1. Zaggy
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    Zaggy New Member

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    How do you judge when to start writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Zaggy, Jan 27, 2013.

    I've been having problems with stories falling flat once I've finished them and think that it might be because I didn't get the story idea right in the first place. How do you judge whether your idea is worth/developed enough to write into a story? Do you work up a full concept, or do you go with the germ of an idea. Is the character important at the start for you, or do you let the character develop as you go along?
     
  2. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Obligatory "Everything is different for everyone, unique methods, blahblahblah" statement.

    Don't stress if your first draft doesn't feel right. Rewrites happen - so often we invented a word for them. Find out when and why things fall apart and fix it. It might be late in the story, it might be super early. Whatever it happens to be, do what you have to to fix it.

    I've come back to some projects and literally rewritten entire plots to facilitate better character development and interaction. Other times, characters get drastically altered or removed entirely because of the ramifications of their involvement.

    Don't expect to get everything - or even most things - right from the get-go. One step at a time.
     
  3. Zaggy
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    Zaggy New Member

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    How?

    And how do you judge whether the story is right? Gut feel, or do you have a process?
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Different people have different pocesses. One of the key differences is how much advance planning to do before starting the writing. You have to discover, through experimentation, what approach works best for you.
     
  5. AndyB
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    AndyB Member

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    the only time to start writing is now, if your story's fall flat post them and get feedback to find out why but keep writing!

    even if you write 10000 words and only use 1000 of them in your finished piece those 9000 will still have plot idea, dialog notes and maybe even whole chapters that you can use to contribute to later work and may be invaluable during rewrites.

    and another thing, I think your asking the wrong question. I started writing my book without a clue what was going to happen from one line to the next, i banged out a quick 250 words start and posted it for feedback and within a week i had 'discovered' the plot outline and major characters of that book, but also had basic plot outlines and overall story arc for another 5 whole books.

    can't wait to share some of it with you guys as i have about 50 people waiting with baited breath for me to finish the next chapter and i'm only on chapter 3 right now so i have to be doing something right with it.

    but i digress, back to my point the question you should ask is not when do i START writing but when do i STOP writing as if a story goes down in flames you can always rewrite it from the beginning and give it a second try.


    when your writing one section of a chapter another bit that would fit in much later and add to the plot may spring to mind, finish the bit your working on then while the idea is fresh do some writing around it to flesh it out so you can better see where in the jigsaw of your book it fits then when your done stick it at the end of your text with an approximate chapter heading an go back and carry on the beginning. this will give you plot devices to pick up in other sections

    a prime example of this is a mobile phone, you can either use it as a prop 'Justin called 911 on his mobile' or use it as a plot device Chapter 1 'Justin carefully unwrapped his new smartphone and opened the menu amazed at all the features they had packed in' chapter six 'Justin marveled at his lucky escape, if he had never bought the smartphone he would almost certainly of remained lost on the mountain, its GPS system had without doubt saved his life'
     
  6. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's also possible that, like for many of us, once the story's written it's just boring as heck to go back and start rewriting and revising the whole thing. I edit/revise as I write, knowing full well that once I finish it, I won't want to look at it again for a long, long, looooong time.

    I start writing when the idea has gelled - ie, I know it's not just a stray thought, and I keep thinking about whether I actually like the idea or not. Once I decide I do indeed like it, I start writing. Characters, plot - everything develops as I write. Everything I write depends on what I've already written. If I start feeling bored, I backtrack to find out why - and fix it. If I have a couple directions I could go, I take some time to think about the possible consequences and which set I prefer. It keeps the interest and determination on high - right along with my own curiosity about how it will turn out. And when it's done - well, it's done (except for polishing).
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't have any set method... i start writing whenever i have a beginning in mind... that can be as soon as i get an idea for a story, or after i have a bunch of notes jotted down re a plot...
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I usually see a character and a situation in a flash. That's the germ of my idea. Once I have the flash - it's like a snapshot in my mind that I find intriguing - I know the character well enough to start writing. I plunge in, writing a scene or two about the character, getting to know him and his world better. Almost every time, the plot will begin to form during this process and I get excited.

    There's only been one time in my life when I did this and found there was just no story there - my characters stubbornly refused to do anything, and no plot formed. I thought the idea was pretty darn good, but it turned out there was nothing there. Every other time, if I give it a chance, the story emerges. So I'm confident that this method works for me. Besides, it's a lot more fun than churning out character sheets and outlines and other non-story dross.

    So my answer to the OP's question is this: I know I'm ready to start writing when I get that initial snapshot - the character and his situation - in my head. That's enough for me to go on.
     
  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    The requirements I have are:
    1. I have to be confident that my idea can generate 100 000 words in 3 acts with twists and subplots. For this I do an outline of scenes I intend to put in.
    2. The idea has the ability to develop into something that actually communicates some universal truth to the reader, and or highlights an important issue.
    3. I need to be interested and passionate enough about my lead character and the story to be able to stick with it for a few years and see it through until completion.

    Not many ideas satisfy all these. But I have a file where I put news articles, little ideas for plots or characters, and all those things that haven't been developed but may come in very handy in future projects.
     
  10. henmatth
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    henmatth Member

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    Sometimes I'll sit on an idea for months- even years, before bringing it to life. I play out different scenerios in my mind, sometimes write a few words down to get a picture going. But I don't start the story until I can verbally tell the entire story off the top of my head. Writing gives me the opportunity to add in details. I get to pick and choose words that make the story grow. But prior to writing- I typically already know the story. But like other's mentioned- it's all a matter of personal preference. I say experiment with different tecniques and find what works for you personally.
     
  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't know if there's any formula for getting a story right. But you can definitely pinpoint what's wrong
    with the story. Go over what's making your story's flat. Since you mentioned characters and characters
    tend to get overlooked in general, my advice would be to go back over your characters.
    The story is never about space ships, or zombies or romance - the story is about your characters - their
    delimas, reactions, decisions - his journey. If this is weak, the story will fall apart.
    I usually come up with an idea, sometimes it's only a vision snatched from a dream. I
    start to shape the characters within this idea. What problem will best highlight the
    story, what angle can I take?
     
  12. cswillson
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    cswillson Member

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    You have to know the beginning and the end before you start. Then you have to know the plot -- what happens to your characters, and the story -- how it effects them, and then you have to tell the STORY is such a way that others want to listen to it, if that's your goal.

    There are a lot of boring plots that have great stories and a lot of great plots that make great adventure movies but don't have a story. It's the storyteller that makes the difference.

    Write one. Throw it away. Write another one. The common saying is that you'll throw away a million words before you become a writer. Write.

    If it was easy everyone would be doing it.
     
  13. popsprocket
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    popsprocket Member

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    I need a full scene list as well as a summary of every plot that I want going on before I can start. I also need to know about main characters - especially those receiving a POV - but they are largely in my head unlike my other notes. Otherwise it's like trying to ice a cake before it's been baked.
     

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