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The Ups and Downs of Writing

Beocat

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So, like many of you out there, I do enjoy a good book and some day, I hope I can sit down and enjoy reading a book I wrote on my own.  Does anyone else out there have a dream like that?  I've been writing stories ever since I was in middle school and I am forever thankful that I had an AMAZING mom who took the time out of her busy days after work to sit down with me and teach me to read all by herself, just because I asked her to.  Yep, I was reading before I even got into kindergarten and by the time I hit first grade, the teachers were parading me around to read to the other students (in hopes I would inspire them).  Back then, reading to my fellow classmates, I was on a fifth grade level and my love of reading has only grown since (along with my level haha).  Reading stories inspired me to excel and think and by the time I started writing my own, I had some pretty stiff convictions about what a good story would entail.  Character development.  No plotholes.  A setting and world so vivid you could see it around you as you read the page.

 

Like many people, I started out by writing fanfiction.  In actuality, fanfiction is GREAT practice for writing an actual novel.  It takes the world building component and the character building component out and lets you practice fleshing out a story.  The rise and fall of the plot, the subtle changes in the characters as they grow through a story, and the sculpting of a conclusion, wrapping up the story in a tidy bow.  Then, around five years ago, I decided to take the plunge and write my own story straight from my brain to the keyboard.  To create that world in its entirety and sculpt the characters from the vision in my head.

 

Sounds easier than it really is.  Needless to say, I wrote a great first chapter.  I've gone back and done some minor tweaking to it but that's where I'm stuck.  I've introduced one major character and now I need to introduce another.  The rest of the story I've jotted down in notes throughout the years.  I've researched different types of weapons and armor (it's a medieval fantasy type story), I've written background biographies for the various characters in the story, the main villain has been augmented so many times she is no longer recognizable from her first incarnation.  I know how I want it to start and I know where I want it to be, it's just the getting there that seems to be tripping me up now.  That and life pretty much stole all my motivation for the past four years...but that story is a tragedy that no one wants to read haha...

 

So, with all my extra time recently, I've started back writing.  I've tweaked my novel's first chapter and now I've started on a new story.  This new story is more of a "short story" meant to grease my writing gears again and man did I need it.  In just a few short days I burned out 37 pages of material (yeah...short...I know...) and that was just chapter one of my short story.  I could tell with every four to five pages that my writing was improving as well.  I think at this point I might be back to the skill of writing that I stopped with last time.  And now...the delimna....to continue writing my short story (and hopefully finish it...was planning four chapters).....or instead work on my old novel.  I think I've finally figured out the proper way to proceed (I need an actual introduction of the main group and protagonist before my other protagonist meets them...I could never figure out what was missing before but I suddenly see it for what it is now.).  I've already gone back in and revised the new story's first 20 or so pages.....

 

Decisions....decisions....  Doesn't help that now when I fall asleep at night I dream of two different stories meandering about in my head....  I might have to just drink some shots tonight and flip a coin to decide on this one.  Wish me luck, guys!

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I have exactly the same dilemmas, friend. Every time I start a new story, it starts very strong. Introducing characters and settings is the easiest part. I usually know where I want things to end (I may get more ideas as the story progresses,) but the meat in the middle of it all is where I struggle. Lately, I've taken to a sort of 'outlining my checkpoints' approach. I think of it as a timeline. I'll jot down the beginning and the ending. Then I'll make little ticks along the line, 'steps' or 'events' that lead to the conclusion. I consider cause and effect. From there I can get out the fine-tipped pen and fill in questions needing to be answered, such as how each event affects each character, and how they will react to it, and if those reactions affect the progression of the plot.

Writing a good story can be fun, challenging, and give you headaches at the same time. But I wouldn't quit writing for the world. Would love to read any piece you feel like sharing, @Beocat!

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That's great that you could write 37 pages in just a few days!  I've been turning over a story in my head since high school and I only have a document of rough notes and a few pages of prose to show for it; I keep telling myself that if I wait to write stuff down I can think things over more and make it better, but it's slow going.

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7 hours ago, Wedgy said:

Lately, I've taken to a sort of 'outlining my checkpoints' approach. I think of it as a timeline. I'll jot down the beginning and the ending. Then I'll make little ticks along the line, 'steps' or 'events' that lead to the conclusion. I consider cause and effect. From there I can get out the fine-tipped pen and fill in questions needing to be answered, such as how each event affects each character, and how they will react to it, and if those reactions affect the progression of the plot.

Writing a good story can be fun, challenging, and give you headaches at the same time. But I wouldn't quit writing for the world. Would love to read any piece you feel like sharing, @Beocat!

I do the same thing.  Filling in the timeline, noting where major character development happens and how things are going to go down is something I do too when planning out a story.  I think my main problem comes in dialogue of conflict.  It's hard to construct a conflict between two people for me.  It takes a lot of energy out of me but then most conflicts between people will.  Still, going to keep on writing.  Now that I've decided how I want to go about introducing this other group, I think it won't be long before I'm chugging along again on the novel.  :)

 

7 hours ago, Frith said:

That's great that you could write 37 pages in just a few days!  I've been turning over a story in my head since high school and I only have a document of rough notes and a few pages of prose to show for it; I keep telling myself that if I wait to write stuff down I can think things over more and make it better, but it's slow going.

I used to write around 6 to 8 pages a day but if I have the energy and the inspiration (and some good Frank Sinatra music playing in the background...surprisingly, it helps me write) I can write around 16 to 22 pages in a day's time.  It's rare that I have a good day though where the words flow out of me that fast.  Getting in the mood and having things set (and having the room clean before I start...a messy room is a big distraction for me) really helps.

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I'm late to the party, but....how goes the writing?? Did you ever decide between the short story or your main novel, perhaps you've been toying with both? :)

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