1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Biting Off more than one can chew

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Killer300, May 11, 2011.

    Okay, should one put on the shelf an idea they aren't ready to write yet? The more I think about my recent novel idea, the more I realize how ludicrously immense it is. Have you before came up with an idea that you thought you didn't have the chops to write later? If so, just shelve the idea until I'm ready, or so I just push through this feeling? Curious about this. Maybe it's just laziness.
     
  2. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I delayed starting a story to spend time researching aspects of the novel.

    If you are delaying to improve the work, then it is good.
    If you are delaying because its "too big" then it probably isn't a good thing.

    You could spend the time planning the book. Break the huge task down into smaller tasks. Most people in stories have to do this. They don't usually walk off the farm to charge into a dragon's lair to rescue the princess.
    They seek out help to find out how to accomplish the feat.
     
  3. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    You don't know if you can until you try, in my opinion.
    If the story inspires you, write the darn thing. You can always rewrite it, and edit it to smooth things out. You can't write anything good without trying at it.

    My current work in process is a huge mess of a first draft. If anyone read it, it probably wouldn't make sense. But that part is nearly finished. I have felt overwhelmed by the twists and turns and red herrings I've written, but my aim for this step has just been to get it on paper.
    Next, I'm going to tame the thing and turn it into a proper story. After that, I'll make it good.
    It's all just part of the journey, to me at least.

    Oh yeah, and planning can be pretty helpful, too :D
     
  4. Demented_Thoughts
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    Demented_Thoughts Member

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    SeverinR is exactly right.

    I came across the same thing thinking i should shelf it and come back later but upn thinking that i figured maybe i can do a little research on it. Once i got to breaking down everything it became clear that it wasn't as tough as i first thought it to be.
     
  5. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I've had an idea burning for a couple of years now. The story's there, but the story's the easy bit. Every time I go to write it, I decide that the style and the treatment I'm giving it aren't quite right, so it gets reshelved and gradually new things happen to it. I like to think it's getting better each time, so one day it will get there. I'm not in any rush though, writing a novel isn't too high on my list of immediate priorities, so I'll get around to it when I'm ready to take on a commitment that huge.
     
  6. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    When you're satisfied with your storyline and plot, begin to write it.

    You'll never write anything if you worry too much about what and how you want the final product to be because your first drafts will rarely ever be that.

    EVERY idea is huge, even the simplest ones. And EVERY idea is small, even the most complex ones. I can write 20,000 words on nothing but an old lady crossing the street just as easily as writing that same action in a 100 words or less.

    I think really, it's practice. Just start writing. Soon, more and more of that anxiety of something being too big will start to dissipate. Shut everything out including your thoughts of wanting it to be "amazing and good" and instead just write. Write, write, write.

    Lol.. anyways, I'm the opposite. The longer any idea sits in my mind, the more branches it starts to grow and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger overall. The longer the ideas sit in my head, the more they change, become deeper and grandeur than what the started out to be. It's a hindrance as well as a blessing. I have learned that once I'm satisfied with a storyline and plot, I have to start writing it or it will change on me.
     
  7. RobT
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    RobT Active Member

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    If this is related to the post you have in the "Plot Creation" forum then I can see why you might be biting off more than you can chew. I wouldn't shelve your idea though. I think you should push on and at least develop it so that you have a much clearer outline, with some specific plots. Get your ideas more defined. When you've done that you may find that you have a better idea of whether writing your story is achievable or not.
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    My problem is the opposite, everything gets simpler the more I think about it. I guess I'm hyper-critical of all my ideas and work (hence the not starting thing), so I'm always quick to throw out anything that I'm not completely convinced with. I should really work on trying to overcome the inner critic in me, but at the same time, it's that ruthlessness that's gonna ensure that what I do put out is good enough to get me into that hundredth of a percent of authors who succeed.
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    If you're talking about a book that has multiple subplots, many POVs etc and you're confused on how to weave it all together, it's probably better to work on a novel that's more linear-plotted for a while.

    But what you DON'T want to do is have the mindset of "I'm not a good writer yet, so I'm not ready to do a good job writing this." (If we're talking about the mechanics of good writing itself, not the issue of taking on a too-complicated storyline) If you don't write, you're not going to be better, and it's a never ending cycle that will get you nowhere. Just write it; you'll hve to revise anyway.
     
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  10. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    What do you do in real life when you bite off more than you can chew? You chew and chew until it either goes down or... well you know the rest. I suggest that you Write and Write until it works or delete it and chock it up to a bad idea. A least you will come out with some writing experience and what ever does not kill you makes you stronger.

    I think some one suggested that you write small short stories related to the novel you want to write. I think that is an excellent idea but you have to find what works for you and the only way to do that is to write.
     
  11. Jessica_312
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    Jessica_312 Contributing Member

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    Personally, I think you should go for it. As others have said, the only way to learn is by doing. If you feel like it's "too big", try to break it down - I made an outline of my story chapter by chapter, saying exactly what I think will happen in each chapter. Now naturally, as I began to write and the story progressed, things changed in the outline. But having that outline helped me immensely, it kept me focused and on the right track. The second thing I did was create a separate file with only "story issues", ie plot inconsistencies, loose ends, unanswered questions, etc. Then, once I'd completed a very rough draft, I went back and addressed these "issues" one by one and it helped me form a more cohesive, logical story. These two techniques helped me a LOT with my current novel - I'd never finished a full length novel before this, and I think my lack of outlining/planning was a HUGE culprit (Well that and, as you say, "laziness". LOL :D )
     
  12. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've got a few story ideas ive got written down for a later point! Just working on one right now.
     
  13. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Thanks guys. Okay, I'll probably work on this off and on. It's just so... immense seeming right now, mainly because of the research and length required for it. However, I'll work on it for awhile, hopefully it will start to become clearer. It has already started to make a lot more sense, in some areas, and I'll try to power through.
     
  14. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    In some ways I am the same. From the first words that I write, I'm paying attention to style, tone, detail, flow etc., and I can't seem to move on unless I'm I get that feeling that says: "yes, this is it, this what I wanted." Wording can be changed as you edit and revise, but its hard to change the writing style, tone and some of the mechanics of a story without it changing your story completely and so I worry more about that in my first-drafts than word usage or anything else.

    I've been known to throw out entire chapters even after people tell me I'm crazy for it because it is really good, but what can you do? You know your story better than anyone and if you're not satisfied or happy with something, you will never feel comfortable with the story as it progresses no matter what other people think. We're our own worst critics most of time... but I agree, it's that critical eye that in the end will make a difference.
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Many (many!) years ago, I decided I wanted to write a historical novel. I started doing the research, which was fun but slow going. I was planning to write from colonial times to the present, and after reading Richard Ketchum's fascinating book, "The Borrowed Years", I started thinking of two characters who come of age in the same time period (1937-41). The more I thought about them, the more ideas I had about what their lives might be like and what that part of the novel would look like.

    I got really impatient, and I started writing. It was my first attempt at a novel. At one point, I took a week off from work just so I could write, and I wrote all day every day while my wife went to work and my kids went to school (still the single best week of my life). Finally, I was done. I found a writing forum (not this one) and found things about word count. I was curious, so I pulled up the file of my "portion of a novel" (it was in WordPerfect) and I found the command for word count. 430,000 words.

    I eventually edited it down to about 140,000, and I even had a little interest in it from an agent. But that's not the point. The point is, when I started writing, I dropped my grandiose idea for the sweeping historical (which I still haven't written - maybe when I retire in a few years).

    If you're holding back because you haven't done, don't want to do or don't have the time to do the research, write a piece of it and see what happens. See if your idea yields a compelling story line. If it's because you don't think you're writing is good enough, then dig into what you think ails your writing. I don't happen to think there's any kind of story out there that I couldn't write if I had the interest in it. But then, I'm in my late 50s. When I was in my 20s, I didn't have any confidence at all in my writing (which, come to think of it, is probably why I chose a work - a historical novel - that required tons of research before it could be written). It was only when I actually started to do it that I realized my writing was something I could believe in.
     

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