1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Where does content come from?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by waitingforzion, Jan 29, 2012.

    I've tried to write a short story many times before and have never been able to write anything good. Aside from the fact that I need to improve the way I tell my story, the main issue for me is a complete lack of any content whatsoever. All the key elements of a a story - plot, setting, conflict, character, etc - are the very elements I seemingly have no ability to create. I don't believe the problem is that I can never do it, but since I have lived most of my life watching television, playing video games, exploring the computer, and being stuck in the hospital and in programs, I have no imagination at my disposal through which I can pour out ideas. Now the thing is, I don't want to write common things that I know; I want to write fantasy. I want to make up new things altogether. How can I improve my imagination so that I can write such things?
     
  2. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Read. A lot, including genres you aren't interested in. This will stimulate the parts of your imagination that you aren't currently using. It will help, I promise. :)
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe you have the cart before the horse. Most people who want to write have a story already in mind, and they're looking for help in telling it properly. You want to write, but you don't have a story to tell.

    Here's something that helps me sometimes (and I've mentioned this before in this forum): Find a book of photographs, or some old National Geographic magazines. Anything that has pictures of people in exotic situations (situations unfamiliar to you). Don't read the text and don't read the captions. Just find a picture that appeals to you for any reason at all, and imagine who that person is. What is his life like? What kind of thing could happen to him to change him, to make him go through an arc? What could set him off on an adventure that would change his life, in other words?

    That kind of thing might stimulate your imagination.
     
  4. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find sitting outside with no influences at all really helps - turning your phone off and all. It just makes you look around you and think.

    Not sure since you said you'd been in hospital, but if it's at all possible get out and just start doing stuff in the real world as well: people watch in a shopping centre or go to some public events or something? I dunno.

    Just adding to the others' advice, which is also very good. :)
     
  5. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I spent most of my childhood watching TV and playing video games too and that only stimulated my imagination further. Don't buy into the lie that TV can't stimulate the imagination. Watch something you really enjoy and that may inspire you to tell a story just like it. That's pretty much how it happened for me.
     
  6. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    Agreed. My high school creative writing teacher told me that what inspired her to write was the video game Final Fantasy 7. Something that might help you is trying out an RPG or round robin exercise, or maybe start with fan fiction or something where some of the work is already done for you. As you get better, start to do more on your own. It really helps.
     
  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always think that, when people have the urge to write, they always have a story to tell.
    Look deep inside yourself, what is the story you really want to tell the world?
    Sometimes, we have a story we know will be painful to write, but it's in us, desperate to come out, and until we get it out, we can't move on to other things we want to explore through writing.
    Find that story and get it our of your system first.
    Also, what everyone said, lots of reading is always useful :)
     
  8. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sometimes your fanfiction can actually be a blueprint for your original story. Several of mine started out as fanfiction. Eventually, I simply had to do a little adapting to make it completely mine.

    So to the OP, reading is hardly the only way to get content. It is one way, of course. And if you haven't tried it, you might as well give it a whirl. But reading is no better than anything else when it comes to content inspiration. Reading may help with the technique of writing but when it comes to content, whatever floats your boat is what's best. And that could be plays, TV, movies, books, food, daydreaming, or watching people from a park bench. Content can come from anywhere at any time. So if one method isn't working for you, try another one, even if somebody insists that one method is supreme. (ie reading) If it's not working for you, it isn't all that supreme. Provided you aren't doing anything illegal or unethical (or just plain dangerous lol), whatever best gets you your story is where YOUR content comes from. Live!
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    read, read read, READ, READ, READ! read, read read, READ, READ, READ! read, read read, READ, READ, READ! read, read read, READ, READ, READ! read, read read, READ, READ, READ! read, read read, READ, READ, READ! read, read read, READ, READ, READ!
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    So, the thing, then, is to read?
     
  11. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I agree with TDFulringer and mammamaia when they said read but having time to be bored does amazing things for your mind. What I mean by being bored is time that you don't have anything else planned and you don't look for anything else to do. Also people watching is a great stroy creator for me.
     
  12. leadbelly
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    leadbelly New Member

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    And sometimes what we want to write, isn't what we're meant to write. The OP mentioned wanting to write a fantasy short story and that's great, write what you love but first, just write. Write whatever comes to you, whether good or bad... just write and ask what if.

    What if a dragon dropped from the sky and ate the Empire State building?
    That 'what if' is the start of a story. It can start as simple as that and be expanded on by asking more what if questions and then answering them with how.

    How could a dragon eat the Empire State building?
    That helps you flesh out your story (or find problems with it).
     
  13. jonsnana
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    jonsnana Member

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    I agree you need to read but I will go a step farther. My mom wouldn't let me check out any more sci-fi or mystery b ooks than non-fiction books. (Something about feeding the brain a balanced meal ) Since I had discovered Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes as well as Clifford Simak I ended up reading a great many biographies, histories and psychological science books. As much as I hate to admit that Mom was right, the non-fiction books have contributed more jumping off points for my imagination. It was like doing personality studies on dozens of people...and makes those personality types easier to place into my "situations." You don't have to read but with all of the free online libraries it is a easy fix.
     

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