1. CatherineMackenzie
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    CatherineMackenzie New Member

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    Advice for a beginner? Anything and everything

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by CatherineMackenzie, Jun 15, 2016.

    I've written some short stories and some poetry, but none of my finished works are longer than ten or so pages. I've taken a creative writing class, which was not as helpful as I had hoped, as the instructor only provided constructive criticism beyond "this has potential" when the stories involved violence.

    I have ideas for novels, but I am having troubles getting started and fitting pieces together.

    So... what advice do you have for a novice writer?
     
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  2. Kerilum
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    Kerilum Member

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    Well, it'd be nice to know the genres you plan to write in to narrow it down a bit.
     
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  3. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Welcome! That's a pretty broad question you're asking, there. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts I have for you on getting started:

    Firstly, write. Plain and simple. When an idea comes into your mind, write it down. Ruminate on it and write down those wandering thoughts. Write little things, long things, whatever occurs to you. The more to write, the easier it will be, the more natural your flow.

    Secondly, ask yourself some key questions about your ideas for novels. If you have a setting in mind, ask yourself what some of the problems of that setting or world might be, or what caused it to be the way it is. If you have characters, what drives them? In what areas do they need to grow? How to they see the world around them, and how what circumstances could cause that to change?

    How do you see yourself as a writer? What do you like to read, and what do you like to write?

    And I know it's annoying advice, but read as much as you can. Anything and everything. There is a book entitled Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. It might be helpful to you, if you want to read it. I mention it, however, because in it he talks at length about how most creatives start out by emulating the artists (writers) they love. It's an important step in the beginning of your creative journey and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Read what you love and write like what you read, it'll help you learn and find your own voice.
     
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  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't expect perfection. Get your hands dirty, muck around, see what works and what doesn't work. Writing isn't a straight line - learn to enjoy the zigzags!
     
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  5. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I love me a good collection of shorts. :p

    I will tell you what I have learned. At the very least have a concept and some good characters. Then add all manner of tom foolery to mess with em. The grittier the better. Make 'em beg for mercy, but just keep piling on the tough love. And the most important part is the ending, so make it a good one.

    You have to have determination and time dedicated into your longer investments. Either have an outline of how you want things to go (like an organized individual), or just simply do what I do make it up as you go along while maintaining continuity to your story. Reread your work often for errors and story line missteps. Edit like a succubus is insatiable, and never be afraid to ask somebody to take a look at what you have for opinions. Bay View is right in not being afraid to get your hands filthy. Don't let a topic or action deter you from exploring a creative avenue.

    And lastly have fun and let it flow. :supersmile:
    bang-head-on-keyboard.gif~c200.gif This shall be your inspiration to write and write and write, because writing is the good kind of masochism. :superlaugh:
     
  6. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    Get motivated, get inspired, and get to typing.
    Until you finish your first, a book is this unknowable obstacle that gets bigger and bigger in your mind as time goes on.

    Also, make sure its a reasonable book for a first try. Don't be an idiot like me that writes their first book in multiple POV's, different settings, and somehow manages to write a book inside of a book.
     
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  7. hawls
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    hawls Active Member

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    Seek out and be prepared for blunt critical feedback. At this stage, anyone who says "It's great!" is of no use to you.

    Post your writing in the workshop to identify the problems. You want to fail often and in every way. It's the only way you'll understand what not to do.

    Read other people's works and the feedback along with it. You want to expose yourself to as many issues across as many elements of writing as you can. Tropes, clich├ęs, mechanics, dialogue, pacing and so on.

    Participate in discussions. Being able to ask for and get clarification on a certain point or issue is the greatest thing about belonging to a writing forum.

    Welcome to the forums!
     
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  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    There's an old saying that the first million words you write are practice. In my experience, that is a significant understatement. Write, read, then write some more. Rinse. Repeat.

    If you're hankering to write a novel but have never written anything longer than ten pages, I would suggest you get out your favorite novel in your chosen genre and re-read it - not as a reader looking for enjoyment, but as an apprentice seeking to learn the craft. Make notes on how the author does things. If the work is current, look at what the critics have said about it. Think what you would do. When you've finally gotten a few chapters written, check back with your favorite novel. How does your writing stack up? The goal here is not imitation, it's quality of craft.

    Be careful in seeking critique. Before you post something in the workshop, make a mental note of whose comments you trust and whose you don't. Keep in mind that the vast majority of folks here are still in the "aspiring" category (myself included). Take our comments as you would those of a college or professional study group. We are mostly fellow students; not professors.

    Welcome to the forums and best of luck in your writing endeavors.
     
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  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Read a lot. Write a lot.

    Doing those two things will do wonders.
     
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  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    write.
    write without ceasing - without thinking - turn off the phone - turn off the tv - turn off the internet - turn off the hubby - and write.
    keep writing through incoming texts, through dinner, through blackouts, through pencil point breakage. Through writer's block and boring
    scenes and failures of logic.
    Then ... look over what you've done - that's your first draft.
    Start over again.
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    :supershock:
     
  12. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Start by reading the books listed in my sig. ;)
     
  13. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I'm not exactly an expert either, but something that's been reinforced here is that writing isn't really about what do do so much as how to do it well. Many people have different things they want to write and like to read and it's up to you to decide what your goalposts are. Other can only tell you how to kick ball. (I'm going to keep using that analogy) Accept criticism a lot, but don't just do what someone else does. Listen for the actual tips and learn to filter them from what's actually more opinion.
     
  14. fred22
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    fred22 New Member

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    British and Irish authors describe their writing day and methods. Have a look:

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/series/my-writing-day

    Also, something I wrote earlier. I think it is relevant to you;

    1. Go into a room and write for about an hour, or about an hour and fifteen minutes five days a week.
    When finished, leave.

    2. Write short stories with a beginning, a middle and an end. They can be about anything - about an object in the room - about two mice falling off a step. It doesn't matter. Make it up.

    3. Writing is a craft, then an art. Learn the craft first. They are like the walls of a house. The art is the roof. Write. The first couple hundred stories build writing muscle. Keep going.
    (Writing muscle is laying down the necessary neural architecture. You become it. With time, patience and practice. Many authors are ex-journalists.)

    4. Understand basic grammar.

    5. Read good short story writers.

    6. Lower your ambitions. It takes time.

    7 . Cultivate patience. It is a marathon, not a sprint.

    8. Make a commitment. It is unrealistic to be motivated every day.

    9. Avoid distractions when writing.

    10. Get the rent paid. Sort out your hierarchy of needs. If your situation is unstable, writing is difficult.

    11. Don't let a sense of failure in writing leak into your sense of self.

    And don't dwell on the past.

    12. Write in good light. You will damage your eyes in time.

    13. Stretch. Exercise. Writing will damage you if you let it.

    14. Keep writing and the idea of being a writer separate. It is all about the activity.

    15. Measure success by effort. Do your best. Therefore, it is always in your hands to succeed.
    Do not base confidence on the belief in your own ability. Base it on doing your best. On effort.
    On getting work done. Doing your best is different from achieving your best.

    16. If you can, take the occasional holiday, or short break

    best of luck.
     
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