Should I write a book straight through?

Discussion in 'Writing' started by sifutofu, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. sifutofu

    sifutofu Banned

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    I've read where movie-makers start with a concept, then write scenes for the story, which are eventually patched together to complete the movie.
    I suppose we're talking about "process" here.
    It is likely overwhelming to start a book like, "page one". My thought process seems to run like this:
    A. A concept or some ironic condition pops up in my mind.
    B. Shortly after, key scenes, often dramatic, follow.
    It seems that were I to write a series of short stories revolving around the key concept and characters, then some or all of these could be patched together in similar fashion.
    Does this seem like a sound process to you?
    What is your own procedure?
     
  2. ericksje

    ericksje New Guy

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    Mine is pretty similar to the way you describe those of movie-makers. There are things I know I want to happen, major events, and some areas where I don't know what goes on in-between.

    The payoff is that I don't have the stress that comes with being unproductive. Writing linearly from page 1 was a tough go for me in the past. The way I write now is more conducive to getting the juices flowing. The pitfall is that sometimes I write something I love, and then I have to take it out because the direction of the story has changed.

    There is no real 'cookie-cutter' process to writing. Some authors have insane processes. Andre Dubus would write everything longhand in a loose-leaf notebook. Some of his stories would go on for almost 300 written pages, and then he would whittle them down to about 40 typed pages (longer 'short' stories.)

    Find what works for you and write away.
     
  3. MrBF1V3

    MrBF1V3 aka. Stephen B5 Jones

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    Word processors have lessened the need to write linear. I wrote my first novel (safely hidden away now so no one will ever suffer through it) on a manual typewriter. One mistake trashes a page, adding a couple of paragraphs at the beginning can add another six months to the work because then you are obligated to rewrite the whole thing. Publishers wanted numbered pages with the right numbers on them.

    I usually have dozens of scenes and pages of notes before I start on something full sized. sometimes I don't know that's what I'm working toward until I'm well into it. Even then I can't guarantee what I put to the page first will end up being page one. My so called first draft will be the framework to which I'll add needed characters and sub plots and subtle nuances. Sometimes I add the overreaching metastory, then all the work before becomes setting for the undersurface conflict.

    B5
     
  4. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

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    There is no magic "right" way to write a book - just make sure you've got a good story with great characters when the smoke clears (along with the grammar and usual mechanics).

    My first draft is essentially writing from start to finish from an outline (whilst destroying said outline). Of course, there are many drafts to follow, but I do avoid the spin/rinse cycle of keep going back.

    Kerry
     
  5. sifutofu

    sifutofu Banned

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    ...glad I'm not the only one!

    Yeah, that stress and self-doubt can be fought in just such a fashion. Write the scenes YOU want to read about. These may or may not deal with scenarios close to your own life experiences. Book shoppers will feel what you're feeling, then enjoy an account of how someone else has dealt with these situations. However, you don't want your story to read like a string of pearls, the pearls being these scenes we're talking about, yet there isn't enough substance in between to bridge our attention span to the next big event. I see some difficulty in stringing these pearls together, I suppose because these "bridges" require some research and stuff which may seem like drudgery. Everybody loves to write action scenes!
     
  6. Susan Boulton

    Susan Boulton Edited for submission

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    Work in the manner that suits you to get the book written.
     
  7. ShandaLear

    ShandaLear Writer, Artist, Beeyotch

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    I like seat-of-my-pants work, but the best thing I have ever read with regard to writing in a frenzy, yet keeping focus was the essay by Michael Moorcock. At one point the universe could quote that sucker by rote.

    If you've never read HOW TO WRITE A BOOK IN THREE DAYS, please do. It's online here:
    http://www.wetasphalt.com/?q=content/how-write-book-three-days-lessons-michael-moorcock

    He has a section about dividing it into chunks that is so brilliantly simple it dazzles. The focus is on action/adventure fiction (obviously) but really-- it can work for anything. Writers may not be able to use all of it-- but should find some pretty valuable nuggets.
     
  8. goldhawk

    goldhawk aurea plectro

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    Part of learning to write is learning what works for you and what doesn't. Experiment and don't take what others tell you as gospel.

    One technique is to write a rough draft of the climax and then write the story to the climax. Since you have something to aim for, you less likely to get sidetracked. And feel free to rewrite the climax; nothing should be casted in stone.
     
  9. secluded

    secluded Breaker of Walls

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    My plan is to write the rough draft straight through. Review, cut, add and so on. I want to have the full storyline on paper. I am working on my first novel, so I can't comment too much about this methods success. It is working thus far.
     
  10. Tristann_Good

    Tristann_Good New Member

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    I have always worked the way secluded described. I like to get it all out and then go over it in editing to ensure that everything makes sense and that there are no continuity errors. I've also found it handy to have check-points along the way, those initial dramatic scenes you imagine and where you think they might be in the story, they have helped guide me so I don't go too far off topic.

    Having said that, I agree with a lot of the other posts here, everyone has their own method and you should do what feels right (and fun) for you!
     
  11. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    I'm a balance-in-all-things kind of writer. Outlining is valuable, in that it forces me to get serious about what kinds of characters, setting, action I'll need. But if the characters (and therefore the story) are to come alive, I'm well-advised to allow their actions and thoughts surprise me. Flexibility.
     
  12. sifutofu

    sifutofu Banned

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    I'm stealing ...

    ...your username for my first-born daughter. She'll be called, "Shandi" by her friends and family. I book-marked your linked website. Thanks. At this point,
    I'm.still in R &D.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2012
  13. sifutofu

    sifutofu Banned

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    What a wonderful idea!

    Write the climax first! I do believe the plethora of notes and ideas I've already made will mold the climax to a degree, but then writing the climax should wrap things up nicely, maybe even minimize discarding cherished ideas.
     
  14. E_Moon

    E_Moon Registered User

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    A. Books aren't movies.

    B. Beginnings can be scary, but that varies with the writer.

    C. There is no single way of writing a book. Do what you think will work for you, and then, if that doesn't work, do something else.

    Personally, I start at the beginning and charge into the briar patch, knowing (after many books) that I will blunder out the far side somewhere interesting. That doesn't work for everyone. The advantages of writing straight through include these: it's easier to keep the chronology straight, it's easier to keep cause and effect straight, it's more likely you'll discover new things about your characters that make the story more interesting, and it's more likely your conclusion will be organically related to the rest of the book. OTOH, if your brain isn't wired that way, you can start in the middle, start at the end, write short story-scenes, whatever.

    What you can't do, productively, is sit there being paralyzed by the beginning, like the bird frozen in front of the snake. FLY! Fly somewhere, somehow, in some direction.
     
  15. secluded

    secluded Breaker of Walls

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    Bit of an update here following an earlier post. I hit a roadblock at the 7th chapter. I couldn't make the story move any further. So, I decided to outline. I thought about each character and plotted their storylines in distinct parts. This got me through the roadblock and now I have all of book 1 outlined. I know exactly where the story is going and that has been a major help.
     
  16. M. R. Mathias

    M. R. Mathias Banned

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    I would suggest writing a book straight through. I wrote The Wardstone Trilogy straight through. I do limit my writing time per day so I don't burn out. My personal formula is half a chapter a day. This gives me time to contemplate. Ending each chapter so that it compels the reader onward is important to me. That is what I try to do. :)
     
  17. E_Moon

    E_Moon Registered User

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    I love that italicized "try"...because one of the things writing books teaches is how pear-shaped the process can go at times. Just about anything a writer is absolutely, bone-deep certain about, in the writing process, is a target for his/her current or next book to shatter into itty bitty pieces. Outliners discover they have to leap off the outline, character writers find they have to gag a character, discovery writers like me realize that this time only an outline will get them out of a complete mess, plot writers suddenly need a complex character so the plot doesn't look like a random walk, etc.
     
  18. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    I detail everything about the story in an outline and character/background notes; when I finish that, I can use it to write what is essentially my final manuscript, with minimal rewrites or wrestling. I've used that method to write over a dozen novels, and it hasn't failed me yet.
     
  19. M. R. Mathias

    M. R. Mathias Banned

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    I wrote Wardstone in a prison cell, so I just wrote it. I delved into that world about 5 hours a day (3k words goal met 95% of the time) I didn't think much. The story wrote itself. I was reading 300 pages a day. Scott Lynch, a lot of Wizards of the Coast books, and Hobbs.

    The Wardstone Trilogy is like those, Feist, Eddings, Tolkien, Jordan, Moon, and Robert E. Howard, all twisted into one story. Oh, and Starwars was a big influence, too.

    I have never outlined. I stop at about two thirds through and read up to where I am. This helps me figure where all my threads are going to tie.

    I am learning from the shadows, though. :)