1. jj3125
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    jj3125 Member

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    Is there a hard and fast way to do it???

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jj3125, Sep 17, 2007.

    I'm wondering how other people form their stories....

    the way i write is strange i think... i get an idea. and then i start... usually with no preparation at all... once i have that initial idea, i make up most of it as i go along... the length of my preparation is only about a page forward of where i'm writing. this way of writing can get annoying as usually i hit a road block and i have to leave the story for a while until i get a brainwave of where i should take it. it also means a lot of backtracking and filling bits in so it all makes logical sense.

    it should be easier if i plan it right? plan the whole story out... before i even start writing it?? i tried that once... initially it worked well but i soon found that as i went along with the actual writing, i'd diverged so far off path, that the plot line i'd made was almost unrecognizable. the problem is... i get most of my ideas while i'm writing. they're nearly all spur of the moment. half way through writing a sentence i'll think "wouldn't it be awesome if i did that instead...?" and that lights up all these different possibilities... which in turn light up more.. and so on....

    anyways, enough with what i do... i want you all to tell me that its right or wrong, or neither. tell me how your form your ideas/inspiration and how you pull the plot strings together. is there any hard and fast way to do it?

    cheers,

    jamie.
     
  2. Scavenger
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    Scavenger Senior Member

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    I don't think there's a "right" or "wrong" way to write...though I can't do it the way you do. When I was writing fanfiction I wrote like that - I would get an idea for a title, usually, and then just start writing from that. By the time I got to the end, it usually didn't even have a plot (I once wrote 300 or more pages and there was not one inkling of plot in it at all). So now, I have to plan it out.

    However, if you feel you can't follow any storyboard plans you make up, I'd suggest planning a beginning and an end. That way, even when you go off track with your ideas and your plot bunnies, you at least have a goal in sight to keep in mind. You can change the end if you feel it's necessary, but the point is to give you at least something to work for. Hopefully, that way, you'll be able to keep yourself on track throughout the process.
     
  3. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    I do this all the time for short stories. For the last short story contest that is being voted on now, I started with the idea of a big important speech being interrupted by a traitor. Then it morphed rapidly as I wrote it. It was completed in two hours and posted almost immediately.
    There is absolutely no right or wrong way to write. Although for longer stories like Scavenger said you should have an idea of where you're going. Otherwise it could get messy.
     
  4. jj3125
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    jj3125 Member

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    you're right, i usually have a general goal - so to speak - and sometimes specific points that i want to get to. but its usually like... (character 1 has to go here.. do that, fall in love with character 2) lol

    anyways, its interesting to note how other people do it.

    cheers,
     
  5. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    I start with knowing my characters, knowing the starting point, and having a pretty good idea of the "end game". Knowing my characters means knowing how they will react in a given situation.

    As I write, I do scene breakdowns for each chapter as I come to it. The scene breakdown is an ultra-simplified form of an outline. All that goes on it is a list of the scenes I need, who is the POV character, and what action need to take place or what information needs to come out.

    I agree that there is no aboslutely "right" way to write. I have a friend who has outlined and timelined his novel to an amazingly detailed degree. I have another friend who just follows where it goes, with no plan for how the thing should end.

    Find what works for you.
     
  6. LionofPerth
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    LionofPerth Senior Member

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    Well, I find I have an idea, and an ending or a reason for the story, which I don't consider a plot.

    The sci fi piece I am getting the initial work on is like that, I had the idea of a bounty hunter returning two kidnapped children to their father, and him having to go the opposite way, the long way round, or whatever you wish to say.

    Rarely do I start with a title, with my fanfics, the titlews are often the last thing I work on, the characters, the settings, all of that I dream, I see people and places, even hear their voices. At first I saw two teenagers emracing their father as they have been away for so long, then know it builds up to which is older, how they look, speach and think.

    Beyond that I have the bounty hunter, Hayabusa, and the ship board AI of Peri, their histories, the ship itself, beyond that we we have Tavern Jay, owner of TJ's, the language and the rest of the settings.

    There is no right or wrong way, there is your way to right a story, there is the way which gets the story finished, and the way which creates chaos, you need to walk the road between them, lets face it, we write for fun, and if we get published and make some money from it, we enjoy it a little more, but we are still others things, like I'm a garbo/sanitation engineer or technician/garbologist/waste removalist, or whatever you call us.
     
  7. bluejt2000
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    bluejt2000 Member

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    It's each to his or her own but I always plan everything using a seperate text file for each scene. Scenes can then be shuffled around as necessary. I find plotting a novel to be the most exciting and creative part. The actual writing I regard more as a craft. I also do timelines and character bios (but keep these reasonably brief). I'm currently working on a medieval murder mystery novel so some research is involved. By planning I don't have to keep breaking off writing to do research. I write most of my notes in narrative form so I just have to cut and paste sections into the first draft.

    Stephen King claims not to plan at all while at the other end of the scale Nicholas Monsarrat (Cruel Sea) used to plan in great detail. He wouldn't start to write until he knew exactly what the characters would do and say in a scene. He only produced around 600 words a day but these didn't need revision (those who claim a priori that planning deadens a novel ought to read his books). Most writers fall somewhere between these two extremes.

    I'd advise some form of planning (seat-of-the-pants writers usually end up doing a lot of rewriting), but how much is up to you. There is no hard and fast method.

    My characters do still have a habit of doing or saying surprising things, but its usualy within the parameters already set. If they do step outside of them then I'll either delete or, occasionally, adjust the plan accordingly.

    From what you say I think you need to develop self-discipline. If you've devised a perfectly good plot line with appropriate scenes, etc., then why allow yourself to toally diverge from it? If the 'spur of the moment' plot is better than the original, planned one then you simply need to put more work into the planning stage. That's my opinion, anyhow.


    John
     
  8. Koosha
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    Koosha New Member

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    You can use whatever works for you. However, if you notice that you aren't getting the job done in one way, try getting it done in another. I noticed that I couldn't write anything without preplanning it (plot, outline, summary of each chapter, the order of which events happen, etc) and then, handwriting it, then putting it on my computer. It takes a lot of time, but the results are fabulous.

    But what you have to remember is that things can change. If you're writing a story, and you make changes in the middle, that's okay. You outline things so you get the just of it; that doesn't mean you have to follow the outline word for word.

    There is no wrong or right way to write as a whole, but I believe that there is a wrong or right way for an individual to write. All you have to do is find the right way for you.
     
  9. jj3125
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    jj3125 Member

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    awesome! well... i think someone said that we write for enjoyment... and i guess i enjoy 'seat-of-the-pants' writing the most. but i guess if i wanted to be more serious i'd have to plan a lot more. at the moment though, i tend to get more done when i'm improv-ing. i think thats because i enjoy the creation of the story above that actual writing of it.. so if i plan a story.. thats the fun part gone... and then im left with the arduous task of actually writing it.

    but as someone also said, the way i write needs a lot of reviewing. but that doesnt really bother me much... i enjoy reading, re-reading, editing ect.. problem is.. there's always some stupid mistake i've missed.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I find errors in nearly every published book I read, so don't feel bad. Eliminating every last spelling, usage, or punctuation error is as elusive as the Holy Grail.
     
  11. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    You seem to write the same way as me. I get an idea of a scene and then just write. However, when I write fantasy which is what I mainly write, I do have some world backstory and maps drawn.

    I do tend to stop however and write something else when I hit the roadblock. Right now though, I'm going good. I'm on the third chapter, second one needs to be redone however.

    What I'm doing with this one is write a paragraph or a sentence for each chapter's start (say for 2-4 in advance), establishing the PoV at the very least and I work on them individually with splitting things up by PoV characters. Seems to work well for me anyway, as I can just move onto another character/chapter if I get stuck.

    I'll make notes as I go also. For example, if I introduce a character in a chapter, I'll quickly make a note of it. I should be doing that with history however also when I introduce new pieces of information.
     
  12. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    I get an idea, usually incredibly vague, and try to form a story around it. I'll have a backstory planned out and give everyone a relatively good reason for doing what they're doing. And then I'll do next to nothing.

    I've got to good stories where each character has a backstory and for one of them at least I've started creating a whole world (It's over in Creation or Plot Creation. No one seems to care though ;_;). It's the actual story telling part that I can't seem to do.
     
  13. LionofPerth
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    LionofPerth Senior Member

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    Perhaps it is only a part of the writing that you find difficult Edward.

    At first I found plotting to be near impossible, each chapter of the fanfic a giant scene. Now I can weave a pretty intricate story through the practise I had writing the fics.

    I guess the point I am making is, work with your strengths, perhaps writing the history of the world, then adding in the characters and dialogue would be your way of writing.

    I'm lucky enough to dream it, so I get the movie before the book.
     
  14. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    I'll have a look at it when I get chance Edward. A question though, do you treat every chapter as a smaller story of the larger one?

    I do.
     
  15. LionofPerth
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    LionofPerth Senior Member

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    Sounds like a good way to think of things, actually, I'm ashamed to admit that I like the idea so much I wish I'd thought of it.

    Really good idea DavidGil.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    However, treating chapters in this way, the exposition element will probably come up short on chapters after the first one. As long as you are aware that the chapter is only a chapter, you can take that into account, although you may need access to the previous chapters to make sure important exposition hasn't been omitted.

    (This was from a reviewing perspective, I thought this was in the Reviewing forum. Still, as reviewing is part of writing, I'll leave this here. Chapters cannot really be written independently of one another for this reason, that part of the exposition for each chapter is everything which precedes it).
     
  17. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    What I basically meant:

    My first chapter kicks off with a woman (who'd be seen as a ranger in typical fantasy novels) walking into a village. She gets pulled up and informed that a young lad is missing. So the chapter deals with her looking for him and eventually finding him. That wraps up the short story there in about 1800 words in the current version.

    The second chapter:

    I go to a different place and different PoV entirely. There's a tribesman having dreams of conquest but there's a voice there also in them whispering encouragement. He's dissatisfied with the current situation of his people and I end the chapter where he takes up leadership. (This needs to be wrote however as I'm unhappy with the first version.)

    The third chapter:

    I go back to the woman and they're returning to inform the authorities of what they found regarding the young man though it isn't as straight forward as that.

    This enables me to jump right in to the story straight away from the first page and I've set up the two major subplots which tie into the main one straight away, though there will be more. Basically what I meant with the chapter comment:

    Try to give each chapter something to wrap up and not have it there just for the sake of being there, give the chapter an aim and conflict or something like that. Of course, every chapter needs to tie in with the rest of the book. Each chapter ideally should raise new questions and solve some in my view.

    Hope that makes it clearer anyways. I wasn't saying to have each chapter on it's own or anything, detached from the main plot point. It'll basically all come together at the end. I do at least have a rough idea how things will end, though I do make everything up as I go along though I try to have the idea of where I'm going in my head.

    I'm also one of those that likes to go back and edit before I'm finished. Also, i tend to let the characters dictate what happens, not the plot.

    Edit: Basically, the abduction ties in with the tribesmen as things that happened in the first chapter help him achieve his objectives as there's a religious cult rising which sort of sets the land into disarray. It isn't apparent immediately that they tie in but I have given hints in the narrative by the mention of 200 hundred years, this and this happened. In both chapters.
     
  18. debbiepanell
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    debbiepanell Member

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    There's no right or wrong way. I write in much the same way you do (although my titles usually come to me after I've begun working on it, and typically in the middle of the night! lol).

    One I have my first draft "completed", I go back and add in, take away, so on and so forth.

    One thing I do though, is keep track of characters and whether or not I think they'll be important and in what way later in the story. Or if I have an idea for something to happen in the middle of the story and I'm not working on that part yet.

    Yes, my desk is a veritable junkyard of sticky notes. I really should buy stock in post it notes! lol
     
  19. jj3125
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    jj3125 Member

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    hmm... this is all very interesting... i suppose it also depends on what sort of genre you write and your writing style as to how you go about writing. with regards to the chapters, i personally don't think it'd be viable to work like that, (but it could work) but i understand what you mean about several plot lines. one of the first stories i ever wrote had about 4-5 plot lines that i was going to tie together over a trilogy of books. problem with that there, is commitment. haha. ah well... its still half done... i guess i can go back to it at any time.

    my preferred writing style is first person, and i think that because of this i like to write the way i do. in fact, the stories in which i have written in third person, strangely enough, have been the ones that i've planned to the T.

    anyways, question about persona's. what do you think's better {first person or third person} and why do you think that?

    jamie.
     
  20. debbiepanell
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    debbiepanell Member

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    I almost always write in the third person. If I were to try and write in first person, I would sure have a lot of "I" sentences! lol

    I guess it depends on your style and comfort level...
     
  21. jj3125
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    jj3125 Member

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    debbiepanell... yes, yes you would. if you'd like an example of first person... look at Writing Forums
     
  22. debbiepanell
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    debbiepanell Member

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    That's a great little story! :)

    And in the US, an 'esky' is called a cooler. lol

    good for lots of beer, yup!
     
  23. WriterOfTheDead
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    WriterOfTheDead Member

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    This is one heck of an intersting forum and I'm taking it all to heart which is why I ask...what on EARTH is a plot bunny??
    (I'm not sure I want a bunny in my heart..haha)
     
  24. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    It's pretty hard to write 1st person without using a lot of I in my view. :) I wrote one short story in present tense at 546 words or so and I couldn't get away from it. It was the first and only time I tried 1st person.

    I know of one person at the very least who dislikes a lot of words ending in s with 1st person writing however. That I managed to stay away from. :)

    Writer:

    From wikipedia :)

    An idea for a story, usually referring to an author having more ideas than he or she can use.

    plot bunny - Wiktionary

    Edit: Just noticed the question on which is better out of 1st person or third person.

    I don't really think there is a better one, though 1st person is more intimate with the PoV character however it also restricts you. I don't really think 3rd person stops you from representing the characters well anyway, as you can always show what they're thinking via italics.
     
  25. jj3125
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    jj3125 Member

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    Cheers Debbie... and thanks for clearing that up.

    i dont know what it is... when i write a story... it just comes out first person.. and sometimes when i realise its going to restrict the storyline... i either work around it... or change it to third.. but you're right... first person is quite constrictive...

    an interesting way is to write as an active narrator... the book i'm reading now does that. where the narrator comes in and throws a few "Now if i were in Milli's position...." and another couple "I" sentences...

    i have a story, written in first person where i 'switched' authors so to speak. my character was 'writing' the story but when i need to focus on the characters wife... i got his wife to be the 'author'. interesting... i wonder if it really worked they way i thought it did...? maybe i'll have to post up a bit to see. do you think it'd flow??
     

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