1. Ioannis

    Ioannis New Member

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    I am 20 years old and I want to start writing but I don't know how to start learning.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ioannis, Aug 8, 2019.

    I am interested in creative writing and I wanted to ask if anyone know of any resources to get me started? I am obviously already reading a lot of books and I will start writing short stories. What more could I do?
    Thank you!!
     
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  2. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    Set short-term and long-term goals. Create useful habits (eg. make sure you write at least 500 words a day - fiction, non-fiction, diary, anything!)

    Other than that get involved here and offer critique. Giving critique is HIGHLY underrated. I get WAY more from giving critique than from receiving it (well ... 9 times out of 10).

    Most importantly - and I wish I’d learnt this earlier - write badly and with freedom. Don’t expect yourself to write perfectly the first, second or even third attempt ... maybe it will take years, but if you persist you’ll improve and learn to assess your work better as well as understand how to help others (which is rewarding in and of itself).

    Writing classes can be useful for some too. Even if its just analysing texts rather than creative writing - I remember my English teachers and they were inspirational. Travel is also something worth considering - I travelled to different climates to absorb the experiences so I could write about them more intimately; view the world like its a story you have to tell (take moments out of your day to reflect on this).

    GL
     
  3. talltale

    talltale Member

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    Welcome.

    Here are some writing resources that greatly helped me starting out:

    • The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby
    • Creating Character Arcs Workbook: The Writer's Reference to Exceptional Character Development and Creative Writing By K.M Weiland
    • Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert Mckee
    • It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences by June Casagrande
    • Building Great Sentences: How to Write the Kinds of Sentences You Love to Read By Brooks Landon

    And of course: READ, READ, READ...then read some more. Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
  4. grayj0265

    grayj0265 Member

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    I suggest you start a writing journal if you don't already. I would write randomly. See what idea sticks. What I do personally is I just started writing one day about someone. I thought the next day I would write about something else, but I didn't. I came back to writing the same thing. Then the idea expanded. Now its about a three hundred page document, full of grammar mistakes, bad sentences, things like that. But now I'm proof reading it, and seeing what idea's I really like. You will find something at some point
     
  5. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    1. Read books you like.

    2. Read books about writing (including screenwriting), thinking, social interaction, emotions...

    3. Write anything.

    4. Watch youtube clips about authors and writing , screenwriting, authors, agents, publishers, thinking... Like...

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLH3mK1NZn9QqOSj3ObrP3xL8tEJQ12-vL

    5. Watch tv-programs about creative working.

    6. Do a lot of self reflective work.

    7. Go to the original sources, people, happenings, real life events...
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
  6. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    If you are writing short stories, I suggest reading the literary journals and magazines that publish short stories. This will help you understand what sort of things the current market is looking for and where your writing might fit best. There's really nothing stopping you. I don't quite understand your question on how to start. You just do it and do it again and again. This is what writers do. I despise how-to books. You don't need that. If you're already an avid reader, what is holding you back? Really, you can start today, right now. Jump in the pool. The water is great. :)
     
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  7. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Senior Member

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    I would suggest writing freely to begin with and don't focus on publishing or anything else. You all ready read so that is a very good start. There are lots of sources on the internet that provide a step by step to writing stories - and over time you'll find what works best for you. There isn't much advise I can offer other than to write each day and get some good habits started.
    I use random plot generators. And try to write a short-story each week for practice. I posted it in critiques and see what people like and dislike. I then work on what people thought needed improving for a while. Then when I feel I've nailed those things I post a new story. But it's awkward because some forums wont accept short-stories only novels. I don't want to be a short-story writer, it's simply for practice.
     
  8. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Writer's digest has some great advice. Just be careful not to get too paranoid about rules it's less about strictly adhering to them then figuring out why they're rules to begin with. Once you've figured out why people are so down on adverbs it won't be that you're using less of them it will be that you're writing so that you don't need to rely on them.
    Also read, read from a variety and study your favorite authors. Critique a lot. Nothing helps you out like spotting someone else's mistakes.
    Short stories really helped me - cause you can write a story from start to finish understanding everything from beginnings to endings and those saggy middles, polish them and put them up for critique and get some feedback.
    My advice don't overthink it - just dive in.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Write and get feedback. Don't hesitate to show others (like a critique group) your work regardless of how good or bad you think it is.
     
  10. Cephus

    Cephus Active Member

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    Especially a critique group. Your friends and family will likely not give you honest advice. Strangers will.
     
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  11. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    Two very good advices.

    "There is information in action" is good to remember. And you cant think or overthink that kind of information to become visible. You must act it out.
     
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  12. Mish

    Mish Member

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    I personally find the "Notes" app on my phone invaluable. It's filled with all kinds of scribbles, attempts at poetry, random plots and story ideas, middle of nowhere dialogues and so on. Because you never know when the inspiration bug will bite, it's essential to have something handy at all times to capture those ideas before they fade into the ether.
     
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  13. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    Agreed!

    B91FBB21-013B-4D2D-972F-FB04CA1281D1.jpeg
     
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  14. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    Read books you enjoy, but do more than just read them. Study them. Pay attention to how successful authors accomplished things like dialogue, description, pacing, POV, action scenes, etc. Take notes, maybe even bookmark specific examples.

    Then, when you're writing and get stuck or feel something isn't working, you have examples to go back to and review. Apply how those authors managed it, incorporating your own story and writing style.

    Always remember, don't compare your first draft to the final (published) works out there. Heck, be careful how you compare your finished works to others out there. Remember, you will have strengths and places where you will need to improve throughout your writing career.
     
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  15. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    I use to "underline" by drawing a line beside text.

    l One line is normal underlining.
    ll Two line is "this is more important".
    lll "This is super important! Pay a lot attention to this!

    Text stays more readable by "underlining beside it than under it.

    And I write remarks to books all the time.

    When I need to check things from my books, all that make finding the main points easier.
     
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  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    To echo what @deadrats said—if you want to write short stories, read a lot of short stories. A completely different animal from a novel and written differently. Find masters of the short story form and read. That’s the best thing you can do imo. The books on how to write are secondary to this.
     
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  17. Siena

    Siena Senior Member

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    Study the winners: http://kalbashir.com/Oscars-2019-Winner-And-Nominees.html
     
  18. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere...

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    I think that you should just start writing. Just learn to enjoy it. Don't worry about the technical aspects. Once you know it's something you enjoy, then you can make a decision on how much effort you want to put into it. That's where you can get into a lot of these other suggestions like critique boards and such.
     
  19. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Edit your own work.Writing by itself doesn't really help you improve all that much. You need to edit. But be careful to always finish what you're writing! Some people like to write it all and then edit. Some people write and edit as they go. I do the latter, but I give myself a condition: only ever edit the very last scene I've worked on. In other words, if I'm on Chapter 3, I don't go and start reading from Chapter 1 looking for improvements. I go back to the final scene in Chapter 2 only. After 3-5 passes, depending, I move on and write let's say, first scene of Chapter 3.

    What do I do next? Well, I edit the first scene of Chapter 3. I don't look at that final scene in Chapter 2 again. Only ever edit the last scene you've written. If you need to reread anything to refresh your memory, again, only ever the last scene you've written. Or if you need refreshing on a different scene, read only that particular scene - not what came before and not what comes after. Just that scene you actually need. Then move on with new material.

    Also, be careful with whom you share your work. Critique is hard to come by and so it's tempting to just dish out your work to everyone willy-nilly in the hopes of getting feedback. I think that's a mistake. Find people whom you respect, whose writing you enjoy and perhaps admire, whose opinion you hold in high regard, who seem down to earth and able to reason well. Choose a few good ones like that. Share only with those people whom you trust. It's not about stealing work - few would ever do it and honestly it's unlikely your work, esp in the beginning, would be worth stealing to begin with. It's about confidence. The wrong person can utterly destroy your confidence if you're not careful - sorta depends on what kinda person you are, how much you can stand - but why put yourself out there for no reason? The wrong advice can take you down the wrong path and muddle up or even ruin your voice that will then take years to rebuild. Not everyone can withstand the pressure to change things to suit the critic's liking.

    In my experience, the critic is usually right that there's an issue. But they are usually wrong about how to fix it. Stay true to the story you want to tell, but don't be so fixated on an idea that you refuse to listen to feedback. If in doubt, get a third or fourth opinion on the matter. If more than one person's saying the same thing, you should probably listen. Funnily enough, in my experience, multiple readers were saying different things actually, but about the same section of the novel. See what I mean that the critic is usually right about there being an issue but wrong about the fix? ;) Either way, it was enough to alert me to the fact that it needed fixing, but it was up to me to figure out what/how.

    Getting a fan, if you can, is invaluable. Yes we all need critique and sometimes brutal honesty. But it never hurts to get just one person who basically fangirls over your work. If you manage to find out, keep them! It will help you to no end to maintain your confidence and keep you writing even when you're feeling horrible. I've enjoyed using alpha readers, simply knowing someone is waiting for the next chapter helps motivate you to write the next one. The alpha can also spot issues and bad plot turns immediately so you don't have to delete 20,000 words later, because you can fix it there and then. It's a sorta critic + fangirl combined :) (no you don't want your alpha to be a literal fan. You want critique. But the idea is someone's waiting on your work)

    The danger with having an alpha is obligation to satisfy the alpha's potential expectations and desires regarding the story, or feeling like something in the story is fixed because someone's read it (I have that a little). Nothing is ever fixed until it's actually published. If you don't give in to the sense of obligation that can sometimes arise, an alpha can be great.

    And of course, get beta readers :)

    As a personal preference, I prefer to have people whose writing I enjoy and respect to critique my stuff. I'm not saying an amateur has nothing to offer me. They do. But personally, I don't want to have the trouble of trying to differentiate when their advice is good and when their advice is well, nonsense. I will trust the judgement of a critic whose writing I respect more than I would someone whose writing is actually worse than my own - just common sense really.

    Also, there's no need to expose yourself to harsh feedback. If someone can't respect your work, say goodbye and move on. There might be good stuff in the harsh feedback, sure, but the damage it will do to your confidence isn't worth it. If someone isn't there to actually help, there's no need to expose yourself to the hurt. There's constructive feedback, and then there's tearing down. Writers are fond of saying "Well I didn't need to give you feedback at all. You should be thankful!" Bullshit. No, asking for feedback is not an invitation to be insulted and bullied and then being told we ought to be thankful. Screw that, honestly. Don't waste time on such critics.

    But beware you don't say "Screw that!" every time your feelings are hurt and you feel your writing insulted. Constructive feedback can feel insulting anyway because well, our writing is personal and we'd worked hard on it, and it's always hard to get negative feedback. It's a fine line, but it's usually fairly clear when someone's actually trying to help. Always take feedback with one purpose in mind: How can I make this piece better? How can I improve?

    Because as long as you're improving, you're doing great. You're not writing to be perfect. You're writing to improve. And that means, if what you've written is crap? Well who cares, whatever! Yes it's crap, but you're improving. That means the next piece is gonna be better. And the next piece better still. It might be crap now but it won't stay crap forever as long as you keep improving. And you do that by writing. Keep writing.

    Btw, my earlier advice on figuring out how to fix your own writing goes hand in hand with voice and what you're really trying to say with the story. Find a critic who understands what you're trying to say, someone who gets your voice and enjoys it, someone who is there trying to help you say what you want to say.

    This is of paramount importance. Critics you get on a forum or your friendship groups or writers' groups are not editors. They are not trained or skilled in the art of critique. They give invaluable experience and feedback, but they are not trained to help you say what you want to say. Am I making sense? A good editor will help you say what you want to say rather than impose their own ideas on your writing and how something should be said. A regular critic giving feedback doesn't have that skill. If you find a critic with that skill, goodness me keep them! This is part of why I prefer experienced writers to give me feedback - amateurs will often find it hard to do this, whereas someone more experienced can see more ways to do the same thing.

    Lastly, my secret. Believe with all your heart you're a darn fine writer. That's what I believe of myself. I'm a good writer and I find writing easy. I'm not scared of writing. Does that mean I am perfect? Hell no. Does that mean I'm the best at it? Hell no. Plenty other writers better than me. Does that mean I don't need to improve and don't need to listen to feedback? Of course not. I absolutely need that.

    But I'm a frigging good writer and I know it. (doesn't mean I don't doubt myself though lol)

    Believe me, that keeps you writing more than anything :bigcool: and when you believe in your own writing, it makes a difference. The number of times different beta readers have told me a particular scene was weak and that scene also happens to be a scene I disliked myself, that I didn't know what to do with or how to write! Somehow, these things come through. So, believe in yourself and your writing. Keep improving. Keep writing. Let people read it, listen, and edit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
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  20. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I don't have anything much to add to what's already been said.

    My only advice is to write. Just write. Get used to the mechanical aspects of sitting down in front of a keyboard or a piece of paper and snaring thoughts. Build writing muscles that you will later train for efficiency and style -- both important, but I think the muscles have to come first.

    And don't be afraid to fail. I've put the following quote by William Cumpiano on the board before, but it bears repeating. The writer was more famous as a luthier and lutherie teacher, but the advice applies to any art:

    "A master is someone who has made more mistakes than you, has made mistakes you haven't made yet, and has learned how to embrace them--thus learning to see them coming before they happen. So you go towards mastery one mistake at a time. How many mistakes can you stand? As many as it takes to be a master. The master has persevered past the errors until he's made all of them."
     
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  21. Gary Wed

    Gary Wed Active Member

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    Post at the library or coffee shop for fellow writers to form a critique group with. This is actually not terribly negotiable, given today's high standards. Find a peer group! If you can't find one, form one. Also, have everyone submit in advance, so you can bring reviewed material to your meeting (I suggest at a coffee or pizza shop). Here is mine, which I have run out of Central Ohio for over a decade, as an example of how to set this up for free:

    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/NCFSWriters

    People have suggested books on writing fiction, and I will second that, for sure. You will become familiar with the concepts that only writers of fiction wrestle with. You will likely not know many of the concepts, having gone through school. I am suggesting books that are fun and easy to read, not like textbooks at all:

    The First Five Pages
    A Dash of Style
    Self-editing for Fiction Writers
    How to Write Great Fiction-Dialogue
    On Writing
    How to Write Great Fiction
    and of course there are others.

    DO NOT fail to write, simply because you feel that you are not ready or are convinced by others that you are not. No method of learning beats making the same mistake a thousand times. I suggest writing at the same time every day (I do every lunch). Commit to 5 minutes. Be 100% satisfied if it is only 5 minutes. The job is to do this every day, not tax yourself with word goals. This is NEW writing.

    Edit, edit, edit, and do this continually. I use a B&W Kindle to make a copy into, from which I take notes to make corrections in my laptop later. I edit after the very first page, after the first chapter, after the book, all the time. Writing is 90% editing, and editing is free, requiring little brain function.

    If you get swamped by a review, remember that the goal is to learn ONE THING. Find the one thing that you can take home with you, and be happy about that. If you learn one thing per month, in two years you will be an outstanding writer.

    But, beyond that, you asked a more specific question, so I'll address it directly: Put a flawed and interesting character into an unusual situation that turns their life by page one. If you do that, the piece of fiction will succeed.
     
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  22. CaffeineCat7

    CaffeineCat7 New Member

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    When I was in the same state, there came a tip from some book about writing (it was random book that I picked from bookstore and reading it for the first time I felt like I'm learning some secret wisdom; with time I've got to know that this book isn't as good as I previously had thought and finally I've lost it during some trip). Maybe it's quite obvious, but it came to me and helped me when I needed it so bad.

    The author has adviced setting time for one hour/two hours per day and write. Everything that comes to your mind. It could be your diary, a sketch of a short story or even of a novel, random ideas or dialogues, anything. Just let it flow. After some time it's good to read what you wrote and analyze themes that appear in your writing, your writing style, creativity, your own voice. When you'd get to this point, try to shape some story more consciously and continue writing every day for two hours or more, if you can.

    What is equally important, don't let your mistakes discourage you. I still get simply discouraged by my own stupid mistakes, but I learn new things. I think that progress is what really matters, at least at the very beginning of the way.
     

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