1. MellowDeath
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    MellowDeath New Member

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    Would love some help with starting

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MellowDeath, Sep 6, 2016.

    Hey everyone.
    I've never actually written anything particularly long and English is my third language. I have a few basic ideas about characters and the plot I want to write (Something in the direction of GRRM's style) but I have no idea how to even start the first sentence, my endgame is to write a novel.
    Anyone can give me some tips on how to start it all? Thanks.
     
  2. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    The prevailing wisdom seems to be: just write for now. Worry about whether you've started in the right place (or with the right words) later.

    Since good writing is rewriting (another nugget of prevailing wisdom) getting something down on paper (sic) that you can then rewrite is always the first step.

    So, just go for it. Write until you feel you've got the story out, then give it a rest and then worry about where to start.
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Whatever you write as your beginning, you will almost surely change it at some point. So don't get hung up on it. For your first attempt, I suggest beginning with an event that propels your main character forward into the story. In Susan Breen's Maggie Dove, the title character is contemplating her quiet suburban home when she discovers her neighbor's dead body on her front lawn. In Christina Baker Kline's The Orphan Train, a teen girl is listening to her foster parents arguing about throwing her out because she has been caught stealing when her boyfriend calls to offer her a way out. Immerse yourself in the heart of what you want to write. Because @Sack-a-Doo! is 100% right.
     
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  4. MellowDeath
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    MellowDeath New Member

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    Thanks for the replies
    Another question I wanted to ask

    I'm putting my main character into the ASOIAF setting, I've heard that basing your story on someone's else setting isn't a good thing, is that true?
    Also, must I have the story's end goal already thought out? Because as for now I don't really see where the story will go. (The main character is a common girl who just wants to survive the war of five kings and have something going in her life.)
     
  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    If you want to publish, then it's a problem. You can base it on GRRM's work, but you can't actually use his setting.

    I also think it's a problem for you as a writer, not just legally. You won't develop your own voice and style while you're emulating someone else's, and unless you want to be a ghost writer you need to find your voice.
     
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  6. MellowDeath
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    MellowDeath New Member

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    Well I'm not looking to publish it or anything, and I think developing my own style is far beyond my abilities right now.
     
  7. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    If you're not going to publish then do what you like.
     
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  8. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's never too early to start developing one. :)
     
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  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think hanging your writing on someone else's work is more likely to impair the development of your own style than promote it. Start small. Try a short story. Keep it simple at first and grow from there.
     
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  10. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Now there's some good advice.
     
  11. MellowDeath
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    MellowDeath New Member

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    Well I see. But does that mean I need to create my own setting? I think creating my own setting will take me more than writing a book, lol.
    What does "keep it simple at first" translate into practice?
    Also there's this question that went unanswered: Must I have the story's end goal already thought out? Because as for now I don't really see where the story will go. (The main character is a common girl who just wants to survive the war of five kings and have something going in her life.)
     
  12. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pretty much... unless you can disguise an already-existing one so it's not recognizable. I don't know which would be more work, though.

    Perhaps you might start with a story set in a place you know already. I suppose that might be difficult if you're writing fantasy or a medieval tale... unless you have access to a multi-dimensional portal or a time machine. :)

    For some writers this is definitely true. :)

    I can't really speak for @EdFromNY, but for me it would be: set the story(s) in place(s) you know and use events you've experienced as a jumping off point.

    Must? No, but for some writers it does help. Me, for one. Storytelling for me is like going for a drive. If I know my goal is to get to the store, I'm less likely to drive in circles... if you see what I mean.
     
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  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @Sack-a-Doo! answered this quite well.

    One character trying to accomplish one thing, and something goes wrong. Don't worry so much about setting at first, except to the extent it impacts the story.

    I think the answer to this varies based on experience. It certainly helps to know where you're going, but for your purposes now I'd say it's not necessary. As you write, nuances in your character will occur to you that will impact both the character and the story. Incidents in the story will occur to you that will alter its direction and change your character. You've started with a character who wants something. What will work against her attaining it? How will she over come it? How will she be changed by the experience? These are all things you will decide as you write.
     
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  14. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    For what it's worth I don't agree with this, and no, that's not a viewpoint I hold merely to comfort myself. If you have a favourite writer whose style you admire, there's nothing wrong in trying to capture their essence in your own writing. Yes, copying a style, parrot-fashion, will do you no good, but if you aim for a style you admire, and find that it comes naturally and feels 'right' then keep at it.

    Emulating another writer didn't do Charles Bukowski any harm, and I'm sure there's countless others, too.
     
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  15. Foxe
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    Foxe Active Member

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    Try by starting to spend some time with your characters, so to speak. Get to know them, who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what kind of people they are and want to be, and then you will find that their struggles and their dreams and their desires will start to help you figure out what kind of story they want you to tell about them.

    Go spend some time in lala land(imagination land) mates!
     
  16. MarcT
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    MarcT Member

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    Excuse my ignorance, but what is ASOIAF and GRRM? Game of Thrones reference here?
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  17. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just assumed they were 'fantasy' acronyms (does anyone write anything else round here?) but exactly what they stand for I have no idea.
     
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  18. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    GRRM = George R. R. Martin.

    ASIOAF = A Song of Ice and Fire.
     
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  19. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    For the record: I have never, and probably will never, write fantasy.
     
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  20. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know :)

    Well, that's not strictly true, but let's just say I made the assumption.

    I'm not denigrating the genre, at all. Just appears to be very popular round these 'ere parts.
     
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  21. Shadowfax
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    1/ If you set this as a story that happened during the American civil war, you wouldn't be creating your own setting. So, I don't think that using the setting of Westeros is particularly problematic, unless you're trying to get published, when GRRM will probably sue your tits off. But it shouldn't be too difficult to tweak it a little to make it unrecognizable.

    Incidentally, if your MC is a "common girl", you could just as easily write this as a story set within the Wars of the Roses - that's what ASIOAF was based on, with added magic. (GRRM actually wrote a foreword to a history of the Wars of the Roses in which he stated that WotR was the REAL game of thrones.) Do that, and nobody's going to sue you for ripping off their world-building.

    2/ No, you don't need to know what the ending is going to be. My WIP was planned to end with the death of a character; but she survived, and will probably live to a ripe old age. What you do need is some sort of conflict; just wanting to survive isn't really enough - it's going to be pretty boring if that's all there is to it! Give her something more problematic; maybe looking for her lost daughter? And the daughter has been taken as a kitchen maid by one of the armies? Once you start writing, you'll begin to feel what your character would do, how she'd do it, etc.
     
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  22. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    It really depends how GoT ney you want it, if you just mean a rugged landscape people by warriors fighting with medieval weaponry ,and quite possibly trolls, dwarfs , dragons etc then its an easy thing - take a look at the celtic gods role play , there we are using mythological ireland as the setting , but just repeopling it as we see fit. If on the other hand you actually want to create a whole world in the GOT vogue then yes thats a lot of work and probably not worth it for one book
     
  23. MarcT
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    MarcT Member

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    Not wishing to sound offensive, but hasn't the trolls and swords genre already been done to death?
     
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  24. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Couldn't that be said for any genre? I'm not sure that means people shouldn't write it anymore. Everything was inspired by something else.
     
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  25. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    probably - but thats what a song of ice and fire style novel implies. TBH near everything worth doing has been done before , and had GRRM thought that the genre was done to death by tolkien, GOT would never have been written
     

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