How to tell it

Discussion in 'Writing' started by RedMage, Feb 21, 2010.

  1. RedMage

    RedMage There is no tomorrow

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    I'm sure everyone who has tried to write a story, whether it be a short story or a novel or whathaveyou, has experienced this. You've got a story in your head and it wants to be told. It's yearning to be told, straining against the huge round bone that is your skull. (Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration but you know what I mean. I hope...) My point is, you know all about it, got the characters at least moderately developed, you know all the big points of the plot (especially the climax and rising action), and you can see the setting in your head and everything is there and ready to go. However, when you try to put it on the page, no matter how you tell it the story never seems to come out right.

    I ask cause I'm 100 pages into a new fantasy trilogy of who knows how long (longer than anything I've written before, certainly--which is a 350 page book if you're wondering). Only a few places in all those 100 pages feel right.

    So to anyone who has experienced this and been able to work through it, what was it you did? What worked for you?
     
  2. zachariah

    zachariah Speaks fluent Bawehrf

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    As far as I can tell, this is an experience common to absolutely everyone when they start out.

    You are writing your first draft. It's supposed to be pretty dire. Finishing this is just the first step in creating a complete novel. Keep calm, carry on.
     
  3. Susan Boulton

    Susan Boulton Edited for submission

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    Getting the story down out of your head into first draft is the most important thing.
     
  4. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

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    My first draft is a literary regurgitation of an outline for the book. I don't care about grammar, sentence construction, story arcs, characters - I just toss it out there and boy is it a mess.

    Sounds to me like you're doing it the right way. I go through three entire passes from front to back before considering anything done - and then it goes to my writing group for another sound beating. Only afterward will an editor see it.

    Kerry
     
  5. RedMage

    RedMage There is no tomorrow

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    I think, somehow, that I've forgotten that this is just a first draft. Haha! I guess I've fallen into that trap fo making things really good the first time around and not waiting for later drafts.

    I guess my real problem is that most of my stories begin with some dream or other inspired idea and the scene that I imagine is at the beginning of the story. Or near it. With this one, well, all the inspired stuff is at the very end and it's going to take several hundred pages of work before I'm able to reach that. But that's not something that anyone else can help me with. So thanks for your comments and encouragement. I'll try to remember that my novel is what it is for the moment.
     
  6. ShellyS

    ShellyS Chocoholic

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    I wish I could help, but I don't really have any experience in this particular situation. I never have had stories in my head, or at least, not complete ones. I've had stories fully realized in dreams, but those tend to either fade too fast when I wake up or make no sense in light of day.

    What I do get are ideas for setting and characters, perhaps a starting point and I have to write so I can find out what happens next! And to make that happen, I have to make sure the characters are "right" and that they're "speaking" to me.

    That said, perhaps the story isn't coming out "right" because the story in your head isn't the story that needs to be written. Perhaps the story in your head is the inspiration for the story, or a starting point, foundation, or other means to get to the actual story. Since I don't have experience with writing that way, I don't know if what I'm saying makes any sense. I know my stories are "right" because they work, I get to "the end," and everything feels right to me.
     
  7. Final07

    Final07 Slave to the Cruel Pen

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    As Hemingway famously put it, first drafts are sh**. They are because they are. Even the best, most accomplished writers have to rewrite and revise repeatedly to keep reeling off famous bestsellers. If you do it right, your final draft (after numerous rewrites and revisions) should resemble your first draft only in that you are its author. :)

    Good luck with your story.
     
  8. tyriseus

    tyriseus Registered User

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    Looks like you already have your answer but I wanted to chime in anyway...I find my inner critic plays on my insecurities most when I'm just starting a new project. If I listen I crumble...if I keep going eventually I find my groove and the story begins to take shape. One thing that helps me is to get into it is to establish a daily pattern that assists in finding the rhythem of writing. When I wake up I grab my computer and work on the bus...at lunch I pull it out again...and then once more on the way home. In the evening I take another go at it. All the while I listen to music...for me the heavier the better as it serves as fuels and often even provides inspiration. I just finished

    I think everybody has different hang ups and it's up to ourselves to find ways to overcome them. Really though the bottom line is just simply are you writing. Even if you're spewing excrement on the page some of it will be salvagable...hopefully. If it is...well then you have that old personal growth thing to fall back upon.
     
  9. RedMage

    RedMage There is no tomorrow

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    Thanks to everyone for your encouragement. I tried writing 500 words a night this last fall and, got to tell you, I got really far! Seriously, page 20 one day, then 4 weeks later I was on 70 or something. Wasn't writing every night at the end, life complications you know, and thus I stopped.

    Tyrisues, I find a lot of inspiration in music as well. And I agree with you too, the heavier the better. Part of my problem, I'm thinking, is that for earlier projects my inner muse has had lots and lots of music to listen to and, for this one, it only has like 20 songs. What stuff do you listen to? Maybe some of it would help me too.
     
  10. tyriseus

    tyriseus Registered User

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    Redmage I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post this but I've been using playlist.com to supplement my music collection.

    Tool, Korn, Amon Amarth (love it - heavy without the rage...a lot of norse mythology and viking imagery), Metallica, Alice in Chains, Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Neil Young, Loreena Mckennit, Disturbed, Evanescence, The Tea Party, Faith No More, Soundgarden, Sabbath, Ozzy, Maiden, Priest, Weird Al (I am white and Nerdy), Danzig, Megadeth, Ministry, The Cure, Rage Against..., BNL, Police/sting, Dire Straits, The Doors, Beatles, Motorhead, Pantera, Helloween, Symphony X, Manowar, Chili Peppers, Sepultura, Rainbow Butt Monkeys, and of course the greatest band of all time Spinal Tap.

    ...and if you want to annoy your neighbors...Cradle of Filth...my tribute to the IT Crowd.

    One song I love to listen to when writing traveling scenes...Night Ride Accross the Caucus by Loreena McKennit...not exactly heavy metal but I'm allowed some diversity.
     
  11. tyriseus

    tyriseus Registered User

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  12. RedMage

    RedMage There is no tomorrow

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    I see what you're saying Tyriseus. 500 words is simply the minimum I must hit. When I was in the habit of writing I was doing closer to 1,000 words a night before I allowed myself to stop. The min. was still 500, I just wasn't able to wrap it up for the night until I did several hundred more :). It's a completely arbitrary number, one I got off a bio of Terry Pratchett (an author I love!) which said that when he was still working a full, 40 hr a week day job, he would come home and write 500 words a night no matter what. If he ended a book and still had 100 words to go, well, he'd start the next one. It allowed him to have a day job, a life, and his writing. That's what it does for me too. Plus, it saves some thoughts for tomorrow that you can start off with.

    As for the music, sounds a lot like what I listen to. Most of the bands you listed I haven't tried, though I know of them. I have meant to give them a try but, for some reason, something holds me back. Some, I know, are not quite the thing I'm looking for. Others? Maybe. I'll have to try. By the way, you should try Nightwish, Kamelot, and Blind Guardian. Three bands that just popped into my mind that have been very good to me and my writing. Oh, and Loreena McKennitt is awesome! Been listening to her for years. Night Ride Across the Caucus has got to be the best song for an epic, overland journey.
     
  13. Nostra

    Nostra Amatuer Writer

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    Different people does things differently, personally I don't write chronologically, very much because I tend to be in a similar situation as you. For me it is a lot easier to write the part which you've already fully realized in your mind and then work towards that, for others it's better to have that epic part to look forward to as a treat to motivate the writing of the rest of the book.

    What I wanted to say is, nothing stops you from writing those parts right now, it might even help you focus on the rest of the book later.

    Edit: Just heard some of Loreena McKennitt's work. Pure awesome, I will have to aquire her discography. Many thanks for the tip!
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2010
  14. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer Author of novels

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    That's very strange, I just had The Book Of Secrets playing in the car! A wonderful musician...
     
  15. tyriseus

    tyriseus Registered User

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    ...and Loreena's a Canuck to boot. Proof we do produce musicians not named Brian Adams and Celine Dion.