Tag Archives: vague

Vague Vs. Ambiguous: Which are You Writing?

Imagine you sat down and started reading a story that opened like this.

“What are those people doing out here?”
“I don’t know.”
Poppy sighed and ran a hand through her hair. The woman was very old. Her sister took off her scarf and went inside.
“How many days until Wind Set Day?” the prophetess asked.
“Four, maybe five, perhaps,” she said.

How many people are in the story? Two? Four? What’s the setting? Since someone goes inside, we can assume the characters are outside of something, so they are probably outdoors, but we don’t know for sure. And what does the sister go inside of? A house? A store? A box? What kind? What’s “Wind Set Day”?

These are all things we can guess at, but we can’t really get a picture of what is going on. It’s vague. Unfortunately a lot of unpublished stories start this way. Later in this post, I’ll go more into why new writers often make the mistake of starting like this and exactly how it works to create a problem. (And yes, of course, all rules are made to be broken).

Vague writing is like this picture. Its blurry. Unfocused. As a reader, we can’t really tell what is going on.

While “vague” and “ambiguous” are often considered synonyms, in a lot of places in the writing world, they don’t mean the same thing.

“Vague” deals with the story being out of focus and vapory. It’s not quite anything.

“Ambiguity” happens when something in the story could mean multiple things–supported by evidence.
Continue reading Vague Vs. Ambiguous: Which are You Writing?

September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)

September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.