1. hellomoto
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    hellomoto Contributing Member

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    Why do you think this is?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by hellomoto, Sep 19, 2008.

    Hey world,

    I have noticed lately a dilemna that could endanger my future writing career. Everytime I think of a great idea for a story, I start typing it, and eventually I come to hate the idea..... and stop.

    There are a number of reasons why I think this might happen.

    1/ The book I am reading is so much better than what I am typing and it makes my story seem bad.

    2/ The book I am reading is so much different than the story I am writing and makes me want to write a similar story.

    3/ My plots generally suck.

    4/ I suck at writing.

    Please tell me what you think.........
     
  2. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Stop trying to compare your book to somebody else's book?

    Seriously, that seems to be your main problem, since you mention that "the book you're reading" is better than yours or is different from yours and you want to write a story like it. I don't even bother comparing the books I read to the books I write--they're apples and oranges, and those writers aren't me--so I find this strange. So what if the other book is better than yours? Chances are the author has a lot more experience too, and they got that experience through finishing stories. Your best chance of writing a story as good as theirs is to just finish something of your own. Don't focus too much right now on how good or bad it is. Just try to finish something. The worst story is the one the writer couldn't be bothered to finish. The world is filled with such stories.

    As for the book you're reading being different from what you're writing, well, why does that matter? Isn't that a good thing? You don't want to write an exact copy of something that's already been done, do you? If your story is different from what you're reading, then keep going with it. Maybe you'll come up with something original.

    As for your plots or your writing sucking, that's a matter of self-confidence, and nothing anybody says can fix it. But the best way to start fixing it yourself is to stop stalling on your stories because you hate them...

    ...and FINISH SOMETHING.

    You can't improve on the writing you didn't bother doing.
     
  3. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    It'll be hard to say it better then that.
     
  4. Prodigy
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    Prodigy Member

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    Dude, the same thing used to happen to me for every story I'd write. Everytime I'd think of a cool story, and then compare it, mine looked like total crap. And I got so frustrated that I stopped writing for at least four monthes because I was so discouraged. But then I just stopped caring about how bad mine was to the book I was comparing it to, and just started writing. And ever since I've been able to finish nearly every story that I've thought of. Not all of them are really awesome, but still, I got my confidence back. Just don't let it get to you.
     
  5. Kylie
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    Kylie Contributing Member

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    I'd say stop thinking so much about it. Stop comparing your story to someone else's. Yours is different, that's what makes people want to read it! Think about it that way. Have more confidence in yourself. Remind yourself that you can do it! Just keep writing :D
    To answer your question "[​IMG] Why do you think this is? " I'd say it just happens. It's what happens to a lot of people that start writing. It's why our libraries aren't bursting full of books. It's what stops a lot of people from writing.
     
  6. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    To answer your question, your thinking to much about what you are writing.

    I used to have the same problem, than I learned to stop thinking about anything but the words appearing on the screen in front of me when I write. You get to the end, re-read it, and see if you like it. Generally by the time you finish it you will love the story, at least for me, because after I did this new method of writing I've completed three full novels in under one year, and all are in my opinion pretty good. By no means are they amazing, but comparing yourself to a professional writer, no offense but you will never win, becuase you will never THINK you are as good as a professional writer, and writing is 100% Mental.
     
  7. Ommonite
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    Ommonite Senior Member

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    I agree with Nate. stop thinking. Actually, just stop typing. if the idea is good when you come up with it, it should still be good in a year or so. by then you should ahve fleshed out anything that you had wrong with it.
     
  8. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't offer much help except to tell you I experience the exact same thing every night when I write. Sometimes I feel so discouraged because I love writing, but then my writing sucks so bad when I compare it to books that I'm reading.

    Oh, also here's an article I read every once in a while when I'm feeling particularly negative about writing--it's John Scalzi's advice to teen writers.
     
  9. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    I actually never thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense. It would probably help me with my writing if I took that approach too. Just write down the story and come back in a couple months, a year even.

    That's a wonderful idea, I'm actually going to try it with a couple stories I keep writing, and re-writing, I am overly critical of my work often times.
     
  10. ModestKittee
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    ModestKittee Member

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    Try not writing for 10 years. =) Not that I know anyone in that situation...*whistles*
     
  11. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    I was going to write "Truth in '08" haha.
     
  12. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    Do you have a "self-esteem block" which sends you negative messages abd shuts down your work? Many people have self-defeating behavior which shuts them down in the middle of good things because they don't think they deserve the reward.

    It explains why many jerks and sociopaths get ahead easily. They have no such thoughts.
     
  13. hellomoto
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    hellomoto Contributing Member

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    Thanks so much for your comments! I have decided that I should just write, and not care if its bad, because eventually I'll write something good...
     
  14. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    Plus, most people who think what they are writing is bad, actually are writing something truly amazing. In my opinion true writers are overly critical of the work they are doing, and begin to see all the problems in it, but you can use that to your advantage and write a better story.


    I must also Quote this for Emphasis.

    That is a very true statment, most people with self-esteem issues (myself included) have trouble writing because they think everything they do is a mistake, so if that's the case, keep writing. EITHER WAY keep writing.
     
  15. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    It's true.

    I'm a fan of this particular SF/Fantasy writer. Several years ago he started his own website and I started talking to him.

    He created a bunch of ideas which have been copied to death and have become givens in SF and fantasy lit. So, I always assumed that he was some complex genius who planned everything in detail. Well, it turns out that he mostly wrote his books in a flurry, making things up as he went along, but sticking to his themes. The other impressive thing he does is submit his product to the editor, let them do whatever to it, not ask questions, and never look at the work again.

    That's confidence in my book!
     
  16. Lolani
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    Lolani Member

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    I think.... that you shouldn't compare your writing to a book you're reading. Everyone's writing skills and styles are different, and you'll start to hate your work if you think you don't match up.

    You shouldn't read that book if it's making you sway away from your original idea. Try taking a break (from reading or writing) and when you're done with one or the other, come back to the one you set down.

    If you critique your work early in the game, you're generally not going to get very far. Try just writing. If, after a few chapters, the story already seems droll, chances are it's just you. Print it out and have someone read through it. Get their opinion on it and go from there.

    Same applies to this. Have someone read through it. Their opinion might change your outlook and lift your spirits up. They can also give you suggestions on how you can improve your writing.


    Hope I could help!
     
  17. Wickerman1972
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    Wickerman1972 Member

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    My personal opinion is that ideas are overrated, they don't really matter. Style is everything. Pacing, prose, character, etc, all of that is more important than the idea that got you started. I think that a good writer can make a good book out of just about anything. For example, let's suppose your idea is that cans of ravioli in a grocery store suddenly spring to life and start attacking people. Now let's also say that for whatever reason heads of lettuce join in to defend the people. The whole thing is utterly ridiculous but there is no doubt in my mind that in the right hands even something as incredibly silly as that could be a decent story.
     
  18. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    I disagree.

    I can think of one writer who'd be classified as part of the "New Weird" who writes books which make no sense, but are written in I suppose an interesting way. Gene Wolfe writes like than on occasion too.

    Anyway, if I sit there and read all this vague stuff and start coming to the conclusion that it's about nothing, I feel tricked. When it's not a trick, it's a lot like trying to have a meaningful conversation with someone who's high on drugs.
     
  19. Wickerman1972
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    Wickerman1972 Member

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    I didn't say that a fantastically original and creative idea doesn't help. But there is no doubt in my mind that an idea does not have to be world shattering for the book to be.
     
  20. Wickerman1972
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    Wickerman1972 Member

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    I'll give an example of what I'm talking about. The last three books I've read were Children of the Night by Dan Simmons, Prey by Michael Crichton, and Gone South by Robert McCammon. I would argue that Gone South had the most bleh idea of the trio. Yet somehow I liked it the most and by quite a margin. The other two had some pretty fantastical things going on but Gone South was rather plain in terms of plot. There wasn't anything paranormal or strange about it, nothing that made me say, "What a fantastic idea!" But the writing and especially the characters made for a better novel than the other two. In fact, of those three I'd say that Prey had the best idea but I liked it the least because the prose was very just-the-facts-Ma'am and the characters wooden. Style mean a lot.
     
  21. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    I completely agree with that.

    You can take "guy/girl saves his friends," and make it the best and coolest story ever if you get creative. People are putting out very entertaining works all the time just like that. They're nothing new, but the quality and unique twists the author brings are new.

    I thought you were describing obtuse writing where you have to read the page five times then talk yourself into believing you know what just happened. I can think of several like that. They're usually beloved by pseudointellectuals (IMO).
     
  22. Wickerman1972
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    Wickerman1972 Member

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    Well, I'm not into writing that has no point either. At the end of the day you need to tell some kind of story. My point was simply that I don't think ideas are something somebody should get hung up on. I've read terrible books with great ideas and great books with terrible ideas. Execution is always king. And because I read a lot of horror and science fiction I've found that even something that seems absurd (Try telling me that the plot for The Regulators by Stephen King was not ridiculous. Yet despite the comically insane subject matter the book was not bad.) can be good if handled with skill. My example of ravioli and lettuce in a grocery store is certainly not a plot I'd encourage anyone to go with, ha ha, but I've learned by reading lots of books that even something as stupid as that could be turned into gold by someone.
     
  23. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you saying that the story is less important than the writing? I don't know if I agree with that. While I'm sure you can take a lackluster story and make it appear to shine through the writing, couldn't you say the opposite is true? Aren't there authors out there that are just-okay writers but they have winning stories that their passable writing is able to convey? Some might say Stephenie Meyer/Twilight falls in that category.
     
  24. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    A lot of that depends on the genre. Science fiction is a genre where a really COOL idea can get you a lot of traction, even if your writing is only so-so. Romance novels of the bodice-ripper variety probably also count; as long as the pretty people have different names and hair colors, all that really matters is that they get it on in inventive fashions, and the quality of the writing is more or less irrelevant.

    On the flip side, really sparkling writing can make even the most tired narrative convention seem alive and full of depth, whereas mediocre writing handling a cliched storyline will fall flat. In other words, writing quality can make or break a story much more quickly than an idea can; a good writer with an old idea will craft something beautiful regardless.

    Look at Shakespeare, for goodness' sake. The man never came up with an original plot in his life (beg, borrow, and steal is, I believe, the common phrase), but he sure could write them nicely, couldn't he?
     
  25. Wickerman1972
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    Wickerman1972 Member

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    A good idea makes a good book only if the writing is good imo. Sure, you can certainly get by with adequate writing if the idea is outstanding but I just don't see any solution to truly bad writing. I'm not going to mention any authors by name but I have a few books in my collection that are breathtakingly bad (I've never read this Twilight thing you are speaking of.). A few of them have really outstanding ideas, according to what is written on the dust jacket, but I can't get far through them because the writing just doesn't cut it. I will mention a movie though to express in greater detail my take on this. Ever seen Event Horizon? To me the idea for that film is spectacular, one of the best ever. I just can't imagine how it can get any better than a spaceship dipping into parallel realities to get around and ending up in Hell and then bringing back a chunk of that sinister realm into our existence when it emerges. That is a flawless marriage of sci-fi and horror, a perfect idea. But the movie sucked! It was terrible. The idea was brilliant but the director totally botched it. Then you've got something like Cape Fear where all that happens is that a con wants revenge against a lawyer he feels misrepresented him. Not really a bad idea but certainly lacking in the majesty that Event Horizon's plot poses. But Cape Fear is one of my favorite movies and I think Event Horizon sucked a nut. Go figure.
     

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