1. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Story Development... Advice?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sprirj, Dec 30, 2009.

    I love developing my story, as it unfolds and I come up with new ideas, as I let things evolve as I write. Its exciting! But the down side to this is plot holes, loose endings etc. Sometimes my story moves too far from the original plot. Do others have this problem? Or do people set their plots in concrete before they write anything? I get too excited about my book to hold off. I like to write while it is still fresh but does any one have advice for ironing out stories approached in this manner?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Some people need to formally plan their writing. I keep it in my head, which works better for me as I am constantly correcting my course as I write. But many other people seem to be more comfortable nailing down the course from te outset.

    It's a matter of what works best for you.
     
  3. Cosmos
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    Cosmos Contributing Member

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    I'm the obsessive outliner. Although my story will vary, sometimes significantly, most of the time it stays within the lines of what I'd envisioned and put down on paper. There is no right or wrong way to plan (or just jump into) a story, only what's right and wrong for you. If you're having trouble keeping points in a story, perhaps a brief breakdown of points would help you, especially any points that you feel could be seen as plotholes later. Reviewing that occasionally would then remind you what needs to be addressed or at least acknowledged in the confines of the story.
     
  4. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I develop stories as I write, too. For me, it's a matter of working with my medium (words). I don't think of "ideas" per se as my medium, as many writers, I think, probably do. For me, the experience of interacting and shaping the words as I write is directly responsible for where my imagination goes. But even for me, I do round a bend at some point where I recognize the storyline that is required to hold the piece together. Then, I just have to go back and iron out the storyline flaws. To a certain extent, reader access is more important (to me) than protecting the words precisely as I've written them. So, "orchestration" is an important piece of the rewriting aspect, and that has to coincide with the sensibility I'm going for. So, it's a challenge, and one that I love.

    But I don't write novels--only short stories where experimentation, artistry, and such is more broadly accepted by editors and publishers. Doesn't mean a particular story is sufficiently accessible for a particular venue, though (and sometimes it may not work anywhere).

    While I know there are novelists who also unfold their stories as they write 'em, that's a much harder task I would imagine. Book publishers are not as inclined to take on works by new writers, which are too unconventional for their consumers. They want to be able to "sell" a novel, since that's what they're in business to do. And that usually means there best be a plot that readers can recognize, and which compels and sustains their interest. I think that's why most novelists do well to begin with a plot and an outline.

    But for those novelists who do unfold stories as they go (I think Murakami is one of 'em), I don't think that means they don't polish and perfect and balance and tweak to make those stories accessible in some way that satisfies their readers. I think writing that way just means that the storyline (or plot) takes a bit of a back seat to the thematics that I belive are the real essence of the story I'm reading. There's something about the "experience" of reading a story that was an "experience" to tell.

    I don't think any of that means adjustments aren't essential if the objective is to deliver the "story" into the mind of a reader in a very particular way. And for my nickel, a story without a reader who understands it is, at best, only a work-in-prigress.

    P.S.: As for the “ironing out” process, itself (which is really what you’re asking about), that’s going to be different for different writers (of different kinds of stories). I can usually see when I re-read my own manuscript where some of the storyline deficiencies need to be strengthened (with more build up or tension or portent or atmosphere, or language changes and so forth). Then that’s the particular challenge I take on as a writer. Doesn’t mean I don’t miss some of them. Plus, I also must recognize that the very particular kind of subtlety I’m going for is going to result in some readers (even editors) who might not agree (with me) that what I've done actually works. Besides that, I may simply miss some frank defects that I could improve upon if I knew what they were. Uncovering all-the-above and thinking about how to improve one thing or another is an ever-unfolding process that sometimes works out and sometimes just doesn’t. A good reader (beyond oneself, I mean) is helpful, but not the final authority on whether something is “right” or is “wrong.” I don’t know any other way to approach it, really.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's nothing wrong with just starting to write and letting your story flow, as that's what many successful authors do, but if you find yourself starting to get tangled up in subplots, time shifts, etc., then it's time to do up some sort of outline, to keep everything straight...
     
  6. Sillraaia
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    Sillraaia Senior Member

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    I always have a basic outline set before I can start to write my story, else I don't know where I am going. But as I write, my story changes, sometimes to the point where the reasons behind the characters actions don't match up with how I had intended the story to end.. so I change the ending. I find a new ending that works better with the story I have now, and I think it works better that way, because I can keep the excitement throughout the entire story, rather than finding myself writing about something I have no feeling for.

    If I can't find a new ending that would make it work better, that would be better for the story, and that I feel comfortable with, then I backtrack and see what I can change of what I have already written.
    Good luck! Have fun!
     

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