I've come to the conclusion............................

  1. anthorn

    anthorn Well-Known Member

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    I've come to the conclusion, that I am a man who wants to put every new idea he has into the story he is writing, thus stopping it dead and restarting and stopping and restarting. What is the point in coming up with ideas for the story, the same story, if no one ever sees it? What is the point in getting it perfect if no one ever reads it....

    Seriously, I have a grasshopper brain.

    Wrote 93,000 words of one character going from one country to another by herself, with the sister not turning up until book 2. Then changed that and wrote 120,000 words where the character then ends up getting escorted from point A to point B because I needed to keep one character in the story because he's the main character and he vanished for 100 pages. Now my brain is going, no you can't do that... That's not a plot, going from point A to point B to immediately leave again.

    Yeah......so I'm insane. I'm also thinking, that somewhere deep down, my subconscious is worried that I'm a one trick pony, a one story only kind of a guy, and so is trying to keep me from completeing this one.
     
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  2. Phyrebrat

    Phyrebrat ba-Ba-ba-brat

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    It's not clear whether you're asking for advice or not, but you know we Chronners always have that by the bucket-load. :D

    For what it is or isn't worth, here's my take on your predicament.

    1) I sympathise 100% as I've been in a similar position over the years, since 2011 with my one-and-only WIP. I am now on version 4. When I say 'version' I don't mean draft :eek: I mean complete new version. Whether that be rewriting it (I had not written anything until I joined Chrons in 2011 and had no idea of how to write), reworking from first to third, or changing the structure entirely. However, I persevered and here I am six years later with a strong grasp of it, improved technical writing skills, and the support of some interested (and influential <winks @The Judge > ) chrons people. I think what helped me outside of my attempts on my WIP was writing shorts, novellinarelles and novellettas (my made-up word for my too-long for shorts, too-short for novellas), and of course working on the challenges and SS here.

    2) I have seen posts here over the years where people have been advised to give up on their story and work on something else as it's never going to be right, or get finished, or myriad other reasons. Personally I think that's very subjective advice (I suppose all advice is). I know that my WIP is a lifeline for me, both in terms of my improvements, drive, and as a panacea for my depression. Allowing myself time to write my shorts lets my subconscious solve the problems in my WIP but it was a struggle to let go of the control we innately have as humans.

    3) Identifying whether you are a planning or discovery writer will probably help. In fact knowing yourself and finding out what your optimal practice is can be crucial. I know that people say 'just get it finished' or edit later, but I am a tinkerer+writer - often finding inspiration when I edit or reread previous chapters. I know this is also true for @Jo Zebedee who tinkers as she writes. Maybe we don't tinker on the level you do, so perhaps if you make side notes (I put my big-changes or research-demands in brackets when I am writing so they're easy to come back to later with a simple Search function) that might help you stop going through such massive changes as you're writing. But it's also imperative to allow yourself to work how you want to. Perhaps you're a hybrid writer, loosely planning and discovery-writing the gaps?

    4) The down side to your rewriting might not be your grasshopper tendencies, but indicative that something is not right. (Again, that was true for me, but then I began getting advice on gaps of my historic knowledge - actually they were chasms - and things started to coalesce.)

    5) Save some ideas. They might be cool, they might be compelling, but know they might work better in another story. And don't think or limit yourself into thinking you only have one story in you. You'll be surprised. And in that regard:

    6) It's not important whether your subconscious is telling you you're a one trick pony or not, but what might be important is that you've identifed this tendency to stop and put new ideas in.

    My advice would be to find someone - one or two maximum - who is/are interested in your premise, who you respect, whose writing you like, and bounce ideas off them. Give yourself permission to change your story if their advice is sound. But don't give up.

    pH
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
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  3. goldhawk

    goldhawk aurea plectro

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    None. When was the last time you read a story to someone? When was the last time you told a story of your own creation? If you want to write fiction, you must be a storyteller first and a writer second.

    Are you sure you are telling a story or a biography? Who is the antagonist? What is the protagonist's fatal flaw? How do they overcome it? How does overcoming it give them the key to defeat the antagonist?

    More advice:

    Strive for excellence, not perfection.
    Strive for distinctiveness, not originality.

    Both perfection and originality are far too rare for storytellers to rely on.
     
  4. Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee writes books about people.

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    I do tinker - but, and this is the crucial thing, I always work to the end of the draft before starting again.

    When I'm teaching writing I see people who are stuck in revisions all the time and it's the enemy of completion.

    Sometimes it really is a case of gritting your teeth and keeping going :(
     
  5. goldhawk

    goldhawk aurea plectro

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    I strongly disagree with that. What you get at the end is something neither you nor your readers would be interested in.

    Next time you write, pretend you are telling a story to your hero, the person you are trying the best to be like. It may be a famous author, or a teacher, or a relative. Whomever you look up to. You have something interesting and entertaining that you want to tell them. Now write it down. :)
     
  6. Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee writes books about people.

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    What I meant is that in every story I've written (borne out by most other writers I know who complete books on a regular basis) all hit a point where the going is tough. Where the plot won't work or the characters are flat. Where chucking it in the drawer and starting something shiny and new - or fixing that scene again - is easier. No writer I know doesn't get that. And the only way past that stage - and to complete the book - is to keep writing.

    Sure if the plot won't work go back and see if you can figure out why.

    But to get to the interesting and engaging point doesn't happen by magic - it happens through graft and nothing more. Which is where gritted teeth comes in. For me it's in the first draft. For others it's editing. But if you don't keep going when things get tough and instead seek out writing scenes as your hero and the easy scenes you don't reach the end.

    This becomes a job, eventually (assuming you want some monetary freedom and time to write). Every job becomes about stickability at some point. Any writer I know with books out there has to get to the end - and none I know would say they did it easily or by inhabiting their character and just enjoying it (I get near that with Abendau - I still want to chuck each book out the window at some point)

    Although I'd love it to be the case :) and, of course, all books have that moment of alchemy where it just works and is magnificent and you're a writing goddess.
     
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  7. anthorn

    anthorn Well-Known Member

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    I am a mixture of both, at least when it comes to characters. I have how the characters start out and how they end up at the end of the series. I also have a general idea of how I get to the end. On occasion though, I'll get halfway through with one character and it suddenly clicks that this doesn't make sense for them and gets derailed.


    All good advice. I did ask someone a while ago, and they said I am doing too much, that perhaps I need to narrow the focus. They also said I needed more characters and that I seem to be loading certain characters with backgrounds that could do for two. In the case of one character who is being chased by her family and looking for her sister. Why not make them two different characters. Which of course got my grasshopper mind thinking.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2017
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  8. EJDeBrun

    EJDeBrun Well-Known Member

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    The decision process is tough, especially when it comes up to ideas.

    I'd liken writing/storytelling to baking. I love cake! Cake is good! But you gotta choose your flavors carefully. Balance them out. Some flavors work, like chocolate and orange. Some flavors don't, like anything with durian. And make sure that what you end up with is something that resembles a cake. That OTHER people will call cake. If you can make a cake people will buy, hey! You reached the jackpot.

    Personally I think that the important thing is knowing what you're trying to say. What are you trying to convey with your characters? Your story? There has to be some kind of message. Doesn't have to be complicated. Just has to have SOMETHING. Sorta like the cake part of the cake! It can be a basic chocolate cake, and then all the other ideas you have are the frosting flavors. Or the slivers of fruit you layered in there. Or those chocolate caramel crunchy things. Whatever you choose, the MESSAGE, the CAKE has to be there. Or the whole thing collapses on itself.

    So maybe that will help guide you. It's not an outline per say, not hard core plotting. Just an examination of what you're trying to do.

    PS: tarts are good too.
     
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  9. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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    I can so relate to this. :D

    A couple of things I've learned so far:

    1. The phrase "Murder Your Darlings" exists for a reason. It could be a character, a setting, an idea, a beautiful sentence - whichever it is, you have to learn to ruthlessly cut them out where necessary to the story. Cutting them can feel like a big thing, but you can easily save your work as a new file before doing so - and afterwards, you may well wonder what you were ever worried about.

    2. Too many ideas are like too many chefs. You only need as many will be right for the story. Truly great ideas can be used in other stories. In fact, what you think may be one story may actually be a few different stories. In which case, focus on the one you really want to tell, and save the others for sequels or separate supporting novels.

    3. Brevity is everything. But it's so easy to overlook the needs of pacing and reading to fill in gaps you don't actually need to fill. All the truly essential parts of the story are the actual story - anything that isn't truly essential is just background that should probably stay in your notes.

    Hope that helps a little. :)
     
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  10. anthorn

    anthorn Well-Known Member

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    I want cake now........

    It helps, kind of, but now I really want cake. :)
     
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  11. dannymcg

    dannymcg Yan.Tan.Tethera. Methera. Pimp.

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    I want cake too.
    Or those chocolate crunchy caramel things....

    No, cake is the thing...
    FB_IMG_1497785839726.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
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  12. anthorn

    anthorn Well-Known Member

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    Murder my darlings...Hmmm. I probably do need to think on what is relevant and closer to the overall story. Even if I just end up shifting them to another book. I mean one character I could cut because I feel they don't have any agency. They get involved in the story because they end up hunted by assassins. They don't leave the country on their own decision, they leave because someone comes to their rescue and takes them. They lament the loss of a loved one even though she has the money to not rely on official sources to find them. Even in the other draft I had for her story there was no sense of urgency and that really came about because I needed to keep another character around instead of them vanishing for 100 pages. No reason why it couldn't be a short story by itself.

    2. Yeah. I think there's a case for that. I think myself, and maybe other people get caught up in the worry of which character you think the reader will like best, which situation would they like best, but really, you could write two really great characters who are your favourite and give them the best and most emotional story ever, and most of the readers will be like. What about the bakers boy in chapter 3? I want more of him.

    3. You mean like don't add chapters to fill in the blanks or expand relationships during a time when the reader could probably fill in the blanks that people will develop relationships over an extended period of time travelling together, especially when each chapter has a time jump of a certain time.

    This does help.
     
  13. Montero

    Montero Senior Member

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    And have an ideas folder. It might not all fit in this book, but there may be one where it will work.
     
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  14. pambaddeley

    pambaddeley Well-Known Member

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    Every scene in a book should earn its keep - either it furthers the plot or it develops character, but preferably it does both.
     
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  15. Charles Gull

    Charles Gull Auk Word

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    I like the cake metaphor and would actually take it a step further.

    As an author you are NOT baking cake. You are creating a recipe. The 'magic of writing' doesn't actually happen until your story is re-created inside the reader's head. THEY do the actual baking.

    This has two powerful implications:

    1. You mustn't make the recipe too complicated, otherwise no-one is going to be able to follow it.
    2. The cake they bake is NEVER going to be exactly the one you envisaged. A good cook always brings a little bit of themselves into the recipe.

    Remember, ideas for new recipes are great, just don't try and put all the ingredients into a single recipe. A truly great baker doesn't just make one cake. They have a whole display cabinet full of different kinds.

    Get one clean and tidy recipe on paper then move on to the next one.
     
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  16. EJDeBrun

    EJDeBrun Well-Known Member

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    Let them eat cake!

    Or pie.
     
  17. Charles Gull

    Charles Gull Auk Word

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    Or 'let them eat tart' (though that might be misinterpreted by some)
     
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  18. Dan Jones

    Dan Jones Refreshed

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    When Tolkien wrote LOTR he did so in waves. He'd write a first draft that would get him so far into the story, let's say up to the encounter in Bree, and then scrap it and start afresh, changing things as he went, and making it a little further into the story, let's say Rivendell. And then he'd stop, rewrite what he had again and change it and move things about and make it a bit further into the plot, say, Emyn Muil. And so on...

    Not the most efficient means of telling a story, but I think Tolkien would say that the ends justified the means in his case. And that's the point; everyone has different ways of achieving their end-goal. For me, I really plod through a first draft, changing the text as I go to try and get the lines right if not first time, then leaving as little revision as possible. This way a first draft might take me nine or ten sometimes frustrating months, but editing time after that is quick and efficient. Others will do things the other way around, storming through draft 1 and then spending more time revising. If you find you have to do extensive rewrites each time, then yeah, it might not be efficient, but if it works for you...

    And once you get to a story you're happy with, which includes all the things you want, then it's time to apply Brian's advice and start paring back, because it sounds like you will have overwritten, but if you need to go through that process to arrive at the destination, don't fight it; just allow it to happen.
     
  19. tinkerdan

    tinkerdan candycane shrimp

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    I think it can be hard process when you create your own world. However you need to know everything that you can about the world so you need to research it fully.

    That doesn't mean you use it all in your novel.
    I have a tough time with this one because I really do want to jamb it all into the story as quick and as much as possible.

    However the real story is usually not all that world building, but more the journey and the character development or in some cases the hero's journey which might be the perfect blend of both. Knowing your world completely you can chose what fits that story and if that means that you jamb too much in the first draft then it means you need to go back and strip out what isn't necessary or doesn't fit.

    I'm not a fan of killing my babies; however I've probably killed a few in the process though some might argue I haven't killed enough. That's going to be heavily weighted in the authors direction, so though someone else might question the inclusion of something--it might be vital to the story. Though when questioned, it might be good to look closely and find out what's missing that someone views it as filler.

    Sometimes they are right and it doesn't belong--you may be jumping the gun.

    Overall there is still a likelihood that much of your research will not show up on the pages of the novel, yet the work you did and the decision to exclude that data might likely make of the novel what makes it so appealing to the reader.

    Maybe not::
    ::However sometimes the journey is going from A to B to discover that the the journey has only begun and that's not a bad thing to do with your plot.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
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