1. Cerrus
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    Cerrus Senior Member

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    A Little Help?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cerrus, Feb 10, 2011.

    Hey guys, it's me Cerrus. Um, I'm having a hard time writing. I just feel like I plain suck. It's seems that there's parts of the story where I want to explain either the setting, the characters physical features, but I just can't find a way to do so. I don't want to lay down an elephant sized info dump either. I really need to figure out how to show rather than tell. Please help me.
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you finished your first draft ? With a first draft I find it hard to show - I need to tell the story first, then I can see what needs doing. Also info dumping in a first draft isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as you are happy to take it out. I personally infodump and tell all over the first draft.
     
  3. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    As it's only the first draft then you should try an info dump.

    When you come to revise it then you will see if it works and you will have a better of idea of how to show the information without telling the reader.
     
  4. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    If you read a lot, then what you're running into is that your mental image of "a good book" and your current writing ability don't match. It's frustrating, and bitter-making, but the only way to make the two match is for you to keep going.

    Even if it sucks, you need to finish what you're writing. If the only way you can get the character's appearance across is through a page-long block of information, grit your teeth and write it. (And be aware that it's easy, really easy, for a paragraph-long description to feel like "too much" when it's actually perfectly in line with the rest of the story. This is especially true of novels.)

    Have you read Brave New World? Or Dies the Fire? Or Kim? These are all very good books with a lot of description in them, and if you're really worried about "oh Gawd I'm doing it wrong," you should pick up a copy and look at the first few chapters. There are a lot of paragraph-long descriptions, because in a novel, the readers expect enough information to be able to see the setting and the characters.

    When you're writing this, it feels lengthy -- drawn out, boring, inactive. Most of the time, though, it's fine. (A page is too much, usually, but a paragraph is usually okay.)

    Unfortunately, with writing, explanations can only do so much. I mean, you know what it means to "show" rather than "tell;" it means giving enough detail so readers can visualize the scene, without having to rely on author-voice explanations everywhere. But you'll need to do a lot of writing before you have a good enough handle on your own writing style to know whether you need to add more description or take it out in order to match your own mental image of what "a good book" looks like.

    Good luck, and keep writing.
     
  5. Cerrus
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    Cerrus Senior Member

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    First off, thank you all for your posts, and to reply to HeinleinFan. No actually, I don't read a whole lot, but the books I have read have were written amazingly. So it looks as if writing this is going to be like being strapped to a table, and someone preforming surgery on me with no anesthesia.
     
  6. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, accept that you're not awesome yet, and just go with it as practice. You know it's a first draft, and this is the time to learn, get things wrong, and keep going at it. I've found in my years of helping people on forums/friends with their projects that the ones who finish a project are the ones who learn and enjoy it, because they don't feel they're always running into a brick wall - but the ones who can't get past that wall actually write better drafts, because they spend so much time editing and freaking out over it, and that's why they never finish, and don't get the boost they need to keep going and improve over time.

    Just close your eyes, turn off the inner editor and smack the keyboard like a monkey with a typewriter. You can edit later, or do a clean redraft. At the moment all you're doing is world and character building in your head, learning the paths you need to take to say what you need to say, and later you can worry about having a perfect novel. I've been writing all my life, and have been told I'm good - good enough to publish - about four years at least (well, I WAS published for the first time four years ago :p) but I haven't tried since because I'm still just hammering out lots and lots of drafts (finishing as many as I can along the way) to improve. I'm maybe not looking for a perfect novel, but I am practising still until I get close enough to one to be happy. :p
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pretend you are Lot's wife and if you look back you will turn into a pillar of salt.
     
  8. Cerrus
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    Cerrus Senior Member

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    Hey, I didn't think too many people knew about that story. That's a good point but wait, Lot didn't turn back and he ended up getting drunk and seduced by his daughters. :p
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL well he could have chosen not to get drunk :) So OK don't look back and steer clear of alcohol :)
     
  10. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    From Stephen King's On Writing: "You have to write one million words of crap before you write something good."
     
  11. Heather Munn
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    Heather Munn Member

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    LOL this exchange was the funniest thing I've heard today thanks
     
  12. Terri
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    Terri Senior Member

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    Just write - get the story down on paper. Finish now. Revise later.
     
  13. Cerrus
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    Cerrus Senior Member

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    So wait, are you guys saying I should purposely info dump like crazy, or should I try my best but not care if I info dump?
     
  14. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's your first draft. So get EVERYTHING out. After the draft is done, you go back and edit. The good stuff comes out with the bad, but you don't really know which is which until you start editing. A description you didn't like originally may become an awesome piece after editing.
     
  15. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depends on what works for you - I write fantasy and I find my crazy over the top infodumps in my first draft really useful for crafting the world. However you can't be too attached, I have a large info dump in under fantasy called Covesea Legends - the hardest thing was removing the painted dome image.
     
  16. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Info dumps are only bad in a work you're claiming is polished and finished. That's when people will get annoyed with you. :p A first draft is basically notes on what the story SHOULD be, and not how it WILL be when it's done.
     

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