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Brain Pickings - John Steinbeck

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Steerpike, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Always interesting to see thoughts on the writing process from various authors. At the link, below, are six tips put together from a 1975 John Steinbeck interview. What do you guys think?

    1. I understand the feeling behind this tip, but I do tend to have the end in sight, at least in my mind.
    2. I agree with this one, and I think it is a very important tip (at least, it has been for me).
    3. I think this is useful, and I've done it before, but I don't always do it. Maybe I should - thinking of a single reader, even a hypothetical one, can help focus the story.
    4. I agree.
    5. I don't know about this one. I've never experienced that.
    6. Not a bad idea, but I don't do it and I don't think it is absolutely necessary.

    Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck | Brain Pickings
  2. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    Though I hated the only Steinbeck novel I read, I'll chime in.

    1. I can definitely see this. I'm motivated to finish. Sometimes, I short change giving full effort on a scene because I'm ready for it to be over.

    2. When I'm doing a rough draft, this is my goal. Get it on paper!

    3. I've struggled with this one. In the end, I decided that I'm writing for myself, though I do try to temper the violence because I know my wife will be reading it.

    4. If you hit a sticking point, it most certainly is better to move on than beat your head against a wall. How many times have I given up on a hard area only to go back to it the next day and finish it smooth as silk?

    5. I've heard this advice before, but I'm not sure about it. The "dear" scenes are the ones that readers cherish. Not every scene has to strike the same note.

    6. Absolutely! I disagree with Steerpike on this one. Reading outloud is hugely important. The first few times I read this advice, I dismissed it. Now, I can't believe what a difference it makes.
  3. 1. This one I don't agree with, mostly because I think it's entirely plausible to set a goal and aim toward it. You might not end up exactly where you thought you would, but I do think that writing can be a technical discipline in addition to an artistic one.

    2. Agreed. The less rewriting I do up front, the more productive I am.

    3. This is a great idea. I wrote THE QUEEN OF MAGES with my wife in mind. (And unsurprisingly, she says she loves it! ;))

    4. Yep yep. The best way to deal with a sticking point is to drop it and move on, then come back to it later. Sometimes the way to fix it will become glaringly obvious in retrospect.

    5. Oh god yes. "Kill your babies."

    6. I haven't found this to be quite as useful, mostly because what I'm writing is really old-fashioned. Nobody talks this way any more, so it's hard for it to sound natural. But reading your work aloud is a great way to find awkwardness and flaws.
  4. JonSnow

    JonSnow Troubadour

    #2 is my biggest problem. I don't like to "move on" until the previous chapter is at least tolerable. And it is my biggest roadblock to finishing a novel.
  5. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    1 - I don't agree with this really. I agree that a novel should be broken down into small chunks and that a writer should focus on those chunks instead or worry about the whole. But knowing how a scene fits in with the big picture helps you understand the meaning and significance of the scene within the context of the story and enables you to write towards that.

    2 - sure, finish then edit.

    3 - ok, I can get on board with this one. Basically just write the story you want to write.

    4 - Agree.

    5 - Agree, but not just scenes, any idea, character etc, that's too dear beware.

    6 - I don't do this all the time but it is useful.
  6. Lorna

    Lorna Inkling

    1. Nope. I need to have the finish in mind, even if the finish I end up with is a far cry from the one I planned. Having a finish in mind gives DIRECTION.

    2. Nope. I find on a first draft, if my plot takes a better direction then I need to go back and work the new ideas back into the earlier part so the whole is coherent. Otherwise I end up with huge plot holes.

    3. Agree in the main stay. I don't think readers know what they want until they find it. (That's the case for me, one of the readers). I often find books in the genres I usually read in disappoint whilst some of genre surprise me. I don't think you should write for any one person either. You should write what you're inspired to write.

    4. Kind of. If scenes don't work for me I usually get rid of them then and there. I don't like having holes in my manuscript.

    5. Mmm... my book is made up what I consider the best / dearest scenes. Let's hope it's not all 'out of the drawing.'

    6. Totally agree. I always read my scenes out loud.

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