1. wongfuchu
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    wongfuchu New Member

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    Novel Writing Help

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by wongfuchu, Jan 7, 2009.

    Hi!

    I found this forums in hopes of improving my novel writing skills (which, I believe, I don't have).

    I have to write a short novel (40-100 pages) for my high school senior project. I choose writing because of this idea/plot that's been moving within my head. However, as I'm typing some scenes for practice, I noticed they... well they suck. It's third person writing, but I just can't do it. I'm the kind of person that hates to read, but likes writing (is that wrong?). So I can't just open up my "favorite book" for a reference because I don't have one.

    Questions:
    How can you write battle scenes? How long should it be (in terms of pages)?
    How can you write in first person without sounding lame (I can't really explain this one)?
    'm trying to create a writing that can be inspirational. Yet, I don't want to make my writing sound "corny" in front of my peers (they'll be reading it). What's a good way in writing this?

    If anyone can help me on any of these, can they post a link or reference (e.g. a paragraph)?

    Last note: Since it's for school and I'm in front of my peers, I just want to make my novel sufficient.


    Thanks :)
     
  2. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    You have to read a lot if you want to be a writer. It's the only way to fill your brain up with the necessary information. You can listen to books as well, but you will still have to read also.
     
  3. Benska
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    Benska Member

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    I think that you will answr all of your questions for yourself if you just read a bit. You'd be surprised how much easier it is to just pick things up than have someone tell you how to write.

    Try to be attentive as you read, take note of the phrases etc. that you like; that way you might be able to pull them apart and see why you liked them.

    Try to make use of the search function on here, also just browse around the various sections of the forums; there is an immense ammount of useful information around.

    But the most important thing is to read.

    ~Ben
     
  4. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    Unfortunately, the only way to get better at writing is to do it every day for years. Having said that, reading is still the most important thing you can do to enhance your writing. The way to become a good writer is to become a good reader.
     
  5. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    Write it the way you know how, and let your teacher/peers help you with the process of making it better.
     
  6. Bob Magness
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    Bob Magness Senior Member

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    Yeah, you are going to get a lot of people here saying you need to read, and I am one of them. But I also understand you aren't trying to become a great writer, you are just wanting to do a good job on your assignment.

    I think most of your questions can be answered, at least sufficiently if not perfectly, by reading one book. Decide what type of book you are wanting to write, go to Amazon.com or your local book store and then start searching for books in that genre. Pick one with good reviews and that looks interesting to you and then read it. Read it carefully looking for good pointers. It goes without saying that you shouldn't copy it, but you can use its style as a guide.

    Good luck.
     
  7. Mello
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    Mello Member

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    first of all, that's insane, you have to write a short novel just for a senior project??

    Like everyone else here, I don't feel like I could rightly give you advice on how to do any of these things because it's your story, and only you know what you really want to do with it...but I sympathize with the fact that you have to write a freakin' novel just for school, and because you're probably pressed for time, I'll try.

    A battle scene...can't help with that one. That wholly depends on who's battling, for how long, and how epic, i guess. Basically, you could just make sure that you vary your sentence structure, so it's not, "(Opponent 1) struck a blow. (Opponent 2) struck another in turn. (Opponent 1) struck back." Also, I guess, add a bit of dialogue in between blows, but only stuff that people would really say during a fight. Actually, you would probably be better modeling it after a real fight you've seen. You're in high school still, you must know how a fight goes down right? :D

    As for the first person...all I can say is, don't always think of it as a person sitting there telling a story. It's a person who's absolutely alive and you can see everything they're thinking, saying and doing. So make them real.

    And about the inspirational thing...well, I guess you pretty much said it yourself. Don't make it corny. You know what corny is...you've seen a couple crappy movies and read a few yardsale fantasy books in your day, I'm sure...make it genuine, something you can see happening between two people, or whatever its happening between, in real life. Not something too glittery, more subtle and realistic.

    and if all this went over the top of your head then do like everyone else says and read read read!
     
  8. lovely
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    lovely Member

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    I know you don't like to read, but that's the best advice for you. You don't even have to read a whole book. Battles scenes are tricky, but I think looking at some example might help.

    Off the top of my head, the battle scenes by C.S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia and by J.R.R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings would probably be safe bets. Not only are they relatively easy to read, but both authors were absolute masters. I don't know if you plan to write a fantasy novel, but even without fantastical elements they are great examples. I would not read the entire series of either, or even entire books in the series. The Battle of Helms Deep in The Two Towers by Tolkien or the final battle in the series would probably be the most helpful. Just find out what pages they start on and work through them.

    If the fantasy elements really distract you, Fallen Angels by Michael Shaara has many battle scenes. This is a book about The Civil War. It discusses specific tactics, describes the mood of the troops in the days leading up to the main battle, has vivid descriptions of the battle, and it encompasses the aftermath as well. This would really be a great overview of many different aspects encompassed in warfare. You could probably skim it easily without paying much attention to the individual characters (this could be potentially confusing).

    Good luck!
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you hate to read, you are not likely to be successful at writing. I know thyat sounds abrupt, but how else would you ever expect to know the difference between good writring and bad if you don't read voraciously?
     
  10. Allie
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    Allie Member

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    You can read till your eyes pop out, but unless you have some idea what you're looking for, it won't help you form a story. There are some basic formats that can help if you follow them.

    All stories are three acts. They should be roughly the same length with the second act being slightly longer. So if your novella is 90 pages, you have about 30 pages per act. maybe you break it up into 3 chapters of 10 pages each for a total of 9 chapters and 90 pages. (or 20 pages per act, for a total of 60 pages)

    Your first act introduces characters and sets up conflict. Think of this as the uphill climb. Your second act is the crescendo, the climax, of the conflicts. This is the peak, the mountaintop. Your third act is resolution of the conflict(s), the downhill.

    When writing dialogue, try to do this: introduce the purpose or conflict at the beginning of each scene. For example, if mary and sally are talking, what's the point? Mary says she wants sally to do her share of the housework because they are equal roommates. Your scene should answer that question by the time it ends. Will sally agree or not? Each scene needs a conflict.

    Then you also need "valleys." This provides a rest between conflict scenes. Lets the reader breathe, absorb what they just read. A valley could be a few paragraphs describing someone's background, or setting up the next scene. For example, after a big argument with her boyfriend (a conflict scene), mary travels on the train (valley) to her parents' house for christmas (the next conflict scene). Use that travelling time to have her reflect on her dread of family holidays, the matching sweaters, the carolling they drag her out to do each year, etc. It is innocuous description that moves the story forward.

    As for battle scenes, you are replacing dialogue with actions, so you follow the same pattern. Bob swings and misses, Carl lunges for him. Bob reaches for a bat but Carl interrupts and grabs it first. Bob draws blood; Carl stops, shocked, then retaliates. You'll want to avoid using adverbs too freely. For example, instead of saying, "he swung the bat quickly at his head" (quickly being the adverb), you can say, "He grabbed the bat and lunged at his head, all his weight and determination pushing him forward." You want to describe a scene, not just throw around words.

    If you are a newbie at writing, do not try to put more than two people in a scene at a time. What I mean is, dialogue can get tricky when there's more than two, and probably the same with action scenes. You can have multiple actions going on, but write each one separately and keep them separate. You can move between them using paragraph changes.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    I'm the kind of person that hates to read, but likes writing (is that wrong?).

    not necessarily 'wrong' but as noted above, it sure will keep you from ever being able to write anything that anyone else would want to read!

    good advice given by posters above on all the other issues...
     
  12. sorites
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    sorites Senior Member

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    Great information. I literally just found this page, which summarizes Allie's points, before finding this thread. There's also an article on that site about writing dialog; you might want to check that out wongfuchu. I know one thing they recommend is to avoid writing just regular old talk--like two people sitting around talking about what to have for lunch. It's boring. All dialog should have a point.

    Example:

    "What do you want for lunch?" Ed asked Bill.
    Hmm, Bill scratched his chin. "I don't know, what do you feel like?"
    "Well, we had pizza yesterday," Ed said. "So I feel like something different tonight. Maybe Italian or--I know! Mexican."
    "Yeah, that sounds great."
    "Ariba!"

    * * *

    "What do you want for lunch?" Ed asked Bill.
    "I want your mom between two slices of bread."
    "Man, shut up. I've told you to lay off my moms," Ed said.
    "Oh, I thought you said, lay on your moms. 'Cause I been laying on her all night long."
    "That's it! You're going down." Ed lunged at Bill.

    :rolleyes:

    Hopefully you can see the first example does nothing. We don't really get a sense of either Ed or Bill other than that they are not hostile to one another and they are boring. Maybe they are coworkers, who knows. In the second example, I think you can get a sense of friendship between these two. Ed is obviously protective of his mother, and Bill comes off as a wise guy, a funny man. This dialog serves a purpose. I'm not saying it's great--I'm just trying to illustrate a helpful pointer. I encourage you to read too. You should try reading short stories to start with. They're short and you can get through one in a single sitting. Plus, there are a ton of free ones on the ol' Internet, so that's good. And it will get you reading. After a while, you will probably want to find a good book and read it, and then who knows--maybe you will be hooked. Good luck.
     
  13. R J Parkinson
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    R J Parkinson Active Member

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    Reading should be a great pleasure and honour, it's like finding a great band because of hearing a great tune, and then looking for more material by that group or artist.

    I may pick a book and like the start, but then put it down half way through because it goes no-where and makes me feel like I should be doing something better, so I look for another book.

    Just this morning at 10am, I stumbled across Paulo Coelho - The Devil and Miss Prym, I just finished it at 9:45pm. I literally couldn't put it down, I sacrificed lunch, then had to read it whilst cooking dinner...Two hundred pages of excellence. Now, I'm going to search out his other works, which I can only imagine are of the same calibre.

    Read, read, read, it can only improve and inspire your writing.
     

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