An excellent Book for beginning Writers

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Dramat

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2015
87
166
38
Krakow, Poland
#1
I’ve ended reading The Running Man about week ago and I have to admit that this book helped me a lot in terms of “writing exemplification”.

For example, it was really educational for me to see what Mr. King was able to done in one paragraph that consisted of five – six lines/rows. In one of them the main Character moved from one location to another and there also was included description of the environment, that was on one hand “slim” but on the other hand was enough for me to build a mind-representation (picture) of described places and people.

This is something I have problem with in my own writing – I’m far too detail oriented and this Book (among others) helped me realized it better – as well as showed me how effectively singular paragraph may be used.

In case of more recent Books of Mr. King, they are more mature and more “dense” (if I may use such term). By that I mean that they possess sometimes so reach description of peoples, places (and configurations of both of them) that I think sometimes that I’m unable to write like that – as my imagination does not allow me to “see” so many “relations” and details, and therefore what I can offer in terms of writing is far less rich/attractive/interesting/complex (for example, when I firs read “Four Seasons” – four Stories – I was somewhat intimidated by the elegance and “easiness” of the way the Story was told. I remember thinking, that I cannot build so detailed Story with so many “characters-points-of-views” and their “reflections”).

Therefore it is my opinion, that The Running Man is a Great Book for every “beginning Writer” who wants to learn basics of building/telling the Story. While reading, I recommend to pay attention parallelly to the content of the Story, as well as to the WAY it is presented/told – and it seems to be told effortlessly – at least that was the way I read it (last 180 pages I’ve read in one day – I was so into it ;) ).

Also, as I expected, the Book was far better than the movie :)
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
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#2
Well . . . to hear the author tell it, he took everything that wasn't "story" and "chucked it over the side."

That's mostly accurate, and so the story has a very specific pace and it's dead linear. As an example for aspiring writers it works well because before your story can have that "density" you talked about, it first has to be a story . . . and by that I mean something people want to read. My biggest problem with The Running Man (apart from its genesis, which nobody here wants to talk about), is the slogging at the beginning. The way "up" is kind of slow for Ben Richards, but once he comes back down and actually starts running, it's hard to put down (as you noticed).

It's really just a fun romp, which is not such a bad thing, all in all.

The movie is something else entirely, and I can't see that it has anything to do at all with either of the original stories.
 

Dramat

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2015
87
166
38
Krakow, Poland
#3
Thank You for your reply, Pucker.

I’m wondering what exactly You meant by “dead linear” pace – and what is an oppositeness for You – multi-thread story in which, at some point, threads intersect?

As an example for aspiring writers it works well because before your story can have that "density" you talked about, it first has to be a story . . . and by that I mean something people want to read.
This sentence is quite interesting for me. As I see it, “density” of the story is achieved WHILE the story is being told. Therefore You either are experienced enough to create “dense story” or You – as a beginner – focusing on telling the story that is consistent, but simple. In latter case, “simplicity” of the Story is not a flaw, but “natural necessity” that is a result of “developing imagination” – or premeditated action, if “aspiring writer” has problems in operating with/integrating “multi-threads” (i.e. making it simply “believable”).
But that’s my point of view. I’m curious what is yours in that regard, especially that I understood what You wrote as “first writing “good story” and than “making it dense”” – was my impression correct? If yes, wouldn’t it be “double-writing” the very same story?
I, myself, had couple ideas which I’ve expressed in Stories (short ones) in couple versions – each more “rich” in events/characters.

My biggest problem with The Running Man (apart from its genesis, which nobody here wants to talk about), is the slogging at the beginning. The way "up" is kind of slow for Ben Richards, but once he comes back down and actually starts running, it's hard to put down (as you noticed).
Regarding the “genesis”, I have no idea what You are referring to, but I’m open for discussion.
In case of the “pace difference”, I’ve found it to be somewhat natural – first to build the background/environment/context and than to present the Story within it.
Couple days ago I’ve started reading first part of “The Dark Tower” – “Roland” (New Version 2003) and so far (I’m at page 50 now) the pace is slow, but it’s OK for me, as I’m learning about the “World”/”Reality” in which the Story takes place.
In general, I think it is – as I wrote – “natural” for every Story, to first develop and to “outline” the World/Reality/Environment (especially in Sci-Fi books) and than for the Story to “pace-up”. I’m curious what’s your opinion in that regard.

The movie is something else entirely, and I can't see that it has anything to do at all with either of the original stories.
Now, after reading the Book, I fully agree that the movie is very loosely related to the Book – above all, the “Running” takes place in close environment, and not like in the Book, in an entire World (Richards could went to Canada or Europe, if He decided to).
 
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Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
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#4
In "dead linear" dead is a modifier, like Fat Bastard calling himself "dead sexy" in the Austin Powers movies. It simply means that the story goes from Point A to Point B to Point C without any detours along the way.

The reference to "density" is more a matter of learning how to tell your story simply without troubling yourself too much (at first) with all the deeper stuff you might want to get into. Don't try to write Remembrance of Things Past on your first try.

The genesis of the story is another story: The Prize of Peril by Robert Sheckley. Read that story and it may give you a better understanding of where stories "come from" and how they evolve.

Also, you're right about the pacing in The Running Man taking care of itself. My only problem with the slow build-up (as you say, the natural pacing) is that it seems too many people nowadays will lose interest if things don't start happening right away . . . even in a reasonably short story like this one.
 

Dramat

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2015
87
166
38
Krakow, Poland
#6
In "dead linear" dead is a modifier, like Fat Bastard calling himself "dead sexy" in the Austin Powers movies. It simply means that the story goes from Point A to Point B to Point C without any detours along the way.
Oh, I see. Thank You for your explanation and patience :)
To be honest, I can appreciate non-linear plots, but most often I dislike too extensive retrospections. They have tendency (in my case anyway) to “break” the “harmony” of learning/following the plot/story. It can even be said, that overly extensive retrospections are inhibitors of reading (or watching for that matter).

The reference to "density" is more a matter of learning how to tell your story simply without troubling yourself too much (at first) with all the deeper stuff you might want to get into. Don't try to write Remembrance of Things Past on your first try.
Yeah, to that I can relate. I do have problems with “effortlessness” when writing. Sometimes I feel/am thoughtless and I have to simply stop and do something else. Others times (like today), I have too many thoughts and it cause me to be overly detail oriented. Before I started writing this comment (and one I’ve added in “Five letters game” moment ago), I realize, that story I’m currently writing already has five pages and I didn’t even get to the “main plot beginning”. I planned it to be tops 20 – 30 pages long, but if I continue with so many details, I’ll make at least a hundred of them.
It showed me quite clearly, that I still have serious problems with “telling the story” with “tip-topes”, rather than with “steps”.

The genesis of the story is another story: The Prize of Peril by Robert Sheckley. Read that story and it may give you a better understanding of where stories "come from" and how they evolve.
I’ve read about this short story, and I will definitely read it, if/when I’ll get my hands on it. Thanks, now I know what You were referring to.
I would like to add, that I myself know couple of stories, that I think are very interesting and I plan to use them as base for my own stories. I think it’s quite natural for People to inspire one another.

Also, you're right about the pacing in The Running Man taking care of itself. My only problem with the slow build-up (as you say, the natural pacing) is that it seems too many people nowadays will lose interest if things don't start happening right away . . . even in a reasonably short story like this one.
I understand. However, I think that not every Book is for every-One. If a writer starts to write mainly to please readers, the Stories will suffer due to that. Therefore – in my opinion of course – main concern of the writer should be to tell complete Story without any inconsistency – exactly as the Story was “seen” by the author within His/Her Mind/Imagination. If it require a half of it to be descriptive – let it be. Paraphrasing my own words, not every Story – even of the same writer – is for every-One.
I realize that above approach may inhibits success in this field, but for me personally, the Quality of the Story is most important – not expectations of Others regarding It.

All that being said, Thank You for your reply, Dear Pucker, I appreciate it.

...I propose that it is as "simple" as it is, due to the author being a young man and still concentrating on story basics, and the eventual "denseness" of his compositions came from a maturing style....
Hey, intimidating One :)

I agree with the truism You offered ;)
In my case it is not young age, but thin experience I have in writing that causes same effect. It may sounds strange, as writer work is ‘lonely’, but writing makes me pay more attention to Others, what They are saying and life in general. I guess it’ll take me a while before I feel comfortably to build believable and complex characters. I’m wondering what may be done to acquire such Skill in less than years…
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
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56
#7
In my case it is not young age, but thin experience I have in writing that causes same effect. It may sounds strange, as writer work is ‘lonely’, but writing makes me pay more attention to Others, what They are saying and life in general. I guess it’ll take me a while before I feel comfortably to build believable and complex characters. I’m wondering what may be done to acquire such Skill in less than years…
Writers read.

A lot.

This is the very first thing I learned from the very first guy who recognized that there might be some kind of "writer" in me.

You're already learning to be a better observer, and that's all to the good, but ultimately you need the words and you need to see how they can interact with each other (and also how they shouldn't). You'll meet characters. That's going to happen no matter what you do. The world is full of them. But "style" -- for lack of a better word -- needs to be built on a foundation and as much as we may have bristled at all those middle-school English teachers, that foundation is vocabulary.
 

Dramat

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2015
87
166
38
Krakow, Poland
#8
Hello Dear Plucker,

Writers read.

A lot.
Yes, I’m reading more and more lately and it is very helpful, especially in terms of how “action” is lead.
I have this concern within me – even though I’ve declared before that the Quality of the Story is “superior” in relation to the “readers expectations” – that readers will be disappointed because of the LACK of details. For example – and I’ll try not to write any specifics about the Idea, so Moderator-Being won’t have to censure my comment ;) – I’m writing about the Moon and other civilizations at this time. Yesterday I’ve wrote part, where one of “secondary character” explained to the “main character” the history of the Moon in relation to the human race. Even though I’ve wrote quite a lot about it, and some of the information I’ve included are really “utterly improbable” (at least from the point of view of the “common knowledge” in this matter), I’m still concerned that I did not fully exploit this subject and I could offer more.
On the other hand, I’m currently ending Book “Dark Tower – Roland” and I find it intriguing how Mr. King is leading the story and NOT offering many details about the “Man In Black” and his capability. It’s very nicely “balanced” in that regard and it makes me want to know more / read further.

Second matter are “comparisons” – In Mr. King’s Books they are very colorful and on many occasion they made me laugh (in positive sense). In my writings, I’m more focused on “telling the Story”, rather than in “playing with it” (at the level of Words). I think it makes my writings a bit “dry”/”formal”. On the other hand when I tried to include in my earlier Stories my “abstract sense of humor”, many of the readers didn’t “catch it”/”understood as a joke”. I’m wondering what are yours experiences in that regard.

This is the very first thing I learned from the very first guy who recognized that there might be some kind of "writer" in me.
It’s nice to meet here a Fellow Writer :)
I realize that in this thread I’m overly focused on my-Self, but I hope You will also feel free to Share your experiences/difficulties/successes.
To be honest, that’s exactly what I was looking for coming here in the first place.

You're already learning to be a better observer, and that's all to the good, but ultimately you need the words and you need to see how they can interact with each other (and also how they shouldn't).
Yeah, I have quite a practice in learning how Words should not interact with each other ;) For years I was writing scientific thesis (for students, for money) and I have this extremely annoying tendency to “describing” and not “telling” the Story – I hope You intuitively will know what I mean. What I still lack is “lightness” of the “telling the Story”. Too often I feel “obliged” to write things, and sometimes I “can’t wait” when I’ll done with one part of the Story, and get to the other/further parts. Due to that “first/earlier parts” may (most likely are) suffer and they are not as good as they might be, if I would find joy in writing them.
I’m wondering what is your approach in that regard. Especially, when before You can write about what is utmost interesting within the Idea You conceive/met, You realize that You “have to” present background on which the Story will unroll.

You'll meet characters. That's going to happen no matter what you do. The world is full of them.
Indeed, it is full of sometimes so strange People, whom may behave in ways, that You would not believe is possible for “reasonable Person” to behave (or “thinking Person” for that matter). I noticed it, especially that I work in sale, and the clientele is extremely varied – from Beings in which present I feel bemused (due to Their high, personal standards), to Beings who are very “simple” (if I may use such term) or simple “jerky” (as: almost total lack of propriety).
Yes, this World/Reality is very strange and fascinating at the same time :)

But "style" -- for lack of a better word -- needs to be built on a foundation and as much as we may have bristled at all those middle-school English teachers, that foundation is vocabulary.
This is something I’m learning to “differentiate” currently. Even though I can be overwhelmed by writings of such mature writers as Mr. King or Philip K. Dick, I begin to understand that in all this I am a Unique and Distinctive (as Every, Single Being in an entire Universe is, of course) and so are my own writings – and it is exactly as it should be (!) However, as my own “Style” is still “a very young infant”, I have tendency to doubt Self sometimes (as to reject some of the things I write and “drop them”/stop writing and not finishing the Stories – and in some cases I believe such approach was justified).

It may sounds strange, but I have problems with finding some-One who would read my writings and expressing His/Her opinions. For so many People (surprisingly) it is a problem to read 20-30 pages. Many promise that “They will read in near future” and it goes for months. People are funny :)
 
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Walter Oobleck

keeps coming back...or going, and going, and going
Mar 6, 2013
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34,773
#9
Dramat You might consider taking a look at Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination. This with regard to your desire to explain things. In this story from Bester, in his Prologue, he describes how jaunting came to be...to jaunte...named after the man who discovered jaunting. As I was reading your #8, I was trying to remember various stories in which the writer needed to explain a situation and they do exist and sometimes it is done well, other times, not so much. I think I've only read one title from P K Dick...The Man in the High Castle? Was that from him?

Anyway, in Bester's story, the prologue is a few pages long, but with it he does a nice job of explaining some of the details that are necessary to understanding the story. All the best! :)
 

Dramat

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2015
87
166
38
Krakow, Poland
#10
Thank You, Dear Walter Oobleck :)

I’ll look into Alfred Bester’s “The Stars My Destinations”. I’ve just read about it and it was said that it is a “Space Opera” – intriguing genre!
I thought about such solution – to use Introduction as “background presentation”, but currently I’m trying to learn to present more and more via the Characters Them-Selves – and Their dialogues – rather than through “dry description” - especially that I’m pretty good in the latter one, if it need to be formal/impersonal. Nevertheless, It is always great to meet good author and learn His/Her Style. Maybe Mr. Bester will help me with this “impersonal” part of my descriptions ;)
Thanks for recommendation and your Reply!
 

muskrat

Dis-Member
Nov 8, 2010
4,486
19,223
Under your bed
#11
Depends on the story--what style to use, what voice. King style genre fiction, or really any popular fiction, is best kept simple. Oh, give it a unique whirl here and there, but concentrate on the story. Keep it moving, action-dialogue, action-dialogue, paragraph of description--setting, emotion, inner conflict, then action-dialogue, action-dialogue. That's what seems to sell, anyhoo.

Working in naturalist, surrealist, spontaneous, gangrenous, etc, just pop yer top and let it roll. You wanna pig out on personal Proust cookies and do sixty pages on an adolescent crush for a long dead third grade teacher--this smack in the middle of an unrelated narrative concerning mustard gas victims in World War One--why, you just go ahead on. Will it be any good? Never know until you try.

Like hunting, I spose. What to hunt, what kind of gun. Like that.

Tell you what you do NOT wanna do and that's THINK too much about it. Just let it come, don't force it. You'll either do it or you won't.

Oh, and a couple 'learner' Kings, off top of noggin:

The Dead Zone
Misery

Almost perfect novels, in my lowly opinion.
 
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Walter Oobleck

keeps coming back...or going, and going, and going
Mar 6, 2013
11,749
34,773
#12
Thank You, Dear Walter Oobleck :)

I’ll look into Alfred Bester’s “The Stars My Destinations”. I’ve just read about it and it was said that it is a “Space Opera” – intriguing genre!
I thought about such solution – to use Introduction as “background presentation”, but currently I’m trying to learn to present more and more via the Characters Them-Selves – and Their dialogues – rather than through “dry description” - especially that I’m pretty good in the latter one, if it need to be formal/impersonal. Nevertheless, It is always great to meet good author and learn His/Her Style. Maybe Mr. Bester will help me with this “impersonal” part of my descriptions ;)
Thanks for recommendation and your Reply!
Another I thought about after posting and after sticking Bester back on the shelf is Ira Levin's This Perfect Day. Sounded like you're writing something sci-fi...reason maybe I considered Bester. Levin's story begins with some kids telling stories to each other and the reader quickly learns this is a different world a different time. By chapter two, UniComp is introduced, a computer system and there's some explaining via Chip's grandfather about this system. While Bester's narrator describes jaunting, the history of jaunting, describes via story the inventor of jaunting, Levin uses the grandfather to describe to Chip...and the reader...about UniComp, known in the story as Uni, a kind of benevolent overseer of all.

I'll go stick Levin back on the shelf now. But Vonnegut is on my mind...different bookcase...and I can't think how to articulate some of the ideas and thingies he has in his stories that need explaining...could go pull Sirens of Titan off the shelf...might topple a stack though. Think it's buried on top of the gun cabinet. Have this clock nearby, so say if I turn on the light on the hour, it starts singing...have it set to Christmas songs. Can't get away with nothing, the clock starts singing...wife upstairs trying to sleep, me poking around, toppling books so forth so on.
 
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