I have a question:

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Pryde
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I have a question:

Post by Pryde » Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:04 am

So I expressed a desire to a friend to basically write a story I've already written (though I guess "started" is a more accurate term) using a character I've already created (one of my characters from here) but in a separate story in a separate universe (cause copyright). So I asked her for help in brainstorming up a short description of a possible setting just to get started. Next thing I know she's telling me to just start writing the first chapter (which is ironic cause the first chapter is technically already written, it's just riddled with a lot of Star Wars references I need to replace) and I'm like I can't do that, I have to figure this other thing out first. Her response was that with novels it's all about "just starting."

Now a bit of background on this person. She's published two books so far, the first one was, well--um probably best I don't say. The walls have ears... >.> Anyway, my question is (cause I know a few of you have written or published books) what is your approach to writing? Do you plan it out first? Plan some of it out? Or just start?
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Re: I have a question:

Post by Cadden » Sat Jun 04, 2016 1:46 am

I've tried all three, and it doesn't seem to get me far, in either case. :(

In my last attempt to write something serious (read: not SW:E-related), I scoured around for advice from my favorite author, Mr. Martin himself. This article helped me get started again. (Though, tbh, I've done very little in the past month or two.) Maybe it'll help you, as well.
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Re: I have a question:

Post by Jagtai » Sat Jun 04, 2016 3:17 am

I always plan too much, and never get around to actually writing. I think maybe the best approach is the middle ground. You need basic info - a framework, if you will - but the minor details should be allowed to emerge as you write.

But what do I know, I can't focus on it long enough to actually write a story :P
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Re: I have a question:

Post by Enriler » Sat Jun 04, 2016 3:38 am

So much is dependent on you personally.

I spend weeks creating detailed and complex outlines... Doing research... And allowing the story to ocme together. Then I write.

My friend Stephend comes up with an extremely basic outline, and no specifics, and begins writinf from there.

I think it is safe to say that in order to figure out what you need to do, you need to make the decision that makes the most sense to you. Don't waste time trying to create the story in a way that doesn't feel natural to you.

If you have specific questions on story creation, PM me and I would love to go over various details.

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Re: I have a question:

Post by Pryde » Sat Jun 04, 2016 9:17 am

It's the prospect of "just starting" I find dubious. Like really, just start? Even though I know nothing about the world or it's political structure? What if I knew even less, like what if I didn't know who the characters were or what the plot was am I still supposed to just start? I mean I get it, nothing ever gets done if you don't start it but I'm pretty sure when authors give that advice they mean something like start when you're ready to start or start when you have something. I couldn't even possibly imagine starting a project like that from nothing. Even the stories I write here have a strong foundation because they're written in the Star Wars universe. I don't need to know what the setting is because it's already been created all that's left is character and plot.
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Re: I have a question:

Post by Archangel » Sat Jun 04, 2016 6:50 pm

Enriler wrote:So much is dependent on you personally.
This.

Personally, I find the "just write" phenomenon to be... well, baffling. If I "just write," I usually end up with a short story that's okay, but doesn't have much depth. My problem is that, without a very detailed plan, I know where I'm starting and where I'm ending (because those are the best parts), and then I just... go from A to B. So there's never any meat to the story. I have to plan everything--every conversation, every development, every foreshadowing, every hint, every Chekhov's gun, everything--and then write the story. (On the other hand, some of my off-the-cuff writing is some of my best, in terms of poetic quality, but that's often because it's more "emotional outpouring" than "high-minded writing." But I don't have enough emotions to emotionally outpour a novel.)

Now, granted, the story can change even as I'm writing. I've never thrown out whole plans before, but I've made some very significant changes mid-process. Usually, this is because of a gap I discover in the plan, or I think of a better thing later, or I decide I want to kill (or not kill) a pivotal character in a certain place. (I'm not kidding; I like killing characters. Usually, that's the problem, and not the other way around. Death scenes are the bee's knees.)

But I know for certain that other writers have completely different processes. I look at it like the difference between a Shakespearean actor and a Method actor. I'm Shakespearean. Those people who say, "Just start writing! It'll work from there!" and, "Sometimes, I have to let the characters tell me what happens next in my story," and, "I don't know where things are going to end up until I get there," well... they're Method actors.

Or... Method writers.

Or whatever.

But you get my point.

It's also a fairly fluid spectrum, so you don't have to stick to one extreme or the other. Based on what I've seen of your writing style, and some of the things you've said, I'd say you're much more middle-ground than I am (or your friend is), and you'll need to decide exactly where you fall, based on how you prefer to write. For example, you often get excited about threads/stories, and you start writing, and four or five (or fifty) posts in, you decide that your character(s) have gone off the rails to a place you didn't want. (A Method writer would say, "Good! Now they'll tell the story they want to tell!" and I look at them like this: :raisedbrow: ) To avoid that, having a more detailed plan will help, but you probably don't want to tie yourself down too much.

Having said all of that, I think most writers would insist on some setting planning. Unless you've got all your ideas laid out in your head and can work from those, I think it's important to establish things like, "There's a galactic kingdom that spans a million star systems, and our story mostly takes place in the lawless outlands, where vagabonds take advantage of poorly funded security forces to pillage cruise liners using small boarding craft. FTL travel is achieved with wormholes/space-time pinching/it isn't. Ships are mostly saucers/rockets/functional/aesthetic. The sitting ruler is a queen that most people think is stuck-up, but she doesn't feature in our story directly. Earth is/isn't a place that people know about/have ever known about. There are/aren't aliens that are/aren't superior to humans in every/some/any respect(s)." Etc.

Alternatively, I think the "true Method writer" route is to have your editor fix all the times you screw up and don't keep those details straight.

But I'm my editor, so that plan doesn't really help me in the long run.

EDIT: I feel I should clarify, because in a lot of ways, pre-planning is more similar to Method acting than not, but what I mean is this: to a Method actor, the character they play is real; to a "Method writer," as I've called them, their characters are "real," and can "tell stories," and inform the writer themselves about what will happen next. I have no illusions of reality about my characters. They're just words on a page, and that's all they'll ever be. Any semblance of reality is for the benefit of the reader, and serves primarily as a vehicle for what I want to say.

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Re: I have a question:

Post by Pryde » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:05 pm

I watched a video recently where a professional archer debunked that whole Lars Anderson video where he claims he "rediscovered" an ancient way of shooting. The woman who made the video had said repeatedly throughout that archery is about what works and I've always thought that writing was the same way (or any kind of art, really. Music, painting, poetry, I bet you could apply that same principle to all of them). I mean in all the classes I've taken on the subject a lot of what we've talked about is stuff like does this work with the story? Is it important? If not take it out, keep what works.

Maybe "just start" works for her, but I know it doesn't work for me. I can't start unless I have a clear idea what I'm doing, where I'm going and who's coming with me. That's partly why Faye isn't in any of her own threads yet. I have a pretty good idea of the character but I don't have a what, where, why? I'd like to put her in a thread but first I need to figure out what to do with her. I can't just open up a new topic and just start typing and see what comes out.

Felicity's story, Isis' story and even Jess' story were pretty much already written before the threads were even posted so writing the first chapter or the first post for those threads was easy as pie. I had a setting, I had a character and I had a plot, everything I needed to have to start writing. Didn't have to be too detailed but it did have to be something. Now my current project I have character and I have plot but I'm missing my third pillar. That's why I turned to my friend hoping she could maybe give me some ideas about what the world looks like, buuut instead she told me to start writing chapter one. That's going to be difficult when I get to the part talking about how Isis dropped out of a military academy without explaining whose military or why that nation even needs one in the first place. ><

Plus we both seem to have very different ideas of what constitutes "a lot". Like all I want is something along the lines of that brief introduction you see in the front of every Firefly episode (Earth got used up, humans colonized space, alliance started a war, etc.) and I really don't think it's that much. Like I'm not even really delving too much into the history here, but she seems to think that's a lot or something, I don't know. That's why she's telling me to start writing right now because apparently I'm trying to do "too much".
"Ol' Doc doesn't hide, he hibernates." -- Doc, Star Wars: The Old Republic

"What do you call it when you kill someone and take all their stuff?"
"Adventuring!" -- Tallis and Hawke, Dragon Age 2.

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Re: I have a question:

Post by Enriler » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:47 pm

Pryde wrote:I watched a video recently where a professional archer debunked that whole Lars Anderson video where he claims he "rediscovered" an ancient way of shooting. The woman who made the video had said repeatedly throughout that archery is about what works and I've always thought that writing was the same way (or any kind of art, really. Music, painting, poetry, I bet you could apply that same principle to all of them). I mean in all the classes I've taken on the subject a lot of what we've talked about is stuff like does this work with the story? Is it important? If not take it out, keep what works.

Maybe "just start" works for her, but I know it doesn't work for me. I can't start unless I have a clear idea what I'm doing, where I'm going and who's coming with me. That's partly why Faye isn't in any of her own threads yet. I have a pretty good idea of the character but I don't have a what, where, why? I'd like to put her in a thread but first I need to figure out what to do with her. I can't just open up a new topic and just start typing and see what comes out.

Felicity's story, Isis' story and even Jess' story were pretty much already written before the threads were even posted so writing the first chapter or the first post for those threads was easy as pie. I had a setting, I had a character and I had a plot, everything I needed to have to start writing. Didn't have to be too detailed but it did have to be something. Now my current project I have character and I have plot but I'm missing my third pillar. That's why I turned to my friend hoping she could maybe give me some ideas about what the world looks like, buuut instead she told me to start writing chapter one. That's going to be difficult when I get to the part talking about how Isis dropped out of a military academy without explaining whose military or why that nation even needs one in the first place. ><

Plus we both seem to have very different ideas of what constitutes "a lot". Like all I want is something along the lines of that brief introduction you see in the front of every Firefly episode (Earth got used up, humans colonized space, alliance started a war, etc.) and I really don't think it's that much. Like I'm not even really delving too much into the history here, but she seems to think that's a lot or something, I don't know. That's why she's telling me to start writing right now because apparently I'm trying to do "too much".
The question becomes... How can we help? Are you just looking for that "intro to Firefly." If you are, I'm sure we (and by that I mean the lovely Exodus folks who enjoy sharing their opinions) can give you a bunch of launching points to choose from.

Or if you want more details, or more brainstorming, I know I'm willing to help with that. And from the sound of it, others will be as well.

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Re: I have a question:

Post by Cadden » Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:59 am

This is how I see it, in the "just write" perspective:

If you know what it is you're writing about, and it's your story, your setting, your scenario, then, yes, I would personally recommend "just write."

IF that's what works for you.

However, yes, in your case, if you're missing a key element that enables you to write, then "just write" is about as useful as an umbrella in a hurricane. That would be like joining anyone's thread, here, and they just up and say, "Don't worry about where it's going, just write." I like the idea of "just write" if you're already equipped with everything you need and you just need to get started, or if you're using it as a writing exercise (getting over writer's block, so pumping out a short story or two to get your creative juices flowing). But I wouldn't recommend that method when you're writing in someone else's story/setting. I would never use "just write," personally, in those instances, myself. But I find it works well enough... for me... in my own stories.

Maybe just ask her for some additional direction. If she wants you to write in that story/setting, then she should, hopefully, be willing to equip you with what you need. Examine how you're asking your question(s). Maybe she's thinking you're looking for a script to follow when you're just asking for the story pitch?
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