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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Writing Class » Assignment #1--starting a story (Page 4)

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Author Topic: Assignment #1--starting a story
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Or you could have the surfing take place inside the eye, against the spin of the inner vortex of the hurricane (I'm thinking surfing the wind and not the water, so the "surfers" would be moving parallel to the surface of the ocean--horizontally instead of vertically the way regular surfers do).
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cklabyrinth
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I've shelved the hurricane surfing for now, thinking of a few others. One just came to me as I was driving home. I saw a gutter installer's truck and noticed the phone number was for an area 30 minutes away.

That gave me the idea of such an installer who, during a time of slow business in his area, gets a call from someone a few hours away to do some work at a house large enough that it'd take a few weeks to complete the job. I'd think the twist would be there's something unnatural about the guy's customer and the story be about his attempt to find out exactly what it is.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Cool.

See if you can think of at least one other idea to add to that, something totally unrelated maybe. (Go through your idea list--you do keep one, right?--and see what rings your chimes.)

Edited to add: I had a story I wanted to write for quite a while, one from my family history that I had added a twist to in my plan (so there were two ideas already). It wasn't until I heard that an editor was looking for stories about magic and music, that I added that as the third idea, and I wrote it up as a novelette (12,500 words) in a day and a half.

So what I'm saying is that sometimes, once you add the right idea(s), the story can almost write itself.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited May 10, 2008).]


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cklabyrinth
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Ok I've got one, I think, maybe two.

First one is the customer is a vampire or some other immortal being who was diagnosed with a terminal illness, though I'm not sure that would prevent him from still taking part in human society. As I was brainstorming I thought that could be a good reason for him to never leave his house.

Second one is he's a Buddhist wizard who gave up magic because he regarded it as unnatural. He doesn't leave his estate, but the rain starts interfering with his gardening, so he needs to install gutters.

Can't decide which one I like more.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Well, you could try writing them both and see which one keeps going.
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cklabyrinth
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All right, I'll give that a shot. Before I start should I figure out how my protagonist will be moved, the internal conflict he'll face, and the general tone of the story, or is all of that something that can be added during revision (I'm halfway through Hills' book)?
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Well, you can try starting without any of that in mind, let it grow out of what happens (some authors prefer to do it that way).

If that doesn't seem to be working for you, then go back and ask yourself questions about your protagonist (look up a personality quiz or character development questions--there should be plenty of them online--and ask some of those questions) until you feel you really know the guy and what his biggest fears are (those are always good to attack a character on in a story).

Look over what else has been posted in this topic as well. Some of the other stuff here may give you ideas.


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EP Kaplan
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I had a fairly interesting idea a while back. "What would a prison for magic-users be like?"

Then there was the question of why such a facility might exist. Then it occurred to me: "What if the JFK assassination was linked to witchcraft?"
My immediate thought was the WWII internment camps following Pearl Harbor.
I was thinking of special cells, non technological, but sort of "counter-magic". Well, there I have my setting. Not sure what I should do with it.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Well, first of all, I think you are going to need to figure out what your magic is (what it can do, what the price is to be able to do it), and then you need to figure out what the counter-magic would be.

You'd also have to figure out what kind of legal system would deal with magic--is magic illegal across the board, or are only certain kinds of magic allowed, or magic done by certain (registered, maybe?) people? How are the criminals caught, and who catches them? Is there a possibility for some end-justifies-the-means dilemmas here (always nice to create internal conflict)?

Once you've got details like that figured out, you need to come up with a character who is unhappy in one way or another about the whole situation and therefore wants to change something. And you have a pile of possibilities there:

someone unjustly imprisoned (a first idea, and therefore one everyone would think of--OSC recommends tossing first ideas)

someone who cares about someone unjustly imprisoned (see above)

someone justly imprisoned who has found out about a plan that is so much worse than anything he did to deserve imprisonment that he hopes to work out some kind of deal to prevent it from happening and thereby get out of prison (second idea, OSC says toss them, too)

someone justly imprisoned who likes being imprisoned (maybe he fears his magic?) but finds out a plan that he can't in good conscience let happen, but he'll have to get out of prison to stop it (third idea, better, especially if he can't convince anyone to believe him about the plan so he has to deal with the bad guys alone--nah, that's more first-idea-ish)

someone who has a plan but needs someone who is in prison to help execute it (uh, now we're back to first or second ideas, I think)

I'm not going to suggest any more ideas. I only posted these to help you get past them.

Work out your magic and your legal system, and you may find a character developing in your mind as you do that.

You may also think of elaborations on my above "ideas" that will take them past first and second idea status.

Go for it.


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cklabyrinth
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Kathleen, I'd like to thank you again for the advice on these three assignments. I've got that gardener story up to about 4,000 words now and a good enough idea of where it's going. Of course there'll be a lot of revision necessary but this is one of the few I've written after thinking about and plotting.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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That's great, cklabyrinth. Thanks for letting me know. I'm glad I could be of help.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited May 25, 2008).]


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Gabriel's_Trumpet
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I need some help.

In my story, there are two different worlds that were and are still partially interconnected. One is the ordinary mundane world that we live in, and the other is an extraordianary world, also known as the mythological city of Atlantis.

There is magic in Atlantis, but I don't know whether to use trigger words to activate certain spells, sheer force of will to sort of mold the magic as the caster wishes it, or a combination of both.

Any advice on which to use and how to use it?


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Gabriel's_Trumpet
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Oh, and cklabyrinth, I was reading the Drizzt series by R.A. Salvatore a bit ago, and they have something called anti-magic crystals, in which any magic within a certain area is neutralized, no matter how powerful. Maybe you could include something like a magic damper that either weakens or, like the crystals, completely defeats magic.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Gabriel's_Trumpet, OSC has taught that when you are designing a magic world, you need to think about the cost of doing the magic.

So, if doing magic means force of will, then would only strong-willed (stubborn, determined, focussed, obsessed?) people be able to do magic? (Sort of like in the Harry Potter books when Bellatrix told Harry that he had to really mean it in order to do a cruciatis (or however it's spelled) curse.)

In that case, some questions you might want to consider about your magic system might be:

Would it be possible for someone to stop a spell by distracting the spellcaster?

Would a spell backfire (or go wrong in some other way) if the spellcaster does not concentrate properly?

How hard would it be to develop the willpower necessary?

Would a spellcaster be able to improve by improving willpower, and, conversely, if something happened to the spellcaster to make him or her not care any more, would the magic ability be lost?

And if trigger words are necessary instead, is pronunciation crucial?

If just saying a word causes magic to happen, how does one spellcaster tell another what word to use without having the magic happen (or could you do some fun things with the problems this might cause)?

How many words are required (long "spells")?

Can the words be read or do they need to be memorized?

What happens if the spellcaster gets one word wrong in a long spell?

If a spell is only one word, does the number of spells available depend on how many words the spellcaster can learn?

If they are long spells, can you learn just one long spell and insert crucial words to achieve different results?

That sort of thing.

You could combine words and will by having the words help with the force of will (maybe by having the spellcaster repeat them until willpower is built up enough--which would avoid the problem with saying the word and making magic happen), and as a spellcaster gets better at the willpower part, the words aren't as important (or don't need to be spoken and can just be thought, or aren't needed at all).

The thing is, this kind of approach is (as I mentioned above) similar to what JK Rowling did in her Harry Potter books, so I'd strongly recommend that you add something to make your magic different. I'd suggest adding some other kind of cost.

Maybe a trigger word can only be used once, and then the spellcaster has to learn a different way to cast the spell next time.

Maybe a lot of energy is used up in the force of will, so that the spellcaster has to recuperate physically afterwards (the bigger the spell, the longer the recuperation time, with, perhaps, the risk that a really big spell could kill the spellcaster?)

The recuperation could involve needing to eat or the spellcaster could become ill or starve to death quickly, or needing to drink water (or some kind of sports drink--your people from this world could bring them with them and be considered great wizard helpers that way) because the spellcaster becomes dehydrated and could die of thirst.

And so on. Try to come up with ideas beyond your first thoughts so that they won't be something anyone could come up with. (Also from OSC--throw out your first or second ideas.)

I hope this helps.


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Pyraxis
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quote:
In my story, there are two different worlds that were and are still partially interconnected. One is the ordinary mundane world that we live in, and the other is an extraordianary world, also known as the mythological city of Atlantis.

There is magic in Atlantis, but I don't know whether to use trigger words to activate certain spells, sheer force of will to sort of mold the magic as the caster wishes it, or a combination of both.

Any advice on which to use and how to use it?


It actually sounds like there's two questions here, whose answers are probably related. One, how to activate Atlantean magic. Two, how is magic affected by crossing the divide between worlds?

I think whatever your trigger, it has to be consistent with the sociological balance between two worlds that are still connected. If there's any kind of traffic across the divide, information and technology (meaning magic, here) is going to spread. So if it takes only force of will to activate Atlantean magic, there needs to be a good explanation why the same force of will used on Earth won't have the same effects. (Or maybe it will....) If there are trigger words, there needs to be an explanation for why speaking the same words on Earth doesn't work.

So I think you need to craft your activation trigger somehow around the divide. Maybe there are spirits in the ancient land, ones that have long since vanished from Earth, and words spoken in their Old Language calls them to grant the speaker magical power. Maybe there's something in the Atlantean diet or atmosphere that strengthens the power of natives' minds, allowing them to bend the fabric of reality in a way that Earth natives couldn't. You get the idea.


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Gabriel's_Trumpet
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Thanks for all the help, guys. I appreciate it.
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Greenscreen
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Hey Kathleen
SO I'm starting with a brand new idea. I have two characters, for now their names are Thomass and Mellisa (as I am still working out the setting of things like when and where) They are a young married couple and Mellisa is just pregnant. Then an Authoritarian Regime takes over their country and they are seperated. I still have a lot of blank that I have to work out and the concern of making sure it doesn't fall into being a cheesy romance. (no offense to those who enjoy those) I figure the story is told from the perspective of either and encompasses both their actions and thoughts. At this point I'm juggling so to speak. I have one idea and another and I'm not really sure where to go. I know that above all else the couple will want to be together and I'm thinking perhaps they both think the other is incarcerated or dead. They'll probly join a revolutionary group determined to overcome the regime. Though they are probably unaware of eachothers involvment for any one of a number of reasons, perhaps the revolution is compartmentaized like spy cells in the spy world of today, so they do not contact eachother. Anyways can you help me out any?
Alexander Apprentice Andreiu

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Greenscreen, in the very first post of this topic, I say
quote:
If you start with characters, you ask yourself first of all, what does the character want? Why doesn't he/she have what he/she wants? What does the character do about getting it?
and I think that applies here, because you seem to be clearest about your characters.

That they want to be back together is practically a "given" (meaning, of course they do!), so you need to figure out what else they want. Another "given" is that Mellisa is going to want to protect her unborn child, so you still need something else for her to want.

These other motivations are the ones that will drive what is known as your "external plot" while the "given" motivations will drive the "internal plot" for each of your characters. And you can certainly have the story alternate between their points of view as things proceed.

Figure out the details of their life before their country is conquered (so you know what they are used to and what they expect from life), and figure out the details of life under the Authoritarian Regime (what are the new rules and the punishments for not obeying? what is the cost? what can they do about it?).

The idea of having them be in separate cells of the Resistance is a good one. You will beed to figure out what the others in each cell are like, and you may want to consider whether to have someone in each of their cells tries to develop a "relationship" with them, and how they respond to that--let the reader wonder if they will be true to their possibly lost love, and so on.

Have each of their cells working on different "projects" to undermine the conquerors (read about the Resistance in France during WWII for ideas), and also figure out how they will eventually run into each other, and whether they will even recognize each other (and whether or not it will be before or after the baby is born).

There are a lot of things to think about, and the ones I've suggested don't even get to the "what do they try?" and "what could go wrong?" questions that you will need to consider once you figure out the rest of it.

You can either just start writing, and work all of this out as you go, or you can spend time before you write to work it all out, or you can do both--write, then figure something out, then write that part. You don't have to write this story in the order in which it will be read. You can write whatever you figure out, the ending perhaps, long before you write some other part, and then smooth it all out in the rewrite.

I hope this helps you.

Feel free to discuss your progress with me, if you like.


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Greenscreen
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Looks like I have some work to do. With as much as know about Nazi's, if I keep learning about WWII, I'm going to become an expert some day. I figue overthrowing the Authoritarian Regime and reestablishing either the former governmont or a new one would probly be pretty important, this is probly an external plot?
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Yes, it would qualify as an external plot. Also, if you were planning to have the story be mostly about that, you would probably be writing what Orson Scott Card calls an "event" story (where the things are out of whack), and you would want to start it when the characters decide to become involved in getting things back to the way they should be (either the former government restored or a new one created).

If you haven't read about OSC's four story types, I'd recommend getting his two writing books, CHARACTER AND VIEWPOINT and HOW TO WRITE SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY and read what he has to say about M.I.C.E.


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Greenscreen
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Where would I find those books? Do you think I could get them cheap?
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Where would I find those books? Do you think I could get them cheap?

You can get them both at Amazon. New copies are $10.19 for each, plus postage and handling, or you can check out the used copies link for even less money.

Just follow these links:

Characters and Viewpoint

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy


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satate
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Also I found both of those books at my library. You could also check there.
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Reagansgame
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Because of the genre I tend to be drawn to, I would, and have, chosen the "start with a contented character, cause some pain, show character reacting."

It all comes back to the characters, though, doesn't it? We are facinated by things that take place on a broad scale, such as events happening to the human population -- (Buggers attacking or the kick off of an armageddon countdown)-- or on a political landscape --(great wars and conquests) -- or on an intergalactic scale -- (uhm, do I have to give an example on an OSC site?) -- but only as they relate to individuals. All plots have to go back to the person. Readers have to know that person so they can experience what they are experiencing. That's how a reader gets hooked. If they can relate to the person, they live their lives, and so they have to know what happens to them, because, in a way, its happening to the reader, too.

... that's just my thoughts on that subject...

Maybe because I'm a control freak, but I tend to be drawn to the stories where average, good-enough Joe gets choas dumped unfairly on his shoulders and has to work through it. I like solutions and you can't have a solution without a problem.

Both in reading and writing, I need a character that is realistic. If the character is going to have super-powers, the super powers have to be something simple at root, but fantastic once explained. So, using enough philosophy and facts, a real super-hero is created.

Build the plot from the person. Build the person from the people you see around you.

The woman who talks on her cell phone even when she has nothing to say. The kid at the mall whose pants are down at mid-butt level and is drawing tattoos with permanant marker in the food court. The father who has a hard time talking to his daughters. The mother who won't let her children do chores because she's so OCD that nobody can do anything in the house right. The homeschooler. The mailman. The embezzler. The volunteer.

Once you have the person and you can see through their eyes, you can find the event that will make your story. I can relate to the father -- because I'm married to that man -- so I know what I'd have to do to make this story. Determine the greatest fear of all fathers everywhere: being the reason for his daughter's pain.

Greg Alson is a reporter for the local, small town papers. But Greg has a gift. He's always had a gift. He doesn't just know news, he knows things that are about to happen. Not much advance notice, but enough to know he has a secret that has to be kept. He knows that if someone finds out, he may be taken away. And that CAN'T happen. Because who would raise the girls? Greg has two teenage daughters. One is thirteen and the other eighteen. The eighteen year old has just begun college when she is kidnapped. Greg discovers that someone does know about his secret, only they have it all wrong. They think he can control things, that he can change things. The kidnapper blames Greg for something that has happened to his sister, (if you want to get a couple of extra coincidences, she can be the same age as Greg's daughter). Now Greg has to figure out how to get to his older daughter... Whatever he decides to do, he starts to do it and halfway through, he has one of his mini-precognitions, about his other daughter. (Having to chose between them, that would suck) And knowing me, I'd make it complicated, so that close to the end, the eldest daughter reveals that she, too, has a bit of hereditory precog in her. So, she sees the father's deliema, and takes things into her own hand.

I always incorporate tragedy into my stories. In other words, someone's gonna die. And the reader won't like it. But as a reader, I hate how almost everyone who I don't want to die, somehow miraculously survives. For me, its like, "Okay, I believed you up until this point, but that's so unrealistic, I can't buy the rest of the story either." So, I make a world that is real and consequences that are real. And every point of view is taken, including completely irrelevant characters who only have one scene. Even when/if the bad guy gets it, you can relate to him.

That's how I make my people and build plots. I very rarely use the plot to make the people.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Thank you, Reagansgame. That's great stuff.

So great, in fact, that I would like to ask you to create a topic, maybe call it "Starting with Characters," in the Open Discussion on Writing area and repost this there.

More people are likely to see it, and it would be a great starting point for an interesting discussion.


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marywillow
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I'm ready for the "Starting with characters" writing class. When do we start?

M


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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marywillow, it's a topic in the Open Discussions on Writing area:

http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum1/HTML/005042.html

Please feel free to join in.


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JudyMac
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I think that I may be a bit weird in how I start a new writing project. Many people seem to start with a plot idea and a main character. I do not. It just doesn't work for me that way.

I do start with 'What If', but it is for the world.

My present writing obsession started life as:

The World.
What if Lilith was the first woman?

Strangely this fits both a fantasy scenario and a hard SF one. Written in different ways of course.
Using the Judeo-Christian / Pagan legends of Lilith, I have a springboard into magical creatures.
Using the research done on Mitochondrial DNA, and the haplogroups, hard SF begins to emerge.

What if angels did exist, and slept with humans, what would the nephilim be like?
If angels could be cast out of heaven, how would it change them?
How would the children of the fallen ones be different from the nephilim?
Did these ideas overlap with the Celtic Mythos that I was raised with?
What if the Ancient Egyptians were right, and the soul was made up of two parts?

Well that started it all. After 3 months of work on re-writing history, and research into relevent myths and legends, I was finally ready to move on.

My plot, or what passes as plot around here.

"Whoever battles monsters should take care not to become a monster too, for if you stare long enough into the Abyss, the Abyss stares also into you." Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.

A seven year pact with the devil.

A serial killer.

The exploration of 'free will'

Yes that is all the plotting I do, honest, it just slotted straight into my world. No-one believes me when I say that my stories are character and world driven. The story just happens.

Genre: Dark Fantasy with a heavy Crime element. Modern world modified.
Bonus: Short story idea for Hard SF.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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JudyMac, you may not be as weird as you think. There are probably as many ways to get a story started as there are writers, and even as many as there are stories, because every story is different, too.

The trick is to figure out what works for you as a writer for the story you are working on. If it works on the next story, you've got a head start. If it doesn't (and it may not), you have to figure that out for the next story, too.

I appreciate having people discuss the different ways they've found to get started on a story, because it helps others realize that there really isn't just One Right Way to Write.

So, thanks for your description of your process on this story.


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Christian
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Judy Mac, KDW is right...you're probably not as wierd as you think. I start most of my stories the same way. I do a "What if" magic worked like this? then I go backwards into, how that would make society evolve, and then I get into what kind of characters would live and work in that world. I also do a What If on the scenario. So, once I have the world, I come up with the plot points first, and characters are last (not least, but definitely last). For me, it's impossible to imagine characters without having the world fleshed out because I feel that people are such a product of their environments.

~Christian


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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TLBailey
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I have virtually no writing experience, though I have done public speaking all over the US and Canada, but for the last three or four years, I've had this idea for a SF novel rattling around in my head, that has been growing and hounding me.

I've been reading thru many of the topics here (most recently this one), trying to understand where the novel fixation came from and what to do with it.

here is what I've got so far.

First, as for what to do with it, write it of course.

second, as for where it came from. I'm starting to think it is a combination of what if, event driven and character based.

initially It was character based (on myself), starting out by looking for fantasy world to live in where I got what I wanted because It sure wasn't happening here, at the time I was unemployed with bleak prospects (It was during the tech crash, and I'm a computer programmer by trade).

Then I started asking what if questions:

What if an ancient mythological society (I have a specific one in mind) wasn't just myth, but an ancient people who at one time ruled this entire planet (and more)...

What if they were caught up in an interstellar war that resulted in the planet being destroyed by massive earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and the like...

What if we are the descendants of survivors, and simply don't remember any or the pre-holocaust world which to us is nothing but mythological, but there are also survivors who escaped into space and other worlds who remember everything and have returned building hidden cities among us...

What if their war was about to comeback and haunt them, and us...

What if the future rested one man (The character I initially started with, an average Joe who has access to dormant characteristic that came from his ancient ancestors) and one woman (a modern member of the advanced (not so mythological) race), one from each group who must come together and combine to produce the answer to survival of both ...

My problem now is developing realistic challenges to help my protagonist develop into the hero he needs to be.

Is this normal for SF writers, or am I flying around out here in lalaland?

Hope I'm in the right place.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Sounds to me as if you are asking for help with brainstorming, and I think that might happen in a more populated area like the Open Discussions on Writing.

You could also post in the Fragments and Feedback for Novels, because you've got the start of a synopsis there. Repost what you've posted here in that area and ask for brainstorming.

Here, all I can really do is offer you some questions to ask yourself, such as "what do each of your main characters really want?" and "what do each of your main characters do to try to get it?" and a particular favorite, recommended by OSC himself, "what goes wrong when he or she tries?" followed by "what does he or she try next?" or "what does he or she do about what went wrong?" (repeat the last ones as many times as you want).

You can do some brainstorming on your own with those questions.

I hope that helps.


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JackalOsiris
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I am not sure where to start with all the previous discussions but I wanted to participate so I'll just start from the beginning if that is ok.

I'm going to try and start with a setting and then see who is the most affected by this type of setting.

The situation is a generational ship, I got the idea from OSC's book on writing science fiction. On this ship there are many people who live and die as the ship looks for a planet in which to build a colony.
My question is who do I use for this type of setting?
-Do I start with a teenager who is restless and feels confined in the ship (which is rather big)?
-What about a single guy who feels like there is nothing he can do to amount to anything because of the place in which he lives?
-What about a scientist who realizes that the ship is running out of resources and if they don't find a planet soon they'll all die?
-Or how about the captain who was once great and well known, belittled to shuttling around a can filled with insignificant people and he wants to know why such an assignment that seemed big is really stupid (to him)? I'm beginning to see what you mean by how it comes down to character Kathleen.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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JackalOsiris, there are several ways to decide which character's story to tell.

James Blish said the story should be about the person who suffers the most from the situation (perhaps because that's the person who is most likely to be willing to struggle the hardest to do something about it).

I would say to pick the story and character that appeals to you the most--the one you're most excited about (the one that has grabbed hold of your brain and won't let go--and if you don't have one like that, keep thinking of other characters on that ship that you could write about until you do).

There is also the possibility of writing all of the stories (make it a story collection of sorts, and maybe call it something like "The Generation Ship Chronicles"). Have an over-arching story line and give each of the characters their own short story that tells their part of it. That way, you may be able to create a synergism (the whole thing is more than just adding the parts/stories together), and that could be way cool.

Also, with the short-story-for-each-character approach, you can see about selling the stories to one of the magazines, and then collecting them into what is often called a "fix-up novel" (which is a collection of short stories that tell a novel-length story when published together). So you get a double-whammy out of each story.

Anyway, good luck with it. It will be interesting to see what you come up with.


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JackalOsiris
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I have officially begun this little story, it is a nice distraction from my bigger world/story, I've worked with off and on. Writing is therapeutic more so than something I plan on pursuing as a "money maker". I did go back to OSC's book on science fiction about the problems with generation ships, such as being away from a planet for so long and growing afraid of leaving. Some of which I want to conquer but also some which have opened doors for conflict and a richer plot. I have decided to do a 3rd person limited version that goes mostly from 1 or 2 characters, the captain of the ship and his predecessor whom he is grooming.
Also, after some research an old book by Robert Heinlein popped up on Google while browsing the web which I will be getting to help me see how other authors have handled this type of setting. Working on this has really sparked my interest in writing again after a month.

[This message has been edited by JackalOsiris (edited May 25, 2010).]


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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That Heinlein story wouldn't be ORPHANS OF THE SKY, would it? If not, that's another Heinlein story you might want to read. If it is, you also might want to read TIME FOR THE STARS by Heinlein for a story that doesn't involve generation ships but does involve long space voyages.

F. M. Busby also wrote about such ideas in his Rissa Kergulen and Bran Tregare series.


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JHam
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I was reading History's post about numbers and that got me to thinking about numbers and their possible use. What about seeing numbers everywhere you look just floating in the air. But why would you see numbers? What if it was a power or gift that someone had? They could see numbers around objects and people that would reflect how long till they die. But that's not good enough, the numbers have to be different colors and the colors mean different things, like if you’re a bad person your color may be red. So if you see a bad person shouldn't you do something about it? Now you have a group of people that use the number seers as a police force. They spot the bad guys and someone else takes care of it.

So that’s the basis I came up with, then I wondered what it would be like for a kid with this "gift" growing up and knowing that his word could decide someone’s fate. Now I've created a moral dilemma with a twelve year old that shouldn't be asked to make those kinds of decisions. Does he tell what he sees or does he lie?

It just started with the numbers and flowed from there I didn't even realize I was putting the plot together until I had written about a 1k words. Now I'm stuck for the moment with the character realizing how his numbers, which he loves to see, are really being used.

[This message has been edited by JHam (edited May 25, 2011).]


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Interesting thoughts, JHam.

You may need to bring in some other ideas, especially if you feel stuck. What can you throw in there that might be totally unrelated, and how can you make it relate to what you've already got?

By the way, I'd recommend that you do a little research on a thing called "synesthesia." Maybe by starting with wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia

You may be surprised to see that there are actually people who have this "talent," though your idea on how it might be used is definitely different.


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JHam
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Thanks alot I didn't know or maybe I had heard of this a while back and it just slipped into a corner of my mind. Interesting stuff and some background I may be able to use in my story. Thanks again.
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