1. boo
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    boo Member

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    How do you know if your idea is a good one..

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by boo, Oct 8, 2009.

    What makes you stick with a story for 60 or 70 thousand words 'til it is finished. When I write, a lot of my stuff is character-driven rather than plot-driven so it can quickly go by the wayside, without conflict, but when I write it I think of this is good, I like it, and then after the third or fourth revision, I am torn and wonder if it is not complete and utter crap. What drives you to finish a story and not throw it out during the revision process? (I blame this on my perfectionist streak) but what encourages you to stick with a story and see it through to the end (yes, I did have a question after all that rambling lol :)) How do you know if others will like it? I mean if JK Rowling and every other New York Times Bestseller gets rejected ten times, I feel even more doubtful about my own story...Is finishing a story more than half the battle? I read some statistic somewhere that if a 1,000,000 people set out to write a novel, only 10,000 will actually finish.
     
  2. Lmc71775
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    Lmc71775 Active Member

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    Hey Boo,

    That's a very good question. Before I started my novel idea, I bought books and researched how to write a novel. And the number one rule I got outta it, was keep going, DON"T look back until you have finished the story. Even if it takes months, don't start the revision process until you have a first rough draft done. Otherwise you will be stuck not finishing it in the first place. With a revision you can add and delete plot ideas within the story itself, but at least you'll have a beginning, middle and end. It does NOT matter if the beginning middle and end suck, it is in fact a story. A complete story. You can always go back and change it. Nothing is written in stone until your book is in print.

    Go with your gut. Let the story unravel on it's own. Keep writing until you are absolutely satisfied with the novel. Then put it away for a week or two and look at it with fresh eyes. Then start revising and revising and revising again.

    When you feel stuck or want feedback then post portions of it. After getting even more ideas you can breathe new life with more plotlines into it.

    This process might take months, I realize this. I am in the same boat as you. I wrote a 35,000 word novella in two months, revised and revised and got feedback from a professional editor. He marked it up with red up down ad sideways and said my story is a bit dull and depressing. But he did say if I spice it up with another plot within all my other plot ideas, it would make all the difference.

    So, my suggestion is. Take your time. Be patient, but remember keep writing! If you are a true writer, which I have a feeling you are, you will never stop writing...well at least til you can no longer hold a pen in your hand. Then when that happens, get a tape recorder. hahaha

    Best of luck to you Boo.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    To start with, though, don't get hung up one whether the idea is good enough. Whether or not you finish the novel is mostly a matter of discipline and persistence. Whether or not what you end up with is any good is a matter of the quality of your writing, which in turn largely derives from how much time and effort you put into learning and practice.

    Yes, it is a long and daunting journey, and not everyone is up to the challenge.

    Only you can decide just how nadky you want to get there.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...i'll assume that was a question and answer it, though a ? would help... ;-)

    ...what would make me stick with it for 100k words [60-70, is too short for an adult novel] is that it's a story i'd like to read...

    ...as it well could be... but if you don't know that from the start, or at least when you read over your first draft, then you probably aren't a discerning enough reader and/or read only/mostly junk and need to read more of the best stuff, so you can tell wheat from chaff...

    ...if one is revising, then the 'story' is finished... if you meant edit and polish, instead of 'finish' then what makes me keep going till it's ready to submit is the same thing that made me start it in the first place... see answer in bold above...

    ...i'd know because i've been reading successfully published works non-stop, since i first learned to read... and i know what i've written is as good, or better...

    ...imo, the answer to that question is 'yes!'...

    ...and i wouldn't advise wasting time and money on reading how-to books... to learn how to write novels, just READ them... lots of them... the best ones... constantly...

    ...same goes for anything else anyone wants to learn how to write... the only exceptions are song lyrics and scripts, where a good how-to is needed, to learn the format and mandated idiosyncratic writing style...
     
  5. boo
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    boo Member

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    Thanks Cogito and Lmc71775 :)

    Whoops, I write Young Adult (that's why I had the shorter word count--it's still substantial though.)


    This is not my problem. I am widely read, in fact I'm a veritable bookworm. ANd yes, I am well-versed in literary classics. I think part of my problem is that I might be overreaching, like I want to win a Newberry Award, or Orange Prize (for Women's Fiction) lol and I'm a debut novelist (I think this is every writer's dream though to be critically successful and popular in the mainstream). Whether a writer gets there or not is another question entirely. I think my problem is largely self-doubt and also just wanting the story to be perfect--which no novel is.


    I guess I meant I am a notoriously bad self-editor and edit so much along the way I never complete a manuscript--which I know I need to smother the editor in me until the first draft is finished.


    I don't know I guess it goes back to the self-doubt thing, I;m not very arrogant in the fact that I don't think I'll be hailed as the next Margaret Atwood or Fyodor Dostoevsky, or JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer (for Young Adult) etc. To me there is such a huge gap between reading and writing, it is like watching Michael Phelps swim a lap on TV and then trying to beat that record yourself.
    Good advice. :) I think I just need to plow on with the story and have others read and comment on it along the way. I think outside feedback may really help me as well.
     
  6. Lmc71775
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    Lmc71775 Active Member

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    Absolutely! I couldn't agree with you more. That's what we are all here for. Good luck with your projects. Young adult...sounds interesting.
     
  7. Laters
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    Laters New Member

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    i just wanted to add that i think what might be contributing to this problem is your lack of confidence. maybe you're afraid to actually finish the book for fear of failure.

    just believe in yourself. it allows others to start believing in you too.

    also i think a little arrogance is needed. everyone should believe they have what it takes. it's a good feeling to have.
     
  8. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you answered your own question. Nobody can decide if it is a novel that will get published, and you should ignore the success rates while you're writing but be aware of them while you're submitting. But you said that they "can quickly go by the wayside, without conflict." Character or plot driven, there has to be a substantial conflict. Maybe the conflicts you have chosen, if you have any at all, are not enough to last a novel. It has nothing to do with whether or not it is good. It may be that the ideas you have so far are better suited to short stories.
     
  9. boo
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    boo Member

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    yes i think you are very right. i'll try to work on my confidence. :)

    I agree, without conflict...you don't have a story...I think I just need to write in my own voice and just see what happens, hopefully I'll have a worthwhile story at the end of it, something I can revise and work on.
     
  10. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    Believe it or not, some of your bigger named authors expierenced things like this. In fact, one of Stephen King's first novels was a case where he didn't believe it was good enough so he threw it out without even finishing it. That book later became one of the many books he's famous for today.
    As to your question as to what makes me finish a book, it's just the sheer will power I guess. Honestly, I cannot say entirely what drives me to complete a book I have begun, though I am known to start a book then never finish it (I actually have several like this at the moment), though I still do finish them at some point. Like I said though, I believe it's just the sheer will power that drives me to finish a book.
     
  11. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    I figure it's a "good idea" if I think I can really get some substance out of it. Unfortunately some of my ideas end up fizzling out. Still others hang on in my mind because there's more to tell. You just have to roll with it.
     

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