1. The Backward OX
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    The Backward OX Senior Member

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    When you decide to write a novel, how do you decide what the story will be about?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by The Backward OX, Sep 13, 2009.

    I had an idea that writing a novel might be something to do. But it isn’t working out. I’ve lost interest in it.

    And I wondered whether I simply chose the wrong story.

    Hence my query. When you made a general decision to write, how did you arrive at a particular choice for 'what it's about'?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have story ideas all over the place. Most of them are best suited for short stories, two of them so far have enough facets they require a novel. Many are uncommitted at this point.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't decide to write a novel and then go searching for an idea. I'll only start writing something that's novel-length if the idea can be developed or expanded upon. Most of my ideas are more suited for short stories. If I force an idea to become a novel, it just seems drawn out.

    The first thing to make sure is if your plot can be complex enough to be suited for a novel. Otherwise, it might be suited for a novella or a short story.

    As for the part about losing interest, I'm not really sure what advice to give for that. Writing a 7,000 word short story is exhausting for me. Just to get to that point, I wrote shorter stories and worked my way up. You might be having a similar problem. It takes a lot of mental endurance to finish a novel, and not having that will cause you to lose interest after a while. So, my best advice is to write something at a smaller word count and then work your way up. You could even write an outline for the novel. As time goes on, you can add and expand on the outline.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The what it's about always comes first for me. I'm not the kind to decide, "Now I shall write a novel." It's more like an idea comes to me and I stretch it to see if it has possibilities. Even if it doesn't, I write it down and save it. It may well just be a flash of a more ample concept that has yet to show all of itself.
     
  5. Cyrano
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    Cyrano Member

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    Write about whatever interests you. I've never gotten far on a concept that I found uninteresting. And if you lose interest in what you're writing, skip ahead. Write the ending, or the climax of the book if you know whats going to happen then.
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think we mostly need to come up with the idea first, then decide if we can make it a novel. Otherwise, the idea could come from free several freewriting sessions that eventually form a common idea.
     
  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As others said, it takes the right idea to create/write a novel.

    Planning to take a round the world trip, and then plopping down on the ocean shore with a half-inflated inner tube, a flimsy plastic paddle, and a box of Pop-Tarts won't cut it no matter how hard you try to go the distance.

    Maybe a little excessive of an analogy, but hopefully it made my point.

    Terry

    Note: For those who may not understand the reference Pop-Tarts (I don't know how widespread they are across the USA, let alone the countries of the world but I thought it just sounded right to use for the analogy), here's a link: What are Pop-Tarts.
     
  8. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    What drives your work should come from you.

    "all my books are about a lonely person looking for some way to connect with other people." - Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)

    ...and it doesn't have to be more complex than this.
     
  9. Jenna Whitefield
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    Jenna Whitefield New Member

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    For me, it wasn't deciding to write and then coming up with a plot. It was the other way around. Like one of my friends would say something and *POOF* there's an idea right there. I work on it mentally for a few weeks, adding characters and plot and setting and personalities and stuff, before I finally sit my lazy butt down to actually get to the writing aspect.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i have to ditto that... i just know when i get the idea if it's going to be a novel or a short story... the idea hits and its form/medium comes right along with it...

    i never just decide i'm going to write a novel, or a short story, or a screenplay and then see if i can come up with a concept/plot... and i suspect all or most seasoned writers and pros don't, either... i've never heard of anyone doing that, anyway...
     
  11. roadkilraven
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    roadkilraven Member

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    Write what you enjoy reading, for a start. For example: I enjoy reading classic science fiction, so a lot of my writing has to do with that. It keeps me more interested when writing, and it would do the same for you.

    Also, for the record, work on your grammar. Your post here alone is really bad, and if you're going to write you need to try and use every opportunity to use good grammar.
     
  12. SayWhatNow?
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    SayWhatNow? Senior Member

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    Normally I don't even mean to get an idea. I'll just be sitting somewhere or in the and look at something or think about something and sometimes I'll be like "Hey, why don't I write about that?" Then I sit down and write down random stuff and cut off what I don't like.

    Then, once I have established a skeleton of a plot, I work off of that.

    Ideas just....

    *POOF*
     
  13. The Backward OX
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    The Backward OX Senior Member

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    You talkin' to me?
     
  14. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Check the link in my sig. That is how I do it.
     
  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Who is the guy talking in the video?
     
  16. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    Why don't you tell him where he is wrong so he gains something other than an insult from reading your post.
     
  17. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    It depends on the idea, like many posters have laready said don't start out by palnning to write a novel and then find the idea as some ideas will suit a hsort story format for instance, but instaed fully explore the diea and see where it takes you. You may even find that it changes as you go along, soemthing you thought was a short story may suddenly expand for instance and become a novel or vice versa.
     
  18. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    I never decide it. Ideas come to me and MAKE me write them.
     
  19. luckyprophet
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    luckyprophet Member

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    "When you made a general decision to write, how did you arrive at a particular choice for 'what it's about'?"

    I have two kinds of stories: the ones that have a meaning, and the ones that haven't.

    Now I'm trying to put meaning in kinds of stories that don't have a meaning, but I don't think there's much to do about it.

    Stories without meaning (with me) move along because of its characters. The characters are the center and the characters are the reason and motif of the story.

    There are stories in which the characters aren't as much important as something else you wish to make seen / show / display ...

    Not all stories need to have a clear "what it's about?" from the beginning. If you like the characters, let them go, and they'll reach somewhere.

    Just some thoughts here ...
     
  20. The Backward OX
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    The Backward OX Senior Member

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    Thanks to all so far. Some good stuff there.
     
  21. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    With me, and probably with many writers, we strive to write stories that we would like to find on the local bookstore's shelf. I believe it has to be a story a writer both wants to tell and also one that he thinks others will be interested in reading.

    It is more than just an interesting notion or unique character. Those, while a component, are fleeting and not enough to carry a writer through to the end. And when I mean end, I am talking far more than simply completing the first draft. There will be revisions and editing a plenty before it is submitted. The writer will read and reread the novel during this process. And if the novel is accepted for publication, the author will be reading the novel at a minimum once while working with the editor, and at least another time proofing the galleys.

    If it is a story that the author isn't interested in, the process could very well become difficult. I found myself, unfortunately at times, while reading/working with my editor on Flank Hawk, actually reading and enjoying the story and not focusing on the task at hand as clearly as I should have been.

    What I am getting at, is that it will be far more difficult for an author to be successful from beginning to end (of the process) if what is produced is a story that the author truly isn't interested in. If it's a story that an author simply thinks will sell, yes it can be done, but it'd be a much more grueling process. A process for a first time author that holds only a small chance of success--being published.

    Where do you find that story? That is part of the question in the initial post. Maybe there isn't enough there for a full novel. Maybe the author is inhibited by what family or friends will think. Maybe the author is trying to emulate another successful writer.

    Here is a brief section of an Interview I did with Sandra Kring, who has found great success with her novels:

    Maybe I rambled some, but still I hope this helps a bit.

    Terry
     
  22. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    lol. You're funny Ox :D

    When I started my novel, I didn't have the entire plot straightened out. But in the end, I expanded on it and finished my first draft, re-wrote it, and am re-writing it again because I've recently decided I'm not happy with it.

    I find it is harder to come up with the events that take place in a story when you're trying to think of some. They usually just float to the top of my head while I'm in class or when I'm taking a shower. (weird, huh?)

    I don't think you necessarily have to come up with what you want to happen in your story when you first begin writing, but at least have a general idea. The key is to keep writing, even when you've lost interest, because you'll get to a point in your work where you will impress even yourself.

    Good luck
     
  23. The Backward OX
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    The Backward OX Senior Member

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    You didn't ramble at all; on the other hand, your comments, plus some of the content of the interview, make me aware of just how far behind the eight-ball I really am.
     

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