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  1. LucyAshworth

    LucyAshworth Active Member

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    What is your process?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by LucyAshworth, Nov 15, 2020.

    I was running around answering threads when I decided to just make this thread instead. I do not suddenly decide I want to tell a story with certain characters or a premise and feel around from there. My personal process is as follows.

    Decide what I want to say.
    It is usually something about the human condition. It is usually something that has yet to be said.

    Craft a plot that exemplifies the point.
    Imagine a train rolling down tracks through a valley. I will need to design the valley, the setting, to suit my purpose, but it is usually the character and the plot that will make my point for me. It is possible to make a story that relies less on characters, but for now, let us focus on more traditional storytelling. Said character will have a starting point. Things will befall them or they will take action. They are faced with dilemmas. Along the way, they see other perspectives on their problems, other metaphors. Their weaknesses are exploited and perhaps they reach a situation where their strengths are nullified. They make decisions. At the end, they are left wherever you planned them to be left.

    Writer's Block.
    I never ever get writer's block. As long as I remember my purpose, I know what needs to be done. I start laying down blocks beginning what what I know I need and crossing out what I know I is out of the question. Then I evaluate all possibilities and choose the best. If I feel remotely lost, it is probably because there are too many possibilities or too few. At that point, research and brainstorming are in order. For research, the internet suffices in learning other's opinions, analysis, history, psychology, media, movies, books, etc. For brainstorming, I lay out all my blocks and connect threads organizing all my associations and faint emotions. I then choose the best block. The best block may not have the a strong emotional resonance, but it will have the strongest.

    Disclaimer. My personal background.
    I am not an accomplished writer by any means. I'm just some person who has spent years alone working on a single massive outline when I finally decided to come here. This experience has been enlightening and surprising. I originally came from Game Design.
     
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  2. LucyAshworth

    LucyAshworth Active Member

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    Coming up with ideas (Things to say)
    Some of you have started with interesting characters or concepts first. Perhaps we can work backwards and extrapolate.

    What is the story of a hammer? What do all hammers have in common? What separates hammers from all other items? What is the function of a hammer? The hammer is a tool, swung in repetition to knock things into place. A concussive instrument. Unlike the screwdriver, which delicately secures things together in an industrial age, the hammer is primitive and versatile. It can also be used to destroy. What if the hammer was a man? What if you use him too much? Or swing him too hard? How would a hammer feel if it was made obsolete?

    What is the story of the werewolf? Unlike the vampire, who is a monster at all times, the werewolf is at odds with its nature. There are various forms of the tale, but all werewolves come with duality, two forms. What does this represent? Hidden nature? Alcoholism?

    What is the relationship between a therapist and the patient? Let's exemplify, exploit, and challenge this, shall we?
     
  3. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Years writing an outline? I think that's your problem. If you never get writers block, why aren't you writing the story by now? FYI -- Everyone's writing about the human condition in some way and it's all been said before.
     
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  4. LucyAshworth

    LucyAshworth Active Member

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    Well, I've been busy trying to survive homelessness and trauma. In addition, I kept finding new ideas as I grew up and I really wanted to capture everything in totality.

    Perhaps I'm mistaken or living under a rock, but I've not yet heard anyone with what I have to say.
     
  5. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Life can really suck. I get that. But writers write actual stories, and I get that too. You said you never get writer block, but it seems like you're more into the planning and plotting than the writing. And, at the end of the day, it's only the writing that matters. If you've got the time to outline and everything, then you've got the time to write if you chose. I'm sorry to hear about your troubles, but maybe they can fuel your creativity. Writing is always going to be a choice. Waiting for the right time to write is kind of silly and/or will probably never come if you're waiting for it.

    I do believe in originality, but I also believe everything's been said and done at the same time. So, maybe it's not what you say, but how you say it when it comes to writing a story. But ideas and outlines mean nothing without the actual story written down.
     
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  6. LucyAshworth

    LucyAshworth Active Member

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    Thank you for reminding me. I learned this lesson in the games industry as well. Ideas are worthless, and for now, all I am is ideas.

    Believe me, I do know the importance of this issue. Believe me, I am making progress making a massive machination, and my pain does feed my creativity. I don't believe in choices or free will, though. I also do not believe that everything has already been done, just most things. Humanity is not stuck in a perpetual unchanging limbo. History does not repeat itself.

    You might be able to see that I am an intense person who often comes across as overly ambitious and deluded who has few people who believes in her. The myth of the genius.
     
  7. ruskaya

    ruskaya Contributor Contributor

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    I know actual writing is the only one that counts, but for me the plotting part (done in the form of writing out the story scene by scene and see the story happen in my mind) is quite essential and consider it part of the writing. Making the physical effort of writing the plot also helps with getting in the zone to be able to write what I want to write the way I want to write it. Of course, writing only plot doesn't make you a writer, as you justly pointed out. It also helps me stay motivated and have the energy to write out the full story.
     
  8. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Let me ask you something. So far, what have you written?
     
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  9. rick roll rice

    rick roll rice Member

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    An interesting milieu and I'm on my way.
     
  10. LucyAshworth

    LucyAshworth Active Member

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    Here are summaries of my outlines. In the actual outlines themselves, I've attempted to be as detailed as possible, writing down the specific reason for every thematic moral dilemma, every situation in which said dilemma will be exhibited, and what relevant mental skills the character would have to utilize to overcome it. I've also been noting environmental changes, mese en scene, and other details besides core plot points.

    OUTLINE_ProjectUltimate
    This file sets up the setting and the history of the world. It is a diverse landscape with humans and other sentient species. More importantly, it lays out the over arching themes of the series of stories. The human condition. Genetics and sociology. Cause and effect. Free will being an illusion. Perception of time. Meritocracy. I'm currently slaving away over a world history, taking into consideration all aspects from how terrain affects anthropology to how having multiple sentient species would affect inner species racism.

    OUTLINE_LuciferStory
    An immortal insurgent who is attempting to take down tyrannical forces peacefully. At first he learns why he should try to save humanity. He tries to get people to vote, rescue whistleblowers. Mistakes and events beyond his control lead to a violent revolution and a world war. Then he learns what it would take to preserve and how hopeless it is. At the end, he meets an absentee god and can choose to destroy everything or roam the Earth forever as a punisher.

    OUTLINE_BridgetStory
    A policewoman in one of the tyrannical nations. She begins as a naïve woman who thinks that the world is fair. She learns critical thinking, to question all things around her, the information coming from her superiors, her church, and her friends. Due to a lack of critical thinking, she fails in nurturing her suicidal brother among other failures. She finds some hope to go on.

    OUTLINE_MaryStory
    A child who was raised as an assassin. Her life is entirely about pain, and how to deal with it. Mary will also experience mental illness and how this distances her from her classmates. This story allows me to present my unique perspective on life and pain; there are many perspectives I have that where no one ever believes me or agrees with me on. Life is about pain. Pain is not necessarily a bad thing.

    OUTLINE_AliceStory
    A teenage orphan who is lost in trying to escape pain through books, games, and drugs. She must find the will to get up and face reality.

    OUTLINE_RobotStory
    Well, this one was going to be my take on what identity meant, but then I played Detroit: Become Human.
     
  11. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Sorry, to clarify, I'm not talking about outlines. I'm talking about actual stories, short stories or novels, whether they're completed or not.
     
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  12. LucyAshworth

    LucyAshworth Active Member

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    Years ago, I wrote a few short stories for a creative writing class. That's all. They were a learning experience. They were very indicative of my intense and mechanical mind. They were very bare, with almost no details, since those did not seem important. On occasions, there were a few anchoring details that were extremely intentional that carried a lot of implications. On other occasions, there were sentences, bursts of unorthodox synesthesia to create strange musical staves of harmony and dissonance. The rest of the plot charged on.

    I have not written anything, or perhaps I'm dismissing many things that I have written, including other college essays or online posts counseling people and creating imaginary scenes. I realize that many people hold practice above all else. I do as well. I do believe that a person could come out the gate amazingly with nothing but theoretical studies, but I do not believe that to be me. However, I am still diligently continuing my process and will not deviate. I can't deviate. I could start writing, but I know it would all be such a waste of effort to type all those adjectives when I'd have to go back and fix the core structure. I am a long ranged planner, a "mastermind."

    I am thinking a few steps ahead now as I apologize if I seem defensive. No one ever believes me, so I thought I'd try coming here. I don't believe in geniuses, but everyone else does, right until they meet one.
     
  13. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    I don't want to sound like I'm raining on your parade, but to be a writer, you need to write.

    It's all very well and good talking about processes and being a "mastermind", but until you put it into practise, it means nothing. You don't know your process works until you make something out of it. An outline means absolutely nothing unless it gets put on paper as a story.

    All writers revise their stories. Sometimes that means deleting whole scenes, adding new ones or even changing plotlines. If you stick rigidly to an outline, you are limiting yourself as a writer. Because anyone can come up with an outline, but not everyone can turn it into a story.

    I look at your outlines and I don't see anything that hasn't been done before. Whether they will be successful as stories will depend on your skills as a writer, and you haven't developed those yet, because you haven't written anything. That has to be your first priority, not planning out wonderful worlds, if you want to be a writer.

    You can plan out as much as you like, but at this rate, you'll end up writing nothing. And honestly, you can't claim to never suffer writer's block if you've never written anything.

    Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I'm trying to be realistic. Take it as me trying to be constructive. Write first, and learn the skills of a writer.
     
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  14. LucyAshworth

    LucyAshworth Active Member

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    Thank you.
     
  15. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

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    They say you need to write a certain amount of bad stories before you'll be able to write a good one. I don't know the numbers, but it's a lot. Honestly I think it's necessary to go through the entire process of writing a story many times, so do lots of shorts. it's ok to not finish a bunch of them—the vast majority of what I've written has never been finished, but I do have folders and folders full of attempts, and you really do learn a lot from them, whether they turn out good or not.
     
  16. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Book Witch Contributor

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    "whats your process?"

    For me, I get an idea (the vast majority of my ideas come to me while sleeping. Most dreams, I cant remember when I wake up. But if I can remember it when I wake up, then that means it is worth remembering, and I write it down)

    the "write it down" part is simple..... i just write. I dont know where its going or how long it will be, but i write down the dream as best as i can remember it, from start to finish. If I cant remember certain detail, i fill in the blanks (use the ole creativity lol). Once it is written, that is now my concept.

    the next part is to develop it further, and this I do by also writing. I go back to the beginning and start adding more details and characters, and etc. Sometimes it will fizzle out and i'll put it away in a file. But if there is a flow of ideas, then I will create another document as my "Notes" and bullet point stuff (characters, settings, plot points, etc).

    I have 2 WIP projects where I have an outline, and the outline actually came a lot later. Like a few chapters in, if i'm being honest. And my outline is basically a bullet point list of important things I want to happen. Some bullet points are detailed with sub-bullets, some are simply just a sentence long. My WIPs ALWAYS deviate a bit from my outline. I don't see my outlines as a step by step instruction to my story. I see my outlines as directions that I can go if I find myself in a block.

    I havent written anything in about a week. I dont have writers block or anything, and I have the time (the time I spent typing this out, i could be working on my writing). I'm just lazy :p
    stressed, tired, and lazy from these past few days. But it is as @deadrats says. to write or not to write is a choice.
     
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  17. DriedPen

    DriedPen Member

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    I finished a novel on Saturday and started my new one on Sunday. It kind of has gone like this:

    I had a germ of an idea on Sunday. It was nothing concrete, just an industry I like, but can never be a part of because I am not fit for that line of work. However, I am not aware of any story or movie being done on it yet. So it hold promise because it is unique and untapped.

    I knew it was going to be another Romance-Thriller so I plotted out the twelve points in an outline on my computer. I could not get started on my story, but knew whom I was going to dedicate the book too. I wrote out the dedication before one sentence of the book was started.

    I stared at the computer screen a lot for most of Sunday, and just thought, about the plotline and how I could move things around. By Sunday night, I had 3/4 of the plotting done, or at least a beginning, middle and end. I was lacking the two points of rising action, but had a weak story...but a story emerging.

    Monday was a slow day at work, so I spent another 8 hours plotting my story. I am not sure why, but a lot of major, major points came together. Character relationships and the backstory came to me, and my entire plotline was filled in from beginning to end. I thought a bit more about the story when I got home, but then went to sleep.

    This morning (Tuesday) I started to write my first lines of the story. Interestingly it is on the second chapter and not the first, just because I had some witty dialogue I wanted to write out first. Because of novel-building on Monday, I had a few deadlines to meet today at work, and had to do real work stuff so no working on my novel. Not much thinking about it either, but I have got a start.

    So 59 hours of running time counting sleeping and work, to go from concept idea to first lines of writing. I don't think its great, but I would call it productive still...
     
  18. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    Slightly different method here as I don't think about what I want to say because it's all ready been said before somewhere. I don't class planning a writing so have learned to bother with it very little because I find too many people get stuck in that cycle - myself included. They do tons of planning for tons of novels and have never written one of them. Writing anything is writing to a degree. I started in short stories and found the cross-over to novels very difficult. Your planning process can be flawless but it's still useless and pointless is you've not then completed the story.

    My process is get an idea. Then I like to do some research on the idea, because I often find that helps me add to my plot. I've noticed a lot of my ideas revolve around historical events. I then look at my main characters. So in the case of my current work that is two characters. I jot down a few important things about them - and then I just start. I ignore cliches, unoriginal ideas because nothing really is that original anymore. Of course, some topics have been explored more than others and some topics were explored a lot years ago but the idea of them driveled off. I think the most important question is "why does this story need to be told."
     
  19. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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    I love your system. I think that people forget about having a theme. It almost seems like a lot of people just throw stuff in there. While it can be entertaining, it's hardly satisfying.
     
  20. LucyAshworth

    LucyAshworth Active Member

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    Thank you, my dear.

    On the idea that everything has already been done, I must continue to protest. It is such a broad, reductive, and discouraging idea. People probably thought the same thing right before Brave New World was written. People probably thought the same thing before the internet was invented. I don't think anyone wrote about SJW ideas, nihilism, or other new ideas until the first time they were written. On the other hand, I've had some time to reflect, and perhaps my ideas in particular have been written about already, even if in the broad reductive sense.

    People also keep pushing this idea that you must jump in with both feet. This sounds like sound advice. It sounds more convincing when repeated. I don't know. Maybe I'm deluded. Thinking is easy. Creating is easy. Writing is easy; well, the actual weaving of sentences from core outlines will take some practice, but no matter how many hours and revisions it takes, I do not mind. What I do mind is everything else about life. So should I stop my outline and start feeling around in the dark?

    Perhaps some people are able make quality stories complete with themes and filler. Perhaps they've written so many stories that they are able to feel when to add which twists and turns to a story. Would this not be formulaic? At some point, said author would have to spend time contemplating how to mix things up.

    I feel like I run laps around people. I run far away from them only to end up right behind them, finding that I should have just listened to them all along. They got the answer from listening to old masters while I wasted time reinventing the wheel and trying to understand why the old masters said so. It's humiliating. Then again, maybe I'm just making up a narrative to salvage some pride.
     
  21. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

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    You should start writing. I think you overthink things. Case in point:

    ... It seems you've just theorized your way into a corner. Did you convince yourself that themes and filler are formulaic? Just like that, without ever even trying to develop a story with a theme?

    As far as I can see, and the way it works for me, a theme develops on its own as you're writing. You can't think one up ahead of time, it emerges naturally as you go. If you try to shoehorn one into a story heavy-handedly, it tends to screw everything up, like you're forcing it into a mold it doesn't fit. It must develop, emerge from your subconscious.

    I believe this is a long-winded way of saying you overthink things, when you should instead just get to work. And trust me, I know about overthinking! I can spend days theorizing like crazy and end up nowhere. It's an addictive habit that you need to get under control or it'll have you spinning your wheels incessantly and getting nowhere.
     
  22. LucyAshworth

    LucyAshworth Active Member

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    [QUOTE="Xoic, post: 1889352, member: 92481" [/QUOTE]
    Thank you.

    A therapist asked me if I ever thought I thought too much I shrugged for five seconds and said the thought had crossed my mind.

    i do not know what this overthinking is. I know what redundant and irrelevant thinking is. There is no conceivable problem that cannot be understood with thinking. This is a bit of a circular definition. More thinking! Most people are afraid to be alone with their thoughts, with all their bad memories. When I’m feeling PTSD coming on, I like to sit in the dark and dig my nails into my wounds and explore every cavern of my heart. Feelings are wonderful, yes, what most people think of as a fabled subconscious, but they are better understood when brought to light. Carl Jung. Expose the shadows.
     
  23. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Just a side note, but it's best not to have anything in your story you refer to as "filler."
     
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  24. LucyAshworth

    LucyAshworth Active Member

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    I would agree, except that it seems some readers apparently like filler. I suppose it breaks up the flow of the story for a humanizing or realistic adventurous or slice of life feel. A lot of the Harry Potter books could probably have been shaved away of the author didn’t feel some compulsion to make every book longer and longer.
     
  25. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Supporter Contributor

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    Then it's not filler but worldbuilding, showing the reader character relations or the job situation or whatnot so they understand the dynamics of the main conflict better. Which is a clear purpose.

    'Filler' by definition is something that doesn't need to be there.
     
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