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Leo_E_49
January 1st, 2006, 05:35 AM
Hi there, it's my aspiration to learn how to write fiction, more specifically science fiction.

I'm in university now, studying computer science. Because this is a very technical degree, I've decided I need something creative to balance myself out. I've chosen writing fiction in my spare time (in fact, it's kind of a new year's resolution).

In school, I was always poor at creative writing. I've not been successful in that area, I was always told my stories were dull and lacked feeling. I want to change that this year.

I'm not looking to write anything big, just short stories. Maybe if I'm successful I'll go onto something more extensive. But I do want to share my work with other people, and I'm not afraid to take a little constructive criticism.

To be honest, I'm not even sure where to start. So could you please help me by giving me a starting point from which I can learn more about it? I'm looking for guidance, maybe little tasks you think I could do to help me get started.

I'm sure this has been asked before on this forum but writing has always been an enigma to me.

Thank you so much for your help! :)

Dawnstorm
January 1st, 2006, 06:17 AM
I'm not sure what your problem looks like.

Do you have problems getting started?

Do you keep editing yourself, or telling yourself that your writing sucks while you write?

Do you feel your writing's not what it could be because of the comments alone?

How does an empty page/screen make you feel like?

How do you feel when your read your own stuff?

How does writing feel?

What aspects give you trouble? (characters, plot, language?)

...

Other than that, the only real advise that usually everyone agrees on is write, write, write and don't let yourself be discouraged.

Mathain
January 1st, 2006, 06:18 AM
Honest?

Read widely. Read deeply.

Then write every day.

That simple.

(And now Holbrook or Dawnstorm or someone else equally pragmatic will come along and give you some USEFUL advice...)

Holbrook
January 1st, 2006, 07:35 AM
(And now Holbrook or Dawnstorm or someone else equally pragmatic will come along and give you some USEFUL advice...)


It's New Year's Day! The only useful advice I have is make sure you have some cotton wool handy. This of course you stuff in your ears, so you don't hear the rest of the family moan and groan, as they arise from their beds....

As to writing; Just try. Never get anything done if you don't try...

Leo_E_49
January 1st, 2006, 10:08 AM
I'm not sure what your problem looks like.

Do you have problems getting started?

Yes, I do. :/ Not because I don't want to, but rather because my mind seems to draw a blank when I progress beyond a broad storyline. I can usually come up with a rising action, a climax and a falling action, a setting and some rather bland characters but when it comes to actually putting pen to paper, it doesn't seem to come out with any depth, feeling or dynamic between the characters.


Do you keep editing yourself, or telling yourself that your writing sucks while you write?

I don't think I've ever quite put that much into it before, I only realised that I actually really want to write recently. Previously I never really put much into it. You know, school English lessons aren't great motivation...

But I've been reading a lot more fiction since I left (especially sci-fi; Iain M. Banks, Joe Haldeman, Frank Herbert and Ray Bradbury in particular) and I really want to try my hand at writing.


Do you feel your writing's not what it could be because of the comments alone?

Nope. Despite what people said about my writing in highschool, I'm confident that I can improve. It's important to me now. I've always admired people who can write narrative and express their feelings about the world through narrative. I know that good fiction has an underlying message and that this can have a great impact upon its readers and this is what impresses me.

I just want to try my hand at writing. You could say I'm basically a complete beginner, a total blank slate. But I'm enthusiastic.


How does an empty page/screen make you feel like?

Well I feel like I want to write something great, but I usually go blank beyond that.


How do you feel when your read your own stuff?

It seems as if it's lacking realistic personalities for characters, it feels lacking in purpose or direction, it feels as if the interactions between characters are stiff and unrealistic.


How does writing feel?

I'll put it this way, it's like when I was learning to ride a bicycle as a kid and I kept falling over and accumulating cuts and bruises. It felt like no matter what I did it turned out the same. Fortunately, I know that I succeeded in the end. I hope the same will be true about my writing.


What aspects give you trouble? (characters, plot, language?)

Characters
Interactions (particularly conversation)
Relationships
I tend to focus on actions but I think that descriptions are more important to my writing, I would rather a reader gets a mental image of what is happening rather than my directly telling them (i.e. not enough adjectives, too many verbs)
I also get worried that my writing is corny, especially if I'm dealing with important/emotional issues.

Those are the major problem areas, there are other minor ones, but I think that with a little work, I can figure those out myself.


...

Other than that, the only real advise that usually everyone agrees on is write, write, write and don't let yourself be discouraged.

Thanks, I'm thinking of writing short stories in a kind of journal or something. I'm not really sure how to go about this though or whether this is a good idea.

Also, if possible, I'd like to find somewhere that I can show my short stories to other people anonymously (to begin with) and get their opinions.

I love reading sci-fi and I at least want to give my best effort at writing it.

Thank you all for your help. :D

Dawnstorm
January 1st, 2006, 12:01 PM
Yes, I do. :/ Not because I don't want to, but rather because my mind seems to draw a blank when I progress beyond a broad storyline. I can usually come up with a rising action, a climax and a falling action, a setting and some rather bland characters but when it comes to actually putting pen to paper, it doesn't seem to come out with any depth, feeling or dynamic between the characters.

Perhaps you're planning too much? Some people have to plan out everything up front, and work better when they "discover" the story as they write. Most people fall somewhere inbetween.

Just to practice writing, why don't you start writing simple scenes without any story in mind before. Just start out with a situation. You know, man finds coin; cat pushes vase from mantlepiece and aunt Carrie screams; interplanetary explorer gets caught by sinker limpets, but then the afterwash sets in... Who knows, perhaps you work better when you let things evolve from innocent beginnings?


I don't think I've ever quite put that much into it before, I only realised that I actually really want to write recently. Previously I never really put much into it. You know, school English lessons aren't great motivation...

Sorry, I wasn't clear. What I wanted to know was, when you're writing, does it flow, or do you write half a sentence, then look at it with dismay, delete it, write another half-sentence... and so on.

Many people advise not to delete or edit while writing a first draft. Finish the thing; edit afterwards. (It doesn't work for me. I go back and forth in erratic patterns.)


But I've been reading a lot more fiction since I left (especially sci-fi; Iain M. Banks, Joe Haldeman, Frank Herbert and Ray Bradbury in particular) and I really want to try my hand at writing.

You're reading the right people....

...except for Herbert. (kidding)


Nope. Despite what people said about my writing in highschool, I'm confident that I can improve. It's important to me now. I've always admired people who can write narrative and express their feelings about the world through narrative. I know that good fiction has an underlying message and that this can have a great impact upon its readers and this is what impresses me.

Hm, since I'm more of an exploring writer, I don't know about messages. I don't attempt to express myself; I want to see where things go.

Just a word of warning: whatever message you intend to relay; half your readers won't get it, and the other half will get it wrong. ;)


Well I feel like I want to write something great, but I usually go blank beyond that.

That's because you can't set out to write something great. (Or at least I have no idea how I would go about that). Perhaps, you should relax more when writing? You know, write something. There's plenty of time to improve your text later; but you need one to improve in the first place.


It seems as if it's lacking realistic personalities for characters, it feels lacking in purpose or direction, it feels as if the interactions between characters are stiff and unrealistic.

Do you know what motivates your characters? Do you know what they pay attention to? Do you know when they shut off, because their opposites bore them? Do they prefer special offers to quality products? How many shoes do they own? Try filling out tests for your characters ("What kind of lover are you? that type of thing). Go shopping for them (credit for this idea goes to Expendable).


I'll put it this way, it's like when I was learning to ride a bicycle as a kid and I kept falling over and accumulating cuts and bruises. It felt like no matter what I did it turned out the same. Fortunately, I know that I succeeded in the end. I hope the same will be true about my writing.

Ah, look, now you've put this image of tenacious little Leo on a bike into my head. That's what writing is about, isn't it? (To boot your sentences have a nice rhythm; try saying "accumulating cuts and bruises" out loud).

You do know how to string sentences together. Try to capture that spirit when writing and you should be okay. (Read what Severn has to say about the "first voice" (http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12444); #6)


I tend to focus on actions but I think that descriptions are more important to my writing, I would rather a reader gets a mental image of what is happening rather than my directly telling them (i.e. not enough adjectives, too many verbs)

It's very hard to talk about this in abstract, without writing samples and what you think is wrong with them.

If you decide to put your work online, you'll soon notice that many people prefer verbs over adjectives, though.


I also get worried that my writing is corny, especially if I'm dealing with important/emotional issues.

So what. Be corny. It's the only way to find out in what ways you're being corny. It's the only way to find out how to improve.


Thanks, I'm thinking of writing short stories in a kind of journal or something. I'm not really sure how to go about this though or whether this is a good idea.

How to go about it: Open journal, take pen, write into it. :p

Is it a good idea? No better way to find out, than by trying.


Also, if possible, I'd like to find somewhere that I can show my short stories to other people anonymously (to begin with) and get their opinions.

You can always register with the community here and put up your stories. Nobody really knows who you are, so it's almost anonymous.

:)
[/QUOTE]

Expendable
January 1st, 2006, 12:59 PM
Dawnstorm's right. If you click on where it says "Stories" you'll be taken to the Community. You should be logged in for this. You can then register for a Community account so you can post your stories.

When it comes time to post your stories, remember to change the Status from "Draft" to "Published" - nobody can see your stories if it's set to "Draft".

By posting your stories in community and then posting a link here in the Writer's forum asking for a critique, some of us will look over what you've written and tell you what we like and didn't like about what you've written.

Also, seeing how you're at university, why not try your school library for books on writing?

There's also writer's games you can do like Collaborative Stories or various Role Playing threads, where you bring in a character and have your character react to what others are doing. Actually it's best if you bring in two characters - a protagonist (main character) and antagonist (villian). Then you can interact with the other characters around you and with the villian.

Like a mysterious girl with amnesia who appears out of thin air aboard an interstellar cruise ship who's unexpectedly the target of a notorious assassin. It almost begs to you ask where this girl's come from and why is this assassin after her, doesn't it?

Another game you can do is to find three objects where you are and write a story about them. Or listen to conversations around you and select bits and peices to use in your stories.

Leo_E_49
January 1st, 2006, 01:20 PM
Sorry, I wasn't clear. What I wanted to know was, when you're writing, does it flow, or do you write half a sentence, then look at it with dismay, delete it, write another half-sentence... and so on.

Many people advise not to delete or edit while writing a first draft. Finish the thing; edit afterwards. (It doesn't work for me. I go back and forth in erratic patterns.)

Nope, I write a whole draft then edit it at the end. I've heard this advice before. :)


Hm, since I'm more of an exploring writer, I don't know about messages. I don't attempt to express myself; I want to see where things go.

Just a word of warning: whatever message you intend to relay; half your readers won't get it, and the other half will get it wrong. ;)

Thanks for the advice, maybe I'll follow your example.


That's because you can't set out to write something great. (Or at least I have no idea how I would go about that). Perhaps, you should relax more when writing? You know, write something. There's plenty of time to improve your text later; but you need one to improve in the first place.

That's what I was thinking, I just didn't know whether that was a good idea. I think a journal is the easiest way for me to start.


Do you know what motivates your characters? Do you know what they pay attention to? Do you know when they shut off, because their opposites bore them? Do they prefer special offers to quality products? How many shoes do they own? Try filling out tests for your characters ("What kind of lover are you? that type of thing). Go shopping for them (credit for this idea goes to Expendable).

I never thought about that, thanks for the ideas. :)


Ah, look, now you've put this image of tenacious little Leo on a bike into my head. That's what writing is about, isn't it? (To boot your sentences have a nice rhythm; try saying "accumulating cuts and bruises" out loud).

I'm honestly not sure whether this is sarcasm or honest praise, "accumulating cuts and bruises" doesn't flow nicely when I read it aloud. :(


You do know how to string sentences together. Try to capture that spirit when writing and you should be okay. (Read what Severn has to say about the "first voice" (http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12444); #6)

I'm glad I can at least string sentences together. :) Maybe the rest will come later...

Thanks for your advice Dawnstorm and Expendable, I guess all that's left is to start writing. :)

P.S. I really like the idea of "first voice", I think what I've been doing so far is sticking with my first voice and not cleaning it up like Severn said to. I certainly find writing in my own voice much easier than writing in another one. :p

Dawnstorm
January 1st, 2006, 02:01 PM
I'm honestly not sure whether this is sarcasm or honest praise, "accumulating cuts and bruises" doesn't flow nicely when I read it aloud. :(

Oops, sorry. No sarcasm intended. I actually like it the way it is. :o

Expendable
January 1st, 2006, 02:08 PM
Write!

Know your characters!

Don't stop writing until you're done.

Have fun!

Don't forget to read! Writers read!

Ideas are a dime a dozen. The trick is to give them your personal twist.

Have fun!

Don't let the blood and sweat dripping from your forehead short out the keyboard.

Backup everything!