1. Indarican
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    Indarican Member

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    Have the creativity but not the mechanics

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Indarican, Mar 15, 2016.

    Hey All!!!!

    Let me start this by saying thanks for welcoming me here to this wonderful forum!!!

    I have always loved to write, ever since I was a young girl. I was the one in the class that could pop out a 3000 word essay overnight easily, I never really have had any troubles finding the words I want to write. Unfortunately I never really had any training on the correct way to write, especially longer works like novellas or novels. I love to write but get very frustrated because I always have the creative juices going but get caught up on the outline of what I am writing. Here are my main questions-

    What is the correct way to write dialogue? Should there be a space between each line of dialogue?

    Is there really a rule from going from 1st person to going to 3rd person?

    Is there a certain word count for each chapter when it comes to Novels?

    Should chapters be indented? Each paragraph?

    I know its a lot of beginner questions, but I can never seem to find definite answers. I read places that a novel must have over 30 chapters, but I have read novels that have had less.

    I really want to know the correct way to write not just throwing words together on a page, which is what I really feel like is what I do now. For all you veterans out there any tricks or trips you can give me I welcome them!

    Thanks again!!
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    This is a standard way to write dialogue, with quotations marks and a new line for at least each change of speaker. Some writers don't follow either one of those, but it's rare. You're best off learning the standard way of doing it, and then if you want to deviate you'll be in a better position to do it.

    There's no "rule" about switching between first and third person. Generally, you're going to see a minimum of a scene break, and more likely a chapter break, at every switch between those viewpoints. There are books that have a first person POV for one character, and third person POV for everyone else. They sell well, so it can be done.

    No, there's no word count for chapters. You can look at a variety of books and find chapter lengths all over the map. You'll find chapters of widely different lengths within the same book.

    New paragraphs are usually indented. You'll see that the first paragraph in a new chapters isn't always indented.

    As for the correct way to write - there isn't one. You're the author, and a creative person. You can do what you want, so long as you make it work. What you'll find are common or standard ways to do things that authors have found to be successful over time. It's good to know them, but you're not stuck with them.
     
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  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would add to @Steerpike's excellent suggestions by saying just beast in there and get your work on paper. Most of the questions you've asked are simple to learn, and simple to correct if you mess up. In fact most of your questions are actually formatting questions rather than writing questions. (Except for the first person/third person one.)

    It's easy to learn that kind of stuff. What's harder to scrape together is enthusiasm and creativity, which you certainly seem to have.

    I read a suggestion a wee while ago that makes perfect sense to me. The first draft is for getting your story ideas down on paper (or the digital equivalent.) Pour your heart and soul into getting what you want to say out there, in tangible form. Then you can shape it, refine it, change it, add to it, focus it ...whatever the story needs to make it work well.

    A major block to new writers can be the feeling they have to get everything 'right' at the first go. They worry and tie themselves in knots, trying NOT to make any mistakes, glom through every how-to book they can get their hands on and become fixated on following formulas. I feel that, in itself, is a huge mistake. And one that's very difficult to correct.

    How-to books are very helpful. I certainly learned a lot from them. But I never read a single one till after I'd finished my first draft. You know what? I believe they make more sense after you've already written. You'll know for sure what they're talking about, if you've already encountered the situations they discuss.

    Go ahead. Write like mad, and don't lose your enthusiasm. Push on with your story until the first draft is done. Remember, enthusiasm is very difficult to add in later on, to spice up a perfectly produced (A+ from your grammar teacher), but otherwise lacklustre story. I really believe enthusiasm can't be added in at all.

    Writing for fun (as opposed to required writing) is really the most risk-free activity I can think of. It's not like learning to drive a car or fly a plane. As long as you're not in a rush to publish substandard stuff, there is no mistake you make that can't be corrected. And what's even better—every mistake you correct during an edit is one you probably won't make again.

    Good writing will get easier and easier to accomplish, the more you write and analyze your work afterwards. Enthusiasm and an original approach are what make your writing special, not perfect first-time presentation.

    Dive in and enjoy yourself. And make a mess if that's what it takes. Clean it up later on.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016
  4. Indarican
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    Indarican Member

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    @Steerpike and @jannert Thank you so much for your input!!! It really does take a lot of the stress off. I guess my main fear is that I get all the way through my novel (I'm in the process of writing one now, about 3/4 done) and then find out that its written all wrong and can't be used, that even if I go to an editor or some professional who will help me get it in the correct format, they would have to rip it apart so thoroughly that it would no longer be my creation.
     
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  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It will always be your creation and nobody else's, as long as you're willing to do the edits yourself. Once you're finished, let some people read it, get feedback, and tackle what they've pointed out could be improved (if you agree.) Rinse and Repeat, Rinse and Repeat.

    You don't ever need to rely on an editor or professional to correct your MS, as long as you're willing to learn. That's where the how-to books (especially the ones on editing and formatting an MS) will come in handy.
     
  6. Fernando.C
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    Fernando.C Active Member

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    Well @Indarican, like you I started writing with absolutely no training and no one to help me. I had zero idea how to write story, and it didn't help that my very first attempt at writing was a novel, not a short story, not a novella, but a freaking novel!

    It was extremely hard at first, the first chapter took me ages to finish. And there were more than few times when I became so frustrated with the lack of progress that I came very close to quitting. Oh and those times that I felt my story was not good enough, that there were so many out there better than me and I didn't have a shot in hell of ever getting my book published. But there was always a voice inside my head telling me to push forward and to believe in myself and that I was more than good enough, so I pushed forward and I wrote and I wrote; And eventually it got easier, I learned more and more about writing just by writing. Also joining this forum last year and getting lots of help and feedback from fellow writers has been tremendously helpful.

    Now after a couple of years, I'm very very confidant in myself as a writer and in my story, even though I've got a lot to learn still.

    So, what I'm trying to say is ...just write and write and write more. You'll get better and better the more you write and learn more and more and in turn the whole thing would get a little bit easier over time. Also take advantage of the great platform this forum offers you, ask for help and advice and share pieces of your writing for feedback and critique in the workshop whenever you're ready to do so.

    Remember that we are our own greatest enemies at times with our lack of confidence and faith in ourselves. So just believe in yourself and keep writing and don't worry about what would happen after you've finished you'r book just yet, just focus on writing it the best way you can and use any feedback you get to refine and rewrite and fine tune your writing in subsequent drafts. And believe me you're gonna do just fine:)
     
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  7. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would suggest reading some novels written about the same genre as yours and pay close attention to how they write their story. Generally I get so wrapped up in a story I am reading it is hard to notice how it is structured, but if I go back and revisit things it is easier to focus on the mechanics. When you can post a snippet of your story in the workshop don't hesitate to do so but be prepared for the criticism, it is all aimed to help you improve your writing but seeing your faults pointed out is always painful. Just shed the pain and try to understand and learn what the suggestions made are telling you.
     
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  8. Indarican
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    Indarican Member

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    That's the thing @tonguetied, I have read several novels and short stories that are in my genre but they always seem to differ when it comes to mechanics even in some little way. I also realize that sometimes those that have more clout as writers such as Stephen King or James Patterson can pretty much get away with murder when it comes to writing, (some times I feel like James Patterson writes in chapters in one long paragraph) but I just wish I could look at a book and say "this is the correct way to write".
    I definitely will be posting as soon as I get the chance, I can't wait!
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You can differ all you want, just do it well. You don't even have to have clout - go through a bunch of first novels in fantasy and you can find a wide variety of approaches in them.
     
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