Re: Recommended knowledge of literature?

#1

I'm going to be honest, the more I read about stuff on the forums the more I realize that I know literally nothing about formal literature. Or even common stuff, I had no idea what litrpg meant until I looked at the definition that you see when you hover over the little question mark symbol when you put tags and stuff on your stories. I've been having no trouble writing, but I feel that I don't understand a dang word. I mean, to be fair, I read mostly physical books without any interaction with other living things during the time I spent reading. This is the first community of writers and readers I've ever joined, or whatever you would call it(faulty memory kinda, can't remember simple stuff for this kind of thing. ;-;) actually, this might be the first time I've ever had discussions about books and art, so I apologize for any lack of knowledge I have. I'm kinda wandering through this blindly. I've probably mentioned this in other posts, but usually I think I asked about my stories in those. Anyway. I haven't taken classes in reading or writing, or at least none of the terms stuck with me. I'm also still trying to get familiar with RR, and don't exactly know what's what yet. Even though I've almost been here for a month almost. When people talk about things such as prologues, I barely know what they are talking about. I mean, I know what one is, and I try to use them properly according to what people have said, but I don't know what exactly is going on. There are people who say that they shouldn't be used at all, and others that like them. There are some that say it's fine as long as they are used properly. I've come to realize that even a lot of the people who are on RR know a ton about things like publishing(I'm not even going to touch on how little I understand that) to things like software(I kind of know a little about how to use some things like gimp to put words on a picture, but that's it.) or similar things. I can't even begin to critique something, because I don't know good from bad. There are people who say that there is no such thing as bad art, others who F***ing hate even the smallest of mistakes, people who purposefully make things bad even though there isn't supposed to be such a thing as bad according to them, and more. Even the people who seemed to have just recently joined understand what's what. I'm new to literature as a whole, mostly writing, though. I read a lot back from when I was around 3 to when I was around 13(I'm 19 now, and those numbers were a complete guess), but I never understood things like what the people on here often talk about. To be fair, I used to read when I was a lot younger and dumber. But despite my lack of knowledge, I wrote quite a lot, and I'm pretty happy that at least a couple people enjoy my work. But that's the thing. There seem to be a couple people who enjoy it, despite my complete lack of knowledge of anything all the way down to things such as grammar. Is there a certain amount of experience and knowledge that is pretty much a requirement, and is there such a thing as a bad fiction? Now, first thing I should say to anyone who might respond is, I understand the meaning of personal preference. But that isn't much of an answer, it's more like you're saying that it would be fine to talk with someone about plot devices when you don't know what the heck it means. I might be missing something that should be obvious, like maybe a forum thread or something on the site that I didn't check, or I might just be stupid, but I still have this question in my head that perpetually bothers me.
Exactly how much do you need to know and how much experience do you need to have had to properly keep up with the discussions people have on RR? 

Re: Recommended knowledge of literature?

#3
First I'll answer your question:

"Exactly how much do you need to know and how much experience do you need to have had to properly keep up with the discussions people have on RR?"

The answer to this is simple; You do not need to know very much at all to properly keep up with discussions on RR. We talk about all manner of topics on this forums when it comes to literature, from basic stuff to complaints about readers, to even questioning the site's policies and tags and representation of LGBTQ+ in fiction. To keep up with a vast majority of these discussions, the base line for knowledge is just an appreciation of literature and knowing a little bit about the topic of reading in general.

But we'll move on. There's a lot you can learn about writing. Most people NEVER stop learning about writing. There are always new techniques and ways to think about how to craft fiction. So, with that in mind, I'll give you a bunch of resources to check out in regards to fiction. 

Books:

On Writing: A Memoir of The Craft by Stephen King. This book in particular I think does a very good job of introducing you to writing as a craft. It makes you consider the techniques that go into it. It makes you realize just what writing is; conveying images to a reader. Tricks to it. Tips he thinks are relevant. Even life around doing this. I think it's a very good starting point.

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. This is a good resource. I recently got it as an early Christmas present. I love it. It details certain aspects of writing that are unique to these two genres and I think are applicable in a lot of areas on this site in particular. As a writer who prefers to write in the genre it goes over concepts and world-building that are fairly invaluable. 

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. Goto for grammar and style choices. You might think 'oh but grammar is boring' but you need to study it. Constantly need to work on improving it because no matter what you do it will never be perfect. You can always refine your sentences further. You can always pick a better word. When it comes to adverbs you should always be certain you need them. This book will help your writing if you go through and read it every now and again. I think it's an invaluable resource and written in a way that is not completely dull - like you would expect for a book about style and grammar.


Audiobooks :

Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques by James Hynes. Now, this isn't my goto for courses. I did listen to this one. And while I think James Hynes does bring up some valid pointers and techniques to writing good fiction, I don't think he does it in the most interesting way. However, I feel like it does dive into a very comprehensive and full view of the techniques that go into crafting a story - from using an active voice, to considering perspectives, to even considering plot and story structure. 

I'm including this one in here, because while it doesn't fit audiobooks, it is a podcast. 

Writing Excuses by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and more. This podcast has been very influential on my journey as a writer going over different aspects of fiction and literature and often having many guest stars in either editors or established people in the industry. I think it's very invaluable as a resource because it covers so many interesting topics, with each podcast only being 15 minutes long. You CANNOT go wrong giving these guys a spin

Youtube Resources:

The big one: Brandon Sanderson's BTU lectures. 

LINK HERE

Free creative writing course at BTU, a good university, up on the internet for you to learn from. By a very good and very prolific writer. I've learned a lot from this course, and it is very good if you want to start thinking about your writing in a more analytical way. I think most people could get some practical knowledge from it. Brandon Sanderson knows a ton, and just wants to pass it on to the next generation of writers.

Terrible Writing Advice the name of this channel is pretty ironic. It's called terrible writing advice, but its satirical nature ends up educating you on how not to go wrong when writing certain tropes or story structures. So, in my opinion, it's a pretty damn entertaining and educational channel. I'd recommend it for anyone who likes writing fiction since it gives some pretty humorous takes and you typically learn something.

Overly Sarcastic Productions funny, educational. However this channel also has videos about history. So you probably wanna stick to the trope talks. I think it's as good as Terrible Writing Advice, albiet less focused in nature than the former one as a whole.


These resources aren't the end all-be-all for good places to learn about fictions, just some of the ones I've learned from and enjoyed. Sure hope you learn stuff from them too. 

Re: Recommended knowledge of literature?

#4

Ramingo Wrote:
lil_chicken Wrote: Exactly how much do you need to know and how much experience do you need to have had to properly keep up with the discussions people have on RR? 

You don't need to know anything, and you certainly don't need experience, to properly keep up with people on RR. Still, if you wanna learn about writing there are tons of resources online.

I see, I seem to have trouble keeping up with a few things, but that might be my dedication or attention span. There was someone nice enough to send me a PM with a few of those resources, but I still have issues. To be fair it is quite long, and in some ways it seems to have worse grammar than I do, and the detail is pretty intense. I actually have to say I respect and appreciate the dude for sending it, though. I can say that something like that is probably an amazing help for lots of people. If my brain could properly process it, it might help me a lot. I'm planning on going through it a few more times as reference, though. But that's for writing.

I can understand not needing experience, but I'd say that knowledge is pretty important. Imagine someone who has just started to read going on this site and trying to understand what people say. One look at the forums will probably confuse most people like that.(I'm just really stubborn and enjoy the community here. Otherwise I have to admit, I get confused sometimes.) So, some things for example would be like; you need to know how to read(obviously), in some cases you may need to understand things that they usually discuss in a high school level writing class or something, in others it might be things related to how the internet as a collective whole defines things. For example, how I mentioned my lack of knowledge about the definition of certain genre. I had no idea what the heck litrpg meant. So I think you do need some knowledge, I'm just not sure to what degree. If that makes sense? I tend to burn my brain out easily, and I can't make much sense of what I've written at around halfway through this. I think it might actually just be me, then. I always feel anxious to post replies, since I often worry about people thinking I'm an idiot or a mean/bad person, even if my reply probably doesn't portray that at all. That's one of the reasons I brought up the knowledge thing. I always worry that I didn't properly interpret what someone meant when I answer them. You know, like saying something that you think is right but it turns out you're wrong? If literally any of this made any sense, I'm going to probably be relieved. If it didn't, I apologize for that.

Re: Recommended knowledge of literature?

#5

ZachSkye Wrote: Youtube Resources:

The big one: Brandon Sanderson's BTU lectures. 

LINK HERE

Free creative writing course at BTU, a good university, up on the internet for you to learn from. By a very good and very prolific writer. I've learned a lot from this course, and it is very good if you want to start thinking about your writing in a more analytical way. I think most people could get some practical knowledge from it. Brandon Sanderson knows a ton, and just wants to pass it on to the next generation of writers.

Terrible Writing Advice the name of this channel is pretty ironic. It's called terrible writing advice, but its satirical nature ends up educating you on how not to go wrong when writing certain tropes or story structures. So, in my opinion, it's a pretty damn entertaining and educational channel. I'd recommend it for anyone who likes writing fiction since it gives some pretty humorous takes and you typically learn something.

Overly Sarcastic Productions funny, educational. However this channel also has videos about history. So you probably wanna stick to the trope talks. I think it's as good as Terrible Writing Advice, albiet less focused in nature than the former one as a whole.

This kind of stuff seems really helpful, yeah. 

Hmm.
I'll check it out, thanks :D

Re: Recommended knowledge of literature?

#6

lil_chicken Wrote:
ZachSkye Wrote: Youtube Resources:

The big one: Brandon Sanderson's BTU lectures. 

LINK HERE

Free creative writing course at BTU, a good university, up on the internet for you to learn from. By a very good and very prolific writer. I've learned a lot from this course, and it is very good if you want to start thinking about your writing in a more analytical way. I think most people could get some practical knowledge from it. Brandon Sanderson knows a ton, and just wants to pass it on to the next generation of writers.

Terrible Writing Advice the name of this channel is pretty ironic. It's called terrible writing advice, but its satirical nature ends up educating you on how not to go wrong when writing certain tropes or story structures. So, in my opinion, it's a pretty damn entertaining and educational channel. I'd recommend it for anyone who likes writing fiction since it gives some pretty humorous takes and you typically learn something.

Overly Sarcastic Productions funny, educational. However this channel also has videos about history. So you probably wanna stick to the trope talks. I think it's as good as Terrible Writing Advice, albiet less focused in nature than the former one as a whole.

This kind of stuff seems really helpful, yeah. 

Hmm.
I'll check it out, thanks :D



Between the BTU lectures and Writing Excuses, I think those 2 are the most easy to listen to/watch and most informative. All of the other stuff is cool and you can learn a lot, but those 2 are definitely good starting places. And maybe terrible writing advice too. Since it's very entertaining. 

Re: Recommended knowledge of literature?

#8
Part of it is reading- 
I've said it before; I've read great works, good works, mediocre works, shitty fanfiction. Thousands of books from the greatest and worst minds of the world. I've read Shakespeare, I've read The Tale of Genji, I've read The Art of War. I like reading sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, but I've also made it a point to read westerns, romance, dramas, mysteries. Poetry. Real, solid, classical poetry. 

Go out on the porch during a heavy thunderstorm and read T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland". It's something. It's magical. 

Part of it is watching-
I've watched great movies, excellent movies, shitty movies. TV shows by the dozen. I often ask myself, "This scene, this scene rightg here, if I were to write it out, what words would I use? What phrases carry the ambiance, the nuance, the pulse and beat of the story?"

Part of it is research- 
You have to at least have a passing familiarity with thirty to two hundred subjects. 

Part of it is people- You know to know and understand people and how they work, how they think, how they react, how they process information. Culture. Philosophy. Ideology. 

Really, in order to write well, you just need to drown yourself in books.