1. Sunkin Sojourner

    Sunkin Sojourner New Member

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    Put thoughts into words

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sunkin Sojourner, Jul 13, 2018.

    I'm hoping someone could suggest a good place to start.

    I want to write. I have worthy ideas all the time. My problem is I honestly don't know how to put them onto paper.

    I have visions so clear in my mind but every time I attempt to write them down it all seem either way to vague to get the image or I'm just describing everything and its boring to read.

    I was hoping someone could point me towards a good creative writing course(online) that could help with this. The few I've looked over all seem to gloss over the fact that you know how to write and focus on developing your story or getting published.

    I have no plans on becoming the next big author. I just want to know how to get whats in my head on paper in a way that if I shared it people would see what I see.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke Contest Administrator

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    Read. As simple as this sounds, reading will give you a better understanding of how other authors put their ideas down onto paper. This will, in turn, allow you to start doing the same yourself.

    Once you've got a decent grasp on how to construct this, write. It doesn't matter if your first writings are the worst things ever, just write and keep writing! You'll never improve if you don't work at it.
     
  3. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    that's probably your first mistake: trying too hard to make readers see exactly what you see.

    A good author knows when to step back. A good author trusts the reader, and trusts his own skills enough to know that what is important to convey has been conveyed, and the reader will get it. The most powerful writing happens in the reader's head - your writing will never be more powerful than what the reader imagines for themselves. What you must do as the author is, give them the framework within which to see something or think about something, and then give them enough hints and signposts along the way that lets the reader fill in the gaps himself.

    The reader will never see exactly what you want them to see - and that's ok. In a way, that's the whole point of it - you want them imagining the whole thing with you. If you wanted them to see exactly as you saw, then go paint a painting. Writing is the wrong art for that. Personally, I find the more important goal of writing is making the reader feel what you want them to feel. The visuals help with the feeling, but visuals really aren't the main goal. They're just tools. Does that make sense?

    Another thing, don't be too hard on yourself. If you've barely written a thing before, of course you're not gonna be able to produce anything anyone wants to read right now. You've never practised. Why would you expect to be able to play in the World Cup if you've never kicked a ball around before? You wouldn't. So why would you expect it of writing?

    Give yourself some space to breathe and develop. Write the trash - it's ok - and then you go back and you edit the hell out of it. And then rinse and repeat. Get critiques. Read good literature. It's ok to try and copy author styles in the beginning - you gotta start somewhere. You see a thing another author has done or a phrase they've used that you think is great? Use it in your own writing.

    For the moment, as long as you're interested and having fun, it's enough. Keep writing. You can't improve if you never write. It might be crap now. That doesn't mean it's gonna be crap forever. There's a difference. As long as you're improving, that's all that matters. So write. Get it out, and then get a few writers whose writing you respect and who has a gentle approach to give you critique, or use the Workshop here after you fulfill the requirements. Critique is invaluable for improvement.
     
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  4. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke Contest Administrator

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    One final thing I'll add onto what @Mckk said, don't think that, once something is written, you can't rewrite it. Write your $1 million dollar idea, then edit it, then scrap it and write it again, but better. Or write other stuff and rewrite it later. There's literally nothing stopping you from rewriting literally anything you write.
     
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  5. Sunkin Sojourner

    Sunkin Sojourner New Member

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    Ok so I agree with everything that's been said above. But it's kind of exactly the problem I'm experiencing with courses.

    There has to be some fundementals of creative writing that can help the author paint a scene with words.

    It seems the go to answers I've always gotten are practice and read more. And I understand and agree that's how you get good at it. But what I'm looking for is different.

    Maybe if i explain it a bit different... If I wanted to lean to play hockey and asked for help would your answer be, "watch nhl" and "practice"? Maybe. I mean they are good suggestions on how to get good at hockey.

    But what if I don't know how to skate. Or the best way to pass the puck. Or how to tell quickly who to pass the puck to.

    This is what I'm looking for help with but for writing. I'm not looking to get good. And I obviously know how to spell. But there has to be somewhere I can learn how to set a scene or mood.

    It can't really be something that can only be learnt from experience. Can it?
     
  6. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    There are writing programs at community colleges and such, but honestly, I think they'll mostly take your money and tell you to practice and read more.

    I think the key is to do both of those things reflectively. Don't just read. Read and analyze. When you find a scene you like, examine how the author did it. What was the author's first line? Write your own first line following a similar pattern. What was the author's second line, and how did it tie in with the first? Okay, follow that model with your own writing. Keep going. When you've got a whole scene written, put it away for a while (and read/write some other scenes). Then go back to the first one, read it reflectively, try to figure out what worked and what didn't, and then get some feedback from others on what they think worked and didn't, and then see what you want to change. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    If you can figure out for yourself what your weaknesses are, you can probably get some direct instruction on those areas (websites, how-to books, etc.) But until you have strengths and weaknesses broken down? Read and write, but most importantly, think about reading and writing.
     
  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I think that the answer is that there’s no answer. Converting a mix of image and sound and feelings and somebody else’s point of view is just not an intuitive process, and it’s a battle to figure out how you, specifically you, will assemble and operate the machinery that does that.

    With me (and I’m still totally an amateur) the steps of building the skill included, approximately in order:
    • Headless dialogue. This exists in the form of words, so it’s not as hard to transform it into words
    • Narrative summary. This is not entirely unlike nonfiction, which is not entirely unlike thought.
    • Adding gestures to dialogue.
    • Adding narrative summary to dialogue.
    • Adding immediate action to narrative summary, starting with gestures.
    • Starting to knit all that together.
    • Accepting that my words will not make a photo-realistic image of my ideas. They’ll make a rough pencil sketch or cartoon. You have an image in your head. You “draw” a few strokes, inspired by that image. Someone looks at that and it makes an image in their head. Maybe it will be close enough to your original idea to feel like your creation.
    • This can be an iterative process with you as your own reader. Thoughts and images—words—read your words—words make thoughts and images—correct the words—repeat repeat repeat.
    I’m finally at a point where I can just write without being as consciously aware of the phases of translating from reality to sketch to reality, but I’m sure that those phases are still there. Now that that machinery exists, I can turn to what I’m reading and do a better job of learning from it.

    One thing that dragged me closer to that goal was doing one NaNoWriMo—forcing me to write Really Fast helped to pull those skills together. I don’t do NaNoWriMo any more, but that one time was pretty critical.
     
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  8. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I can highly recommend taking a Gotham Workshop. I took one online a few years ago. It changed my life and taught me how to write. It was not cheap, but I think it was worth every penny. The focus is writing and not on publishing. However, since taking this course I have gone on to make more money than I paid for it. I took the beginner level course. I'm willing to talk more about it or give you details if you're interested. I think it's definitely worth looking into.
     
  9. Carly Berg

    Carly Berg Contributor Contributor

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    A lot of good thoughts here.

    I'd say the one most direct way to learn to write is just by doing the writing. Then posting it in the workshop for feedback from others. Rinse and repeat a buncha times and voila, you're there! :)

    ETA: But don't take any critique comments as gospel. The're all just one other person's opinion and cause to examine that little piece of your writing and re-think it, with outside input. We tend to do the same wrongish (and rightish) things over and over again without recognizing them as such until we get those other perspectives.
     
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  10. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    Brandon Sanderson put his college course lectures up on YouTube. The later set has a good recording.

    writingexcuses.com is a great podcast on writing.

    Critical reading and copying well-written pages is a good way to learn.

    Then post some of your own writing to the workshop here.

    Eventually, you will be able to discern where the most tasteful advice is coming from.

    Offer to read and critique other people’s writing #betareader on Twitter. If you make friends with someone that has good taste, you’ll learn a lot from them.

    Gotham looks pretty cool.
     
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  11. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What you want probably is practising different techniques and different styles. Writing a piece with a certain purpose in mind, if that makes sense. Things like, dialogue between 3 characters without using any tags or names beyond the initial mention; the unreliable narrator; a piece where you practice using lots of metaphors; first person narration; third person omniscient narrative; objective narrative etc. Get hold of a list of all writing devices and tools, and then write something with the aim of practising a particular device. Keep the pieces short, and then let someone critique it. Review the critique and revise the piece until you're satisfied.

    When you read, see what the authors are doing. If you know of some writing tools and devices, can you spot where a published author might have been using the same technique or tool? If yes, were they successful? Why or why not? Now try and emulate the way they've done it. You're just learning, so I don't think developing your own voice comes into play just yet. Right now, I'd say: copy. Copy as much as you can! I don't mean copy their writing like a recital. I mean copy their techniques, copy their styles, copy the way they use a turn of phrase or structure a sentence or link scenes together. Use them in your own writing as much as possible.

    It can't hurt to read books on writing techniques either. I'm afraid I've not read any myself so I got none to recommend, but I'm sure someone else can :) I'd rather invest in a book than a course for something like this. But then again, in a course everything's prepared for you and structured in a way that's supposed to build on past knowledge, with a group ready-made to give critique - all that prep is what the money's for really. Depends on your budget. I would not invest in a degree in this though because it's not the sort of field with great financial returns. You'll probably never make your money back.

    Anyway, I'd encourage you to use this forum's Workshop when you can :) Practice some style or technique, and then post the piece up for us to look at.
     
  12. Spirit of seasons

    Spirit of seasons Active Member

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    I used to have those problems all the time when I’d daydream or write short hand stories. It basically amounts to practise, and clear understanding of the parts that go into a novel. Do you have a long commute to work or school? I find reading on the buss/train has helped me so much. I’ve read three and a half novels so far, all of which I would have had to take time out of my daily routine to read.

    I only disliked one of the novels I read due to a lacklustre ending, excessive exposition and to many flashbacks. I think the book could have been another 50 or so pages. I learned lots from reading it. It’s fun to imagine how you would rewrite another persons work. It sucks to read 300 pages of buildup to have the ending happen in one or two chapters. The world building was great but none of it was used in the story. Try to stay focused and only use what you need for the story so your reader doesn’t get distracted.

    One scene really bothered me, the protagonist is blackmailed by another character who describes the horrible things that will happen if she doesn’t do what she’s told. The bad things never happen in the book so there isn’t enough tension or stakes. Don’t pull your punches. Put your characters though hell and see how they react or who they become.

    Here’s what really helped me find my writing voice, even if my voice still isn’t fully formed yet, I read a novel called Juggeler of Worlds, a sci fi epic that told the story in simple prose. I noticed how much the characters bloomed even though each sentence was calculated and refined. Sci fi can be great for examples of how to write compelling characters and dialogue. I find fantasy is often filled with flowery prose, and sci fi is straight to the point.

    Also do story snowflakes or basic outlines of characters that you imagine. Brainstorm like crazy and don’t hold back.
     
  13. Sunkin Sojourner

    Sunkin Sojourner New Member

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    Thanks for all the responses! I believe I've found my answer. Like many of you said I need to research writing techniques and do some practice exercises.

    That should get me started.
     
  14. CAROLINE J. THIBEAUX

    CAROLINE J. THIBEAUX Member

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    Practice. Practice. Practice. A writer is never a master. Think Hemmingway said that. We are always improving. Even if you do a writing course, you still need to do the work to improve. Also, it changes the plasticity in how your brain functions. Sometimes, just write without thinking. You will be surprised at what comes out. Good luck with your writing.
     
  15. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    Something I've been thinking about lately is

    Are we putting our thoughts into words or are we using words to put thoughts into our reader? Do the words really even matter so long as the intended goal of the novel as a whole is accomplished?
     

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