“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
With so many of us Blog Otters being creatively minded, or at the least enjoying the idea of putting together articles, reviews, summaries, or thoughts on wrestling and non-wrestling related topics, I figured we’d go with a writing related topic for the second day in a row.
What do you look for in writing? Do you like fiction with a grounding in reality, or high fantasy? Do you look for things like literary subtext and themes, or are ultimately in it for a good yarn that maybe makes you feel emotiony things?
What about in non-fiction? Do you prefer your sports coverage serious X’s and O’s, or do you prefer a SportsNation / Bleacher Report model where there’s lists, slide shows, and a lot of tomfoolery while also talking mostly seriously about the given topic?
If you write, what’s your process? Do you do a single draft, edit for spelling, and push it out? Do you do a draft, let it sit, then come back in a few days? What’s your method, and what do you think your strengths are?
Naturally there are no set rules, but I generally like low-minded coverage of high-minded things – I like Bill Simmons for this reason, occasionally you’ll get an article out of Bill O’Reilly (or whoever he hired to write his column) that tackles a pretty complex topic in a simple, if not slanted way.
Generally speaking I dislike content that uses a bunch of inaccessible terms or nebulously defined concepts to illustrate a point as they come off as huffy or superior. I read an article about how a Black man asking a white woman friend what she thinks about dating black men. The article went on to use terms like agency, privilege, norms, and a bunch of other sociological stuff I *know*, but if you’re attempting to make a point to the ‘masses’ don’t use words the ‘masses’ have to look up.
On the flip side, I LOVE high-minded concepts and themes tackling silly stuff. I love when reviewers or writers or video personalities dive into an interesting tangent or back story – especially if it relates to continuity. I know this isn’t a written example – but the “History of Power Rangers” stuff that the AT4W did was FANTASTIC in how it took this super fucking dumb kids show deadly seriously for a lot of genuine laughter at the almost…performance art aspect of it all.
Regarding how I approach writing: even after over a decade being mostly creative, I have trouble developing a process. I’ll sit down, write a little, dork around, come back, write some more, and go from there. I like to let a draft hang out for a day if I can, so I can revisit it and eliminate words I don’t need or thoughts that seemed like great ideas at the time.
When the creative juice flows – I like to think I’m good at being…mostly entertaining in my review work. I like to focus more on how something feels versus what it does, especially since I’m not posting to meet release-day schedules.
Thus I tend (or hope) to provide an analysis of a game or movie that’s a little left or right of center. For example of COURSE “Tomb Raider” plays well and is pretty to look at, but the fact it was ultimately hollow at its core and had nothing to say when the opportunity was right to make a statement, was almost unforgivable, so I harped on it.
I do like to inject ‘me’ into reviews, especially because media is a communication channel. You can criqitue a movie’s writing, cinematography, acting, and so on, but the more important thing is what that says *to you*. “Clerks” wasn’t the best shot, best acted, or even best written movie, but because it spoke to a whole group of people in a specific way, it launched “Kevin Smiths” career.
If it’s something like a QOTD or some other random endeavor I’m generally try to entertain myself, or stretch creative muscles I don’t use all that often – for example the “White Buffalo” story features something that makes me giggle.
There was a doe-eyed look to her sadness, which maybe I invented from
countless movies, but it was the kind of look that said if I ‘wanted’
her, I could have her – any kind of tenderness would be welcome – even
from a big, bronze medal sorta lug like me. I guess some stupid guilt
complex or lesson ingrained as a kid about not taking advantage of
vulnerable women gave me pause. I wanted her, I didn’t think I wanted
her this way.
Before I could realize what a fucking
idiotic idea that thought was, the door knocked and three teammates stumbled
in carrying the hot teammate who was high and drunk and crying after
being led on by the Armenian fellow. After that I still carried a torch
for Jamie, but I knew in my head that stars would likely never align
that properly again.
I like this because I think I write a decent, if not sappy and cliched paragraph, only to subvert it a bit of ‘in hindsight’ regret in the next paragraph that ultimately dooms my chances. I don’t get much of a chance to be sappy or write autobiographically, so it was nice to journey back in my memory to a pungent time in my life.
But beyond that, I have some rules I like to follow, and I’ll post them here:
1. Kill adverbs, I learned this one from Stephen Kings “On Writing”. His general idea is that adverbs are weak, and the context of what a person is doing should be apparent from the other aspects of the given scene. If a character arrives for the first time after 4 years away at war, “They Embraced” is a more powerful sentence than “They Embraced longingly”.
2. 2nd draft = 1st draft – 1/3rd. This is also from Mr. King’s book, but the idea is to keep it pithy.
3. Its = The cat has a mouse in its paw.
It’s = It’s really cold outside!
It’s about time Paul‘s car got fixed. Its tires are so flat!
4. Put the ending at the beginning. Weirdly – An introduction and final paragraph often contain a lot of the same information, and if you have a great way to end your piece but no way to start it, try putting the start at the end and the end at the beginning and go from there. Works like a charm.
5. I like to close my eyes and write down the first four or five things that come to me about a given subject, no matter how random they are. You’d be surprised the way your brain draws connections.
I’m sure I can figure out a bunch more, but I’m at work where I am not paid to write.