1. Constance
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    Constance New Member

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    Is it possible that I just have the imagination?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Constance, Nov 10, 2010.

    That was meant to be *don't* have the imagination - sorry!

    Hi there

    I'm new to this website - glad to have found it!

    As I mention my profile, I have always wanted to write, but I often find that I struggle with ideas. Whether it's because I feel too influenced by something which has already been published, or because my own idea seems a little too "flimsy", I always end up abandoning my ideas. Sometimes I think they just won't "stand up", and sometimes I can't seem to flesh them out so that they make a story long enough to be a novel.

    I really, really want to write. I can't imagine a life without it; I just want a story to tell. I want to create a story and characters that people can get totally absorbed in, that they will remember long after they've turned the last page.

    If I was meant to do this, do you think I'd have this problem? Should I take the hint and consider it an impossible dream?

    Any advice gratefully received!

    Thanks!

    C
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just don't abandon your ideas, you are probably expecting too much from your first draft. Don't worry about it being good just finish a story then use that to make the story great. In order for a character and story great you need to know it, until I have worked through a first draft I don't know my characters or the story well enough.

    I had no expectations of my first draft which I think was an advantage - I was surprised when people wanted to read it lol And even more surprised they enjoyed it. Think one of my greatest advantages in writing is that I never wanted to be a writer. It was never a burning goal so I didn't get upset with myself when things didn't work. Mine began one accident with a pad and pen - it grew into what is now a series of three stories with more on the way lol
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't write based on ideas then - go with a character or something, and just focus on the emotional side of the story, or something else which will give you some depth to the story before you start trying to plot around it. Trying to come up with the next great innovative plot will get you nowhere, and thinking too much about the originality of anything will get you nowhere.

    I tend not to look up or read things too much like what I want to write. For example I read very little horror, but now I am writing a story about a vengeful river spirit zombie thing killing off gay Victorian poets. Don't have aaaaaany idea how original it is - I was just inspired by rivers and the fact that I like reading Victorian writers, poets and playwrites, and thought a horror plot might make it more interesting than just writing a romance or something. I'm not going to look up anything like it or read around the subject*... Maybe someone will tell me "Hey that's really like...[X thing I don't know]" and by now I've written enough and got to know the characters well enough I can just be, "Eh, but my story is MINE! :D"

    Basically, you just need to write until you get to the point where you can see there's enough of you in there that the actual originality of the plot doesn't matter. It's the writing that people will care about. And the more you write an idea the more you can introduce that is individual to the story, no matter how typical "can be summarised in 3 easy phrases and someone could name a million stories that follow the format" way... Because among those million will always be several gems that came AFTER most of the other million, but people still invested their money and time in reading/watching. You just need to write it so you know what angle you've put on it to advertise it by.



    *subject being "zombies versus poets", mind you. Of course I've been researching the Victorian period. :p
     
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  4. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    All great ideas start out pretty mundane, and all "fresh" ideas start out resembling something else very much. You just gotta be persistent and keep pounding that dough until something weird happens. Something original. Or just something "you".
     
  5. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^All Big Ideas Start Out Small. Period. They may seem cliche or whatever at first, but with some good brainstorming, a dash of research perhaps, and you've got something. Another period to think about is: If it's something you yourself would go out and buy at Barnes & Nobles, then it's worth it. Craft it around your own likes as an author.
     
  6. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Exactly what Taylee said. :) What may seem little to you may seem big in another writer's eyes. It's just a matter of perspective, and also a little bit of writer confidence. ;)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    of course that's possible... in fact, even probable, since only a few who want to be writers have the requisite imagination and talent to succeed...

    but that doesn't mean you can't be one of those few... the only thing that will ensure you fail to make the grade is to give up trying/working...

    so, do you want to prove that it's an impossible dream for you?... or do you want to keep working at it, just in case it's not?
     
  8. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    I have that problem currently; I'll write a couple pages, decide my idea is insubstantial, and scrap it only to start over with something else the next day. I find it helps to do two things:

    One- Don't plan for a sequel. If you make plans for what to put in a sequel it detracts from the first book, and makes you feel like the first book is meaningless. Focus on creating characters and emotions, and then a journey for those characters to undertake.

    Two- Don't even consider that you might not have the ability to do something. In my experience, people can learn anything that they want to, including writing skills. Imagination is something else entirely, but just the fact that you want to write probably means you have enough imagination to create the world you want.
     
  9. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    Maybe if you aren't getting enough to flesh out a novel, you could start off smaller with short stories. Otherwise, if you have ideas there are ways you can practice fleshing the particulars out. Ask yourself questions. What does this character want? Why does this character not want them to get that? Where is it going to happen? What does that place look like? What kind of people live there? Simple questions like those can help you to fill in the blanks.
     
  10. Cecil
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    Cecil Member

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    My question is: How much writing have you actually tried to do?
    If you give up before you even start, or after a few pages/chapters, I think you aren't giving it enough time.

    You might want to start with short stories. Not that short stories are a stepping stone to novels or anything (I think that's a common misconception) but they are a whole lot shorter. You could use them to test your basic story telling skills. On the other hand, short stories are harder for some people so it might not be an accurate test.

    Either way, I suggest you just write. Even if you think your idea is unoriginal or just plain bad, see it through to the end. Even if it's still bad by the end, maybe you can figure out why it's bad and work out the kinks one by one.
     
  11. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Imagination is overrated. Your story matters much less than how you tell the story, your style of writing. Many of the great books of our time have very simple and sometimes virtually non-existent stories, but are written with great style or originality or insight, and this is what readers respond to.

    Plot is ultimately pretty irrelevant--you'll find this opinion expressed by a great deal of contemporary authors, and I think they're right. Plot is just a means to an end, and really it's the easiest part. What isn't easy is finding a way to write about those plots interestingly and originally. So focus on that and the rest is easy.
     
  12. k.little90
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    k.little90 Active Member

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    Practice, practice, practice!

    I've found that the more you write, the more comfortable you are with stepping out of your box and stretching your imagination.

    And like others have said, there are billions and billions (blahblahblah) of books out there, so, no matter what idea you come up with, it most likely will have already been written about. The thing that makes it an original idea is the writing style.
     
  13. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    A little bit contradictory. While plot may be overrated (as you say later), imagination is kinda essential to "great style or originality or insight". Whenever you're looking for ways to enrich the plot skeleton and weave a garb of magic to pull over it, you're not following a formula -- you're using your imagination.
     
  14. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    You're right, that was a little clumsily worded. It certainly takes a certain degree of imagination (or at least ingenuity) to develop an interesting style. But that's where the energy should be placed, not in trying desperately to imagine wild, overworked stories.
     
  15. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unless one has an Ed Wood fetish, of course.
     
  16. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    My advice would be to start small. Short stories, articles, build up your experience and confidence before trying to tackle a novel.
    Play around with dialogue and character interaction. Give your characters a problem and ask yourself how they could solve it.
     
  17. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    You are just being too hard on yourself. It is natural for a person to be lost if he/she comes upon a new experience. I would say you are in the stage of discovering your style, or as I would like to say, "Discovering yourself through your writing." Restarting again and again is one way to discover yourself, but it is more often frustrating than helpful. Another way is to examine your manuscripts over and over. It can also give you ideas that you had not thought of before.

    Nevertheless, the most important thing to do is to just keep writing. Even if you feel your manuscript is a duplicate of another or that it is too "flimsy", you should still keep going. It is my guarantee that you will eventually come up with ideas that you will want to add to your story. After all, no two person is exactly the same, so I see no reason why the writing would be exactly the same as well. You will go back and realize that such and such idea would be good here or there, and before you know it, you will have so many ideas that it will turn into something all your own.

    By that time, you will probably be overflowing with ideas, enough to write several novels even.~
     
  18. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    You wanna start writing? Than start. Start small, and don't worry about how sloppy it is. My first attempt at writing was about as pathetic as they can come and I still ain't "there" yet. But I grew, and I often grew through sheer willpower and advice, along with maturity. Just start writing. See what comes. So what if the stories suck, they'll get better.
     
  19. miss_darcy
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    miss_darcy Member

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    Hi C!

    I can relate with you on this for so many reasons. I've been writing since I was about 13 or so (but that was mainly fanfiction) but I have only finished one story out of probably 20 or so (not including short stories because I have finished those!). But I get this my idea in my head because I was inspired by something (either a song, a picture, or just something that I saw) and then I would lose the feeling that it was good I just never felt that my writing was good enough so I would stop that story, and move on to another idea. And it's also happened to me recently. I stopped working on my novel in August because I just was like "you know, this will never amount to anything, I'm always getting writer's block, blah blah blah" and so I just stopped. But I came back to my novel, and I lost my old notebook that had a lot of character names, and ideas, and a part of chapter one. So I almost had to start with a clean slate (luckily I have my prologue on here and in my documents). But in a way, it was a good thing because I came up with a much better idea and now I just have to stay focused and believe that there's some quality in my writing. And honestly I think the reason why I would stop was because I only had my friends read my writing so it was kind of biased and it wasn't constructive. But you won't find biased people on this website, they give really good feedback and that can either inspire you to become better or you may sulk about it, but hopefully if you really feel like a writer, that will only inspire you.
     
  20. miss_darcy
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    miss_darcy Member

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    Also, don't be afraid to look at some reference books in the bookstore, they're really helpful. That's what I've been doing and it's helped me get out of my rut. :)
     
  21. sereda008
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    sereda008 Senior Member

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    I would advise that you should listen to music and lyrics. I get my ideas from lyrics which is so heavy metal that I cannot understand moist of it, therefore my mind automatically fills in the blanks with something interesting, creating a story. My first book idea evolved from superhuman soldiers starting a war to cybernetic organisms attempting to wipe out all life. My second novel started with the song 'Forsaken', where I though the word forsaken meant "Holy" or "Worthy". This as well evolved dramatically.
    I am also certain that your ideas will evolve if you give them some time and inspiration.

    But if you are really out of Ideas, I suggest that Hypnosis audio (can be easily found on the internet) or a dream might help you. Dreams are a good place to look because they create unique stories which might turn up just great. Turn on music on your phone at random, they will affect your mind and help create a story. Happened to me once when I dreamt of a perfect horror story (Unfortunately I could not remember it despite having spent the whole day trying to do so).

    I am completely serious, everything I told you worked with me.
     
  22. lumivalko
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    lumivalko Member

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    I actually started writing generally by stealing ideas of books and novellas I had read, but adding my own things into them (never published stories or anything, haha). And slowly I started adding more and more my own thing. Although, even nowadays most my stories start from an idea I get from some other story or maybe drawing.
     
  23. Random
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    I'd suggest keeping a dream journal for some months. Though it might sound like a silly idea, trying to remember something eventful from a dream can be difficult. Also, you'll probably learn to remember more about your dreams if you write them down consistently. If nothing else, you might end up with a few decent scenes that you can incorporate into your story. Unless you're extremely lucky, getting a coherent plot outline is unlikely.
     
  24. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    It's possible to lack the imagination, but that doesn't seem to be the problem here. Rather, you seem to lack confidence in your ideas.

    Now, that lack of confidence may be justified - I'm not going to tell you to just believe in yourself and everything will work out fine, because self-critizism is also important. But even if you are right, that just means you need more practice and more influences.

    Most importantly, don't assume you are too influenced. If your ideas seem too similar to something else, it means your sources of inspiration are too narrow and you haven't mixed them up enough. Allow yourself to get ideas from other stories, and try to find your own ways of exploring them. When your read or watch something, allow yourself to think: "I like this idea, but I would have done it this way instead." Then store those thoughts away, combine them with each other until you have something that you can think of as your own story.
     

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