1. Ragnar
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    Ragnar Contributing Member

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    Do your stories act on their own?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ragnar, Jul 1, 2009.

    Mine do, suddenly they take turns against my will. Needless to say, I have only limited control over my own imagination. Something that can be rather troubling at times, as well as... distracting at others. Yet also, strangely rewarding. When the stories are done I feel that... I wouldn't have been able to write them as well as they did themselves, through me. How about you, glorious inhabitants of this forum on the god-like act of writing?
     
  2. Polyphonic-Canary
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    Polyphonic-Canary Member

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    Stories can be stubborn little sods. Mine have this ability to change every couple of months, and kill off characters without asking. Very selfish of them, but I guess it's for the greater good.
     
  3. InPieces
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    InPieces Senior Member

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    I have the same thing (issue? problem? gift?) as well. I don't plan stories. At all. Even when I do, they fail miserably. I used to get really mad at not being able to plan when I first started writing, but now I just don't. I find that story writing is like real life. I have a general idea of what will happen tomorrow: I will wake up and probably write. But I would have no foresight of a giant tortoise emerging from my toilet and telling me the world is going to end (hypothetically :p).

    All kidding aside, I treat writing like life. I can't see the future, so why should I be able to in my stories. Besides, spontaneity and writing on an atmosphere is exhilerating. I love the "writer's high" when I finish a chapter and I know that it wasn't prepackaged, overanalyzed crap. Some other writers do it that way and it does work. I just end up getting bored and the work becomes tedious and lacks inspiration.

    ~ InPieces
     
  4. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I think some of the most tantalizing fiction arises out of discoveries the author makes while writing it. Of course, that probably does present the writer with challenges he hadn't expected and, without work, doesn't always make for the most solidly consistent storytelling. So I kind of expect to see evidence of that more in literary than in genre fiction where readers' expectations seem to be taken more into account.

    I've read some crystal clear, consistently well written, even interesting (esp. mystery) fiction that seemed exceptionally well thought out in advance; but it doesn't hold a candle (for me) to the unusual twists and turns of an author who's able to interweave his own surprises into the tale (Murakami, e.g.).

    It's riskier, I think, than the well-crafted, meticulously preplanned story (because when it fails to appeal, it fails dismally). But when it succeeds (likely with a smaller readership), it can be stunning.

    In any case, I think writer's who are able to allow themselves new twists and turns that come right out of the story, and which they're able to weave back into it, create a "freshness" that's sometimes missing from storytelling that is more preplanned and methodically structured.
     
  5. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Rather than plan the stories, I plan the events which will guide the story.

    For instance, if I were writing a story about Joe Shmoe the foot soldier in WWII - I would simply plan the events in the war. For instance, I'd have the following set of plans:

    1) Joe is recruited and trained and deployed to Europe

    2) Joe arrives and X, Y, Z happens

    3) General Patton orders Joe's platton to go over here

    4) ... etcetera in that manner...


    The story still writes itself, but I have waypoints set to keep me on track.
     
  6. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I set out to write just about anything, there are a few things I know about it.

    1) The Main Character
    2) General Begining
    3) Desireable ending

    Sometimes I have some events planned and general dialogue I would like to add. I also have a good idea of the backstory aswell. But other then that, I usually write and see where it takes me. Sometimes I find myself in places I had not expected and some i don't want to be. But if I think that it fits the story well enough, I continue on knowing I can always edit later.
     
  7. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I usually have control over my stories. It's not the story in and of itself that spews forth new surprises for me, it's usually the characters themselves. I usually find out a lot of new things about my characters - their likes, their dislikes, their relationships, their childhood - that gives me rewarding and deeper insight into their characters. And I think that's wonderful enough.
     
  8. Show
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    My story's got a mind of their own and often like to tease me by making me witness some of my favorite characters die.
     
  9. Atarxia
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    Atarxia Member

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    I agree with cybrxkhan, that's a lot like that for me.

    I admit that I never finished a single story, but I don't think I ever lost the control over my own imagination. Well, it's more like the imagination has the control over me whenever I feel creative. I guess it's just a common merit of an artist.
     
  10. Elistara
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    Elistara Member

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    yep, my characters have their own life. I was surprised just yesterday when I headed into a scene thinking - yep this is gonna play out predictably and this is what is going to happen - but only as it played out did one of my characters surprise me; now it's going in a totally different direction and I have to re-plan the rest of it!
     
  11. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Very good idea--planning the events, rather than the story. I like that.
     
  12. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Thanks, I'm glad you like that idea. It allows the characters to act and react naturally, rather than in a forced fashion.
     
  13. Ragnar
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    Ragnar Contributing Member

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    But in turn it forces the story? Depends on how much you take the character into consideration when planning ahead, I'm sure it works well. My stories just flows forth based on the characters that exist inside my head. Most of the time. Does that make sense?:confused: I hate structure in general, for some odd reason, so when I try to plan ahead I usually loose interest in a story. Probably why I haven't written very long pieces yet.
     
  14. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    My character often do thing and say things that surprise me, and sometimes it feels like automatic writing, but the story doesn't write itself. Perhaps you meant that your characters seem to have a mind of their own.
     
  15. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Yep, stories tell themselves to me, I don't make them up.
     
  16. UnknownBearing
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    UnknownBearing Contributing Member

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    i involuntarily planned a sequel.

    that's about it. the idea may come along by force, but once it's out there i have complete control and make the decisions. i'm not actually quite sure how a story can act on its own. everything comes from the mind, so unless you do things on a whim, i guess. :\ i mean i think i know what you're talking about. one day i just decided to go ahead and actually destroy Manhattan. but i really thought about it first, so it wasn't uncontrollable.
     
  17. Piestein
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    Piestein Senior Member

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    It depends. Sometimes, the stories I've written have taken an unexpected turn, although I had everything planned out.

    Sometimes it's for the better, sometimes though -- not so much. In the latter cases, I prefer to stick to my plan, because then the 'self-written' part is worse. The reason for that is my imagination running too wild, making some characters fit in some extremes in which I wouldn't want them to be.
     
  18. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    I just found that without a plan I would wander too much and cover too much ground too quickly. I would end up with a smashed up, formless story that would total about 15 pages.

    By planning the events as I have, I get those "guide posts", but I'm free to add anything in between and my characters are free to react as they would naturally. Also, by having a plan that consists of maybe 20 bullet points, it makes it very easy to change the story if necessary.

    My overall story is pretty much the same as it was at the beginning, but as I've learned, I've been able to rearrange the "meat" of the story as needed.
     
  19. Show
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    I agree and I think that is sort of what I do, plan the pillars and let the bridge fill itself in. Often times a few pillars add themselves in later though.
     
  20. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    My stories always run in my head like a movie. Every time, doesn't matter what the story is. Once I get an inkling of an idea for a character, setting, or storyline, it all starts coming together in my imagination. I act as the directer, writer, and camera woman. If I play out a scene in my head that I don't like, before I start writing it, I will put on my director's hat and move my characters around. Then I call action after giving my characters some directions, and see how it plays out with the new idea.

    Once I see that it is going well I call cut on my imaginary set and sit down to start writing it out. I replay it in short bursts so that I can capture everything I need to to relay the scene to the reader.

    Then I go through the scene, reading it and playing it in my mind, and make sure I got everything.

    Once that scene is over, usually the thing I have the hardest time with, I move on to the next scene.

    I sit and have conversations with my characters over a cup of coffee. Yes I am totally crazy, I have the kids to prove it. I have been caught on occasion talking to myself, and my kids think I have lost the last remaining marbles I had.

    My imagination interacts with me as if it were a separate entity from me. I let go of the control I hold over it and let it do its own thing. I let myself become the main character. Sometimes I act out the scenes as the MC, only when no one is around, so that I can really get into character.

    At some point all my character's take on a life of their own. They stop being part of me and start to become something I am just observing and recording.

    My current story is being told to me by my main character, as if it were her biography. However, it is fictionalized to create the connection with the audience.

    I have a lot of fun with it. I like stories I have no control over. They always turn out the best, over the stories I try to force out. That's part of why I don't like over planning too much. I like it too play out in a natural way.
     
  21. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    Some famous novelists like Nabokov used index cards to plan and give structure to their novels, but I'm sure even those kinds of writers allowed their stories to take on a life of their own. That's how the process works.
     
  22. InPieces
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    InPieces Senior Member

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    I like the debate going on here, it's pretty interesting.

    In my stories, there is no planning done initially at all. For example, when I started my current piece, I simply wrote opening lines until I found one that I particularly liked - very stream of conciousness-like. From there I wrote an opening chapter with no real planning taking place. Now, I've been on a writing kick for nearly two weeks.

    To the contrary, my stories are not jambled or rushed -- life doesn't happen in hyperspeed and neither does my writing. I merely just let my mind go from idea to idea, and as far as this goes, I have a story and use 99% of the ideas that pop into my head in that spur of the moment. For example, my protagonist's love interest is blind. I couldn't have planned something that interesting, it came in the heat of the moment.

    For me, I need raw emotion and inspiration to write. I've discovered recently that if I plan it, I tend to plan too deeply and then when it comes to writing, the magic is gone. Now, that does not mean I don't have some foresight. Right now I have a general plot goal, I just have no idea how to get there or how long it will take.

    ~ InPieces
     
  23. Amor
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    Amor Member

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    Whenever I try to plan a story, I spend too much time planning so that by the time I put the ideas into words, it's just not fun to write anymore. Now I just have a general idea of what to write at the beginning and at the end, and the characters' backstories. I start writing and different ideas come to me as I write. I find it also helps keep me interested in the story.
     
  24. UnknownBearing
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    UnknownBearing Contributing Member

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    could someone please explain how their characters could "surprise" them and have a life of their own?
     
  25. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Well, UnknownBearing, I equate it to having an imaginary friend when you were a child. I know as a kid I had an over active imagination and had lots of imaginary friends, most of whom came to dinner often at the angst of my mother.

    I guess I never really lost that ability to create imaginary characters who, almost like a split personality within my own mind, will become their own person...of course all of this goes on in my head.

    It's like standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom, naked after a shower, and dancing around or pretending to some crazy thing that if anyone ever saw us doing this, we would never live it down. Imagining you're a rock star standing on a stage in front of thousands of screaming, boob flashing, fans. Playing the air guitar with such gusto that you would think rock and roll flows in your veins.

    All of these things tap into that little child like imagination ability that we are all born with. Granted some people are way more imaginative than others, everyone does have this ability.

    I honestly sit at my dining room table and talk to my imaginary character in the chair next to me. Every now and then I will chat with them in the car while I am driving. All of this craziness comes right out of my head. It's a good thing we can't read each other's minds, we'd all be nuts.
     

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