1. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    What Keeps You Writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by malaupp, May 31, 2017.

    Note: when I say "keeps you writing" I mean writing a specific story instead of moving to something else. Not "what keeps you writing" in the grander philosophical sense

    That might sound like a weird question, but it was one I've thinking on. I've found my story-writing inspirations always comes from different places, but the actual desire to write always come from the urge to write a very specific scene. It's this idea where I have to keep going, so I can get to that point and finally write out that epic moment I've seen in my head a dozen times. Most of the time it's the climax. Here are some of my favorites:

    The time traveler banging on the locked door, screaming for her partner while Jack Ripper comes down the hall after her.

    The 20 something with the First Person POV discovering in a moment of clarity that she's actually an elderly woman suffering from dementia.

    The 18 female serial killer tormenting the biographer interviewing her, saying her newborn son could turn evil as well.

    The medieval priestess removing her holy veil to reveal half of her face is severely scarred and burned and telling the story of how she left her abusive father to die in a house fire.

    These are just a couple of my favorites (as of this posting, I have yet to begin the last one, so I'm hoping that scene stays interesting to me) but almost every story has one. And I've found that if I don't have that scene I'm looking forward to, my actual desire to finish the story wanes dramatically. I don't even have to have the outline completed, I just need to know it's there in the distance.

    Has this ever happened to you? Do you have that I MUST GET TO THAT MOMENT feeling? Or are you just a completionist that can't not-finish the manuscript? In short: what keeps you locked in to the story?
     
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  2. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    For me it is a bunch of little moments, nothing huge or one big one.
    It is about the chinks in the armor, so to speak. Letting out sides
    previously (and often intentionally) down played, to use them
    later on. Or to have something going on in a certain tone, and then
    run it into a 180 for a bit before returning to the original tone.

    There is a complexity in molding characters in such a way,
    when you can take something previously described as scary
    or evil, and in reality is not really either of those things,
    and yet they still can be. Or showing the humanity in a
    character that plays the role of Death like it were little more
    than a game of chance.
    I find it most fun to play around with the concepts that nothing
    is exactly is it appears to be. Everything is shades of gray.

    I think we write as a way to act out the wild and crazy things
    that our imagination can come up with, and allow these little
    flights of fancy to become a 'reality'. Injecting the parts of ourselves
    into our characters as a proxy for the things we wish we could do
    or be.

    Ultimately it is more about the journey, than the destination.
    The roads and trials ahead, and the possibilities of what
    can come out where it is all leading to. Can be something as
    simple as a short story about someone going out on a holiday
    in a foreign country, or as complex as testing the realities
    of a lengthy conflict and the toll it takes on the mind.
    With a good imagination and a little oomph, the possibilities
    are endless. :)

    So take us away into your own little universe and send us
    on a journey we will never forget.
     
  3. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Because I write romance, I'm always motivated to get to those scenes in the story that are milestones for the relationship: the first time they admit they're more than just friends, first kiss, first sexual encounter, first "I love you" and of course the ultimate happily ever after ending. I usually have those scenes in my head well in advance of writing them - for me the plot and action are just a way for me to pursue the romance between my two MCs.
     
  4. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Masochism?
     
  5. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    My characters keep me in the story. I live through their lives and face their special circumstances. I want to know what happens to them and how they would react with the antagonists I throw them and the obstacles they will face.

    It's the reason why I'm writing part two of my novel: I want to know what's next. And since I'm a discovery writer, I have no idea what that is until I write it.
     
  6. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Contributor Contributor

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    I'm sort of with @Cave Troll , it's a bunch of little moments that motivate me more than one big one. To be sure I get fairly excited when I think I have a good idea, but it's more like it comes at me one scene at a time, then I go back and try and make it coherent (more or less).

    It's really just a process of putting together enough scenes that I have something the right length, and then a lot of editing. It's very much a sort of compiling, not starting from one big thing but just building up a bunch of little things. At least that's how the current WIP is going.
     
  7. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    ===========

    My detailed outline and beat sheet.
    With that guide as a roadmap I find it easy to keep writing.
    I can write faster better easier not being distracted by trying to figure out where I am going at the same time I am writing.
    It is easy to get into the zone and let the words flow from brain to screen at >100wpm while getting better writing than if I were doing it at a conscious deliberate level when you already know the picture you are trying to paint with the words.
     
  8. ddavidv

    ddavidv Senior Member

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    Yes!
    When my heroine is trapped in an overturned truck and her tormentor is lazily smoking a cigarette as the spilled fuel meanders closer to him. She struggles to reach the pistol before he can flick the glowing butt into the trail of gasoline.

    When my MC goes to the place where the dead return to heal the ones left behind and finally finds out who he has unknowingly been pining for all these years.

    When the frightened, escaped white slave girl is running towards my heroine for help only to be gunned down mercilessly as the heroine watches.

    When the young schoolteacher who was abducted is dragged outside to be killed and the twelve year old boy who was kidnapped stabs the abductor in the lower back.

    Every detail of these scenes has been perfected over repeated 'viewings' in my mind. The tense climaxes where heroes are made, mysteries are solved and bad guys get their bloody comeuppance. Though I enjoy the entire journey, these climaxes are what drive me to complete the story. The interesting thing is that these scenes are never the end of the book; I typically continue on for several more chapters to wrap things up but also to try to leave the reader with a satisfying (and hopefully unforgettable) ending.
     
  9. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    Maybe you're a short story writer? That's not a bad thing.

    But like @Cave Troll said, a long story is not about one scene. It's about the evolution (I think you call it arc?) that gets the characters there.
    If you can't find it interesting enough to tell the reader their story, maybe you're not considering your characters interesting enough to write about.

    The medieval priestess removing her holy veil to reveal half of her face is severely scarred and burned and telling the story of how she left her abusive father to die in a house fire.

    Yes, but who is she? What kind of woman is she? What kind of abuse are we talking about? Tell us about it. Don't turn her into a generic victim who got even. Tell us what only she can know. Make us feel what she felt. What she feels about herself now that she got even. Tell us how she turned from a scared little child into... what she is now. The unique being she is now. It didn't happen overnight. There were turning points. Tell us about those.
    If you don't, your stories are not about the characters, they're about the shock value of the revelations. This works well on short stories. Longer stories need more meat to their bones.
     
  10. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    I like doing things a bit differently as well. It's half the fun of it.

    I actually have relatively few stories with romance, but I can't wait to get to the end of the 3rd book in my time travel series, as that's when the main MCs finally get together. xD

    That's an acceptable reply.
     
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  11. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    I've tried that kind of writing before.
    Problem is, I could never actually finish the manuscript. xD

    I know that feeling, although for me they're usually lower on the priority list than the one big thing I'm looking forward to.

    You sound much more organized than I am. What is a beat sheet?
     
  12. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    Yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about! You might have seen the other scenes in your head multiple times, but that specific one is like the one. And if you do it correctly, it'll be the moment that sticks with the reader.

    I think we have a misunderstanding here. It's not like I ignore all other aspects of good writing and focus on the twist. Or that I just do free writes of the specific scene I want without building up to it. I do enjoy other parts of writing as well. But if the story doesn't have that "I HAVE to get to this point" feeling, then it's hard to focus on that one and ignore all the other story ideas swirling around in my head. It isn't until I have those scenes, and there can be multiple, that I feel the urge to push that specific story forward. I still use character development and different kinds of pathos to appeal to the reader.

    As for interesting characters, I have dozens, if not hundreds of them. For every manuscripts I've completed, I have 2 partial drafts and 5 story ideas. So the issue is which set of characters get priority over the others. The ones that have that "I can't wait to see them do this" feeling are more likely to be focused on. And the ones that don't have it yet will likely be put on a back burner till I can come up with it.
     
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  13. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    =============
    A beat sheet is basically the sequence of scenes that are included; and ordered properly so they will flow like a row of dominoes getting toppled - like the Kinetic King did on TV.
    Occasionally some people will break the scenes down into even finer detail with action reaction etc.
    Some do not even do all the scenes but have a higher level view of the major events and can keep the needed scenes in their head. That is hard without a lot of experience.
    Rarely someone like Stephen King does it all in their head. Most of the others who try that have big problems.
     
  14. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Now that you mentioned it, I do have a central scene that keeps me chugging along, but that's usually the climax of the story. Before I start writing I should at least have an image or a scene of the climax/ending. It's what Stephen King does as well.

    With my current WIP it's one of the main characters sacrificing her lifeforce to save someone (the scene is more theatric and catastrophic in my head, but I'll save that until I get to actually write it).
     
  15. Anna100

    Anna100 Active Member

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    I'm the same as you. There's always a scene or a specific image in my mind that really stands out that I need to bring to life. But it's sometimes hard making a longer story out of it.
    Though these scenes doesn't have to be the climax, a dramatic scene or anything like that. Usually it's just an interesting or intriguing image/idea. Like for example a guy eating something mysterious at a restaurant, but then I go "Well, and now what?" Not that I have a hard time figuring out some kind of story to go with it, but it's keeping the interest in the story when in the first place I just wanted to write that scene in the restaurant.
    Maybe I should just stick to flash-fiction+(for now). :p
     
  16. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    Oh, I've actually done something similar to that before. I didn't know there was a name for it.

    There are usually some secondary scenes that can add excitement. I never have romance as the main focal point, but the romance ending up together is always one of those exciting scenes for me.

    I am a total believer in having the ending picked before you begin. Because a shitty ending can ruin the entire story.

    Oh yeah. The scene with the priestess (hasn't been written yet, gotta wait for Camp NaNo) isn't going to be the climax. So after that passes, I'll have to find the next scene to look forward to. Otherwise it'll end up like my medieval drama, temporarily stalled.
     
  17. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    ===========
    Beat sheet was borrowed from script writers. But is not uncommon among novel writing guides.
     
  18. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Be careful with stuff like this - its a movie term , where scenes and sub scenes are ordered and given numbers for easy reference... I've not seen it widely used in the way Joe suggests as a writing term
     
  19. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    Sorry. Yes, I misunderstood.
     
  20. The Scarred Servant

    The Scarred Servant Member

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    I keep with this specific story because it's like that wild animal that won't top following you, but it looks like it was ran over twice, with the cars reversing for good measure, so you don't wanna take it home. The characters, the setting, the crushed dreams; all of it. The story, no matter how many changed or modifications it's gone through, has been there since the beginning. It's this strange world hanging over the back of my mind that I can only tap into through writing, a world covered in mist, where the floor is swallowed by an ocean of clouds. It has a lot of people there, with their own stories, their own brow-raising quirks and their own plans for fucking over the world. There's many questions, so many secrets I know is under that surface of the unknown.

    I'm a curious person by nature, I don't like being confused, I don't like being in the dark; I have to find answers. I have to keep trying to write these stories, because I need to discover what the fuck is going on in this new world and see how the Earth compares.
     
  21. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    Ah, good to know. Fortunately for me, I'm not too preoccupied with using the fancy writing terminology anyway.
     
  22. tumblingdice

    tumblingdice Member

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    For me it's all about the characters. I get to know my imaginary friends a little more each time I write.
     
  23. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    I listen to a lot of peculiar music and recently I heard a song called Tetragrammaton and I think the song is about my story; either that or my story is about the song. Anyway, I want to complete this story to fulfill the desires of my cerebral cortex.

    EDIT: there is an alternative: I'm full of shit.
     
  24. dragonflare137

    dragonflare137 Member

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    Hmm, this is a question that I ask myself a lot. Maybe me asking myself the question in one of the reasons I keep going XD. As for an actual answer, I'm sorta all over the place. Part of it is logistical reasons. I have a series, and I want to get to the later books, but I gotta finish the first one first. I also really love my characters, and I love writing about them. There's also the motivation to get to the good juicy parts of the story that I consider my favorite parts. My last two reasons are less about the book itself and more on the outcome. I want to finish it so that hopefully people can love the characters as much as I do. I think that is my biggest one there. My last motivator is the fact that I want to give back to the people that have supported me, like my mom and my friends. I know I won't make much from being an author, but the small amount I get I want to be able to share with others. That's why I continue to do what I do.
     
  25. sprirj

    sprirj Senior Member

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    The desire not to work forever in my current job.
     

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