1. Prog_Bassist
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    Prog_Bassist New Member

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    Getting Started!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Prog_Bassist, Dec 2, 2010.

    Hey guys I'm new here. All my life I've wanted to write. I absolutely love the idea of it, and in the last 2 years I've been trying to put something down on paper. I really really want to write a novel or novella, and I have tons of ideas for them (the ideas usually stem from a Dark Comedy / Drama type of thing, because that's honestly my favorite type of genre) and I've gotten so far as finishing a chapter, but in the end I will read it back and just get frustrated, I feel that I do not have the ability to produce good quality writing. When I read what I've wrote, I feel like I've wasted my time, and I end up literally just throwing it away and trying to start a new idea all over again. This has been going on for a long time and it's really starting to grind my gears.

    I guess my question is what are some good ways to get started, and also how could I get over this feeling of insignificance?? How can I possibly gain confidence in actually starting to write a great novel? (well, HOPEFULLY great hahaha)
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Start small. Work on short stories and then work your way up. Also, don't worry about being frustrated with your writing. Try to complete the novel first and worry about edits/revisions later.

    Just remember that you won't get instant results. Writing well takes a lot of practice and dedication, but if you have the necessary qualities, I'm positive that you'll be able to eventually produce some great pieces.
     
  3. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I am on the same level as you are. I mean, my writing is so terrible that even my teacher doesn't understand. She would probably tell me "Do you know what a thesaurus is, because you keep on repeating the same words." (Like I'm doing on this post probably). So, yeah, I don't know how to write like I'm supposed to. One time, my editor asked me to look up the word "Dictionary."
     
  4. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I second the advice of starting with a short story.

    As an experiment, just think of a simple scenario, and just write it. The important thing is to try and finish it. Just keep at it. If you wish you can then post it here, to get some feedback.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    OK I started writing completely unplanned - last February a doodle of a character called Angus grew into a YA length novel. Which has spawned three other novel length stories about his brother Socrates. Next one is about a relationship between Alice in Wonderland and Merlin. I have written a few short stories as well. Tried my hand at flash fiction which is improving but is a skill all of its own. Oh and for fun I am writing a play. I don't personally find writing short stories any more satysfying or more likely to complete a novel for you. I do find them useful for exploring ideas for my novel though and I can put them up to be reviewed without endangering my chances with a publisher.

    Personally when writing I don't look back until I finish the first draft - I now know the first draft will be rubbish. I could edit my socks off and make it wonderful but to be honest very little of it goes into a final draft. The characters tends to be a little flat (I don't know them very well yet, they don't know each other), the story will be completely out of order and usually has too much magic, sex and talking to dead people as filler lol (I take all that out once I know the story better - sometimes I just find it easier if my fairy Millie comes and zaps my characters where I need them to go in a first draft - she is a great character that never makes it past first draft).

    My advice is don't look back or you will turn into a pillar of salt :)
     
  6. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    Starting with short stories is an excellent idea. If you've never really done any writing before, starting with a novel is a pretty tall order.

    If you allow yourself to be overly critical of your in-progress work, you'll never get anything done. You need to just write out the entire story (or novel), and then go back and worry about polishing it. Nobody produces a perfect first draft.

    I would recommend getting involved in a writing or critique group, either online or in person. One site online that I'm familiar with is CritiqueCircle.com. Not only can you get unbiased feedback about your writing (and suggestions to improve it), but by critiquing the work of others, you'll start to see what works and what doesn't work.

    Another suggestion is to buy some books on writing and take the time to read them. Writing (well) is a craft that requires practice and dedication--it's not something most people can just automagically start doing right. Some of my favorite writing books: On Writing by Stephen King, Stein on Writing by Sol Stein, and Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott.

    I hope this helps.
     
  7. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    Ernst Hemingway once said, "The first draft of anything is sh!t." The trick is to just write. Write down everything that comes into your head. It doesn't matter if the scenes are out of order or the writing is not your best. Getting everything on paper, where you can see it, is your goal. And remember is easier to delete stuff you don't like than to add stuff later. Once you have all your ideas written down, then make them into a story.
     
  8. Celia.
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    Celia. Senior Member

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    Write notes. I carry a small notebook around just in case I get ideas. Also, one thing that helps me is music. I have a playlist I play when I am writing my current novel (which i have been working on for almost ten years so don't feel bad). The music inspires me.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto the start small advice!

    and most important of all, READ!... read constantly the works of the best writers of the kind of stuff you want to write... not the most popular, but the best... that is how one 'absorbs' what good writing looks/reads/sounds/feels like... it will help you to learn how to write well, if you have the talent and/or the capability to learn the skills that it takes to do so...
     
  10. Prog_Bassist
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    Prog_Bassist New Member

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    I am a huge reader, but I haven't read a lot lately due to college taking up all my time. But I also find that I end up copying a lot of ideas and tools that the writers use without even noticing, and honestly I don't want to do that too much, so I almost feel as if I shouldn't read much novels while I'm trying to accomplish this... am I right in thinking that?
     
  11. Celia.
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    Celia. Senior Member

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    You just said what I was about to say.:p
     
  12. Corbyn
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    Corbyn Lost in my own head Contributor

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    I struggle with my own writing. You can't worry though if it's good enough or not though. Especially if you've only got one chapter of what ever it is down. I want to write a novel. So instead of setting out on that daunting task, I wrote a short story. A complete full short story. Start to finish. You have to work through an entire project. If you don't you won't have a good base for working on a novel. So take your one project, no matter what it is.. and see it through. No matter how bad you think it is. Because from personal experience... Just because something needs work, doesn't mean it's bad.
     
  13. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    I don't call myself a great poet, but my poetry took a HUGE step forward after a period being obsessed with Coleridge. I couldn't write anything worthwhile till I had deeply read something worthwhile.

    Since then it's been a slow climb, writing some, editing, reading when I'm worn thin by writing, writing when that reading starts inspiring me.

    Think of it like athletics. A young athlete does two things - practices, and watches/listens to experienced athletes & coaches.

    -Frank

    edit: Forgot I wanted to comment on this.

    "I end up copying a lot of ideas and tools that the writers use without even noticing, and honestly I don't want to do that too much"

    Whyever not?! I guarantee that if you asked the writers you're reading, they'll admit to borrowing tools/ideas from other writers.

    If you search for something new, you'll only find that which is new TO YOU, and then not know the pitfalls or heights of your "new" thing.

    Instead, try to either become good enough to make those tools/ideas your own by writing better than your influences. If you insist on doing something new, then find a new audience for an old idea/tool.
     
  14. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    The good news is that hating your work becomes second nature! I think the biggest hurdle for first time writers is the fall after the initial rush of enthusiasm - i.e. realising your writing is pants but having the will to continue anyway :) It would be very strange if you thought your work was amazing because the likelihood of a first timer's writing being great is so very slim.
     
  15. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Judging by your chosen handle, I'm guessing you are a musician? Being a guitar player for more years than I'd like to say, in the world of musicians, being 'influenced' is not only acceptable but is expected. You play and learn the music of someone that you love/enjoy and as part of that exercise, you learn and develop yourself. The point being, you will be influenced and that's ok. You won't become that writer but you will learn from their writing.

    When reading others writing, don't read it for style. Read it to understand how they made things happen such as developing a unique character voice or how did they move the plot forward.

    Also, I've written this a few times on this site; don't try to project a style of writing because you think it's cool. That is to say, people want to write in a style because they think its cool. Truthfully, we all want to write in a 'style' so there's nothing wrong with that. I do see that so many people be come enamored with the style that they forget that the story is about people and not setting. Story's are invariably driven by the reader's being engaged in a character and not a writing style. First learn to develop well rounded characters. Then you can add 'style'.

    As an exercise, write brief, flash fiction type of scenes where there is only one character doing something of a monologue. Make it a very simple scene about doing something mundane as walking to the store. Make observations about what the character is doing/experiencing. Maybe even write via the voice of someone you know like a sibling or parent. As an exercise, it could help understand how to write 'people'.

    Read Steve Martin's 'Pleasure of My Company'. It is a kind of depressing story but is extraordinarily written with great character development and has those kind of detail that make a character whole.

    As you see, my point is to get how to write a character first. Get how to write dialogue. How to write the kind of information that makes them a 'person' and not a caricature. If you can't develop people, your story is going nowhere.

    Also, post what you write on this site. Don't be afraid, this is a great site for advice and reviews. It's helps you know what others do and don't see.
     

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