1. Sir Jack
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    Sir Jack New Member

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    I'm 13, what to do?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sir Jack, Jul 8, 2010.

    I'm 13 years of age and I have a passion for writing fiction. I am yet to write a book or anything really, but in English, especially in reading and writing assessments I get, what usually is the highest in the year, as I'm in the highest set. I'm not exactly a geek though, I have an interesting social life involving football and all of my mates. Basically, we all hang around in a large crew, and a slightly smaller group of generally 'chavs' and 'slags' cause a lot of trouble with us, and around the corner, we get into some grief with the older year's 'hard kids'.

    That's the general story of my life, and I want to be a writer in the future, and to practice, I want to create characters parralel to real people, friends and enemies. Without being biased, I want to create a plot to last several novels and write about what generally goes on, but I'm struggling to organise my ideas. I don't know how to plan my story, characters, settings etc. Also, I'm not sure of a good, complex plot, instead of just writing about playing football against other people and fights every dinnertime. I want to add twists and turn the story upside down, add action and romance etc. I am unsure how to do this, as I'm at a fairly young age.

    Also, my last question would be how to improve as a writer. What GCSE and A Level courses are essential, and others which may benefit writing. And shall I take a degree? Also, how to get my book published.

    This is my general plan: create a database of my novel including all the characters, settings etc. Then plan the plot of my novel and section them into novels and chapters, and finally get down to writing the first and second drafts for each of them while I progress greater writing skills and grow older. Then, when I've entered Adulthood and know exactly what I'm doing, rewrite them and transform them into my best possible work.

    To sum this all up, my questions are...

    - Is there anything to help me think up a plot, and add twists?
    - What is the best way to organise my ideas and create a databse for my novel?
    - How can I improve as a writer? What qualifications are neccesary?
    - Any improvements to my plan?

    Thank you!
     
  2. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    You don't need any qualifications to write. You're only thirteen, don't bother trying to write your first break-through novel just yet. Short stories and flash-fiction are great places to start, because you need to hone your skills & learn what to and not to do.

    - Andy
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    First, read, read, read. Play "What if" constantly with stories you read, or watch on TV, or see in the news, or around you. For courses, pay attention to grammar and spelling. Put your best efforst into every shool report you turn in, and ask your teachers for feedback on the writing itself.

    You'll find your own ways to organize information. I doubt a database in the sense of a software Relational Database will do you much good. If you mean a database in the more generic sense, any system that allows you to find information efficiently is fine.

    Practice writing short stories first. There is a lot you can learn that way withouth getting discouraged when you have to scrap it and try again. And that will happen.
     
  4. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think qualifications are the easy thing. First you should have a good understanding of grammar. Secondly you need to be an avid reader. Reading good and if possible great books. Third, you need to have a active imagination. Fourth you should learn how to give a constructive critique on other peoples writing. Not just the grammar issues, but really look at the piece of writing. I believe the philosophy around here is that if you can become good at giving critiques, then you will be able to better analyze and edit your own work. That and it also helps you better take the review. Oh and almost forgot. Be able to research. Whether its researching Mythology to add to your story or how a Sniper Rifle works. While you might not need to add all the details you learn. You should try and become familiar with the subject. You don't want to have your assassin use a sniper rifle to take out an enemy 4 miles away(longest shot wasn't even 2 miles. Not that it wasn't impressive or anything.)

    Atleast this is in my opinion.

    As for coming up with plots and characters and all that fun stuff. Well thats partly where the imagination comes into play. However you can always play one of my favorite games. 'What If?' What If Bob had a girlfriend, what would she be like? What If WWII never happened? What If Bob has a girlfriend, but wants a boyfriend?
     
  5. Tiki
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    Tiki Member

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    These are all really great ideas!

    I think the biggest struggle you may have is feeling like your not getting anywhere.
    I started writing my first book in 8th grade. I worked really hard in HS and finished it, but rereading it made my stomach flip with how horrible the first half is! The coolest thing was seeing how I improved through the book! But even by the end I wasn't very happy with my writing... it wasn't very good... BUT I IMPROVED! :)

    I'm a plot person, I can plot stuff all day, writing is the struggle. So for me the best thing is to take my random ideas and just start writing. I wouldn't need to plan to finish the story, or even more than a few pages, just practice getting ideas on paper and making them sound like I want them to.
    For you, with you wanting to parallel real people, start with that. Pick someone you know that you find could be an interesting character and write about them. You can write how a regular day is, or maybe they witness a crime (how would they react?), maybe they need to face a fear (dentist? roller coasters? blue cheese?), just any situation, then write!

    Every sentence you put on paper brings you closer to your goal! Best of Luck!
     
  6. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    - Is there anything to help me think up a plot, and add twists?

    A dandy little experience called life. Simply put, if you experience things, your mind broadens, and that will make a difference in your creative process. Reading helps, but isn't as necessary as many people here would like you to believe. I hardly read at all these days, yet I've never been more satisfied with my own writing. Why? Because I'm experiencing more than I ever have in my life, and it's showing in my writing.

    - What is the best way to organise my ideas and create a databse for my novel?

    That's something you'll have to discover on your own. Personally, I just open up a blank Word document and dump all the info I have on my stories into it, just in case I forget something. But such a messy method may not work for you. Experiment.

    - How can I improve as a writer? What qualifications are neccesary?

    Qualifications? This isn't medicine or engineering, this is fiction. EVERYONE is qualified simply by having an imagination and a good grasp on English (or whatever your language). I personally can't imagine that I'd get anything worthwhile out of a writing class, except maybe critiques, which you can get right here on this site without having to call it schoolwork. As for improving your writing, I can only repeat what I said above: live, and write, and don't stop doing either.

    - Any improvements to my plan?

    I can only question your wanting to turn people you know into characters. If they don't like what you do with them in your stories, it could be a mess. Especially if you choose prominent people with some real world influence.
     
  7. Arvik
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    Arvik Member

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    Hi there,

    I agree with all the suggestions above. Read anything and everything you can- you'll get ideas, a sense of what's been done, and examples of what not to do. Get specific feeback/advice from your teachers. Above all: just keep writing. It's all experience, and nothing you write is ever wasted.

    But remember you need to time to practice and mature. Life experience and experience writing will help you with the plots, characters, and organization. It's great that you're starting now (more time to write!), but try not to worry yourself too much!
     
  8. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Read like crazy, don't give up, write, read some more, read other peoples' critiques, critique things yourself.... The list goes on..

    The main thing is don't get intimidated by it because you are relatively new. Start off small. Don't beat yourself up or give up if the first thing sucks. That's okay because it takes time, practice, effort, and a lot of reading to get really good at it. Even after years of writing I still learn new things all the time. It's an exploration. Accept it for what it is and you'll do fine. :) Write something you know about and feel strongly about. Even if you don't know about it you can always research like crazy so you can understand it from as many angles as possible. Always write what you feel strongly about though. If it's in you to write it then write it.
     
  9. madhoca
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    - How can I improve as a writer? What qualifications are neccesary?

    As other posters say, read extensively. Don't just read 'classics', read good contemporary fiction, also. I'm sure your teacher can help with suggestions.
    Practise writing a lot. You write nice and fluently, but you have a few spelling and grammar mistakes in your post. Of course, you are only 13, but work on mastering spelling, punctuation and grammar--it will never be a waste of time.

    Yes, I know going to university is not essential for being a writer, and a degree in English does not a writer make, but if writing and playing with language is what you love, uni is an option which you shouldn't ignore. Qualifications ARE necessary if you want to study e.g. English. You need what used to be called English GCE O and A level to apply. I don't know what it's called now--I left the UK 24 years ago--but you still need to get those exams and complete the load of coursework.

    I get rather bored of these 'school of life' aficionados. The best writers I know either had a very good standard of education, OR they worked like mad to improve themselves, and they usually found it a long slog. Make it easier for yourself by getting all you can out of school. Philosophy, history, politics, economics, geography, physics...all these subjects can be useful. I don't know what direction your interests lie--and later, your focus may change, so again, be a good student!

    I worked for free at a local paper when I was 14-15. Maybe you can check out possibilities of work on student newspapers etc.

    Good luck!
     
  10. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    First, I would like to reiterate what the others have said. Read good fiction and write something/anything every day. (There is an old saying 'Practice makes perfect')

    Secondly, Relax.

    After reading your post I would say you're on the right track to achieving your goal. For a thirteen years old, I was impressed by your writing, you didn't go off on a tangent or use a load of redundant words. Well done.

    I look forward to reading more of your writing.

    Trilby
     
  11. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    In addition to the great advice above, see if your school or town has a newspaper/magazine that you can submit articles/stories/poems to. That's always a good place to start.
     
  12. Sir Jack
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    Sir Jack New Member

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    Thanks guys, much appreciated. I have deeply thought about your advice, and I've realised how much I'd have to improve to become a successful writer, so I'm going to write some fan fiction based at Hogwarts of the Harry Potter series, and read all of the novels. It's going to be based on the world, however I will incorporate my own characters to practice my skills of developing them.

    The reason for this being I am an epic fan of the films so I will write about something I thoroughly enjoy, and build up an imagination. At the same time learn about them and think of them as real people. Thanks again for the advice! :)
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Personally, I find fan fiction to mostly be training wheels. Maybe it will make it easier to ease you way in, but it's much more rewarding to dive in and come up with a setting and set of world rules that is 100% your own.

    If you only ride with training wheels, you will limit yourself.
     
  14. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    A couple of years ago (when I was around your age), I tried fan fiction as a starting thing too. But I always found that I was deviating too much from the original, and that it was stopping me from being entirely creative and original. You should move on to original stories, rather than fan fiction pieces.
     
  15. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    That's exactly what happened with me when I first started writing more seriously. It was at least... geez.. how many years ago? Like seven.. possibly eight.. I loose track of time easily.

    It will stifle your creativity if you use someone else's stuff. The way to get stronger is by exercise. Your mind needs exercise just as much as your body does.
     
  16. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I never found that writing fanfic stifled my creativity. I find it to be a fun writing exercise. Its fun to try and capture an already existing character perfectly while also attempting to abide by an already established canon. Now I suppose not everyone views this, not even fan fiction writers view this.

    Hmm maybe it does limit my freedom. I find it a limitation thats fun to work with because I know I could just as easily create my own characters and write a story about how some dude wants to try and fill space with balloons. Lots and lots of balloons.

    Hmm I guess I am not making much sense.
     
  17. Taylor3
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    just write your fan fiction. You're only 13 and you'll probably learn a lot in the process. I'm sure you can be plenty creative within the world of Hogwarts.
     
  18. Robin O'Nell
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    - Is there anything to help me think up a plot, and add twists?
    Your brain can do that, but if you are stuck with a writers block or need help with writing here's something that I do:
    Take a book you haven't read, read it, then take it apart, make an outline for it, write out character plans and setting brainstorms, anything you can think of. When you're through, you should have about 1/16 of what the writer has in his/her notebook. This should help you think of how to think of a plot, but don't copy.
    Try thinking of your daily life, that could help you think of a plot or twist, if you are depressed about a bad grade on a test, you could turn that into a book, I'm serious. You could think, 'hm, I got a bad grade, should I write a book about that? Well that probably wouldn't be very interesting, so you could switch it up a bit, like have a magician go to a wizard school but fail his final exams.

    - What is the best way to organise my ideas and create a databse for my
    novel?
    If you want to create an outline (which is a very good idea for you), Inspiration is a good way to go, although I think it's only for macs. I have a mac so I only know the stuff on there, so I think Excel could work also, for like, character development plans and/or charts.

    - How can I improve as a writer? What qualifications are neccesary?
    You don't need any qualifications to become a published writer, although publishers may be more likely to accept your book if you've actually finished college. I suggest not majoring in creative writing or anything similar to that because you may not be able to make a living off of just writing, so it would be the best idea in my opinion, to major in something that can help you in future jobs. You are still 13, which is very young for an aspiring writer, so you will probably change your mind as you get older, but writing is a wonderful hobby that I encourage you to continue, as it is enjoyable and could be a possible career option.

    - Any improvements to my plan?
    I'm not quite clear on what your plan is, but here's what I would do in your position:
    Read as much as you can, read the genres you wish to write, read the genres you don't want to write.
    Critiquing others work is very helpful, because when you get good at it, you can critique your own work, which is sometimes hard to do.
    Carry a notebook around with you and when you hear a quote, something funny, or a word you don't know, write it down. By doing this, you may find a helpful prompt for writing.
    Continue writing as much as you can. Right now, you are thirteen, so you don't have a very wide vocabulary or knowledge of grammar and spelling, this will improve as long as you keep reading and writing.

    I wish you the best of luck.
     
  19. Ennui
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    You can be a best-selling author.

    It all depends on your habitual and ingrained beliefs and others' support, which makes up your desire. Once you have a very clear vision ahead, wait patiently while you write every day, ultimately compiling bits of prose into a book. If your book is not accepted, take this as a feedback, not a debacle, then use a different strategy to overcome the problem.

    And, yes, since you are a youth, publishing a book may not be feasible. Very few can believe that you are precocious, a prodigy, etc. The publishers may not think that you may know all about contracts, and those business and marketing stuff. If you want to be a writer, start now. Start with writing articles, prose and poetry and submit to online literary magazines. Or simply start your own website and post your works into it.
     
  20. Sir Jack
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    Sir Jack New Member

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    Thanks a lot. So, if I begin writing, is it best to start up my own website (which I wouldn't have a clue how to), or post on writing websites, such as this one. Which would get more reviews to critique my writing and creativity?
     
  21. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    You shouldn't post something if you plan on publishing it. I'm assuming at this point though you aren't worried about publishing just yet because you are honing your skills. Posting on a forum would probably be the best way to get feedback. There are rules about the review room though. You need to post two constructive critiques. Meaning giving more feedback than "that was good" or "it sucked".

    http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?p=408268#post408268

    Here is a thread explaining further. :)

    Doing your own website generally costs money for webnhosting and domain name. You could do a blog on blogger.com. Or you could just stick to forums. There are so many things on the net and blogs are about as popular as a physical diary. You're more likely to get more feedback on a forum. Best of luck. :)
     
  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're more likely to get critiques by posting on forums, but if you start a blog (and it's incredibly easy with Blogger), it's easier to read through your past writing, plus you can post as often as you want - even daily or many times daily, if you feel like it.

    So I'd suggest doing both.

    ChickenFreak
     

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