John Matthews was afraid to offer any suggestions for fear of insulting someone.

Okay, I didn't offer any suggestions but I thought someone might read my comment. Maybe I didn't mention enough of you.  The only reason I left out Vern and Memphis and Dill is that their comments  to Hemingway were too long to fit on this space.

corra wrote:

Hemingway said that when you write a novel, you must write it completely without sharing it. Then let it sit. Then edit it to your own satisfaction without sharing. Then let it sit. Then edit it again. Only then should you share it.

Everyone, You know why Hemingway shot himself?
He did all the things mentioned by corra above, then posted his story on NBW.  Ann Everett welcomed him to the site and told him he'd be happy here. Jack the Knife told him it would never sell.  Seabrass removed six commas. Randall Krzak inserted six commas, Marilyn scolded him for switching POV, JP told him he used too many "was's,"
Doug picked the usual nits, John  Hamler told him it it was too British to understand, Gabi told him it sounded too American, Mike Jackson suggested he make a poem out of it,  Andrew Hixon offerred to put him in his next chapter,  Sol told him his six word short story was too long for the flash fiction contest, Temple told him the story was not yet ready for an in-line. Marilyn told him he could take all these suggestions or toss them where the sun also rises.
John Matthews was afraid to offer any suggestions for fear of insulting someone.

Thank you all for the suggestions. You have taught me how to fix a flat. Now I have to figure out how to drive so I don't get a flat in the first place.
Vern's idea that "was" happens when telling instead of showing turned out to be true. I checked my stories. Telling leads to overexplaining, a breeding ground for "was's." Showing invites dialogue, where "was" doesn't seem to occur.
JP, I was waiting for a list of words and their proper usage percentage, like a nutritional RDA, until I realized you were putting me on.  Very sneaky.
Memphis' reference to Robie Blair's column, his Andy Griffith story, and Marilyn's list all suddenly reminded me that there are other words that seem to have started to become a habit. I feel that in order to start to sound better, I just have to try very, very hard  to get them out of my system.
There. That's better.
Anybody else need help with another problem?

Can we have a discussion of something actually involving writing?
I see a lot of reviews lately finding fault with overuse of the word "was." Even those who criticize this admit to having the problem themselves.
Hi, I'm John and I'm a "was" aholic.  I'd like to lick this problem.
Why is it a problem? Do people consider the word dull? Is it simply a repetition problem? Why do we sometimes do it for a whole story and not at all in the next one?  Why does it bother some people while others don't notice it?  Is it more noticeable when used with a gerund? ("was" with the -ing form of a verb) which suggests simply using the other verb alone?  Is it more common in certain styles? Memoir? third person? distant past?  Why do we do it even when we try not to? 
Sometimes when we go back and try to fix it, the fix looks like a band-aid on the story.
I was going to refer to some examples but decided that was not a good idea.  Was it?
Any ideas?


(17 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

jack the knife wrote:
j p lundstrom wrote:

Question: Is an author who writes badly to be forgiven as long as he/she tells a good story?


Hold on, Jack and JP,  If the writing is so bad that it makes you miss the story, then it's not a good story.  If the story is so good that you don't notice the bad writing, then it's not bad writing.


(17 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

"The Making of a Story" by Alice LaPlante  A good reference.for when a reviewer uses a term you don't understand. Stumped by dramatic irony, a dead metaphor? Difference between first person personal and first person observer? Gives not only definitions but good examples.
"The Passionate, Accurate Story" by Carol Bly. So good I took it to my writing group to loan and never saw it again.
A very short story "How to Become a Writer"  by Lorrie Moore. Easily available to read on line. A primer on comedy.
I judge the value of books on writing by seeing if the author can write a good story herself. LaPlante, Bly, and Moore all pass this test.
John Matthews

SolN wrote:

Interesting ideas. I'm going to continue following this thread and we'll launch a new contest by the beginning of next week.

Just found this thread and evidently I missed something. I joined in July, renewed once, and haven't seen a contest yet. Isn't this one of the things we pay premium for?
My only contest suggestion is: If Sol chooses an idea, the person who suggested it should not be allowed to enter. Because they have the jump on everyone else.


(6 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

I just did a review and mistakenly pushed the send button twice.  Now it is there twice and I can't get rid of one.
Please don't think I'm a dummy
John Matthews

Is anyone here following Angela Musumeci's  "The Puppeteer"  in which all the speakers are speaking Italian rendered into English with a cadence that reminds you it is  Italian  or Temple Wang's "Call Me Zhou"  where the speakers must be speaking Chinese but she has chosen to render the dialogue to sound very American?   Neither one has had to remind us of the language. but both styles sound right to me.  You owe these stories a look and maybe find a way to get them to add to this topic.
(I'll send them quickees)
John Matthews


(5 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

Lisa, you asked about seeing reviews.  Look at the top of the page and click on "read and review"  Pick a story with several reviews listed. Click on the title. After the story, you will see the reviews listed.  An excellent idea to have a look before you post something.
John Matthews


(53 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

B Douglas Slack wrote:

The new editing software I purchased (ProWritingAid) ll

I HOPE nobody uses software to review my stories  on NBW. I like tho think I'm writing for human readers.


(53 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

Just before reading this thread, I read a new story by a brand new NBW member  PRTentious, called "Appetite." I remembered a fair amount of dialogue but I hadn't noticed anything to point out. When I went back to read it again I discovered there was not a "said" to be found. He used a couple of Marilyn's tags, but they all sounded right.   He also uses the technique of replacing tags with short sentences that identify the speaker or convey something about him.  I think there's a name for that. Does anyone know it?
Good job, PR.
John Matthews

Marilyn, I'm not a listener to podcasts either  but I know Chicken Soup is a respected publication.  I've submitted some things to them but no luck.
It is nice to see someone's work selected for  wider distribution


(8 replies, posted in TheNextBigWriter Premium)

I already had my say on the first line topic in my posted story "Famous First Words"


(1 replies, posted in COMEDY CENTRAL)

In his review of my story "Famous First Words," Lincoln Chen gave me some good ideas on structuring my words to get the best reaction to them.  I wanted to explain how I tried to do this.  I felt this might be the best place to try to generate discussion on making words humorous.
I mentioned "Call me Ishmael" because I figured everyone would recognize it, even if they hadn't read Moby Dick. Fewer people would know that Ishmael survives at the end of the book.  Fewer still would know that Melville had Ishmael die in an early draft but was told by an editor to change it. I tried to give a laugh to people with three different levels of Moby Dick knowledge.
Other references were not as famous but the curious can look up the lines and congratulate themselves on their cleverness.   I figured NBW readers would get enough of the references to find the story enjoyable.
This story was first written for my in-person writing group who each had their own loves and pet peeves. (alliteration, historical accuracy, cliches, frustration at writing conferences.)  Also since everyone in that group had read a dozen of my Myrna stories, I used "Myrna" instead of "Lolita"  so I could be the guy nobody ever heard of. But that wouldn't have worked on NBW.
I'd like to hear what other comedy writers think of the idea of trying out humor on a live audience.  I've explained why I'm hesitant to try it.   How do other writers judge what is funny?
John Matthews

OK, I understand.  It's like those companies that ask you to rate their service and get upset if you give them less than excellent.  I guess you've hashed it out already

Why not allow members to donate a couple of their own points to reviewers who have been especially helpful?
this would be a very direct way to encourage good reviewing.

Suin wrote:

I only have 470 but found I've enjoyed the site more when I have a bank of points. This way, I don't 'have to' review in order to post, but rather, review work that intrigues me and can review people who will reciprocate.
I wonder, has anyone ever calculated the difference between the amount of chapters they have reviewed to the amount of reviews they have received?

I'm new here so counting is easy. In a month and a half I've posted 10 stories gotten a total of 68 reviews and I have given 97 reviews.
But reviewing in hopes of a return is tricky.  You may have a reader faithfully following your stories but their writing is in a genre that holds no interest for you and it's not fair for you to comment. All I can do is offer them thanks.
John Matthews


(0 replies, posted in irene hamilton)

I'm new to NBW.  Joined this group because my stories, though fiction, are based largely on events in my own life. And I try to make them humorous where I can. I think there's one listed here.
John Matthews