1. wilprim
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    wilprim Member

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    The Art of Storytelling, where did it go?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by wilprim, Mar 3, 2012.

    Recently I have been writing flash fiction and the beginnings of some novels that have been poking at my brain. Everything is going well. My description is vivid enough, characters are building nicely and sometimes get me attached while writing, and the stories read smoothly, however; I have noticed there is a huge lack in my story-telling (conflict, dynamics of the characters, action, themes). I get done reading one of my tales and I notice there is not much of a tale in the first place. It seems as though my writing has become so focused on the small details such as correct grammar, strong characters, good description that it has started to sway away from the actual story itself. I am wondering if anyone else has experienced this and if there is any way to overcome it.
     
  2. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    A good drill for writing flash fiction is to write one story in one sitting. Go to bed tonight with no premeditation's about what you will write tomorrow, than open a blank word document and write a 400 word short story in 2 hours or 1 hour.

    I've done this drill many times and I can write a 100% original short story in 20 minutes. My record is a 400 word short story in 13 minutes. You'd be surprised what you're capable of if you push yourself to the limit.
     
  3. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    You might try writing down your daily activity at the end of each day. If at the end of each day you've got nothing but the same boring story consider getting out and doing things, talk to people. Go to a mall, if there is one near by, and watch the people. If you can, try to make up a story on them as they pass by based on how they look. It's hard to tell a good story if you haven't really experienced life and known people. How can someone who has never known love communicate it? That doesn't mean you have to experience everything you write about it but you have to have some life experience to build on.
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wish I had your problem--I always feel like I'm struggling to make realistic characters because the plot takes over everything.
    By 'tale' I guess you mean basic plot structure. Can't you sketch out a simple plot--give your characters a goal and an obstacle/person/personal trait to overcome, and then work out if the character will succeed or fail? You can keep all the description etc, but at least you know you have brought the story from A to Z, not just wambled about.
     
  5. wilprim
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    wilprim Member

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    Thanks for the replies. Madhoca, I can get the basic sketch down but it seems to end up so bland; rarely do I get to the last sentence and feel a total finish it always seems like it could go further...
     
  6. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^^ Bland... well, when something tastes bland, what do we do? Add more spice. You may find the plot is fine, it just needs having the odds weighted more heavily or a bigger twist thrown in. You don't necessarily need to throw the whole plot in the can.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It may be that you aren't developing tension and suspense. It's hard to guess from meager information. But working with flash fiction, you may be losing or atrophying your modulation of pace. Flash requires a very lean approach, and slow paced sections are often the first to go.

    But a slowed pace can augment the intensity of faster paced scenes through contrast, adding to the impact of the storytelling.

    Just one possibility to explore.
     
  8. Whirlwind
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    Whirlwind Member

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    I had this problem before I started roadmapping.

    For me, the problem of getting involved in small details arose because I didn't know where the story was going.

    With the roadmap the problem disappeared.

    Guess how I developed my roadmap? Swimming. In the pool. Just thinking about what was going to happen and why.
     
  9. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Excellent response. Always have a roadmap. Most of my roadmaps are developed either while swimming in the pool or running (long distance). Though strangely most of of my initial inspirations occur in the car while listening to music.
     
  10. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Okay, this is the story.

    A loves B, but B has a one-way crush on C, who is A's best friend. Because of this, A and C fight and C is left sobbing in a corner. D comforts her and C eventually develops a one way crush on him. Meanwhile, B strikes up a friendship with D, who, due to lack of knowledge about the way C feels about him, assures B that his relationship with C is platonic. A, feeling crushed by the way C left their friendship in tatters, tells B exaggerated rumors about C's feelings for D. B believes them and everything explodes.

    I want you to write me a scene, under 400 words, that weaves this entire complex plot into a single scene. You can't infodump either:you have to sneak in the information.

    The next time you start to feel a lack of confidence in your storytelling, look at the scene you wrote and tell yourself that you're the shit at storytelling.
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds like you are writing literary fiction lol

    Snarky comments aside remember as you are writing to ask yourself how can I make this worse, or make it sillier or make it more of whatever the emotion it is you want to create. Once it is as bad as it can get start asking how you can make it better.
     
  12. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    What are you trying to communicate? Does the story line build towards that goal? Do the characters, action and pace of the story contribute to that goal? Or are you sketching something out that you think sounds ok then trying to give it meaning?
     
  13. Newfable
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    Newfable Senior Member

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    The story provided is already a lil' over 100 words. Sounds too complex to be reduced to only 400 words. Possible, sure, but you'd run yourself into the ground doing it.

    Anyway, OP, I've a story for you! In a creative writing class I took in college, I needed to write a short story that was a few pages long, print out copies, and give them to classmates for them to read over a few days and critique. I wanted to have fun, so I wrote a witty and funny story about the creative process being personified. Discipline was a martial arts master wearing a gi, creativity was a gentleman with a curly moustache who thought he was better than everyone, and the editor and the critic were carbon copies of a certain pair of Muppets. The whole class loved it for exactly the reasons I made it: it was light, funny, didn't take itself too seriously, and was targeted at creative people that could laugh at themselves.

    I'll always remember my amazing professor's face, grimacing as he had to break the bad news to me: the story, while nice and well written, didn't have a plot or conflict at all. Despite laughing at myself over the whole story, I couldn't feel like a bigger idiot.

    It's fine if your story is missing something when you look back on it and read it; it just means you were focusing on something else at the time you wrote that draft. It also means that you have to worry less about what you were focusing on and more about what your story is lacking when you go back to edit the thing.
     

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