1. MightierThanTheSword
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    MightierThanTheSword Member

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    Having trouble getting started.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MightierThanTheSword, Sep 1, 2008.

    I seem to be having a little trouble getting my plot up off the ground.

    I have a good of the Beginning and the End, but I'm having trouble coming up with a Middle.

    I'm having trouble worldbuilding, too - I don't know how to get started, where to make my characters exist.

    A have a few good storylines in mind, but I need to make this world live and breathe, have real, believable characters in it. Any tips on getting my imagination going?
     
  2. Saffron
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    Saffron Member

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    Are you writing fantasy? If so, have you tried making a map? That's usually where I start when I want to build a world. I draw the rough outline of the continent or country that the action takes place in and fill it in with rivers, lakes, woodland, major cities and towns, and various other landmarks. Often I find that the process of making the map gives me story ideas (for example, I once decided that the large forest in the middle of my map would be off-limits to anyone not of royal blood, which sparked an idea for a section in the novel I later outlined).

    Useful/inspiring links:
    - http://hollylisle.com/fm/Workshops/maps-workshop.html
    - http://hollylisle.com/fm/Workshops/how-much-do-i-build-workshop.html
    - http://www.sfwa.org/writing/worldbuilding1.htm

    I often have the 'what goes in the middle?' problem, more so with fantasy than realistic fiction. What I try to do is think about how my characters are going to get from the beginning to the end - will it require a long journey? What needs to happen in order for the ending to come about (e.g. the main character must do something to offend the antagonist, one of the characters has to die, the antagonist needs to infiltrate and take over the country's government)? Other things will need to happen in order to bring about these events, and so on. It's hard to explain and I'm sorry if I haven't done a very good job, but that's how I do it!

    Hope this helps a little.
     
  3. MightierThanTheSword
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    MightierThanTheSword Member

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    Thanks for these links - they look good, really informing. Yes, I am writing fantasy, and I have always had trouble worldbuilding. Hopefully this will get me started and help me out.

    The middle of my story is going to be a little harder. ^^;
     
  4. Ommonite
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    Ommonite Senior Member

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    The middle is a huge problem error. You'll envision a 20 chapter novel and have 8 chapters worth of story.

    Those links are good, and i can't think of many right now, but the best place to start is right here and your imagination, duh.

    since you don't have a world or a middle, you can pick one to start. Another great way is to start with world making, and just look at artwork of where you want your characters to be, THAN imagine what they do there and when.
     
  5. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    MTTS, the middle is always my problem area as well. And not just in writing, but in reading. If I'm going to lose interest in a story its usually around the middle. The only way I've found around it is to lie awake at night putting some good hard thought into whats going to happen at that point in the story.

    Maybe you're the type who works well with an outline, or maybe you'd prefer to just grab a note book and scribble down some ideas. Either way, writing down your thoughts and arranging them in the proper order can help you get some sense of what direction your going.
     
  6. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    Try brainstorming some obstacles. You've got an ending, which presumably means you've figured out the primary conflict - who will be opposing your protagonists, and how, and why.

    So take that and start trying to think in "complications." How will your antagonist try to stop your protagonist? What would be their first step? What would they do from there? Map out your villain's plan for world domination or whatever as though you were that villain, and then arrange to have the plan set into motion.

    (For example, think about LotR. Sauron wants to conquer the world militarily and spiritually. To do that, he needs his Ring, so his first move, after building up his armies, is to send out the Nazgul to find it. This drives the conflict for much of the first book of the trilogy. He also needs to overcome the various armies in his path, so he sends out spies and saboteurs to infiltrate Rohan, Gondor, etc. This drives much of the second book. You see how this goes?)

    For the flip side of things, the protagonists also have goals. What would make their goals harder? What are their specific abilities and strengths? You can give them one smaller challenge which matches their strengths, and then follow it up with a different challenge which is out of their comfort zone, and thus is harder to overcome, requiring them to find indirect ways around it. (And potentially meet and befriend new characters who DO have a strength in that area.) Think about this in terms of slowly revealing your characters, their main traits, and their primary conflicts.

    (Using LotR again, Frodo's first bits of conflict involve escaping the Shire undetected. He and his friends know the ground, and are relatively easily able to evade the Nazgul at the Brandywine. Then, they get lost in the woods. This is not nearly so comfortable a place for them, and trees don't care if you're invisible. They end up needing Tom Bombadil's help to get through this difficulty, which also enables Tolkien to share a little bit more about the Ring's history and power.)

    For even more padding, think about what the characters care about other than their main goal. Creating a subplot related to a character's personal drives and desires can be very interesting. All you need to do is make sure that it is at least tangentially relevant to the main plot (even if only because the character themselves is necessary to move the plot forward, which they can't do when they're distracted by other concerns) and that it helps to either define or resolve a character's central internal conflict.

    (Frodo stopping in Rivendell was a little bit of a sideline, but it helped to show us what became of Bilbo, who Frodo cared about deeply. Bilbo, in turn, helped to firm up Frodo's resolve and give him the courage to carry the Ring to Mordor, which is relevant to the story (destroying the Ring) and to Frodo, whose central conflict revolves around his personal courage and willpower as the "unlikely hero" archetype.)
     
  7. MightierThanTheSword
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    MightierThanTheSword Member

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    I...actually haven't read LotR. >> Shame on me! But I understand the examples, and the post was especially helpful - lol, i actually saved it on my computer. Thank you!
     
  8. ABMiller86
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    ABMiller86 Member

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    Whenever i find myself suffering from imagination/writers block there is soemthing i always do that seems to help...

    Watch Finding Forester... seriously, i cant watch that movie and not write after it is done.

    Aside from that i also like to put my characters in my head and start having them go through situations... At first ones that were in a book that i have read, or a TV show, then i start evolving the scene, again and again until my characters are in a scene that is completely original. Please note that you might find yourself talking out loud (looks crazy) so i would do this when you are alone. Also don't be afraid to act things out, i cant count the number of times a day that i stand up pick up a sword (yes i have a sword) and swing it around when i am thinking about a scene or how i want something to go.

    I know some of these ideas seem really out there, but were writers... we are told to "hear the characters voices in our heads", hmmm hearing voices of people that arent real, there is a word for that crazy. My old writing mentor used to say... "If people actually stopped and listened to the crazy people on the side of the road they would realize the only difference between a writer and them is that writers had the common sense to put it on paper instead of shouting it in the streets."
     
  9. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    Well, what's a book that you have read (that is relatively common, so I might have read it as well)? I could pull out examples from most competently-written books, or even TV shows. (I almost used Avatar: The Last Airbender as an example, but I decided that a well-known book series would suit a writing forum better than a TV show, however simple and clean-cut.)
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Whenever you think plot, think obstacles/conflicts. They are the two sides of the same coin. If you are having trouble getting a plot moving, throw in more problems for your characters.
     
  11. jazz_sue
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    Writers Forum magazine actually had an article entitled 'How to cope with a saggy middle' or something recently, so it's a common problem with many writers, even well published ones. One author said she always writes the beginning and end of a story and then works backwards from there. This seems to work for me, too.
     
  12. MightierThanTheSword
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    MightierThanTheSword Member

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    You wouldn't believe this, but I JUST finished watching Avatar. Please fire away.

    (Seriously, please. :D)

    Um, I've not read a lot of fantasy, yet...The Goblin Wood, Harry Potter (well, who hasn't?), the Percy Jackson series, Narnia books...but seriously, I did finish Avatar like a week ago. XD You can PM it if you don't think it would make sense to anybody else.
     
  13. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    Thanks muchness to MightierThanTheSword! I'm really glad that you brought this up, as I really struggle with middles too. Beginnings you're away all guns blazing, by the middle your sort of 'fizzle'. The advice thus far has been really helpful so I'm looking forward to hearing what other people reckon. Cheers!

    The obstacles/conflicts thing sounds really simple and effective - but what if you struggle with getting into the mind set of a particular antagonist?
     

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