Advice for a new writer

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emmao1111
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Advice for a new writer

Postby emmao1111 » 09 Sep 2010, 12:28

Hello everyone,

I have just had an amazing story dropped into my head. I'm pretty sure it can't be the product of my own imagination because it's far too complicated and intelligent for me to have come up with in between work and managing two small children!

Because of the restraints on my time I am wondering if anyone can share any hints or tips that will help me structure this amazing tale into a book?

I am filling pieces of paper at the moment with diagrams of family trees and details of pivotal points in the plot and plan to spend all afternoon sticking them all over my dining room walls in an attempt to make sense of it all.

Any other handy ideas would be VERY gratefully received. I have never attempted anything on this scale before and I am feeling a little overwhelmed by it all!

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Re: Advice for a new writer

Postby Donata » 09 Sep 2010, 14:27

Keep on doing what you're doing! sounds exciting!

Good luck,
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Adele
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Re: Advice for a new writer

Postby Adele » 14 Jan 2012, 11:29

There are three main ways of approaching the task of writing a novel. The first is to dive in and write the whole of the first draft, and let the book take its own shape and direction as you write. The second way is to plan every chapter in detail, so you know in advance exactly what will happen where. The third way is a combination of those two.

If you have never done any creative writing before then, as with any craft, it's a skill which has to be learned and practised. Maybe you could join a writers circle local to you, or take a creative writing course at college. I'd avoid online or correspondence courses; I've a low opinion of the real benefit to the purchaser of those.

Once you begin the task of writing your novel, don't try to make it perfect immediately. Complete the first draft then set it aside for a month before looking at it again, and then go over the text and improve it. Remove waffle, delete plotless conversation, tighten prose, shorten descriptions etc. One of the most useful 'how to' books about writing, or so I've found, is Stephen King's On Writing, and while this is partially autobiographical he also sets out practical writing advice, and I recommend picking up a copy of this book.

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Re: Advice for a new writer

Postby Duellist » 14 Jan 2012, 13:30

If you ever wanted a book on how the heck you are meant to go about writing, I cannot recommend On Writing by Stephen King enough. It is half 'this is how I did it' and half really good advice on what it takes. I am not a fan of his work (or wasn't, but then I started reading the Dark Tower) and yet he makes so much sense that I even recommend him to students when I lecture on games writing.

The British schooling system has its flaws, but all those lessons on writing stories (which I hated at the time) actually help. Structure, plan and understand your story's flow and pacing, then sit down and write the damn thing. I have to have deadlines or I never get any work done, a flaw most other professionals I know share, but I can fail to hit a 2k word target every day for a week and then write 10k in a day when I realise I have a week left before my deadline.

Edit:
I forgot to say one thing; if you want to make it your day job, sit down from 9-5 (or whatever) mon-fri and write. No excuses, no taking a day off because the muse is off sick (real writers don't have the luxury of writer's block if we want to get paid) and certainly no letting nay-sayers tell you that you are not doing anything constructive. If you don't have that time because of kids or commitments (or a day-job) then think of it as a weekend or evening job and set your working hours, which you must then stick to. Even if all you do it 7-11 every week-night or 9-5 Saturday and Sunday, you are putting in half a week's work.

It also doesn't hurt to read. Any good book is valid reading material. If you really cannot find the muse, pick up a good book and read for a while. It might inspire you if you are creatively-constipated, it might relax you if you are overstressed, but it usually helps. Personally, I avoid books in the same sub-genre when I write for fear of accidentally stealing ideas, but others find reading the same genre helps inspire them because they start seeing the missed opportunities or interesting incidental characters that they wish they could see in their own tale.
Sanity is overrated...

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Re: Advice for a new writer

Postby Twyrch » 14 Jan 2012, 14:11

Don't stop taking notes... even if in the middle of the night and you have a great plot idea or something, just get up and write it down. I always keep a pad of paper near the bed, so I can jot it down before I forget.

Once you have the bones of the story, just start writing. If you get stuck on a chapter or theme, skip to something else and connect them later. The point is to keep the creative juices flowing as long as possible, but don't force it either. You may only write a paragraph in one day and 15 pages in another and that's ok... don't give up or get discouraged. Just keep at it and it will all fall together.

Terry Brooks has an excellent book as well called, Sometimes the Magic Works.
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Re: Advice for a new writer

Postby Duellist » 14 Jan 2012, 23:19

Don't stop taking notes... even if in the middle of the night and you have a great plot idea or something, just get up and write it down. I always keep a pad of paper near the bed, so I can jot it down before I forget.
Oh yes, this is very good advice. I have about three notebooks so I always have one nearby; I used to keep one by the bed, one in my coat and one beside my PC.

I find that there are two places where I am most likely to have my big ideas; in the bath and on the toilet. Some part of me thinks that it is my subconscious mocking me, but it is more likely that these are the two times that I am most likely to have nothing to do and so my mind is free to wander a little and maybe start to form new ideas.
Once you have the bones of the story, just start writing. If you get stuck on a chapter or theme, skip to something else and connect them later. The point is to keep the creative juices flowing as long as possible, but don't force it either.

The other trick (borrowed from Steven King) is 'blow something up' and this actually seems to work. It doesn't always mean that you must literally create an explosion, but there often comes a time when your story reaches a natural state of equilibrium and needs some kind of unexpected and/or external force to nudge it back out of its rut.
You may only write a paragraph in one day and 15 pages in another and that's ok... don't give up or get discouraged. Just keep at it and it will all fall together.
Oh yes... I have written 400 words in an 8-hour day and seemed to spend more time at the coffee machine than at my desk. It sucks and it is even worse when you have to hide your lack of productivity from your boss. Much as I might say that professional writers are not allowed writer's block, there will be days when you just can't get a break...
Sanity is overrated...


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