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I want advice to start writing well before it's too late!

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Mon Feb 12, 2007 7:14 pm
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L says...

Well, here's the problem:

I want to start writing properly. I never write anything good, and definately nothing i'm actually proud of. I wouldn't dream of posting anything on here (unless it was a nightmare, an embarrasing nightmare.) And i was wondering if I can have all round advice and tips.
just on how to write a story, in general.

If you know what i mean, could you pass on your experiences? I had an idea i'm going to start about 2 people...hang on the storyline's strange. Well 2 people who have to keep moving around (for an unknown reason...possibly being chased...i odn't know) and they keep meeting people who have their own great stories/backgrounds/ was just something i could do when i got in and i was angry about something. I could make people up they have met and write about something i was angry about that day. That person would either have the same problem or an over exaggerated problem.

Did that make sense?

Oh i hope it did to someone... :oops:
Siggys' suck, I don't know what to say about myself. Doopeydoo...

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Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:02 pm
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ELven-Maiden says...

One thing.

Statitics show that 58% of our language is body language. 37% is paralanguage (tone of voice). that leaves only 7% for actual words.

Don't just dwell on diolouge. Focus on how your characters would react to certain things. have them cross their arms and legs and stare into a dark corner if they really don't want to be there. have them lean forward in their chair or play with a lock of hair. nervous habits, angry habits, frusterating habits...

Another thing.

A character's background will affect everything that character will do.

For example, i have a story about a warrior taking in a young thief out of compassion and making him his apprentice. the reason he has such compassion for the theif is because he grew up as one himself.

What would happen if i changed one thing in the warrior's life?

Let's say that he grew up as a beggar because it was too far beneath his dignity to steal.

The theif would get beheaded, the warrior wouldn't have had an heir, and the entire world wouldn've been destroyed.

all because we changed one thing in the warrior's past.

That's all i can say right now. good luck on your story!
Give me time, i'll crit your work XD I promise.
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"Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you."~Carl Jung, psychologist and psychiatrist.

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Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:21 pm
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Cpt. Smurf says...


I can't give you any advice on, say, style, as whichever style you naturally write in you will have to develop yourself. I can, however, tell you that the best way to improve your writing is to write. Even better, write on here. We won't bite. We can point out any mistakes, be them with grammar, sentence structure, spelling, etc. which you can then learn from and so improve quickly that way.

On writing a story, all I can tell you is that you need to have worked out what happens in the very beginning, a vague, basic outline of what happens in the middle, and what happens in the very end. Knowing the ending will give you something to aim towards. Once you've worked all this out, start making plot details. I suggest you carry a notepad with you, and whenever you get hit with an idea, scribble it down. The best ideas are generally the ones that come without forcing them, ie. they just come to you out of the blue. This way you can gradually build up details of the story, the characters, the enviroment they live in, etc. Once you're confident of the material you have, start writing.

I hope this helps. It works with me, but I understand that different things work for different people. Good luck, and I look forward to reading your work, if and when you choose to post it!

There's always been a lot of tension between Lois and me, and it's not so much that I want to kill her, it's just, I want her to not be alive anymore.

~Stewie Griffin

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Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:39 pm
xtenx says...

First of all, it's never too late to start writing :) It's great that you already have an idea- now just develop it. You have 2 people moving around- as the author, you need to know why they're moving, what they're running from, or where they're going- you don't have to make it obvious in the story right away if you want it to be suspenseful, but you should know yourself- it may even give you more ideas if you know what is motivating your characters.

It sounds like, if I understood correctly, that you are going to add characters randomly based on your personal mood? If that's the case, it's not necessarily a bad approach. I personally love structure, I love outlining- I love to know everything that is going to happen because I always think "why start writing if I have no ending in mind?" I reccomend planning ahead, but if you'd rather write based on your mood- go for it. If this is one of your first attempts then don't expect it to be your best. I think you'll find it easier to plan ahead after you've tried not planning...if that makes sense. I never used to outline or plan but when I never finished anything I realized how important it was to have it outlined before writing.

You get better as you write and as you read other works. Don't be disheartened- just keep writing and writing, and your personal style will develop.

So I just try, fail and try, and try again- and someday I swear I'm gonna get it. 'Cause I'm convinced, giving in is the worst thing there is.--Straylight Run

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Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:06 am
HeadInTheClouds says...

I think the best thing you can do right now if you are unsure about your quality of writing is to post some of it here. I know that seems scary, but posting your work on this site will get you un-biased, truthful reviews on what you're doing right and/or what you need to improve on. Getting your work out there will help you understand how to improve and get you used to having other people giving you constructive critisism.
If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad. ~Lord Byron

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Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:54 am
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Misty says...

Hmmm, it's hard to give advice, since I've never read any of your writing. Be brave, take the plunge and post it! Or, if you want, you can PM it to me and I'll PM you back. :P

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Tue Feb 13, 2007 5:31 am
Kitkat_1122_ says...

I would say that you should first try to plan out the overall outline of your story. Then for each chapter decide which important things that pertain to the plot are going to be in it. Next write your story. Then I would go over and set it aside once you finish. This allows you to forget a little of your story, which when you edit your story this helps you see which things you forgot to include. Then you edit. I would keep reading it and then waiting a couple of days and then editing it till you are satisfied. I would also ask some people that you trust to read over your story (or just some parts) and see what they think that you can do to improve your story.

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Tue Feb 13, 2007 6:50 am
Ohio Impromptu says...

Some advice that I wish someone had given me ages ago, that I've only just found, is that the best stories aren't necessarily the ones that require obscene amounts of research and deal with things far beyond what we're familiar with. Of course, these can be great, but if you want to create something that you feel proud of and comfortable with, and that will resonate with an audience, write about what you know. Even better, what you love. I used to feel like I was useless because my name wasn't Robert Ludlum, but once you delude yourself into believing that stories don't have to push the realms of fiction to somewhere they probably don't belong, you'll be a lot happier with yourself. If that makes sense.

In short, write from the space between the things you know and the things you don't need to know. Forget the things you don't know.

I'm not sure that's the advice you're looking, it's just advice I wish someone had given me, rather than having to find out the hard way.
Gone, gone from New York City,
where you gonna go with a head that empty?
Gone, gone from New York City,
where you gonna go with a heart that gone?

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Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:39 pm
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Shafter says...

Read writing books! Check out this, if you haven't already:
Actually reading some books about writing before I started would have saved me weeks, probably months, of rewriting. Just don't let them daunt you.

Also, love your characters. Love them so much that you can't possibly NOT write about them. Plot is good, description is good, but really, it's all about the characters.

Good luck!
Cheers, Shafter
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Tue Feb 13, 2007 10:37 pm
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smaur says...

Write something you want to write. Write about something you find interesting. Write about something that will hold your attention for long amounts of time.

Take the story where you want to take it. Which goes hand-in-hand with the last point. If you find yourself getting bored with the story, find a way to make it interesting for yourself.

Read. Read lots. Read all the time. Read everything you can find, be it short stories or newspapers or essays or novels. Read every genre you can find, every genre you can stomach, not just your favourite ones. Branch out. You can learn from them all, yes, even from the trashy romance novels and the pulpy thrillers. You can learn from good books and bad books — what to do and what not to do — and sometimes even the bad books have a couple of good things that you can pick up on.

Expose yourself to a variety of storytelling media — movies, t.v. shows, comic books, video games, whatever. Find out what makes them engaging. What makes them effective. Find out what makes them tick. Learn from them. Everything can teach you something.

Which segues nicely into this: be willing to learn. Know that you know nothing, etc. Be willing to learn from anything and everything.

Do things. Get up and meet people. Take up knitting. Adopt a kitten. Protest for a cause. Keep your eyes open — notice the little things and the big things and the little things put together with the big things: the sidewalk and the guy on the sidewalk and the song he's listening to as he walks down the sidewalk. Remember these things, for they will add to your stories later on. Anything can help you. Anything can inspire you.

Practice. I can't stress this enough. I know it seems like a huge cliché, and it really is a huge cliché, but that doesn't mean it isn't 100% on the mark. Practice all the time. Write on paper and in margins of homework and on the computer and in your head when you're waiting for the bus. Practice as much as you possibly can. Ultimately, this is probably the most important bit about writing.

And be patient. Or be prepared to be patient. Your writing probably won't improve overnight. Or after a week, or a month. It may take a few years, or even longer, for your writing to approach a level that you feel pleased with. Then again, it may not. But be prepared for the long haul.

It helps, sometimes, to compare your current writing to your writing of, say, two or three years ago. Sometimes it helps a lot. It's good to see where you've improved and grown, how your writing has matured, how your ability to tell a story has become more nuanced and more layered.

Broaden your horizons. For your own good and for the good of your writing.

Feedback isn't necessary, but it sure does help. Readers will give you fresh insight. Readers will let you know what you've done well and what you need improvement on. Be prepared, because not all of them will be very nice. Some of them (case in point: yours truly) will be downright unpleasant.

Take everything you hear about writing with a grain of salt. Including this post. Ultimately, the only person who knows what works for your writing is you. Which is to say, someone may suggest something that works very nicely for them, but is absolutely terrible writing advice for you. Don't be afraid to look at writing advice critically. Don't be afraid to think someone else is totally and one hundred percent wrong.

Off the top of my head, that's all I can think of.
"He yanked himself free and fled to the kitchen where something huddled against the flooded windowpanes. It sighed and wept and tapped continually, and suddenly he was outside, staring in, the rain beating, the wind chilling him, and all the candle darkness inside lost."

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Tue Feb 20, 2007 7:53 pm
L says...

Thank you all for your advice! It's really appreciated! I haven't been able to read them until today because i've been in Germany! I have started planning! Actually planning! I've never done it before! I've ventured into new teritory! And i have a special book to write things in that i've done new. I've started editing, and trying to do different things and read more.

But i have the most embarrasing problem. I find it really difficult to read something that doesn't have pictures. I can read on the internet because for some reason i'm more attentive when the writing's on the computer. In books...i just die. I can't read without pictures! But i've tried alternatives and i've tried harder with reading without pictures (because it's very baby-like and i want to grow out of it!)

Well i'm trying my best! And trying to stay as down to earth as i possibl;y can! Some things i write are too odd, so i'm keeping a balance on a special see-saw i've created in my mind of reality and the bizarre.
Bye bye! L
Siggys' suck, I don't know what to say about myself. Doopeydoo...

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Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:31 am
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Pacific says...

Another thing, too.
Go beyond your comfort zone. Keep asking, 'What if?'

To tell you the truth, I talk to myself. Literally. And I type out my conversation. And save it. This may work for you, it may not. I talk to myself when I get writers block. One half of me is the author, the other half is the editor/critic. The critic half always asks me 'What if?' or 'Why?'.
Example: Why did Mary hit John? (heres the why, then comes the what-ifs)
1. she was out for revenge
2. she was getting sick of his complaining
3. she is Bi-polar :P

Then go from there. If I don't make sense, just nod and pretend like you understand.
The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you. - Rita Mae Brown

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Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:40 am
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Meep says...

Write whatever comes naturally. I used to always try to be all formal and descriptive or something, and I always hated my writing. Then I started writing like I actually write and I suddenly found I liked my work a lot better because it was actually my work. I'm not particularly poetic, so I no longer try to be. I dunno if this is your problem, but I know it was mine for a long time.

I actually think the story you described could be really interesting. (It reminds me of Kino no Tabi in a way, despite the fact I've never seen KnT or read your writing. It's a similar premise, I think.)

My suggestion would be to post your stories. I seriously doubt you'll get flamed here. It's not that sort of place. I don't even think you'll get ripped to shreds (unless you ask to be). You'll get critque, certainly, but not cruelty.

... as for an inability to read books without pictures, that is a problem. I'd try looking for books known for their good descriptions (but not Tolkien). Maybe The Picture of Dorian Gray? If not, I'd try Google'ing fanart if you can find it, to help you get a picture of the characters/settings. (I do this a lot.)
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Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:11 am
Griffinkeeper says...

I'm going to upgrade this to a sticky, so that we will never lose this inspirational thread. Please continue to submit advice.
Moderator Emeritus (frozen in carbonite.)

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Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:43 pm
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Dream Deep says...

It seems that I have arrived a bit late: everyone else has already covered much of the spectrum and left me with some puny wanderings here to add to the glory. This is all fine advice - reading over it, I've been printing some of it out. It was a good idea to make this a sticky, Grif.

As for my advice, I haven't much left to add that those before me haven't put quite eloquently, but here's some advice I got from Alan Furst, on the art of writing:


"There are two suggestions, that I've used since I was about your age. 1) T. S. Eliot said "Bad writing is loose language and imprecise thought." That is, believe me, everything, but you have to think what that means to you-- does the word or phrase really say what you want? Or almost?

The other thing is, the more you read, the better you write, read good stuff, you know what that is. Also, the more you write, the better you write--it becomes part of you.

Hope this helps, best, Alan"


... It rambles a bit, but the point's there. ^_~ It's something to take to heart and remember, in any event. Know what you want to say as precisely as possible before you start to write (or after you revise it). Know the message behind the words and know the impression you wish to create. Imagine that you are reading someone else's work. What do you expect to read next? How does the story effect you? Does it effect you? Know what you want to say, L, and usually things start to fall into place.

Good luck on the writing. ^_^

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