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Anyone else hate "how to do ___" writing advice?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Mythopoet, Jan 11, 2018.

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  1. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Perhaps this is the real difference that lies between us. I am not annoyed by the fact that you choose to promote a story telling process that is very different from the norm. I am grateful that people chose to share their hard won wisdom with me. You seem to suggest they are in the process of perpetrating some sort of fraud or harm on beginning writers because their approach is different from yours. I certainly don't view your descriptions of a different process as annoying or something I should hate.
     
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  2. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Now this is very interesting stuff. I never knew we had much early life Shakespeare material to compare. Are there a couple of books on this approach you recommend?

    Anyways, let me try to understand your concern before I respond. Your worry is that people giving standard advice might somehow be impairing the development of rare writing genius'? Is there evidence that giving these genius' advice on standard conventions and techniques during the exploration stage hampers their development?

    For instance Picasso received a thoroughly traditional and classic artistic education that was both academic and conventional and later became more experimental and pushed the envelope? Doesn't Picasso's experience actually undermine your argument? I also understand Shakespeare likely received a traditional disciplined education in grammar etc which would have included story telling conventions. If you can send me some references I am happy to look into it some more, but it seems to me based on the two examples you have used that getting a grounding in the standards of your discipline does not impede the exploration phase.

    Don't the Amateur stage and Exploration stage have a great deal in common?

    I am pleased you are impaired. This is some intriguing material you have shared with us, and I, for one, am grateful.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  3. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    So if you were running this site, you would ban beginning writers from it because it harms them?
     
  4. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    No. Firstly I don't think that's possible. And second it would be a denial of their rights to read what they want. I don't approve of censorship in any but the most extreme cases. But if I was running this site I'd probably put up warnings and advisories everywhere advice or critiques are offered. I might also have a new member check box which says you've been writing seriously for more than a year or not - and those who tick less than a year can't put their work up for crits until they've been here for a year. I know, it's probably a pointless thing to do since people could simply tick a box anyway they want but at least it would be an attempt to do something.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    RussRuss, it's been a long time since I looked at the source for that so I don't want to overstate myself. But it was based on what they did with their actual work, not on their education levels.


    :yuck::vomit::yuck::yuck::vomit::yuck::grumpy::grumpy:

    Hold on a second. Let me catch my..... senses. Okay, okay. Here we go. Here's my answer to that.

    It's the rare genius who rises above the typical advice. It's the rare advice that teaches you to become a genius.


    The difference is that the "amateur" stage typically misses the purpose of the stage, which isn't just to learn but to explore.

    Again, I want to repeat a few things from my last two posts. There are two key ways that writing advice can hold back exploration.

    1 - Creativity is about finding solutions and making connections between ideas that are farther from each other. Just by its nature, writing advice encourages you to find solutions that are nearest to the field of writing.

    2 - A lot of writing advice actively teaches you to cut back on areas such as "purple prose" and "plot tumors" and "don't tell" in order to streamline your writing. That's the 60% I was referring to earlier. While it may be good advice, it's the exact opposite of what you need to do in an exploration stage.

    This is important to understand because it means that you have to put your efforts in developing as a writer in some kind of context of where you are with your work.

    Also, perhaps some of the language we've been using is misleading, as it's certainly possible to give advice on how to develop your creativity. It's just that "writing advice" usually doesn't.
     
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    There have been other threads where I have said pretty much the same thing in less successful ways. I don't believe they're worth going back to.

    I wrote two articles on creativity for the home page here a few years ago. They're starting to age.

    How to Hack the Habit of Creativity

    How to Balance Creativity with Story

    You can also check out my Trope Reboots, which I designed in order to help people get into the creative process:

    The Chosen One: Trope Reboot

    The Dark Lord: Trope Reboot

    The Medieval Kingdom: Trope Reboot
     
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  7. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Your post so intrigued me Devor, I started looking at the examples you used and added one of my own, to see how it worked in the real world.

    So I couldn't find much useful about Shakespeare's early work, so it didn't add much, except that he likely had a traditional disciplined grammar education (with all that meant at the time he got it).

    Then I looked at Picasso, your other example. I knew nothing about him. But it turns out that his dad, was an art teacher who drilled all of the classic techniques and ideas into his son when he was quite young. So in Picasso's case it is clear that being fully schooled in conventional technique before his "exploration phase" did not produce a poor outcome.

    Then I went to look at one of my favs, Mozart. A sheer musical genius. His father wrote an influential text on playing the violin and was a music instructor who taught him all the basics and conventions of his time. We know that he was made to work his way up through all of the musical exercise books of the time for the instruments he mastered. By the time he wrote his first opera, I think he had been through daily music lessons in a structured and traditional format for something like nine years.

    So if we are trying to model this, or understand this approach to development of technique in relation to standard writing advice, don't these examples tell us that these individuals already had a solid mastery of the basics of their craft before the exploration phase? These examples would seem to argue the reverse of PT's position, of "find yourself first" learn the basics after would they not?

    I don't doubt the phase categories of these great artists careers as you describe them, but I what I am struggling with is whether that theory suggests that familiarity with the basics of the craft enhance or enable a fulsome exploration phase or detract from it. These examples seem to suggest the former rather than the later.
     
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  8. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    So...following up on my earlier comment....

    If we are all of us painting by numbers, regardless, then the question would be whether becoming conscious of this fact is more of an impediment to writing than remaining blissfully unaware.

    The cons of either case:

    Becoming conscious of this fact could lead to despair in at least two ways. First, that feeling that we're only regurgitating the cliches, stories, structures, characters, etc., could lead the new writer to give up. "I can't write anything new!!!" Second, coming to believe that we must paint by numbers, while also having the belief (or being told) that only a very small set of numbers and colors exist, could lead to the same result: "I'm just meant to be a cog in the factory producing the same stuff over and over!" the writer says before giving up.

    Remaining blissfully unaware could lead to the same place after the reviews come in. Review A: "This is trite." Review B: "Having a giant wall of ice separating the backstabbing, violent warring nobles from undead legions....been done and done better." I.e., painting by numbers without realizing we are painting by numbers frees us to regurgitate without knowing we are! Until we are told.

    The pros:

    If we become conscious of the fact that we are painting by numbers, we can then seek to discover all the variations possible—the numbers and colors—and even learn how to diverge from the schematics in quirky ways that audiences will appreciate.

    If we remain blissfully unaware that we are painting by numbers, we won't suffer the despair/roadblocks of the "con" of becoming aware; and, quite possibly, we'll diverge from the typical schematics accidentally in interesting ways simply because we aren't consciously trying to fill in the colors everyone else would use.

    I don't know. I'm just musing here. At some level, the two aren't entirely separate. None of us is entirely conscious of all of our schema-following habits, and all of us are aware of some of those habits. Most likely.

    Also, I tend to view the question through the lens that Ralph Waldo Emerson used concerning what to do about the "Great Men" he described in a set of essays. The question is whether those great examples should be followed ; wouldn't their vast shadows overwhelm and hide our own? His answer was to follow their examples and not worry. Your own soul and spirit—your own genius is too strong and stubborn; you'll introduce variation regardless. That's the way it works.
     
  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I think it less disproves my point and instead suggests that what it is I'm trying to say still needs more development. My thesis on creativity is apparently in the mid-refinement stage?
     
  10. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Sorry if I wasn't clear, I didn't mean to suggest it disproved your point, rather they ran exactly contra to the way that psychotick thought young writers should develop.

    Do let keep us in the loop on you thoughts on creativity, I am curious to know where they take you. And if you remember the cites for the research you mentioned earlier, please pass them along.
     
  11. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Again, you have misunderstood what I said. My words were: I fear that others like me out there might fall for the scientific and calculated methods at the very start of their journey. The key part is others like me, not beginning writers in general. I feel this way because of personal experience with various people that have tried to convince me that what I do with stories is somehow crazy or delusional.

    The writing-is-science atmosphere is indeed harmful for writers like me, since we develop our craft much better in our own world.

    The norm in places like Mythic Scribes, yeah. There are very few people of my kind here, but I have discovered that in other places the situation is quite different. There is a very famous writing site that is filled to the brim with people like me, I have met several really nice like-minded friends there and I love the atmosphere in that site.
     
  12. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    If I wanted to talk about Psychotick's thoughts I would respond to him directly. It would seem discourteous to me to comment on them this way.
     
  13. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Different is not dangerous.

    There is a very odd undercurrent of language happening in this thread that is raising red flags for me.

    On one had we have the creatives, who believe that, for whatever reason, any sort of advice, critique, wisdom, knowledge, or idea outside of their own belief system is inherently "dangerous, damaging, stunting, etc.' It appears that these people are annoyed by this information (even though it is not directed at them). It appears that this information makes them feel fearful for other writers who may be damaged and stunted as a result of it.

    A few of these people have gone as far as to suggest that in their perfect world, forums like these would censor new members to see if they were "ready" to be exposed to such damaging and dangerous information.

    Guys, that attitude is the scary one.

    When a mod agrees to support a member for starting a post that is basically "Only people who agree with me may post here"... on a public forum, that is a serious problem.

    Is that the direction MS is headed?

    Are the people who love to talk colours and numbers (as FifthView so eloquently put it, BTW FIFTHVIEW OMG!!! YAY!), relegated to the sidelines as a bunch of dangerous trolls who can't be allowed near the new members lest we destroy their creative little brains? Must we constantly be called out as "scientific," and "Sell outs," and lacking creativity because we chose a different way of pursuing our art? Must our voices be constantly pushed aside as damaging?

    Seriously. Sheila, Devor, Psychotic, no one is saying your way is wrong. No one has said your way is damaging, or stunting. No one has said your way is dangerous. No one has said they are "annoyed by creatives who do things their own way."

    So why is it okay for you to use this language for our way? For what we value as important? For how we choose to pursue our craft?
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
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  14. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

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    For years, scientists believed Euclidean geometry described the universe. They have since debated whether non-Euclidean geometries may better describe some aspects of the universe, especially on large scales. When observations are made locally, they cannot be used to make broad statements about all of the universe. It is entirely possible that gravity does not work exactly as is taught in school.

    You may claim that storytelling rules existed before the beginning of time, whenever you believe that to be, and this would be one way of looking at the matter. In scientific circles, however, proofs require the existence of non-empty sets of elements on which the proofs are made. I'm not making this up. I have a MS in Applied Mathematics, and have gone through a rigorous course of training which exercised my logical abilities. I was warned when it came to writing a thesis, to make sure the thesis hypothesis applies to something more than the empty set. The story went that a student came up with a wonderful theory, wrote a lengthy thesis on it, presented it, only to have it thrown out by a professor who showed very quickly that the theory applied only to the empty set -- that is, it applied to nothing. It was the mathematical equivalent of claiming that all piglets hatched from boulders can fly. In this vein, I submit that any storytelling rules you might claim existed before the world existed applied only to the empty set, and thus do not count.

    To put it another way, without matter to act on, gravity doesn't matter, pun intended.

    To my mathematical, scientific mind, there had to be a first storyteller, by whatever definition you give to that. Perhaps it was the first time someone told a lie, observed a spark of wonder in the eyes of the audience, and so told another lie. I use the verb told loosely here--maybe it was hand gestures, head shaking, scratch marks on a cave wall, or some other means of primitive communication. Whenever the defining moment was, I submit there had to be one--no matter that we will never know when it was. Before that moment, storyteller rules had no meaning and so don't count, even if you say they must be innate truths of the universe and had to exist before time.

    There is a religious argument to be made against what I've said, but I won't go there. I don't want to debate religion on the Mythic Scribes forums. If you wish to say your statements are religion-based, then we can leave it at that.
     
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  15. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Actually, it's more like Mythopoet just wanted to talk about the subject with people of the same opinion and then people that love rules-based writing showed up to fight back her reasons and start the argument.

    Yes, over a long time some people have said such things to me in various chat and forum conversations.

    We are two sides that are always going to be in disagreement, there's really no way to change that. Now, I find it strange that you disapprove of Mythopoet's idea to have a new thread only for like-minded people, and at the same time you seem to be offended by the disagreements in this thread. If you do not like the original post here, why join the conversation to start with?

    If you want the debate, get ready to deal with points of view that are wildly different to yours.

    We can either have threads exclusive for rules-based writing and others dedicated to my kind of writing, or we continue to participate all together in the same threads and learn to live with our differences.

    I believe that Black Dragon wants a diverse community, but it gets complicated sometimes.

    The same has happened the other way around, when some people have mocked concepts that are important to my kind.

    Two different planets of storytelling, as I have said before. If we have to share a site, then please let's try to keep more calm around here and avoid a scenario in which the situation starts to get personal.
     
  16. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Nobody showed up to "start an argument." We showed up to say "No, we don't get annoyed by writing articles, and here is why.... " Which then turned into a witch hunt on "rules based writing".

    Yes. I do disapprove. I think that is totally wrong on a public forum. I am not offended by the disagreement on this thread. I have been involved in a lot of debates on this forum. It is my right be able to join in with my opinion.

    I do too. I never asked for them to be separated. A mod approved that sort of thread and I think it is wrong. Period. In any direction of argument.

    Then please stop telling people that our methods are "dangerous and stunting."
     
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  17. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Great. I'm glad that gives you the right to do it back :)
     
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  18. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    And what were you expecting in a thread called Anyone else Hate How To Do Writing Advice?

    To me it was pretty obvious that the thread was going to attract people that share that opinion, and if the other side shows up to disagree with us then we disagree with them and the argument starts. Witch Hunt? Just because we do not like rules-based writing (the whole idea behind the thread), and we express our feelings about it?

    Are you sure that you are not being too sensitive about all of this?

    Offended? Annoyed? Heated? Alarmed? I am not sure what are you feeling as a result of this thread, but I think that you need to calm down. Yes, you have your right to join with your opinion and we have the same right to counter with our opinion as well. Just get ready for the debate to get heated and to face strong opinions that you may disapprove.

    We'll keep expressing our opinions just like you express yours, nobody is going to censor or ban the opinion of others.
     
  19. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Every attitude is scary if you push it far enough. But I wouldn't take psychotickpsychotick's comments on that too.... literally, if I can be so bold as to speak for him. For this conversation we've only been looking at one topic in isolation, and he even admitted that much of what he said wouldn't actually work because of censorship and similar issues. If you took it literally and got scared, I think you might've missed the point.

    I don't think anybody has jumped into an advice thread to say "Hey, don't give any advice or it'll stunt their growth!" On the other hand, I can't count how many times I've seen people jump into a thread just to say, "Nobody will care about that," which is also quite hurtful to the purpose of these forums.


    For the purpose of one thread, yeah, why not? It's not like anybody is going to stop people from posting. And I mean, you once posted a thread asking for opinions from just women - that's kind of the same, isn't it? I don't think it's worth getting bent out of shape over.

    Honestly, people say that creatives are wrong all the time. As a professor once told me, if you don't see the bias it probably means you agree with it.

    But I'm by far a numbers and colors person - because again, the idea that people can't take a scientific approach to creativity is.....unscientific - and I really think people need to understand that more.
     
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  20. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    if you read the post you will see that I never disregarded the posts of men, and in fact welcomed their opinions. I was asking specifically about women perspectives, but I never asked any mods to not allow men to post. So no. It is not the same.
     
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