1. PJ.Paradox
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    PJ.Paradox Member

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    Fiction Writers: What do you find most rewarding?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by PJ.Paradox, Mar 12, 2010.

    I know there is a stickied "Why Do You Write?" thread already. My post, while similar, focuses on the actual experience of writing over the motivation to do so in the first place, and invites people to offer personal advice on the aspects they enjoy most.

    There are two questions. Imagine that you have just completed a new short story or novel.



    Question #1 - What stage of your creation process did you enjoy most and why?


    Question #2 - What advice can you give to others who may not be so adept at your pet-stage or process?



    I personally think it helps to try look at the things we don't like, or are not especially good at from the perspective who does. I also feel that sometimes learning individual techniques from people who really enjoy what they do can provide the keys we've been searching for to unlock the fullest writing potential.


    While my own answer to question number one is simple, I will respond to this post with my own answer a bit later when I have more time to give part two the consideration it deserves.
     
  2. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not sure I can tell you what part of the process I like the most. I become so immersed in the process - agonizing though it may be at times - that pleasure is not really part of the equation. But I can certainly tell you what I like the least. That would be the end. As I near the end of a manuscript, I find myself dragging my feet. Or would that be fingers? These characters have become such a vital part of my life for the time I have worked on their story that I just hate to say good-bye to them. This is actually what I'm going through with my current manuscript in progress. I know the ending and how to get there. I know what is coming up to bring the end to fruition. But I just hate to come to the end.

    I guess it's sort of like sex. The process is awesome but ... then it's over. (And, just like sex, if you want that thrill again, you just have to do it again!)
     
  3. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    The initial genesis - the stage that spans from the first flash of inspiration to finished story concept, when I play with ideas, define my characters and explore the themes and motives I want to use for the story.

    Don't write everything down at once. Let the ideas roll around inside your head for a while, and try not to force them to take shape. Allow them to be vague and undefined - that makes them pliable, and helps them merge and connect and mature in interesting ways. You'll know when you have enough to really get working seriously.

    Also, unless you wake up in the middle of the night with the best idea ever, you are probably not going to forget about it, so don't worry. Good ideas tend to stick.

    (If you do wake up in the middle of the night with the best idea ever, though, for goodness sake write it down! Chances are your long-term memory hasn't kicked in yet.)
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the writing stage, naturally... that's the fun part... all that comes next [editing, polishing, shopping it around] is just plain hard work...

    READ!... be a good and constant reader of the best works by the best writers of all time periods and of all genres, especially the one/s you want to write... and keep practicing till you can compete successfully with all the millions of others like you, who will be hoping you'll fail, to give them a bit of a better chance at the brass ring...
     
  5. Sillraaia
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    Sillraaia Senior Member

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    There is no one part I like best- as in beginning middle or ending... it is the formulation of ideas. Okay, not precisely forming them, but it is the feeling you get when you have been stuck on something for a day or more, and cannot figure out how to make the plot work the way you wanted it to.... and then it dawns on you. You figure it out, finally, and the idea is SOOOO good you just HAVE to write it out, as fast as your fingers will let you.
    Whatever it is, it just works so well with your story and does so much for it that new life is breathed into it. The excitement is a rush.

    Advice to help when this happens? Run with it. Don't let that excitement fade, dive right in and get it all down while it's fresh. It seems to flow better when you are really feeling it than it will later, if you delay it.
     
  6. EileenG
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    EileenG Member

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    The bit I like best is watching someone who is reading my story for the first time. I love when I see emotional reactions to what I've written.
     
  7. JZydowicz
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    JZydowicz Member

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    Although not really a stage in the process, my favorite part is when I find that perfect word or phrase and it just fits.

    Recommendation: Buy a big thesaurus. It's not about finding a longer word, but the right word.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The thesaurus is a cantankerous beast, and often maims the one who freely shows it love. Only use it to remind you of words you already know very well. Using it to expand your vocabulary or to add some variety to your writing inevitably leads to misused words. The results can be slightly disturbing or cruelly hilarious, but the overall effect is to brand you as an amateur.

    Handle the thesaurus with the utmost care!
     
  9. PJ.Paradox
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    PJ.Paradox Member

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    Now that I have time to do so I will respond to my own questions:

    #1 - Character Building (with World Building a close second)

    I can't help it, I just love learning about what makes people tick. I was a Psychology major (sociology minor) before I formally switched to English and learning all the theories surrounding human learning, personality development, and personal relations has made my fiction explode with possibilities that it would not have before.

    #2 - 49% of my favorit characters begin as wayward mental images that land on me in the shower, during goofy conversation, or the most boring parts of my 8:30 to 5:00 The rest come from either photographs of people I don't know or random thoughts of "Wouldn't be be cool if..."

    From there the initial character process is simple for me. Just ask "Why?" and "How?" over and over again. Eventually you'll get to questions like "Who?" and "How?" but the important thing is not to stop asking yourself questions until you feel like you have a strong sense of personality. Sometimes it's good to throw in a few random quirks at the beginning to justify later because it gives you more things to ask "How?" and "Why? about.

    Once you have that initial personality and basic history mapping it becomes time to get into the deeper motivational questions. What shames this person? What are his or her greatest fears? What does this person dream? What gives their life meaning?

    I never strive for a perfect character when I make them because perfection is BORING. Usually somewhere in the initial stage or at latest this second stage I introduce some kind of powerful strength, as well as a crippling weakness that must be overcome. Once I have this defined, I begin to ask myself "What does my character think about this weakness? What about their strength? OK, now what is actually true regardless of what the character thinks about themselves."

    Emotional profiles for me are more important than actual events because emotions are what I feel are what make a good story worth telling. Sometimes I will introduce something like "Although she is not unattractive, she feels a great sense of embarrassment every time she looks in the mirror" during the creation process without actually having a reason for that feeling when I come up with the statement. The fact that the feeling is there is most important, The next step will, of course, be to ask myself "Why does she feel embarrassed?" and make up an answer.

    Near the beginning of the creation process I just throw EVERYTHING together whether or not it makes sense together. Some of the early thoughts might well be discarded by the time the character is finished, and that's okay. You need to keep your mind running unhindered along the lines of possibility so that you can reach the very best ideas that ring with the most authenticity and truth. Once you have them, you can go back to your earlier thoughts, and pick out the things that best support the most authentic aspects of the character you have created.

    The goal, at least in my writing, is to create characters that are so complete that they could be real people. As a writer I need to be able to answer virtually any question a person could ask from the perspective of that character without conscious consideration or hesitation. For that, you need to understand everything that exists within and as a part of the character you create. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT WHETHER YOU WILL USE THE INFORMATION IN YOUR BOOK. 90% of it will not be revealed, but you need to know it to give the people you create the depth and authenticity your reader deserves. This is also why I prefer to reuse characters over and over. Each story gives them additional depth, and the reader can discover more of the remaining 90% of the character that was not revealed in the first book.
     
  10. PJ.Paradox
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    PJ.Paradox Member

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    My mind seems to have different processing modes... Sometimes it seems to be locked in a state where meter comes as naturally as breathing, but for some reason it can't access the part of my mind that governs the creation of new story ideas, and other times it seems to be very good a getting basic ideas out on paper but for reasons unknown about 60% of my active vocabulary seems to be placed in quarantine.

    When the later occurs I use the Thesaurus quite frequently to remind myself of words I already know.
     
  11. MsMyth71
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    MsMyth71 Senior Member

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    Question #1 - What stage of your creation process did you enjoy most and why?

    I love revision. I enjoy the process of the "creative dumping" that I do on a first draft, but I'm someone who can turn off the internal editor/censor and just write. Then I go back and revise, revise, revise! I love taking my own, rough work and really shaping it, looking at different craft elements on each pass.

    Question #2 - What advice can you give to others who may not be so adept at your pet-stage or process?

    Well, I'm not sure that I'm terrible "adept" at it so much as I just enjoy it and I love giving a piece a good, thorough scrub-down (revision-wise). I do believe that revision is key to success. I have yet to meet someone who can write perfection on the first try--even if they edit as they go. I've met quite a few people who hate revision. My advice would be to:

    a. learn to love it
    b. learn to stomach it
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    my standard advice is to lock it up till you don't really need it...

    if you insist on using it before your vocabulary is up to the point where you'll know which words to use where, then at least look up the words you choose in the dictionary before employing them and find examples of proper use in a sentence...

    otherwise, you'll have silly word choices saying silly things you didn't mean!
     

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