1. Jayesh Sinha

    Jayesh Sinha Member

    Apr 29, 2019
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    How To Write a Fiction Fantasy Novel. Every step is a stumbling block.

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Jayesh Sinha, Apr 29, 2019.


    I am new here, I am not really an author. I have written one non-fiction book though. Its called the Greatest Sports Rivalries and no awards for guessing what that is about.

    I am a lawyer and a businessman mainly, but I love juggling around with story ideas in my head. I think (rightly or wrongly that I can weave good compelling stories, but I can't ever seem to be able to write down those ideas in words. All I do is write story skeletons [X did this and then Y did that and then this happened and that happened].

    I have high points of the story in my head, great reveals and great scenes, but I can't ever seem to be able to write anything down.

    For instance today I started writing and 5 or 10 lines later I wanted to tear everything up and start again. I can't write and literally, everything is a stumbling block. For instance, what will the character be called? Should his name be a real world name or something I totally invented. I am from India so I want the characters to have Indian names, but the story I want to write is set in another universe almost, so would people have Indian names in that universe. Secondly, I can't think of any Indian names that fit the character.

    Should I name the characters with completely made up stuff like Rulox Insipar (a cool name if anyone wants it), but that sounds nothing like what I want my character to be called. It sounds not even remotely Indian.

    And if I name everyone in the story something made up, will the readers be able to keep track of the characters. There will be lots of characters.

    Today I sat down and said, enough is enough and I wanted to write something, anything of the story. And I couldn't. I found the words didn't come, I couldn't think of a name I liked, and frankly, everything seemed like a stumbling block of some sort or the other.

    Please help.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 29, 2019
  2. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Lively Fred

    Oct 13, 2016
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    Somewhere Over the Rainbow
    First of all: congratulations on starting your fictional writing journey! It's a tough road but I firmly believe you can make it, with enough persistence and determination.

    Secondly: I think you're overthinking it. You've got all these great ideas in your head, but when it comes out on paper, it's way more fumblely and awkward. This is normal, especially at your stage of writing. At this point the best thing you can do: Keep writing. Names are a stumbling block? Give 'em a placeholder and tell yourself 'if I don't like it I can change it later'. There's baby name websites out there if you wanna find an Indian one, just go pick one and go concentrate on the story.

    The best thing that I ever got myself to internalize when it came to writing was Don't be afraid of editing. Especially with your first novel! 99% chance that your first draft is gonna be crap. That's just how it works- writing isn't a singular skill, it's many many skills all bundled up under one package. Word choice, prose styling, characterization, plot development, foreshadowing, others I can't list off the top of my head.

    So just go sit down at that keyboard and start typing. If something is becoming a stumbling block- skip it. Placeholder it, skip to the next scene, do something and just keep writing!
  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Mar 9, 2010
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    When I started my fantasy novel, I had made no decisions about the world. None. Not a scrap. I had a red-haired girl walking on a road, and I knew that there was ocean in sight. I created elements of the world as I went along. Once in a while they did conflict, and I tweaked them to fix the conflict.

    For names, I picked real-world nations to map against the three fictional cultures and chose names from those nations. Someday I will probably replace all the names, but they've been fine to get along with.
  4. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

    May 2, 2018
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    Procrasturbation Nation
    I like the points above, and you need to start, and finish, something.

    Your story obviously has to do with people since you have so many characters. Stop trying to name all the fish in the ocean, and start talking about the characters themselves.

    ** [dn38416] - male. likes food, hates [k-pop]. wants to be a writer, but can't find a story.
    [ff13x] - female. see's [dn38416] every day at [coffee house]. Tries to make his [latte] different each time. notices he sits at his computer, worried about something. **

    Make the pieces first, then put the puzzle together. Force yourself to get from the beginning to end, knowing that it will change each time you get to the end and go back to the beginning.
    Promise yourself not to change or especially even correct what goes down until you get to the end. In-line editing will kill your story by keeping you distracted. Let the comma go missing, or the word misspelled until you get to the end.
    Put your 'what-about' or 'got-an-idea' thoughts right in the middle of your sentence. Never throw a thought away! That's what cut-and-paste is for. Get used to keeping a big bucket of thoughts at the bottom of your document.

    ** he packs up his laptop %hey what if she looks up, she could say something% and stands, ready to leave. %nah that's stupid, if he packs up, we don't need to see him stand - unless that's what makes her look% **

    The mind is adapted to get an idea, and solve a problem. I will succeed if not distracted.
    (there, I didn't even add commas til I finished the whole thing.)

    If your efforts for the day look like a shredded mess, you did it right!
    Work in small batches until you get used to it. Start with a sentence, then two, then [a paragraph], then [a page?] [a chapter?].
    I hope this helps you get started! :)
  5. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

    Jul 31, 2018
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    The effect of snags to the sex life of deep water fish?

    Real problems are always in earlier stages. If you can't start, the problem might be how and where you start.

    I got an impression that you start by thinking plot. What about if you started with characters?

    What do they want?
    What is the need behind that wanting?
    That kind of character flaw, trauma, personal bias... has made that need?

    When you got these three, you got your characters motivation and it's base.

    What kind of backstory made that flaw/bias/trauma/whatever?

    When you got this, you have his/her life until now.

    Then you go to another character, then another, then...


    Read. Read what you like to read. Read about writing. Read about screenwriting. Read about writers.

    And watch and listen. There is tons of excellent video clips about writing in Tubestan. Search
    - Monomyth
    - Character development
    - Story structure
    - Writers Block
    - Carl Hiaasen
    - John Truby

    And... (this is a bit hard to say)... statistically creativity and layers don't meet each other a lot. So... Seek inspiration. Seek things out of your intellectual comfort zone which inspire you. Seek things which have both intellectual and funny dimensions. Like...




    P.S. In less civilised world some people talk about ice breakers when they mean something that makes small talk easier.

    Here in Finland ice breakers are bloody big and heavy ships with double or triple the engine power of same size cargo ships.

    And small talk is for poor creatures without their own minds.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
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  6. jannert

    jannert Super Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
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    Hi, @Jayesh Sinha, and welcome to the forum!

    Before you get going too far, I would suggest you take the time to read these two links—if you haven't already. They will help you understand how the forum works:

    New Member Quick Start
    Forum Rules

    As to your dilemma about writing—everybody works differently, but maybe you are trying to do too much, too soon.

    See if you can just sit back for a while, and get a scene ...any scene ...to come into your head. It doesn't have to be the start of a story. It can be just a scene. But get to where you can envision it very strongly.

    This is the time to daydream. See the characters in that scene. What are they doing? If there is more than one, how are they interacting? What's the background or setting like? What are the emotional states of the characters. Are they arguing? Are they shy with each other? Do they even know each other? Are they in love with each other? Is it maybe a love triangle, with three people involved? Do they dislike each other? Is there humour in them, or are they being serious? Is something happening in their setting, like a storm, or a huge mess they need to clean up, or are they in a luxury hotel, or at the seaside? Are they doing something together? Are they just meeting for the first time? Or saying goodbye for the last time? Are they working together? Is one of them buying something from the other?

    Just envision your scene. Any scene. And as far as character names go, just choose whatever ones come to your mind—even if they aren't very good, or even original.

    Then sit down and write that scene. Just write what you see and hear. Get the feeling right. Is it an exciting scene or a calm scene? Show us what is going on, and let us draw our own conclusions about it. (If somebody is sad, show what they do and say, but let us figure out that they are sad without being told. What would somebody say, if they were sad? How would they look? Would they bottle up their emotion, or let it out, or have a meltdown?)

    Show us whatever comes into your mind about that scene. And take your time. Don't rush it. If you put too much stuff in the scene, don't worry. Better to have too much than not enough. You can take the excess out later. Don't even be concerned about where the scene is 'going.' Just write that one scene.

    Then let it sit for a day or two and go back to it. And see what you've got.

    The good thing about this kind of exercise is that there is no plot to rush through. There is only depicting what you see happening. So you'll be more tempted to take your time and use rich detail and intriguing dialogue. If a relationship develops between your characters, let that happen. (By relationship, I just mean some connection. It can be one of dislike or hatred ...or respect, or love, or shared interests.) It's a good way to explore what you can do with your writing.

    Above all, don't worry about it. Have fun with it. Don't feel you need to show it to anybody either. This is for you. It may end up leading you into a story, or it just may lead you into a mood. It may produce a character you could grow into, or a situation that you find makes you want to go further. Just see what happens.

    If you struggle to do something, and you try over and over, and nothing changes ...then you will probably need to try a new approach. This is one approach you can try.

    Good luck, and have fun! By the way, I don't know if English is your first language or not, but if it's not, you have certainly mastered it well indeed! :)
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  7. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.
    Don't let naming characters, objects and places hang you up: brackets mean you are going to put a name in later.

    Don't worry about writing chapters out of order. Write the easier ones and come back to the harder ones.

    Get feedback early on. DO NOT BE embarrassed, if you are asking for feedback the point is you aren't an expert writer yet. In fact, even experts need feedback usually.

    Take the time to learn specific skills the feedback points out.

    Personally, I dismiss all the people that chime in and say you don't need that, or write how you want, or there are no rules etc.

    Rules are guidelines. Find out why a rule is being mentioned and learn about the issues. Ignore forum debates on said rules. Books on how to write are better sources for understanding concepts like show, don't tell, in my opinion.

    That should be enough to start. If you have a story in you that you want to write, get started, don't expect it to flow perfectly out on the page. That's what hours of editing and rewriting are for. :)
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  8. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Supporter Contributor

    Jan 25, 2016
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    When I started writing about 12 years ago, I was lucky to get one sentence onto paper after staring at the computer screen all day (and I do mean all day, not just a few hours). I forced myself to keep trying and keep going. I hated what I wrote, so I researched writing tips and rules and rewrote the story (by the way, writing rules are more guidelines than rules. Once you understand them you can choose to follow or ignore them). After a while I realized that I wasn't able to finish anything--I'd spent almost 10 years writing and attempting to finish a couple stories, but was unable to. So I made myself write through one story without editing.

    And let me tell you, the end result wasn't pretty. In fact, I think the only things I kept from that story were the characters and a few plot points and ideas. What it did do was help me to work through my ideas and figure out what worked and what didn't--and I finally finished something. The first draft of almost every story is really bad. That's what editing is for, to make it presentable.

    Just keep trying and learning, and don't beat yourself up. As for names, don't worry about them. I've read plenty of fantasy stories where the characters had normal names, and others that had made up names. Neither kind was a problem (with a few exceptions, but your beta readers can tell you if they have trouble). If you find a name or invent a name you like, use it. If you don't, then just use a different name for the time being. You can always make changes later.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  9. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Senior Member

    Oct 27, 2018
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    Hello, friend. :superhello:

    First, welcome to the forúm and feel comfortable to ask anything.

    Now back to your problems. The impressi0on I got when I read your post is that you are expecting to get in your first draft a perfect sentence, which I'm afraid will never happen. I will say this, your first will lack quality. Why? Because it is your first idea coming to your mind, and that's alright. Write down your idea, even if your character doesn't have an interesting name, you will do that later.

    About you give your character an Indian name. I like the idea even if you are thinking of putting your MC in another universe. Why not get inspiration for that universe about your culture? India has exciting stuff, and I'm telling you this because, in one of my projects for the future, my hight elves will, have your culture, especially the religion about reincarnations and stuff.

    My second advice is according to your idea, read the type of story you have in mind. It's step up in the modern world? Then try to find authors that have that concept in their stories. While read ask questions like, how did the writer choose their characters names? Why is apealing to me? Or even, why this scene didn't happen like this?

    And of course, my next advice is to do your research. Even before you write anything else. What kind of story do you want to tell? Get familiar with the genre. What topics does the theme explore? What other topics can you insert to make your story interesting?

    I hope this helps. Keep ion good work and don't give up! Have fun. :superagree:
  10. Gary Wed

    Gary Wed Active Member

    Jan 2, 2019
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    Well, I can address the name thing. Everybody hate naming things. We are writing along, and the next thing you know, you have to pull a name out of your butt. FULL STOP. In a novel, this is going to happen 20 or 30 times, minimum. As well, you have a fantasy world, and you want a bit of consistency within a world that is likely not your own.

    Here is my advice: Imagine that your world is a little like our own and has regions. What are the closest to your imagination? For example, if you Google common names of people or cities, in Italy, and then do the same thing for Romania, you will come up with lists of names for both regions. As well, you will likely come up with the backgrounds of the names (meanings). You can slightly change those names (I tend to opt for making them simpler, for the reader), and compile a list. Now, when you need a name, you have a ready list, and a means of making the names fit. The Italian names will feel southern compared to the Romanian names, to the readers, in a purely subliminal way. Two hours of work ends that problem for you.

    As to how to begin a novel after years of writing out outlines and plot points, consider this: Novels are rarely worth reading if they are not about somebody. We are human. We relate to humans. You might have the greatest plot concept on earth, but in the end it will likely boil down to a human being. I don't believe in the plot-driven story. I don't believe in the character-driven story. I believe that all stories are both character-driven and plot-driven.

    What this means is that you will have to take an interesting and flawed person and put that person into a fresh and compelling scene with stakes and conflict. You are going to have to do that as soon as humanly possible. From there we will encounter plot via the character's window. This means that, outline or not, this has to be done. In turn, that means that it doesn't even matter if you have an outline; you still have the same task in hand:


    Do that.
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  11. Dan McLeod

    Dan McLeod Member

    Feb 5, 2019
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    Essex, UK

    If you're used to non-fiction, I would assume that means working from notes of interviews, or looking at stats and write-ups of past events.
    You could try starting by fictionalising those events and build the resources you would be reliant on.
    From those resources you could always write in the first person as a character working to document the events.

    Also, on the subject of names... It doesn't matter a great deal.
    Oftentimes books I enjoy have real word names with a few letters changed.
    Trudi Canavan's characters called Danyl jumps to mind.
  12. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

    Mar 25, 2017
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    There's a story about James Joyce where a friend came round and asked how his writing was going. Joyce replied that he'd managed ten words today. The friend said that was good for him. Joyce replied that yes, but he didn't know what order to put them in. :)

    Apart from what's already been said, I think the most important thing is--find out what makes writing fun for you! I get the impression you're hung up on getting it perfect first time, and that's not necessary. Presumably you want to write fiction because you find the idea appealing, so don't lose that love because you're too worried about getting it just right.

    Also, try different things to see what works for you. For example, try first-person if third isn't working for you, or vice versa. If an invented setting isn't working for your story, maybe move the basic idea to a historical period or modern times.
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  13. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Supporter Contributor

    Aug 8, 2015
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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Have you considered Urban Fantasy? I find it easier to get away with using
    'normal' names, vs having to make every last one of them up. The other bonus
    is that it takes place in modern times, so you have a familiar environment to
    move the characters through without having to contrive too much. Much like
    Sci-fi, Urban Fantasy does not have a mandatory to have fictional races (elves,
    dwarves, etc.), only the mythical elements that give it the fantasy edge (magic,
    and stuff like that.).

    Well good luck, and I hope you get your Fantasy spark back. :)
  14. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Senior Member

    Aug 30, 2018
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    Norwich, UK
    The depressing truth is, while some people may love writing it's just not them. It's not a strength of theirs and doesn't come naturally to them which means they have to work extra hard which means be more disciplined in learning their craft. This is me.

    I would firstly advise you to read some non-fiction books on writing and look at some blogs/articles online.

    Above all I think writing is meant to be a freeing and relaxing thing. Giving a character a name is really not that important, giving them a "life" is. And knowing how to do that all comes with reading good books and practise. If you're new to writing give yourself a chance. Try shorter fiction and write what you know.

    You're a lawyer right? Surely you've had some interesting cases in your career you could adapt into a story. There's nothing like drawing from real life. There are lots of courtroom novels from legal, crime and even paranormal. You could do a Fantasy novel in a courtroom focusing on the laws of your world. Use what strengths you all ready have.

    I hope this was useful to you.
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