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Essays




Did Ya? by Matt Tracy I wonder if anyone ever thought of any of the stuff I propose? [597 words]
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Think Before You Write
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TITLE (EDIT)
Think Before You Write
DESCRIPTION
My observations, after reading the work of many aspiring young writers, prompted me to write this. It merely offers some common sense advice to any aspiring writer (including myself) and should not be misinterpreted as professional advice in any way.
[988 words]
AUTHOR
Richard Koss
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richard Koss, other titles
[November 2001]
AUTHOR'S E-MAIL ADDRESS
[email protected]
AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (47)
904 North (Poetry) A tale in verse form about a middle-aged musician/writer down on his luck and recently divorced (again) who moves into a high rise apartment on the ninth floor, which happens to be the same suite a yo... [1,479 words]
A New Perspective (Essays) A different perspective on the 911 tragedy and its aftermath. [614 words]
Are We There Yet? (Essays) An essay I never thought I'd have to write followed by a question I never thought I would have to ask. [1,013 words]
Asleep At Last (Poetry) A man in a hospital bed is having difficulty falling asleep, but he soon will... [152 words]
Bad Boy (Short Stories) A true story about a bad boy growing up in 1950. Was he just mischievous? Would his behavior be considered bad today? [2,844 words]
Charlie And Mrs. Miller (Short Stories) A very short story about an old woman on her death bed whose last request is to see an old friend, much to the surprise of her daughters and granddaughters. [585 words]
Deja Vu (Poetry) In times like these, pacifists come out of the woodwork. This poem was written in anticipation of what we can expect from them. [106 words]
Empty Closets (Poetry) A poem which no doubt, is controversial. I'm sure many will consider it homophobic, (a stupid word) but if liberals are sincere in their belief that everyone is entitled to free speech and opinions, t... [223 words]
Family Genes Considered (Short Stories) A story that is unfortunately, much closer to the truth than not. Although the main character is fictional, the relatives described are quite real, which gives me reason to often ponder my own destin... [1,198 words]
Fatal Perception (Short Stories) An off-beat tale about an aging song writer who perceives he is being stalked by a strange little man. [2,959 words]
Goodbye America (Essays) An essay written by an aging writer who no longer understands the country in which he lives. [662 words]
Hooked (Short Stories) A short short story originally started as a poem, about a man's obsession with a special kind of woman. (Revised June 2001) [323 words] [Fantasy]
How To Fool Most Of The People Most Of The Time (Essays) An essay commenting on the recent election results. [1,530 words]
Know It? - I Wrote It (Short Stories) This is a funny, perhaps silly, outrageous story. I'm not sure of its exact origin, but I must forewarn you. I don't generally make use of extreme vulgarity or profanity in my writing, but in this c... [663 words]
Lost And Found (Poetry) A poem that was originally written as a lyric several years ago for a country western song. [156 words]
Madelaine (Short Stories) An eerie tale set in the modern day Pacific Northwest about a family's nightmarish encounter with a character from a legend with a darkside. [8,451 words]
Moral Values - Who Needs Them? (Essays) An essay. [771 words]
Muriel's Funeral (Short Stories) Imagine yourself dead and observing your own funeral What would you expect to see? You might be surprised. [736 words]
My Three Loves (Poetry) A poem about the three things in life that keep a man going. (At least from one man's perspective.) [101 words]
My Wife Is Missing (Poetry) A poem (well sort of a poem) which raises the question of who is most dear to us. [117 words] [Relationships]
Nostalgic On A Bridge To Nowhere (Poetry) A nostalgic view of the life of a man in his twilight years. [369 words]
Over A Hundred Years Later Nothing New About Progressives (Essays) An essay revealing the fact that progressives haven't progressed much in over a hundred years. [1,317 words]
Please Read My Poem - Again (Poetry) The inspiration for this poem came to me after reading several poems (good and bad) posted on Storymania, as well as their reviews. The poem is directed primarily at the very young, talented writers w... [195 words]
Raindrops (Short Stories) Ever think twice about shopping alone at night. You should - especially if you're a pretty woman. [1,469 words]
Requiem For A Bodybuilder (Poetry) What happens to bodybuilders when they cease pumping iron? [54 words]
Save The Planet Ė More Fiction Than Fact (Essays) An essay. [1,537 words]
Shirley's Angel (Short Stories) A Christmas story: In the final analysis, we may discover that we love someone because of their vulnerability, rather than in spite of it. [2,228 words]
Still Unsolved (Short Stories) A successful mystery writer returns to his old home town and recalls an unsolved mystery he never wrote about. [2,136 words]
Symbolism Over Substance Ė The Liberal Manifesto (Essays) A non-fiction essay about liberal ideology and its influence on today's U.S. and world culture. [1,229 words]
The Absolution Of Margaret (Short Stories) A story about life in the confessional booth of a Catholic church. [549 words]
The Better Man (Poetry) A poem about a lonely, young, soldier wating for a train to take him back to base. He becomes enamored with a lovely young girl sitting across from him. Although they never speak to each other, the ... [238 words]
The Diversity Mystique (Essays) The ultimate hype of political correctness. [1,083 words]
The Dowry (Short Stories) The Dowry is a story set in or around the year 2020, so I suppose you should consider it science fiction. But it is also a story of romance with the ending more than a mere possibility. [2,448 words]
The Farnsworth Affair (Short Stories) An innocent man becomes trapped in a web of circumstance from which there is no escape. A somewhat more lengthy story than I usually write. This is a suspense story in the mold of the English mystery... [5,045 words]
The Girl In The Taxi (Short Stories) A shy, young man has an erotic encounter with a strange girl. Is it real or just a dream? [1,493 words] [Erotic]
The Incurable Cynic (Poetry) A man reflects upon his life of cynicism. [143 words]
The Perfect Ending (Short Stories) A tale about a wanna-be writer trying to create a story with the perfect ending. With unsuspecting help from his wife, he succeds, but pays the ultimate price. [642 words]
The Price Of Freedom (2) (Short Stories) A short story. [396 words]
The Rhyme Of Eternal Triangles (Poetry) A poem that describes in a silly, funny way, the futility of wanting someone who doesn't want you. [223 words]
The Song That Failed (Short Stories) A somewhat dubious account of an amateur song writer's ill-fated chance at success. [156 words] [Humor]
The Waitress Fom Hell (Short Stories) The story of a patron's ongoing feud with an over-the-hill waitress. [750 words]
Tomorrow's Here (Poetry) The recent death of a friend inspired me to write a poem, which salutes this somewhat hapless, but likeable character. [114 words]
Victims (Poetry) A satirical poem that tells it like it is. The poem confronts a disturbing trend in our society - transferring blame to others instead of placing it squarely where it belongs. [255 words]
What A Pair (Ex-Husbands And Old Shoes) (Poetry) A symbolic poem comparing ex-husbands and old shoes. Some women divorce their husbands, expecting to find something better, only to realize eventually, that the grass is not always greener. [326 words]
WhatíS Wrong With Assimilation? (Essays) This essay was originally written in 2006 when the Senate was considering an Immigration reform bill, which of course, was not passed. [453 words]
While The Iron's Hot (Short Stories) The story of a woman, a victim of spousal abuse, and her solution to the problem. [774 words] [Relationships]
Wisdom - Lost With Tradition (Essays) An essay which compares the concept of traditional wisdom with the minds of today's intellectual elitists. [500 words]
Think Before You Write
Richard Koss

The timeless aphorism "Look before you leap" is good advice for anyone. A modified version applicable to aspiring writers might read, "Think before you write."

I know many of us who write feel spontaneity is essential to creativity and "anything goes" seems to be the norm for writing style and format, particularly in todayís contemporary poetry. But much of the writing Iíve seen, especially from young, amateur writers, is an extended rambling of feelings, descriptions, and dialogue, the way an artist would slap a gob of paint on a canvas, leaving it to trickle and spread in all directions, hoping the result will impress someone.

Fundamental essentials like writing construction, diction, even grammar and punctuation, are often treated irreverently by many of these writers, as if they were merely necessary evils to contend with. I recommend that those deficient in these elements of writing get some help from tutors or enroll in a class. The use of good grammar and punctuation is never out of date or old fashioned. It will certainly help your readers understand you better and it could make the difference in someone reading your work or passing on it, after reading a paragraph or two.

Personally, I feel Iím first a story teller, then a writer. Much of the work Iíve read, especially by young people again, (and I donít mean to pick on you youngíns) is so self-contained; writing about themselves, their experiences and their inquisitiveness as to why the world canít be as they think it ought to be. I suppose this is to be expected.

Of course, the longer you live and the more you read yourself, and the more experiences you have, the easier it is, I think, to write stories about other people, places and things as opposed to writing about yourself. We can become very boring to ourselves if weíre not careful.

I also see a lot of writing about ideologies. Why canít everyone love each other? Why must there be wars and bigotry and racism and much of the other realities of life that poets and philosophers and others have written about for centuries, over and over and over. Frankly, Iím bored with this kind of poetry and writing. Not because Iím apathetic, but because thereís nothing new about it, except maybe more ways to talk about it, many of which are not really original anyway.

If I sound cynical, perhaps I am. Although Iíve written non-fiction essays about politics and other subjects, I prefer to write stories. I donít strive to present a social, moral, or political message in anything I write, unless itís a natural byproduct of the story itself. For some writers, their only purpose in writing is to deliver such a message and they often wrap their message, whatever it may be, around a weak plot or story line..

The world of journalism has become an arena of opinionated, ideologically driven gladiators who couldnít write or report news objectively if they tried. They wouldnít know where to begin. In my opinion, many of them abuse the power they hold and use it to deliver their own message or the message of those who employ them. But thatís another story.

I enjoy writing immensely. I enjoy telling a story and building it, and shaping it and its characters, always trying to lead the reader along, hopefully peaking his or her interest and leaving them with an ending that will cause them to reflect back upon the story, savoring and remembering it. I donít always succeed. Iíve written a lot of stories that were never submitted and some Iíve never even let anyone else read, quite honestly, because theyíre not that good. After reading them over and over, I didnít like them.. If I didnít like my work, how could I expect someone else to. (incorrect grammar, but so what.)

Most of what Iíve learned about writing, (not that Iím so accomplished) I learned, not by taking writing courses, but by reading and reading a lot. The best advice I could give to any young person who wants to write well is to read a lot. Read the classics, read short stories, poetry, read anything and everything you can.

Itís easier to develop a writing style of your own when you read a variety of different authors as opposed to concentrating on a few you really like. You can learn a little from everyone, and from this vast, literary smorgasbord, you will be able to digest and store many writing techniques, styles and rhythms that you can retrieve at will to blend with your own creativity. But you will be at an extreme disadvantage if you have not mastered, or at least become proficient with the fundamental essentials referred to in an earlier paragraph- grammar, diction, punctuation, and spelling and vocabulary, to add a couple more.

I write fiction not to enlighten or educate, but to entertain. And the first person Iím obligated to entertain is myself. Whether my stories are happy or sad, funny, mysterious or scary, believable or not, it doesnít matter to me as long as they entertain. I try to be as original as possible, but it is impossible to be completely original. Can a musical composer write a masterpiece with chords or notes that have never been played before? Of course not. But the sequence and inversion of the chord structure and the syncopation of the notes and the keys in which the music is written, present an infinite number of variations for the composer.

I envy many of the young people who submit their work for all to see. I wish I would have developed at such a young age, just half the interest in writing, many of them demonstrate. The quality of their work will improve as long as their spirit and desire stays alive and they continue to read and improve their skills. And above all, continue to write and write.

 

READER'S REVIEWS (8)
DISCLAIMER: STORYMANIA DOES NOT PROVIDE AND IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR REVIEWS. ALL REVIEWS ARE PROVIDED BY NON-ASSOCIATED VISITORS, REGARDLESS OF THE WAY THEY CALL THEMSELVES.

"Thank-you Mr. Koss. That is excellent advice, some of what you said is downright quotable. In fact there were only two problems I had with it, uless your plan is to get people running for the dictionary for an exact definition on the words aphorism and irreverently. Since we're on this subject, might I ask if you would return the favor by looking over the story The Cotton Tale, I know it could be done much better, but I fail to see how, that's why I posted it in the first place. Thank-you again. " -- EC Allen.
"Richard, Writing is not learned, punctuation and grammar is learned. Writing is something that is given, and if you have not lived, you have not learned, and if you have not learned you have not written that masteriece, but to all, both young and old, if you wake in the morning and all you can think of is writing, then you are a writer no matter what the genre' I respect your opinion on what you have written," -- Janae D. Anthony.
"This is for Janae. "Punctuation and grammar ARE learned." A compound subject requires a plural verb. I agree that correct punctuation and grammar will not help a story or poem which lacks creativity or substance. But you can spoil a good piece with bad grammar and improper punctuation. It's like a wanna-be virtuoso playing a masterpiece filled with his mistakes. Proper diction, correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation are fundamental tools of good writing. Can someone become a brilliant architect without a basic understanding of carpentry, or masonry?" -- D Koss.
"Architect...masonry...carpentry? What the fuck are you on about this time. How dare you write this essay you unoriginal thief. Why not read something like Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, or Further Adventures by Jon Stephen Fink and see how necessary perfect grammar etc. are. What I'm talking about DICK is freedom and originality, freedom of writing, and the originality to write something that is not constrained by these rules, trusting the intelligence of the reader to see through and become engrossed in the story. First you have to come up with something engrossing though, and you being a talentless possibly over-educated fuckwit couldn't possibly do such a thing. Slang DICK, usually grammar and spelling are out the fuckin window .andwhtwouldbewrongwithabandoninggrammarpunctuationetcifwhatyouaretryingtododoesnotrequireit.? What if,for example your character was not well educated and could only write pidgeon English? What if your character was completely nuts, or on speed or some other narcotic, and I'm not talking dialogue here, I'm talking characterisation and the originality and talent to create something new. DICK, you'll never amount to anything except an ignorant hypocrite, because you steal other peoples' work and you can't see past your textbook you sorry excuse for a person. Your work is like a car wreck, I read it because it's so bad, I have to see if it can get worse. I meant that in another review about reporting you, you're such a thief I'm sure someone would be interested in seeing you've attempted to copyright something you've nicked. You should be put in the stocks and pelted with eggs, you should be mocked in the centre of town for eight days and slapped on the ass with a hot poker, you should kill yourself, no-one should attend your funeral, you should die of shame, people will laugh about you after you're dead "Ha Ha Ha, he was the asshole who thought he was talented Ha Ha, and was really a complete bastard, writing other peoples' stories in his own words Ha Ha, and writing old jokes as his own stories..and removing all of the humour Ha Ha Ha what a prick". How old are you DICK, how long have you been churning out this offensive piss, do you friends and colleagues know what you get up to in your spare time? Is spare time all you have? Are you lonesome DICK? God it's fun insulting you because there is just so much wrong with what you write, and what you stand for, but I really must leave at this juncture, I've got a lead on your home address and I'm going to have you buggered by a large bear. OK, later DICK, see you at your next submission...wonder which writer will be stolen from this time. OOOHH the suspense. " -- Phil, London.
"Ah, Phil, Where are you hiding now? Dublin or London? You really have an eye for what's bad. I had a friend like you once. Hated establishment people, conformists, conservatism, God, morality, people who made money, etc. He was a very brilliant guy. A real artist. Finally shot himself. " -- D K.
"As a teenager who sometimes writes, and often reads, and reads other teenagers' stories often (if not always reviews...err...), I appreciate what you're written here. It's very applicable, especially the part about reading other authors. But I disagree with your interpretation of one thing: you say, and you mean it as criticism, that teens tend to focus on "...writing about themselves, their experiences and their inquisitiveness as to why the world canít be as they think it ought to be. I suppose this is to be expected." I can hear the sigh after that last line. This is definitely to be expected. Teenagers don't have too much experience. We think we do sometimes, but we don't know too much about the world. I believe in the cliche "write what you know"; then you'll be truthful. Maybe teens shouldn't write about *ourselves*, but it's going to be more real than writing done about something that we have no experience with. (This is the major mistake that I make, writing about love and hate, pain and responsiblity, things I know little about.) Though it may be tiresome for adults to read, self-centered writing _is_ to be expected. I hope that some of the teens around here read your essay." -- Cait, --, --, USA.
"Thank You Cait. You are so right. What else can I expect young people to write about? You are light years ahead of me. When I was a teenager, I never dreamed of writing anything. All that stuff was for nerdy people. I wanted to be a Marine. I can tell by the way you express yourself, you already have a great head start. Instead of writing about real life experiences all the time, like love, hate, sadness, etc., try just making up a funny or less serious story about friends, parents, animals, whatever. Just let your imagination wander. I don't think everything we write has to be so philosophical, or thought provoking, or entirely truthful, for that matter. It's good to lighten up sometime. Good luck to you. " -- DK.
"Ehmm..m. Sehr gut Seite! Ich sage innig..!:) bmw" -- BMW, ..., ..., ....

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE
© 2000 Richard Koss
STORYMANIA PUBLICATION DATE
July 2000
NUMBER OF TIMES TITLE VIEWED
2911
 

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