1. Marscaleb
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    Marscaleb New Member

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    Thoughts or process on writing a whole novel?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Marscaleb, Feb 4, 2014.

    I started writing a fantasy novel a good ten years ago. I worked on it at various points in my life, but after a while I was mostly pursuing other endeavors. Now I am in the mood to work on it again, and perhaps make some serious headway on it.

    I'm not quite sure how I should proceed with it though, and I was wondering if folks had any good thoughts to share about the writing process for such a sizable piece.

    See when I first started on it I had literally no idea what it was going to be about. I just started writing some scenes. They started taking form, and I just built more and more, expanding more of the story, expanding more of the world, slowly building up the plot.
    Actually it would be hard to say that I was building a plot; the writing was really bad because I didn't have a concrete direction.
    But eventually I did get to a story that I really liked, and I started to build that.

    It's actually been really fun to write this way because I simply don't know where things will go next. I am just as surprised as any reader to see where my story goes next.

    But I wonder if I can really keep going like this. I have honestly no idea what is going to happen in this book; I don't have a plan for a climax or a resolution. To be honest, I'm still not completely sure what I am building toward; I'm not certain what the real danger is and what the real conflict is that threatens my characters. I've got a number of different tangents, some are converging, some are not.

    Maybe I could keep writing this way, maybe I could just keep building things until I have something that looks like a structure, and then start carving it away and refining it into something worthwhile.
    But maybe I should stop with this childish method and build the larger scale of the story, and then work to fill that. But even as I say that, I just don't know how, because that's not something I've ever worked on before.

    I'm not really sure what works best; certainly there's a strong element of "what works best for you" but I'm not really sure what processes are out there. I've never heard anyone talk about how you go about writing a whole novel, so I just don't know how I should be approaching this. So that's why I'm wondering what thoughts people have about writing a long-form story like this. How can I make this?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I think you should keep writing and see where it takes you. You might even end up surprising yourself. And since this is just the first draft, you'll be going back later and cutting unnecessary material anyway.
     
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  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why do you call your method childish? If it is, there a lot of successfully published writers who like childish methods!

    Write in whatever way allows you to finish. If writing scenes and putting them together works, then do it. If you find that all you're doing is writing a bunch of disjointed scenes that you can't fit together, try doing something else. There are as many methods for writing as there are authors - the trick is just figuring out which one works best for you.
     
  4. Marscaleb
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    Marscaleb New Member

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    Okay then, perhaps not "childish," but certainly not structured. I don't have an outline nor a plan. I don't have a plot, but I have five or six sub-plots.

    But as I said, I mostly just wonder what else is out there. I do need to find what works best for me, but I won't find what works best for me if I just try one method.
     
  5. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    What is it you want to say with this story? Or what do you want to explore? I think you just need to think about this project some more, asking yourself the right questions. Why do you want to write it? What is it about the idea that intrigues you? Who is the mc and what is his goal? What is standing in his way? etc etc. You don't have to have an outline, but if you want to avoid the risk of ending up with a lot of scenes that has no connection, maybe this could help you to have a more coherent story. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2014
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    This is the one thing that really jumped out at me. It's fine to write "wherever the story takes you", but if you don't have a grasp on the basic conflict of the story, then you risk having a meandering tale that goes nowhere. So, I'd give it some thought.

    That said, assuming that you are doing this as a pastime and not because you have an expectation of publication, then I would keep on with what you are doing and consider this an extended writing exercise. Because as you review what you write and compare it to published works you admire, you will gain some insights. My very first novel attempt was done in much the same way (although I knew where it was going when I started it and what the major conflicts would be). Even after heavy editing, I did not have a publishable manuscript, but I had learned (with the help of some critiquing comments and some honest comparisons) an awful lot about writing and about the kinds of characters I find I like to create.

    Good luck.
     
  7. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Sounds like you're just following your characters around with a notebook recording the thongs they do. That's a chronicle. You enjoy it because it's satisfying your curiosity. And that impels you to want to know them, and what makes them tick, better. In other words you're learning the anatomy of the story. That's fine for you, but a reader is looking for excitement and conflic. They want bodies crashing through the overhead, danger and hurried decisions they have to make along with the characters, as the protagonist fights to stave off disaster. They're looking to be entertained, not informed. So in essence, you're defining your plot structure and character history in detail. But are you writing what a reader defines as a story?

    When we read other writers for pleasure we tend to believe that we're also learning the structure of a story. But when we read we have no idea of the decisions the author made as they worked to achieve the objective, and why they present one scene and not another—one path and set of actions over another. We can't tell where the editor said, "I think you need to cut this, or fix it because it's not working." And our scholastic background doesn't include the nuance of presenting point of view, using tags, or a hundred other things.

    My personal view is that you've had this project on hold for many years. And if you're like many, you give it up, originally, because the reading didn't seem as exciting as you intended and you saw no way of fixing it, or even why it didn't have the immediacy you hoped for—something that may well show up again because the approach and methodology is unchanged. And for that reason, I'm suggesting you devote a bit of time to a better understanding of the options and possibilities open to a writer, that at the moment you might not even know exists. And by that I mean the craft of the profession. It's no harder to learn than were the writing techniques we learned in our primary schooling, though the perfection of those skills and tricks does take a bit of time, and the talent to use them effectively—something we can't predict till we acquire and try to use those tools. But on the other hand, given that there are lots of "no talent hacks" making a living by their writing...

    You might want to start with a look at the basics of what scenes are and how they're constructed—the elements that make them up and what they're intended to do so far as influencing the reader's perception of the story. Scenes are the building blocks of fiction. Your library probably has lots of such resources, and a name to look for is Jack Bickham. But for someone just getting their literary feet wet I'd suggest Deb Dixon's GMC: Goal Motivation and Conflict, available foe Kindle and Nook, and just a click away at less than the cost of a nice dinner with a glass of wine.
     
  8. Nightstar99
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    Nightstar99 Contributing Member

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    When I started writing my book I had a sudden, single insight, into what I wanted to do. That was about 5 years ago and I've worked on it on and off (mostly off) but am now really pushing to finish the first draft.

    In cases where I got stuck the only thing I found that worked was writing on regardless. I have often been surprised where things went or how plot holes I just couldn't reconcile sort themselves out.

    Also during my lunch hour at work I take a brisk walk into town and think about my story most days, this usually turns up a lot of insight that I can then write about at the end of the day.

    I don't know how I'd get on having no idea where I was going with it though. What do you think its like yourself when you read back what you've done?
     
  9. violinguy
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    violinguy Member

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    I don't know if you play golf at all, but there is a great expression in golf that I think relates perfectly to your situation.

    There are no pictures on a scorecard. Meaning, it doesn't matter how you got the number you wrote down (or finished novel), only the finished product matters.
     

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