× Please remember that experience is relative. Just because you aren't a completely new author doesn't convey a right to throw around the weight of your experience as if you are Stephen King, Jim Butcher, or Brandon Sanderson. Unless you ARE Stephen King, Jim Butcher, or Brandon Sanderson... in which case, go for it. :)

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The process of writing -- discussion

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2 years 4 months ago #52259 by Anne
Anne replied the topic: The process of writing -- discussion
I probably actually mean a plot more than an actual outline for fiction. After all there aren't three cogent points I have to make, then draw a conclusion that draws all those points together and show how they support my conclusion. I guess I was hoping that this discussion would net me some people who could tell me gently but bluntly if my writing is failing. I know, I think, my weak areas. Lack of plot, Lack of resolution to go with crisis, lackluster crisis in the first place. So, I look at my writing and add it to my other utter failures of life and think that it is just one more thing I have proven that I do so poorly that people gag when they see my efforts.

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2 years 4 months ago #52268 by null0trooper
null0trooper replied the topic: The process of writing -- discussion
I think that one of the problems for a discovery writer is that at some point the POV character(s) need to interact with people other than themselves. That point at which they become part of the story might not be the best point for a complete introduction to this new (to the current reader) character and cast.

If the currect sections of Nowhereville seem "stiff" to you, that could be part of the problem. Is this Sally/Tabitha's story, or Kelly's, or the dead person's? With multiple new characters trying to establish who they are and how they know each other, a story can easily become fragmented or even derailed by the new folks.

By all means, write down somewhere what you know about the new characters and new relationships so you can remember it later. If the past events are relevant to how the characters are acting now and help set future scenes, then maybe some of it belongs in flash-backs, new stories, or side aside as "noodle incidents" for the moment?

Seeing a story as a road with numerous forks, mergers, and intersections seems as good an analogy as any. So you have to stop, look for directions in a seedy part of town, and turn around again: that's all part of the scenic charm.

Forum-posted ideas are freely adoptable.

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2 years 4 months ago #52270 by Wavehead
Wavehead replied the topic: The process of writing -- discussion
Honestly Anne your beating your self up over nothing :S When I saw your last post in this thread I thought I must have missed something because I have enjoyed all the chapters in your Nowhereville story :) So I have just re-read the entire story from the beginning and I believe it reads even better than when I read each chapter as you published them B)
Writing a story that finishes when your character gets to Whateley is fine, many a fan-fiction author has done that in the past and left it at that :) However if your muse inspires you to continue now, or later on, with Kelly’s life at Whateley that is also fine but don’t beat yourself up if that doesn’t happen please :lol:
Your writing is good, very good imo as a reader and I would be very sad if you just gave up completely :S
Maybe for you(just an idea) writing a different character of yours “Journey to Whateley” first before continuing with Kelly’s life at Whateley would work for you? :) :) :)
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2 years 4 months ago #52271 by Anne
Anne replied the topic: The process of writing -- discussion
Well I do have Jazz who is about to do a scarper too, 'cause she's about to end up in foster care otherwise. Well, actually I'm going to have the doc get her an admission packet. But once she gets settled in a bit she's going to be a bit of a problem I think. She may be an obligate nudist, part of her BIT.
Nah Real life Really svcks a hurricane through a drinking straw for me right now. 9 months with hardly even a nibble at my job applications and I find that putting my personal information on the web is terrifying, yet that is how most applications are placed these days.

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2 years 4 months ago - 2 years 4 months ago #52431 by Erisian
Erisian replied the topic: The process of writing -- discussion
Having only written two books and the rest being short stories, not sure if I'm qualified to give advice on the process, but here's my two cents anyway. :)

I may be weird, but I'm trying to write my books like I used to run long epic roleplaying games, and I do mean long as one took twelve years to complete before it reached the final conclusion. The 'trick' was that the overall 'arc' of the entire story was known (by me) going in, so there was always an 'end goal' to aim for. With that in hand a smaller arc (like a single book's worth) could be dreamed up within that framework - even if all the smaller ones needed to get to the end weren't yet known in full detail. Taking just that smaller piece, the necessary NPCs and main drama/change plot points for the PCs themselves could be considered and put in place. When the motivations of the characters are known, plot 'pops' out of the conflicts inherent in them all trying to achieve them. Each game session individually was then not necessarily planned in detail, because the players needed the freedom to run amok, but the background material was: who the NPCs were, what they were doing, where did THEY want to go, etc.

So before each session, which would be like 1 to 3 chapters worth, I'd need to only contemplate the consequences of what the players did last, figure out how behind-the-scenes would react, and decide on dramatic encounters to drive things further towards the mini-goalpost already aimed for - all with an eye towards the the BIG FINISH many years down the road so the whole thing can hang together.

Doing this does require a lot of background work on the supporting cast, because they drive events just as much as the main protagonists, if not more sometimes because the 'main' characters often are reactive and not pro-active as they run about dealing with crisis after crisis triggered by everyone else. But once those are known the flow of what should happen is a lot easier to see, and off things go!

You do have to enforce patience on yourself to be willing to NOT reveal all the really awesome details and things you've had in your head for years on end... so they can come out at the proper time and be all the more dramatic when your players (or readers) go, 'omg!' as pieces finally fall into place before their eyes.

The other trick is to know when to let go of any preconceived scenes you may have had and throw 'em out the window if the characters are determined to go elsewhere along the way. You may have aimed for something specific, but in the moment of writing when creativity is flowing better ideas will definitely occur. Just make sure it's done with enough drama in some way, at least for gaming sessions. And I think that model works for these stories too due to the genre and setting - mutants, superheroes, magic lend themselves to action-based dramatic encounters.

An issue I've had with many authors is that while their early books are fantastic, but by about book two or three it starts becoming more and more apparent they have no idea where they are going. Those that do though and can bring it all together at the end of the entire epic? Those stories are simply awesome when you get there. Whether I can manage to pull it off in this medium is something I hope to find out in a couple years. :)

TLDR - Plot outlines should have targets to aim for in generalities but only defined in certainties as you go. And a more developed supporting cast of catalysts and antagonists will surprise with even better plots when you get there.

Author of Into the Light, Light's Promise, and Call of the Light
(starts with Into The Light )
Last Edit: 2 years 4 months ago by Erisian.
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2 years 4 months ago #52436 by Bek D Corbin
Bek D Corbin replied the topic: The process of writing -- discussion
The only advice I can give anyone is that writing a plot and making the characters tromp through their paces doesn't work that well (I cite the Prequels as an example); what works better is 'XX, YY & ZZ find themselves in THIS situation- what do they do?' works a lot better. We've tried to make Whateley character-driven, which is why it's done as well as it has.

Besides, everyone knows that XX and YY have been feuding with each other over ZZ's affections, but no one knows that ZZ pines for AA, but knows that it could never work- consonants should never marry vowels!
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2 years 4 months ago #52440 by Anne
Anne replied the topic: The process of writing -- discussion
Okay, let's look at a specific example here that I recently wrote. When I started, I just had Kelly, maybe lost in the woods. But he didn't get lost there because he went there on his own. Oh no, he's there because someone tried to kill him. But we only know they injured him, we don't really know to start that he was dumped for dead. So he has two obvious goals if he is to survive. First, and foremost he must find shelter. Me being a kind and benevolent god to my creation, I put shelter within his sight. But, he recognizes that possible shelter, and it is fraught with dangers, a ghost is rumored to live there. Still he knows, though maybe I don't make it clear, that the place of possible shelter lies between where he is now and his home. He can use it as a landmark if for no other reason.
Then I being a somewhat capricious god, add a bit of incentive for him to seek shelter before he gets home. Now he's stuck between the place with the ghost and hunting coyotes. So more conflict to his somewhat addled thought process.
Now, my real question: Did I carry off that suspense well? Did his survival (albeit changed) meet the conditions of suspense?
Did me having him (now her) leave his home town make sense?
Mind, I didn't start with all of those as goals. And I could have had Kelly forget that he had ever been human and just become the latest disappearance into the unknown surrounding the haunted house if anyone ever suspected he even made it that far...
Basically, what I'm asking is this: If I had chosen to stay with the Fin statement on the first part of the story, did I have a complete story? Or did I need to continue? I'm sure I didn't with the second part though I did put a Fin statement on it too. But really there was no doubt at that point that more needed to be told since I went that far.
Did I properly portray Kelly's motivations, fears and conflicts?
How has the whole of the tale developed for you all?
Do you think that I have it right?

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2 years 4 months ago #52482 by Polk Kitsune
Polk Kitsune replied the topic: The process of writing -- discussion
You would have had a story. A short one, but a story nonetheless. There's survival, there's fears, and you do get attached, or worried for him. Him losing his mind to the Coyote is also an outcome of it, and him disappearing into the mansion as another legend is another outcome (although no one would know if he'd disappeared, or just died might be a factor), and it would have made more sense why the story is called Nowheresville.

Going further though does allow for a whole lot more development to happen. Kelly gets to develop,and become much more than just a disappearance. The shift going further on though does make it seem like Kelly is no longer the focus, but... Well, it's the position, and mental state she's in. You kinda wrote your position in there.

Usually, it is better to have a plan in mind, for sure. I've only more recently started writing it down, to make sure I have all the pieces together, before I actually start writing a chapter. But I always take a long time to daydream about what I want to do. Even if I start with a concept, what I can do with that concept, and then form a key scene I want to happen. From the point on, I just keep asking: "What can I do to make that scene happen? How can I get that outcome, and what pieces do I need to put together to reach that?" From there, you think up a web of what elements you need, and fill up as you go. You don't have to fill in everything in the plan, before you write, but having the main points and a good idea on your major characters are does help. As you write though, your plans may change, you might get inspired and some things might change. Keep flexible.

I believe I've seen a set of pictures based on tips from Pixar writers on how to write a screenplay, and although I don't agree on everything, one did stick with me: "Start with figuring out your ending. Endings are hard." I don't think it has to be the 'fin' mark, but what's your outcome? What did your main character overcome? What did they learn? It's a starting point there.

And if you have someone, talk to someone about your story as you plan it. A second opinion can not only give you feedback, see plot holes you might not see, or ideas you might not have thought of that you could find interesting.

Hope it helps!
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2 years 4 months ago #52483 by Anne
Anne replied the topic: The process of writing -- discussion
Thank you very much for the feedback on what I'm doing. I thought I had the first part down pretty good as an exercise in short story writing. But hey we don't always pay attention to the messes our kids make so to speak, so another view of the issue is of incomparable value. I do value all the input I get from the others here, it helps me keep grounded so to speak.
I pretty much had to shift the focus off from Kelly (not entirely) in order to have much of a story. Oh I could have put another 3-500 words in part one about him disappearing but all of his attackers slowly going nuts over having an illusory coyote haunting their dreams! That actually would be a not bad finale if I had chosen to go that way!
But I didn't so Kelly set off for Whateley on her own, only guided by an internal sense that isn't talking to her very much... Now I've essentially reached the same point as before, that is an new somewhat natural breaking point and need my work evaluated. I'm inviting anyone who would like to read the whole story to send me a PM with their e-mail address.
Oh so far as I can tell, it will be worth your time to reread the whole of what I have now, especially if you've only read what is posted in the forums.
Thank you all for your kind attention!

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2 years 2 months ago #53584 by Anne
Anne replied the topic: The process of writing -- discussion
With what I've written here, and the response I've gotten, I'm not sure what to think. Is there no interest among us in developing our ability to write? Or is there not much interest in discussing the process of writing. That is the how, the why and the wherefore of writing. I'm most interested in the how; that is how do I get from ideas like the few that I have placed here (see my sig line...) to complete stories that have drawing potential. I'm wanting to post, if people think it is ready, A Boy named Kelly to BCTS. But I (and I may be beating a dead horse on this) don't want to post something that is incomplete.
Again the correspondence I get here is treasured immensely.
Thank you for your time!

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