1. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Better at crafting a plot than actually writing.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Anonym, Apr 1, 2012.

    I'm confident in my ability to weave a compelling and coherent plot, but I occasionally feel that when it comes to actually writing it, I might not be able to pull it off. Especially with my current project.

    I don't think I'm a bad writer. Still a work in progress of course, and getting better with practice, like anyone.

    But sometimes it feels like there's this... bridge, between the plotting process and putting the plot into the right words, that I'm not sure I can traverse. I don't always feel that the quality of my writing does justice to the caliber and scope of my story, basically. In the mean time I'm working on sharpening my writing skills, but still, not sure how long it'll take to be satisfied with both my plot and my writing. Perhaps I'm impatient.

    Worst case scenario, I wonder if I'll need someone to write it, which is a damn nightmare for me.

    Probably an odd issue for a writing forum, but maybe I'm not the only one. Anyone ever run into a similar issue? Any advice, other than/including practice?
     
  2. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    The best advice, and only advice you are likely to get, is to simply write. Don't worry about quality first time around, you can fix that. You will be amazed what content(read amount you have written) will do to your writing habits. It is advice I myself have trouble following but try it nonetheless.
     
  3. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    I get that. Thank you, sincerely. I realize that reading and writing are generally the only means by which a person can properly render their plot. Eventually, in my case. As I said, I'm working on it :)

    I suppose I'm venting over the frustration of my reach is exceeding my grasp. And maybe, hoping that my experience isn't aberrational for some writers, let alone most in general.
     
  4. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    Practice, practice, practice. Writing is no different than any other activity, in that practice makes you better. Try writing some short pieces that might be less challenging. Join a writer's group that meets regularly and practices our craft. Be patient. Don't ask someone else to write your story--they won't care about it the way you do.

    I'm watching OSU try to hold off KU so I'll use a basketball analogy. If you are lacking skills as an athlete, you don't ask someone to play for you, you get coacked and practice. Visualizing where you want to be, what you want to do, is a great place to start. Top athletes often use visualization to improve their performance.

    Ouch, Kansas just took the lead.
     
  5. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    If you want inspiration for excellent prose, I recommend going back and reading F. Scott Fitzgerald again.
     
  6. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    I had this same issue when I started. It doesn't mean you're a bad writer, it just means you haven't developed your craft yet. In fact, you are very lucky because developing craft is in many ways easier than learning how to plot.

    My #1 advice for you: FINISH YOUR FIRST DRAFT. Get to the end as quick as possible, and by any means. Leave abhorrent dialogue alone, ignore that awkward sentence for now. (And if it bothers you so much that it's preventing you from continuing, go back and fix it, but emphasis on the continuing) Stuck on a scene? Summarize what you want to happen and move on to the next scene. By the end of your completed first draft, you will find you have developed your craft a lot, and you will also better be able to see your Big Picture. You will be able to look back and see where exactly you need to improve.

    Reading and writing are two great ways to get better. If you can, join a writing circle just as Erik suggested. But also check out some books on craft and style. On Writing by Stephen King is one. I also highly recommend "Making A Scene" by Jordan Rosenfeld.

    Free and invaluable: www.writingexcuses.com Fifteen minute podcast by famous authors on everything writing-related.

    Keep writing, keep reading, and keep educating yourself.
     
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  7. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    It sounds like this perceived chasm between plotting and writing out the plot is preventing you from even starting. Don't let it. The only way to cross that bridge is one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. If you never start, you'll never get any closer to the other side. You may find that halfway across you reach a break in the bridge that you can't span, so you have to retrace a few steps and find another way round, but that's fine. You might find an alternate route that's even more exciting and gets you to a more interesting place than the one you were aiming at before.

    And that whole extended metaphor was really just to reiterate the advice about: get writing!

    Good luck :)
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    This! I agree completely. You'll never learn if you let the fear from not being good enough stop you from even trying.
     
  9. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    Off topic, I have the opposite problem :redface:
     
  10. Foxe
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    Foxe Active Member

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    Me too. I don't have trouble writing when I know what to write; that goes for academic papers and creative writing. But when it comes to stories - my imagination works just fine, comes up with excellent premises, characters, sentences - I can't, for the life of me put them all into a compelling story.

    To the OP: I suppose the solution to both of our problems is the same: write out whatever we can, and with time we will get better.
    Here's another suggestion: let's us not tackle our favourite, or more ambitious projects just yet. Let us wait until we are at a more comfortable level of writing (and story composition in my case) that we can be sure to do them justice.

    I find that when I - mired in my own doubts - answer these type of questions, I often alleviate my own concerns lol
     
  11. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeh I agree with this! I also am very creative and good at creating plots but when it comes to writing I let myself down :( Guess the best thing to do is write and read more!
     
  12. Floatbox
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    Floatbox Member

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    I've had the same problem. I'd get a great concept, develop a great structure for the narrative, figure out the macro arcs of my characters... and then write it and feel utterly uninspired with micro arcs, particulars of the scene, voice, etc.

    My advice? A couple of things. More than a couple.

    One, start writing poetry. It doesn't have to be good. Do it as a practice in rhythm and metaphor, in expressing your own emotional state. Do it as a practice in expressing your own ideas of beauty, of truth. Do it to practice vulnerability, irrationality. Develop your artistic instincts. Watch this: http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kay_if_i_should_have_a_daughter.htmlAlso, poetry gets you writing for writing's sake. Plot serves writing, writing does not serve plot. Plot is there to keep dramatic tension. It's there for the characters to have something to do, and idealistically, the nature of your characters drives what they do. But the writing, the best writing, is its own pleasure.

    Second, read. I'm reading Anna Karenina right now, a book in which the writing is 95% explicitly constructed of emotional events of its characters. It is a powerfully poetic way of writing. Been called the best novel ever written by some pretty serious folks. Worth a read! Before writing, I will read Anna Karenina for an hour and then I'm geared up and ready to go when I sit down to write. I want to read all the classics. I want my info diet to be the best. Can you run a marathon on donuts? So it is with writing.

    Also read stuff on the philosophy of aesthetics - this will help you with your poetry. It will help you as an artist and a reader and a person.

    Third, pay attention to life. You know the advice, write what you know? Practice the art of observation, the art of insight will surely come.

    Fourth, just want to point out - writing, as most things in life, cannot be done consciously. You cannot intellectually create something good, like you cannot intellectually ride a bike. You don't think about it, you do. It's much about flow. Plotting is very logical and rational. It's just there so you can be confident you are going somewhere. Nothing more. You cannot be thinking about plot when you write. You cannot be thinking about anything, but feeling and flowing with it. Writing poetry helps with this.

    Which is not to say that your literary fiction writing style should emulate your poetry writing style. I'm saying the process of writing poetry should inform the process of writing fiction. In other words, the attitude needed to write poetry should be the basis of writing fiction in general.

    PS. Also, research the creative process. Figure out your own.

    PPS. Also, write errday.
     
  13. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've just come out a similarly despondent period. Plot awesome but too complex for me to confidently tackle. Sometimes it's an issue of writer's block, which to me always happens after I craft the plot and am ready to write and... It doesn't happen. So I despair but in that, I discover all kinds of issues with the previously thought to be awesome plot.

    Since I amazed myself with my current novel's plot, I re-wrote it several times. Still all the characters are in it, with the addition of a couple, but I changed roles, changed my protagonist, my villain, my hero etc, and I swapped genres, not entirely, but it definitely changed the focus.
    I am much happier with this plot than the old one, so for me, this is all just a part of the writing process, which, if you want to write a really good book, can get ugly at times. But it's worth it, you just need to be honest with yourself, and your own harshest critic, and at one point you'll be happy enough to proceed. And then, because it will take a while to trust in yourself, focus on writing 300 good words (decent sentences pertaining to the plot) every day. That way you will plough through and end up with something decent in the end of first draft.
     
  14. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    I sometimes have the same problem, but here's what I do to get over it...

    a) Read
    b) Write
    c) Ask for feedback
    d) Do the background work meticulously (I sometimes use the Snowflake Method)
    e) Try not to take any pressure
    f) When writing starts feeling terrible, I just stop, put my text aside for a month of two and continue it later
     
  15. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    I agonized for several days over when to start my novel - and by that I mean, within which half-hour timeframe. In the end I chose it randomly by making a list and stabbing the paper.
     
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    For me I just keep writing. One sentence at a time. There have been times when I am uninspired, not in the mood, or just plain haven't a clue how to write a scene - and I write it anyway. One sentence, two sentences, take a half hour break, come back, another few sentences. Until finally, the scene is complete and I get somewhere in the story where I do know what's going on or feel more confidence, and then all is back to normal. Then I tend to reread what I've written, particularly if I'm not happy with it - which usually happens if I write it with the method above for uninspired writing - and then it's a matter of discernment. Discerning whether it's possible to make it better RIGHT NOW, if it's worth fixing immediately, if I even know how to fix it, how important it is that this is good enough before I move on. Then, say I decide to change it right now, I paste the entire scene into a new document, delete the scene from my actual draft, and write from the beginning of the scene again, this time with a better idea of what to include, what I liked from my first try and what I'd do differently, until I get it right.

    Work out what elements need to be in the scene to make it interesting, then start with one of those elements and see how far you get. Every time you write it out, you give it a bit more shape, a bit more structure, and that really helps build your confidence and just help you move on in general.

    For example, I wrote the start of my novel out 3-4 times. On the 4th go, I knew where it needs to start, rather than just starting anywhere like I did the previous 3 times. I knew it had to be in a meeting between the High Priests discussing the next step of action in their war and the purpose of the scene was to propel them into a search for my MC. So how do I make a frigging meeting, which also required a tonne of info-dump for my audience to even understand the meeting and tension, interesting from p.1?

    So I thought - ok, something needs to happen. I need to show my readers the state of the war, how the war is affecting the people from the first sentence. I started there. And from there the scene unfolded. Originally I had my four High Priests gather and use their magical powers to raise a supernatural image of their country up before them (to further discuss the issue of the war), and since they controlled the four elements, I had them use these elements. It didn't come out right. I finished the whole scene and realised I like the dialogue, I liked the way it started, but I didn't like how it digressed and how confusing the magic side of things were. So I rewrote it - and instead of the elements, I turned it into a pool of shimmering light, which worked way better. And there it was - I had my opening scene :)

    Then there comes a point when maybe it can't be perfect RIGHT NOW - so if you don't absolutely hate what you've written, move on, and come back to fix it later.
     
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  17. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    I feel like I am in that spot -- I have outlined a novel two weeks ago and ever since I am only rewriting the prologue. Yesterday I was satisfied with the prologue, but only because the prologue wasn't about my MC like the last 8 times. Now I'm stuck on the first chapter because my MC appears and I don't have any idea how to write it, even though, oddly enough, I have a plot, and everything outlined in my head. And it's actually awesome, but I can't find the words.

    I did nearly everything: genderswapped my MC, the companion, changed the setting, the time, everything and I'm still stuck!
     
  18. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    This thread is just what I needed.

    I'm in this position right now - I've pretty much seen my whole story play out in my head, and I want to write it in a way that conveys everything just the way I've imagined it. It's an incredibly dumb way of looking at it, because nothing is ever perfect on the first try, and I'm not that great of a writer to begin with. I've just gotta slow my roll, I think.

    Bookmarking this thread on my computer. I want to hug all of you.
     
  19. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    I know it sounds odd.. But if I keep unmotivated, I may leave it for a few days.. Have a few drinks and I get all these crazy ideas for my story and my motivation comes back. So I sober up and write it.
     
  20. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    I feel like a few drinks help us subdue some of the inhibitions we may have for many things in life. When I play jazz, I often feel so much freer after a beer or two, and I actually play better (beyond that, things start to get fuzzy haha). I think it's an indication that you need to quiet your mind, that there's too much worry or fear or just preoccupation with other aspects of life. There are plenty of other ways to clear your head, such as meditation, a power nap, a walk, whatever works for you.

    I'm not saying it's bad to have a few drinks to loosen up now and then, but I am saying that shouldn't be your only strategy.
     
  21. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    It isn't my only strategy, I just find at times it helps.
     
  22. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    I didn't mean to imply that it WAS your only strategy, only that it SHOULDN'T BE your only strategy, which you seem to agree with. I'll be more carefully with my phrasing :)
     

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