I've decided to take a break from my fanfiction mess and write a simple original fiction.

Bramandin

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I've bitten off more than I can chew with a multi-character thing, so I'm going to give it a rest until I'm better or stop caring about it being good. :p

First off, I'm including a picture of my writing books at the bottom, save for the general creativity/drawing books and Scott McCloud. Which one should I use as my main guide? I can also afford one new one like Save the Cat or Save the Cat writes a novel.

Second, does this sound like something worthwhile?

The protag is going to be a very minor character from my fanfiction. He's an ordinary person in a world with magicians, sorcerers, undead, and gods that may or may not exist. He's an orphan that was taken from his home city after stealing food offerings from a shrine to a goddess, given to a couple that lost their son, and is raised among misotheists. (He's going to wonder why his luck improved after stealing from a luck goddess.) From there, his adventures brush up against something bigger happening, but he's never a key player. He spends most of his life gathering news for a sorcerer and working as a clerk for a government official. Then he gets his village involved in a mess with where he was born, but the instigator is the person that got him adopted. I'm not sure where it would go from there, probably have it end with him running a refugee shelter or becoming a diplomat.

I think I can rip out most of the worldbuilding that's connected to the source of the fanfiction and replace it with mythology, as in what he knows might not all be true. (I might take a Name of the Wind approach where it's supposed to be a guy telling his life story, but he gets distracted and includes long stories that he heard in childhood.) Other than the intelligent undead, there are two other races and I need to change the origin stories for all of them. I can probably get away with keeping the tech/magic divide on those races; they had been missing from the world for thousands of years and I do need to figure that one out because that is open knowledge. Humanity got to the industrial revolution and then the zombie apocalypse went on for long enough that they've been stuck just before the point of getting back to the industrial revolution for a while. Having humanity mostly reduced to one city during a zombie apocalypse isn't unique, is it? No one person owns it?


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Bramandin

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Have you considered writing your own story with your own character?

The minor character from my fanfiction is an OC. So is everyone he interacts with. I swear that Youtube stalks what I type because it offered me a video about filing off the serial numbers... and I think with how much I've had to worldbuild for the fanfiction, I think I just literally have to change the number of Elements of Harmony that world has, rename the characters, and replace Hell with a spaceship. Heck, I might just have to rename characters, depending on how much he interacts with the lore.

I could come up with something completely original, but I think his story would be interesting to see from his viewpoint. Besides, if I try to be original, I'm probably going to end up with a less murdery Game of Thrones clone.
 

therapist

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It sounds like you are over thinking things. And the things you are stressing about are not that important.

The synopsis you posted is fine. The greatest author in the world could take it and write a best selling masterpiece. I could take it and write something even my mother wouldn't read.

Don't worry about being unoriginal or derivitive or cliched, you can worry about that when you're a professional author. Just settle on a simple plot outline and try and see if you can write a coherent story.

As for your writing book question...I wrote my first book last year and it was utterly brilliant not good. But I had read all the best writing books, countless hours of youtube lectures; so how could this be?
I knew all the theory. None of it made my writing better. What I needed was to stick to the basics, practice applying the basics, learn why the basics work, practice getting good at the basics. And we all know what these are, they are written in every single writing book, blasted over every writer's blog, even stickied to the top of this thread. You'll never need anything else.
 

Bramandin

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Don't worry about being unoriginal or derivitive or cliched, you can worry about that when you're a professional author. Just settle on a simple plot outline and try and see if you can write a coherent story.

I'm not looking for it to be original as far as cliches. I want the elements it shares with the original canon to be able to be found elsewhere, 50-shades it enough that putting out a tip jar isn't dishonorable. An example would be if someone who started in the Power Rangers fandom kept the 5-man band and the giant robot and ended up with something that looks more like a Voltron ripoff.

As for your writing book question...I wrote my first book last year and it was utterly brilliant not good. But I had read all the best writing books, countless hours of youtube lectures; so how could this be?
I knew all the theory. None of it made my writing better. What I needed was to stick to the basics, practice applying the basics, learn why the basics work, practice getting good at the basics. And we all know what these are, they are written in every single writing book, blasted over every writer's blog, even stickied to the top of this thread. You'll never need anything else.

It's still going to suck, but I want to start sucking less. This is about improvement... and maybe getting a reader who isn't there because they're desperate for new fanfiction. :p Maybe I'll even have a dozen readers.

What are the basics, anyway? That's why I posted my craft-book pile and said that I could afford one new one. At my level, asking people to teach me is asking them to start as if I've only read and that's too much work to just ask someone for. Are character, plot, and conflict the basics? (I have read books where I'd have trouble pointing to what the conflict was.) Is pacing and actually structuring the plot a basic? I have been just opening up a word doc and blindly stumbling my way through putting words on the page and I'm pretty dissatisfied with the result even when I'm not unhappy with it.
 

JS Wiig

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Take advantage of the board challenges, and more importantly the corresponding feedback forums. Prepare your thick skin, as the feedback will be honest but constructive.

Writing and “publishing” several small pieces over the course of the year, and getting both reader reaction and focused feedback on them can be very instructive.
 

Bramandin

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Take advantage of the board challenges, and more importantly the corresponding feedback forums. Prepare your thick skin, as the feedback will be honest but constructive.

Writing and “publishing” several small pieces over the course of the year, and getting both reader reaction and focused feedback on them can be very instructive.

One thing I love about myself is that it's not a blow to my ego when someone has something to say about my writing that isn't praise. I go into it thinking that my writing is bad.

I don't understand the value of feedback on the 75-word ones. I've only done one, just looked at June's, and I feel like those are just how well a single paragraph can be constructed. I think the challenges work well with my method of just slopping something down on the page and it's just luck unless you can predict people's tastes.

I am looking forward to a longer challenge because while 300 words isn't much, it does require more thought. That's probably what you have to at least get the hook into the reader's mouth, probably safer to try to get it set and start wearing them down for the reeling-in.
 

JS Wiig

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I don't understand the value of feedback on the 75-word ones.

Unfortunately I can’t help you with that, other than to say you’ll never know unless you try. And by try I mean several rounds of stories and several rounds of feedback.
 

Swank

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I agree that the 75 and 100 word challenges have extremely little to offer a long form writer. 300s are useful.
 

JS Wiig

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Something to think about if you’re looking for utility in the very short form ie. 75 and 100 word challenges:

 

Swank

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Something to think about if you’re looking for utility in the very short form ie. 75 and 100 word challenges:

75 word stories written in that spirit don't get any attention. Winning 75 word stories are generally humorous pieces with a punchline or works that reference other fiction or world events, in my experience.

All writing is good experience, but if you are writing in the challenges for feedback in your overall writing, you'll generally be disappointed by what actually garners interest. IMO.

I do the 300s here and the 1000s on another board. I wish there were more challenges that ran to those lengths. They can be written inside of an hour, so they aren't necessarily huge commitments, but they have more to offer than shorter forms for developing prose, narrative and character.
 

therapist

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What are the basics, anyway?
Well what have you read/watched about writing?
You sound like a methodological writer and I think you approach it similar to me. So i'll give you some things that really helped me. And helped me understand what i was doing. Because before I really got into writing I was just stumbling around in the dark, writing short stories with no real direction or any idea about the basic bones of a story.

Firstly, listen to this 15 minute podcast Writing Excuses 6.10: Scott Card’s M.I.C.E. Quotient
That will help immensely with figuring out what kind of story you're writing, it can be applied to scenes, chapters, and overall plot.
And secondly, if you are outlining, you should be familiar with basic plot structures. There are many different models. 7 point plot, hollywood formula, 27 point plot, 3 act structure, hero's journey, Dan Harmon's story wheel, Dan Well's story structure. They all share similarities and have similar shapes.

And if you haven't seen them, give Brandon Sanderson's lectures a watch. They will help you with the more sci fi/fantasy elements with your story, and cover all the basics you'll need for writing.
 
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Christine Wheelwright

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I don't understand the value of feedback on the 75-word ones. I've only done one, just looked at June's, and I feel like those are just how well a single paragraph can be constructed. I think the challenges work well with my method of just slopping something down on the page and it's just luck unless you can predict people's tastes.

I somewhat disagree with you and with @Swank. The 75-worder should not just be an exercise in writing a decent paragraph. Some folks actually manage to tell an engaging little story; setting a scene, developing it and bringing it to a conclusion with a message, a provoked thought, or a chuckle. The 75-worders can also provide an insight into your writing. The first time I type out my story it often runs to 120 words or more. I then hack away at it to remove any superfluous content, and I carry out some judicious rephrasing. When I compare the 75 word version with the original, I often prefer the short version. That tells me something!

Regarding the original post; yes, stop writing fan fiction! Well, I suppose writing anything at all is good practice, but why not be original? Invent your own world, beings to inhabit it and storylines to follow. I agree with @therapist above. Maybe slow down a little, don't worry too much about the details. That's a common mistake. There was a piece for critique recently where we were asked for opinions on whether a monster should be killed with a blow to the head or balls. The answer, of course, is that it doesn't matter; the story will either be good either way or bad either way.

A more specific piece of advice for you (again, related to slowing down). I sometimes have trouble following your line of thought. I think what you type makes perfect sense in the moment (because your meaning is clear in your own mind) but not so much to the reader later. Its alright, we all do the same thing. Going back over your writing a day or two later always helps in identifying those passages.
 

Wayne Mack

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I think you've probably done enough reading on writing. Here is a short (12 1/2 minute) video from Brandon Sanderson on getting started on writing a novel. He did it for NaNoWriMo, but the ideas are good for any context. Spend no more than 3 days on any prep work (and perhaps less than that). The two important steps are one, get started, and two, finish something. Just getting to a finished novel will put you ahed of the vast majority of the human race. Good luck and get started!

 

Bramandin

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Well what have you read/watched about writing?
You sound like a methodological writer and I think you approach it similar to me. So i'll give you some things that really helped me. And helped me understand what i was doing. Because before I really got into writing I was just stumbling around in the dark, writing short stories with no real direction or any idea about the basic bones of a story.

Firstly, listen to this 15 minute podcast Writing Excuses 6.10: Scott Card’s M.I.C.E. Quotient
That will help immensely with figuring out what kind of story you're writing, it can be applied to scenes, chapters, and overall plot.
And secondly, if you are outlining, you should be familiar with basic plot structures. There are many different models. 7 point plot, hollywood formula, 27 point plot, 3 act structure, hero's journey, Dan Harmon's story wheel, Dan Well's story structure. They all share similarities and have similar shapes.

And if you haven't seen them, give Brandon Sanderson's lectures a watch. They will help you with the more sci fi/fantasy elements with your story, and cover all the basics you'll need for writing.

I had to look up methodical writer and I think that fits. Since I'm pantsing, I have to remind myself of what goes before and if I see something that needs to be altered, I might as well do it right then.

It's been a while since I listened to writing excuses and I should start again. I've been into Alexa Donne lately. She used to be a fanfictioner so that fits into me reading some fanfiction-specific knowledge way back when. I think I also found Brian Sanderson videos and I should try to teach Youtube to offer me more. There are also some Neil Gaiman ones but I'm not sure how good that is for beginners. I'm not sure what else I know, though I did have to stop watching one person because while she might know what she's talking about, I don't think it's good for me.

Knowing that there are different types of plot helps. I think that one person was obsessed with the hero's journey and I don't think that's the type of story I'm writing.
 

Bramandin

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I somewhat disagree with you and with @Swank. The 75-worder should not just be an exercise in writing a decent paragraph. Some folks actually manage to tell an engaging little story; setting a scene, developing it and bringing it to a conclusion with a message, a provoked thought, or a chuckle. The 75-worders can also provide an insight into your writing. The first time I type out my story it often runs to 120 words or more. I then hack away at it to remove any superfluous content, and I carry out some judicious rephrasing. When I compare the 75 word version with the original, I often prefer the short version. That tells me something!

Regarding the original post; yes, stop writing fan fiction! Well, I suppose writing anything at all is good practice, but why not be original? Invent your own world, beings to inhabit it and storylines to follow. I agree with @therapist above. Maybe slow down a little, don't worry too much about the details. That's a common mistake. There was a piece for critique recently where we were asked for opinions on whether a monster should be killed with a blow to the head or balls. The answer, of course, is that it doesn't matter; the story will either be good either way or bad either way.

A more specific piece of advice for you (again, related to slowing down). I sometimes have trouble following your line of thought. I think what you type makes perfect sense in the moment (because your meaning is clear in your own mind) but not so much to the reader later. Its alright, we all do the same thing. Going back over your writing a day or two later always helps in identifying those passages.

I suppose 75 word challenges depend on how you approach them. It's not a hard and fast rule, but I aim for my chapters to be about 900-1600 words long. I do trim out stuff that doesn't need to be there, but in 75-word challenges I'm starting with a wordcount constraint so that influences the story. I'll see what happens with the 300.

Do you have something against fanfiction? Granted there are constraints that original fiction doesn't have, but it also saves a bit of work in the worldbuilding. But the details do matter if I want to pass it off as something that shares the same cliches as my inspiration instead of still being in a badly-done version of that world.

The train of thought thing is partly because I'm not spending days agonizing over my posts, but neurodivergence also gives me communication issues that are hard to overcome. A lot of things that would seem obvious to you take me a lot of thought and second-guessing to understand.
 

Swank

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I somewhat disagree with you and with @Swank. The 75-worder should not just be an exercise in writing a decent paragraph. Some folks actually manage to tell an engaging little story; setting a scene, developing it and bringing it to a conclusion with a message, a provoked thought, or a chuckle.
To be clear, I'm not saying 75 worders are bad, just that I think they have little application to learning to write longer forms because of the effort to make a story or joke with so few words. The result is something focused more on the zing and much less on the writing. Metaphor, prose, ambiguity and original concepts largely disappear in the service of plot and satisfying conclusion (or punchline).

Present company excepted, of course.;)
 

Aknot

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To be clear, I'm not saying 75 worders are bad, just that I think they have little application to learning to write longer forms because of the effort to make a story or joke with so few words. The result is something focused more on the zing and much less on the writing. Metaphor, prose, ambiguity and original concepts largely disappear in the service of plot and satisfying conclusion (or punchline).

Present company excepted, of course.;)
The ability to prune text is a helpful tool for any writer, creative or not. Limited count challenges is a method to work on that. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, for the purpose of learning I would still consider doing it or finding another alternative.
 

Swank

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The ability to prune text is a helpful tool for any writer, creative or not. Limited count challenges is a method to work on that. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, for the purpose of learning I would still consider doing it or finding another alternative.
And I do the challenges for that reason. But the 75 and 100 are too short to do much of anything but make a joke or produce a very simplistic morality tale. I'm speaking from both my experience doing them and reading the entries - and winners.

It is just my opinion, but I'm sometimes on the ball.
 

Toby Frost

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It sounds as if you've got enough how-to books. The one thing I'd suggest is to read fiction. Almost all the examples you've given are from TV, comics, anime etc, which work differently to novels. As well as understanding what the techniques are, you do need to see them used.

I'd suggest writing a fairly simple short story, with a linear plot. That way you'll be able to get some experience of plotting without the temptation to lose the plot, so to speak.

Do you have something against fanfiction?

In my case, only that it's not entirely yours. I've written for Warhammer 40,000 and it was a lot of fun, but the things I wrote can't ever be mine (certainly not in terms of IP!).
 

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