1. bakalove
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    bakalove Member

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    my story keeps collapsing ._.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by bakalove, Apr 30, 2012.

    I've been writing a book for about two years now. You would think i'd be at least a hundred or so pages into it but no i'm maybe four or five pages in, i've rewritten the story about fifteen times each in varying lengths. So every time i get about 5-10 pages the amount of detail my minds tries to incorporate into the now ancient story buckles under itself and i hit a weird awkward point. The problem is every time i hit about five pages i find something i want to add to the storyline and because the idea is a crucial part of the story it makes me want to rewrite almost constantly which is annoying because id really like to actually finish the first book (its a trilogy). Just to show how OCD ive been the story has completely reworked itself about four times. It started with vampires and magic went to greek mythology and magic/vampires, greek mythology and magic no vampires, to now were im at a civilization that runs around magic (somehow it has the same story line and idea xD). So what im asking really is there any way to make it so i can actually stick with one idea and not be influenced by outside sources?
     
  2. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    This isn't an uncommon problem with new writers.

    I would suggest two things: first sit down and decide what the story is actually about and which setting would best allow you to explore the premise. Second, write an outline so you know where the story is going to go before you spend time writing the story itself, and stick fairly close to the outline when you do write it. Rewriting an outline is much less work than rewriting a novel.

    Also, remember that if you are going to be a successful writer you'll write a lot more books than this one, so there's no need to keep trying to make it the perfect book. Pick one setting, write the book and you can write another one in the other settings that you've considered.
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Ditto Edward Grant. Do exactly that.

    I'm about 5 pages away from finish my first draft WHOOP WHOOP! But how did I manage to stick to my final story - my third idea while I was writing? Because after ditching 200 pages and about 1.5 years' worth of work, I was frustrated and decided it was never gonna happen again.

    So I sat down and spent 3 whole months pinning down an outline! I figured out my ending, at last, which shaped the entire direction of the novel. Once I knew the ending and where my story had to go, any changes were made according to that, so everything served its end goal. I still changed tonnes and tonnes of stuff, including the workings of my world (it was ruled by 4 elements, now there are no elements. The Underworld was a neutral realm, now it's the ruling realm over the living realm) - but I needn't "rewrite" immediately. I can write on, with the new changes I've just established, because those details do NOT affect the rest of how the story goes. Because everything was there to serve the story, so a change in those details actually helped me write rather than hindered. And now, once I finish the story content, I'm gonna go back and make all those little changes that came along the way :)

    And that means I have a first draft!!! I'll have a first draft very very soon :D:D

    So yeh, make an outline ;) and unless the change you make is integral to the story and characters, don't rewrite just yet and simply write on. Trust me, you'll need to rewrite it anyway once it's actually finished, so this way you save yourself some time. My opening scene alone has been rewritten 5 times, and it's a little different every time. Now imagine if I'd just left it til the end - I'd still have to rewrite it, but only once or twice!
     
  4. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    I think what you're describing, if I'm correct, is a case of 'writing too soon' - by this I mean when the idea is still at that exciting stage when it's just thoughts tumbling helter skelter over each other in your brain, and the more you think about it the more it evolves, never staying still for long enough to actually get it down on paper because just the act of writing it down provokes another major evolution.

    The only way you will ever pin the idea down into a static enough form to write it in a controlled way is by doing exactly what Ed and McKK advise - draft an outline. Then write the story you have constructed, from beginning to end. This doesn't mean you can never change it, but it means you will have a draft to work on. It also means it will have something that is absolutely crucial for any story to work - STRUCTURE.

    Give it a beginning (introduce characters and setting/status quo, interrupted by inciting incident), a middle (where your MC has a goal and he undertakes action to achieve it, but there is an obstacle or complication to achieving it), and an end (a further complication where the stakes are raised, and the problem finally dealt with one way or another). When you have all these things in place and you know (broadly speaking) what happens at each stage of your plot, then sit down and start to write.
     
  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    You need to develop the idea fully, and stick with it. There are hundreds of stories we each can write into a book. But we have to choose one and stick with it.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Allow yourself to have more than one story in progress. Instead of rewriting the one story, start new ones, enought o puick up on later, and go back to the original.

    You will, however, need to discipline yourself to keep moving forward with your writing. There's no magic technique. You have to set goals and stick to them.
     
  7. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    You are not the first to experience this. But I would ask you to consider the plight of Willem de Kooning. He struggled with a painting he called 'Woman I.'

    You see the painting in its supposed final state simply because his friends begged him to stop. He had so much paint layered on it that many thought the painting had become an obsession.

    Sometimes you just have to admit the project is writing your story, not the other way around.
     
  8. Austen
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    Austen New Member

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    What you are able to cut out is more important than what you actually write. Editing is in my opinion, more important than writing. Writing is where you blurt out the abstract, but editing is where you shape the refined story.
     
  9. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Do this because this is the bare minimum you should have before committing to write a novel. Well, one way to decide is the way you are doing it till now; writing about 5-10 pages with each set of ideas and see if they are working. Just don't spend two years doing so. May be give yourself one month maximum to decide and then commit to what you have finally decided. At the rate you are going right now you'll never have a story, and without a story your novel(s) will remain a pipe-dream. Keeping this in mind should hopefully motivate you to make your decisions quickly.

    And out of curiosity, how can you say it's a trilogy before you even decide what's the story is about?
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I missed that. Forget trilogy. Forget series. Don't even think sequel. You have enough to deal wirh to get this one book written, and your chances, as an unpublished writer, of selling a book as part of a series are as close to nil as makes no difference.

    If you even write it with a plan to leave things open for the sequels, it will damage your story's quality. Don't do it. You are not ready to handle a series, and your publisher won't want to take that kind of risk on you until you are a proven win.
     
  11. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    It is really common. I had an idea for the novel for a long time but I deleted everything... Until I did stop trying to write it and started to think about it. I deleted mainly because I was unsure about the plot and I kept changing the protagonists and the settings, but the general idea was always the same. So I wonder what is the fix point of all stories the OP started to write...

    But I'd say for the OP to sit down and think: who is the protagonist, what is he/she looking for, who is the antagonist, and why (possibly how, if you are into planning) he or she is stopping the protagonist, and build things from there. It's much easier to write when you know the answers for those questions, in my experience. Hope that I helped.
     
  12. bakalove
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    bakalove Member

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    I'm not really writing because i need the money or i need my book to be published. I'd like it published but i'm really not to worried about that if i was writing it to be published i would have had alot more dedication to the first story. The only reason im making it into a series is because throughout all the remakes the story (which ive always had a rough outline of where it was going to start to end) has had an extreme amount of detail and i really dont want to water down the story or cut out things. But you are definitely right it has taken its toll on the stories quality writing something with a sequel in mind makes the story feel slower.

    Because of how i've structured the series
    book 1: some conflict but mostly focused on the characters getting trained and basically getting to know what's going on
    book 2: the big conflict (basically just focused on that)
    book 3: The one character turns on everyone and turns into an evil tyrant trying to destroy everything (not as cheesy as that sounds xD)
     
  13. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Um... I know you said you're not bothered about publishing, but it's probably just as well because that's not really a publishable trilogy.

    Each book MUST be a self contained story in its own right, but especially book one, which is where you win or lose your reader for the whole trilogy. But the way you've outlined it here, book one is an entire volume of set up about the characters before you get them into position to undertake the main action of the story. It's like doing a film about a superhero, and spending the entire movie showing how he gets his powers and learns to control them, but he never actually has to do anything with them, i.e. fight a baddie or save the damsel. That would be a really boring movie, and you can bet it would bomb so hard the sequel would never get to script, let alone produciton.

    Yes, it's quite apparent that what you have here is ONE story, but one that contains too much material for one book. That's all well and good, but it doesn't mean you can just chop it into 3 and make it into 3 stories. It means you've got a lot to prune... This is why you just need to WRITE THE STORY. Once it's all down on paper you can start to edit it and condense it down to a sensible size that fits the stucture. And believe me, despite the fact that every author thinks every detail of their story is vitally important and cannot possibly be cut, the truth is that a lot of it can be neatly excised without any detriment to the story whatsoever. Then there's the 30 - 40% of waffle that could be condensed with some judicious word choices and economy of expression...

    But if this is just your own project and you're not worried about submitting it for publication, then it really doesn't matter. What does matter is that you WRITE it. :)
     
  14. bakalove
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    bakalove Member

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    well for the first book there actually is alot of action its not really just about the characters developing they end up having many conflicts and such but theres no point arguing for my book when it doesnt even exist xD. But anyway you seem to know what your talking about when it comes to writing so when i eventually finish my lengthy outline of my first book (took advice from someone in this thread to write it) would you be willing to critique it. I havent really had an outside source review my book other than a librarian who has helped me through this process xP.
     
  15. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Follow Nakhti's and Cog's advice. Each book in a series, trilogy... whatever should be able to stand own its own, i.e, if I were to pick up your third book without having read the first two I should be able to enjoy it. Stretching what should be the content of a book into three books is not going to work. Let each book have a major conflict and resolutions of some kind of those conflicts toward the end of each book. So, stop planning three books at a time, just concentrate on your first book. And getting critique of your idea/outline is a futile exercise because, as Cogito usually says and I fully agree, an idea or an outline of an idea means nothing until you actually write the story.
     
  16. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    I disagree with this to an extent.... in a SERIES then yes, each and every book should work on its own, but in a TRILOGY they are designed to be read in sequence, so you wouldn't expect to read book 3 and be able to pick up the story without having read the other two. I've done this recently where I started reading a book, then nearly threw it against the wall because it assumed so much knowledge I didn't have, and introduced so many characters in rapid succession as if I should know who they were... then I found out it was book 2. I went back and got book 1 and it all made perfect sense after that :)

    But yes, book 1 of a trilogy has to be self contained, just in case you never get a deal to publish 2 or 3...


    Again, disagree to an extent. You can't critique and IDEA or concept for a book, but I think you can check a detailed outline for structure and cohesiveness. That seems to be what bakalove is asking for, to check that the story hangs together as a stand alone, as we've all been telling him it should. I'd be happy to take a look, as long as it isn't a novel in itself :)
     

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