1. Tomzor
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    Tomzor New Member

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    Please help a newbie

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tomzor, Jun 20, 2013.

    Hi you lots,

    As many of you I'm trying to write a book. I have most of the details that I want to write about, such as the characters, environment, history and even the last chapter.

    My question; how do you generally write a book? Do you get all your facts and details noted and sorted out before writing or do I just go from a to z in one go? Should I part my book in chapters to have more view of what I'm doing or is that something I definitely shouldn't? I know everyone has their own way of writing but I'm having a hard time finding mine.

    All feedback is welcome and I hope my question isn't too vague.

    Thanks in advance, Tom
     
  2. MrsT88
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    MrsT88 Member

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    Hi Tom!
    I'm a first time writer and also interested in any advice given. I have idea's and notes written everywhere as well as a little start to a story, although I have no idea of the ending yet. From what I can gather you just go with the flow and keep writing, not necessarily ina chronological order, then piece it all together at the end.
    Natalie
     
  3. BUDDY GORGEOUS
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    BUDDY GORGEOUS Active Member

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    Hey Tom.

    I'm by no means an authority or a published author, but as a writer like yourself I can only offer what works for myself. As you say, '..everyone has their own way of writing..", so here is mine.

    By all means you can have every conceivable angle on your novel covered from head to toe, A to Z, in fine detail but I can guarantee, once you start writing, things will change as if the story has a life of it's own. When I write It will want to stretch out of restrictions, go the opposite way you intended, do the unexpected things without your control or realisation. It's not known as the 'spooky art' for nothing ;) but having all those planning bases covered are helpful for a writer for obvious reasons. But some are comfortable making it up as they go. Crime writer Jeffery Deaver, does so much planning that by the time its completed and printed out its as thick as the finished novel! don't feel that because you have plotted and planned it out that it has to stick to the structure.

    I do plan and make a sort-of map of my book/story, a skeleton where once I start writing I'm applying the flesh and organs to make it breath. I keep notes, reminders, research bits, reference pieces, ideas I had whilst out and about and scribbled down quick, whatever it is that I need to help me with the story. But some people don't like to do that, each is to their own. You can write a novel anyway you want. Start from the middle, the end, the beginning, whatever you wish. But for me, to avoid any more confusion and unnecessary complications and an easier flow of writing, I start from the beginning. I had a bad habit of writing a chapter or a sentence or whatever and then going back over them unsatisfied, hacking it to bits and not getting anywhere. One step forward, two back. So I started thumping out the story and not looking back. Once finished and you can edit, I found it was THEN that you can hack and slice at whatever you want and in the end you have work to show for it, instead of one mutilated little chapter. Just keep going and don't look back until your finished.

    Like I said, I'm no authority and I'm not published but these worked for me. It might not work for you but I hope I could provide some sort of help. Others here on the forum have plenty of other advice too that will help you and your writing. All the best Tom and see you around on the forum.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    For me, it's good to have a general idea of where the story will go. Little things like: "John goes to X, finds special object. Villain wants special object, so John flees to XY," etc But for the details, I make them up as I go along. So for example, I don't really know what special object it would be, or how John flees. I'll see when the time comes. This is just a skeleton plan that you could change and shift as you write - there're often things you can't anticipate before you actually write it.

    My advice? Just write it. Start with writing from A to Z, and if at some point you wanna jump over and write T rather than D, then write T, save it in a separate file and carry on with D later. The point is, don't worry too much about it. You'll change your rough draft more times than you care to count - rough drafts never stay the way you've written it, often they change unrecognisably that by the time you have a finished, polished draft, it looks like a completely different story to the one that you started with. That's ok, it's just how it is. But because of this, there's also not much point getting a headache over writing your first rough draft. The key is to get it all down onto paper, and once it's all there, then you have puzzle pieces to play with. For now, you have just scrap cardboard, as it were. Essential stuff - without cardboard, you can't make a puzzle, but without the puzzle, you can't make a big picture. So, write it all down and get your puzzle pieces ready in a roughly recognisable manner, and then, time to play with it!

    Hope you get what I mean lol.

    As for methods, different writers like different approaches:

    Can't think of any other approaches right now, but I'm sure other members can add to it. Personally I've always written from A-Z. I find it gives the book a natural flow, and often it's hard to force snippets together that didn't emerge naturally as part of how the story grows. Often if I've written a stray scene that I hope to use some time later, it ends up not being used at all, because by the time the story has reached the point where I could use it, it's growing in a different direction than I thought it would. Sometimes you can force it - in my experience though, forcing scenes and sections together spell disaster. Horrible, horrible disaster. Personally I won't be making that mistake again!

    One last piece of advice - trust your writer's instinct. Can't stress that enough. If you don't feel the story should go in a certain way, but for some reason you really want it to, or you just think it's a better idea if it did - seriously, go with your gut and DON'T do whatever "great" idea you think you have. These things come back to haunt you. Go with your gut, always, not how you think something "should" go. Go with your gut even if it's not how you'd planned it - you'll know what parts can change and what parts can't - work around it, but never force anything. Sometimes it's better to ditch something, even entire chapters, than to force it to work.
     
  5. Tomzor
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    Tomzor New Member

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    You guys made me realize this is a writers forum, haha. I appreciate the feedback and tips&tricks allot! Really motivates me. Guess I'll just start puzzling and adding the flesh to my skeleton.

    The A-Z tactic scares me a little as I might mess up the logic in my story or forget small details later on, as you mentioned: "The down side is, you end up needing to do a LOT of rewriting, and you inevitably end up deleting huge chunks of work afterwards". On the other hand I'll have something on paper to play and puzzle with...

    I'll definitely have more questions in the future but thank you so much for the incredibly useful tips. Guess I'll lock myself up for the weekend and see how far I come.

    Best of luck, Tom
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Don't worry about forgetting details - you'll have to rewrite several times before your book is finished. What you left out, you could include later. There's also nothing stopping you from planning as well as writing from A-Z.

    Another thing is, you'll end up rewriting and deleting huge chunks no matter which approach you go for anyway :D The difference is just in how much more.

    Good luck with your book! Am glad to be of help :)
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    This is a point I don't think gets stressed enough, sometimes. Don't worry about getting every paragraph and sentence perfect before you move on. You will end up chasing your tail and getting nowhere. Concentrate on getting the whole story DOWN. In the process, your writer's 'voice' will emerge, and you'll not only have plot and character to play around with during the editing process, but also the way you have written it all. Just get it down there the way you want, and don't worry what ANYBODY else thinks of your writing at this stage! Later on, when the piece is finished, get feedback, do an edit, and when you think you've really finished, THEN go for critique.

    One little tip, especially if you're writing a novel rather than a short story: establish a timeline.

    This is NOT an outline, or something you write up beforehand. This is a calendar-type of journal that you keep as you write. In it, you enter every event as it happens (as you write it) on the 'dates' when you think it's supposed to have happened. Things like if a character has a baby in the normal fashion, count backwards to when it was conceived. (Hopefully the father will be with the mother at that time, not off serving in a war somewhere, or hasn't even met her yet!) You won't end up with the new mother doing high hurdles at the Olympics during her 8th month of pregnancy, either. (I hope.) This kind of thing.

    Trust me, it really helps to be able to refer back to a diary, so you don't end up weaving events into the plot that couldn't have happened because the timing is wrong. You don't want characters meeting each other in their home town, when you have previously written them into separate cities on that day.

    I think, in film/TV terms, this is called Continuity. Filmmakers usually have a separate Continuity staff on board, to make sure if a character is wearing a white T-shirt in one shot, he's not suddenly wearing a green one later on in the same scene. The timeline is a writer's Continuity crutch, and it's risky not to use one.

    Good luck, and have fun!
     
  8. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Everyone's different. For me I usually start with a scene. An idea in my head and I write that. I have no story at all at that point. After that I'll have at least one character to flesh out and so I might write a piece about him. Something to place him in the scene. After that comes the plot. On a really organised book I might draft out a rough plot. Mostly though I don't even do that. I just keep it in my head.

    From there the scenes flow a little more as the plot tells me what they'll be. And once the main scenes are worked out from there its a matter of continuity, adding in the bits and pieces that tie the scenes together and thus shaping the novel. From there I'll carry on to finish the novel's first draft.

    I don't personally recommend this approach. I know for many it would be unworkable. For me it just happens to be the only way I can work.

    However there are two things I would absolutely recommend as you create as you write, and most especially if you write the way I do. First the timeline / plot. It doesn't have to be detailed but you have to have it. And you don'thave to stick to it, but when changes happen as they usually do, you need to be able to adapt it so that the other parts fit. And second notes on characters and places. A map if you can do it. World building. This is purely about details and making sure that there are no continuity / consistency errors.

    My advice is write the way that comes naturally to you. And the only way you'll discover what works best for you is to write. So sit down and take the part of your outline that appeals, and put finger to keyboard.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I started with a complete story idea, but as I worked out the chapters, I made change after change to make the story work. When I couldn't get the opening right (for me, the hardest thing to write), I didn't worry about it. My story lends itself to separate scenes so I wrote more and more of them and played with the structure. At some point I found a structure that worked, including the first chapter.

    You have to be prepared to throw whole scenes out, I have a file, called "loose ends dump", that I put things I've cut in. It's not as painful as delete. :p
     
  10. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    For my first MS, I wrote in a linear fashion from chapter one through the end. Now, on a new story, I set up my manuscript template and am writing several chapters at once. If I get bogged down on one scene, I start on another. I find this method to be both efficient and fun. With three chapters open at once, I can think more about keeping holes out of the plot, when to inject backstory, keeping the flow fresh, etc. I can move the chapters around if needed at the end. It is fun because I can play action / reaction at the same time instead of going back a couple chapters to make sure all events coincide.
     

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