Writing difficulties- Asperger's related?

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SpreadsheetMaster
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

Joined: 3 Apr 2017
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Location: Seattle WA

14 Jul 2017, 7:42 pm

I've been part of a writers critique group for almost 2 years and keep running into situations where something I wrote sticks out like a sore thumb to them but it went completely over my head and I still don't understand why it's a problem. I wonder if it's Asperger's related or just a result of inexperience. Can anyone relate?

-Having sentences of similar structure or length all close together. I don't notice this, so I don't understand why it bothers people.

-"Show, don't tell". I personally would rather be told than shown in most circumstances, and often when I'm told that I don't even understand how it applies to what it was in response to.

-Having characters talk a lot. What's the problem? I have noticed people complaining about walls of text on message boards all the time while it doesn't bother me at all (so long as it's not like, pages long) in the past.

It makes me wonder if I'm really cut out for this if I can't tell these things on my own.



fluter
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

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Location: NYC

14 Jul 2017, 8:16 pm

I think you can probably learn to notice these things once you understand them.

I'm not a professional writer, but I did study writing at the doctoral level. I'll try to translate as best I can, maybe it will help you to understand what they're responding to?



-Having sentences of similar structure or length all close together. I don't notice this, so I don't understand why it bothers people.

I feel like the group is expressing their need for variety...too many sentences of the same structure would be like the same melody played over and over. There are some composers who do this on purpose, so that you notice tiny details of difference between repetitions. But I don't know if this way of creating interest would work with writing. I think they want it to flow...long, short, long long, short. So they feel a rhythm in the sentences they read.

-"Show, don't tell". I personally would rather be told than shown in most circumstances, and often when I'm told that I don't even understand how it applies to what it was in response to.

It can be more interesting if you show a character in action and the action demonstrates some personal quality that makes them unique, than if you simply say that the character is ______. The reason it's more interesting is that the reader actually has to figure out the quality, based on the scenario/action. It's more active, like a game. Here's an example: Tom crammed the photo under the mail pile when he heard Sally's heels approaching. Conclusion: Tom is hiding something from Sally. You could just write : Tom is hiding something from Sally, but it's more fun to figure it out from the scenario.

-Having characters talk a lot. What's the problem? I have noticed people complaining about walls of text on message boards all the time while it doesn't bother me at all (so long as it's not like, pages long) in the past.

I really don't know about this one....but I thought MAYBE it has to do with attention span? People might forget it's a quote??? Or maybe they just want some insight into the character that is speaking that isn't external/spoken? Maybe someone else can help with this one.



fluter
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

Joined: 19 Apr 2016
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Location: NYC

14 Jul 2017, 8:19 pm

PS...one way of learning to recognise these things is to purposefully do it the way the group recommends...then read back what came out, and see if you notice the things the group recommended. This is how I learned a lot. I don't IMMEDIATELY understand a lot of the feedback I get, but I just try to do it on purpose the other way, and eventually I can see more in the work I do.



SpreadsheetMaster
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

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Location: Seattle WA

15 Jul 2017, 1:41 pm

I get the reasoning for the show don't tell for the most part, but there's still certain situations where I'd rather be told. Mainly, when a character is feeling a certain emotion. I still don't understand the problems with the other two, since it's stuff I don't notice.

I also basically have no ability to understand poetry or any story that's written even somewhat like a poem, incidentally.



fluter
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

Joined: 19 Apr 2016
Gender: Female
Posts: 156
Location: NYC

15 Jul 2017, 9:34 pm

Maybe you'd understand the varying phrase structure preference in terms of the physiology behind the rule? There is something called inhibition of return.

Basically, we have a mechanism that shuts down our attention to an object we've already experienced, as long as it's not changing. We don't feel driven to look at the same thing fourteen times in a row, unless we change our foveal angle on the object fourteen times, thus gathering fourteen different 'views' of the object.

It's an adaptive response. If we paid attention to things that don't change (and thus probably don't pose a threat), such as the regular sounds of our environemt (the fridge buzzing, the breeze from a light fan,etc.) , we'd not have any ability to notice that a bear was about to eat us.

SO if your reader is sensing the phrase structure prominently during their reading experience, and they hear/see/read the same exact phrase structure fourteen times, their attention mechanism will be thwarted. It will be an extreme effort, maybe a futile effort to continue reading.

I'm sorry again that I don't understand that third feedback. Good luck!



fluter
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

Joined: 19 Apr 2016
Gender: Female
Posts: 156
Location: NYC

15 Jul 2017, 9:44 pm

I also hate poetry in general. I like metaphor, but all that rhyming stuff, and dissolving sentences into thin air just to be poetic...nah. Just get the words out already.



SpreadsheetMaster
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

Joined: 3 Apr 2017
Age: 25
Gender: Male
Posts: 99
Location: Seattle WA

18 Jul 2017, 10:22 am

Well, that makes sense psychologically, but it still doesn't change the fact that I don't personally notice it. :/ It's something I'd have to go way out of my way to keep track of.

I don't get poetry because I don't understand subtlety at all. It needs to be very blunt.