1. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    What do you do to learn and further master writing?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Justin Rocket 2, Sep 3, 2015.

    I am very frustrated.

    I've confessed before that I'm not very good at stringing scenes together to form a story. Some of you kind ladies and gents have tried to console me by telling me this is a skill that can be learned. I took that to mean that I should continue reading books about writing, which I did.

    I don't think I'm learning.

    What do you do to learn and further master writing?
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Read. Reading is the best way to learn how to write. I don't mean read how-to-write books, just read GOOD books in the genre or style that you aspire to. Note what works and what doesn't.

    What bits in particular are you struggling with?
     
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  3. Kata_Misashi
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    Kata_Misashi Active Member

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    Take a deep breath my friend! We are here to help you! :)
    As Tender says; reading is the best lesson to help a writer. Follow books that target your particular favorite genre. Also research and find references to what you are trying to write. Take in different situations from movies or video games and alter to your whim. Think outside the box.
    Like any skill; drawing, martial arts, etc, require dedication. Don't fluster yourself over mistakes. Brush yourself and try again, brah.
    That's just my 2 cents... :supercool:
     
  4. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    At this point, I'm frustrated enough to say "everything." I've been working on one novel for over a year and have only a few thousand words done. I think, maybe, I don't understand my characters well enough, yet.
     
  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Can we help? Maybe this can be your own "what would my characters do?" thread?
     
  6. Kata_Misashi
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    Kata_Misashi Active Member

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    Ahh, that could be it. Then allow me to assist you.

    http://www.epiguide.com/ep101/writing/charchart.html

    Try this. I used this to help me with my characters. I bet you can do the same. :3
     
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  7. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Thanks :)

     
  8. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Write short - for relief. Post on forums, post to small magazines. Find a sub-editor who likes you, very difficult that one. Get into your local writing scene, narrate at tiny events, have some fun. Keep exercising the muscle, write for the internet, immerse in a world of words, enjoy the ride, write about the ride. I dunno, don't stare at a screen without relief, it's too much...pressure. The pressure will ease, you'll write your book.
     
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  9. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just this. This is all I do to learn (and for fun). I've read maybe two 'How to Write' books in my time, but there's simply no substitute for reading other works of fiction (if that's what you want to write yourself).

    I'm an old bastard now, so that's a lot of reading, but I could have read so much more and hate myself for not doing so in the past. I still don't read that much, and not for very long either - maybe an hour in bed before I go to sleep, but the technique will slowly sink in by osmosis, believe me.

    I also have a pile of pre-read books by my side when writing. If I dry up I read a few passages to look at how they move from one scene to another, start a sentence, a scene, etc.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    1) Read
    2) Write
    3) Repeat steps 1-2.
     
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  11. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    This.
     
  12. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    The art of stringing scenes together didn't make sense until I read Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain. Seriously. I had no clue whatsoever about how to go from scene to scene and reading this book was like sticking my finger into a light socket.
     
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  13. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just over £14.50 with delivery. I'm tempted, as stringing scenes together is one of my weak points.
     
  14. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    I've got it. The book helped clarify a lot of things for me, but it hasn't been enough.
     
  15. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    What do you feel is still missing?
     
  16. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Another thing it covers is what goes on between scenes, which is something I'd never even thought about.
     
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  17. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, I'm definatley getting it then, as this is another area I struggle with - even more so than linking scenes. Sound like this book was written specifically for me.
     
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  18. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Luke, one of my protagonist, carries a psychological scar (survivor's guilt) from the death of Tommy's son (I posted about Tommy's son's death earlier in this thread). I need to express that, somehow. The only way I've been able to come up with is for him to risk his life to help other people. The problem is that doesn't come across as a wound, but as being heroic.
     
  19. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess I could have worded my question more succinctly...

    I meant, what do you think is still missing from your understanding of how to bang the story into shape? Without being inside your head, I hesitate to make recommendations as to where the story should go or how you should get there.

    For me, Techniques of the Selling Writer came late in my 'education.' I read a crap-load of books on writing so by then, Swain's book filled in almost every single gap that still needed filling.

    When I find myself in the sort of situation you seem to be experiencing, I go back to the heart of the story. I reexamine theme, starting line-up, climactic situation, and plot elements. I toss things out, start over, juggle, etc. until the story feels strong. Then I dive back into writing or rewriting.

    Some other things you might read:
    Dramatica theory
    Save the Cat! and Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies
    Comedy, Tragedy and Religion
    The Hero's Journey


    The answer will be in there somewhere. Well, actually, the answer is in your imagination. Those books will just help you find it. :)
     
  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    When you say you only have a few thousand words "done", do you mean that you have only a few thousand words that you think are worth keeping, or that you've only written a few thousand words?

    If it's the second, then my advice is the always-annoying but IMO still-correct, "just write." Even if it's imperfect, even if it's trash, even if you're embarrassed by it as you're writing it. Write write write. If it's not worth keeping, that's fine; write anyway.

    And, yes, read, a lot.
     
  21. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    I mean I have a few thousand words worth keeping.
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    What I've done:
    Write and get frequent feedback on what you are writing.
    Read how to write books, find the ones that speak to you, all are not equal.
    Read writers' blogs, especially about techniques you are learning.
    Read, read, and read some more with a mind to pick out ideas, techniques, examples of what you are trying to do in your own work.
    Don't worry about where your skills are at, just work to make them better.
     
  23. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    As I understand, a high level plot outline looks something like (please don't misunderstand, this is not a blueprint, it is a recipe. Like all recipes, the author should customize it to his taste and feel free to experiment)
    Open with a seemingly perfect world, but dig a little deeper and you find it isn't. The hero is carrying a scar in his center of being. Something traumatic in his formative years shaped him into the kind of person he is today and his world reflects his scar somehow. Within his world, such as it is, he is heading for a test. There is great opportunity for treasure or donjon. He seems to be on the right path, but his scar (or the external embodiment of his scar) trips him up. He fails the test in a big way. He attempts to recover, but is still reliant on that thing that he has been using to keep himself from facing that scar. He fights, fearfully, over and over again to reverse his fortune. He fails in bigger and bigger ways. He grows more and more desperate and willing to become increasingly immoral in his efforts to reverse his fortune. He gets to the point where he feels that he is at the lowest he can go. Now, he's really willing to do something very immoral. At this point, his friends and allies confront him about his immoral behavior and they leave him. Now he really is at his lowest point. It is at this point that he finally embraces his scar and all the pain associated with it, but he gains strength from it. He starts fighting again to climb up. He is no longer motivated by fear, but by love for his friends and allies. Finally, he confronts his antagonist. He fails, but his friends and allies pull together to help him. Whatever he learned when he confronted his scar gives him new strength. He confronts his antagonist again and, this time, succeeds.

    When looked at this way, Luke's scar is the demon I need to bind.

    I've read all of those except Comedy, Tragedy and Religion. On reflecting on my experience with Dramatica, I believe it was harmful to me as a writer. Save the Cat! and The Hero's Journey were just kinda meh. (If you like The Hero's Journey, you should read The Heroine's Journey as well.) But, I did find Techniques of the Selling Writer outstanding.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2015
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  24. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, sorry to say it, but I'm stumped. Perhaps this is your hero's journey, figuring this out. :)
     
  25. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Like Steerpike said already, Read-Write and Repeat. Even reading online articles will improve your writing if you read enough of those. I'm heavily limited on libraries where i live so i try to read as much as i can of what i have and what's available on the Internet.
     

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