1. Slappydappy
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    Slappydappy Member

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    Do professional writers ask non-professionals for help?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Slappydappy, Dec 28, 2011.

    I have a one novel and one screenplay I am working on. Both of them have major plot issues that can't seem to be ironed out. I am about to start over, tossing out all the things that just don't work.

    I've thought about telling my friends the stories, and the problems each one is having, and seeing if they can help me. To ask them for ideas or advice. I've noticed many of my friends are very clever. We have worked on short indie films before, and they randomly come up with ideas on the spot. Sometimes the things they come up with are genius, and they don't even realize it.

    My question is, is this advisable? Secondly, do professionals ever do this? I just can't imagine J.K. Rowling asking her friends for help on her books.
     
  2. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    No it's not a bad thing, actually. When writing the Deadly Hallows, JK Rowling asked most of her close friends about certain themes of death. Don't worry, most writers do this professional or not.
     
  3. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I shoud think so after writing can be about real people and so a non a professional is as good as a professional for the sole reason they will/might have other experiences of life that the professional doesn't.
    It also depend on what you are looking for.
    After all every person is a professional in their own right in their fields.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    just read the acknowledgements page of any novel by a bestselling author for the answer to this question!
     
  5. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    People know what they like, they know their hobbies and occupations.
    If you find a person to question that fits in these, they will help you.
    obviously a peron that reads romance novels soley, would probably not like traditional fantasy(except for the romantic fantasy of course). But if they are in a job or club that deals with some part of the story, then they will be a help.
    An ex-teacher of english would be a benefit to the sentence structure and grammar of stories.

    Also, on these forums, we ask help from many people that have not become a professional writer. Each person has a different perspective on a problem, when they explain how they see it, the problem might become clear. So just because the person doesn't get paid does not mean they can't benefit a writer.
     
  6. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    As mammamaia has pointed out, professionals do ask non-writers for help, and frequently. Sometimes that means asking a doctor friend or family member how an injury might be treated, or asking a Wiccan for advice on depicting that religion, or asking a biologist whether or not a hypothetical creature build would work in low gravity. Frequently, though, professional writers "train up" a good beta reader (someone who can note inconsistencies and who will point out when the plot goes too quickly or when a relationship seems rushed / dragged out overmuch) who isn't a writer themselves. I'd guess that most writers, more than half, have at least one beta reader who doesn't do any fiction writing at all.

    And of course, non-writers can be every bit as creative as writers. The difference is whether the ideas get developed into a story and then put down onto paper or typed up on a computer. So there shouldn't be any stigma or sense of shame in asking a non-writer for help if you're stuck or aren't sure how your ideas would play out.

    Just be sure to thank them, either personally or in your acknowledgements section or both, if their ideas really helped you.
     
  7. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    The problem is finding someone who's willing to help you iron out plot problems. If you have a friend that will do that, you're a lucky person.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    asking professionals for inside info and advice isn't as hard to do as you seem to think... many folks in all walks of life will happily give you their time to help with technical details for a book... after all, don't you enjoy being asked about being a writer and what it entails?... well cops and doctors and cpa's also get a kick out of setting someone [especially writers!] straight on their professions, too... remember, it never hurts to ask...
     

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