1. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    Does this make me a hopeless writer?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by IlaridaArch, May 24, 2015.

    Hey and thanks for checking this out.

    I have discovered something about myself regarding writing. The very fact that I am incapable to write in perspective of characters. Also, I dislike dialogues and making them feels like a really painful job to do. But when it comes to setting... Dear lord, I swear I can write several days in a row about a city, which is grumbling down or about a ship that sails towards the very unknown horizon.

    This is becoming a problem. I have the world for my characters. I have bought the land for my house.

    What can I do to overcome this? What could help me?
     
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  2. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    Bring in characters little by little.

    Or co-write a piece with someone else. Let them bring Characters and dialog, you create the setting...

    or suck it up and do the hard work anyway. Brutal, but maybe that is what you have to do.

    Concentrate on the characters actions instead of what they say.

    or,
    ignore what I said and wait until someone else comes along that is far more experienced than I.
     
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  3. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    You're only hopeless if you give up.
    I agree that partnering with another writer could be a big help. I've done it myself. If you can find someone who has a problem with setting descriptions, you can offer each other pointers.
     
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  4. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    You are not incapable, you just haven't got there yet.

    Take a step back and watch people - real life people do and say far more unbelievable things that you could ever imagine!

    Spend a bit of time thinking about your characters. Who are they? What are their hobbies? What family members do they have? What do they fear? What do they love? Many of the answers to these questions might not even come up in your story but they will give you a glimpse into your character's lives.

    Or you could co-write with someone who is great with characters but not so great with setting.

    But above all, don't give up!

    Good Luck x
     
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  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I wouldn't think anyone is incapable of writing characters - maybe it just isn't your biggest strength? Have you considered other kinds of writing? Like poetry, philosophy essays, or essays in general?
     
  6. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know this is a bit personal, but do you have Aspergers? One of my friends is ASD and also a hobbyist writer. I read some of his stuff and he wrote setting down into detail, but his characters were flat and 2 dimensional.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My [​IMG]

    You need to decide why you are writing this story, and "I want to write a story" is not an acceptable answer, at least not in your case given the obstacle you are mentioning. All the 'world-building' in the world means nothing unless there's a reason for it. What do you want to say with this story? What is your protagonist's motivation for being in this yarn you are about to spin? What is his/her driving force? What is needed? What is wanted? If you are having trouble getting into your characters' skins it's probably because your characters don't know why they are in this story either. They're just milling about aimlessly in this detailed setting because they have no defined purpose in the story, in life, in regards to one another.

    Again, just my [​IMG]
     
  8. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I'm the exact opposite. I can create a cast of characters and imagine all sorts of things they could do, but for the life of me I struggle with the setting. They wander aimlessly in a grey fog of nothingness, or in stilted settings like in a bland street or inside a random, sparse room.

    I think the best advice is what @cutecat22 said. Observe people in real life. Their mannerism, how they hold themselves. How they speak to others of varying ages and life stages. Make up your own stories about them.

    @Wreybies is also spot on. Why should your characters give a damn? What is it about the plot, or in the plot that motivates them to get off their butts and do something about it? Even if the character in question quite personally, honestly, truthfully couldn't give two shits, something still pushes them on. Either money, the threat of losing their job, someone guilts them/forces them into it, etc. Imagine your character(s) asking you, "Why are you making me/us do this?" What do you say then?
     
  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I know what you're going through, I've been there. Having been a fan of Hitchcock I sometimes wonder if I didn't take his 'actors are all cattle' idea to heart and treat my characters the same. The trouble is the story becomes lacking and you probably wouldn't be asking this if you didn't recognize this.

    I don't think you're incapable you just haven't recognized how important the character is, not just to your story but to your reader. Disneyworld is no fun if you were taken around by a busy body who pointed out every nut bolt, ride, shop. Disneyworld is only fun when you're with a friend, taking it all in, through experience and journey. A character is the link/friend for the reader - we experience everything through him. We share in his discovery, his pain, his admiration of a world. Description means nothing if it doesn't bare some revelation to the characters. You can tell me how high the Matterhorn roller coaster is, how much line of track, how fast is goes on every corner but unless this relates to the mc shivering with fear or trembling with excitement - why should I care? If it's not connected to anything it's like information in a guidebook.
    Depending on your genre you don't need a lot of dialogue anyway. It's just a way of expressing character - it's easier to show a misogynist in a couple of lines of dialogue than a paragraph of behavior - Or a way of relating information quickly.

    Think about Frank Baum - he's just created Oz - a magical land with an emerald city, magic potions, witches both good and bad, trees that come to life and flying monkeys. But without Dorothy to journey to it he has nothing.
    All you need is a character to experience your world and bring it to life - a local - like The scarecrow ( who got his own stories in subsequent sequels ) or a non-native like Dorothy to make it all the more magical.
     
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  10. james82
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    james82 Member

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    You have successfully deciphered his problem.
     
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  11. drifter265
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    drifter265 Banned

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    Love it. So why did you create this world? Your character doesn't have to be some deeply flawed person who's oozing with personality and emotion. They can just be boring but give him something to do. Maybe he goes on a chase through this world and only talks to get information.

    You can work around this. Read Ian Fleming's dialogue (James bond). It's as boring and straightforward as you can get. But your story does have to be from someone's perspective. It can't just be a guide book like someone said and I don't think you want that either.

    Maybe you're just underestimating your abilities as a dialogue writer because you dont have much dialogue with people yourself (I'm the same way). But what it is is a different perspective for someone else reading it and so maybe what you think is boring is someone else thinking it's unique and different.

    Good luck.
     
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  12. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    Thank you all for your responses!

    I believe you people really gave me different point of views on my story. I think I am 'over-complicating' the making of characters and demand too much from them. Possibly I should just start to get going, so I get moving and can edit later on for personality etc.

    I guess I should open up the project a bit: I have always walked everywhere (store, school etc) and for last 4 years I have always imagined this world and its different locations, just for the fun. I started to make it into a book last September and I believe I got some solid, deep concepts with religion, how society works and so forth. The core idea is to tell this tale about the city, which has risen to be the major power of its region and then grumbles down for silly mistakes. So the setting really has been the main concentration.

    When I thought about characters, I aimed to create personalities in different social classes, so the life in this city could be presented easier and 'wider'. But I could try to give them more reasons. Why especially this guy and what s/he has to do with this meltdown.

    Thank you for good posts, keep them coming if anything comes to your mind! :)
     
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  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry if someone else already said my point of view. I didn't read all replies.

    For me. Character is the easy part but for me. I consider them real. Like when I have a character. I talk to her(or him) I ask them questions. I listen. May sound weird as they really aren't real but they feel real to me and when I ask them. They answers and those answers define them. Think about it. The choices we make define them, so ask them to make choices and let them define themselves. For me writing has always felt more like recording them then creating them.

    Heck one such question came out in the most random way and I wrote a full book on it.

    Which was a villain. I had her torture some men for information yet in the scene in my head. I saw her leave a girl alone. Actually the men were attacking the girl and she leaves the girl alone. Why? I didn't know. So I asked her why. The answer? She was abused by her husband and emotionally connected to a woman being beat and as such didn't harm her in spite of being a villain and killing people.

    Your characters will speak to you if you listen :)
     
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  14. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    This, just above, this is sooo true!
     
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  15. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    You might re-think the "wider" and instead go for "deeper."

    My main project is super-wide, but even that requires a lot of drilling down into the world to ask "how does this one person se the world." - but an even better example is that I have an occasional side project that I based off a text-based wiki-role-playing game I participated in (nerdiness to end all nerdiness). Anyway the point of the game was to write an alternate history with different people playing different nations - and it ended up as a two-year long, super-detailed exercise in crowd-sourced worldbuilding of history, politics, war, invention - all the big stuff that affected the game. But after playing this thing for a long time I started wondering about the people on the street in this world, how they might think the gods are nuts, what their self perception would be, what it would be like to live in a place so irreversably screwed up. So I actually started working on a story inside the world from just one perspective - a worm's eye view - and it's been immensely fun to write. Mostly because I have volumes and volumes of history archives to draw on because the setting was crowd-sourced every day for two years, but then distilling that down into JUST what one person can see, and watching it all echo into their life, is awesome. Because they don't have the big picture view I have, they can only see what's right in front of them. It's wild.
     
  16. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think that's best...my WIP is pretty well plotted, and there's a major incident about half-way in that needs SOME "excuse"...I'm thinking of using character A as the "excuse" by suggesting a course of action, which character B then carries out. But is this because character A is a scheming Lady MacBeth who's the brains behind the operation? Or is she an airhead, whose selfish suggestion triggers her husband to think of his Machiavellian scheme? Whatever I decide, I've got half a book before she does it, so I need to get consistent with her character from now.

    If I just wrote it, and edited for personality later, that's a lot of edit!
     
  17. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I get what he means. Sometimes when I write a scene, it's all dialogue. It's only once I've got that initial dialogue down that I go back and fill in the emotions, movements and surroundings of the characters. (Sometimes it happens the other way around)
     
  18. Victoria Griffin
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    Victoria Griffin Member

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    My suggestion would be to practice. Start with people you know in real life—not necessarily writing a fleshed out story about them, just character sketches. Write a scene from the perspective of someone you know. Think about what makes them tick and how they would react to certain situations. After all, your characters are ultimately just compilations of people you've met in real life. A piece from here, a piece from there.

    Also, practice observing others. It sounds like you are very observant when it comes to setting. That's probably why it comes so easily. People-watch. Pay attention to what people do and why. Ask yourself what that stranger you noticed on the street would do or say in different situations.

    Hope that helps!
     
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  19. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    This exactly. I've found it to be easier see the dialogue as light as possible and then add all details. Guess it's similiar to my 3D designing habit, where I first create the major forms and then start to shape it up.

    Oh this does help. Thank you for your answer. :)

    This is pretty damn well said. Thank you for this.

    I already feel I've improved writing dialogue by this thread. Last two weeks have been bit easier, lets hope this path continues further. :) Any new inputs, always welcome.
     
  20. hihellohi1234567
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    hihellohi1234567 New Member

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    It sounds like you'd be really, really good at writing poems. :) I know what you mean, describing a setting is definitely my favorite part of writing as well.

    One way you could look at it is to make a 'city' of your characters. You could try to make them as elaborate with as much flavor as possible, and then try to fit that into everything they do.

    I myself am no pro at writing amazing characters, but I'm practicing! I think if you have a mind imaginative and detailed enough to describe a setting for pages, then I definitely think you have a great capacity for writing exceptional characters.
     
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  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It sounds as if you are really in love with the world you created. Sooo...here's an idea. Why not make yourself the main character?

    Use first person perspective, and walk on in to the place you've created. And sit down and think about it.

    What do you love about it? What would you HATE to happen to it? (Is there somebody waiting in the wings to do exactly what you hate?) Is it a refuge for you? Is it your home? Is it a place you want to get away from, and if so, explore the reasons why? Maybe start with something as simple as "I love this place and I don't want it to ever change." Or "This land is too low-lying, and it's been raining too hard. What can I do to prevent the things/people I love from going under?"

    If you write the story from first person perspective like this, you can go on for quite a ways without writing any dialogue, or maybe even bringing in other characters. See if you can get a story moving from your own love/hate/fear/hope for the world you've created. And start small. Unless you have an omniscient eye, you'll be in one small place in this world. Maybe you've been around a bit. Maybe you haven't. But you'll be in one place when it starts. Tell us not only what you see, hear, and smell about the place, but let us know how you feel about these things. Do the people you see make you happy, or do you wish they'd go away, or do you feel very alienated from them, or do you love one of them and want this other person to notice you? Or is another person noticing you, and you're either thrilled with that fact, or trying to escape from them? You can start with life as normal, but hint at the fact that something is about to change, big-time. Is this change something you want to happen, or does it make you afraid?

    Just use your own self as a character. Obviously you can give yourself another name, age, gender, whatever you want. But try writing from the first-person perspective, about what is important to "you" in this world, and see what happens. Sometimes a trick like changing point of view, and bringing it closer, can work wonders.

    Remember, whatever you 'want' needs to be hard to get, or you won't have a story. Make sure it's not easy, and maybe not obvious either. Give yourself a hard time. As long as we can share how you think and feel, we'll be on board for the ride.
     
  22. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    Hey everyone, sorry for not responding @hihellohi1234567 and @jannert

    I think I have gotten lot further with my writing during last two months, as it really keeps flowing and I believe I get better at it all the time. Which of course feels quite amazing. During August I noticed huge problem in my storyline, which was pretty much the starting point and the history had quite a few holes and unexplained things. So without ditching most of the material, I moved the starting point of the story bit further and actually combined two of my characters (other had interesting history, while other had interesting storyline 'during the book'). This gave me completely new ideas how to advance and I really love it now. Yay! ^^

    Also the dialogue problem is solved, at least most of it. I don't get stuck at them and I always get things moving on, so they don't hold me from advancing. What really changed it for me was to include thoughts during the dialogue. Like, the PoV-character thinks about his observations or his next move. I believe it gives the dialogue more depth and reader gets into the character more efficiently.

    A week ago, I shared the first chapter of a one character to see how people see him and does the chapter itself work. Feedback made me happy as mostly it was positive, most of them saying the pace is good and there is no usual info-dump but rather tips and peeks into the events, which gave them a feeling "there is more". Another clear point was that on some scenes, I could describe the surroundings more so their imagination would get into it. Guess I've edited that bit too much.

    All in all, feeling happy!
     
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  23. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I tend to avoid a lot of dialogue, trying to compensate it with internal thoughts. Though when I do dialogues they are short conversations, or they are mini speeches depending on the circumstances the character is in. :D

    So don't feel bad, it can be hard to have characters 'speak'. Especially when you don't know what they should say, or how they would say it. :p
     
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  24. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Sounds like you found your writing groove! I love the fact that you solved your own problems. That, more than anything else, will make your writing unique, pleasurable for you (rather than an exercise in anxiety) and will give you confidence. You will encounter problems as you write, but if you stick it out you will overcome. I'm pleased for you. It's fun, getting over that first hurdle and knowing that yes, you CAN write!
     
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  25. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    Thanks jannert! :) Yeah I really feel I found my own balance and way of doing things. Writing feels less stressful now!

    One thing I am fighting with is chapter lengths though, as I am kind of tempted to go for shorter chapters (1800-3500). I'm just afraid it causes trouble with the fact I have different point-of-view characters that aren't always around the locations. Do you think it might become an issue and reader feels the story is jumping around too fast?

    Then again, maybe reader is tempted to "read one more chapter", because reader knows it's not gonna be that long (easier to stretch time for it).
     

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