1. Rob40
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    Rob40 Active Member

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    no groups, no how advice articles, how do you help a friend improve their writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rob40, Mar 2, 2016.

    A friend. A gamer his whole life and voracious fiction/mostly-sci-fi reader. Tired of games and very tired of the old style feel-good harmonious earth wins sci-fi we were raised on. Now in his later life he has tried writing. A few times...


    At issue is the usual, "I write a few paragraphs or get a chapter or two in and it stops..." thing. He obviously needs to look a bit further in the story crafting/directions to use. A tool box development. However, the suggestions of a writing group are met with, "If I do that, then they'll steal my ideas you see..."

    When I mention an article or book on crafting a story or even outlining (for those that do) he's resistant to consider that. The mere mention of outline begins talk about that's what publishers want, an outline, and then there’s marketing to think about and....


    Now, he's not thinking about being successful before writing a single word. It's just the spiraling loops of thought and how everything boils down to not seeking help or outside assistance for improving for fear of idea theft or resisting what others have done and of course hes a different person.


    I'm about to tell him to sacrifice one of his fabulous amazing ideas to the process of learning how to finish a story draft. That's huge and will start him along I think.


    thoughts?
     
  2. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Sure. I think there's no magic code that is going to get your friend to write. If he wanted help he would be here, asking those questions. Badgering him is not going to help anything or anyone.
     
  3. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tell him to write a conspiracy-theory story about a writer whose ideas are stolen by his writing-group friends...Damn, now he'll steal my idea!
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped. To his protests I'd simply reply, "Do you want to finish the story or not?" If his answer is yes, then the next response is, "Then get the help you need." He can ignore outlines and "be himself" once he's actually learn what an outline is. It's called learning to walk before you run. Similarly you'd laugh if someone tried to cook a gourmet meal if he's never made pasta before, and if such a person turns his nose up at the very idea of following a recipe.

    But, truth is, I wouldn't bother with such a person. Listen to his woes, be a good friend, nod and smile and pat his back encouragingly, but nothing more.

    At the heart of it is his pride. His ideas are so amazing that people are gonna steal it? Dream on. Unlikely to happen. His ways of doing things are so amazing that he doesn't need to learn what an outline is? Well if he's so good, he'd have finished a book by now, at least. He thinks he's better than he is - or perhaps it's mixed with a fear of failure. What if he seeks help and still gets stuck? Then it would mean he's a bad writer, right? But the possibility of this is so frightening that not getting help is actually easier. He thinks he's great, but he also fears he may not be as great as he thinks.

    Ah, writers :rolleyes:

    Anyway, I wouldn't worry too much about it. When he starts showing signs that he actually wants help, then help him. Before then, just nod and smile.
     
  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's a big difference between wanting to write and actually writing. Wanting to write is easy, writing is a lot of hard work. (Fun work, but... hard)

    Your friend has the easy part, but he can't manage the hard part. I agree with those saying the change has to come from him, not from you. When he's ready to do the hard work (if he ever is) you can help him out. Until then? Find other things to talk about.
     
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  6. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    He sounds very much like me when I first turned to writing and there's only one thing to do...

    Back away slowly and never bring up writing to him again. If he goes further with it, that's on him, not you. If he mentions writing to you, nod sagely and let him talk. Let him make his own decisions and carve his own path. The more you try to push him in 'the right direction,' the more he'll push back because he's acting as devil's advocate for himself. It's a state of mind and he's gotta work through it for himself.
     
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  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with the rest. This is his journey (or lack thereof), not yours. The above quoted section reminds me of the scene in the film version of Naked Lunch wherein the Kerouac analogue and the Ginsberg analogue are - somewhere in the outskirts of Interzone - discussing the competing schools of thought, Editing vs. Editing-is-a-Sin. I'll keep my opinion to myself as to how I feel about the kind of pretentious sophistry that tends to evolve from that. (oops, looks like I failed in the attempt to retain)
     
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  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    A lot of writers go through the paranoia that someone is going to steal their idea. Trouble is they have to join a site or group to realize that authors are so hung up on working out their own ideas they haven't got time for anyone elses. He's not the only one thinking his idea is the greatest. Lol.

    There's not much you can say or do for your friend. It took me years before I joined any writing sites. What made me crack was I had to see whether I was on the right track. Get some much needed advice & feedback from writers more experienced than me. I also wanted desperately to talk to fellow writers who were going through what I was going through - self doubt, joy, struggles - everything.

    I would suggest he join a writing site more than a group as that would allow him to keep himself anonymous and he could decide how much information to give concerning his idea. One thing I love about forums is the ability to watch and listen without some busybody trying to get you to join in - you make that step yourself. Also with a site there's a lot of different ideas and different voices and different techniques so that you don't feel bullied into doing something one way - there's dozens of different ways and one might resound with you more than another.
     
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  9. Sileas
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    Sileas Member

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    This friend of yours sounds like a perfectionist. He has to think of all of it right now, all the way to the very bitter end. I think there's not very much anyone else can do for this person.
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Does he enjoy reading for fun? If not, writing may not be for him.

    Also, you could suggest he join WF and get some help here. :D
     
  11. TopherT
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    TopherT Member

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    If your friend is too stubborn to take advice then I'm afraid there's nothing you can do. One thing writers have in common is that we're open minded (varying degrees) and that we are receptive to criticism.

    Your friend is citing a problem (that he only gets so far before meeting road blocks), but he isn't open to trying solutions. Sounds to me like he'd rather fail than open himself up to suggestion. It's a shame.
     
  12. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Sounds like a man who knows the truth. Yes I'm out here with absolutely no ideas of my own, absolutely desperate to steal all his ideas because well - they're just so damned great! All other writers are exactly the same - always out there stealing ideas because no one has any of their own!

    But seriously, you can't help someone who won't be helped, so let it go. But I might mention that there are very few original ideas out there in the world - and it's unlikely he has any of them.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  13. Ayn G
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    Ayn G New Member

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    VERY FUNNY. I just burst into a loud belly laughter. You are witty and dam straight. I would love to see what you write.
    BTW I do sympathize with the distressed writer, may I add that perhaps he ought to write just ONE of his brilliant ideas and simply elaborate on that. Eventually the rest will flow right into place.
     
  14. Guttersnipe
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    Guttersnipe Member

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    ...The assumption being that he has a brilliant new idea that no one has thought of before. Very unlikely. People don't steal ideas. They steal completed books, change a few words, and slap their name on it.

    If someone else uses your idea, on the other hand, chances are it won't look anything like what you write.

    But I agree with what others have said. It sounds more like a reluctance to commit and possibly fail.
     
  15. Michaelhall2007
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    Michaelhall2007 Member

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    I remember when I first put pen to paper. I thought people would steal my ideas . Oh, how things have changed. These groups are here to help. Definitely NOT plagiaris.
     
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  16. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I don't fear anybody will steal my ideas.

    1. Because I have a distinct writing style.
    2. Why steal the ideas of a Noob.
    3. Your need for formulaic format (i.e. chapters, and so forth).

    Steal it, I dare you. :p

    On the other side, writing is fun and hard work. It takes time and patience to really pound out something that makes any sense. So either you do like any 'sane' person would do and get help, or don't get the help you need and piss and moan when things aren't going your way. Sorry for that last bit sounding harsh, but I felt it needed to be said. (Oh sorry for using said, seems some feel the need to abolish that word for some reason. Shit I used it again, sorry. :D) Well good luck to your friend any way. :p
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    He could sacrifice a BAD idea. Writing involves countless things in addition to the idea. He can develop those other skills.

    Now, if he argues that he shouldn't waste his priceless brilliance on a bad idea, then I think he's just deliberately stalling.

    Now, I can't talk--the only explanation for why I haven't finished at least the first draft of a novel is surely that I'm deliberately stalling, because not one of the things that I try to blame actually has the power to stop me. But until I, and he, stop trying to find things to blame and just commence with the bleeping process, nobody can help us.
     

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