1. JEH
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    JEH Member

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    I'm new to this forum and would like advice

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JEH, May 10, 2015.

    Hi, I'm new here.
    I'm never published anything, just completed a screen writing course with an ordinary degree though. I'm still somewhat shy and insecure about my writing.
    I've come up with an idea for a story that I'd very much like to write, I've written a premise and a synopsis that conveys places it might go, but now I'm sunk on how to begin this.
    I feel that I need to understand people better and human psychology and different cultures and ways of life in order to make believable proper characters whom I understand everything about.
    I also don't know if my synopsis is any good and whether or not I should tweak it before writing, but I feel uncomfortable about showing anyone at the same time. I'd feel embarrassed showing my family, plus I couldn't trust them to give fair judgement, by default they'd say its amazing whatever it is. The same in general goes with people I know, yet I also feel embarrassed showing strangers and worried (in the event they turn out to like it) might steal my idea.
    Maybe I just need to get a grip haha. But I'm just wondering which of these to do. Just start writing, find someone to show things too or do research, if the latter, does anyone know of any good ways you do research as writers? What's the best way of understanding the differences and ways people of every country, culture, class, mentality, past ect thinks, feels and talks like?
    Hope this was a coherent thread starter.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't have any overall advice, except just to try to relax and have some fun with your creativity.

    In terms of "understanding the differences and ways of every country, culture, class, mentality, past"? I can't understand why this would be a goal. I certainly don't think it's an attainable one, so if the only way for you to write your story is to gain this understanding first, I think you should give up!

    You don't need to understand how everyone, everywhere, ever feels or thinks. You just have to know your own characters. You more-or-less understand yourself, right? And you're able to have that understanding without encyclopaedic knowledge of everyone else in the world? So you just need to do the same for your characters. Write them as individuals, not as representatives of Group X.

    And, again, have fun with it! Explore, experiment, see what works and what doesn't. Writing is hard work, but it can be a lot of fun, too.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2015
  3. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    I would just write a scene, which I suspect you have in your head. It doesn't matter where it fits in your story, or if it is crap, you can edit and tear it apart later. Just make a start. The more you write the easier it gets. As soon as you have something on paper, you'll know yourself if it has legs. No ones going to sell your story like you will. Start believing in it. No story is perfect, people will pick bits they like, and parts they dislike, that is not to say your story is bad. You need to be prepared to work on it for 1-7 years, it is not going to be great overnight. So just write.
     
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  4. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Writing is the core skill, so start writing. Everything else (research) is to support writing. Write every day.

    Just do this. Make some time in your daily schedule to write every day. It doesn't have to be a lot. Do fifteen minutes. But, it has to be consistent. Its gonna be harder than it seems. There are going to be things which pop up which try to take you away from those fifteen minutes. Don't let them. Once you are doing that for a few weeks, increase to thirty minutes, then keep adding, but only as much as you can do every day.

    Also, read. If you're writing novels, then read novels. If you're writing short stories, read short stories. If you like science fiction and speculative fiction, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Award_for_Best_Short_Story If you like mysteries http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Edgar_Allan_Poe_Award_for_Best_Short_Story_winners#2010s If you like horror, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bram_Stoker_Award_for_Short_Fiction. Study them, find out what makes them work and what you can learn from them. By all means, discover your own style, but have an open mind and learn from people who are further down the road.

    Everything else is a game.

    Go to the mall and sit on a bench where lots of people walk by and you can observe them undetected. Observe how they are dressed, how they hold themselves, how they orient around their friends and family, their facial expressions, what stores they go to, etc. Try to guess as much about them as you can based on what you observe. Let your gut feeling guide you.
     
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  5. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Culture may drive how people respond to things but all people have the same thoughts, fears, desires, urges and failings. Your MC will be whoever you make him/her to be. They will have flaws. They will make mistakes. The more 'human' you make them the more believable they will be. The cultural aspects you can weave in as needed.

    I agree that you just need to write some things. Scenes, chapters, conversations. If it's crap, so what? You've just learned what doesn't work. Don't do that; try something different. Eventually you will find your 'voice'.
     
  6. Tim3232
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    Tim3232 Active Member

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    I find the synopsis the most difficult thing to write. You could see if you can find someone to do a synopsis swap and critique with. However, the chances are that you will get new ideas and won't stick that closely to your synopsis anyway.

    I find i'm happier to swap with someone i don't really know - which seems daft to me, but I find family are a waste of time.

    Dialogue is very important for differentiating between characters and for revealing character. With a screen writing degree I would hope you appreciate the value of dialogue and that you're better at dialogue than most.

    I say take confidence in your ideas and start writing.

    Difficult to say how to research. I'm just starting research for my next project. I start searching online and then take library books out, but getting foreign cultures right isn't easy .I'm looking into Iran a century ago - but if i'm not spot on whose going to tell? Chances are no one will read it anyway!
     
  7. Chris Jomm
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    Chris Jomm New Member

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    I understand your fear. I think you should make a writing buddy and exchange ideas with them. That way, you won't be afraid of them stealing your idea as much, and you'll be helping someone else as they help you. Good luck! Get to writing!
     
  8. JEH
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    Thank you very much for all your nice replies.
    I guess the key is to write crap haha, I can make it gold later. For now write some bland characters just to have something.
    One of the reasons I asked was because the ways of human beings was going to be the grand central theme of this story (bit difficult to elaborate without giving the plot away) and so as a result I intended to involve as diverse characters as possible. Foe example: A guy who worked on a farm all his life in the deep south, a woman who lived in a posh family, a kid who lived on the suburbs, a corporate business leader, a person who suffered metal illness all their life, a 3rd world country character, someone from a deeply religious environment. Don't know if any of these will be characters, but just giving an idea of how varied I wanted it and wondered how to understand such people.
    I do have one last question though. Which should come first, story or characters? Should I write a story with bland characters and then once I've decided upon who these people are, I fit them into the story. Or should I have story points being instigated by the characters, aka, be being the people they are, making the choices they make, is what shapes where the plot goes?
    Maybe that's too much to ask, maybe I'm being a perfectionist haha. But thank you again for your helpful comments :)
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think there's an order for characters vs. plot. This might vary from writer to writer, but for me both characters and plot get developed at more or less the same time. Like, I start with a rough idea of both, start writing, and as I go the characters become more clear, which influences the plot, and then the plot influences the characters, and then that influences the plot, etc.
     
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  10. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    There are plenty of books out there that follow multiple characters. I would read cloud atlas for research purposes
     

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