1. LA Bailey
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    LA Bailey Member

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    How to start?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by LA Bailey, Aug 27, 2016.

    I'm just curious how everyone else starts out their stories is it just a general idea? do you lay out the whole story on an arc before you start, or do you just start writing and see where it takes you? i personally just have random things pop in my head and i just right them down and see if i can make a story out of. i i find it a little disorganized because i feel i have great scenes just it they don't stream together maybe i should start with a story arc thoughts? ideas? feedback much appreciated. thank you.
     
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  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think everybody does this differently. I know I had my story 'cooking' in my head long before I started writing it. In fact, it was cooking long before I decided to try writing at all.

    When I did actually begin writing (with my first wordprocessor) I started with a scene that came in the middle of my story. I wrote that scene first, because I could conjure it up in my head, complete with dialogue, characters, and it was a pivotal plot point as well. I wanted to see a) if I could write at all, and b) if the characters were strong enough to carry a story. Because that scene came partway through the story, I was then excited about getting my characters to that point, so I wrote a few prequel scenes. Then, once I had developed the story voice I wanted and the characters were taking shape, I went back and wrote the first chapter. From then on, I more or less wrote in chronological order.

    Interesting that so much has been changed since—although that first 'middle' chapter I wrote still exists in heavily edited form, and from a different POV as well. My actual Chapter One has changed out of all recognition from the first 'beginning' I wrote. Once you start writing, things become more focused quite quickly. You realise you've set something up that you need to develop or justify in some way. And that leads to more writing, more shaping, etc.

    Of course I'm talking novel here ...a long one. I don't know about short stories.

    I did pants the thing quite a lot, although I had some scenes very strongly conceived beforehand. But the emphasis changed as I wrote, and I realised partway through that the focus had switched from the development of one 'main character' to another, who turned out to be my actual protagonist. More shaping, more editing ...but a much more satisfying story.

    I think the secret is to let your ideas 'cook.' Don't write a great scene, think there's nothing you can do with it, and just walk away and write another one for a different story. And ditto again. I think this is very important to any writer : get in the habit of finishing what you start.

    If the scene doesn't lead anywhere, work on it (in your head) until it does. If you do this, I guarantee you'll eventually have a 'eureka' moment, and you'll be able to fit it into a story. If you just walk away and start thinking about something else ...then something else and something else ...eureka probably won't happen. Create a story problem and then solve it. Don't give up UNTIL you've solved it. Even if it means changing your original idea because you've just thought of something better to do with that particular piece of writing.

    The answers don't necessarily lie in the physical act of writing. Writing is kind of the end product, in my view anyway. Sometimes the answers you need will be obtained by just thinking and daydreaming about your story. You don't have to be hammering words out every second in order to be 'writing.' Writing is more than words. Writing is also ideas, feelings, events, characters, dilemmas, resolutions. Get those straight and the right words will follow.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
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  3. LA Bailey
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    LA Bailey Member

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    That kinda sound like what i have going on though those first thing i had pop into my head was the beginning and i feel its a really powerful one, and i have all these great ideas just struggling to get them to paper and sync it all up. i was talking novel too i like character development better in novels its more slow burning .
     
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  4. Scot
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    Scot Active Member

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    My stories never start at the beginning, if you get my meaning. An idea pops into my head and I then attempt to weave a story around it. Sometimes I'll try several strorylines, based on the original idea, before settling on one worth developing.

    Once the basic story is fleshed out in my head, and in my notes, I do my best to come up with a solid beginning, an enjoyable middle, and a firm ending. Of course, I don't always succeed.

    I cannot simply sit down at my desk and think "Today I'll write a story." Can anyone?
     
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  5. LA Bailey
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    LA Bailey Member

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    Right. i know i just struggle with structure sometimes and i go all over the place. i just feel if i had a little more strutuce i might be more successful.
     
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  6. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    This is me.
     
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  7. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Find the structure that works for you. There's really no one way. I like the take notes about characters, genre, concept, and plot points and then start writing when I feel comfortable. Half pre-planned half improvised, to some degree it depends on the incidence, sometimes I'm more spontaneous other times it's quite pre-planned.
     
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  8. LA Bailey
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    LA Bailey Member

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    yeah I'm trying. thinking about maybe doing a synopsis of all the chapters in order just a general thing then go in deeper see where it takes me.
     
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  9. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    You can only really find out by trying. It will probably be fairly natural to you, so actually it should probably be fairly easy.
    EDIT: I should probably qualify that I'm eighteen and have yet to be published, though other more experienced people have said that the same/similar things, I could be wrong fairly easily.
     
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Do you finish what you start? If you do, then structure is something to work on during the edits. You have no idea how much I restructured my novel after the first draft. (Including an entirely new beginning that set the story off in a different direction.) I combined chapters, split chapters, transposed chapters, wrote different connecting chapters and scenes. I even changed a near-end event to the beginning of the story!

    The structure was something that needed a lot of work in my novel. I spent far too much time on certain elements, not enough time on others. I needed to set up stronger motivations in a few places. And cut out a lot that didn't move the story forward. Or tweak parts that weren't moving until they did. This is all part of the editing process.

    Of course if you don't finish what you start, you'll not actually see the whole structure at all. So finish, if you haven't already. Then put it away for a while, and come back to it when you've kind of forgotten how you wrote it. Read it again and see how it hangs together. Edit it, making the changes you think you need to make. Then give it to somebody else to read. If you're still worried about structure, ask your reader to pay particular attention to structure and offer some suggestions if they find problems.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
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  11. LA Bailey
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    LA Bailey Member

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    yeah i never finish anything i write i write like 200 pages then just throw it out because i feel like its crap and i need to start over. i definitely get what your saying about finishing though cant ever know if i dont finish thanks you have been quite helpful
     
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  12. Nightstar99
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    Nightstar99 Contributing Member

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    I generally have the whole idea in my head before I start, but other than that I just get going and see where it takes me.
     
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  13. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the past, I've winged it, but I recently switched to preparing outlines starting with index cards to track story and plot elements, etc. I try to get all this seat-of-the-pants stuff out of the way in a synopsis based on the index cards and outline.

    Best to start wherever you're most comfortable. Personally, I like to organize my random thoughts into some order before I start writing.

    Okay, let me just reverse part of that. I don't like to do all that planning because it can get really tedious, but it does work better for me and that's the part I like.
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That's a real shame. But it's also a very bad habit. If you feel something isn't working or is "crap," then put it away for a while and think about it. What makes it crap? Then make changes accordingly. Nothing you write is set in stone (until you publish it, so don't be in too much of a hurry to do that) and everything can evolve. Identify your story's problem (or get a beta reader to help) and then work on it until it's no longer crap.

    I've said this before on other threads. The habit of not finishing your stories is deadly if you plan to be a writer. If you run into writing/story problems—and most of us do—then you need to start solving them. Don't walk away from them. You'll just repeat the same mistakes and encounter the same problems in the next story you attempt to write. Don't give up until you solve a story's problem and get it finished. It may not turn out to be your best work ...or in fact, it actually might. But either way, you've got it done and can move on.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
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  15. LA Bailey
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    LA Bailey Member

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    Thats what im trying to do now an outline so i can stay on track

    yeah i just get different ideas and i feel like some of the stuff i write isnt well written but that is an excellent idea maybe i should just evolve it with my new ideas .
     
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  16. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Combine them into a bootyful fusion!!
    [​IMG]
    That's a great way to improve old ideas and use new things you're not sure what to do with.
     
  17. LA Bailey
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    LA Bailey Member

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    yess i feel the creative juices flowing thank you everyone
     
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  18. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it takes most people a while to evolve their process, perhaps not as long as me (over 30 years so far) but still, a while. I found that reading a lot of books on how to write helped me pull together ideas from other writers into a process I can call my own, but what I was missing for most of the years I was doing this was actually writing and getting feedback on what I was doing.
     
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  19. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Yes, always test it and practice it.
     
  20. LA Bailey
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    LA Bailey Member

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    i also read books it seems to help but i fell its procrastination method too .
     
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  21. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Yep, this is me too. My whole writing life, I've just tried to wing it - more or less the way you've said you've tried to, @LA Bailey, with a few scenes in mind and shaping the story as it comes to me. And like you, I've struggled to finish much. I had an idea for a story over a year ago, but I was afraid to write a word of it before it was ready, for fear I'd kill it like all the others. So I sat on it and let it incubate for a long, long time. Finally I started to jot down ideas, a basic plot structure, and after a long time of trying to figure out what their names even were, my characters. I decided to try index cards to keep all my ideas where I could see them - pinned to a bulletin board.

    Partway through that, I decided to finally (after a year of trying to decide) bought Scrivener and did exactly what I'd been doing manually - index cards and bulletin boards - in the program. I outlined the plot scene by scene - the ones that needed to happen. It started out bare bones, but eventually ideas began to flow in a way I have never experienced and I saw the whole story as it wanted to be written. So it's there, all in index cards telling me what needs to happen in each scene from beginning to end. I've started writing those scenes out now, and I can feel more momentum than ever before. The story feels richer, the characters more real. The whole process feels less like pulling teeth than it did when I was writing blind, more or less.

    I'm not saying get Scrivener. I'm saying try something opposite of what you've always done. If you usually wing it, try outlining every single thing. Scenes and ideas may change while you're writing, but maybe if you can see the beginning from the end, it'll be easier to walk that road.

    I recognize that some people hate and feel hampered by detailed outlining. It's not for everyone. I didn't think it was for me. At least for now, though, it seems to be helping.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2016
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  22. LA Bailey
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    yeah i have been changing my processes, doing outlines and stuff it seems to help. i have also been looking into Scrivener seems pretty cool. I'm going to download and see if it helps with the process. thank you.
     
  23. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know this has been addressed elsewhere and you acknowledged it's probably an issue, but I see you're still not capitalising properly. If you only write like this on forums I suppose it's not so bad (although a habit I wouldn't like to get into) but if you generally write like this and plan on submitting anything, you'll probably not even get the courtesy of a rejection letter.
     
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  24. Sack-a-Doo!
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    I have to admire the fact that you can get them all on a bulletin board. Perhaps you have a really, really big one, I don't know, but I need the entire wall of our living room (25 feet long) to get all my cards up at the same time.
    I tried doing story-planning in Scrivener, but it didn't work out. I was convinced at the time that it was because of some failing in Scrivener itself, but it just struck me that if I had one of those wrap-around monitors I just might be able to see all my index cards at once. Of course, I'd still need the ability to do a non-linear sort, but maybe they'll add that feature some day.
     
  25. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Ha, I wouldn't have been able to fit them all if I'd finished doing it manually. I realized I was quickly running out of room, I wasn't even a 1/4 of the way done, and switched to Scrivener. But 25 feet of index cards! That's quite a feat! I'm not sure mine would cover even half that. Maybe if I wrote out all the scenes I've now got planned in Scriv, it would cover the 10 foot wall in my bedroom. Maybe.
     
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