81979)

Cisár všetkých Slovákov
5 Badges
Aug 10, 2007
3.651
0
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Pillars of Eternity
English Patriot said:
Not sure if this is the right place to ask, but it seemed most applicable..

How do you guys stay on track when writing an update? I seem to get sidetracked every few lines and it means that updates take hours :(

I sit in my bathroom with the door shut, all noisy devices turned off, and play music that suits the mood of the piece I'm going to write. Then, I just ramble on typing the original story. At that point, I disgustedly look back on it wondering if I set a world-record for grammatical errors. But, then a quick spell check later, I am done.

In other words, follow Amric's advice, It's probably way better than mine even though we are saying essentially the same thing. Good luck and cheers!

-d.
 

unmerged(61296)

"Look behind you Mr Caesar !"
Sep 28, 2006
2.083
0
English Patriot said:
Not sure if this is the right place to ask, but it seemed most applicable..

How do you guys stay on track when writing an update? I seem to get sidetracked every few lines and it means that updates take hours :(

Actually, sometimes it's very useful to get sidetracked. because if yiou, the writer, can be distracted from writing this particular paragraph, maybe the readers will have the same problem. I have often found a little sidetracking can lead you to something better, even if it doesn't immediately appears to be the case.
 

comagoosie

Perennial Dreamer
53 Badges
Apr 14, 2007
8.761
44
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Surviving Mars
  • Rise of Prussia
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Cities: Skylines Industries
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
Less = More?

stnylan said:
One of the hardest things to learn as a narrative writer is that less very often equals more.
Taken from his post in [thread=357192]'I'm sorry, but you're not the only one...'[/thread]

As a narrative writer, I think I have a hard time identifying what is a needed sentence and what is a useless sentence. Sentences, that stnylan describes, that "add nothing to the piece". I find it hard to distinguish if the reader can visualize it or I have left them in the dark. This is why I when I edit, I tend to add many sentences, but after reading his post, I fear that what I am doing is wrong. How can one achieve a perfect balance and spot a sentence that is not needed?

A few examples that stnylan used
"...when mentioning his boots you do not need mention they go up over his shins - they wouldn't be very good boots if they didn't and we know they are good boots because they are keeping him warm and dry."

"...when talking about losing the light we know he is advancing into a cave, and we all know that there are no sources of light in a cave..."
 

TheExecuter

General
4 Badges
Sep 18, 2006
1.950
23
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Victoria 2
  • 500k Club
  • Stellaris Sign-up
comagoosie said:
Taken from his post in [thread=357192]'I'm sorry, but you're not the only one...'[/thread]

As a narrative writer, I think I have a hard time identifying what is a needed sentence and what is a useless sentence. Sentences, that stnylan describes, that "add nothing to the piece". I find it hard to distinguish if the reader can visualize it or I have left them in the dark. This is why I when I edit, I tend to add many sentences, but after reading his post, I fear that what I am doing is wrong. How can one achieve a perfect balance and spot a sentence that is not needed?

A few examples that stnylan used
"...when mentioning his boots you do not need mention they go up over his shins - they wouldn't be very good boots if they didn't and we know they are good boots because they are keeping him warm and dry."

"...when talking about losing the light we know he is advancing into a cave, and we all know that there are no sources of light in a cave..."

I think it comes down to your audience. You may have to experiment a little, go with a minimalist style in one update...then try a more detailed one in the next, and ask the readers. Obviously, you are going to be able to go only as far as your style comfort level...but I don't see any other way to find the 'ideal' description levels. I find that too much description makes me skim, while others love being told every little detail.

For an example of experimenting: I just posted an update to 'The Last Mission' in which I experimented with repetition of descriptive phrases in an attempt to cement certain visual images into the readers consciousness. While writing it, I had to physically restrain myself from ruthlessly cutting the 'redundant' sections because I wanted to see how the audience responded. If you wish to read the post, it is here.

Don't be afraid to ask your readers how it is going...what they liked and didn't like. We're all amateurs here (with a very few exceptions), and for the most part...we want to encourage the good practices and discourage the bad. (But mostly encourage the good! :cool: )

TheExecuter
 

Director

Maestro
34 Badges
Aug 13, 2002
5.176
2.028
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
I have found - the hard way, which is the way I seem to discover most things - that 'distraction' comes from a lack of planning. My 'Dragons' was one of the longest-running AARs ever, but it would have been a great deal better had I stuck to the plan, tightened up the plot elements and not gotten sidetracked.

So now I plan out the entire AAR before I begin. I keep notes on characters. I plot how many updates will be required for a particular development. And then I stick to that unless things go seriously wrong. My current work ('Special Providence') doesn't have the flashes of brilliance my earlier work did (my opinion only), but I think the ratio of good to bad is much higher.

Always ask yourself: do I need an entire update to talk about the siege of Catastropholis or can I just have a character remark, 'Catastropholis fell,' and the other say, 'Curses!' or 'Hosannas!' or some such. Unless I have a reason later in the story that requires visiting the City of Catastrophy, I will take the shorter route. :)

The British composer Gustav Holst once said something to the effect that he composed in pencil, then went back with an eraser and removed everthing that was not absolutely essential. This is one approach. Anne Rice can spend four pages on the color of the paint in one room. This is another method. Use the one that is appropriate at the time, without major contrasts from post to post unless you deliberately want a chaotic effect.

To speak to an example from an earlier post: Shall I describe his boots? To what effect? I can say they are keeping his feet warm and dry, which allows him to go deeper into a cave, or that they are old and his feet are wet, so that he does not wish to stay long. The purpose of description, I think, is to give us insight into the mental state and motivations of the characters, and is unnecessary when applied for its own sake. The reader doesn't care much about the state of the boots; the reader cares about how the character will react to what he finds, because of (or despite) the boots.

To borrow a common description of a short story, a single update should usually only be concerned with one thing. A sentence in that update should be written after asking, 'What do I want the reader to learn from this, and what will clutter or distract his attention?'

Now if I could just do that... :p
 

Lord Durham

The Father of AARland
12 Badges
Apr 29, 2001
6.633
2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Hearts of Iron II: Beta
Folks,

I've just spent the day bringing the topics in the SolAARium up to date, in addition to placing the links in alphabetical order. Speaking of links, the Index has grown from 42 entries up to a whopping 85! Some of the topics were touched on earlier in the thread, so I have identified any followup as (subject: Part 2), and so on.

I've also taken the opportunity to trim any spam posts, in addition to posts that were looking for individual AAR ideas. This is not a thread for either.

So hopefully you will all find the SolAARium easier to navigate and a continuing resource as you hone your skills.

In time I hope to categorise the Links (if it's even possible), but that's a chore for another day (unless someone has a lot of spare time on their hands...)

Please continue to use this initiative, and be sure to clearly state your question.

LD


_____________
 
Last edited:

comagoosie

Perennial Dreamer
53 Badges
Apr 14, 2007
8.761
44
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Surviving Mars
  • Rise of Prussia
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Cities: Skylines Industries
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
That is amazing what work you have done!

Gosh, I never knew there were two "less or More" posts, I don't want this to become redundant!

Great work I say! I shall now spend my afternoon grazing the index and taking in all that information.
 

Lord Durham

The Father of AARland
12 Badges
Apr 29, 2001
6.633
2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Hearts of Iron II: Beta
comagoosie said:
That is amazing what work you have done!

Gosh, I never knew there were two "less or More" posts, I don't want this to become redundant!

Great work I say! I shall now spend my afternoon grazing the index and taking in all that information.
Thanks. A pot of coffee helped. :)


I thought I'd repost a little something that appears in the rather long opeing post of this thread, but I think writers (potential or not) will find useful.

I call it The Four Deadly Sins. Why Sins? Why not? ;)

__________

Four Deadly Sins


1. Words, words, and yet more words. Er, did I say words?


Word repetition is an ugly trap that writers can easily find themselves trapped in. Readers are usually quick to pick up on ugly word repetition. It's a good idea to avoid word repetition, and the best way to avoid word repetition is to use a - Thesaurus.


Now that we have the Thesaurus, let's try that again...


Word repetition is an ugly trap that writers can easily, and unwittingly, fall into. Readers are quick to pick up on the recurrence of similar remarks, so it's always good to substitute these wherever possible. The best way to avoid identical statements is to utilise a - Thesaurus.


Note that Microsoft Word has a built in Thesaurus.



2. Punctuation - or how to make sense of the spoken word

Poor punctuation generally results from the absence or misplacement of commas periods colons semi-colons and apostrophes. Sometimes the mere relocation of a comma can change the intent of a passage. The following example has been gleaned from my Portugal AAR

"Smithee here. Oh Mr. Jackson how are you? That's good. That's very good. Look I have to tell you that I just adored the film. Wonderful stuff Peter absolutely wonderful wonderful stuff. What's that? Sir Ian? Well from what I've heard he's been a real... er ah sweetheart to work with. Anyway I imagine you already know why I'm calling... heh - heh... you don't? Come now Mr. Jackson surely you must know... what's that? You really don't? Well Mr. Jackson we have a real smash-up mini-series under way that involves the history of Portugal during the Renai... What's that? Portugal! You know the place beside Spain... home to a er ah kick-ass soccer team... Huh? What? No it's not in Middle earth and it's certainly nowhere near Mordor... yes yes look it up on an Atlas. Anyway I'd like you to consider directing Episode Four if it meets with your approval. What's that? Oh great... yeah... OK that sound's promising. I'll make sure my man Steele gets in touch with your people. Very good uh-huh yes uh-huh OK... Look before I let you go there's something I just have to know... how long have John Rhys-Davies and Elijah Wood been midgets?"


I don't know about you, but that sucks. Let's try again, this time with proper punctuation:


Poor punctuation generally results from the absence, or misplacement, of commas, periods, colons, semi-colons, and apostrophes. Sometimes the mere relocation of a comma can change the intent of a passage. The following example has been gleaned from my Portugal AAR:

"Smithee here. Oh, Mr. Jackson, how are you? That's good. That's very good. Look, I have to tell you that I just adored the film. Wonderful stuff, Peter, absolutely wonderful, wonderful stuff. What's that? Sir Ian? Well, from what I've heard he's been a real, er, ah, sweetheart to work with. Anyway, I imagine you already know why I'm calling--heh - heh--you don't? Come now, Mr. Jackson, surely you must know--what's that? You really don't? Well, Mr. Jackson, we have a real smash-up mini-series under way that involves the history of Portugal during the Renai--What's that? Portugal! You know, the place beside Spain--home to a, er, ah, kick-ass soccer team... Huh? What? No, it's not in Middle earth, and it's certainly nowhere near Mordor. Yes, yes, look it up on an Atlas. Anyway, I'd like you to consider directing Episode Four, if it meets with your approval. What's that? Oh, great. Yeah, OK, that sound's promising. I'll make sure my man Steele gets in touch with your people. Very good, uh-huh, yes, uh-huh, OK. Look, before I let you go, there's something I just have to know--how long have John Rhys-Davies and Elijah Wood been midgets?"


That feels better...



3. Show and Tell

This one is a bit tougher and takes some practice. The key thing to remember is this: Show = Good, Tell = Bad


Now, what do I mean by that? Read the following passage. I'll try to keep it mercifully brief.


Captain was a mercenary, a man of medium build and wide shoulders who carried himself with an easy calm. Cool blue eyes peered from under a mop of brown hair, and a half smile played on thin lips. Barely past thirty, he had witnessed a decade of conflict, and it showed in the tired lines etched against his wide forehead. Seated opposite him sat Sergeant de Bloomfielde, a heavy set man with a round, warm face and an easy manner. A floppy hat sat perched on a shock of greying hair, and a dagger lay calmly in one hand. He reached for a beer.


Try this...


Captain eyed the dagger in Sergeant de Bloomfielde's large hand, his gaze locked on the needle sharp instrument with a hypnotic stare.

"Lost in thought, Captain?" the sergeant asked, his deep voice rumbling good naturedly from a heavy set frame.

The mercenary leader moved with a start and shifted his gaze to his long time friend. He took in the floppy hat that betrayed a lock of greying hair, and his thin lips broke into a half-smile. "Why don't you burn the hat?"

de Bloomfielde's warm face betrayed mock anger, "Burn it, Captain? I can't do that! The men would be most upset." He paused for a moment, using the silence to reach for an ale. "There's something going on under that mass of brown hair, isn't there? Something you want to tell your sergeant, sir?" de Bloomfielde leaned closer, his easy bulk betraying a hint of concern.

Captain leaned back, revealing a wide shouldered, medium sized frame clad in a plain brown tunic. He locked strong fingers behind a thick neck and sighed, "You know, Edmond, I've seen thirty years of life, and the last ten have been nothing but war. I think of my youth, my family, maybe a wife, children, a farm..." Captain's piercing gaze softened, "I'm tired, Edmond. Tired."

Surprisingly, de Bloomfielde was at a loss for words.


So, what's different? With the first passage I told you what to see. It was straight forward description, very dry, effective, but bland.

In contrast, the second passage was full of life, description and characterization. I bet you know more about the personalities of Captain and de Bloomfielde after I
showed them to you through exposition in the follow up passage.



4. Research - research - research!

If you are serious about writing, and especially serious about writing historical fiction, you'll have to read. You'll have to do research. And I'm not talking about the biography of King John and a general history of Portugal. You'll have to know what events shaped that period. What did the peasants eat, how were ships built, how did the army fight, what clothing was common, what exactly did a Renaissance Banker do with your money, how did they treat disease, how many motions were required to load a musket... etcetera, etcetera...

And now for the part that truly hurts. You'll only use perhaps 10% of that hard earned knowledge. Why? Because the idea is to fit the information into your story, not fit your story into the information. You are writing prose, not a how-to book. Research and knowledge are paramount, but work best when used sparingly to advance your story, and should never be used to teach.

____________
 

likk9922

Perpetually Confused
39 Badges
Nov 12, 2006
2.444
0
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Sengoku
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Pride of Nations
  • Rome Gold
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • Cities in Motion
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
I hate to be a broken record and repeat Coma, but this is really outstanding stuff, L.D. This has been very helpful in making this already indespensible aide to writers a lot easier to navigate and will help eliminate redundancy.

*Aplauds*
 

GeneralHannibal

JL Spokesman
7 Badges
Nov 29, 2005
4.890
0
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Darkest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
My trouble is the showing v. telling :(