1. Art Vandelay
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    Art Vandelay New Member

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    An ongoing issue I can't shake...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Art Vandelay, Mar 5, 2012.

    First off, hello. I am new here.

    I constantly see scenes in my minds eye. The scene is usually quite vivid. I know every detail, every smell, every sound. I know what my characters will say (at least the gist). I know how I want the scene to end. It could be a short segment or a long segment - it doesn't matter. Sometimes I have scenes that don't belong anywhere but I write them down anyway or try to.

    Writing these so called "scenes" down is my problem. When I am done, whether it is 200 words or 15,000 words...I have written gibberish. I have written half thoughts. Incomplete sentences. Soundbites. Full paragraphs. Minute details. No details.

    At first glance, this all seems normal. This is a very rough first draft. Some may say it is a brainstorming session. I would agree with both except...I labor over it. I can't move forward. I re-tread the same sentences (or half sentences) over and over. It is as if my editor's hat is on at the same time as my writer's hat. So I hammer away at a paragraph for days getting nowhere, yet everything I spewed forth are inital thoughts. Its as if I am editing thoughts I am not done thinking about.

    This is where I am with my writing. This is how all my writing goes.

    Any advice?
     
  2. GaleSkies
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    GaleSkies Active Member

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    In just reading different threads on this forum I've found lots of great advice. Reading old threads that interested me is my favorite way to take advantage of this site. Mostly, advice all comes down to each individual writer and what works for them.

    Write, write, write. My first step after the initial spew saves me a lot of time when it comes to editing. The editing still takes a good chunk of time, but here's what works for some of my more vivid "scenes":

    After I've written my scene to completion, My very next step is to go to my outline or reread what I wrote and pick a direction. Then I mark up everything that is not moving in that direction and just take it out, save it somewhere else, whatever. In part of picking a direction, I decide how much exposition I want. Does the reader need more reminder of location, what's important in the smells or sights the character notices, does this device or technique need full explanation in this part of the story. Once all of that is gone... RE-write. It is seriously the best most important step for me. I won't edit my first draft ever. I takes too long to get the scene to where I want it to be. I just glance, over to the rough draft when I forget where I was going again.

    Those two steps work for me. Picking a direction gets me done thinking about what I'm writing and produces the material that will actually get edited. Rewriting puts all of that material in order connecting fluidly together and I spend less time tweaking those sentences that just don't fit anymore. Finally, I can wear my fancy hat, and edit what I need to edit.
     
  3. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    About a year ago I discovered something very important that I try to keep in mind when I write, and it goes something like this:

    As a writer, I (and apparently you, and I would assume most writers) get this great images in our heads, these perfect pictures with amazing detail, and we want to make it play out exactly like it is in our head for the audience. Of course we do! That image is what we fell in love with, and so we want to make our audience falls in love with it the exact same way. Hell, we probably imagine a soundtrack that goes along with the scene too, and if it didn't make us seem too strange, we'd be half tempted to put an asterisk next to each paragraph with a footnote at the bottom that says "play the following notes in 4/4 time: acbdgaag".

    The problem is that your audience doesn't necessarily want to see things your way, they want to see things their way -- at least to a point. We have to give them enough so that they are immersed in the story, and that they get a sense of what is happening, but then we have to trust them to build their own scene from our words. They may want to picture a house with a staircase completely different than how we want to picture a house with a staircase -- the important part is that they are imagining a house with a staircase. Am I suggesting that you avoid all sensory detail? No, of course not. Throw some cobwebs in the corner, and make every picture hang askew, but don't get caught up on trying to paint a perfect picture. You have to let the audience do that themselves.

    At least, that's what I think. I find that the more a piece of writing tries to control what I see rather than guide what I see, I get very frustrated.
     
  4. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    Trying too hard, bub. You'll be pleased to know, however, that it is a common affliction, and one I suffered through as well. Next time you sit down to write you need to simply refuse to edit anything, and write the story until it is finished even if, and especially if, the writing is third-grader bad (apologies to any third-graders here).
     
  5. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    I am the same way sometimes. I used to be like that all of the time but I have been toning down the perfectionism. I find that I get overwhelmed when I nitpick at every little detail because by the time I edit and re-write one scene 28489393 times, I'm too frustrated to move on to the next scene and do it all over again.

    I learned that to finish something, I need to let myself just get it down first. Obsessing is actually counterproductive for me.
     
  6. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    Read, read, read.

    Study the way authors use their words to create a scene - and as mentioned on other posts read GOOD authors. Be analytical when you look at an authors work and try and figure out how they did what they did. You don't have to copy them - but you can learn from them.
     
  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the novel I'm writing, it took me a very long time to figure out the theme, plot, storyline, but initially, a scene appeared in my mind, as intensely as you describe it. I could smell the night air, feel the rain soaking her hair, feel the anguish and excitement in equal measure, I saw it so clearly that I wished I could draw, because that would be the only way to capture it, so out of context.
    It's been a year, I haven't written the scene yet but I still feel it. I know that once I reach that point in the story it will come out right, until then I remain wordless about it.
    But between seeing that scene for the first time and now, I learned so much about writing and about my story and characters in it. It's as if the scene was a hook for me as a writer, something to work towards, to anticipate, to look forward to.
     
  8. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    Read novels that are the same genre as what you plan on writing...and when I mean read...read LOTS! I've been reading a lot more lately, especially on the genre I'm writing my novel on. So far its helped loads! I feel like my descriptive writing has definitely become alot better. Other than that just write. maybe write it down then rewrite it? It will become better each time :D
     
  9. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    You say you have scenes but do you have a story with a beginning, middle and end. Personally I like to have them fixed in my mind to the point of dreaming them. That way any inspiration will likely be in that context rather then random scenes. Hopefully each new scene then will have some relevance to what came before so I can later connect them. I prefer not to edit till I have a least a chapter done. That way there is enough material where I can judge flow and pace while weeding out the irrelevant and strengthening areas that need further development.
     
  10. chaoserver
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    chaoserver Member

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    Get an alphasmart and just dont look back. These little tools are good to just move on and not need to see your previous block of writing.
     
  11. mugen shiyo
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    mugen shiyo Contributing Member

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    There's a difference between a scene and a story. That might be the problem. You have great visions of cool scenes, but no story that goes anywhere or connects them so it all comes out making no sense. Like having a stage with great props but no storyline.

    If you did have a story, maybe just sketch a basic plot in your head from beginning to end. When it makes sense, you writing may not be all over the place.
     
  12. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    Dear Art, I know just how you feel. I've been at my book for five (please insert swear word of choice) years. It has over ninety-five-thousand words and a beginning, a middle, and an end but I'm like Penelope waiting for Odysseus. Evenings I knit, mornings I unpick.
     

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