1. callum623
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    callum623 New Member

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    I know what I want to write but I don't know how to do it

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by callum623, Jul 16, 2015.

    Hello everyone, this is my first time posting and I wanted some advice. I am 16 years old and have always wanted to write a book. However, I've never known what to write about or how to do it. But I think I have finally found my inspiration. After watching the TV show 'Skins' I have had an interest in teen drama/fiction and the way the show played out. Ever since I have wanted to write my own teen fiction book. Obviously I don't want to copy Skins but would like to use some of their ideas like a group of teenagers, school/college (or sixth form) and the things that go along with it. The only problem is I don't really know how to start or set it out. I've always liked coming up with characters and settings but I just don't know how the story should go. I'm not sure how on things like if it should be one main story line or something like several stories that all link together in some way. I'm also not sure how to introduce each character and develop each one. I'm sorry for the long post but any help would be appreciated. I would love to be able to do this but just need help getting started.
     
  2. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    Hi Callum,

    I've never seen Skins so I can't really relate to that, but I can tell you that the first thing you should do is pick up a book and read, and while reading, observe and learn how that author formulates sentences, punctuation and grammar, how they create transitions between scenes and characters, and how they describe actions and scenery; then try to emulate it.

    While you're reading books to learn the craft, start planning your story. When it comes to plot, you have to think about where you're going to begin and end, and how each stage in the plot effects other aspects -- cause and effect. For example, what happens to draw the character into the plot, and why did this event happen. Simple scenario: a cop ends up on a murder case because some guy shoots his best friend for boning his wife.

    Best friend sleeps with wife -> husband shoots best friend -> cop on case.

    Also, when reading, pay attention to what's going on behind the words. Sometimes subtle descriptions or actions can speak a lot louder than a chunk of dialogue or fully blown explanations of something simple. Like in the movies, an actors expression can tell you all kinds.

    Hope this helps, and good luck. :)

    Edit: And read around this forum for more information on planning, word mechanics, and technique. It's a treasure trove of information if you know where to look. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
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  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi @callum623, welcome to the forum.

    The best thing to do to get started is to write, don't worry what it reads like at first, just let the story poor out, let it go where it makes sense to go, but don't be afraid to throw chapters out later.

    That's what I did. Then I took what I developed and began to turn it into an actual novel. I wrote scenes from the first draft and didn't try to write them in order, rather I wrote the ones that were easier to write.

    Then I joined a critique group and started taking chapters in. I started by admitting I didn't know how to write so I wasn't embarrassed at how it read. And in the mean time I also read everything I could on how to write.

    What worked for me was to get the story on paper (or the computer screen) and then refine it.
     
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  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    When I start with a story I usually brainstorm a little to see where the story could go. There's a vague idea first and then I branch out from there. Sometimes genre really gives you a good push in the right direction - for horror you want something scary to happen, for romance you want to have the love interests meeting, for drama you want to show a change happening in the mc's life.
    I find the easiest thing to do is just plan a little ( for a novel - for short stories I don't plan at all ) and then plunge in.
     
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  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Do you read teen fiction? If you don't, I reckon you probably should. A book isn't quite like a TV show. The story may be similar, but you won't be telling it the same way.

    When you watch a TV show, you see the characters, see where they are and what they're doing, what they look like, hear what they say to each other, what their voices are like, etc. When you read a book, all these things need to be created in your own mind, using only the author's words for guidance.

    This might sound as if books are inferior to visual storytelling. However, books have an advantage. Books let you know directly what your characters think and feel. You can spend a lot of time in a character's head, getting to know them, getting to feel the way they do. This kind of involvement is crucial to getting readers to identify with your characters in your book.

    I feel the most important thing you should do is read. Read as much as you can. Read more often than you watch TV. If you already do, then you'll understand what I'm driving at. If you don't, you're going to struggle to write a book, because it's a very different craft from writing TV scripts and filming them. You need to know what a good book is like, so you'll have something to shoot for.

    You could also do worse than pick up a couple of books on writing, specifically on how to write a novel. (I presume, from what you said, that's what you would like to do.) I just had a look on Amazon.com, and this one looks pretty good. It seems straightforward and helpful, and is geared for writers who are just beginning or thinking of beginning to write a story.


    The Writer's Digest handbooks on novel writing are also quite good, especially the ones created by multiple authors. You'll have a lot of help and get a lot of ideas from reading what these authors have to say about all aspects of writing the novel ...from your original idea straight through to getting your work published. They'll answer many of your questions.

    Good luck and have fun!
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
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  6. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    I remember being that age and having this burning need to write and create something...and having no clue what it was I wanted to write about. A novel is a huge undertaking and quite daunting. I tried to do a few and would stall a few chapters in, usually coming to the conclusion that what I wrote was complete crap. Sometimes it was crap, but often there were some gems within the pages. So, what I suggest you do:

    Write 'scenes': I imagine my stories like movies in my head. They are comprised of interlocking 'scenes' or 'shots'. I once wrote a few individual scenes that had no other story in front or behind them. Example: two young people who had a growing attraction for each other get caught in a torrential downpour and seek shelter in a small building. Soaked to the skin, their hair in matted strands they wind up embracing and kissing. That is the entire 'story' but I wrote it as intensely as possible. It was great practice. I did that several times. Some scenes became the first chapters of books. Others became important scenes within other stories. You never know where these little snippets may take you.

    Write short stories: Don't feel compelled to create epic novels or dismiss short stories as unmarketable fluff. I wrote many short stories, mostly because the stories I came up with simply couldn't sustain being novels. There's no crime in that.

    You'll write garbage. Don't fret about it. I always would write stuff and then stick it in a drawer or file for weeks or months, then re-read it. If I still thought it was good, it generally was. If it made me embarrassed to put my name on it, I'd trash it. Writing is a lot like learning to play an instrument--you will need to practice a lot to become proficient. The difference is that writing need not be repetitive like learning chords; you can bounce from fantasy to romance to horror to spy thrillers as your mood takes you.

    If you've got a story in your head but aren't sure how to relay it then I'd suggest laying down a outline or, as I prefer, a timeline. A simple sequence of events that need to happen in the story, placed in order, did wonders for keeping me focused. Example:

    Girl discovers crime stuff her boyfriend is into
    Girl confronts boyfriend
    Boyfriend tries to kill girl
    Girl escapes. Boyfriend pursues
    Girl loses boyfriend but car dies
    Girl is rescued by male hero

    ---and onward from there. This is essentially the first half dozen chapters of my second novel. :) That book eventually had around 30 chapters. Ta-Da! Now it's a novel. Add and subtract 'occurrences' as needed.
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I like the idea of listing 'occurences.' That's more realistic a term than 'outline,' at least for how I write. I definitely do this, and it really helps shape a story.

    I use 'timeline' a different way, because I write historical novels. I need to know what else was happening in the world at the same time as my ongoing story, so I make a timeline of other important events. Then I start to slot in when things happen in my story. This keeps me right. However, if you're writing about something happening today, my kind of timeline is probably not needed.
     
  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Hey, I do this too - I call it the happenings list. It's more freeform then an outline though, 'cause when I start it it's always out of order. Then I whip it into shape. Lately I've been writing extended scenes.
    Good advice, DDavidV!
     
  9. callum623
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    callum623 New Member

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    Thank you everyone for the advice. It's helped a lot :)
     
  10. bunbun94
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    bunbun94 Member

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    First, think about what YOU want in your story. What type of characters would you like to write about? What conflict do you like? I've never really Skin but I think I get the gist of it. Do you want to talk about teeans suffering from depression, drugs, oppressing parents, afraid of what happen after they finish high school..etc? You need to find something you would be passionate to write about or a story you would like to tell. A story is actually fairly simple to come up with. Think about what is the character's goal and what could prevent him from reaching it? What type of hurdles could be thrown at him? And how will he eventually get what he wants? He could fail too. Also, you need to think about an initial conflict that breaks the main character's everyday life. Maybe his crush finally talk to him or he's poor or from middle-class and is accepted in a posh private school, or maybe he comes out as gay and has to deal with the afternath of this revelation.

    When you'll have decided all of this, just write. Don't spend eons plotting, you'll only waste time. That's what I did, and one day I noticed that it had been three years since I had my idea and still hadn't written a word. It won't be perfect but keep on going. If you don't know where to start, it's ok. Instead of writing whole chapters, you could write small scènes featuring your characters. These scènes don't need to appear in the actual story. It's just a way to write something and get accustomed to your characters. It helped me to get on with my story. Hope that help!
     
  11. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    The hero's journey can help you step through this. Here are some resources:

    http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero%27s_journey.htm

    https://www.youtube.com/user/clickokDOTcoDOTuk/videos

    http://channel101.wikia.com/wiki/Story_Structure_101:_Super_Basic_Shit
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think at your first attempt of writing something, focusing too much on how it should be done would be quite blocking. Just write, in whatever way it comes out. See it as practise. You'll probably have to practise a lot before your writing turns out the way you want it, but that is part of the process. Just write, and don't care about the quality at first. Just get into the habit of writing, discovering the use of words to convey what you want.
     
  13. dreamersky1212
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    dreamersky1212 Active Member

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    Believe me, I get you. Many writers start writing at your age and that is a good thing. It gives you time to develop your skills and learn how to write simply by doing, fixing, learning...wash rinse repeat. I am a little different, I didn't start reading for fun until college. I suppose it was my stubbornness. If my teachers were going to force me to read things like 1984 and the Grapes of Wrath (both great pieces of literature...but not something that is easy for a 15 year old to relate to) then I was never going to waste my time reading outside of class work. Then I read Harry Potter, yes the first books I read for fun were the Harry Potter series when I was 20 years old. Well, after Harry there was just no going back. I read, and read and read. It wasn't until my senior year of college that I realized, hey, I want to write. I think by then I had picked up so much knowledge of how to write simply through reading so much. If you read, it inspires you as well as showing you the tools you need to write on your own. So go forth and read young sir. Its fun and educational!
     
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