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Glelas
June 29th, 2007, 10:10 AM
I see the scene in my mind's eye. The images are vivid. The characters magically have a deep history. I can taste the scene, smell the scene, feel the scene.

I can't WRITE the scene.

A short example I have played with for years...A captain of an elite squad of the empire's army is praying before dawn in a makeshift temple. He is relishes these moments when he can pray and be just a man and not an arm of empire. He and his men arrived during the night to this backwater town. He is in a tshirt and worn breeches. They are damp with sweat from the journey through the night. The cool temple air gives him a chill and it feels good. His armor and sword lay at the foot of the altar...etc. etc...

I could probably go on for 3/4 of the story like that if I wanted to.

But when I try to "revise" or do a "2nd draft" if you will...I get nothing.

Now I don't need advice on ways to write this particular scene. I think my problem is deeper and more hopeless. I have this problem with everything I dream up. I can't articulate it they way I see it my mind, whether writing or speaking. Even now I am having trouble explaining my dilemma...:confused:

Arash
June 29th, 2007, 11:47 AM
Maybe you're anxious that you won't get it quite right or that you would do a bad job and that fear is stopping you from doing your work.

Remember that imagination is a powerful and infinite force which conceives ideas that then need to be squeezed through the narrow medium of language. A writer can never paint an exact picture of what he sees in his mind's eye. The world of the imagination is simply too rich.

My advice would be to just loosen up and go for it without worrying about how its going to turn out. Your job is not to describe everything to the last detail. The reader's imagination will do that for you.

BrianC
June 29th, 2007, 12:51 PM
Glelas, the first million words are merely practice anyway; so use them. Write the damn scenes and don't care if it's "good" or not at this point. Just write. Develop your voice. Hone your technique. One day you'll find that you can do it, and do it well.

KatG
June 29th, 2007, 01:28 PM
Hold on here, I remember this I think. Did you show us narrative of this commander praying in the temple? I know somebody was offering us a scene like that in one of the past discussions about narrative stuff. And then he gets interrupted, called by his men? Of course, it might have been somebody else's thing, but this sounds familiar.

Anyway, your dilemma is that your Inner Weasel is running loose. It tells you that you can't write what is in your mind, that when you do, it's not right and you're hopeless. And of course, your Inner Weasel is wrong because your little narrative summary right there is interesting just the way you did it:

"They are damp with sweat from the journey through the night. The cool temple air gives him a chill and it feels good. His armor and sword lay at the foot of the altar."

Go on, go on. If that's the way that you can write it, write it that way because it certainly sounds good. (Okay, T-shirt in a non-tech warrior perhaps not the best description, but other than that.)

You can also try various things, such as meticulously detailing every sensory aspect of the scene, down to the exact colors in his hair. Then start subtracting the details you don't want. If you have draft ms. and the problem is revising -- not clear on this -- then you may want to work with a free-lance editor. You have to pay them, but the good ones can help you with narrative techniques and give you somebody to bounce material off of, which helps. Writing groups, etc., might also help and may be cheaper.

But first off, you have to sit on your Inner Weasel, and say, "Shut up, I am too articulate."

Glelas
June 29th, 2007, 02:07 PM
Hold on here, I remember this I think. Did you show us narrative of this commander praying in the temple? I know somebody was offering us a scene like that in one of the past discussions about narrative stuff. And then he gets interrupted, called by his men? Of course, it might have been somebody else's thing, but this sounds familiar.

That would be me - the same basket case. Shows how far I've come.:( I have 100's probably 1000's of pages of stuff like that. Different ideas, different stories - some sci-fi, some fantasy, some nonsense...I like to call them 1st drafts but they probably fall short. (And that particular story continues to rear its head every now and then. I feel like its begging to get written but the poor thing better find someone else to tell its story cause I can't tell it.)

But thanks for the vote of confidence. The 3 sentences you happen to pick out...I really believe nobody in their right mind would want to read that crapola...

Hereford Eye
June 29th, 2007, 03:18 PM
Used to camp and fish a lot, with friends, family, sons and daughters. Nights around a campfire always got right to the story telling. You start a story as you did in post number one. As long as people can follow it, no one interrupts. You get to a part that you didn't splain properly; they let you know. You get to a part that people want to know more detail about; they interrupt you to ask. As long as you tell a story that interests folk and gives them what they think they need to know, the story proceeds from start to finish.
Tell your story; write it down just as you did in your first post. When you finish the story, start to finish, look at what you've got. Does it make sense to you? If it doesn't, fix what you don't like. If it does, post it out there for some good editors to take a poke at. What have you got to lose except a little bit of your vanity?

Abby
June 29th, 2007, 03:28 PM
Hi Glelas,

I think you just need to look at some reference. Read other books that are written in a style you like, and try to get the author's skill to rub off on you. That's how I do it. :)

kater
June 29th, 2007, 04:15 PM
I think you need to separate yourself from the idea that you can write the 'perfect' story, it seems to place too much pressure on your writing. None of us will ever write the story exactly as we see it in our heads. It took me a good long while to realise that it was ok if I didn't nail exactly what I was seeing in my mind's eye, sometimes the unexpected turns change it for the better. No matter how involved, how important the story is to you - you'll have another one soon enough. It takes time and experience but recognising when you're chasing an idea down a cul-de-sac will become an important part of not investing yourself in an idea/story to the point where it stops being fun and you can't write. As someone said above, go write something else completely free form, pick a word/name/object and just go for it, then come back to the stuff you need to write when your in a groove. Oh and don't leave it too long between writing because of your frustration, keep in touch with it.

Severn
June 29th, 2007, 06:03 PM
Gelas...it's a common problem I think.

First thing - you're not a basketcase. You're a writer facing the same issue that many writer's face: Getting the story out of your head, and onto the paper/page. So, ease up on yourself ok? We've all been there. Hell, I have a hard enough time finding a story, let alone writing it. I haven't been writing for 5 years! Five whole years of nothing...except for a few poems here and there. It's been hard, sad, and icky. My new husband is teaching me to be nicer to myself and I can say with certainty that self-encouragement works wonders.

I was thinking the same thing as KatG actually - those three lines aren't so bad. You know they sound like they're from a story that's a mix between fantasy and present-tense, contemporary fiction. Given I've just written a story with that same mix...I'll support that. :) So, you say you can't write the scene. Those three lines did in fact constitute 'writing the scene.' So, you can actually do it. Proof is in the pudding. It might not be the pudding you like, not quite the right flavour, the right consistency. But you have a pudding there, right there on the metaphorical table.

Now you get to play with the recipe - how exciting! What a challenge.

KatG also suggested finding editors, or a writer's group. I'll support her wholeheartedly on the writer's group idea. Personally, I would say an editor for you is a step or two away. You're barely comfortable with your own work - I think you need to get a little more comfortable before you give away your babies to someone who will mercilessly rip them apart, while they're still newborn. I have a writer's group, and they've helped me so much with that story I mentioned. I'm so rusty they've helped with punctuation, dialogue, and other little things I overlooked. A small group of people who 'get' what you're going through, who struggle like you do, and who are also literate and talented. Works wonders, I promise. Do you have any friends who write? Perhaps you could form one yourself. Or else, search one out.

As for second drafts and revision: When you say you get nothing, what do you mean exactly? Can't focus? Can't see what you've written in any different way, as if it's fixed in stone? Don't know how to rewrite?

Glelas
June 29th, 2007, 07:10 PM
As for second drafts and revision: When you say you get nothing, what do you mean exactly? Can't focus? Can't see what you've written in any different way, as if it's fixed in stone? Don't know how to rewrite?

Lets assume I write a whole story in the form I used above. Matter of fact sentences. No variation. Same sentence structure etc. Ok, I guess that could be considered a first draft. Now when I go back (a day later, a year, whenever) to rewrite:

1. I am sickened by what I wrote.
2. It looks hopeless to fix.
3. I begin to edit and rewrite and spend days on two sentences.
4. Don't know how to rewrite - therefore I feel it is fixed in stone.

I have read and to some degree studied fiction writing. I can read published material and spot a weakness or notice how an author skillfully handled a certain situation to get his point across...But I can't do it to my own crap.
:mad: