Tag Info

Hot answers tagged

10

Try plotting backwards. The writers of House, MD often worked this way. They figured out some esoteric disease or ailment (or perhaps something not so esoteric but easy to confuse with other problems) and then worked backwards to lay red herrings and misdirection. So you have the ending you want (heroine gets macguffin). Work backwards from there. Each ...


8

I decide what should be written next only when I am writing that. This called being a "pants writer" or a "pantser," meaning that you write by the seat of your pants. It's completely valid as a workflow, IF you are then willing to go back to the beginning when you're finished and edit with a firm, even harsh hand. Just because it spews out of you ...


5

I don't believe there really are long ideas or short ideas. Instead, there are just ideas. Even if you say that your plot is very detailed, it doesn't really matter. Instead, it all depends upon how you write the scenes. Here's the entire Wizard Of Oz (by Frank Baum) story. The year is 1935. The place, a dirt road, somewhere in Kansas. Dorothy, ...


5

I firmly believe that you should try both approaches and experience yourself what works best for you. Would you marry someone that you have never seen? Would you sign up for a job, or employ a new worker, without some practical probation? Would you buy a car without testdriving it? Would you decide on a lifelong diet without trying at least one meal? Do you ...


5

A few guidelines I learned from Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Describe whatever the character has an opinion about. This guideline helps me figure out what to describe. If it matters to the character in the moment, it goes in. Describing through the character's five senses makes the descriptions rich and vivid. Whatever you describe, ...


5

If it's your first draft, just write it as it comes. You can't edit a blank page. After your first draft, go back through and clean up the polyglossolalia. If you're writing in third person, pick one language and make it all that. (Obviously if your characters speak multiple languages, you can decide what to keep and what to translate.) If you're writing ...


4

The original Tarzan book deals with this situation. His parents had several years' worth of picture and children's books, which they intended to use to educate him while they did whatever they were doing in Africa (which I forget) before they were marooned by pirates. [edit: Then they both died while Tarzan was still a baby.] So, yeah, they had a ...


4

It really comes down to two things, and nearly all professional writers recommend both of them: read a lot, and write even more. Just like anything else, you need to practice. Practice, practice, practice. You need to develop your own unique voice, and the only way to do that is through trial and failure. See what works, see what doesn't, and if you ...


4

LotR does in fact have such a book (I believe it is the Silmarillion). However, that book could only be published because the Hobbit/LotR books came first. In short, there would be no interest in it without LotR in the first place. This is why an encyclopedia or history book of a fictional land will not work on its own. It may get published, but the interest ...


4

I would suspect that you may be having a specific problem with storytelling (which is not quite the same thing as writing.) I myself do a lot of worldbuilding for fictional purposes, and your description: "I will spend large amounts of planning the geography so small pockets of interesting species can live secluded, how the trade between countries work, ...


4

Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock involved an elvish emperor who sacrificed his own people, and was frequently in conflict with human warriors. Elric's motivations and observations were described well by the author, such that the reader could relate. Heaven's Reach by David Brin involved two non-human protagonists, one being a chimpanzee, the other ...


3

If you want to write a noble character, you have to first understand what nobility is about. Your comment – "To convey a more finer upper class breeding." – conveys to me that you don't actually think that nobels are any different from us common folk, but arrogantly believe so themselves. The fact is that individuals from noble families know their lineage a ...


3

Why does the message have to be in English? Messages that are meant to be understood across languages are usually encoded visually. Think of the pictograms used to direct people on airports, or the comic-book-like saftey instructions in the nets at the backs of airplane seats. Or think of making drinking gestures. If I wanted to communicate a message to ...


3

I have the same problem --plot is my strength and description is my weakness. I think it corresponds with being a "big picture" person rather than detail-oriented. Something that helps me is to remember that description isn't just decoration, it can do a lot of substantive work. It can foreshadow, echo, or recall plot elements. It can develop a subtext, ...


3

Here are some possibilities: As you play around with the premise and the theme before mapping out the story, look for twists in the premise and the theme. As you consider endings, look for twist endings. As you map out the events that lead to the ending, look for ways to make your chosen ending a twist. That is, think of events that will lead the reader to ...


3

The relationship between planning and doing is a bit tricky, isn't it? I used to have a great deal of trouble with this, too. In my case, it was because I planned things that I didn't really know how to write. I would envision scenes in which someone dealt with a difficult, emotional situation that I have never experienced; scenes in which my characters ...


3

This fits firmly into the category of "do what works for you." I find that the more I plan ahead, the less likely I'm going to reach my destination. I work best when I have an open story ahead, and my world and its characters are allowed to grow in their own ways. This has the added benefit of allowing me to be surprised a bit by my own writing. However, ...


3

Two authors divide duties, not content One very successful technique was the one used by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp in their wonderful fantasy romps such as Land of Unreason and The Incomplete Enchanter. Pratt, at the time the much more experienced and accomplished of the two, would rough out a plot. They would bounce it back and forth until it ...


3

I think you might be happy in game development or some other industry where different artists focus on different aspects of the whole. If I where you I would try to search for something like "worldbuilding jobs" and whatever other search phrase you can come up with. Here is a blog that covers game writing: http://blog.ubi.com/tag/the-write-stuff/ There is ...


3

To some extent it's not really possible to write a story without three acts. Unless it's only two sentences long it will always be possible for a reader to post-rationalise a beginning-middle-end structure onto your tale. But when writing, don't worry about it. You don't need any acts in a short story. You are free to pick even the smallest atom of ...


3

This is just a lengthy comment as an addition to Dale Emery's answer. Dale recommends to "[t]reat the three-act structure (or any of the zillions of other popular structures) as tools for diagnosing story problem". I wholeheartedly agree. (And I especially agree with the quotation marks around "universal".) People have been telling stories forever. Other ...


3

I think the key to building a second act is to focus on the function of a second act: To increase the emotional payoff of the ending. Raise the stakes. This forces the character to keep going, and makes the reader more worried about failure. Eliminate options. None of the easy options work. None of the merely difficult or painful options work. No, in order ...


3

I doubt that there's a definitive answer to this. Different writers have different styles and different things that work for them. Personally, my approach is that for the first draft, I just throw words on paper. Whatever comes to my mind I type into the computer. Once I have a whole bunch of words down, then I go back and clean it up. I rewrite sentences ...


2

There's nothing wrong with writing off the cuff: trying to keep written conversation flowing nicely by a version of stream-of-consciousness i.e. if you type reasonably fast its almost like "recording" your own imagination-dialogue. Done well it makes for excellent material - well-paced and "natural" on read-back. The rub comes when you've finished first ...


2

Have a look in your local area for writers groups. Most communities have them and local libraries will usually be able to give you information. Having a network of people that can give you honest, constructive feedback is a resource that every writer should have. Make sure you read lots, too. Reading in the genre that you want to write in will help, but so ...


2

We're living in the Internet era. Take advantage of the Internet. So, go check websites. Writers SE is one of the most helpful sites I've encounter (I won't go into details with it since you're already here). The other one is Scribophile, which does exactly what you're requesting. And more. Here's a screenshot from my own account (these are feedback from ...


2

Your age has nothing to do with your problems, and you need the same things any beginning writers needs, at whatever age. Therefore, the basic answer to your question is: Stop viewing yourself as age-handicapped and start looking for solutions to your writing problems. All of the problems you have raised in your question have been asked and answered many ...


2

Here's an idea: Make Your Story Available Get a google drive account. It's 100% free. write your story and save it on your google drive. share the document via URL -- it's easy to do -- then you can give the URL to people you want to read your story. Gather Feedback Next, you use Google Drive to create a Feedback Form. You just say, New Form and add ...


2

I'm a firm believer in working hard on your characters, then your plot will follow. On blank paper/screen write all there is to know about each character. Add as much as you can. You will find your character will grow as you write and possible plot lines will jump up at you.


2

Somebody has said (probably on this site) that a plot goes like this: He wanted [goal]. So he [action]. But then [conflict], which caused [tension]. So he [action], and [resolution]. Repeat this a bunch of times, and you've got a plot. Of course, if you don't disguise it better than that, your story will be awful. Also, along the way you'll want ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible