1. Benjingjo

    Benjingjo New Member

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    Pick less ambitious ideas for first books?

    Discussion in 'By Writing Form' started by Benjingjo, Dec 21, 2020.

    I have around six ideas for stories, some less rough than others. I've been writing for seven years, but nothing that I want to publish (i.e. I have some experience.) I'd like to start writing pieces with the intent on publishing though.
    One of my stories however is rather ambitious and definitely atypical as far as genres go. It is inspired by Goethe's Faust, practically being a play written as one gigantic poem.
    This is a story I care a lot about. I want it to be good. Therefore I am thinking, is it maybe better to start with something more 'by the books'? Perhaps work on a novel first based on my other ideas, one that I don't care as much if I screw up?
    Should I first establish myself as an author before attempting to write something that isn't ordinary or even marketable?

    Any thoughts on this matter are highly appreciated.
     
  2. montecarlo

    montecarlo Contributor Contributor

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    I burned myself out pretty hard trying to write what I call my masterpiece. It's been easier for me to write well on less ambitious projects. Just my own anecdote.

    -MC
     
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  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    My first novel is pretty junky - but it's a project I love and will eventually go back and fix. I'm no expert on whether someone can knock out a first novel and make it amazing - but chances are it's going to be more a practice piece. One good thing is if you do go ahead with it - editing is the most important aspect of writing anyway. I never finished editing my first novel so who knows.
     
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  4. powseitch

    powseitch Member

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    Hi, new here, but share this struggle.

    In recent times I've deferred to Hemingway's Nobel Prize acceptance speech. (No doubt this quote is regularly shared around here? )



    [A writer] does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.

    For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.

    How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him...
     
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  5. Vandor76

    Vandor76 Senior Member

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    J. K. Rowling published some crime novels after she became super famous with her Harry Potter series, but she used a different pen name: Robert Galbraith.
    If my name as a writer ever gets famous, I definitely will not publish something too different under the same name. It's cheating and I think publishers will not allow it anyway.
     
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  6. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

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    This actually sounds very interesting to me. Some editors, too, might welcome a change from magicians and warrior fairies. How dear is the project to your heart?
    I think you should write whatever you're most excited about at any particular moment - that's the only way to produce your best work. Finish your best thing; then finish the next thing and the next one... Then submit them to wherever you think is the best fit for each one.
     
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  7. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor

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    I would cast myself as an ambitious writer, rather than one who writes for entertainment. Both have merit. I can write action adventure stories easily if I felt like it, but I find them unsatisfying. In the past that's what I did, writing in a regular style and trying to 'fit in'. But I'm over that now. I want to push boundaries. I want to break rules. I want to go down a path of exploration and see where it takes me. There have been a lot of dead ends, but also some nice discoveries. I can no longer write without reaching beyond my limits.

    My latest screenplay is an example. I set a hard limit: the film MUST be shot in a single take in a single room in real time with NO camera movement, and it has to be riveting.
     
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  8. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would say it's a smart idea to do something less ambitious first, because the truth is, your first book probably won't be good enough for publication anyway - not because I'm mean and saying you're a bad writer, how would I know, but because that's just how it is for nearly everyone. For your first book, you're learning so much and you're seeing through the process for the first time. I think it makes sense to learn the ropes first and then learn how to break them. How can you hope to write such an ambitious project if you can't even churn out a basic novel?

    However it isn't wrong to start with the more ambitious project either. We can learn the most the further we stretch ourselves, and if your heart's in it, there's chance you'll get further than you would writing something else that's less interesting to you. Learning according to your interests has its merit.

    On the other hand, starting and then botching up your passion project, and then fixing that, I feel would be harder and more painful than starting it later when you're more experienced.

    Having said this, you need to be careful not to continually say "I got more to learn, so I won't do my passion project yet. After the next one." Give yourself a limit. Say, 3 completed novels that are at the querying stage, and whether they're successful or not, you move on to your passion project. Otherwise you may be ruined by fear and never start it.

    There's no right or wrong answer. But I think writing it later is less painful, but make sure you give yourself a deadline by which to start the passion project - some measurable goal after which you promise yourself to go for it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2020
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  9. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Don't be afraid to start big. My first ran to 240,000 words and is in fact an epic journey through the worlds of the first century with about 12 major characters. But it sells well, gets lots of great reviews and awards, so first novels can be done. But take your time ... it took me 20 years to finish it.
     
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  10. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Senior Member

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    My recommendation is to write an outline and some notes on your big idea right now, so that you will have a structure to get to it when you're ready. Think of it like sherpas helping people climb Mt. Everest. While you're doing the outline, if you feel you're ready, you're good to go. If you don't feel ready, at least while you were in the strongest part of your inspiration you put a plan in place.
     
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  11. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm going to argue against common wisdom and say that you should start writing your big project. Because if your heart's set, you'll pine away from it. You might even loose your joy of writing if you don't go where your heart leads you. Imagine yourself writing a lesser story: Would it make you happy? If the answer is 'no' or even NO, I recommend to go after your heart's wish.

    Words are not numbered. There's no limit to drafting and refining. You can take as long as you like. If you aren't happy with your first effort, well, there's always another draft. You'll get to know your story inside and out, discover its themes and pitfalls through (maybe) trial and error. You'll find contentment, even if it turns out on a later read to not having been done as good as it could be. You can always start fresh, and with each iteration you'll get better.

    I started my current project back in Feb 2016. I knew then that I was not up to the task. I'm still unsure if I am now. It's gone through—let me count them, five complete rewrites. Every step along the way I felt happy, looked forward to each new day of writing, until I realised that I need to start over because something or the other was not yet as it should be. I've learned a lot, writing my big project, which I wouldn't have, writing a lesser story.
     
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  12. Mullanphy

    Mullanphy Banned

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    When you reach for the clouds, you get water. When you reach for the stars, you stretch mind, body, heart, and soul. When you reach for the heavens, you find peace. (me, 2021)
    Addendum: reaching is the key, not the goal. (same reference)

    The answer probably reduces down to what the goal is.
     
  13. naruzeldamaster

    naruzeldamaster Senior Member

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    It may be kind of selfish but I'm purposefully writing a small project right now simply for the satisfaction of finally FINISHING a project for once.
    There's no harm in it, especially if the idea is something you're really excited to write (this particular idea has haunted me for a few years now anyhow)

    That being said, a simpler story is probably going to be less intimidating than a fantasy epic spanning multiple books.
     
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  14. Gravy

    Gravy Active Member

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    Currently Reading::
    NOTHING! Because who can stand to read and write at the same time?!
    This. If you don't enjoy writing your story, then why are you writing?
     
  15. naruzeldamaster

    naruzeldamaster Senior Member

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    What about a story that I'm equally excited by writing but is purposefully small and much less intimidating than a fantasy epic?
     
  16. Gravy

    Gravy Active Member

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    Currently Reading::
    NOTHING! Because who can stand to read and write at the same time?!
    If you would enjoy writing something, write it. :)
     

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