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There's an Idea, a Pen, and Paper. What next?



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  #41  
Old December 17th, 2009, 5:26 pm
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Re: There's an Idea, a Pen, and Paper. What next?

I've drawn or written music more than I've written stories, and for me, they require a different approach.
For drawing, I can just sit down, with paper and pencil or pen, and start doodling.
I've also written songs; sometimes the music comes first, other times, the lyrics come first. And sometimes, I can't reconcile them so I just write instrumental pieces or just poems. However, with actual music, I just pick up the guitar or sit in front of the piano and start noodling, and oftentimes something just comes out, but usually right at the onset of playing; it never seems to happen after the first 15 minutes or so. I have to be "fresh"and more open I guess.

For writing a story however, it's think much more complex, and quite different. You need well defined characters, places, and events.
Personally, I think it's best to let an idea gel first, long before even breaking out the pen and paper. Reference JKR, sitting on the train for hours, creating the basis of the Potterverse in her head. Let your creative juices flow at their leisure, don't try to force it. It almost never works when forced, though that said, some people seem to perform well under pressure. I rarely did.

Many writers base their writings on personal experiences,which they then twist or alter to fit their theme. That means, of course, the more experiences you have under your belt, the more material you have to work with. It's an advantage of age. (Of course, that doesn't mean that everyone whose older has experiences nor learns from them )

I imagine you can start with any element though: you could begin with a simple enough premise- IOW, the plot; or you could start by having a special place or location in mind, and then write a story around the place; likewise, you could start with characters, even names, and build it up from there. It's all up to the individual, and every writer is going to work differently.

I recall at one point, trying to start up my own comic strip for the school paper when I was in high school (I was art editor). At first I thought, well I draw all the time, this can't be too hard. I used to draw comics all the time, making fun of various teachers or taking friends or current super heroes and putting them in funny situations. I could make people laugh, and they felt I drew well too.
But I never actually created a character, though. Then reality set in; there's a huge difference between simply drawing and mimicking people, and creating a new comic strip, because a strip is really a story; it requires characters, at least one location for them to interact in, and other elements. I was blindsided, then frustrated, and it never developed. I think now I understand that much better, but it's still not easy.


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  #42  
Old February 22nd, 2010, 4:55 am
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Ten rules for writing fiction

Not by me, but a bunch of working authors. The number of tips vary, as do the details, but there are a few that repeatedly crop up.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010...ction-part-one


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  #43  
Old February 22nd, 2010, 12:42 pm
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

A lot of those made me laugh, and they're true. Thanks for posting that

Quote:
Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But "said" is far less intrusive than "grumbled", "gasped", "cautioned", "lied". I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with "she asseverated" and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.
As someone who was surprised to see 'said' so many times in OotP, I'll have to slightly disagree. That's not to say that we should grab our thesaurus and dictionaries and have our characters 'gabble like a river'. Just put 'yelled' when they yelled, and 'said' when they spoke in a normal tone.


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  #44  
Old February 22nd, 2010, 4:47 pm
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

If a piece of dialogue is written properly the author shouldn't need to put "yelled".

That's actually JKR's biggest weakness, excess adverbs especially in speech attribution.


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  #45  
Old February 22nd, 2010, 11:20 pm
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wab View Post
If a piece of dialogue is written properly the author shouldn't need to put "yelled".

That's actually JKR's biggest weakness, excess adverbs especially in speech attribution.
That's true; I see what you're saying.
If the emotion is conveyed properly in the dialogue, no need to describe it.
I'm just someone who reads every line in a story and gets tired of seeing 'said' everywhere.


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  #46  
Old February 27th, 2010, 8:58 pm
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wab View Post
If a piece of dialogue is written properly the author shouldn't need to put "yelled".

That's actually JKR's biggest weakness, excess adverbs especially in speech attribution.
I agree, but I also disagree. You have to distinguish who the speaker is and that could lead to a bunch of saids. It's a bunch of repeated words. Once in a while writing "he yelled" or "she argued" isn't going to hurt. Actually, I think it would help. It would break the spell of saying said too much. IMO, there is nothing wrong with using other words instead of said. We don't have to use fifty cent words. Native speakers should all know what yelled, argued, spoke, repeated, replied, and answered mean.


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  #47  
Old February 27th, 2010, 10:15 pm
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Once the speakers are established there is no need for attribution if the dialogue is well-written (especially in a two-hander).


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  #48  
Old March 1st, 2010, 12:29 am
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Some of those rules aren't bad.
10 Ignore all proferred rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say.
~ Michael Moorcock


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  #49  
Old March 29th, 2010, 7:54 pm
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

I've used other words than 'said' before, but I generally feel that they should be used extremely sparingly. It's an odd inflection that gets taught to you early in school, along with the encouragement to not use the word 'nice'. It's designed to increase the child's vocabulary and it's something that sticks. I'd recommend a heavy dose of Hemmingway.


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  #50  
Old May 1st, 2010, 9:35 am
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Ha, I enjoyed Margaret Atwood's rules. I love her so much. She at least realised how silly the whole thing was. [spoilered for length]

Spoiler: show
1 Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can't sharpen it on the plane, because you can't take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2 If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.

3 Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

4 If you're using a computer, always safeguard new text with a memory stick.

5 Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.

6 Hold the reader's attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don't know who the reader is, so it's like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What fascinates A will bore the pants off B.

7 You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you're on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.

8 You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You've been backstage. You've seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.

9 Don't sit down in the middle of the woods. If you're lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

10 Prayer might work. Or reading something else. Or a constant visual*isation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.


Ian Rankin's was quite good as well, same with Richard Ford's. I didn't like the ones who gave you specific books to read and things like that - it may have worked for them but it's a silly principle to apply to writing in general. Keats won't help crime fiction.


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  #51  
Old May 16th, 2010, 5:22 am
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Setting up and Starting out

Well the title of the thread says it all. I have been gone for quite some times due to my Masters degree eating up a TON of time! I am back but I wanted to know where to start? I have an idea for a FanFic, but I haven't a clue where to start or how? Do I set up the initial scene? jump right into the conversation?

I suppose I also have issues with planning and kind of fleshing things out the right way. I know the basic rules of English, but I am much better with numbers, so my dillema starts there. Any help in the "how to set up" would be great.


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  #52  
Old May 19th, 2010, 12:21 am
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Re: Setting up and Starting out

You know, everyone has their own preference, and that's something you may need to figure out on your own with some practice. Some people like to jump in, others like to plan more, some start their stories at the beginning, and others don't.

How long and complicated do you expect your story to be? Personally, how I approach things can depend on that. If I'm writing something fairly short and I know what I want to do, I usually just jump in. If it's longer or if I'm not sure where I want to take the story, I try to think it over first, and maybe try writing out an outline to get my thoughts flowing.

Either way, eventually you're going to have to just sit down and start writing. A lot of the challenge is just making yourself start. If you want to try starting from the beginning, try that. If you have a scene in mind, you can try writing that down.


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  #53  
Old May 19th, 2010, 12:30 am
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

If it's clear from context who's speaking, you don't need to have an attribution. There are a lot of ways to mix up dialogue without using a lot of verbs other than "said" or adverbs, such as describing the character's actions or body language.

If dialogue becomes repetitive by having "so-and-so said" over and over, changing "said" to "yelled" or another verb probably won't help. There are probably bigger structure issues at play.


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  #54  
Old May 27th, 2010, 6:38 am
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Quote:
Originally Posted by DancingMaenid View Post
If it's clear from context who's speaking, you don't need to have an attribution. There are a lot of ways to mix up dialogue without using a lot of verbs other than "said" or adverbs, such as describing the character's actions or body language.

If dialogue becomes repetitive by having "so-and-so said" over and over, changing "said" to "yelled" or another verb probably won't help. There are probably bigger structure issues at play.
Exactly. Typically, the writer needs to find a good balance between free-flowing dialogue--dialogue without attributions--and grounded dialogue--action description.

For example, if a piece of dialogue in too action heavy, the reader with feel as though they are encased in a small box. Basically, you want to let the reader's imagination push them through the story. By giving the action to them, you are limiting their imagination.

On the other hand, if you used too much free-flowing dialogue (a full page is usually too much), the reader will lose touch with the scene. Attributions and action helps keep the scene grounded.

Finding a good balance within dialogue is one of the toughest things writers must master, but it makes all the difference in the strength of the dialogue.

B


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  #55  
Old July 29th, 2010, 10:29 pm
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

I think a better title for that list would be "Ten rules for selling fiction."


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  #56  
Old August 2nd, 2010, 2:44 am
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

I've heard most of these, but they are definitely helpful for any young writers. Particularly those, like myself, who tend to add too many adjectives. :P


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  #57  
Old July 17th, 2011, 2:56 pm
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Quote:
Originally Posted by leah49 View Post
Native speakers should all know what yelled, argued, spoke, repeated, replied, and answered mean.
Absolutely. And I agree, reading the word "said" 50 times within three pages can become slightly annoying. JKR uses it too often for my taste. The best solution to this is not to use an attribution at all, as DancingMaenid mentioned already.


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Old July 18th, 2011, 10:36 pm
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Quote:
Originally Posted by colouredshadows View Post
Absolutely. And I agree, reading the word "said" 50 times within three pages can become slightly annoying. JKR uses it too often for my taste. The best solution to this is not to use an attribution at all, as DancingMaenid mentioned already.
I would caution against no attribution at all for more than a couple of sentences. If the reader has to go back and count lines to remember who is saying what, you've lost him.


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  #59  
Old August 7th, 2011, 5:51 pm
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Pretentious Pointers

I realize that, being new to the community, a guide like this might come off as pretentious. (Hence the title) But I think my advice is sound anyway, and there aren't many helpful guides here already, so here it goes:

Most of my advice can be applied to writing in general, but some of it is geared specifically towards Harry Potter fanfiction. I'm going to assume most of you write said fanfiction, or you'd be at another forum.

First, the tools:
You may find these helpful, but of course they aren't necessary. If you know of another useful tool, post about it and I will add it to the list.
*Dictionary.com has a toolbar that lets you look up definitions and thesaurus entries without having to google the site itself all the time or flip through a huge book.
*Firefox is a helpful browser for its spell-check function, for those of you posting your fanfiction to the internet.
*OpenOffice is a free program for those of you that lack Word. You can create Pdfs using it too, for those of you that want a more professional-looking document (or want to add cover-art and such).
*The Harry Potter Lexicon is the best place, to my knowledge, for looking up canon information. The Harry Potter wiki is okay, but it doesn't distinguish between movie, video game, and book canon in its articles, and some canon sources conflict.

Now for the Writing Process:
Some people ask which is more important: character, or plot? My answer is: Whichever of those, at a given moment, is having the most powerful effect on your reader. At all times, you want your work to have a powerful emotional pull on your reader, even if the pull is just to keep turning pages.

The First Step, for me, is designing a villain. This isn't the only way to start, but it's sure the most efficient, in my opinion. Develop your villain and you already have a plot and a set of characters, which is at least half of what you need to get started. How does a villain generate plot and a set of characters? Well, likely the plot is going to involve somehow stopping the villain. As far as characters go, well, the way you create your villain should determine a lot of things about the other characters, especially the hero of the story.

--What does your villain want? His desires should oppose the hero's in some way. Either they are in direct opposition, like Voldemort and Harry, or they are in competition to get the same thing. A hero that doesn't care about what the villain does should really only be reserved for comedy, or else the story isn't going anywhere.
--What is your villain going to do to get what he wants? This is a little different than asking "what is he willing to do?" because often the answer is a very vague "anything," and the villain might be willing to do some things he very well can't do. For this part of the creation process, you need to be figuring out what your villain's talents and resources need to be in order for him to have a shot at reaching his goal. For every major talent and resource the villain has, the hero needs to be able to oppose it in some way. If the villain is very clever, the hero also needs to be clever, or very lucky. If the villain is a powerful political figure, the hero needs an underground organization to oppose it (a la Order of the Phoenix). If the villain has a secret lair, the hero might need an artifact of some sort to get him inside, etc.

The rest of your cast should consist of characters helping the villain--and not necessarily on purpose (henchmen, allies, underlings, the hero's best friend, who makes a convenient hostage) and characters helping the hero (the tech guy that figures out the password into the lair and always has a supply of weapons handy for your hero, for example).

So really by the time you finish designing your villain, you should have the beginnings of a plot, your hero character, and a good start on the rest of the characters you'll need.

If you found any of this helpful, please post below:

*How helpful was it? What there anything I could have explained better?
*What topic would you like me to cover next, if any?
*Is there anything you feel I overlooked, or left out, in the topic I discussed?

I am unsure why or how my post ended up here. I meant to start it as a new thread, and if it seems out of context or somehow offensive, that's why. I suppose I'll have to ask a moderator.

I am unsure why or how my post ended up here. I meant to start it as a new thread, and if it seems out of context or somehow offensive, that's why. I suppose I'll have to ask a moderator.


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Old January 3rd, 2012, 11:43 pm
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Re: There's an Idea, a Pen, and Paper. What next?

First thing I do is go to the computer,pull up Google Chrome,pull up this, Youtube, Pottermore, Olympian Hearth, and grab my earbuds.I start up my music,grab a spiral notebook and sparkly gel pens.I read a especially moving book,and begin to write down what my book is about.Sometimes,I do a sketch of what I want the cover of the book to look like.I don't have a particular fondness for graphic organizers or any type of organizer really.I try to get the names,dates,location,basic story line,and realationship in between the characters in the beginning straitened out.Then,I start to make a web,interweaving conflict in the spaces.Then,I fully decide the main conflict.Not the mos all working idea,but its helped me through essays and books.


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