1. eclectic1993
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    eclectic1993 Member

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    My first attempt at writing fiction...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by eclectic1993, Nov 18, 2012.

    Hi,
    I've been working on a concept for a novel for over a month. I've had the 'great idea' for about three years. I decided it was time to do something and risk failing rather than doing nothing and failing before I start. I read up on the systematic way to write a novel from the advancedfictionwriting site that uses the author's 'snowflake' method. As a programmer the analytical approach seemed right up my alley.

    Here's what I've accomplished so far.
    • Created the primary and secondary characters, their personalities and attributes.
    • Developed relationship charts showing the various conflicts between the characters. This will serve to steer scene development.
    • Created a basic world (geography, animals, etc.).
    • Wrote out flash cards detailing first 20 scenes and the last 10 scenes.

    My wife suggested I write a short story. So, I decided to write a story about involving my characters at a time ~7 years earlier, so most are kids and young teens. It was amazing, creating a 'prequel' to show how my characters are the way they are. There were several outcomes.
    • I wrote 2,500 words this afternoon.
    • The characters naturally fell into place since I spent dozens of hours developing them mentally.
    • I've short changed the reader by insufficient descriptions.
    • My wife said she was compelled to keep reading more and that the story so far had her hooked.

    On the last point above, my wife is an avid classical reader and quite brilliant at literature, grammar, and word usage. So, getting her to say anything positive was very encouraging. Now, she didn't say "Wow!!!!". I've gotta work on that. =)

    So, that's it for today. I'm still excited about it all. Can't wait to continue writing tomorrow.

    Have any of you written short stories for your novel in order to develop plot or characters?

    Regards,
    Chuck
     
  2. charliewrites
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    charliewrites New Member

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    It might be projection, but I feel like I'm in a similar position to you but I've got there from a different path.

    I started with an idea, a few years ago perhaps. I would just write bits when I felt like it and they were all jumbled up in one word document. I wasn't really taking it very seriously until a friend of mine (who also likes to dabble with writing) asked me how many words I'd done so far. I did a word count and surprised myself that it was over 10,000 words. It was then that I thought "perhaps I could actually do this" and, like you, I decided it was better to try and fail than not try at all.

    So I started to think about it more and I realised one of my characters was being elusive whereas the others had arrived complete in my mind. I found a challenge online (not here but on a different forum) that said you could write about your character over 10 days based on different prompts. I kinda thought I would end up with stuff I could slot into my book but that wasn't the case at all. I really, really enjoyed it and developed this awkward character into a real person. But nearly everything I've written about her isn't about what happens in my story, but around the edges of the story. But it definitely helped me get more on track. I am now thinking there will be scores of stuff I research and write that won't be in the final thing but will help the clarity of the story in my own mind.

    Then, my mother sent me something she'd pulled out of a newspaper on how to draft a novel, and I've been trying to think about the theme and plan scenes and downtime and all sorts of things I'd never heard about before. I feel excited, but scared too. I am loving learning and trying and thinking about the bits that don't seem to work and puzzling out why. I still don't totally get why I like the bits that I like, and why I am bored by other bits. Really, I'm writing this for myself, so I'm editing it as if I were the reader which feels kind of weird.

    I think it's great you have planned lots. I don't have an analytical mind, I tend to feel my way, but I'm starting to appreciate that I need some sort of plan for the days when I don't know where to go. I figure I can always change the plan if I grow to hate it! Good luck with your writing!
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    For my part, I went the other way. I wrote a short story, and afterwards realized there was too much more to the story I wanted to tell. I started with a sequel short story, then decided there was still much more to tell. So it became the first of the two novels I am currently working on.

    The closest I come to what you are describing is writing out scenes for a novel. In the earliest incarnations, those scenes may very well be among the first to go, but they certainly help shape the novel.
     
  4. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of my novels started as a short story and then it just sort of exploded into a novel. Some of my short stories might be getting into novelette length. I consider writing side short stories to develop characters for my novels and even started a few but I never really got around to finishing those.
     
  5. eclectic1993
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    eclectic1993 Member

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    Hi,
    I took my wife's advice and revisited my 2,500 word short story. I spent three hours this afternoon and focused on describing what I was seeing in my mind as the story unfolded. The story grew to 4,000 words. I really like the edits. I finished the short story with a total of 4,500 words. She and my daughter will read it tomorrow and provide me feedback.

    Gotta say, this has never happened. I was describing the death of a character's mother and the impact on her and her younger brothers. I started to tear up. My eyes were watering. Wow! Has that every happened to any of you? I ended the chapter at that point and took a break.

    @Stagasaurus, that's interesting what you did with the awkward character. Using only your mind, some prompts, you were able to create a "real" character. I know what you mean. I thought I knew several of my characters. However, after this weekend I know much more about them. They are becoming more real to me. I hope I never have to "kill" them off in a story. =(

    @Cogito, I'm guessing that a fully developed character could be placed into any type of scene, or even genre, and still be who he or she is. Perhaps I could try that as a quick character study. I'm thinking of the move I saw about Thor. He was brought from his world and placed onto the earth, without his powers. It worked quite well.

    @Show, do you suppose one could spend too much time writing short stories and never get around to finishing a novel?

    Today was a really endorphin pumping kind of day. I'm guessing I'll run smack into that wall of sheer drudgery within the week. =)

    Regards,
    Chuck
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In my opinion, a fully-developed character is one ready to be retired. The best characters are in constant flux. The static aspects, things like gender, appearance, gross aspects of personality, are insignificant. If they have any importance, it's summed up in a word or a sentence, or at most a paragraph.

    So the changes that come about in a separate scene or story are wasted effort. It's the changes that take place in the framework of the story that matter.
     
  7. eclectic1993
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    eclectic1993 Member

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    Cogito,
    Retiring a fully-developed character must be very difficult for authors. This may explain why some stories jump ahead five to twenty years between chapters, subsequent novels, etc. The characters in the first time period have been utilized and now it's time to move on.

    I have to admit that I take comfort at times in the same characters. There are TV series I have enjoyed that do little to advance their primary characters. Instead of applying more depth they provide more examples demonstrating the same thing. Placing the character into different situations seems to be what is important. I'm thinking of the TV show "Monk" for example.

    Regards,
    Chuck

    I spent three hours last night scouring the web for tips on what to do and what not to do pertaining to writing fiction. I'm now editing my draft story for the second time with these items in mind. Here's what I'm looking to do.

    1. Minimize the passive voice.
    2. Remove descriptions that interrupt the MRU (motivation reaction unit).
    3. Keep the point of view on the protagonist instead of bouncing around in the short story.
    4. Ensure I am showing instead of telling.
    5. Use proper punctuation for dialogue.

    Any other thoughts for a first time writer?

    Regards,
    Chuck
     
  8. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    I think have fun, no ones gonna jump down your throat. I have no real time scales so im enjoying learning my fav way to do it. Which i found is not a rigid regime but just outlined notes of who my charters are etc. and where they going. As i started to write my story I started to see my character evolve. I reacted to the obstacles and situations i put there, (some on the spur of the moment) which helped sculpt my character/characters on the spot. My outline was there as a guide but it was also flexible. Example my chaater started out as someone who didnt talk to much to others, hated the interaction, but i gave him more depth by an emotional break down (of sorts) thanks to a character I at first just placed in as almost background character. Whichintern gave me some back story to play with. So back to my outline and a bit of reworking and off i went again. lol
     
  9. eclectic1993
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    eclectic1993 Member

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    @SuperVenom,
    Having fun is probably a good point to remember. Writing is still a burden to me. I must confess, fictional writing is a new creative outlet. I do get impatient. I have lots of things to learn in order to 'catch' up. I am grateful I have a day job so my family is not dependent on my quality creative output.

    I did task myself with writing a single short story during my time off this week. I only have six more days to get my story to pass muster with my wife. =)

    I spent the day writing the second revision of my manuscript using the list I posted above. I'm really pleased with the progress. Though I have to say I spent an hour on only three sentences. Whew!!

    Regards
    Chuck
     
  10. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Dude, Writing (or anything you want to do) shouldn't be a burden. It's totally new to me too and i have to pick an hour here and 30mins there to write lol. Just be careful with time restrictions as you can spend more time worrying about the time than allowing your imagination to work. Plus you can start feeling pretty bummed if you don't meet your deadlines. I understand that it works to help discipline, but seriously just enjoy it, then when you become more proficient at it you can introduce the restrictions. For now lift the restrictions and your see that the burden has gone as well.

    Remember restriction of time leads to constriction of imagination. (professional deadlines are something wayyyyyyy different, bring on the stress then lol)

    Oh small word of advise lol...i read this in countless books....the wife reading and critiquing might not be the best idea, try finding someone else like a friend, brother/sister, or even on here, there are plenty of people who are awesome at critiquing here. Just any bad news that comes dosen't seem as bad when not from a loved one.
     
  11. eclectic1993
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    eclectic1993 Member

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    My burden is self-imposed. I could give up on writing but I really want to tell a story. Lacking the skills is a bit frustrating. For the moment I'm sticking it out. Perhaps a new interest will come along and rescue me from my dilemma.

    My wife and I walked today. We made a game out of describing what we saw. She was brilliant in her descriptions. Her words evoked emotions, memories. I merely commented on the size and shape of things. =)

    I thought I would push our 25 years of married bliss to its limits. =) Right now, I'm able to listen without being offended. That's simply because I agree with her assessment.

    Regards,
    Chuck

    Hi,
    Sunday night I finished my first revision. The word count pushed up to 6,000 words but it reads much, much better. I was able to sacrifice sentences and paragraphs that I had invested a lot of time into creating during the first draft. I struggled with this initially but reminded myself that the goal was to write a paper that told a story.

    I had some days when I couldn't get started due to distractions. Once I realized my discipline was under attack I was able to sit down and start pounding some keys. Lo and behold I overcame the resistance to write and I met my week long goal of finishing the short story.

    I'm going to give it a couple of days and then I'll sit an read the 22-page manuscript and gauge it's impact on my imagination.

    One side effect I did not expect was that immediately following printing and stapling the story I wanted so much to resume writing. I had become a regular old junkie. =)

    Regards,
    Chuck
     
  12. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Cool Glad you got the bug lol. Go for it, the descriptions and explanations will come. I only just started and found that the latter end of my story is much better than the first bit....so back i go lol. Good to see positive experience.
    I'll see you at your first book signing :D
     

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