1. CrowOfCalamity

    CrowOfCalamity Member

    Jan 5, 2015
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    Unsure About My Writing Process.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by CrowOfCalamity, Jan 7, 2015.

    I've written a total of three stories in my life, all of them unfinished and all lacking something. I think I know what the problem is, I just need to fix it.

    I don't have a story structure nor an outline. When starting a story all I do is write a summary, reflect upon that summary for a while and then type. I suspect that's where I'm wrong. Some of my friends advised me to create a story outline. I don't know what that is, nor do I know how to construct one that is effective. I just want some pre-writing tips to help me on the new story I'm conducting. Things like settings, character, theme, plot etc. I want something to go on so that I feel I'm doing something right. My goal is to actually stick with this story and not wander off to something else. For instance I wrote five chapters of a horror themed story called "Shrouded In Darkness" but eventually dropped it because it started to become something different, something I didn't intend. Within this small thread I'm typing 'something' frequently, I think that's a sign that my writing as become disoriented. :unsure:
  2. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.
    What you need, from where I stand, is to write more. Don't worry if they are bits and pieces of stories, start a file. Fill it up and a story will be in there waiting to be crafted out of the bits.
  3. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

    Sep 30, 2013
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    A Place with no History
    I do not use story outlines, waste of time for me.
    Maybe for some it helps organize their thoughts or keep track of stuff but I just have good ol' memory.
    It doesn't matter how you write, or what your planning stages are, what matters is whether you can start at A and finish at Z.
    If a story morphs, it means your imagination went a different direction then planned, it can be a very good thing.
    There's nothing wrong that, so just keep writing, and see where it ends.
  4. aguywhotypes

    aguywhotypes Active Member

    Jul 24, 2013
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    Millersburg, Ohio, United States
    What helps me a lot is to try to figure out how it ends. If you can't figure out the ending keep writing. I give myself permission to write at least 500 words a day even if its just mishmashed freewriting that doesn't make sense. I'm amazed how I get ideas that I never thought I had. But once I get to an ending then I can really go.
    SwampDog likes this.
  5. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

    Aug 27, 2014
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    Naughty story, taking on a life of its own!

    Writers often talk about their stories as being their babies (and they certainly become very protective when some critic savages them!) but eventually babies become obnoxious teenagers and refuse to do what you tell them. If you love your story, you've got to let it free. If it loves you back, it will return.

    God, I feel a romance novel coming on.
  6. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I use story outlines for novels. I usually keep them pretty simple. First I brainstorm on what could happen in the novel. For instance if I was writing Jaws I might brainstorm - shark eats skinny dippers, bodies found on beach, they blow up shark, they hunt shark, greedy mayor won't close beach. Of course that's out of order so I arrange it into a line up that has a sense of beginning, rising action to the possible end. Voila! storyline.
    You don't need them but sometimes even something as vague and simple as that keeps you on track.
    CrowOfCalamity likes this.
  7. lustrousonion

    lustrousonion Senior Member

    Oct 7, 2014
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    Before starting a novel, I make flashcards with writing points. Could be character names, events, setting descriptions, sentences I don't want to forget, etc. Then I can play around and try to find something like an order. I think this is nicer than a straight outline because I'm not only focusing on events. I'm also very forgetful, so this works for me.
    CrowOfCalamity and peachalulu like this.
  8. BayView

    BayView Not even a little tender Contributor

    Sep 6, 2014
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    What's in your summary? I''m having difficulty figuring out the difference between a summary and a story outline...?

    There are authors who swear by the snowflake method (you can google it) - I don't have the patience, personally, but those who like it like it. If you've already got a summary, you can probably do a modified snowflake where you start breaking your summary down into its component parts and then adding details...
    lustrousonion likes this.
  9. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributor Contributor

    Jul 27, 2011
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    If you're having trouble finishing, outlining (and there are many variations of outlines, btw) may or may not help you. Even with outlines, stories can move in directions the author didn't intend. Sometimes you have to rein it in, sometimes you have to follow the story. I would suggest you just finish a story, no matter what. You need to break the habit of giving up. Try outlining, sure. It takes experiementing to find a method that works for you. But no matter the method, finish what you start. Get into that habit, first and foremost.
    Shadowfax and CrowOfCalamity like this.
  10. Dunning Kruger

    Dunning Kruger Active Member

    Oct 24, 2014
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    I've generally had more success when I adopted a less intense version of the snowflake method. Basically, I write out 1 page with the theme, plot, and one or two sentence descriptions of major characters. Then, for each chapter or scene, I have a one page template (its one page but it might be only a quarter or a half filled with writing) where I identify the theme/objective of the chapter, the conflict, the characters, and the consequence of the scene. I do most of this in bullet points. Having it on paper helps keep me focused and make sure everything serves a purpose within the larger story. Also, by keeping it succinct, I fill or change as I write without spending too much effort.

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