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  1. punchthedamnkeys

    punchthedamnkeys Member

    Feb 20, 2013
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    What was it like writing your first novel/story?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by punchthedamnkeys, Feb 21, 2013.

    I'm currently on the process of trying to come up with my storyline...

    I don't have much experience in writing yet, only having scrapped a few stories in the past that I was never really happy with. I would love to actually finish a novel (even if it's never published) and I do understand the amount of work involved in it all, especially if you want to write a good novel that's worth reading. I've never taken any proper writing courses before. The only experience I have in writing really are essay assignments from my English courses back in high school, which isn't a lot to begin with... I will admit that I'm a complete amateur with all of this but I'm hoping you can all look aside that fact and take me seriously. We all have to start somewhere, don't we?

    I'm having problem trying to piece together the storyline for my story. How do you guys usually go about doing this? I find it extremely difficult to be truly content with the storyline, always feeling like I need to add more to it. How do you prevent yourself from going overboard and adding too much to the story that it takes away from it? What is your writing process like? I understand that it's going to be different for everybody, but what would you suggest for a beginner? I'm all over the place right now and really need proper guidance.

    Even though I find this whole thing overwhelming, I really believe I got a good story and would love to go through with it this time around...

    Any other advice or suggestions you can give me is very much appreciated.

    Thank you!
  2. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Oct 16, 2012
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    As for the rest of the answers, you'll find them in various threads. You've basically asked everything at once and it's a lot to answer.
  3. BitPoet

    BitPoet Member

    Dec 22, 2008
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    Southern Germany
    It'll probably not be helpful if I write about my first novel-length story, because I started that with nothing more than a plan for the major conflict, a hazy idea about the closing scene and one character in my mind. I stumbled somewhat aimlessly through the whole thing, and keeping myself motivated really got hard after about 50000 words. I did manage to finish it, but I was far from pleased with it, the scenes seem stereotypical, the characters are more like cartoon shapes and there are so many unrelated detours that revising it would be a job for a lifetime.

    Since then I've tried all kinds of writing tips from others and from books. I really tried to do detailed outlines, but that became so tedious that I ended up with thirty pages of useless plot outline that I threw into the trash because it made me resent the story.

    I've found what works for me though. My outlining nowadays consists of a lot of small index cards. I create twenty to thirty of those for major scenes I want to have in the story, roughly the same number for important world details and one for each character with just the basic traits on the front and their motivation, main conflict and a one-sentence backstory on the back. They're not all fixed, I allow myself to throw away some of those cards while the story progresses and add new ones, but only if I have the strong feeling that it gets me closer to the theme of the main conflict, otherwise I file new ideas away for usage in a different story. I now write from scene to scene instead of from the opening to the ending, which makes the whole task a lot easier to stomach and I hardly ever find myself stuck without direction. It has, in the long run, almost tripled my word output, and I have a lot less editing to do.

    The hard thing was finding the balance between having too little information to use as a crutch when the muse hesitates with her input, and too much information so it becomes constricting. That is something that changes from person to person, so you'll have to do some trial and error to see what's best for you. Some writers like to draw maps and places to help their fantasy onto the tracks, but I couldn't even draw a straight line if my life depended on it.

    Another important thing I learned is to not pre-edit while I write. I've got superfluous information in my scene? OK, I know, I take a note about that for when I revise, but for now it can stay where it is. I feel I left something out? I do the same. Then, when I revise, I often find that the superfluous information can be worked into the story as a tool for a later scene, or that the left-out bits need some ground work in an earlier scene anyway. Through that approach, revision has become the stage where I knit all those side plots together to give the story depth and make it vibrant and meaningful.
  4. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
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    Near Los Angeles
    As far as writing process is concerned, read this thread. Many of us have discussed our processes there.

    Go to the General Writing section (where we are now) and look at the thread titles there. Most, if not all, of the questions you have as a newbie writer have been asked there before and discussed nearly to death. Warning: it might take you a few weeks to read all that stuff! :)

    Anyway, welcome to the forum and enjoy yourself!
  5. creative_nothings

    creative_nothings Member

    Feb 16, 2013
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    Anchorage, AK
    punchthedamnkeys, I'm in the same boat. I've been writing on and off since as far back as I can remember but my biggest problem lies in the follow through. I can lay out a story, build the world in which it takes place, develop my main characters to death, but when I actually sit down and start to type sentences into paragraphs into pages, I fall flat on my face. I'm also very critical of myself which I've found hampers my ability to get very far into writing a story. Ultimately, it's why I'm on this website :) Look through the forums, post some of your dilemas/questions, get feedback, and see what works for other writers like I am doing. Sorry I couldn't be more help to your present question but I felt the response necessary and if you ever need help with anything or want feedback on something you've written feel free to PM me on here. Best of luck to you!

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