Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 04, 2016, 10:17:03 AM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Author Topic: Looking for suggestions on writing styles that tell a good story.  (Read 2690 times)

Paul Keith

  • Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 1,982
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Requirements:
  • no flash/gif/css that make it more about the theme

Example sites:

Quote
I was reminded today that good writing isn’t everything. It was four in the afternoon and I was stuck at a turning point in one of my manuscripts, and it hit me that everything I’d done to improve my writing did not matter then and there. I could have just as easily messed up the entire project by tackling the scene the wrong way, even if I did write it beautifully. This wasn’t a matter of description or style or clarity of thought – it was something more. It was story.

Story is that extra something we writers don’t really understand. Take a stroll through any bookstore today and you’ll find writing titles jumping out at you: The Elements of Style, for instance. Or On Writing, that highly popular craft manual by Mr King. But pause for awhile and note that Mr King didn’t write a book called On Storytelling. Nobody has, in fact – I’m still looking for solid works on storytelling alone.

What I’ve realized is that writing is actually the easy part of the craft. The other part – the harder one – is the ability to create a mind-blowing good tale. And that isn’t something that can be captured in a book – I’ve yet to see manuals entitled How To Write Like Steinbeck, or Where To Find Story Ideas. Things like that fall from the sky, or they don’t fall at all.

I read an article last year by a writer turned editor complaining about how hard it was to filter short stories for a collection. She quickly identified two kinds of submissions – the first was by a good storyteller with bad writing (which she could work on), and the other was by the writer who could write beautifully but had nothing to say. The first needed a lot of polishing; the second, however, was impossible to work with. These 2nd category stories were beautiful on the outside, but in the end the aforementioned editor found them to be empty. Rotten apples. Hollow cores.

So I took a break from my manuscript today. I didn’t know how to go on from that turning point – the possibilities were just endless. But that’s not the point here. The point here is that I’m thankful for the storytelling department. For my storytelling department. There are people out there who can’t pull a good yarn even if it was staring them in the face, good writing or not. And I know my writing’s not perfect, but I’m working on it.

I’m just thankful I’ve got something to say.

It's still no good so I need some website recommendation help. My blog is still postponed because my posting is still no good. The above is talking about blog fiction but since I'm unable to shorten the length of my posts I'm thinking of cheating it via stories. I already plan to add more images but I keep losing my writing voice. Same thing with my other ideas, it doesn't fit this term (sure it's for presentation slideshows but I think it's still valid):

Quote
Making presentations isn't about telling people what you know....

.... it's about telling them what they need to know in the way they need to know it!

...worse, the longer I write the more it feels like I'm writing an uneducated essay rather than merely sharing my opinion in a blog post.



from Novelr

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Looking for suggestions on writing styles that tell a good story.
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2010, 03:56:20 PM »
Hey! Maybe you're being too hard on yourself? Maybe you could share something you've written for your blog either here in the forum - or via a PM and get some outside perspective?

I had a real problem a few years back not being able to finish anything I was writing. I basically hated everything I was doing. And the more I revised, the worse it seemed to get. Talk about a major erosion of self confidence. I was about one half step short of being completely "blocked" as the saying goes.

Finally, my GF asked to see some of my screeds. Turns out she amost always thought my earliest drafts were very well-written and 'read' just fine. But she also noticed that the more I futzed with something, the more it seemed to get awkward, start hedging, and ultimately lose its focus. Kinda like pie dough. You have to knead it to get a nice flaky crust. But if you knead it too much, it becomes greasy and tough. So the real secret to making a terrific pie is knowing when to stop kneading the dough.

As far as 'style' went, she felt my absolute best articles always seemed to read like they were personal letters to a very smart friend who I was excited about sharing something with. Don't know if you'd call that a 'writing style' per se, but that's pretty much how I write everything today. Most of the people who say they read my stuff seem to like it just fine.

Eventually, I learned the technique that worked best for me was to write fairly quickly and restrict the number of back-to-back edits and rewrites to a few as humanly possible. Basically, once the grammar and spelling were correct I'd call it a day after a quick buff & shine. Then I'd let it sit for a few days (or weeks) and give it a reread just in case I missed something, totally blew the structure, thought of something clever to add - or completely changed my mind about what I had previously written. Don't laugh! That last one has happened to me on more than one occasion. :redface:

Anyway, it seems I can write once again now that I don't try to write a doctoral dissertation or compose a literary masterpiece every time I launch WriteMonkey or MSWord.

Writing quickly, in a personal letter style, with minimal revisions seemed to work the charm for me.

Seeking perfection can easily become a trap for many well meaning people who are only trying to accomplish some good in their lifetime.

Old I Ching saying: When a single larger vessel is not at hand for making sacrifice to the gods - two smaller vessels will do.

 :Thmbsup:



« Last Edit: July 20, 2010, 04:15:08 PM by 40hz »

Paul Keith

  • Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 1,982
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Looking for suggestions on writing styles that tell a good story.
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2010, 09:23:18 AM »
Thanks 40hz, I appreciate your reply. Really, I do!

...but I'd like to avoid the same song of length and other adjectives when it goes for my writing style.

Right now I just want examples. If I ever get done with at least one *new* post I'll try to pm the link to the modified style but right now I have my fill of general advises. I don't think I can take anymore vague or inspirational advises.

I just want to listen and adapt to all I've listened to currently, do some soul searching on my own and just get it out of the way before anything else.

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Looking for suggestions on writing styles that tell a good story.
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2010, 11:58:45 AM »
Nothing vague or inspirational in what I wrote AFAICT.

Keep it personal and write to specific imaginary target reader 
Don't overrefine or edit what you're trying to say.
Get an outside opinion before you diss what you've written.
Let your article age for a while before you say it's done.
Forget about writing the perfect article and shoot for writing a very good one.

If you're looking for something to emulate, that's a different story.

Good article styles can be found everywhere on the web. If you have a site whose tone and style you admire, just dissect what they're doing and copy or adapt as needed.

I've got close to 100 books on writing technique. As far as I can see, there's no magic formula for writing anything. The best you can do is avoid the more obvious mistakes these books will steer you around.

Best book on essay type writing  is Sin Boldly by Dr. Dave.

Here's the TOC:
http://www.sinboldly.com/toc/

if you can get past his occasional nods towards "PC" there's a good deal if specific advice there. I personally thought some earlier editions were better (as in less preachy) but it's all still good stuff.   Grab a coffee and skim it next time you're in a bookstore to see if it might be the ticket.

For general writing, I think the single best book on how to nail an idea down is Save the Cat by the late and sorely missed Blake Snyder. Although it's ostensibly about screenwriting, his approach to nailing down a story can be applied to anything. I had a friend use some if it to develop a political speech and also choreograph a presentation.

Yet another book to preview next time you're in B&N. 

Well...that's it from me since I'm seeing double trying to type this on a phone. 'Scuze any missed typos for the same reason.

Luck.  :Thmbsup:     
 

Paul Keith

  • Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 1,982
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Looking for suggestions on writing styles that tell a good story.
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2010, 03:07:54 PM »
No, no... sorry... I just don't want to talk about this now but thanks for the book recommendations.

By specifics, I meant specific to the contents of the blog article. No advise that doesn't specifically comment on what's actually typewritten already.

Basically the outside opinion minus I have no person I can feel confident in understanding my style so I just want it out, done, finished...kaput and then ask for an outside opinion because I don't think I can continue writing if someone mid-way said "that's good enough" without really judging my adjustments and perspective as a whole but this is my personal burden - I apologize if I somehow someway come off flippant.

It's just that I'm not receptive to any advise right now and I just want to limit this topic to external websites and every writing advise and opinion - please, if I'm done killing the baby, I'd appreciate and would directly pm you and all the others for advise but right now I can't address your post.

No offense intended, I'm just...I'm just...I'm sorry. I'll stop babbling now.

steeladept

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,059
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Looking for suggestions on writing styles that tell a good story.
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2010, 11:37:56 AM »
I guess I am really confused now.  You want to find a writing style that fills content for a blog?  :huh:  At least that is what I am interpreting - but I think I am way off here.

Let me try to infer your meaning instead of what I understood - please let me know if I am on the right track.  
  • You are looking for inspirational writing styles to use for a blog.  You want sites, in particular, that point to the technical skills required to meet that specific style and pointers to keep people interested and drawing a larger audience.
  • Conversely, you are not looking for opinion or technical style teaching in general.  You are looking for something very specific to meeting your goals.
  • Lastly, you are looking for a style that keeps a focus on your writings - a theme if you will - to help keep you focused on the intent of the blog.
I guess my question is I am still very vague on what help you are looking for; but I get the feeling it isn't something you can get by looking around, rather it is from within.  I hope, for your sake, I am wrong on this last comment; but if not, I don't see how 40Hz isn't answering the question - unless, of course, it is completely misunderstood.  Either way, it may help this post go a long way if you try to clarify what help you are looking for as at least some of us obviously don't grasp what you are looking for.

On a side note, one thing I can tell - you seem exhausted and defeated from this search.  I often find the best way around this is to walk away from it for a while - a year is often what it takes me - and then come back when the fire is back.  I know you aren't looking for advise like this, but it is something to consider.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2010, 11:39:32 AM by steeladept »

Paul Keith

  • Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 1,982
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Looking for suggestions on writing styles that tell a good story.
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2010, 03:51:09 PM »
Oh, 40hz isn't so much "not answering" the question as he is digging deep beyond the answer just as you are which I normally would be receptive to but like you said, I am exhausted.

Time isn't really a friend on my side because I'm writing a blog post not a novel or book that can wait.

Not to dismiss your points though but I think it's much simpler than that.

Find a blog or article style that you feel you like reading and share it. There's really no need to over-analyze the scope of the thread.

It's like someone asking for a theme and the repliers provides the theme. In this case, it's writing style. Plain and simple.

You share it, I read it, I try to copy some of what appealed to you about that person's writing and I attempt to merge it with my writing style and as a test run I apply it to the current blog post I'm writing.

Edit: Although this is the problematic issue with digging deep into this. There's a lot of room for misinterpretation and over-interpretation. Like with the above I wanted to include the detail about how this doesn't mean I will totally copy the writing style and how I will not import anything that will seem like it's taking away the writing voice of what I'm trying to say but really... that's the baggage I want to set aside which is why I don't want to talk about this now.

I'm at the point where I'm not interested in justifying anything or explaining anything - I just want to write this new style up, read through the links shared here if there are any, re-write/re-add/etc. etc. and then once that's all out there then go ahead let's talk about technical skills, design, image placement, writing advise ...whatever but I don't want any opinion on something that isn't created.

There's no point at this juncture. Elaborating on this will only confuse and dilute a simple request for a link.

If you don't believe me, just use this thread as an example. What use is talking about a writing style when I can't even make it clear to the other person what my thread is about in the current amount of words I used in this thread? All it will do is just risk another misinterpretation or negative view that I'm rambling or being vague or being confusing... there's no point. It's like trying to ask if the theme I'm describing is beautiful or not without even having made the theme. Every advise I got from that point isn't really going to help with making a specific theme but just a general theme no matter how specific the advise I get so let's just limit it to this:

Quote
You are looking for writing styles to use for a blog.

It doesn't have to be technical. It doesn't have to be inspirational. It doesn't have to be anything. Just a writing style that appeals to you.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2010, 04:06:09 PM by Paul Keith »

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Looking for suggestions on writing styles that tell a good story.
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2010, 04:19:35 PM »
Sites whose writing "style" I admire regardless of my opinion about their content.

In no particular order:

http://linuxlock.blogspot.com

http://www.alistapart.com

http://www.shirky.com

http://www.quietearth.us

http://cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com

http://www.seriouseats.com

Cheap Healthy Good has a particularly nice personal style I wish I could emulate.

Ditto for Serious Eats. More hip and occasionally critical in tone - but never obnoxiously so. 





Paul Keith

  • Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 1,982
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Looking for suggestions on writing styles that tell a good story.
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2010, 07:42:53 PM »
Thanks.