1. linden
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    linden Member

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    How do you do it?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by linden, May 10, 2010.

    Obviously, writing method and style varies person to person and story to story. But I'm interested to know, how do you do it? Do you start with a dilemma and work from there, or do you prefer to flush out your characters and then figure out your plot? Or do you just sit down and write?

    I'm just developing my own method, but have found that often when I sit down and write, I tell different versions of the same story without any structure. I'm only now actually creating a plot outline and character bios so I can tell my story in a readable, relatable way. I guess that's where my curiosity comes from, being new at getting serious about writing (rather than it being a casual hobby).

    Thanks!
     
  2. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    I know this isn't the reply you were looking for... but whatever suits you, or more importantly maybe whatever suits your story... sometimes it might be important for the character to be facing the dilemma for the reader to be capable of understanding him later one, other times not so much...
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't call myself serious yet, but I still doubt that I'll ever _start_ with an outline and written character descriptions. I'm unable to start from the outside of a story and get excited about the inside.

    I tend to start from the inside, with a single image, or a single situation. I tack something on to that, and tack something on to _that_, and I think of another image that doesn't fit yet, and tack things on to that, and I end up with a random mess of strung-together stuff, like a baroque beaded necklace that was badly mis-beaded.

    And only then do I either detect or create a "spine" to hook all that stuff to and give purpose to it, and rearrange and re-link the beads, and throw out the ones that just don't fit at all.

    This may come from the fact that my habits originated not from writing fiction, but from writing roleplaying adventures. Due to the fact that you don't control the actions of the main characters, roleplaying adventures have a very different design process. You need a lot of brightly-colored highly detailed exciting moments that link to other moments in a very flexible way, and are inherently fun independent of their role in furthering the main plot.

    I've begun babbling now. I'll stop.

    ChickenFreak
     
  4. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    I start with a plot I find compelling, and then craft characters that I feel are perfect for driving and facilitating the story. Then tweak the story to better fit the characters, and vice versa, over and over, until you find that ideal balance of story and personality. Basically. But yeah, whatever works for you, definitely.
     
  5. Dante Cubit
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    Dante Cubit New Member

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    It is darn near impossible to write a story without at least an idea of the ending. That would be an aimless journey, IMO.

    I've tried writing without a plot, and it's certainly fun to discover where my characters want to go, but if I did not know where they were heading, at least a little, then there's no destination and no cohesion to any plot.

    I recommend starting out with an outline where you write where you want each segment to end. You can veer off wherever you want as long as you reach that segment's destination. That way, you have a little of the structure of an outline and a little of the creativity of a free-writing exercise.

    Let's use "Raiders of the Lost Ark" as an example:

    Segment One: Indy seeks Fertility Idol in South America.
    End of Segment One: Indy has idol taken from him, and he must run for his life.

    Segment Two: Prof. Jones has a discussion with two government agents.
    End of Segment Two: Indy has been given the job of obtaining the Ark.

    Segment Three: Nepal. Indy must get headpiece to Staff of Ra.
    End of Segment Three: Indy and Marion leave with headpiece.

    Now, this is a small section of how a basic outline could work. There are no details written about how Indy reaches the end of these segments, which leaves you the freedom to go in any direction as long as you have Indy running for his life at the end of Segment One.

    Just a thought. Good luck.
     
  6. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Usually I just have an idea or a theme or something. I then think over the story, the general idea of my characters. What I would want to see in the story. I usually have some sort of basic plot. While thinking of it, I usually get these scenes that are Set in Stone. While I could leave them out, the story wouldn't feel complete without them. Usually these are scenes are important for the characters.

    But everything between these scenes is up in the air. Which leaves me the fun of exploring how they got to those scenes.

    But it usually starts with an idea or theme and a few characters. Sometimes I have the end in my mind, sometimes I am surprised where it leads me.
     
  7. EileenG
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    EileenG Member

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    Generally I start with my characters in my head, and an idea of all the problems they are going to face, but not how they are going to do it, or exactly what the end result will be.

    The one time I tried sitting down and writing out a chapter by chapter outline, I messed up badly. I was so consumed by the plotting that I failed to notice the novel was about the wrong character.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first of all, what works for others won't necessarily work for you...

    i just sit down and write... if it's a book-length work, at some point i might have to do up a skeleton outline of sorts, to keep it from getting tangled up re timeline and subplots...
     
  9. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    For me it totally varies depending on the project. Sometimes it is a character that starts me out, sometimes an idea, sometimes just a few lines or an ending.

    For novels I do outlines, but the outline might be pretty skeleton at first and then I revise them as I go and figure out the details.
     
  10. Azihayya
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    Azihayya Banned

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    For me, the process is like a quest for masturbation. It starts somewhere and ends elsewhere. All articles of clothing are subject to variation, removal or addition. At the end of it all, I must feel proud of myself.
     
  11. Reis
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    Reis Member

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    Well inspiration is a key factor for motivation especially if it is fanfiction writing.

    For me, I usually just start out a beginning and a concept. It could either be a character (in which case the story becomes character-based) or a new medium (in which case I start with world-building) and go with that. It helps to have either a scripted outline or a buddy who isn't too immersed in flashy lights of imagination--He'll put some basic common sense into your story like how it's better to have a strategic surgical strike rather than an epic full-blown mass invasion just to kill one important figurehead of a nation.

    And after all that adventure, it's time to make the proper ending.

    I also have interviews with the actual people that come close to my character's experience or occupation so this way they can be sympathized (though I have to admit this method gets branded me as a weirdo sometimes so be careful who or what you might ask)

    Books for me also help and for me is Strunk's The Elements of Style to keep my writing in perspective though I still have a long way to go and yet to finish the book.
     
  12. Unsavory
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    Unsavory Active Member

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    In my case it totally depends on whether I'm shooting for a short story or a novel. My short stories usually start with an idea or a theme. Something as simple as, "what if this happened?" From there I design characters to drive the plot and hopefully come up with an idea for an ending before I've written 2/3 of the story.

    In a few cases, the ending never comes and I end up with a piece of half-written garbage sitting on the backburner.

    My ideas for novels though usually start with characters and backdrops and spread out pretty far in my mind before I write my first word.
     
  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I tend to follow Maia's plan of attack.

    An idea comes and I write it. It has tendrils that I follow and write them. There comes a point where the amorphous mass needs some structure. This is when I go back and move the players and the scenes into some kind of outline. The outline method is really never the same twice for me. I try different things. By the time I've gotten to needing an outline, I have a good idea of what it is I am trying to say with the work. The outline helps me direct those who are going to say it (the characters).

    Sometimes (often) nothing comes of it.

    It was a small idea that peters out.

    That's Ok. Don't fret. Do not throw it away!

    Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVAH throw your writing away.

    Word files (.doc) are tiny. They take up negligible space on your hard drive.

    I cannot tell you how many times an abandoned little piece of something I wrote last year turns into a part of another piece of work! As if the scene came to me too early and the rest of the work had not gelled.
     
  14. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, Mamma! I was just going to say that!

    For me, at the outset at any rate, it's hardly a cerebral process. Something I see or read or hear springs full grown as a story concept with a more or less complete story line. Of course, all of that needs to be fleshed out and many things may change throughout the growth process. But, more often than not, a few words or a sentence, an image or whatever triggers that light in my attic. "Oh, wow! What a great idea!" And another story is germinated. Most of them, because they are stored in such dark, close quarters while I try to nurture older 'siblings' to maturity, will be stillborn. But they still keep coming.

    Now, obviously, that is not a writing technique that everyone can employ.
     

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