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Scalzi on NaNoWriMo

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I follow the blog of science fiction writer John Scalzi. Not just because he's a very good sci-fi writer, but because I enjoy his bloviating about whatever (and "whatever" happens to be the name of his blog, go figure).

 

Today, he writes about NaNoWriMo—specifically, about how some professional writers tend to poo poo it as not "realistic" and the like. Inspirational, and worth reading! http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/11/11/nano...-and-kvetching/

 

Orren

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You know, I never understood why some people, in whatever field, insist that their way is the only way, or the best way. I think John put a bullet in that for writers when he said (at the end), "Readers don’t read process. They read novels."

 

Good find, Orren. Thanks. I'm bookmarking John Scalzi blog.

- Thoth.

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You know, I never understood why some people, in whatever field, insist that their way is the only way, or the best way.

 

Insecurity at some level? Need to prove oneself, more to oneself than anyone else?

 

It reminds me of the person who gave the advice—I forgot who said it, to never use adverbs. That's got to be the single worst piece of advice that I've ever read. It's like saying don't do math using the number 4, or don't cook with flour. Certainly, don't overuse adverbs, flour, or the number 4, but everything is part of the toolkit, use everything in the most judicious way you can. I can only imagine that whomever would give this "advice"—assuming it's not a malicious attempt to mislead novice authors—is someone who cannot use adverbs properly, and therefore assumes that adverbs cannot be used properly by anyone. Because, of course, if someone else could use adverbs properly when the advice-giver cannot, that person might be the better writer, and we can't have that, can we?

 

Good find, Orren. Thanks. I'm bookmarking John Scalzi blog.

 

You'll like it I'd wager, he's got a good sense of whimsy along with his more "meaty" posts. And he's currently the president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America professional association: http://www.sfwa.org/about/current-officers/

 

Orren

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It reminds me of the person who gave the advice—I forgot who said it, to never use adverbs. That's got to be the single worst piece of advice that I've ever read. It's like saying don't do math using the number 4, or don't cook with flour. Certainly, don't overuse adverbs, flour, or the number 4, but everything is part of the toolkit, use everything in the most judicious way you can. I can only imagine that whomever would give this "advice"—assuming it's not a malicious attempt to mislead novice authors—is someone who cannot use adverbs properly, and therefore assumes that adverbs cannot be used properly by anyone. Because, of course, if someone else could use adverbs properly when the advice-giver cannot, that person might be the better writer, and we can't have that, can we?

Orren

I agree completely with this comment. I've even seen people say "don't use adjectives." Hello? So we're all supposed to write:

 

See Spot.

Spot is a dog. (not a brown, gray, or brindled dog—just a dog).

See Spot run.

Spot fetches a ball. (not a beach ball or tennis ball—just a ball)

Spot drops the ball at my feet.

 

And so on ad nauseam.

 

There is one good reason for not using adverbs: when you use them as a substitute for finding the stronger verb that fits (mental laziness). And there are arguments for not using five adjectives to modify every noun. But surely (adverb) common (adjective) sense should prevail!

Best,

M

 

P.S. Not to mention that one's characters will sound like robots if they never use an adjective or an adverb. ;)

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Insecurity at some level? Need to prove oneself, more to oneself than anyone else?

Could be. Once upon a time, a long time ago, I had a boss who insisted we use this particular software program even though it had been dropped by its developer to be replaced by a much better and more useful program—which we had. We asked why and he said that it was because he knew the old program but not the new one so if we used the new one he wouldn't be able to supervise us properly. (One of many reasons I prefer to remain self-employed.)

 

It reminds me of the person who gave the advice—I forgot who said it, to never use adverbs.

ROTFL ;) Perhaps he meant not to unduly, excessively, absurdly, unreasonably or exorbitantly use adverbs, but couldn't say it because it meant using adverbs. On the other hand, perhaps he's a fan of constrained writing. Ernest Vincent Wright famously wrote a 50,000 word novel without using the letter e (except his name has two in it). Now there's a guy who'd do great at NaNoWriMo.

 

...[John Scalzi is] currently the president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America professional association: http://www.sfwa.org/about/current-officers/

An interesting group of people.

-Thoth.

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P.S. Not to mention that one's characters will sound like robots if they never use an adjective or an adverb. ;)

Or William Shatner. ("Must. Stop. KAHN.")

I have read stories where all the dialog had been written in one or two word sentences. No adverbs. Very few adjectives. I think writers do this as a kind of game...or to sound like robots.

-T

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