1. Azated
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    Azated New Member

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    How to start writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Azated, Jun 20, 2008.

    Hi, i just found this forum, I have been looking for something like this for a long time.

    Anyways, i was just wondering about how to start writing a book. Every time i try to write a book, i get about a page in and discover that im really only copying a book ive recently read.

    What i would like to know is, how do i stop copying a book ive read.

    Oh, and what should i use to write a book? Should i start with pen and paper, then switch to cmputer? And which program should i use on the computer to write it?

    Ps: Some tips on writing a book are VERY welcome.


    Well, thanks for reading and please reply with any suggestions.
    :)
     
  2. InPieces
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    InPieces Senior Member

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    In this instance, I would make a mind map. Maybe put your genre of choice in the middle of the page, and try thinking of ideas (cliches and non-cliches) that would make good stories in that genre.

    However, the truth be told, I will be almost impossible for you to come up with a *completely* original idea. There are billions of people in this world, and probably just as many books (whether well-known, or personal-computer bound). Themes and original concepts are running extremely low, so by now, the most a writer can do is mix multiple concepts together, or even put a new spin on old concepts.

    Good Luck,

    ~ InPieces
     
  3. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    You might want to first try just writing the book, even if you feel it's merely a copy of something else you read. At least you would be writing something--judging by the posts around here there are LOTS of people who can't even get that far.

    Then, when it's done, you can compare and judge to see if it's really a copy, or just your own personal take on a universal theme.

    Once you've found out whether you can finish a book or not, it should be relatively easy to try another one that's more original. (You might need to try outlining or plotting ahead of time to avoid copying again.) But the trick is, first you have to see if you can write a complete book, period.

    If you find that it's too difficult to write a book, then perhaps try a short story or a novella first. But again, don't worry too much about copying something else until you've seen if you can finish the story. Maybe those books you think were just copies of others' work would have turned out completely different if they'd been finished?
     
  4. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    Also, don't know if this applies to you or not, but it sounds a bit like your expecting to see a completed, perfect, ground breakingly original idea when you read through your first draft. Plots and characters and themes naturally develop through re drafting (something you will most likely have to do a lot of) so something that at first might seem cliched or similar to another book will change and grow into something completley different.

    Also, something I learnt in media theory is that there are, according to some accademic person, only 49 different possible plots, and every book can be fitted into one of those. Just like InPeices said, think about how many billions of books there are, and how little plots in comparison.
     
  5. Azated
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    Azated New Member

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    To InPieces: Thanks, I'll try that!

    To tehuti: Thanks, I might try that too. But i think i'll start with a short story first :)

    To Scribe Rewan: I guess i do expect a completly new idea, but i guess i'll have to combine a few from some books. And thanks for the tip about Re Drafting :)
     
  6. Sandy Banks
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    Sandy Banks Member

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    I have exactly the same problem. Im always copying what i've seen on the TV without realising it. Its weird. I do it on guitar as well. I'll come up with some chord sequence or picking pattern and think "This is it, this is the big one, im a genius, an actual genius". And then i'll show it to one of my friends and they'l be like "thats Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles you dolt" and its so dissapointing.

    I've never written anything like a book so probably not best person to give advice. But would say that you have to plan a book out, the action and the chapters and whats going to happen, before you sit down and write it. Also, if you just keep writing even though you know its a copy of another book you might come up with your own original ideas. That happens to me when i use the tv for inspiration. And finally, i tend to write lots of little scraps and short stories. Perhaps if you start small and work big it will help. I always hope that one day i'll be able to fix all my little scraps together into one long book. If only it was that easy.
     
  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Get into a routine would be my advise.
    Even if it is just a page or a paragrath at first, write every day.
    I always aim to get at least 1000 words every day if i'm not doing anything better.

    It is all about making yourself work, even if you don't feel like it, its no big deal as you can always go back and rewrite it if you arn't happy. Then writing comes easy.
     
  8. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    I recently discovered that the book I'm pretty much centering my life around now is almost a copy of a book I read eight years or so ago. Then I discovered that a lot of people didn't like the old book. So I'm writing it better.

    Like the others said, there's a limited number of story ideas in the world. There's an infinite amount of ways to write them.

    Write on whatever's best for you. For example, my handwriting is deplorable, and I get writer's cramp after about two sentences. So I prefer to type. It's up to you, though. If you do decide to type, get a program with a spell check and perhaps an emergency autosave program. A lot of us use Microsoft Word, but there's tons more that are probably better.

    And as for how to start? Two words: Chapter One.
     
  9. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    I loosely quote C.S. Lewis here when I say 'Be true to yourself, and of necessity you will be original'.

    Of course, people accuse me of ripping him off. Because I have a magical portal that goes through a door. The cheek of me.

    Anyway, I'd say don't sweat it. Decide what your story centers on, and try to make that one central element something new and meaningful to you. In a properly constructed story, that will make the whole thing somewhat fresh, because its very existance relies on something relatively non-cliche.

    And start by writing whatever scene you want to write. It doesn't have to be the first one. In many of my stories, it's taken me a few days to get down the first sentence, but in the meantime I've written many other things instead.
     
  10. Rebekkamaria
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    Rebekkamaria Senior Member

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    I've always had a problem with the whole idea: "Everything has been done before." :)

    There has never been a person like you on this planet. There has never been someone who thinks like you, has the same past, likes the exact same things as you, is interested in the variety of things you are interested in, and nobody writes like you. You are as unique as everyone else.

    That's why I think we can always write original things. Of course, we have everything that has been built before us, but we also have our unique way of looking at things.

    Learn to know what you want to say and then start writing about it. Eventually, you'll find a way to surpass this problem.
     
  11. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    the first thing you need to do is develop a character, world (if its fantasy or sci-fi), central theme, or plot. then make sure you avoid a cliche (dont do evil overlord/king. used way to many times. unless your main character IS the overlord. that might work)

    if you can manage to think up one of those you can just brainstorm or make a mind map to start the flow with thinking up the rest of the story.

    for instance you might think up a couple of plots

    1. average boy gains power and takes on evil king
    2. group of people get stranded on a strange island
    3. average man is betrayed, sent to prison, but comes back for revenge
    4. story of the life of a velociraptor stuck in our world from its eyes

    then cut out plots that sound familiar

    1.eragon
    2.lost
    3.monte cristo
    4.NEW! (if its been used before someone tell me cause it sounds pretty original to me)

    then brainstorm some and start to develop the rest of the story. but be careful of things that have been used before. and once you've developed most of the story in your head. start writing
     
  12. Azated
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    Azated New Member

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    hmm interesting.

    To Milady: I get writers cramp too and my handwriting is as bad as a monkeys, while im also as slow as one, .ut on the computer i'm faster than anyone i know, so i think i'll write it with word.
    And yeah, i think starting at chapter one would be a great idea, how'd ya ever think of it? :p

    To MumblingSage: Thats a good idea about writing whatever comes to me first, i think il try it. Thanks :)

    To Rebekkamaria: Interesting, never thought of it like that :p

    To Honorius: I was thinking of doing something like that with my char being evil, but i never really thought it would be a good idea. Thanks for the help :)

    PS: Just reading these few posts already gave me a few ideas, thanks everyone!
     
  13. CybaSumo
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    CybaSumo New Member

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    I aggree... all you have to do for now... is learn from those things and improve yourself.
     
  14. garza33
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    garza33 Active Member

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    In glancing through I don't believe anyone answered the question about which programme is best to use for writing. If you are on a Windows machine, the best is Notepad. On a Linux machine, the best is Vi. Both are text editors with very little to get in the way of writing. A step up from Notepad is Wordpad, which is halfway to being a full-blown word processor, but without too much complication.

    There is an advantage to saving everything as a plain .txt document, either ansi or ascii. A .txt file uses the least space, emails quickly, and will work on anybody's computer. Of course, it won't have any fancy formatting, but all the words will be there.

    I never use a word processor for writing. I don't want to worry about anything but getting the words down. Later, when I need to run spell check, format the document, add titles, footnotes, and such, I open the document in Atlantis if I'm on a Windows machine, Open Office if I'm on a Linux machine.

    I use five computers. They are not networked, so an infection in one is less likely to spread. Two of the computers I use run Windows 2000, still the best Windows version, two run XP, and one runs Linux, Puppy Onebone. Puppy is a great Linux distro, tiny, yet capable of doing everything I need and more. Onebone has no GUI, and a background in Unix is almost essential in getting it properly set up, but once running it's super fast and a joy to use.

    The Windows machines are all in the kitchen and share, through switches, keyboard, mouse, monitor, scanner, and printer. The Linux machine is for mass storage of reference material, my personal archives, and my book catalogue. It's in the room with my books. While I'm actually writing I have only an Oxford Concise dictionary and a third edition Fowler's at hand.

    None of that is useful information for you except to make the point that I am very experienced at using computers for writing, and from that experience I have learned that a plain text editor is the best programme to use until you are ready to put the final touches on the document.

    I remember seeing a discussion in another forum about saving your work. One practise I have that has kept me from losing masses of material a couple of times is never to store data on the system drive when you are running Windows. Microsoft DOS and Windows install in a partition on drive 0 labeled C. Data should never be stored in this partition. The C partition is the part of the drive most likely to crash because it carries both the operating system and the operating environment and is thus the hardest worker. If you only have one drive, use three partitions, one for system files, one for programme files, and one for data files. I go a step beyond that. My Windows machines have small (six gigabyte) drives for the system and larger (80 gigabyte) drives for programme files and data storage. My Linux machine now has two 100 gigabyte drives with all data duplicated.

    I've done it again. I get to running off at the mouth and don't know when to shut up. Sorry.
     
  15. Azated
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    Azated New Member

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    To Cybersumo: Ok, thanks.

    To Garza: Err i can see why you're a writer :) And thanks for the tips. I have microsoft office 2003 on a disk somewhere, but it's not installed. I only have wordpad and notepad right now. So i guess i'll try with them both :)
     
  16. TBrennan
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    TBrennan Member

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    I wouldn't worry about copying somebody else's work, it more than likely happens to most people (even me). Mind Map is a great tool to use, for coming up with ideas from scratch. But you don't have to start off writing a book, if I were you I'd start writing short stories, then long stories and after you've mastered them you could move on to a full length novel. It takes time so don't put pressure on yourself, I learned from that the hard way.

    Just my two cents
    TB
     
  17. WAN73D
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    WAN73D Member

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    Most young writers (including myself) tend to forget one of the key steps in the process: Revision. Personally, I think it's because the term "revision" carries negative connotations. "Revision" points to cutting your work apart, removing things, and making sure that all the grammatical edges are clean for the publishers. "Revision", quite simply, is tedious. A better word is "refining". You say that you're copying a story that you've recently read/seen/heard. Why? Because you identify with some part of it. It attracts you. Find the part you relate to and focus on it. Cut it open, and let all it's intricacies bleed out onto the screen.

    The other posters are right; there are no truly original plots left. That's because 99.9% of all stories relate to a single theme at their base: humanity. Even the ones about aliens, monsters, deities, or dinosaurs do this. They each demonstrate and emphasize some aspect of the human condition.

    However, just because nothing original remains to be seen it doesn't mean you can't give your work a convincing mask of originality. If you really want to invest the time, give yourself a mental colonic. Take a week (or more) and don't watch any t.v. or movies, don't read any books or magazines, and don't listen to any music that can be avoided. You will probably get very bored very fast. In a way, that's the goal. At some point, you'll start examining yourself and the world around you. You'll start contemplating every experience you've ever had. You'll start paying extra attention to the people you pass in the streets and hallways every day. You'll realize that every single one of them has a story that they perceive and understand in a way that no one else can. In the newly blank hours, try to do things that enhance this phenomena. Go someplace with no plans in mind. Let your mind and body wander. You'll see and experience things that you've never imagined.
     
  18. Aurora_Black
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    Aurora_Black Contributing Member

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    Wow... That was the best speech of all time :D Well said!
     
  19. Night
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    Night Member

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    Wow, that's a really good idea you have there. o_o I might consider doing that sometime. . .
     
  20. Azated
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    Azated New Member

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    To WAN: I know the bits about the book that i like. It medievil, it combines phscic abilities and the ability to bond and talk to animals, and the main character is an assassin that has both the physcic ability and the ability to bond with animals, and he is bonded to a wolf.

    I love all those things, but i dont know how to put it into a book without making a complete copy :p

    Its pretty much impossible for me not to use any electronic things :) I'm a video game addict.

    I think i tried something like that but i lasted for about 2 days before i got so intensly bored that i was almost asleep while walking to the kitchen.

    But i think il try it again. Thanks for the tips :)
     

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