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Sat Mar 24, 2012, 02:57 AM

Am I being too hard on myself or should I give up completely?

I've always love to write. In college I started writing a story just as a stupid challenge and it seemed serveral people enjoyed it-at least that is what I'm told.


The problem is I have a learning disability. I have always struggled with grammar and I can come up with ideas and dialog and all BUT when it comes to making it look right and correct I think that is my biggest failure.

I don't expect to become Steven King or anything like that. My only goal really is just to see ONE thing I've written published.

My husband has encourage me to a least try and publish something now that I am between jobs. I have been looking for a job but with the market being what it is -it may take some time.

A so call friend-distant relative said I should give up the idea all together. That I'm just waisting my time and shouldn't even waste time writing as a hobby let alone ever thinking I could get something published.

This person saw something I was working on. It is a story for young adults/teenagers and it just kind of has been coming to me.

This is the page as my friend saw it mistakes and all. I hadn't even thought about correcting it. the idea was just to get the story out first on page/computer.

Is the Grammar and story idea really that bad?

Edit: Notice the paragraphs aren't indented like they are in the word document.





“My life is completely over”! Hannah Cantu groaned
as she watched her best friend, Amelia Abney, step off the grey city bus onto the sidewalk beside her.
“Maybe they will forget about it by Monday”? Amelia suggested in but the doubt could be heard in her voice. She pushed her long dark brown hair off of her face which was blown forward as the bus pulled passed the curb and down the main road.
“Forget about it”! Hannah repeated annoyed by Amelia suggestion. Her chestnut brown eyes rolled upward. “Do you realized that in my business math class there are five varsity cheerleaders six football players five basketball players and three other people who are just popular and they all want to kill me”.
Amelia nodded understanding the situation her best friend was facing. “You had no control what Mr. Maxwell did,” she reminded Hannah. “You didn’t go to Mr. Maxwell and tell him everyone was copying your homework and they shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place”. Amelia words became slow as her dark brown eyes noticed a black Toyota Camry pulling along side the curb.


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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply Am I being too hard on myself or should I give up completely? (Original post)
Justice wanted Mar 2012 OP
DavidDvorkin Mar 2012 #1
Fearless Mar 2012 #2
HopeHoops Mar 2012 #3
Justice wanted Mar 2012 #4
Neoma Mar 2012 #5
MorningGlow Mar 2012 #6
beyurslf Mar 2012 #7
bemildred Mar 2012 #8
CherokeeDem Apr 2012 #9
mainer Apr 2012 #10
Odessa123 May 2012 #11
nolabear May 2012 #12
valerief May 2012 #13
SheilaT May 2012 #14
Baitball Blogger Jul 2012 #15

Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 01:27 PM

1. Ignore your so-called friend, and keep writing

The only real problem I see is that the punctuation marks should be inside the quotes. For example:

"My life is completely over!" Hannah Cantu groaned.


Write it, complete it, rewrite it. If you have a real friend who's good at grammar and punctuation, you might ask them to edit it. Emphasis on real friend.

Then try to get an agent. If you don't succeed, self-publish the work as an e-book.

Never give up.

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 10:31 PM

2. Never give up if it's your dream!

The text isn't bad. As for whether or not the book would sell, it's too little text to give an honest opinion on it or on plot, structure, etc.

Here is the process that I work with, maybe it will be of some help to you:

1. Write for yourself. Write the whole story all the way through without editing. Get everything out on the computer. Then go back and edit fixing anything grammatically you don't like until you can read the whole thing through without finding major mistakes. (You may end up going through it twenty or thirty times!)
2. Ask others to help you with grammar. EVEN those who are good with grammar need to do this when writing!
3. Revise, revise, revise. Look at the plot and structure of the story and make sure everything is doing exactly what it is supposed to (are characters acting like they should, is dialog well written, does the story get slow and boring at any point, etc.) Make changes that you think are necessary.
4. Rinse and repeat several times. Make sure that every sentence of the story should be there, every word was the right choice.
5. Put it down for a few weeks when you're "done" and completely forget about it (or try).
6. A few weeks or even months later, print it out and read it as if you were reading a book. Circle words, sentences, paragraphs, anything and EVERYTHING that doesn't sound perfect. But don't go back and correct them now. Just keep reading.
7. Then after reading it and circling, go back to each spot on the printout that you circled and review each one again. Add a notation to yourself as to why you circled it. If you now disagree with a circling, cross it out.
8. Fire up the computer and make your corrections. Review steps 2-7 until nothing substantive changes in your writing. (It could take several tries, but don't be discouraged. Every time you revise, your gem is polished that much brighter!)
9. Only once you are completely happy with the whole book and you've had a few people look at it for grammar issues and continuity problems (steps 2-8), do you want to print out a bunch of copies and hand them out to trusted friends. Ask for story feedback and not to focus on grammar. Specifically ask them for: 1 thing that worked for them, 1 thing that didn't work, and 1 way to improve EVERY chapter in the book.
10. Take all of their feedback to heart and go back to step 2 and work your way through again. At that point I would start researching the publishing process and then looking for literary agents, if and only if you have several favorable reviews. If you have very unfavorable reviews, don't take it personally, ask for input on how they would fix the issues they have with the story. (You may agree or disagree with their suggestions.)

But most importantly: ALWAYS WRITE BECAUSE YOU LOVE TO WRITE. DON'T STOP BECAUSE OTHERS TELL YOU NOT TO WRITE! There are no guarantees that you will publish, but you should enjoy the entire process and not focus on the end result. It's the journey, not the destination that is magical.

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:24 AM

3. Forget about grammar and spelling and just write, write, and write some more.

 

The grammar and spelling are called "editing". That sounds like a perfectly wonderful story in the making. I was even able to pull out the nuanced references to the story line from that short excerpt. Never give up.

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 04:47 PM

4. Thank you for your thoughts and words and suggestions.

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Wed Mar 28, 2012, 08:22 PM

5. Editing is not writing.

Writing is barfing up ideas onto paper. Take a notebook and just write complete nonsense you think sucks, and just keep writing until you feel like you have something that doesn't suck. Editing is for other people who need capital letters to read letters. When you start writing, you write what YOU like. Don't write to please others. They don't give a crap until they say so, and that's just how it goes. If you like it, that's all that matters.

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:09 PM

6. What you have is intriguing already

And that's all that matters. Don't listen to the naysayers (there will always be naysayers). Just do this:

1. Get it all out without worrying about correct grammar, punctuation, formatting. Just get it down on paper. The hardest part isn't starting to write a book, but completing it.

2. Once your first draft is done, THEN start editing. This is the most difficult part, the most tedious...and can be the most fun. Hone your story till every word is perfect, the story well paced, and (most important) you are happy with it.

3. Read a lot in your genre to get a feel for how well your story fits.

4. Once you feel your story is dead perfect, don your flame-retardant armor and get it out there. Join a reputable critique group, either in person or online, for feedback.

5. Ignore the feedback. Just kidding! But don't take every comment to heart--not all suggestions are gold. Listen to what resonates and leave the rest.

6. Revise, revise, revise.

7. If you want an agent, start querying. If you want to self publish, investigate your options for that.

8. Be prepared to revise, revise, revise.

9. BE PROUD of yourself, because whether or not your book ends up a best seller, you did something that most people never accomplish: you wrote an entire book, start to finish.

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Fri Mar 30, 2012, 12:46 AM

7. Do what everyone else before this has said.

When it comes time for you to edit (after you have finished the writing), I might suggest one kindly thing. I would get a grammar handbook of some sort. Many, many, many people learned some grammar way back when, and would need a refresher if they suddenly started writing. No shame in that, and it will become your friend.

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Sat Mar 31, 2012, 07:32 PM

8. You are being too hard on yourself.

Ignore your "friend".
Writing is an accrued skill, not something you are born with.
Remember, it's never done, you just abandon it and move on.

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2012, 09:08 AM

9. Writing is a joy...

I've been writing for about three years, picking it up after years of telling myself I didn't have time. I was rusty, especially with grammar. I started writing fanfiction because I could write in a familiar setting (I'm a scifi fan) and concentrate on crafting the writing, not developing characters and world building. I entered some challenges and last author standing contests and I can tell you, some people can be brutal, especially if hiding behind user names, but I learned a lot from that experience.

A friend of mine, who is a published author, suggested I get the online grammar program Whitesmoke, which I did. It isn't cheap but it really helped me. I'm still not perfect and have a live person do a final edit for grammar on any work that I publish online.

Writing a novel has always been a passion, and I am currently on chapter 13 of my first effort. It is an amazing process, rewarding, and fun. My suggestion is to enjoy the process, don't sweat the details, yet...write your story. There are plenty of qualified people who can assist you in getting the mechanics right, but they cannot tell your story.

Listen to what you want to do, don't pay attention to the naysayers.

Good luck!!!

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 06:52 PM

10. What's wrong with "she said", and making the dialogue do the work?

Just an editorial comment from someone who does this for a living.

"Her chestnut brown eyes rolled upward", is unnecessary if you can convey that through her words.

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Thu May 3, 2012, 03:47 AM

11. Keep working

Sometimes, we must stick to our dreams. When other people think you are crazy, in fact, you will not be far from success.
Keep writing for yourself, don't let editing work and others' opinion block you.

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Fri May 11, 2012, 09:10 PM

12. I have what might sound like a silly question.

Your post is eloquent and the spelling and grammar are fine. The exerpt does have mistakes in it, not unfixable by any means but it sounds much different from your post. Might you be trying too hard to "write"? If you just relaxed and told it as though you were telling the story to someone (like you did us in the post) it might be more naturally polished.

That said, it just looks like a rough draft and your relative-friend sounds like a massive buzzkill. Keep writing if you are a writer. And nobody gets to claim that but you.

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Tue May 29, 2012, 08:11 PM

13. Don't stop!!! Keep writing. I think you just have too much "who cares?" stuff in there.

I used to do that. Anyone who can recognize it has done it themselves. I did. I stopped. Why slow down the action with stuff the reader could care less about? Also, I'm not a fan of using attributions other than said, asked, or shouted.
http://lecatr.people.wm.edu/Keep_Attribution_Simple_article.htm
Note--quotations go outside end punctuation.

Hope you don't mind the rewrite. It's the clearest way of showing you what I mean. Someone may end up rewriting my rewrite! Ha!

Good luck.

-------------------------------
Written from Hannah's POV. You should pick a POV.

When Amelia got off the city bus, Hannah rushed to her. "My life is completely over!"

"Oh, maybe they'll forget about it by Monday."

"Forget about it?" Hannah was annoyed by her best friend. "In my business math class, there are five varsity cheerleaders, six football players, five basketball players, and three other people who are just as popular--and they all want to kill me."

Amelia nodded. "Yes, yes, you had no control over what Mr. Maxwell did. You didn't tell him everyone was copying your homework. Besides, they shouldn't have been doing it in the first place."

A black Toyota Camry pulled alongside them.


Original
“My life is completely over”! Hannah Cantu groaned
as she watched her best friend, Amelia Abney, step off the grey city bus onto the sidewalk beside her.
“Maybe they will forget about it by Monday”? Amelia suggested in but the doubt could be heard in her voice. She pushed her long dark brown hair off of her face which was blown forward as the bus pulled passed the curb and down the main road.
“Forget about it”! Hannah repeated annoyed by Amelia suggestion. Her chestnut brown eyes rolled upward. “Do you realized that in my business math class there are five varsity cheerleaders six football players five basketball players and three other people who are just popular and they all want to kill me”.
Amelia nodded understanding the situation her best friend was facing. “You had no control what Mr. Maxwell did,” she reminded Hannah. “You didn’t go to Mr. Maxwell and tell him everyone was copying your homework and they shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place”. Amelia words became slow as her dark brown eyes noticed a black Toyota Camry pulling along side the curb.


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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Thu May 31, 2012, 01:14 AM

14. It's hard to improve on what the others have already said.

There's wonderful advice here. Just read it carefully.

I am someone for whom grammar and punctuation and spelling comes pretty easily. My friends call me the Grammar Witch. Imagine what my non-friends say. And even with that, I constantly find mistakes in my writing.

I will just add my two cents.

1. Simply get down whatever it is you want to say. Don't worry at first about the niceties, like grammar, punctuation, and so on. At the very end you can hire someone if those are a huge stumbling block for you.

2. Keep in mind that the essence of writing is rewriting. Be prepared to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. Once, someone helped me revise a short story (maybe 1500 words) and towards the end she expressed guilt that she'd made me work so hard. Ha! I knew that with her help and the very extensive rewrite the story was made immeasurably better. It still wasn't good enough to be published, alas.

3. After you've done a first draft, put it aside for at least a week or two. Longer if it's a novel. If put aside long enough, you start to forget what it was you were thinking about in the first place, and you'll do a much better job of revising.

4. If more than one reader says something along the lines of, "I don't get that," then YOU'VE not made it clear. There's nothing wrong with the readers.

5. And this is really a corollary of 4: try very hard to join a group. Or take a creative writing class at your nearby junior college. You don't need to tell them you've been working on this novel for six years, just do whatever you're supposed to do for the class. It will be enormously helpful.


As an addendum: I was taking a creative writing class at the University of Colorado many (more than 20) years ago. It was a typical class: we'd write stories, make enough copies for everyone in the class, and then critique them. Heck, this was so long ago that some of us, myself included, didn't yet have computers. Anyway, one evening the instructor cut the class short, then read us a a story he'd written. And just as I was getting ready to raise my hand and point out all the obvious flaws, he told us that he'd just found out that day that the story was a first place winner in the current quarter of the Writers of the Future Contest. For those of you who don't know, that's a very important science fiction contest, and any number of well-known s-f writers have gotten their start there. This was maybe five years into the contest, and I was the ONLY person in the class who knew what this meant, mainly because I had submitted a story to them a year or two earlier.

The point is, success can be unexpected and wonderful, but no matter what, keep on writing.

SheilaT, who keeps on writing.

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Response to Justice wanted (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2012, 11:05 PM

15. Don't worry about editing before you finish the story.

In many way, you are free if you can unblock yourself and stop worrying about your weaknesses. Write the story, go back and strength the backstory if necessary, but just write a beginning, middle and end.

It helps if you can have one central idea. Like, something peculiar about the character or a twist you want to work in.

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