1. Moneica
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    Moneica Member

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    I'm new to writing and not knowing.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Moneica, Apr 2, 2014.

    I have started writing a story. I will call it a story cause I have no clue how long it will be when it is finished.
    I have never taken a writing class or had any schooling in this at all. I have a very active imagination, so this helps me out I think. Some of the basic questions I have are,
    1. How long should a chapter be? Is there any guide lines a person should follow on this.
    2. I was told I am a story teller, not a writer. Is there a difference in the two?
    3. I do not use long words or try to sound like something I'm not when I write. I'm just a small town girl from Oklahoma. I write like I talk. Is that a bad thing?
    4. I also have songs and poems I have wrote. One of the most common rules I follow when do that is <K.I.S.S.> Keep It Simple Stupid. Is it best to follow that when writing a story rather it be a short story or a novel?
    I have always loved to read, and like most, I have my favorite Authors and books that I have read many times. What I am writing I have had in my head for many years and decided it was time to put it to paper.
    Thank you all for any help you can give me on this matter.
    Thanks
    Moe
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Hi, welcome to the group Moneica!
    Neither have I, just read some how-to write books and of course I write.

    1. Chapters are as long as they are, they can be 1 paragraph or many pages. Depending on your genre though, some readers appreciate shorter chapters and if it's action packed, it helps the pace.

    2. Storytellers can use gestures, voice modulation to enhance their story, all that is lost when you write. All you have
    is words and they must provide the emphasis and interest.

    3. Not at all! Big words don't necessarily mean better writing.

    4. Depends - It all comes down to what your going for, how far out of the comfort zone do you want to travel and if it's not broke - does the end result work? - than don't fix it. That sort of thing.
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Welcome to the forum.
    The short answer is no, not in terms of absolute length. I've seen chapters of a couple hundred words, and I've seen them with several thousand. A chapter is usually a scene or a series of connected scenes. Chapter breaks are a very good way to telescope the passage of time, change location or change the point of view the reader is experiencing.
    Yes. A storyteller is one who relates, from his/her perspective, an event or series of events, almost always in chronological order. It's more reportage than anything else. A writer puts the reader in the character's shoes, makes the reader feel the same fears, crises, dilemmas and emotions the characters feel. A writer rearranges time, magnifies certain things and ignores others in order to convey the story. A writer actually has two major areas of concern - the story being told and the manner in which that story is to be presented.
    Two different issues, here. If by not using long words you mean that you write in a simple, direct manner and do not rely on "purple prose", that's fine. Earnest Hemingway did that better than anyone I ever read. Writing like you talk usually means to write as if you were vocally telling the story, and that gets back to #2. When you're vocally telling the story, it is a personal interaction between you and the listener, and much of your wording is geared toward engaging the listener. But the reader neither wants nor needs that. The reader wants to be drawn into the story itself, not his interaction with you. Writing how one speaks may also refer to writing in the manner of local speaking. Mark Twain did that in Huckleberry Finn and Roddy Doyle did it in The Commitments. One has to keep one's target audience in mind because it can become tedious to read.
    Keep in mind that a novel is not a short story written long. There's a lot more detail and depth. There are subplots. My advice is to write what you are comfortable writing.
    I think that's great. This forum can be a great help. Consider it to be something like a study group, since most of us are not published writers (although a few are). I would also recommend that as you write, continue to read but not just for pleasure. Pay attention to what the author is doing and why. Over in the Book Discussion forum, I posted some of my thoughts on Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves. That might give you an idea as to how you might want to approach reading. When you write, think about how your presenting your story and compare it to how your favorite authors have done it. What's similar? What's different? How does it impact the story itself?

    Best of luck.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2014
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  4. Moneica
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    Moneica Member

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    Thank you so much Ed. You have given me tons to think about when writing. Its funny you mention Mark Twain. Cause someone told me the other day that my story telling reminded them of Mark Twain. Which I took as a big compliment. Ya know I understand in writing I can have a fictional town lets say. But there are still things to consider even then. I can say the town is Huckleberry Oklahoma. But in that town I can not talk about the ocean waves coming in off the beach. Cause there are no oceans in Oklahoma. I get very nervous when I write.I know that sounds stupid, but I try to pay attention to little things so that the story is true to itself. Another thing I have found is it has written itself. When I started I had a concept of how I was going to write it. Well it has taken on a new life in places.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I like to say that subplots are what your characters do while you're trying to get them to do what you want them to do. Even my current project - a historical novel covering 500 years that I planned to the nth degree, is very different at the conclusion of the first draft from what I envisioned when I started.

    Your attention to detail should serve you well.
     
  6. Moneica
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    Moneica Member

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    Peach and Ed, thank you both again so much. It has meant a lot to me you both taking the time to answer my questions. I think I am really going to like this forum.
     
  7. Smoke Z
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    Smoke Z Active Member

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    1. Chapter length really depends on the story. I tend to just write in chunks, following the natural breaks. Then I'll figure out how to make them the right lengths.

    2. Mere labels. Storytellers tell stories, writers write, one can lead to the other.

    3. Purple prose isn't for everyone. Expand your vocabulary so that you can find the right words to use, even if you never find a use for the big ones.

    4. Everyone has their own approach.
     
  8. Moneica
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    Moneica Member

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    Thank you bunches Smoke Z!
     
  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Other people have already given great answers, so I'll only answer the questions for which my opinion is different.

    I think of storytellers as writers who write more plot-driven fiction. Stephen King could be thought of as a storyteller because though his writing is not very good (in my opinion), some of his novels are very memorable. A writer, on the other hand, is someone who is very conscious about word choice and style. This is a subjective distinction of course.

    That's perfectly fine. That's just your individual style.

    I hate rules like this. There are no absolutes when it comes to writing fiction. Sometimes things need to be complicated because they're complicated by nature. For example, there's no way to use the stream of consciousness technique in a simple manner.
     
  10. Moneica
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    Moneica Member

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    Thank you so much for the response. All of you have helped me so much already. I am so excited I found this place!
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    1. How long should a chapter be? Is there any guide lines a person should follow on this.

    ...there is no 'best' or 'right' length for a chapter... nor are there any guidelines worth following... successfull authors vary from james patterson's 2-page chapters, to james michener's near-book-length ones, so anything can work well if you write well enough...

    2. I was told I am a story teller, not a writer. Is there a difference in the two?

    ...it depends on what the person meant by that...

    ...logically, one can be a storyteller without being able to write well, but can't be a fiction writer without being somewhat of a storyteller...

    3. I do not use long words or try to sound like something I'm not when I write. I'm just a small town girl from Oklahoma. I write like I talk. Is that a bad thing?

    ...not if what you write is readable, free of grammar and other technical goofs...

    4. I also have songs and poems I have wrote. One of the most common rules I follow when do that is <K.I.S.S.> Keep It Simple Stupid. Is it best to follow that when writing a story rather it be a short story or a novel?

    ...it's always a good rule to follow in writing anything... as is its more courteous cousin, that standard writer's axiom, 'less is more'...

    ...btw, 'i have wrote' is poor grammar, so if 'write like i talk' includes such similar goofs, then it may be a 'bad thing' after all...;)

    love and hugs, maia
     
  12. Moneica
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    Moneica Member

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    Thank you bunches Maia!
     
  13. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Isn't that wild? Sometimes amazing, sometimes scary...I'm often surprised at where my characters take my story. I once had a character pose a question to another that I didn't know the answer to! That was a puzzler, until I figured out the 2nd character simply needed to say, "I don't know". It wound up making the scene just what it needed to be.

    Don't be afraid of those diversions; embrace them, and figure out what you can learn from them.
     
  14. Moneica
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    Moneica Member

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    That is amazing to me. Just something so simple like that can bring so much to a book.
    I am trying my best to embrace them. But some of the diversions my characters have taking me on can get so mind blowing from time to time..
     

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