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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

The "first draft" and extensive re-writing you alluded to is often what "pantsers" - people who write by the seat of their pants, without outlines, produce. Those aren't what I would really call a first draft, since they can be unstructured messes or streams of consciousness (though they can sometiems be good). They then take that material and structure it, ...


7

Treat fantastic, made-up facts the same as you would treat facts about our own world. Do you describe the physiology of human beings when you write a book about people like you and me? No. Neither should you go into medical detail when you write about aliens – unless your protagonist is a scientist studying them. In that case, give us the same amount of ...


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

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 ...


4

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 ...


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 ...


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

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

If the characters are only reacting, give each character something to want. A desire strong enough that the character will struggle to achieve it. Then make the character struggle. For dialogue, give each character an agenda. Things they want from the conversation. Things they do not want to happen. Things they do not want to reveal. And make sure their ...


4

Whatever point you choose on that spectrum you will have some readers who won't like the place that you have chosen. You will never get the balance exactly right for everyone. I am sure some people would enjoy a purely anthropological study of another species, if it was well written and contained interesting insights - myself included. Equally, that would ...


4

You could, but having separate stories is a good idea as well. Knowing the outcome can actually make the story more interesting; think of Anakin Skywalker, who everyone knew from the beginning was going to become Darth Vader. The interesting part here is how he became evil, rather than the discovery of it. You could also, as you mentioned, fuse the two ...


4

There are two kinds of series: (a) What is really one very long story that is broken into pieces for convenience or marketing purposes. That is, if a story takes 1000 pages, rather than try to sell one 1000-page book, we instead make a trilogy and sell three 330-page books. This makes each book more manageable and makes pricing more realistic. Etc. (b) A ...


4

There isn't a one-fits-all answer here. Generally speaking, your personal talent/skills in seeing and imagining connections will allow you less effort (and "work"/"formula"/"method") in devising them. It doesn't make you a better or worse writer to have that gift, but it certainly makes your job easier. If you want a couple of tips on how to be able to ...


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

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

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

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

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

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 ...


3

When there's no one likeable left alive. Or if there is anyone, you just know they're either faking it or doomed. TV Tropes calls it Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. I lasted until somewhere in the third Game of Thrones book. Or maybe it was only the second, I can't remember. Then I put the book down because I didn't want to read an account of a rape and ...


3

Are you writing for fun and to relax after your job? Then follow your inspiration as David Roberts suggests. But do not expext to ever finish a book, because very likely what you perceive as inspiration is the joy in dreaming up stories coupled with an unwillingness to do the less pleasant parts of a writer's job. Or are you writing to publish? Then finish ...


3

Well, this is a tough question. You've provided a lot of background and it's still a tough question to answer. I'm tempted to say yes and no, at the same time. In fact, I'm gonna stick my neck out there and just say it: yes and no. Yes, your highly detailed outline is essentially a first draft. But it's also not. Many authors craft extensive, ...


3

I think that the greatest factor you have to consider is the length of your story. Would combining the stories make your book into a 150,000 word epic? Or if they were separate would there not be enough substance that you would have to invent a lot of filler just to get the word count up? There is precedent for having the stories separate or combined, so ...


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 ...


2

It sounds as though you have two pieces of the story right now: the premise and the conclusion. In order to come up with a complete plot you will want to come up with one or more developments, plot points that change the direction of the story (in a mystery they would be called "plot twists"). If you're using the common three act structure you will want ...


2

Why are people willing to die in a revolution? Why do they sacrifice their lives to charitable work? Why do they protest against injustice even if it's not their own cause? This is the inner desire, our inner will to make a change for the better, to cause a memorable impact. If a book is immersive and the cause presented synergizes with beliefs of the ...


2

Trust your story. Short stories in general--and very short stories in particular--often have no middle. Treat the three-act structure (or any of the zillions of other popular structures) as tools for diagnosing story problem. If the story has a problems, a story structure can help you figure out where the problem is. If the story doesn't have a problem, ...



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