1. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    Style List of Questions From An Aspiring Author

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by isaac223, May 19, 2016.

    Hello, Writing Forums. I, Isaac Stump, have long since been an aspiring author and have been attempting to write a half-way decent book to get published for about half my life (7 years). I want my first novel, or one of my first as I have a tendency to work on countless projects at a time which can be attributed partially to my lack of success finishing a book, to be of the Gaslamp fantasy --fantasy of any caliber combined with themes from gothic fiction and placed in a setting that is the or is inspired by the Victorian/Edwardian era and can be considered the magical brother of Steampunk-- and psychological thriller genres and need some tips for writing it, as I, as a 14 year old with little to-- well, actually, absolutely no professional writing experience and with my saddening inability to obtain very many books at all to read so to study various authors' writing styles. Thank you for taking the time to read this and, if you did, answering my questions:

    General Questions:
    1: What is the best way to introduce information, including the information that sets the ground work for the plot, lore and the world? Every time I attempt to set the groundwork for the lore or even the information concerning the world or even the character's circumstances it always seems like infodumping to me, which is a clearly boring introduction to a book. By this, I also mean more than the simple "tip of the iceberg" of the lore, but, a good way to introduce additional information the characters and readers may learn throughout the series, as well as a good way to introduce the supernatural, rather than the typical "character/item connected to lore drags MC into lore."
    2. This may be a difficult to answer question, especially considering the potential vagueness, but I would like to ask what the best way to write a complex plot is. What are the best ways to tie, what I hope to be, extensive lore into backgrounds and personalities and even quirks of characters, items, historical events etc., and to be able to make backgrounds of the characters be as relevant to the overarching plot as possible, as well as into the overall plot and not make something seem like a contrived explanation for everything. Also means best ways to present and foreshadow plot twists or other events so to not make something seem like an, excuse me, "asspull," for lack of a better term. This also includes what the best way to write a character's background is. Another thing I would like to try is where you're able to trick a person into feeling that all the information needed for the novel that the plot will circulate around is already given to them yet have these small little nagging questions which grow more and more pronounced as the plot goes on that, despite fooling you into thinking everything is there, is able to smoothly let you feel there is more than meets the eye and can fluently reveal more of the lore.
    3. Keeping it short, the best way to write the psychological thriller, either as a prominent or less pronounced genre, including philosophical dilemmas and legitimate psychological issues, as well as mixing this in with the supernatural and lore and whatnot, as well as making it relatively relevant to the entirety of the rest of the novel.
    4: If I am using a trope that is somewhat commonly used what would be the best way to study aforementioned trope to see what the best way to present it within my story is?
    5: Like question 2, this one might be hard to answer but what would be the best way to note or map out the plot-points in a novel whose plot one intends to make complex. I already keep what is called a "story bible" for the information concerning the world, but the plot has always been more of an issue for me than the lore that backgrounds the plot.


    More Specific Plot-Circled Questions:

    Well, as I begun working on the lore and world of my medieval high-fantasy I begun to think of some potential, somewhat darker and more complex plot ideas which alone seem somewhat cliched or just not good enough and was wondering if it wasn't too much to ask for help possibly expanding on these ideas -- improving them, as well, though I believe I asked this in question 4 of the previous category of questions. While answering these questions, it'd be nice if you could answer them both for the setting I specified before as well as in general, just in case I ever wish to use these in any other setting in the future -- though this is more of a request and is highly optional if you don't wish to. If you do wish to, the setting is a fictional country inspired by the Victorian/Edwardian era, not to be totally historical accurate. Most of these may not actually present a question in and of themselves, so simply assume that its asking what the best way to do that particular plot would be and, if you could think of ways to expand the ideas into one or more of the other ideas.

    1: Done to death, I know, I know, but I oddly have somewhat of a partiality of plots that involve the cycle of life and death becoming a toy -- particularly, where one character is forced to see one they care deeply for die repeatedly (typically in highly or increasingly gruesome manners) -- or just the overall stories that involve the looping of a particular date or time to either stop or constantly witness the same, different or similar calamities each time that typically result in the degradation of the sanity of the character at the butt of this misfortune. Or, removing the calamity and having the event loop be apart of some form of motive for some character's warped mind and perspective upon reality, or it just being the best or only conceivable way to achieve their goal. The MC could be at the butt of this either willingly or no. (Think the song and the manga and light novel adaptions of the song Kagerou Daze, the "Choose Your Own Adventure" game Life is Strange, the translated PDF of the Japanese light novel series Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria *The Empty Box and the Zeroth Maria* or, to an extent, the 2D anime fighting game BlazBlue Continuum Shift, etc.) As such, this is one of the few plot ideas I have had and, as I have somewhat of a partiality for this kind of plot, I was attempting to think of ways to write it without it seeming cliched. Since its done to death, I imagine its hard to make it wholly original and, to what experience I have with this trope, has been done best in Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria. I was personally thinking that the best way to make it original is to make the entirety of the plot more complex by having that trope, while seemingly predominant in the plot, turn out to only be a small piece of much bigger happenings, which could be tied in with a hopefully extensive and immersive lore and characters whatnot, which I suppose could also be answered in the previous questions. Additionally, I think this trope could also be done originally while involving, perhaps, rather than a character the MC loves, a character the MC despises which, while more gradually, still degrades the sanity of the MC as he possibly starts to realize particular things or out of the kindness of his heart begins to think through what it must be like to be in that circumstance, or, whatever it may be(of course, this all depends on presentation, as do all tropes, as well as the personality of the MC and why he hates aforementioned character). I think this could also be done well to be, what seems like the entirety of the plot for the series but it gradually leads into a much larger world and plot, possibly a milestone for the plot that actually has a conclusion but is able to be called back to be accredited to later plotpoints, character development and the like. Though, I still am at a loss as to how to wholly go about this, however aware I am that this plot/trope, like all, can be done well through proper presentation of characters, their, as well as this plot's, relevance and other aspects of the novel.

    2: Another plot idea I had, or perhaps able to be amalgamated with the above plot idea, is one involving the standard idea of the inability to leave a particular place. Of course, this probably telegraphs my inability to think of a wholly original concept, though I like to partially accredit this to my equal inability to obtain any new books. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean it has to be absolute Hell of incestuous relationships between darling little flowers locked in an attic for years despite psychological thriller being somewhat of a preferable genre for the novel (since, after all, the psychological thriller aspects could come in later in the plot, or be from different sources). Now, what I mean possibly is either the inability or limited ability to leave one's home or some other place. I plan for the main character of this book to be the next of kin as heir for position as head of one of 2 royal houses that rule over the fictional country, which, the reason for there being 2 is actually explained in the history. Anyhow, I was planning on there being a rite of passage, a form of rite that introduces the next of kin to society before they are allowed to freely move about and/or socialize. (Indeed, I am cringing at my ability to write a plot too.) Anyhow, I was wondering how to tie the lore, especially the supernatural and whatnot, into this without the character simply wanting to go out on their own but they can't and sadness or loneliness causing the MC to have an imaginary friend which turns out to be a real person/being that drags the MC into the lore, which seems to be the most common ways this was used.

    3: Lastly, I was wondering what the best way to craft a form of supernatural that exists in the world, either widely known or not, that, while it still feels mystical and magical in ways one would expect from a fantasy novel, also has somewhat of a dark or sinister feel that would of course be explained through the hopefully complex lore. A type of supernatural that would fit nicely in with the Gothic themes and Victorian/Edwardian settings yet still be immersive, deep, complex and the like -- this includes magical abilities some characters may use in combat situations or other worlds that exist parallel to this one, etc. etc..

    I will notify in the comments if any edits were made. Again, thank you for reading and answering my questions.
     
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  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi @isaac223, welcome to the forum. I don't think those are things you'll find any quick answers to in a forum. I suggest you find a critique group for your work and read blogs and books on how to write.

    And if you don't already, read and read the kind of books you want to write.
     
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  3. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    Well, like I stated within the post, getting the books I want to read, let alone any books at all, is something I can't do very commonly. My age, coupled with my family's income, where I live and how far the nearest bookstore is from my house, makes it increasingly difficult to do so.

    Additionally, I would read books and blogs and whatnot on how to write, though after I get past the general questions my questions got a little more specific, which makes the answers I'm looking for quite a bit more difficult to find.

    I understand if I don't get a reply to this instantaneously, though posting these questions here on a forum seemed like the best way to get the answers I'm looking for. Aside from books and blogs, what are some other ways you'd suggest I get answers for more... specific questions?
     
  4. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    The answer to those questions is to put them in separate threads where they can be separately discussed if you want advice. And as was said, to keep reading and learning. If you hang around here long enough you'll pick up all sorts of tips from different discussions eventually, that's what I've done. It's kind of crazy sometimes, there's some basic stuff I never noticed in reading. (Mostly formatting) Good luck!
    Oh, and welcome to the madhouse!:D
     
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  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    No libraries nearby either, @isaac223?

    If you are online, you can read blogs and there are dozens of threads here already that you should check out.
    Start here:
    Writingforums Articles List
    And here:
    Resources

    And there are thousands of free books on the Net as well as a lot of work people have posted like the fan fiction sites.
     
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  6. Kikijoy
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    Kikijoy Member

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    Hi Issac :) I am happy to help answer your questions, but like the others said it is easier to do so one at a time. So here is what I will do. I will answer the first question and then we can go from there.

    "What is the best way to introduce information, including the information that sets the ground work for the plot, lore and the world? If you are having trouble with this then consider what you want readers to know, and what your ultimate point is. For example, the Harry Potter books introduced information over the span of several books because while all of the information is important to the conclusion of the story, not all the information is important at a certain time. So, I would say, start writing about a character or an event or one aspect of the world you are creating. Give readers one piece at a time. Let them think about it while you progress the story in other ways (through action or dialogue or what have you)

    If what you write feels like an overload of information, that might be because it is! If you have that feeling then save some information for later or delete it completely. If it is really important to the story it will either come up later.

    And, as for your difficulties in attaining new books, are you able to purchase books online? Maybe talk with your parents about going to the library once a month? I believe reading is absolutely essential to anyone who wants to publish a book and just in general. You learn so much from reading. Another option is to search online for free stories. You can try readanybook(dot)com (I think there are some free Game of Thrones on there!)

    Anyways, I hope this helps a little.
     
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  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Welcome to the forum.

    First thing I'd say is that your post is very hard reading. Partially because of the "wall of text" you've presented, with very long paragraphs. You've also got a tendency towards long sentences, which compounds this problem; especially as you also ramble within those sentences, covering several ideas.

    You complain that you don't have access to many books, so you're unable to read as much as you'd like. Well, we have plenty of stuff within the workshop that you can read, some good, some not so. But you'll learn as much from seeing what not to do as you will from good writing.

    And that's the next point in becoming a writer; reading other writers, and critiquing them. Not necessarily to pass on your wisdom, but to make you stop and think about why this piece does or doesn't work. And you can also learn from other critiques on the same piece. I'd suggest that you do your own critique before reading those of other people, so that you can see whether they agree with you, or whether they're talking rubbish, or whether they've spotted something that never even occurred to you.

    To give you a flavour, I've critiqued your first paragraph, as if it were the start of a novel, and I've also followed @AngieJoy in partially answering one of your questions.

    Good luck, and keep writing!
     
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  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I'll second @GingerCoffee's suggestion about a library - public or even a school library. Not only are there thousands of books you can read for free, but there is always a librarian to make recommendations. I would also suggest that you approach a teacher at school and let him/her know you have an interest in writing and want to read more. A good teacher will not only be able to recommend books to read, (s)he may even help you out in acquiring or borrowing some.
     
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  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    try - https://openlibrary.org/ Great site if you have internet access or a laptop. Works just like a library. You can download five books for a couple of weeks. And return them any time you want and download more.

    This is just how I do things
    1. I like to dribble out information - through actions, descriptions, dialogue, until I can find a slow spot and then do a bit of back story. I try not to let the backstory go on for more than a page, though. Anything that slows up the action feels indulgent unless it's character insight.
    2. Planning. If you're going for complexity - you should have storylines for each character, each plot detail, the main storyline, and a timeline where it would make the most sense to give information ( like clues in a mystery ) etc. When I did this I -
    * wrote down every detail onto sheets of paper keeping them straight by assigning each detail, storyline a different colored dot - i.e. the main character's storyline would get a blue dot, the details of the world a green dot so on and so on....
    * I bought Bristol boards and sectioned out the story into three parts - beginning, middle, and end.
    * After lots of arranging for the best storyline - I pasted them in.
    3. Hard to say - Psychological fiction is more about the characters less about action. Smaller 'sets', less characters - help because the character is going through a lot of internal dilemma. Fears become more spiritual and mental rather than external.
    4. Depends on what you want to do with the trope. Some you can't avoid. Look at them on a personal level what do you like about the trope, what do you hate - what do you want to see in said trope and go from there.
    5. I created a timeline for my story. Things that happen in the story and things that happened prior to the story but are mentioned. I made a history book which I kept in a binder.

    1. Whoa, this question was really complicated but what stood out was the idea that to make it original would be to make it more complex. Actually I would think that would be the worse thing to do. Think of Tremors vs Jaws - essentially it's the same story. Men are trying to defeat a menacing animal terrorizing a town. Tremors didn't go complicated they switched up the details created some believable characters and the movie stands on it's own. Details are what are going to make your
    idea original.
    2. That's a tough one - having a character start a journey. I wouldn't worry if you have to use a trope. As long as your characters are interesting and the details fresh the reader will forgive you. Take Star Wars - technically it's just a western - Leia's homestead is threatened, her servants escape to round up help. Old guy mentors young cowboy on their journey to rescue her. The details change up the tropes.
    3. I have no idea. When I wrote mysterious occult practices into one of my stories I just read up on some social customs until I found some ideas I liked and twisted them to fit my novel. I didn't treat it special, it was like any other detail.
     
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  10. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    So I won't answer all the questions in order but I will give some of the basics that I give to everyone.

    1. Learn about story structure. You don't have to follow every point, and I prefer not to use too detailed of a structure anyway - but there are some basic models. The looser templates would be things like Three-Act Structure, the so-called "Hollywood Formula", and Dan Wells' "Seven Point Structure" (which coincidentally all overlap heavily, they're just different ways of mapping things). There are also some more comprehensive templates - a lot of people use the "Hero's Journey", also known as the Campbellian Monomyth. I personally don't LIKE the Hero's journey and use an alternate "monomyth" called "The Virgin's Promise" by Kim Hudson. You can find all of these online. Personally I like the Hollywood Formula a guide, and on top of that I have one story that I use the Virgin's Promise to fill in gaps.

    Not everyone loves structures, but I find them helpful to learn how stories are built from the writing end - which the reader never gets to see. It's like the human body - you only see the skin but you can't have that without the bones and muscles.

    2. I am a huge, huge, huge fan of the podcast "Writing Excuses" with Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, and Mary Robinette Kowal. It's been running for 11 seasons, and put together it's probably the most comprehensive freely-available curriculum online for genre writers. Season 10 in particular was structured as a master class walking through the novel writing process step by step. Another resource, also by Brandon Sanderson, is his "Write About Dragons" video lecture course. That's the entire college level course he teaches on SciFi/Fantasy writing at Brigham Young University, all uploaded by him for free viewing. It's worth a watch, even if you're not at the college level yet - and Writing Excuses is more accessible.

    So, you can definitely find resources if you need them. The other thing that's already been brought up is the importance of joining a writing critique group. It's important to show your work to other people, get knocked down a few times, and learn how to sharpen it (it's also helpful to read other people's stuff and learn how to look for errors so that you mentally correct them in your own stuff. ) If you can't join one yourself, there are some good ones online, including on this site.

    And yes, reading is important. If you don't have access to a ton of reading material, figure out what you do have access to and read that. There's a great line from the movie "Remember the Titans" where the football coach is telling his players how to dress when they show up for the bus to training camp - and I think it probably applies in this case:

    "You will wear a jacket, shirt, and tie. If you don’t have one buy one. If you can can’t afford one then borrow one from your old man. If you don’t have an old man, find a drunk, trade him for his."


    GOOD LUCK AND WELCOME! :cheerleader::write:
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
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  11. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    Thank you all for responding to my thread here and for the links to blogs, reading sites and for the answers and responses I got for my questions and for pointing out a misconception I had. I'm sure it'll do me some good to take into account all of your suggestions, which I will do as the time and opportunity to do such presents itself. Might I add, before I leave, that the community on this site has definitely impressed me, and I thank you all for being patient and showing me hospitality despite some perhaps ridiculous things I may have written, such as the "complex usu. = better" thing on the second series of questions. Please have a good day.
     
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  12. Tea@3
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    I swear I've seen this thread started before, nearly exactly the same wording and everything. Is this a prank thread?
     
  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Leaving already? Was it something we said?
     
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  14. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    Oh, no. I wasn't leaving the forums permanently. I simply meant, for the time being, I had to leave and do some work. I apologize for the misunderstanding.
     
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  15. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    With your world building and extensive lore, it might pay to invest in a program like Dramatica, or Scrivener. Scrivener runs about $40 but is a great outlining tool that if used right can help you plan out your chapters and scenes logically and you can fill in your lore where you see it fit.
    Dramatica is expensive, but also has a story building section that helps you know where and when characters should be used in the story. I know it is over $200 for the updated version..
     

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