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How do I start?

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Mon Oct 12, 2009 3:49 am
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LowKey says...

You've got the setting, or maybe you have a character or two in your head. Or maybe you have a few bits of a plot and random sections of dialogue. You have an idea, but how do you get that idea to transfer to paper? And where do you even start to begin with?

To be honest, it varies from person to person, and it really depends on what all you have in your head at first. So ignore everyone who tells you how to do it or what you should be doing. It's different for everyone. For me, more often than not I will have a character or a story idea pop into my head. I'll think about it, then I'll have a few scenes/actions/bits and scraps of dialogue, etc. Just random bits. That's usually when I start making characters and matching them up to those random bits of fluff and stuff. Then I go back to my original story idea and begin asking myself where my characters came from, how did they come to be pulled into this situation, what happened before to set it all up so that this is what happened, and so on. Usually I have either a few more scenes (much more solid than the ones before) or a starting point for the story, or both. If both, I usually start with the beginning and start writing from there. If one or the other, I just start expanding the scenes forward and backward until they connect somewhere in between, or until I know how the story begins.

That's all the planning I do, really. Once I have that much and I start writing, everything blooms out for me. I don't know what happens in the next paragraph until I write it -- I have absolutely no idea. And that's part of the fun for me. If I do take the time to plan it out so I know everything that will happen in order and how it all goes... then I feel like I've already written the story and I don't really want to go back and rewrite it all in story format because that's just boring and the magic's all gone.

I can write a story and then re-write it from scratch, but that's because each draft is different. You might know several things that you plan to change, but for every item on your list there are ten more you don't know of until you write them down.

to answer the question with regards to my own process, I start with the plot, even if I only know fragments of it. More often than not I get characters at the same time that I get plot, and once I have the characters down, they tend to take over the story, following the plot but treating it like a skeleton. Once I have my characters and an idea of my plot, I then go on to develop the setting.

As far as where to start, you probably have a good idea of the key events in your story, so ask yourself, what's the one event that starts it all? Where's the one point where, once you cross it, the story really starts to happen or really starts to get interesting? Cut everything that comes before it and start there. Don't worry about explaining too much -- tie in bits of explanation here and there and you should be fine. But don't give an info-dump regarding how your characters came to be in this situation, because then you've just taken all the stuff you just deleted and pasted it in a different spot.

Otherwise, just take the turning point of your story, where the characters could have gone living normal lives had this not have happened, and start right there.
Necropolis SB / Necropolis DT

Once was Dreamer, is now LowKey_Lyesmith.

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

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Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:48 pm
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TexanWriter says...

This is the problem I always have. Characters and snippets. Thanks for writing this!
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