Jump to content

Serious or Too Flamboyant? Or Does it Matter?


Recommended Posts

 

That said, I agree with Joe that this video might do more harm than good when it comes to giving writers advice. It sounds like Hank is (as we've been hammering on so hard here) a pantser. From the way he described his process, it sounds like he sort of wanders through the story and sees where his interest (and the characters) take him. [MORE BELOW]

Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 6
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Senior Member

Overall, I appreciate the sentiment. Once again, this video seems to be aimed at first-time novelists who more than likely feel lost or don't know what they're doing. It can be a great source of inspiration/direction for them going forward. I particularly like his advice about writing non-linearly or keeping a document to mark changes in future drafts. Good ideas that work for many people.

That said, I do think there are nuggets of dangerous advice here that an impressionable writer may take the wrong way. First, I don't agree with him that you can't control your own characters. If you can't control them, then you don't have a strong enough grasp on your story to hold it together. It's more a failure on our outlining/planning phase than the characters "taking over." As fantastical and fun as it is to think our beloved characters are real...they aren't. A serious writer shouldn't give in to that mindset.

I also don't agree that all writing-related activities are "writing." No, going down a rabbit hole of research about the invention of ice cream flavors to be educated for your ice cream parlor setting is not productive writing time. There is very easily such a thing as too much brainstorming/researching. It's hesitation manifesting itself through action. Writers need to know not to be married to their first drafts and just get the words on the page.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Senior Member

This video works. First, I completely agree that writers need to immerse themselves in the writing process. Green suggests writing a minimum of 1,000 words a week. But he states it’s less about the number and more about the need to stay connected to the story. Like Green, I find that if I take a week off it can lead to two weeks, a month and then I have to reacquaint myself with my characters, plot and story again. What a waste of time. 

I also like Green’s point that reading, researching and thinking about your story is part of the writing process. I just think it’s important that new writers don’t use that as an excuse not to put fingers to keyboard. And you don’t need to do all your research at once. But if you are working on characters and someone suggests you stop and reread Winesburg, Ohio (thank you Michael Neff :)) then you should. 

Green also provided some very practical advice about remembering discrepancies or problems in your draft without stopping your flow. And his suggestion about writing your big scene out of order intrigued me. Overall, I think this is a great video for beginning writers. I also liked Green’s energetic presentation, the quick edits and the incorporation of questions from Twitter. It’s interesting to note, Green got his points across in four minutes, less than half the time of the other videos I have watched so far. 
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Senior Member

So I'll admit, I'm kind of a Green brothers fan. I find their YouTube channel charming and escapist. I also unabashedly loved The Fault in our Stars. It's like a melodramatic Titanic for teenagers and I was there for it.

That said, I agree with Joe that this video might do more harm than good when it comes to giving writers advice. It sounds like Hank is (as we've been hammering on so hard here) a panster. From the way he described his process, it sounds like he sort of wanders through the story and sees where his interest (and the characters) take him. He's right that novels take time, but I think he's wrong in thinking novels must take quite so much time. If the story is well-constructed, it doesn't need to take that long. If the characters are fleshed out and understood in advance, then they shouldn't deviate from a plot that's been built around them. Heavy revisions and/or writer's block come, in my experience, from subpar planning. That's an avoidable problem, if a writer is willing to put in the work.

Which brings me to the point Joe also made, that his "all of these are writing" list is a lot more generous than I'd allow. Brainstorming key scenes, constructing an outline, and fleshing out story-specific world details? Yes, those could perhaps be considered "writing." But reading other people's books? Reading your own work (in a way that isn't editing)? Staring off into the distance and letting your mind aimlessly meander? Wikipedia rabbit-holes about things tangentially related to your story? No, I'm afraid those don't count as writing. Maybe, as Elise pointed out, they can count as supplemental study, or important background work. But I'd hesitate to give myself credit for something that isn't butt-in-chair, words-on-page time. Again, I come back to the fact that this is a job, and if an imaginary boss was paying you hourly to write, what would that person consider job-relevant? It's an unromantic way to think about it, but a little pragmatism goes a long way in this biz. Be an artist, but drop the starving part.

Elise is right though, he is entertaining :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 2/1/2021 at 10:47 AM, elisehartkipness said:

And you don’t need to do all your research at once. But if you are working on characters and someone suggests you stop and reread Winesburg, Ohio (thank you Michael Neff :)) then you should. 

First of all, you're welcome Elise!

My reactions to this video are mixed. Yes, understand and "love" your characters so the plot won't feel dry. Sure thing! 

Not sure to what extent he means "characters have to be in control"... He really doesn't explain it. That sounds like a possible flight of ruinous pantsing fancy, but not necessarily. He should have clarified. As such, it's not helpful.

Referring to bowel movements and chewing gum as a form of "writing" even when you're walking through the grocery store looking for prune juice and buying your tickets to Hoboken using your iPhone while thinking about that crossword puzzle that's stumping you sitting beside the open jar of blackberry jam you forgot to seal before driving to the store to look for prune juice... No wait. I'm confused. None of these things are "writing."

Is he really high on espresso?

Plan and/or sketch scenes in advance? Good advice!

Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Senior Member

Overall, I think this video makes some good points, but you may consider watching it through twice (or at least drink your coffee first) because it's delivery is pretty swift.

"Love your characters like friends." I don't think you have to love your characters, but if you don't at least care about them then neither will your future readers, and like he says, you may not even want to write about them.

Keeping a list of notes on the side of what to change in your plot is great advice because he's right, you waste a lot of time going back and forth trying to change things that may have to be changed again later on.

Definitely let yourself write the scenes that you are excited about writing rather than putting them off. This way, you get those out of your brain and onto paper so that you can free up mental space to continue with your normal writing process.

I agree with Joe that this video is geared towards beginning writers/novelists and is for the most part helpful advice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share












ALGONKIAN SUCCESS STORIES



WTF is Wrong With Stephen King?















×
×
  • Create New...