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  1. Dauracul
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    Dauracul Member

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    Serious Dilemma

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Dauracul, May 6, 2010.

    So, I might as well start off my first post with a bang, and jump right into the heart of the situation I'm in.

    Like many of you I imagine, I have a story on my hands that needs to be told. I don't just want to tell it, and it's not just some free-time project... this story NEEDS to be told. It is my life's work, my magnum opus. This story is the very definition of who I am, and has been going strong with me for the past 5 years.

    The problem is, it's become too massive to handle on my own. I'm too protective of it to explain anything about the story itself, and in that regard, I don't need any assistance. The plot itself plays out exactly as I'm wanting it to. The problem is, I don't know where to begin to get this thing off the ground.

    I keep thinking that I need some help with this. It honestly feels like I can't tackle this monster on my own. Unfortunately, I'm far too protective of it to allow someone else to handle its creation and growth, even if I'm alongside them the entire time.

    Essentially, the bulk of the story spans six episodes (Star Wars style), and roughly 10,000 years. I'm beginning in the middle with Episode V, and it has been outlined for its majority and a good portion of the surrounding episodes have been mapped out as well. I basically need to fill in details and whatnot. The problem is, I've been working on refining and perfecting everything so much that, no matter what I do, I feel like I'm getting nothing done.

    This story is huge. My vision; my plan for everything in the larger scale, is even bigger. I haven't been just composing the story, I've been designing characters, environments, technology and everything else through illustration. If I had the musical talent, I would compose a soundtrack. In most cases, my vision of this epic is too specific to ever be put into words, which brings me to one of my biggest dilemmas:

    Format. I've been going about working on this thing as a novel (ideally, a series of novels) because I figure that's the best chance I have at getting the story off the ground, if it's ever finished. Overall, though, there are too many specific visualizations of things in this story to be accurately described in written form, and although with a certain level of mastery of the english language, it can probably be done, I don't want to risk the audience viewing things any different than I do. So my first response to that situation is, maybe I should try a graphic novel? And then my thoughts trail to the fact that my story intro, in its current form, would not work visually due to the scene I chose and the methods I used to tell it. This brick wall especially gets to me, because I've spent the past year and a half writing and re-writing the perfect intro for my story (or as close to perfect as I can get).

    I apologize for rambling, I know this seems like a lot to take in on top of my unwillingness to reveal the actual story, which I'm sure some of you would want to ask for.

    I just don't know what road I need to take, and what road I want to end up on. Thanks for reading.
     
  2. s.knight
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    s.knight Banned

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    hey, have you studied the classical epics? That would be a good place to start. And work your way up to modern epics and sagas.

    It sounds to me like you need to get the right-brain working. Roll them sleeves up and start writing it. Action time. You are the creator. Get creating.

    Or you could do this:
    shelve it. Forget it. Put it to the back of mind for a while. Focus on studying the best literature, and practice the art/craft of writing on smaller projects. Work your way up.
     
  3. Fedora
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    Fedora Active Member

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    Hello and welcome to the forums.
    And therein lies the problem. You're overwhelming yourself for no good reason; planning sequels in advance is a disaster waiting to happen. By starting with such an audaciously ambitious project, you're setting yourself up for failure. S.knight is right. Cut out the unnecessary bits ("prune for shade," as my English teacher used to say) and start small, or you'll have a half-written manuscript haunting your desk drawer for the rest of your life.

    Reducing your scope isn't necessarily a bad thing. Difficult, yes, but not bad. It's about quality over quantity. Remember that even Star Wars started in medias res with Episode IV. The prequels were just an afterthought: an unnecessary, excruciatingly painful afterthought. The story itself didn't need them to be effective. I'm telling you right now: you don't need all ten thousand years. At least, not at first.

    If you can take a more minimalistic approach and put out one concise, entertaining novel instead of six unfinished ones, everybody wins. The whole "too epic for words" thing is a psychological cop-out. Every book is perfect while it's still in the author's mind. It's the whole "being written" part where things go to hell. It takes a considerable amount of courage to put your ideas to paper, where they can be ridiculed and criticized, but if you want to be a writer, then you don't have a choice. All you need to do is translate your enthusiasm for the project to the book itself, and you'll be fine. Just pick a more conservative goal to start with.

    No one is stopping you from writing a whole series—we just want you to start with something you actually have a chance of finishing. A short story, a free verse poem, an oatmeal recipe, etc. Prove yourself first. Write War and Peace later.
     
  4. rory
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    rory Contributing Member

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    Well, you are in a pickle, aren't you? When a person takes something from their own imagination and tries to show it to other people, tries to let them share their vision, their world, something is always lost in the attempt. Doesn’t matter if you are writing a book, scripting a movie, or painting a masterpiece. I don’t think people will ever see it exactly the way you do.

    That said, I think that writing a novel gives you the most control over all the many details. You could describe your world, your story, in every way possible; of course, if you did, nobody would want to read it and it would probably be about a zillion pages long. Next best would be writing the script and directing it yourself and working very closely will everyone involved, which isn’t something that a lot people get the privilege of doing. And I bet the actors would get a little upset.

    I can understand what you mean, but I think you seek the impossible. Even if you did manage to convey exactly what you wanted perfectly, there is no guarantee the audience would see it that way. Possibly because they are obstinate and just don’t want to (I admit to turning a blind eye to certain descriptions, just because I didn’t like them. The MC has blond hair? I think it should be brown!).

    I think you need to step back, expect less from yourself and the audience. Build your world and leave blanks. People like to use their imaginations even when they are getting most of the meat an potatoes from someone else.

    Best of luck.
     
  5. KurtistheTurtle
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    KurtistheTurtle Member

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    I thought dilemma was spelled dilemna..isn't that something

    1) In communication you will never be able to control the way your audience receives the message. You can control the content they receive but past that it's out of your control. So, since you can't control it don't worry about it and

    2) Write this story for yourself. You are your own reader and you can always change stuff later. Write the scene the way it plays out in your head. Other people will be able to touch the world you create if you can touch it too.
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think what you need to do is just relax and take it one step at a time.
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^^ Yep. When faced with a big project, it's best to break it down into smaller parts. Decide which 'episode' you want to do first, and try writing that--as a stand-alone novel of around 90,000 words, IMO.
     
  8. Dauracul
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    Dauracul Member

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    Thank you for the replies, everyone! I do admit, this thing is a pretty huge undertaking, and I may have dug myself into a hole. Trying to think of where to start is overwhelming. I'll take your advice, though, and take smaller steps.

    I have an alternate story I've been brainstorming that's on a much lesser scale that I might delve into. And in that same realm, I've engineered my epic to have each episode stand alone as its own story. Individually, each episode I feel is no more lengthy than any other average fantasy / sci-fi story or novel.

    I am still leaning toward the graphic novel route, and that route kind of excites me in a "make it through the heart of an erupting volcano alive" sort of way. The reward at the end of that... I can't imagine anything feeling better. We'll see, though, I'll give it some thought.

    And my apologies for jumping into things, haha. I'll make a proper introduction post here later this afternoon.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    You need to stop, take a VERY deep breath, and chillax.

    Now, just start writing the story. It doesn't matter were you start. Just start. You're not going to break it. You're not going to damage it. Bad parts are always fixable. Always.
     
  10. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    Let's say you wanted to write 90,000 words. Divide that by 365 days and you've only got to write 247 words a day. Less daunting when you look at like that :)
     
  11. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    Try to take some of the huge expectation off your shoulders by 'practicing' writing your novel. That way, you won't feel so overwhelmed and you will probably end up with a shedload of ideas and notes on which you can then build.
     
  12. KurtistheTurtle
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    KurtistheTurtle Member

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    What I do for large papers that seem daunting is take a crap ton of notes, put together my works cited, then make a detailed outline. Then I fly through it.

    Since all the notes are in your head, just gotta make an outline
     
  13. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    From what you have said, I would suggest it is ok to outline a few episodes, but you really need to focus on one of them. Probably the most commercial/strongest story?

    But the problem is your fear of sharing it. You maybe right to be careful, your story may well be the best thing ever told, but it is in the telling of the story not the idea behind it.

    You say this story NEEDS to be told but you won't tell anyone? Are you afraid of flaws being pointed out, thieves, what?

    I worry that your story will never be told and never completed because of your unwillingness to get help when you clearly need it.

    Tell a close friend, a parent, someone who has no interest in writing a book.(???) Just get some feedback.

    I'm a graphic designer, with 5 years academic training and 6 years experience in problem solving. Visual, audio what ever it takes I can usually find a solution, so with this background knowledge I would suggest contacting a graphic designer for advice, they are trained in communicating to the masses.

    I hope it helps.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all good advice i can only ditto...
     
  15. Dauracul
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    Dauracul Member

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    Honestly, the only thing holding me back from telling someone is the fact that it's not a finished work. On top of that, it's a daunting task to even explain the story, much less get to work on it.

    That's not to say I won't tell anyone, ever. There is a certain level of trust in a person I require in order to do that, and finding that level of trust in someone is extremely rare.

    For the past few years I've been working solely on Episode V, and nothing else (save for what's needed for backstory, which is helping make a skeleton for surrounding episodes). Doing so seems to help with the scope of the project, I guess I just have to take things slow and with even smaller steps.

    Thanks again for the great advice, everyone.
     
  16. That Secret Ninja
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    Dauracul, I was in the exact same situation as you, about a month ago, I mainly got into writing just so I could tell something as huge and epic as you have in mind. maybe even larger, but I know that I can't possibly write it anytime soon. I've shelved the project until I'm a much more experienced writer and have read all the critically acclaimed sci-fi and fantasy epics I need.

    My advice, get a basic storyline outline for the beginning of your story, and a very very basic outline for the rest of the series, then put it aside.

    You can't possibly tackle a magnum opus if you haven't tackled something much smaller in scope many times. Try writing short stories first. They don't necessarily have to be about something else, but you could just take a scene or excerpt from what you have in mind and work out a simple short story within the context of the epic you're planning.

    Some more advice, don't get ahead of yourself, I certainly did, and then I saw that I just wasn't ready to tackle my project just yet. take baby steps. If you need to tell this story, it will be told before you die. very few people write their magnum opus when they're young.
     
  17. Eternity
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    Eternity Member

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    Fedora:
    This is very aptly put. My thoughts exactly. I would suggest taking things slowly, step by step. Perhaps do an outline of your novel; what, when, why, how, who, etc. It'll clarify in your mind better what you want to acheive. Take things slowly, step by step, as I said; build it up from something small, don't try to do too much at once. Don't try to begin without first developing exactly what it is you are writing. And WHY you're writing it, too. Clarify in your head what this story really is, to you.

    Rory:
    This is so, so true.

    Kurtistheturtle:
    So did I!!! Phew, I'm not the only one. My friend thought I was nuts when I told her it was spelt with an 'n'. :)
     
  18. daisydaisy
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    daisydaisy Member

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    Have you thought about actually 'telling' the story first, as in recording it onto an audio device? Might help you sort out the story from the waffle.
     
  19. Dauracul
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    Dauracul Member

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    I believe I have found a solution. For a long while I've been leaning towards working on a graphic novel or comic series for this thing, but just haven't gone down that path for a number of reasons. At the end of the day, though, I keep coming back to the idea, because my vision is so specific in terms of imagery.

    So, I decided to make that official, and consider it a graphic novel for all intents and purposes. While I was on that train of thought, I decided to divide the story into "comic book issues", taking everyone's advice on using smaller steps.

    This solved my problem pretty much immediately.

    I'm not sure what it is about the idea, but for now I'm able to focus ALL of my energy on just "issue #1". I can map out things like what artistic concepts I need to have finalized before I start, and it'll be easy to start outlining since it's essentially just a short story within that universe with a cliffhanger.

    The problem of transitioning my introduction to something visual wasn't as much of a problem as I thought. All I really needed to do was omit the prologue.

    I wouldn't say all my concerns are completely lifted at this point, but I do feel much, much better about my choices. Thank you, everyone!
     
  20. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Exactly my thought when I read the problem. If it's really an "Episode" then it can tie up enough loose ends to be resolved, and leave enough for the next episode. It sounds as if he's writing something on the scale of "Lord of the Rings", which was also six books (although it's usually published as three). That would make it pretty much a lifetime's work, although as Tolkein showed, it's possible to hold down a day job at the same time :)
     

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