1. Illandrius
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    Illandrius Member

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    New writer needs help with development??

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Illandrius, Dec 28, 2015.

    I am currently creating my first fantasy novel. I am new to writing. I would like to be able to begin writing soon. However I am running into some issues. I am having issues with creating a plot outline. I know the over all story line of the book, however I am having issues when it comes to the very detailed parts of the journey.

    The book is going to be about a group of 6 characters living in a fantasy world, wanting to escape the lives they have been forced to live. They are traveling to the one place that is said to be free. I am creating this journey for these 6 characters and not sure how to make a good timeline. I am very detailed and a bit obsessive when it comes to things like this. What is the best way to create a timeline. Should I create a map and have all the cities listed out on the map and just chart their journey? Should I just start writing and see how it goes?
    Also I have plans to make more than one book and make this a series. Should I go ahead and plan the entire story out to ensure consistency?

    Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Don't worry about Book 2 and 3 when you got no details for book 1
    It won't do you any good. Consistency issues can be dealt with later.

    If all the characters are starting from different places and heading through the same places to reach their destination, just keep a loose idea of how many hours/days pass between each PoV.
    So if A gets to CITY and B cannot encounter him, make sure B either is behind one day or ends up in danger or decides to take a nap rather than risk going to far ahead and getting lost in the dark.
    Just write as you go and keep in mind the overlaps of characters.
     
  3. Illandrius
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    Illandrius Member

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    The goal is for them all to start at different places and then run into each other and start traveling as a group. I don't want to just start writing and go with the flow without having a plan. That makes me nervous.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Illandrius,

    Bringing 6 separate people together can be a big task, not impossible, but you might want to plan some. You can write from the seat of your pants, but it'll likely mean a lot more editing and revision after the first draft.

    I think an outline to keep you on track might be a solid idea. Think of it like planning a vacation...where you'll travel and when and how long it'll take to get there and how long you'll stay, etc. Make note of the main plot points and events and where/when you anticipate them to occur, and remember that your outline can (and probably will) be modified as you go. You can do it for the various individuals. Also, all 6 of the characters don't have to be co-equal. Two or even three of them could be more dominant to the storyline(s), and others could cross paths with them along the way. It will also simplify the POV situation when all 6 are together, unless you intend to use Omniscient POV, which can be tricky in itself.

    As was said by A.M.P., the primary focus should be your first novel. Each novel in a series should tell a story in itself, and the first one should certainly stand alone and not have a 'cliff hanger' ending. I say 'should' because anything is possible.

    It is true that characters, societal norms, towns and villages and histories and magic (if you have it) will be established in the first novel, and altering them for the sake of the next novel's contents/plot, could be a serious problem for the series, so doing some skeletal planning for lands and peoples and norms and magic would be good. I would recommend not getting caught up in the details. Many writers get so caught up in world building that they never actually get the novels and stories written, often burning out or losing interest.

    For your other, future, novels in the series, don't hesitate to take notes and jot ideas. Keep a file for them so that you won't forget them as you press forward on your primary concern, the first novel.

    Hang in there and press forward, and remember that your first draft is not going to be perfect. You will get better as you go and your story/writing will improve as you write, and as you get to know the characters and the world. Save as you go and make backups, and if you delete something (a scene or dialogue) save it as a version, incase you want to use it later or modify it.

    That's my two cents based on experience. There is no one 'right way' to write a novel. Just find the one combination that works for you. Good luck as you press forward.

    Terry
     
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  5. John the ninja
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    John the ninja New Member

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    What helped me was keeping a notebook by office at work and wrote down notes and ideas. Many of the ideas you will find just don't work (which is fine) and others will work if you modify them.

    If you have a good idea, most likely you will forget it by the time you get to your PC. Always written things down :)
     
  6. WriterMMS
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    WriterMMS Member

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    1 build your world. What races are your mcs, what empire are they a slave too? What empires does the enslaving empire ally or are enemies with. Are there rebels ir freedom fighters in your book?

    2 central villains or antags? Sounds like your book could start with bounty hunters then work its way up to the slave emperor.

    3. Magic levels. Is your book low magic like lord of t he rings or hjgh magic like harry potter. Basically if magic in your world is powerful itll be a big oart of the plot but if weak itll set up the atmosphere of the story.
     
  7. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Get drunk and try again . . . You'll be less nervous when intoxicated.

    Seriously, though . . . You will be revising and editing book one while writing book 2 so you'll have plenty of time to work on consistency. I'm about 70K words into book two and twice I have gone back to book one to change something to make it more consistent. You need to have a vague idea of where you will begin and end; aside from that just go with the flow. I find my best writing occurs when I am "off script" and just letting the characters be themselves.

    As long as all the leg work for the research is already done and you are able to immerse yourself in the culture, the story should be able to flow without much trouble. Once you've typed, "The End," then you can go back and decide what to keep and what to cut, or where to add more to flesh out the story. Accept the fact that you are writing a draft and it doesn't need to be perfect.
     
  8. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    ^^^THIS.
    I use a calendar to keep track of important items, phase of moon, when a character departed or arrived, etc. Maps help too to track distance, I use a highlighter, so I can easily see where we were when I left off and how far until the next event.
     
  9. Illandrius
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    Illandrius Member

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    Thank you all for your positive feedback and ideas. I am really appreciative. How do you come up with book titles?

    Also what is a good length for a first novel. You don't want to make it to long because I think people would be discouraged from reading it. Also you don't want to make the story too short. What is a good middle?

    Also I am really struggling with how to start the book. A lot of people say its better to write the last chapter first and then start the book. I don't want to do that. I have several ideas to start the book and if anyone wants to hear them they can let me know and I can discuss them. All of the beginnings are about the same main character but they start at different points in his journey. I am not sure how to choose it. I have thought about writing the beginning in all 4 ways and then choosing which I like best but I am not sure .
     
  10. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    The genre defines the "standard" rate especially for new writers.
    I think they prefer stand-alone fantasy novels for a first timer to be 100-120k words.
    But it always depends on publisher and quality of the piece.

    Titles?
    I just figure it out as I write the piece.
    Sometimes, it's hard and sometimes it just magically appears.

    Protip: start the story as close to the "instigating incident" as possible.
    So, pick the scene that is closest to the action.
     
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  11. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some of what I say will echo A.M.P. :)

    80,000 to 130,000, but really shorter or longer might work as well. It depends on the story, and even the type of fantasy. Typical epic fantasy, well, it's expected to be long. But I don't think that there is an exact word count out there that can be pointed to, or even a 100% reliable word count range.

    Title? Just pick a working title. Maybe that will become the title...maybe it'll morph. When it's finished, if you have a publisher, that will offer further direction...or even a beta reader, in the end, if you're really stuck and want to self-publish.

    Just start where you think you should start. It's a first draft. Maybe you'll decide you started too early or too late. I would recommend avoiding something along the lines of an info dump, history lesson, or a day in the life of...although I am sure someone could point to a successful fantasy novel out there that began each of those ways.
     
  12. Illandrius
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    Illandrius Member

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    Here is another question. POV's? How do you decide what point of view to use. I think about using narrative but that doesn't seem the best for my book. I have though about making it like GOT. I have 6 main characters that will be meeting at different times throughout the book. I will have my 1 Main character but the others are just as important. I want to follow all of the characters stories as they progress until they meet and then my story will focus on the 6 as a whole but I want to be able to zoom in on the minds of each person so the reader is able to make a connection.
     
  13. A.M.P.
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    @Illandrius
    In my work, I have 3 PoVs (I tried six but realized the other characters didn't tie in well enough to the overall story) and at first did chapter 1 for A then chapter 2 for B and so on.
    After a few chapters, I simply switched to the PoV that needed to be presented. So, if A had a few events all close together with B, they'd get a few successive chapters before C comes back in.
     
  14. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Before coming up with a map, I think you should come up with reasons as to why characters are going where they are going, cause then you will know what places you need, and what the map should be, after you already know the characters' decisions and goals. Unless you have those already.
     
  15. Viridian
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    Viridian Contributing Member Supporter

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    You've already been given loads of great advice here so i'll keep mine brief. First, don't save good ideas for further books. If you want to be published put all your initial great stuff into your first book. You can come up with more great ideas later. Second, i've tried all different approaches to writing and have finally settled into what works best for me. I'm a third outliner and two thirds discovery writer. I write a very basic outline that only goes approx 5 chapters into the story, then I just start writing. The characters, ideas, plot all develop and change as i'm writing far better than if i just try to think of everything before i begin writing. But thats just me, everyone has their own method. I also beak off and write short stories when i get a bit stale. That helps a lot by using different writing styles and genres. Hope that helps :)
     
  16. kateamedeo
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    kateamedeo Active Member

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    You have loads of good advice here, so won't repeat the same things over. I make up a scene list, basic stuff, a sentence per scene, simply to remember where I am going (it's so easy to forget a small but important scene in the middle :) ) and then I sit down and write. To be honest, I do this after the first draft is ready, so I know the story and then re-write it from the beginning till the end, but, this time, I have a small map to follow that lets me include all the foreshadowing details to get me to the end.

    About the POV, well, that's simple. Go with the character that knows the least :) Your reader will be discovering the story with that character, which is what you want when telling a story, isn't it? A good way to see the overall picture of your book is to create a scene spreadsheet where you can track the plot and your POVs. I use different colors for different characters, that way you can see at a glance if one of your protagonists is getting too much spotlight, leaving another in complete shadow.

    I have a question, have you started to write the book yet? Sorry, don't want to be nosy, it's just that often stories turn out to be a lot different that what we imagine them to be, that also goes for the characters. Don't be afraid to plan, but if that keeps you away from the actual writing and makes you anxious, just sit down and write. You can always edit your draft if you've written it down, you can't edit a blank page.
     
  17. Illandrius
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    Illandrius Member

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    No I have not started writing. I only started thinking about this book about 6 months ago. I also work full time. So I am definitely not ready to start writing. I am not going to let my obsessive need to plan everything get in the way of actually writing. I have come up with a magic system. I have created a world. I have put a lot of effort into the world.

    I really do appreciate all the great feedback. You all are pretty great for offering your expertise and experience for me to learn from.
     
  18. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    Every writer is different. I am writing a sci/fi series right now. I found starting with an outline really helps filling in the gaps. I have the first two novels outlined right now, slowly working on the third. I spend an hour a day on it. But just remember it is an outline. I actually just finished a chapter in the second novel first. My next chapter I am starting is three chapters after the one I just finished.
    This works for me and helps me with writers block. I can go crazy with something I really want written down and worry about the other chapters when time permits.
    Also, your outline does not have to be set in stone as they say. By starting with a chapter in the second novel, I also sometimes updated the outline for book 1 and 3, when fresh ideas entered my small brain.
     
  19. Rob Rowntree
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    Rob Rowntree Member

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    Procrastination - killed the novel.

    I'm not picking on you, it's happened to me and many a good writer I know. For every writer you meet there will be a different approach. You look like you need a plan, there's been good advice here already. One think you might like to try is a chapter outline - keep it simple, one or two lines per chapter, certainly draw a map if you need it and plan your world with loose boundaries. But then write! Write and write again. There'll be parts you think are great, places where you hate what you got down, and your outline will change. Remember to be flexible.

    Okay. So find a place in the story that's full of action, picture it in your head, sit at your laptop and type...
     
  20. Illandrius
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    Illandrius Member

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    Thank you for your response. I am not procrastinating. I don't spend all my time on this writing process, which means it is taking longer than I would like to plan everything out.

    I am writing a fantasy novel that takes place in a made up land. I cannot just start writing. I have to plan out the style of fighting the characters use. The magic system. The land itself. This is not something I can just writing out.
     
  21. Rob Rowntree
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    Rob Rowntree Member

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    I wasn't having a go at you. It's just that I feel too much planning can sometimes kill inspiration. A person can end up so bogged down and involved that when they come to write the thing, they can't drum up the motivation because they've been living in their 'world' too much already.

    And yes, writing fantasy needs some structure, but IMO not too much. A few simple lists of the things your characters need, their magic, fighting styles etc, the route they each take a few time pointers and a plot outline. Those things while useful aids, will during the writing of your novel change as new ideas spring up, new plot elements emerge and so on.
     
  22. Illandrius
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    Illandrius Member

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    I am at the point now that I want to be able to write. I am the kind of person that has to start from point a and go to b. I cant start somewhere in the middle. I know how I am. I am working on creating an outline that will not be very detailed but that will help my story move. I am also attempting to decide how to start my book. I have 4 possible beginnings. They all start around the same main event but at different times.
     
  23. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    Beginnings are hard sometimes. Maybe try writing all four to see which one grabs you. Good Luck.
     
  24. Illandrius
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    Illandrius Member

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    I understand what you are trying to say. And I get it. I am just explaining to you that I am not procrastinating. Like I said I don't spend all my free time on the story, mainly because I don't want to burn myself out on it. I want to enjoy the process of writing this book and not feel like it's a chore.
     
  25. Illandrius
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    Illandrius Member

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    I actually thought about doing that. I am concerned that once I do that I will still like them all. haha
     
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