EDIT: Holy-moly, this thread exploded. I was not expecting that, not the slightest. To help anybody landing here from now on, I will put a FAQ section at the end of the original post. Some questions need to be answered.
Hello everybody. As the title may hint, I am studying creative writing at university level. One of my tutors (EDIT: college professor) just told me that I have weak prose, although my story ideas are great. He only mentioned that I should read more to improve my writing skills.
I didn't come here to complain or play the victim, it's not something I like to do. At first I was hurt, wondered if writing is really my thing, but now I just want to get on with it and tackle whatever my issues might be.
So I wanted to ask you: anybody in a similar situation? What do you think makes a weak prose, and how would you improve it? What is your best advice on sentence flow and such?
I thought I knew what makes a weak prose in the first place, but clearly I am missing something.
I would submit some of my work here, but most of my recent writing was for university and I wouldn't want to get caught. I might submit a piece of Flash Fiction on the weekly thread if you guys request it. Other than that, any general advice will be extremely helpful.
- Is your teacher so bad he cannot do his friggin’ job properly (I’m paraphrasing here)?
No, he is not! I feel like this post doesn’t give the man justice, he is an excellent tutor and a beautiful person to have a conversation with. Feedback can sometimes be a bit unclear, true that: he told me a few times to be “more confident”, to play with “reliability” and similar, without giving proper examples of what he meant. But other than that he is an incredible person. I think he sees potential in me and is trying to help, which is something other people have picked up very well here.
- Then why didn’t he give you more detailed feedback???
He did! My bad for not mentioning it in the original post, but there was something more to it. He mentioned the flow of sentences and language choices, although he didn’t go into much detail about those two aspects. He also mentioned tightening the language a little – so yeah, some of you suggesting more economy in my writing are probably right. I do agree that most of that feedback was too vague, though, and I was planning to go back to him and ask in more detail.
- Have you published anything we can read? Medium / anything else?
I do have a blog, and I was considering publishing something in Medium as well just recently. But my tutor is active on Reddit, and I would rather post something completely new in the Weekly Thread. I will still send links and stuff through DM to anybody asking for them, which I think is the best filter to use here – but I am so grateful for all this support that I feel guilty stealing more time from you. Contact me via DM if you have time to spare, but only if it’s not too much to ask.
- How much do you read?
I read an awful lot, but it’s non-fiction for the most part. Academic books, articles, essays, long-form essays, anything trying to prove a point with strong arguments. I read at least one article every day from recognised publications. As for fiction, I still have a lot of novels under my belt (would I feel confident enough to write my own stories without reading something else? Probably not). Most of them were in my native language, but I started reading exclusively in English little more than a year ago. It’s blowing my mind, one page at a time.
- Is English your first language?
Nope it ain’t. I have been speaking it for years, though, even before moving to an English-speaking country.
This should be a wrap up for FAQs. If something else arises I will update this post again. But first, I’d like to thank all those who took some time to read this through and give me an answer: your support is incredible, and I read some life-changing advice here despite not giving you anything practical to read and critique. Thanks a million. You all deserve all the chocolate in the world. May your writing dreams come true someday.