Hello, I am 17 and I love to write. Even though english is one of my most feared subjects at school I write as much as I can.
I have never seriously written a story before. There was a time when I wrote a short story about 3 kids being trapped in a giant castle over night, but looking back at that story now makes me want to puke (even though it did get the highest rating out of the whole class) because it seemed so "kiddish". Since then I have written book reports, and book reviews, and about a month ago I realized that is what I want to do; to write. I am just beginning though, I wrote a start of a story and compared it to the works of Stephen King (reading a book of his, "It", and can't put it down) and realized my writting is terrible. All the good artists seem to have the forming of sentences down which make it flow perfectly, and mine seem to sound like "He did this, then he did this and that" which makes it seem like a 5 year old wrote it. Is there any advice you experts can give a wanna-be writer? How did you guys start in the writing business, did you experience the same problems as me?
Thanks for the help!
November 18th, 2002, 04:39 AM
I think most writers have the same problems as you to one extent or another, the secret (as with many things) is practice.
I remember when I was in school (some time ago!) we constantly had to re-write stories correcting flow, grammar, spelling, and just about every damn thing that could possibly go wrong!
The first draft is always going to be ROUGH and writing the initial ideas and structure is (for me) the easiest part.
Refining the story so it looks good and flows is the hard part as you will often see what SHOULD be on the page, rather than what IS on the page.
Getting other people to read your work is always a good idea, even if it's just checking the grammatical structure etc.
With your example of... "He did this, then he did this and that"
When you are refering to one person in a scene and there are no other players in the scene, you don't have to refer the person continuously as the reader already knows who you mean.
"Kahnovitch checked the boards for new threads as it had been a while since he'd been on the forum.
The writing thread was his favourite as this was the place he felt most kindred with the other posters.
Nothing had taken his interest much in the last few days, until a new writer appeared looking for some guidance
With relish he clicked on "Reply" and began typing".
Hope this helps a little.
"He hit "Submit Reply" and continued scanning the boards".
November 18th, 2002, 04:56 AM
Yea, I tried some practicing techniques for writing. I tried one someone posted on these boards which was "try writing what you see outside your window", well i did that and after a few pages realized I was talking about all the experiences I've had at the house next door.
I do think I am getting better though, I am writing a begining of a science fiction/fantasy story (I don't know which it is... it's a fantasy story taking place in the future). I have had some trouble though. In the first seen of my story I have 2 people fighting, and I don't give one guy a name, so I am repeatedly thinking of words to describe "opponent", which gets kind of annoying. Here is a paragraph of the story, i think you will get the picture:
" Jarett had lost concentration again, for his enemy was making a mad dash
toward him with his barblade held high. It only took Jarett a split second to
summon the power of Magika. His slender hands moved up and down as a
mystical aura of energy encased them. Jarett let go of all around him, with his
eyes closed he unleashed the energy onto his attacker. The sudden rush of
energy dumfounded his assailant, causing his whole body to convulse violently.
Jarett took advantage of the spellís effects and made a mad dash to his own
barblade. The enemy came back to conscious and realized his vulnerability, so he
put himself back into the defensive stance. Jarett had only managed to get a
slight nick on his antagonistís shoulder before his attack was countered by an
upward thrust which sent Jarettís Battle Points into the stammering single digits."
From that you see why I am having a tough time switching from "he" and "his" and then using his name.
I am just getting the hang of this writing stuff ;o)
November 18th, 2002, 01:38 PM
Kahnovitch was right in saying that the first step is just to enjoy the writing and write down all the ideas that you have and not worry so much about the flow and grammar. That can all be fixed in the edits, and if you are a dedicated writer there will be many. What I would recommend, instead of worrying about the flow, diction, and grammar, for your small writing excercises is to just write something that you really like the ideas of and finish the entire rough draft before you start picking at yourself. I always find that if I like what I have created, but then read it over and see areas that are weak I really want to fix them because I can see that fixing them will do me some good because the overall story really works. That's just my suggestion. Oh, my other suggestion -- don't worry if you aren't writing like Stephen King or your other favorite authors. That's just the way they write. You shouldn't want to write like them. You should find your own voice and maybe one day they'll read your work and wish they had written like you. Originality is always best. Create something fresh.
17 is a tough age for career path, i remember it well, it wasn't long ago (im 22 now), and i don't think I've really done anything that useful since that time except go to college. If you are thinking of going to college to be a writer do some serious research into it. You can write nomatter what your profession is, they mainly teach you to critique and what they want you to read and write may not be suitable to your tastes at all. I was on track to get an honors degree in English from University of Michigan a year early but eventually couldn't take it anymore. I was doing well but I felt I wasn't learning anything and it definetely wasn't worth the student loans. ANyway, I dropped out and finished college for free with merit scholarships learning graphic design and digital media. These are important years of our young lives and I wish you the best of luck. The important thing is to always love writing. If something makes you start hating it, stop whatever it is as soon as you can!
November 18th, 2002, 01:51 PM
Well, I started writing at 12, and the trick I've been using to improve since then is - writing. Actually, I've done very little editing in my life - according to practically all the reviews I've received, my writing improves as I write and write and write. I aim for the point at which I'll be able to write well enough not to have to edit much. I like the way Heinlein did things - wrote each scene only once, but so that it counted.
There was this guy, don't know who, who said (the actual phrasing's likely different) "Write a 1000 pages. I promise you that you'll be better afterwards than before you began."
My MOST enthusiastic bit of advice is - join an online writing workshop. sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com is the one i'm on - it's pay, but not too expensive, and rather good - but there's others, such as www.critters.org. These workshops are invaluable for feedback on all the little and large things.
November 18th, 2002, 01:54 PM
It's often useful to check out how published authors do things.
Invent a scene and write it down. Now think back to any books you've read that contain a similar scene and examine what techniques the author used when he/she wrote it. Compare your scene with his/hers.
Pay attention to the way the author uses the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste) to draw the reader in.
Strip your writing of as many adverbs and adjectives as you can get away with; they bog things down and lessen the impact of your writing.
Remove passive phrases. For instance, 'He scowled' is better than 'He looked angry'.
Try and plan your story/novel before you write it. Some professional, experienced authors wing it and work without an outline. It works for them because their work is already up to a professional standard. Another reason that it works for them is because they already have a wealth of writing experience to draw upon. Don't try this yourself, it won't work for you because you lack both those things.
Hope that helps! :)
November 18th, 2002, 02:00 PM
I think people can 'wing it' without very much experience if they want to. I've heard authors say it was what they did from stratch - it's most certainly been for me so far, though perhaps that's why I haven't written my Brilliant Novel yet :D
November 18th, 2002, 02:10 PM
I'd be interested to know how many successful, published fantasy (or science fiction) authors you know of that write novels by just making things up as they go along... :)
I'm not saying it can't be done, but I think it'd be wrong to recommend something that is, technically, bad writing practice to a beginner.
November 18th, 2002, 03:06 PM
One thing -- write, every day.
You'll discover your style. The hard way. But you'll discover it.
November 18th, 2002, 10:38 PM
I have found that when you are young your writing always appears childish when you look back on it. I belive that has something to do with the fact that between writing and re-reading a peice you have improved so much in your thought process as well as your writing skill that it does in fact come out very 'childish'.
Whenever I look at stuff I wrote a year ago all I can do is think, "Did I write this? It's horrible? Is all my stuff this cheesy?"
The fact is it's hard to be your own judge.
I wish you luck! Remember you can always improve but never throw away your first attempts...they could end up becoming the basis for a bestseller someday!