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  1. LimitlessLiterature

    LimitlessLiterature New Member

    May 31, 2015
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    When starting a new project, what do you recommend focusing on first?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by LimitlessLiterature, Jun 28, 2015.

    When starting a new project, such as a new novel or series, what do you recommend I start on first? By 'what' I mean plot, characters, setting, etc. I'm looking forwards to starting a fantasy series this summer and I could use some advice on where and how to start. I haven't written anything substantial in 3 whole years since I've been so busy with high school. Now that I've graduated, I'm realizing that I can't remember how I used to write. I've been trying a few things but I never end up getting anywhere. I start one idea but I can never seem to expand it. If I do end up expanding an idea I eventually end up realizing that it isn't original.
  2. Saralyn

    Saralyn Member

    Jun 10, 2015
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    First I picked my genre, then location of the story, next formed my characters, and researched / made my story outline.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
  3. EmptySoul

    EmptySoul Active Member

    Jun 4, 2015
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    A coffee shop where it is always 3 am.
    I write down those aspects of the project that inspired it, print them, and place them above my computer screen so that they stay in the forefront of my mind. As more inspiration hits, I add to the paper.
    Lea`Brooks likes this.
  4. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Nov 30, 2006
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    Ohio, USA
    I am not sure there is a 'right' answer as to what to focus on first.
    Some people start with the world for fantasy. Others have characters. Others a plot comes first.

    I can only tell you what worked for me.

    The initial thought that sparked the novel occurred while I was driving home from work. I was thinking about a few of the books I’d recently read (or more accurately reread), Zelazny’s Guns of Avalon and Harry Turtledove’s World War: In the Balance. One of the main turning points in Guns of Avalon occurs when Prince Corwin finds a way to get gunpowder to function in the magical city of Amber. In the Balance is about an alien invasion during the height of World War II. The disparity in technology between the invaders and humanity is a major element in the novel’s conflict. Then I began to ponder, what would happen if a dragon encountered a World War II aircraft? Okay, maybe one can see how the line of thought formed. From there I began to devise a world where such an encounter could take place.

    Then came the people and creatures that would inhabit the world, how it came to be, and the long-running, multilayered power struggle that would come to influence events in the plot that I was devising. Finally, came Krish and Lilly, Roos and Road Toad—the main characters in the novel.

    So for me the focus/order was:
    1. Idea
    2. World
    3. Plot
    4. Characters

    Good luck with whatever route to writing you take this summer!
    thirdwind likes this.
  5. izzybot

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Jun 3, 2015
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    SC, USA
    I start with characters first, typically. Occasionally I get a really cool idea for a plot or a setting and I'm like "well now I need characters for this," but usually I get ideas for characters and then my entire writing process is just coming up with cool stuff for these characters to do, hahah. I'm pretty much still just a kid with new toys coming up with stories to justify smashing them together and throwing them down the stairs, tbh. My work tends to be very character-driven as a result. It works out best for me because I feel like as long as I love my characters, I can put them in any kind of setting and enjoy writing, but if my characters are dull then the setting isn't going to feel particularly lively. Plot's a little trickier - likable characters can only get you so far, but imo a really great plot can still be 'meh' if none of the characters are engaging.

    So, yeah, I'd recommend characters. But plot is a close second / tied for lead, for me. Setting is something that doesn't have to be as strong in my opinion, given that something can be set in someone's living room and still be really great - though if you're doing something genre-y it can be a pretty big deal. Oh right, and genre. Who knows? One day I sat up and went "it's time for me to write about magic again" and my current projects at the time were too real life-y or too science-y, so I started building an urban fantasy 'verse and that's how that happened.

    Really I'd say whatever appeals to you most is what you should grab and hold onto and build from. For me it's characters.

    Welcome back to writing! :> Good luck, have fun, try not to lose your mind in the process etc.
    drifter265 likes this.
  6. Masked Mole

    Masked Mole Contributing Member

    Apr 24, 2015
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    I think of characters first most of the time. Mainly, I think about the protagonist's occupation and how that could make for an interesting story. Then I form the plot around the character's job. It might sound strange, but it's worked quite nicely for me.
  7. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Jul 27, 2011
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    Can't tell you how a planner gets started. I come up with either a character or a circumstance in need of a character, and start writing about them.
  8. Tesoro

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 3, 2011
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    A place with no future
    I usually start with the general idea, then the characters (they are already partially formed when I know the story). Then comes the setting (again, I usually already "know" where it's set when I get the idea, at least country and sometime even the town) and last the plot. THEN comes writing.
  9. drifter265

    drifter265 Banned

    Jan 29, 2013
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    Well what starts the idea? Is it a feeling or an event? Feeling being the emotions your main character feels and event being something spectacular happening but not necessarily to one of your main characters.

    Whichever it is, build on that. Why does your character feel this way? How did this event happen? Then just kind of think of it like dominos falling and let the story grow from there out of cause and effect.
  10. AlcoholicWolf

    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

    Oct 30, 2013
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    Let your work stem from your inspiration and your first thoughts. What do you have in mind?

    My story is about a journey. Well, many journeys. And I knew there was going to be a Great War. So I made my map first.

    Is your story character driven or plot driven?

    Is it a coming of age story? What takes precedence in your mind?

    It shouldn't be forced... You should have all these vague ideas floating around already and have lots of inspiration to go from. And if not, go outside, read a book, and get inspired!
  11. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

    May 11, 2013
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    Virginia, United States
    I think every person and every story will go through a different string of production.

    Normally, everything comes to me at one time. The basic plot, the main characters, and the setting. I write down my general idea, just the shell so I don't forget, then free write until it starts coming together. But typically, I make sure I have my main characters squared away before I start anything else. Because to me, I don't tell the story -- my characters do.

    Once I get the main characters done, I move on to the plot. I let them go in a way that feels most natural to them. Typically during this time, the setting just fills itself it. Also, the minor characters start to come up too.

    So I guess for me, I work on everything simultaneously. lol I try not to think about it too much and just let it happen naturally. Trying to force something is how I end up with writer's block. :p

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