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robert vosen
September 26th, 2006, 12:45 PM
My name is robert vosen, I've always had a dream to write and publish a novel. the problem is I just can't stick with a story line. I keep changing it and then I have to start all over again. How do I decide wich is the right one to go with?
Any advice would be awsome thank you.

James Barclay
September 26th, 2006, 01:16 PM
Robert... welcome to the boards. I'm moving this thread to the Writing section where you'll get plenty of advice and sympathy :)


September 26th, 2006, 01:59 PM
Hi Robert.

I know exactly what you are talking about. Over the last 7 years I have started countless different novels, and never managed to stick with any of them. The main reason for this was that I was learning as I went, and so each time I would encounter a problem that was easier to resolve by starting over.

However, part of it was down to me getting impatient and wanting to try something else before I'd got anywhere near finishing what I was doing. How do you decide which one is best for you? Well, in a way you don't...it just happens. I have settled on the story that I'm writing at the moment and I can't say how it came about. I had other ideas that I wanted to run with, but for some reason I decided for this one. It just felt right.

Sorry I can't be of more help, but I'm simply explaining my own experience. I think that if you have any doubt whatsoever about the story you are writing, you ought to take a step back. One thing is for sure - you need to be totally clear about the story, and believe in it if you want to get anywhere.

Good luck! :D

September 26th, 2006, 02:04 PM
I suppose that there are a very many things that might be said, Robert. Maybe you'll get contradictory advice. What you chose to do will have to be up to you ultimately. No one else can tell you what is right for you.

I can tell you this, however, based upon my experience, whatever you decide now there is no hurry to realize your dreams. Robert, you say that your dream is to write, and [to see] published, a novel. Must you accomplish it today? What about tomorrow? In two weeks, or two years, or two decades? Many have the same dream. I do. But I know that if I had written a book twenty years ago then it would have been pretentious crap. Instead I lived, if not fast then at least not slow, and I learned, I matured, I grew to be much more now and to understand much more now than I had as a younger man. As a consequence the book that I have written is pretty damn good, if I may say so. There is no hurry, Robert.

However, it is also true that little steps span the world. So, maunder, be peripatetic.* Dabble. Write whatever and whenever the imspiration strikes. One day you might find that there is a book inside of you that is coming out quite on its own. It happened to me. One day you might find linkages between the seemingly disjointed stories and all of the pieces add up to something whole. In short, those fragments of storylines that you have been writing are not dross, they are pure precious metal.

*Look them up. :cool: If you're going to be a writer, you need a vocabulary.

September 26th, 2006, 02:49 PM
Hi Robert!

Yours is not an unusual position, I felt just like that a few years ago when I first started writing. I had so many ideas running around my head and they all demanded to be written down! I started many projects and I was getting nowhere with any of them.

What worked for me was picking one of my three larger ideas and forcing myself to stick with it. I put all the other stuff in a 'non-current writing' folder and stopped myself from opening any files in it. Once I got rid of the distractions, I found that the focus of emerging ideas shifted onto the project I'd chosen and soon it grew out of all proportion.

That novel turned out to be rubbish :D but I learnt so many things from it, and the most important was how to keep myself following one path. That's not to say I didn't write down other, non-relevant ideas--I just didn't persue them.

Just pick which idea you like best, or see if you can merge two or three of your favourite ideas into one super-project.

Good luck!

September 26th, 2006, 07:30 PM
Here's a few other strategies.

(1) Start writing short stories. Because they're short, it's easier to focus on one at a time, and you'll see projects coming to a close sooner. This will also increase your chances of publication because pretty soon you'll have a dozen or so good ones that you can circulate to various publishers. I've also found that this is a great way to learn what sells and what doesn't. (Actually, I'm becoming quite an expert in what doesn't.)

(2) Speed write. Try a competition like NaNoWriMo where in November you basically force yourself to pound out 50 000 words of crap that you can call a novel. It's a lot of work, but in the end, you'll have something.

(3) Work on chapters. Once you have an outline for a book, look at each chapter as a mini-project. Focus on a single chapter - finish it, and only when you finish can you work on another project. The trick, I suppose is coming back.

(4) Adopt a regular writing schedule. This has always been a tough one for me. If I'm away from a project for more than a couple days, my mind wanders and I lose interest. If you're serious about writing, find a regular, comfortable time slot and dedicate that time completely to writing. If you really want to be an organization geek you can even break the time into "current projects" and "brainstorming fresh ideas." I'm usually pretty happy if I can snag more than an hour at a time.

September 29th, 2006, 01:14 PM
Choppy makes excellent suggestions. I'd like to expand on point #3.

I never had a problem coming up with story ideas. What kept me from creating anything of significant length was the lack of two things: One, an outline, and two, solid characters that I really cared about.

Once I had a story idea that I found compelling, I created characters that I found very interesting. All of my writing is character-driven. It focuses on how the characters interact with each other and respond to the conflict of the story. This makes the exposition easier and helps dictate how the characters behave during the rising action.

An outline is extremely helpful. I use a chapter-by-chapter outline and I write the entire storyline out before I begin the narrative. This gives me the confidence to work on a project of such a size. However, as I proceed the outline begins to get marked up. Sections are crossed out and replaced, and eventually the remainder is completely irrelevant. When this happens I sit down and write a new outline for the remainder, and I do this as many times as necessary until I complete the novel.

I also set goals for myself. 3,000 words per chapter is one, and when I'm actively writing a novel I go for a minimum of 1,500 words per day, five days a week.

September 29th, 2006, 01:59 PM
Write short stories and try to have them published. Not only will you grow enormously as a writer and build the confidence and discipline you need for a novel but, if you ever to complete a novel and start agent shopping, a list of publication credits in pro and semi-pro markets certainly will help in attracting an agents attention and advertise that you are the real deal.

Another thing shorts do is train your mind into coming up with ideas and story lines, the more you satisfy your creative urges by actually putting them on the page the more good and usable ides for characters, plot, and setting you'll come up with. Its a feedback loop.

Lots and lots of people want to be writers, or to publish a novel. Their goals are wrong: first you have to want to WRITE, to do the work. You have to want to work hard and stay focused. It's much easier to work hard and stay focused on a short story over a week or two for a beginer than a months long novel project.

September 30th, 2006, 12:03 AM
Listen to Choppy. One thing I've done is give myself a deadline to write a particular story. It helps that I run a flash fiction story contest on another forum. ;)

Also carry around a pen and a notepad or some index cards and write down your story ideas so that you can still remember them when you're ready to use one. Keep your story ideas in a safe place.

October 17th, 2006, 11:10 AM
To your unique problem I would say write all and incorporate the different characters and story lines into one major plot, you will usually find yourselve developing a singular theme your characters will aspire to.

No hard and fast rules, while I am unpublished I usually tend to have between 5-10 characters with their own story lines which could quite easily spin out into different books or exist in one. The ripple effect of their existence affecting the other, that said it did be deuce difficult to combine fantasy with sci fi, unless you looking at time travel, displacement, alternate reality, type scenes. But whatever works use it, dont throw away. Never discard has always been my motto.

Started out with short stories, these serve to hone your style and you learn to alternate. I tend to you a tighter tyle for horror thrillers and pacy adventure for straight fantasy. Just dont rip your work up, reuse it mate.