1. Jess Hughes

    Jess Hughes Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2016
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Britain, England

    So Disheartened...

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Jess Hughes, Oct 21, 2016.

    Hey, I've literally loved writing for as long as I can remember, always loved to pick up a pen and write. But recently, with college and everything, my inspiration has vanished. My number one love is fantasy, everything from the lore and world building and character development, unique races and make believe cities (World of Warcraft sparked this love!!) It genuinely makes me so upset that I can't think of any plot or characters that are original. Like it's all very well and good having elves and orcs, every fantasy world does. But I want to be different! I don't want to be like every other fantasy writer. Any tips from fellow fantasy lovers?
     
    jannert likes this.
  2. Megs33

    Megs33 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    163
    Likes Received:
    153
    Location:
    Flagstaff, Arizona
    I think your first step is to allow yourself to go with the flow. The more you fight with your own head about how you "should" be writing, the more you're going to fall in to a frustrated downward spiral. In fact, embrace this situation. If you make a career out of writing, brain blocks like this are going to be as commonplace as duking it out with the office printer. Write what comes to you regardless of judgment over whether it's "original" or not, and I'd wager that your mental clog will diminish.

    I find inspiration through a combination of reading books that I know are good and walking around in public places. I don't know about you, but I tend to daydream a lot. Those two things provide a lot of sparks for "what-ifs" that make for good writing. I was sitting at a stoplight the other day watching some people walk through the crosswalk, and I had a funny thought about what it would look like of someone just stopped in the middle of the crosswalk and refused to move. Maybe it's an obstinate transient, or maybe it's a public demonstration by a hipster college student with his quad-latte (no foam). I thought about all the traffic backup and how everyone would be self-righteously infuriated, laying on their horns but unwilling to do much more than encroach on the person because they don't want to cross that line between intimidation and vehicular assault. Maybe in a story my MC is stuck in the fallout and desperately trying to get the person to move so he/she can continue on to whatever urgent situation they're running toward. It's random, but totally unique. I think.

    In my opinion, you just gotta go with the flow. Sit back and let the world unfold in front of you, and then write something. Then go back and tweak that something until it becomes something else. I've written this random passage for my (as of right now) pipe-dream book, and I've re-read it and tweaked it dozens of times. It's a passage that's been in existence for months, and I STILL think it needs work. And I'm okay with that, because I trust that I'll find some looping little tweak the next time I'm walking through downtown or talking with a friend.

    Admittedly, having that kind of trust in yourself is terrifying.

    I guess that's the crux of it. Battling with your fear of "what-if" isn't necessarily getting over a hump as much as walking hand-in-hand, and occasionally arm-wrestling with it. But you have to accept that it's a necessary evil or you'll burn yourself out.

    I feel like I got a little deeper than I meant to... but I hope that helps!
     
    jannert and Jess Hughes like this.
  3. Grub-r

    Grub-r Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2016
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    39
    Location:
    New York
    The great thing about fantasy is that it can be whatever you want but because of fantasy staples like what Tolkien has left us with some of that is pre-built into the stories. This helps us because we don't have to go over, for the umpteenth time, what a dwarf is unless you want to put your own spin on it. This is where you can be different.

    If you love orcs and elves, swords and magic, and dragons and dragons and dragons, why would you not write about them? You want to be different? Maybe your elves are tiny and evil. Maybe your dwarves live in the trees. Maybe the magic in your world is contained in animal proxies that people have to befriend or enslave in order to tap into that magic

    Long story short, just because you want to be different it doesn't mean you have to shun all the things you love about it in the first place.
     
    Jess Hughes likes this.
  4. Jess Hughes

    Jess Hughes Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2016
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Britain, England
    Thank you so much for such a detailed response! I absolutely love the past about how you people watch and daydream to get ideas, I also love people watching! I am definitely one to linger on things and this refrains me from letting my creative juices flow. Thank you again for such wonderful advice I will be sure to use it! I wish you all the best in your writing future! :)
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  5. Jess Hughes

    Jess Hughes Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2016
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Britain, England
    I never really thought of it that way. I always thought, well, every fantasy idea has been done in games, literature, movies, etc. But you are so right, I can be original by putting my own spin on things! I also love the idea about befriending animals to tap into their magic! I always felt like the classic "fantasy races" have been overdone. I am thinking of making up my own race names and basing them off typical fantasy creature features. I love your response and thank you so much for taking the time to respond! All the best!
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  6. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    3,414
    Likes Received:
    2,923
    @Jess Hughes Welcome to the site!

    My biggest recommendation would be:

    Look at one of your favorite works, then force yourself to come up with something you don't like about it (no matter how small).

    If you can't come up with any, research what other people didn't like about the same work so you can see if any of them change your mind.

    If it turns out that your favorite work is as flawless as you thought, then try another work - and another one, and another - until you find something you think is a problem.

    Now that you've identified a pet peeve, commit yourself to showing your readers something better.

    Now force yourself to come up with another pet peeve, either from the same work or from a different one.
     
    jannert and Jess Hughes like this.
  7. Jess Hughes

    Jess Hughes Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2016
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Britain, England
    Thanks so much for the reply! I will definitely take this into consideration! And thanks for the warm welcome, such a friendly community :)
     
  8. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    3,414
    Likes Received:
    2,923
    Any time :D

    Just remember one more thing: if you come up with an idea for something that you really want to do, but can't come up with a good way to do it, find a way to make yourself remember it for later.

    I spent almost two years fiddling with a fantasy world that I had characters for, but nothing to say about them in a story, and I spent months fiddling with a scene about more characters that I liked, but that I still couldn't flesh out into an entire story.

    Realizing that my scene took place within my fantasy world (again, months after the fact for the one and years after the fact for the other) gave me an entire story about my single-scene characters discovering the supernatural for the first time.

    I managed to start putting words to the page within a matter of days (whereas the Doctor Who fanfic in my signature took weeks of outlining before I was comfortable starting the narrative itself), and by now I'm at about 35,500.

    JRR Tolkien spent over 20 years writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. You don't need to rush into this ;)
     
    Jess Hughes likes this.
  9. TheWriteWitch

    TheWriteWitch Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2016
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    112
    When I feel like that I think of myself as being a fallow field. Sometimes we all need a little rest.

    Forgive yourself the time! Read anything and everything that appeals to you. Don't hold on too tightly. As soon as your brain truly feels like it is on vacation, it will start goofing around and come up with something great.

    I, personally, am enjoying a lot of terrible and terrifying movies for "Shocktober" because much of my time is spent working the romance genre.:D
     
    Jess Hughes and Simpson17866 like this.
  10. TheWriteWitch

    TheWriteWitch Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2016
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    112
    Ooo, also, this seems like a great prompt for fantasy writers: it's our world but ONE thing is different. Think about all the events, people, species, that would affect and how.
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  11. Jess Hughes

    Jess Hughes Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2016
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Britain, England
    I keep a diary by my bed to write any random ideas I get! I know writing will never be easy and it won't happen overnight. How did you plan and outline your characters? Did draw them, do a profile, etc.? I have made up my own races, and am struggling with fleshing them out so they become real. But a massive congratulations for your 35,500!

    P.S. tenth doctor > any other doctor
    P.P.S Rose > every other companion
    ;)
     
  12. Jess Hughes

    Jess Hughes Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2016
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Britain, England
    That's exactly what I need to do; rest! Thank you so much for your reply, all the best with your romance works!
     
  13. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    3,414
    Likes Received:
    2,923
    I don't normally have any idea what my characters look like beyond their gender and skin color. Just the fact that my Urban Fantasy narrator is of average height and weight is already pushing it :rolleyes:

    I also find that really long character profiles work best after I've already come up with a general idea for my characters and need to flesh out the details. Starting with details, then trying to come up with a general idea to fill in with more details doesn't tend to work as well for me.

    I tend to start with A) a Dungeons and Dragons alignment, B) a MyersBriggs type, and C) what my character is doing. This gives me a large enough amount of information that I can identify several similarities in any pair of characters and several differences:
    My narrator, a drug dealer turned bank robber, is a Lawful Evil ESFP
    His best friend, working the same job but also extra-curricular as a serial killer, is a Chaotic Evil ESFJ
    The serial killer's brother is a True Neutral INFJ
    Their boss is a Neutral Evil ISTJ

    The loan shark that the boss owes money to is a Neutral Evil ENFJ
    His two goons are a Lawful Evil INFJ and a Neutral Evil INTP

    A rival bank robber that they run afoul of is a Chaotic Evil INTJ

    Ah, yes, most of the SciFi/Fantasy crowd here has probably heard my diatribes about Planets of Hats and what I try to do instead.

    Would you like me to PM you my process?

    Thank you :) The 63k word Doctor Who story took me a little over 2 and a half years to write on Microsoft Word (1970 words/month), but ever since buying Scrivener, I've been consistently averaging closer to 6775.

    I actually liked Ten/Donna and Eleven/Amy/Rory better because I've never understood the "men and women can't be friends" line that colors basically every single work I've ever found :bigmeh: By that logic, a bisexual/biromantic person would have no friends, and me being asexual/aromantic would mean that I would have friends
    :bigfrown:
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
  14. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    16,564
    Likes Received:
    32,012
    Location:
    Plot 1369, Staff Yasukuni
    Remember that fantasy is just an overall structure involving intelligent near-humans (elves and dwarves), sometimes intelligent non-humans (dragons, certain unicorns), and the existence of magic. If you've got those things, it's fantasy, but the rest of the book needn't follow the "standard" fantasy tropes of quests and saving princesses. There was a not-very good movie (Dragonheart) about twenty years ago, starring the voice of Sean Connery, where much of the movie was about a guy who had made friends with a dragon. It did end up with a fairly traditional battle vs the evil king theme, but much of the early part of the film was the MC and the dragon scamming villagers. The dragon would show up, wreak a little minor havoc, and then the professional dragon-slayer would come and "kill" the dragon, for a fee.

    Glen Cook has also written a series of noir detective books (Garrett P.I.) that are basically a reworking of the Nero Wolfe mystery books, but told in a fantasy world. MC is a former Marine who served in the long running border war with another kingdom. Magic isn't much of an issue, because whatever spell someone can use, another wizard can cast a counter-spell to, so warfare was pretty much just grunts slugging it out in the mud.

    Anyway, the point is that there are people writing decent (Dragonheart wasn't great, but it was better than Eragon) fantasy without being tied to Tolkien, so don't be afraid of thinking of, say, a heist book, with dwarves tunneling under the vault while orcs provide the security muscle, all at the direction of a vampire lord. Still fantasy.
     
  15. NoGoodNobu

    NoGoodNobu Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2016
    Messages:
    1,402
    Likes Received:
    1,978
    (Sorry to be off subject)

    I actually like 9/Rose, 10/Rose, 11/Amy/Rory, 11/Clara

    And I 100% agree with Simpson17866; I really want stories where it's completely okay that people of the opposite gender (or same gender/same sexuality) can love each other beyond anything, but just be friends.

    There's this ridiculous idea that if the two get along well & care for each other, then it automatically necessitates an eventual romantic entanglement/attachment.

    I think this is ridiculous. Me & my best girlfriend both are also best friends with a male (of same age range, same likes, same ideologies & sensibilities, all the usual attractive features, good head, great heart, etc.) and we all love and adore each other to no end, trust each other implicitly, and would go to war for each other. But that's it. We don't desire any physical intimacies or romanceーjust intimate friendship. I hate that media & society tries to tell us that this relationship is impossible (we've been friends for 10 years now, 4 with all three as best friends).

    And to be back on topic, I also agree with Simpson on looking for flaws or irritants or just ideas you dislike in other works.

    A lot of my inspiration comes from contradicting other stories or else just handling it very different.

    I wrote one story based on the changing of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan title from Peter and Wendy to Peter Pan and Wendy till finally it was only Peter Pan. And to me, this spoke of Wendy as at first seeming as equally imperative to the story only to end by being removable and unimportant. So I wanted to write a story about a female protagonist that seemed special initially in being spirited to a fantasy world only to find she's utterly replaceable & that lands of myth & magic aren't so fun when you yourself are neither. And it became about that no one else gets to determine your own insignificance, and ultimately it is a personal choice you have to make for yourself. People & situations don't make you special, but your choices do.

    It's fun how many stories you can think of by just trying to be contrary.

    So play with any silly or interesting idea or premise that pops into your head. Don't make grand ambitions for it at the onset; just toy with it a bit. Let it grow organically, see what you can do with it and what you want to do with it.

    Good luck〜
     
    Simpson17866 and jannert like this.
  16. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,486
    Likes Received:
    19,447
    Location:
    Scotland
    That's a very interesting idea. It's something any writer can work with. It's easy to find faults, isn't it? And if you set yourself to correcting the ones that other people make ...well, heck, what's not to like? Good practical tip. I may use it myself.

    Spend time turning ideas on their heads as much as you can. If a character asks his girlfriend to marry him and she says yes. Well, what if she says no? A character is walking down the street on a sunny day and meets his uncle, whom he hasn't seen for ages. No, that character is walking over a rope bridge in the middle of a thunderstorm and his uncle is deliberately blocking the path ahead. Turn a mundane idea into something interesting simply by turning it on its head. If you do this every time you get stuck, I think you'll find you get unstuck pretty quickly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
  17. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,486
    Likes Received:
    19,447
    Location:
    Scotland
    Lots of great advice on this thread. The one thing I would offer is that you should read voraciously (if you don't already.) Gaming is fine, but it doesn't teach you anything about writing. Get in the habit of reading, rather than enjoying stories in other ways, and you will benefit from being familiar what your medium can do.

    It's not enough to think up great characters and a knockout plot, and then simply tell the reader what's happening. That's very dull. You need to make the story come to life, using only words. The best way to learn that is not with a writer's rule book, but by reading stories that come to life for you. You'll get a feel for it.
     
  18. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    3,414
    Likes Received:
    2,923
    @NoGoodNobu @jannert Now that I think about it, even the bit about platonic love can be seen as part of my "when you can't come up with a good idea, try to come up with the opposite of a bad idea" trick: I've become obsessed with writing platonic relationships between people of otherwise compatible gender/orientation – and I would like to think I've done a good job – because it looks like almost everybody else won't.

    Even when it looks like they are. When I watched Beverly Hills Cop for the first time, I was amazed that they managed decided to write the lead man and woman as not having any romantic implication whatsoever.

    And then I found out that the producers wanted a romantic sub-plot between the two leads ... until they found out that a black guy had been cast :bigmeh:
     
    jannert and Iain Aschendale like this.
  19. Willowy

    Willowy New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2016
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    UK
    Heya! I'm afraid I can't offer any advice but I wanted to thank you for asking this question. Everything you've said here (including World of Warcraft!) is exactly where I am and how I'm feeling. None of my ideas seem original and I end up feeling defeated before I've even sat down to write.

    I'll certainly be taking note of all the positive responses here.

    And from a completely selfish point of view, it's comforting to know I'm not alone with this issue. :D

    Good luck!
     
    Jess Hughes and Simpson17866 like this.
  20. Jess Hughes

    Jess Hughes Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2016
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Britain, England
    Wow thank you so much for such a detailed response! I am young, 17 next month, so I have years and years ahead of me to learn the art that is fantasy writing. The world building element is definitely disheartening when all you want is for it to jump out at you and come to life. I've always loved fantasy RPGs and MMOs, World of Warcraft, Skyrim, etc. and find myself picturing my fantasy world like a game, which is maybe why it is so difficult. Thank you so so much for your response again! All the best! :cheerleader:
     
  21. Jess Hughes

    Jess Hughes Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2016
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Britain, England
    Yes I am so glad I've found someone similar! I always felt so alone in this because as I am 16, not many people my age are into fantasy, it's more about the Kardashians for them haha! I definitely feel like it would be so much easier to write if you had someone who also loved fantasy, to motivate you! Good luck to you too! :-D
     
  22. Justin Berak

    Justin Berak Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2016
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    18
    I think a lot of people have a dip and college. If i were you I'd do my best to explore a little bit. I'm not saying stop writing, but make sure you're trying new things as well!
     
    Jess Hughes likes this.
  23. G. Anderson

    G. Anderson Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    Germany
    When I stopped writing for a few years and lost my inspiration plus didn't have a lot of time for it, I wrote very short stories or poems down whenever there was a glimmer of inspiration there. It wasn't original, interesting, thought-out or longer than ten lines, but it did help me and slowly inspiration and motivations started to come to me again. Bear in mind though that it last for a couple of years. But perhaps that time when we don't feel inspired is actually when we gather up all lot of inspirations. They just reveal themselves later. :) Happy writing!
     
    Cave Troll and Jess Hughes like this.
  24. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2016
    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    123
    I always remember Sean Connery's line from "Finding Forester" - "A writer writes."

    Stop worrying about being original. If you have enough influences and aren't trying to copy someone else's work, then being original is a statistical certainty. Might there be parallels? Might some elements be similar? Sure. But that's true in every work of fiction.

    Once you start writing, and your world and your characters start becoming real to you (as they must, I believe, if they are going to be real to your reader) they'll probably start pushing you around. For example, I thought Nic and Romy (friends of the MC) were going to get engaged in the fifth year of the story, but then events in the fourth year made them do it then, giving them an extra year to plan the wedding. I couldn't be true to the characters and put it off any longer. They left me no choice.

    The wedding, fortunately, didn't shift forward, because it has to happen during a particular interval before the end of Romy's parents career. And that's good, because it is supposed to be a double-marriage with the MC (sort of, the vows don't happen on the same day, but Romy's wedding lasts three) and the MC's not going to be ready (medically or romantically) earlier than that - at least that's what I think right now. Events (in the story) may prove me wrong.

    Writing often doesn't produce what you thought it would. That's part of the fun. So stop worrying and go write.
     
    Willowy and Jess Hughes like this.
  25. sprirj

    sprirj Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Messages:
    576
    Likes Received:
    193
    I don't write fantasy, but if I did I would come up with my own monsters etc. Maybe do the reverse of what war hammer did.... They put orcs and goblins in space. Why not put Aliens on earth?
    Or maybe an alternative reality, rather than elves and dwarves, maybe I'd imagine a world where all the sub species of humans were still alive, Neanderthals, erectus etc etc
    If magic is your thing, think of it differently, maybe it's not taught like in Harry Potter, but is a new element, mined from the ground? That's just where I would go with it anyway.

    As for mind blanks. Don't worry. I found stepping away from writing for a month really good for me. Or writing something I don't really know much about, say chick lit. Not a novel or anything, just a few paragraphs outlining a story to exercise your creative mind. Hope this helps....
     
    Jess Hughes likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice