Honest Opinion: How can I improve?

Let’s face it: I’ve never been exceptionally good at anything remotely related to writing. I’ve been trying desperately to improve somehow, anyway I can, over the last few years, but even so, I still can’t hammer out anything remotely interesting nowadays.

Recently, I tried to start writing out an actual script for Absolution, not just a rough outline. I thought I could get some inspiration if I put everything I could imagine down on paper. Instead, all I got was a mess of stilted dialogue and god-awful directions. In fact, I had thought previously of turning Absolution into an actual novel, but gave up once I realized, if nobody on the net even cares about the shit I write, nobody would spend $20 on it.

Alright, enough self-loathing. What I want to know is…exactly HOW can I improve? I’m not sure I’m catching anything, or if what I’m seeing is actually there. I need some honest-to-god constructive criticism. I’ll take anything, no matter how harsh.

And if you don’t care, sorry for bothering you. If you’ll excuse me, Smash Bros. online is finally working.

d, you’ve got 7 pages filled with just the titles of your fics. Do you know that writer’s block that seems to plague half the (would-be) writers? You seem free of that.

I haven’t read most of your fics, so I can’t comment specifically, but I liked Blood Reign. It was humorous and simultaneously acknowledged the blood-filled world of LoK. The action parts were interesting IIRC. As for Absolution, the problem is it’s an outline. If you posted tomorrow a link “Absolution: d Galloway’s adventure game. ‘A unique premise’ - Rpgclassics.com” I’d want to play that, but an outline can only go that far.

What writers do you like? Often the people who write well have also good influences. Anecdote: There’s a published writer with loads of books on his back, whose literary idol is Stephen King. Now, King can dole out a mean description and the premises of his stories are often quite interesting (plus I love that little gambling story from Hearts in Atlantis) but that writer’s books weren’t really interesting and I always attributed part of it to his limited influences. He did a best of the modern local literature lately and some delving into oler writers and, according to what I’m told, his latest is quite a better book.

Now that may well be a coincidence, but reading generally helps writing. I guess Absolution doesn’t quite need the dialogue you’d hear in your grocery store (or does it?), but the way to fix your dialogue is to listen or read good dialogue. Read writers with dialogue you like, read movie scripts, listen to people (cause after all no writing is born in a vacuum. Don’t make me go all sociologist on your ass here :P). What problems do you think you’ve got?

edit: re:Blood Reign, allowing for Kain’s double role as a till-recently human and vampire was a good move. Do you remember that Chrono Trigger fic in the archives that explains how Crono went mute? It dispensed with the spunky hair, the imagery of turn-based battle and even the notion CT was a game. There were just people in the flesh and thus, that one could go straight into print, as far as I’m concerned. You probably don’t want to write fics anymore, but that’s one of two pillars of fantasy writing.

Say, GRR Martin or Dune (not fantasy but you may see why I’m putting it here) are mainly people-based. There’s the political structure etc. in the Martin books, but these are the places where the people in the books live. When he has his guy decapitate a criminal with his own hands, so that he doesn’t forget he’s deciding on llife & death, while a bit cliche, it makes a statement that the book won’t really be about Conans with lithe muscles beating giant lizards. Or in Dune, the setting (and the mumbo jumbo “bible extracts”) were important because people had to live in there. The sf/fantastic elements played their part, e.g. the orders and various abilities of the protagonists (which were curiously human if you think about it. Isn’t exterminating the poison in your body a “know thyself” or overcoming temptation, if you prefer, and seeing how things may go in the future a non supernatural ability, amplified for the book while retaining its restraints?), but the people are still king. If they don’t learn to live on the planet the revenge mcguffin is pointless. A different example is Pratchett, who while usually lighter on characters as people (but see Night Watch for a counter-example) insists heavily on all-too-human themes.

The second pillar, according to my impromptu taxonomy, is setting, with the wider meaning of the word. I’d put Tolkien and Howard here (because Conan is part of the setting, though the ideas behind his character may tend more to the first pillar) and, say, have Elric in the middle. Also, I’m long-winded today.

I’ve never been exceptionally good at anything remotely related to writing.
Hello? Is this d Galloway talking? The guy whose stories we’ve been enjoying here for YEARS? (Btw, sorry if I’ve not been posting in your threads these days, but I’m busy with my own writing over in the RP Boards, plus my own real life jobs.)

Do you know that writer’s block that seems to plague half the (would-be) writers? You seem free of that
Damn straight! If there’s something I’ve always admired about you, d, is that. Even I have succumbed to the !@#$ing blocks, leaving stories that I was really into unfinished. -_- One of the reasons that I’m doing the RPing is that I have help from other people, and if a thread dies, it isn’t just my fault.

If you want criticism, I can only find two flaws in your work. One is that sometimes you mix comedy and drama too much, which is acceptable and can be very fun, mind you, but some readers might not “get it”. You should try to keep a story from deviating too much in either direction.

Another thing is that your epic stories get a little TOO Epic, with too many twists and high-level events. Again, this is perfectly fine, but some fans might also be turned off if things get “too fantastic.”

Of course, YOU NEVER CAN KNOW IF YOUR STUFF WILL PLEASE ANYBODY. That’s the challenge of writing. The public is fickle and unpredictable. Instead of worrying what the rest of us think, just focus on doing what you like.

In fact, that may be the cause of your depression. You’re trying to force certain stories or formats out of yourself INSTEAD of writing down what you like -When YOU like- and then putting into the appropriate formats. Don’t worry about if a novel you write would sell… just wait until the day you have written something that you can say, “Hey, this IS a novel!” and THEN work on producing it. Best advice I can give you (and it took years for ME to figure it, too.) :stuck_out_tongue:

Btw, it was reading YOUR stories here in RPGC that motivated me to start writing online, in case I never told you that. That’s not butt-kissing to make you feel better; it’s the truth, and I want to officially thank you for it.

Now go back to playing SSBB and come to us when you have written something! :smiley:

Good luck!