1. Ommonite
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    Ommonite Senior Member

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    The first chapter

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ommonite, Aug 21, 2008.

    I can honestly say that with the many blank screens I've sat through as well as those with "sit down and just write" attitudes, I've rarely gotten past chapter one of any novel I've started, which ranges to about fifty a year.

    I've only ever finished one long piece that I consider a novella and another short memoir that may never grow in content but will always see changes.

    As I'm taking my two current projects a bit more serious than ever, one more than the other, I believe that I will seriously produce a good work this time, because I've been planning out this plot for three years and have recently cracked down on revising those plans to give it a certain uniqueness.

    What do you all have to say about breaking away from long hours of staring at a blank screen, followed by a half our of staring at half a page you soon delete.

    And what do you all feel about "sit down and write" versus planning the whole thing from the beginning?

    These are two discussions I wished I could have had years ago, and so I hope that others benefit from the results of this thread.
     
  2. Palimpsest
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    Palimpsest Senior Member

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    If I was writing a diary, or just needed to get a story out for a deadline, or just want to write anything (it doesn't need to go anywhere, though I did this freewriting storytelling more when I was younger-- like, "still trying to grasp that the number of tines on the capital 'E' are not a matter of aesthetics" younger-- so continuity was optional, how I miss that ease and freedom of writing before anybody told me there was a How to it,) then I can "just sit and write."

    Later, after perfectionist tendencies choked me into silence, I noticed that a lot of the stories I liked reading best could only have become that way if the first step was brainstorming and outlining. When every scene would have a "clue" (even if it wasn't a mystery novel), and the clues come together at the climax it makes a great read for puzzle-loving minds, the need to see the red herrings for what they were made it worth a reread. While I still struggle to regain that childlike flow, or any flow for that matter, I find it much easier to write with an outline. The descriptions and dialogue only need to flow in the direction of the next event in the outline, it's like connecting dots.
     
  3. Victory
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    Victory New Member

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    For the longest time I would find myself staring at a blank computer screen as I thought long and hard on what to fill it with. Occassionally, sure, I'd get something typed up. Whether I liked what I had written or not can't really be said. Because as soon as I'd gotten my thoughts onto the screen I'd have held down the delete key and erased any visual evidence of such an attempt.

    And this got irritating.


    So, I came up with a solution to defeat the aforementioned problem. I bought a journal with blank pages, a pen with ink that couldn't be erased, and I stayed away from my computer. I placed a sticker on the face of the journal and wrote, "Notes on a novel." And within that awaiting potential I began putting all of my ideas onto those bound pages of empty space as soon as the thoughts had come. I'd find myself skipping around as each new idea brought forth greater ones. But through chaos would come order.

    I've only begun filling this 'book' with my story but I already seem to have formed a pretty good outline for how things will read. And this way I'll actually have something to show for it.
     
  4. Jade
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    Jade Active Member

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    I can never write first chapters. I find them incredibly annoying and tiresome to write - usually so much so that I don't have energy for the second chapter and the one after.

    Instead I usually have a plan, with a list of chapters and a list of events and vaguely what happens in each, so I can pick which one I feel like writing. So if I'm in an angry mood, I pick an arguement scene. I write the first chapter towards the end of my project usually, as by then I've discovered more about my characters and setting than I knew at the beginning. A bit of a confusing way to work, but it works for me.
     
  5. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I don't really know, as I've never been in this situation. I've never had to stare at a blank screen for hours without SOMETHING coming. And once I write something, I usually don't have to delete it. I wouldn't write it in the first place if that was the case.

    You can plan a story out as much as you want, but in the end, if you ever want it written, you really ARE going to have to just "sit down and write." Plans are plans, not writing. They can help one get started but they won't do the writing for you.

    I don't tend to plan my entire stories out because that limits me and I hate knowing everything that's going to happen. I wrote one novel using that method and it seems stale and forced to me. So I just write. That's my method, not everyone's. I do mull over my longer story ideas for months or years before actually writing, while I'm working on other projects, so that's a form of planning.

    But eventually everyone who wants to be a writer has to just sit down and write. Three years of planning, and then yet more note revising...? It might be necessary to get the story started, but you have to finish planning and start writing the thing sometime.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Just because you will present the book to the reader in a certain order does not mean you must write the chapters in that order.

    You may have scenes in your thoughts that belong further in than the first couple chapters. Those may beg some setup, so that may inspire thought sof other scenes to prepare for the scene you just finished.

    Of course, writing scenes and chapters in random order for the first draft demands a revision pass even more than writing sequentially. That doesn't really matte though, because you will need a revision pass (or several) anyway. I've heard some writers say they work hard to get it right the first time, but I believe any piece of writing will benefit from at least one good revision pass.

    Walking away from the blank screen-blank stare syndrome may be a good idea if it happens infrequently. But if it is occurring on a regular basis, sou may justy have to suck it in and start typing. There is such a thing as a writing discipline that you must develop if you plan to take on writing seriously.
     
  7. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    The only was that I have a decent chance of finishing a longer-sized piece (like the novel I'm currently working on) is to outline the plot beforehand. This way, I can subtly forshadow future events, while I couldn't if i was just writing whatever came to mind as I wrote.
     
  8. Ommonite
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    Ommonite Senior Member

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    My only completed novel (which I feel needs a huge rewrite) was written with the "sit down and write" method and it wasn't that good, though a rewrite is in order, as I said.

    I can't say planning has ever worked for me, since I only have two completed works, one that is more like half, and I rarely attempt small works.
     

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