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  1. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    How do I stay focused and write a put together story?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Annie Mae, May 16, 2017.

    Cause I have been noticing in my last post, my character, Gemma, had a bunch of character holes, the same situation occurs with her mom, Lea, and abusive step-dad, Chris. In my opinion, character holes lead to plot holes. How do I write a cohesive story? How do I make sure my stories don't sound all over the place? How do I make characters have a clear purpose in the story and aren't just there for added words? I want to write a good story but I don't think I can until my writing skills have developed, so I need your help guys. Please and thank you.
     
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  2. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    When I developed my 'Forgotten Realms' series, I started with a plot line and some development. Then, I wrote my 'idea' or 'development' draft for the entire four book story. Now, as this progressed, I created a bible of notes and questions. As the story and characters grew, and sometimes went in directions I did not expect, I made more notes. I wrote a very rough story. Then, I took this story, revised plot lines and characters and other elements that had changed.
    This became a bible for the individual book drafts, a guide for research and character development. This also helped me to organize my filing system also.
    As I rework this series into an original property, I'm using a 'tweaked' version of this approached.
    Godspeed!
     
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  3. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    You need to just plan it all out, plot and character beats.
     
  4. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    What do you mean by "bible"?
     
  5. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    How would you recommend to do that?
     
  6. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    I have a summary of my planning method on my blog, but I don't think I'm supposed to post links on here. You can message me if you want to have a look. If you want more specific help, I'd obviously need to know a bit about your story.
     
  7. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    I developed my characters, story line and did my world building as I wrote out my plot. So, as those elements changed and became fleshed out, I created a 'bible' of those changes and developments. For example, the magic system developed as I wrote out the plot and then continued to develop through the 1st drafts of the first two books. By having those changes in my 'bible' I was able to keep the changes in the different drafts up to date. My MC was not even named until book 2 is an example of another change. It something changed in book 4, that change went into my bible. Then, I would incorporate that change in the other books whenever I worked on them. This made continued development of the magic system and incorporating those changes fairly easy.
    Godspeed!
     
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  8. Teresa Mendes

    Teresa Mendes Member

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    You could start by asking the basic questions - who is your protagonist, what is his/her goal, how can he/she achieve that. Who or what is her/his antagonist and goal, how can it be achieved. Why are their goals not compatible. Where does it take place? What is the culture, religion, social hierarchy. Do a bit of worldbuilding. You can then make an outline.
     
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  9. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

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    Here's how I develop a story. For fun, let's use my screen name to create a story.

    Premise: A dog goes for a walk and gets captured by the dog pound.

    Outline:
    1. Sport, a basset hound, sneaks through the gate of its yard and takes a stroll down the street.
    2. A cat emerges from a bush and the chase is on.
    3. The cat climbs a tree; Sport wails at the base.
    4. The cat's owner calls the dog pound.
    5. The dog pound truck arrives and captures Sport.
    6. Sport is taken across City to the dog pound but escapes in the parking lot.
    7. Sport is lost, but tries to find his way back home.
    8. Sport gets hit by a car crossing a freeway.
    9. The driver takes Sport home, then to the Vet.
    10. Sport recuperates at the driver's home.
    11. The driver decides it can't keep the dog, so Sport is taken to an animal shelter.
    12. Sport's family, thinking Sport is gone, goes to the shelter to look for a new dog.
    13. Sport recognizes the voices of his family and wails.
    14. The family, marveling at a familiar wail, investigate.
    15. Sport is reunited with his family.

    Now that we have an outline, it's time to write the story. Write a few paragraphs (or pages) for each of the bullets in the outline. Congratulations, you have a first draft. See how easy it is?
     
  10. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Thank God. You had me worried for a bit there. Hopefully Sport will learn a thing or two about chasing every cat that crosses his path. Dogs can be so stupid.
     
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  11. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

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    Ha Ha Ha. Yeah, damn dog. The only thing this outline example doesn't do is provide a good characterization profile. But it works the same way for creating characters. I think a lot of writers stress over making characters too real. I don't need know how they wear their hair, or if they have bad breath. A story to tell is the important part.
     
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  12. Jane with dyslexic flag

    Jane with dyslexic flag Member

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    something to try is to make storyboards with a small decsripion on each one, you don't need to draw that good I just draw stick people and put a letters or two on their square shirts that represents there first name and make facial expressions and now and then give them thought or speech bubble.
    it is something visual to work with to help use and be a reminder what you want and where you want people and what they are doing easy as drawing a stick man with a scared face on the phone saying don't hurt my wife, or a few stick people standing outside a burning building it helps you imagine how many floor of the building or helps you imagine the flames at the windows etc.
    and your storyboards can be made so you can arrange them almost like puzzle pieces, some scenes may be better places more at the start or the end of your story you can add more storyboards in sections and make more spaces and help you realize to help you to get one scene to and whole different one you need to make another one to connect how your scenes fit together (example a guy has a pregnant wife is working at his desk hard scene 13 his wife is in the hospital about to give birth scene 14 then you realise its better to have her or someone to call him to get his butt either to the hospital or her which becomes scene 13.1 and helps with the suspense of your story/ keeping a good story flow).
    hope this helps
     
  13. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I'd go along with this. Ask questions ABOUT your story. What do you want it to say?

    Try not to be overwhelmed by the task, and worried about solving all problems before you start. Get a basic overview first. What are your main characters like? How do they interact? Presumably there will be conflict, so what form does it take? What do you want the reader to be thinking about as they finish the story and walk away?

    And, of course, what is the setting, and how does that figure in? Does it have an important impact on the story, or could the story be taking place anywhere?

    Don't be afraid to take a lot of thinking time, before you start. Get a good idea of where you want the story to go, and don't force it. If you need to write a couple of chapters (not necessarily the beginning ones) to get focused, do that. You're not creating anything that can't be changed later on, but it will get you thinking about your story, and discovering what your writing strengths are.

    Whatever you do, do NOT worry. This should be fun, so make sure it is fun. Keep it to yourself as you work on it, and be wary of getting too much feedback too soon. That is more likely to restrain you and kill your pleasure than it is to help.
     
  14. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah. They never think, do they? What in hell am I going to do with a car, after I catch it?
     
  15. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    as Sport is a Basset hound I think that's probably a given...
     
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  16. dragonflare137

    dragonflare137 Member

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    Here's my opinion on the matter. Each person has a different way that they plan out their stories, and it's up to you to find what is best for you.

    Now on the more helpful note, here is my suggestion on what you could do. First you need to figure out the core of you story. This is your beginning, end, problem, and character basics (basic personality, motivations, and that sort of thing). After that you need to figure out where you want to go from there. How do you want the characters to develop, and what specific things you want to happen in the story. After that you just fill in the plot to make one scene flow from one to the other.

    I hope this helps you in your writing :)

    On one more note, what I normally do when I can't think of how to make a plot flow, I just think about how my characters would approach the situation. In other terms, I let my characters write the story, which in my opinion makes the actions seem less forced and more natural to that specific character or group of characters.
     
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  17. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    thank you!
     
  18. Annie Mae

    Annie Mae Member

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    this helps a lot! Thank you!
     
  19. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    The only trouble with Goal orientated planning is that realistic people don't have just one goal, they have multiple goals at the same time which often conflict with each other.

    e.g say you are writing a police detective story - ostensibly the cop MC's goal is to solve the crime and catch the bad guy, but he'll also have other goals - does he want to get promoted, does he want to be a press hero, if he has a partner how is his relationship with him or her , is his partner more important to him than his career or vice versa, if hes single is he dating, does he want to get laid... does he want to retire/make lots of money somehow. Is he or a family member ill , does he want a raproachement with an estranged parent/kid/ex wife etc etc

    It's the secondary questions that make a character rounded rather than the two dimensional his goal is x, the antags goal is y
     
  20. Teresa Mendes

    Teresa Mendes Member

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    True, when I said goal I meant the primary goal that drives the story, I think you should start with that one. Before you know your character you probably don't know their life goals and relationships. I usually start with the main plot driving elements and then I choose the subplots and goals that will make the whole thing more interesting. It may not be the best way but I think it's easier and best for when you're just starting =)
     
  21. Charles Gull

    Charles Gull Active Member

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    Writing with coherence is the biggest challenge of all. There are actually two ways of going about this:
    1. Plot based development;
    2. Character based development.

    Much of what has been discussed so far in this thread is oriented to the first option, so I shall say nothing more about it here.

    The second option is an equally powerful but often neglected approach. Instead of worrying about what is going to happen in the story the writer first concerns themselves with who is going to be doing it.

    For each character list out their pivotal characteristics, ambitions, desires, aversions and foibles. Then for each of these describe where each comes from. Then look for the contradictions and inconsistencies and think about how the same back-story might be able to create these contradictions. Don't try and eliminate these, they shall be the basis of the character's inner conflict. This is what makes the character interesting to read about. Then work out how the contradictions can be true. Perhaps one is only true on Thursdays and the other one at weekends, whatever. These jumps in behaviour are going to keep the reader guessing about what the character might do next. Once this has been done for each character the cast is ready. Then it is simply a case of putting them all in the 'confined space' of your story setting and letting them all bounce off each other.
    It is a bit like running a game of Sims in your head. You may not get the story you originally envisaged, but it is going to be a compulsive read none the less.
     

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