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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Im a scared little boy who needs help!

   
Author Topic: Im a scared little boy who needs help!
Evil Star
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Hi, Im new to the forum. I joined because I love Orson Scott Card's work and because I really really need some help/advice/pity mercy or whatever I can get.

I have been trying to write a book for about a year now, perhaps a bit longer. I have purchased many books on the subject and read over them. But I just cant seem to come up with a single story idea that doesnt sound like a million other stories that everyone has heard!

Most people become writers because they have some great story they need to tell. But I have no story at all, just a strong desire to make one!

So if anyone has any advice on how to get rid of pre-writers block or whatever I have let me know!

At this point I would even take a story idea that one of you people have decided not to use or something!

Thanks for listening =)


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Albatross
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Hey, it's okay to be scared. Writing is scary business. I'm a novice writer, too, and it's not easy. Once that story idea does take hold of you, it rides you mercilessly. I found my great idea only as a little blurb - a daydream image that came to me unbidden. It was so odd, so intriguing, that I found myself working/imagining hard to discover the story around it.

Also, you probably have lots of great ideas inside of you. Don't worry about "it's been done before." All of the advice from the sage writers boils down to this - just write. Write all the time, as much as you can. Sooner or later, something good will come out. And then you write its story. And then you revise it until it's the best you can do. And then you submit it to people who help you make it better.

I think the Writing Life is a horrendous ordeal. However, something about it must appeal to me 'cause here I am living it.

Other things to get your creative juices flowing - freewrite to get stuff out of your head and on paper. Give yourself assignments or get assignments from a writer's group/class/mentor. Kathy's got a nice little "Writing Class" going on right here at the forum.

Good luck - I wish you the best!!

PS The other folk on this forum are wonderful, and I'm sure they will come up with lots of great advice and support for you as well.


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jackonus
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Support you, absolutely yes! I think maybe you are trying too hard to "find" a story idea. Do something spontaneous and don't worry about the quality or originality of the idea, just write it.

For example: take a walk on an unfamiliar street, notice something new, make up a story about it.

Or, take a mundane object around the house and wonder what ELSE it could be used for or what it might be "thinking" if it was capable of conscious thought.

Or, go to the library and pick up a book on a subject you know absolutely nothing about. Read a bit of it and make up a story using that concept. Could be anything, gardening, how shoes are made, the extrusion process in manufacturing, whatever.

The point is, don't sweat the ideas right now. I've never been able to FORCE an idea to come to me. Some story ideas are indeed powerful and take charge. They can occupy your life for years as you try to gain the skills to do them justice (at least that's what has kept me from completing one such story). Others can't wait to escape your mind and get onto paper.

Have fun with it.

At worst, you can write them for yourself and enjoy the use of your mind for something creative.

Ask Kathleen to put you in a writers' group here at Hatrack. That way, you'll have an assignment every few weeks to write something and you'll get to read the things that other people come up with. I find that very useful.

-Bob


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Evil Star
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I read something below on this forum that kinda made sense to me, someone said that I should think of the thing I want to read more than anything and then sit down and write it. And I was like Yes! thats what I need to do, the only problem is I think I may be too saturated with other peoples ideas for that! I cant very well sit down and do my own verion of Enders Game can I?
All of the things that I can think of that I want to read badly are all stuff I have already read. I cant seem to fathom something I havent read yet. This is going to be very hard, but Im going to stick with it. I guess I am just so eager to see a finished project, I really wanna get my feet wet.

Well thanks for listening!


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jackonus
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You could always write a story about your web-name. Evil Star... Hmmm... As for writing other people's ideas, I WOULD actually try to avoid that. Rewriting Ender's Game is likely to be a discouraging exercise since most of us right out of the box aren't going to write it as good as the original. Why set yourself up for that particular failure.

The point is, for now at least, why not worry less about the quality and just get something down. There's plenty of time to figure out how to make it better as you learn from your early efforts and the feedback you get from others.

Writing what you'd like to read is a great idea, but I would have a problem putting that idea into practice as well. It's like telling someone "write a hit song by humming the tune you most like to hear." Who can do that and be original?

Learn to tell stories well and I bet you'll find that you start telling better stories too.

Forgot one other source I like to use for exercise: Native American myths and legends. The basic stories are understandable, and you can make a good yarn from them. Great characters you can riff on (The Raven, the wolf, etc.) And remember, this is time to play and learn, not kill yourself writing a prize winner.

And then, years from now if you still have trouble getting ideas, you can always become a critic or an editor and ruin other people's lives. (Kidding here, folks!)


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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First thing, Evil Star, is forget about expecting a story (especially a novel) to be about "a single story idea."

Stories have to be about at least two ideas, and novels have to be about more than that.

So, what you do is take a bunch of "been there, done that" ideas (write each one on its own 3x5 file card, for example), until you have at least 20 of them.

Then go through and make 20 more cards, each one a twist on the first 20. (Say, you decide to have =one= of the ideas from ENDER'S GAME on one of your cards--video games used to train space fighters, for example. How can you twist that idea? How about retired (or injured so they can't fly) space fighters hired to design video games?)

Once you have 20 old ideas and 20 twists on those ideas (you may come up with more than one twist per idea, so you may have more than 40 cards), shuffle them. Then take out two and put them next to each other. Figure out a story that uses both of those ideas. No good? Then pick out a different two.

Keep doing this until you have something that really grabs you, that you really want to write about--and you can "see" the characters in the story.

If you don't want to put it down on paper at first, get a tape recorder, tell the story onto the tape, and then transcribe it onto paper.

Then you have something to work with.


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jackonus
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I like the idea of a card-file full of ideas in brief form, then combining them interesting ways. Also "borrowing" from others (like using videogames to train) is something that is less of a problem than trying to rewrite a favorite story. In fact, it's awfully difficult on some levels to avoid such spillover from the ideas that have become part of us through all the reading over the years. Giving it a twist (your own personal take on it) is essential.

I do a lot with technology based on living animals, an idea almost as old as speculative fiction. I stole it from everyone from the Flintstones to the Brothers Strugatsky. But I use it differently and sometimes can make better use of the concept than those who went before.

It's like all the people who use orcs in their stories. They are taking a core idea and (hopefully) casting it in a new way.


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Survivor
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Hey, and I use the twist on that idea, a new kind of living animal based on technology!
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jackonus
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Perhaps we should share note cards? I have public buses made out of re-engineered elephants. It's only a problem when some male goes rogue! The buses are matriarchal and that explains why you have to wait for an hour then six buses show up all at once. They're following the lead female, of course.

Actually, there was a notable problem when the females went into heat and some male buses had escaped their routes. The passengers were very upset!


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Survivor
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Hmmm, I have a more conventional cybernetic lifeform, where the cybernetic component has the ability to synthesize proteins and manipulate bioelectric potentials to build an organic body around itself. The creature develops from an 'egg' which is in reality the complete cybernetic component covered by an initial protective/nutritive layering of organic matter, which it then is able to form into a body for itself. In theory, the lifeform could have almost any morphology, but there are initial constraints (preprogramed directives that determine the initial body morphology) that are basically the same for each generation.

The only way that such a creature can really be killed permenantly is to cut out and smash the central cybernetic 'egg' that functions as the brain of the creature, so they are very long lived (even damage to the egg can be repaired if the organic part of the creature remains in good health long enough).


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jackonus
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Have you read any of the works of Boris and Arkady Strugatsky? They used "organics" a lot. One of their neatest ideas was an organic kernel that, when activated, would start building itself a non-organic body out of local materials (be here on Earth or off on Mars somewhere). When it was done, you had a nice little three bedroom living space, or a nifty little field lab. Kind of interesting and useful concept.


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Survivor
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Yeah, but none of that would fit into my world...

I prefer a more component oriented approach, where common components can be made by an organism and then assembled, or better yet, template filling, where you lay down a substrate that acts as a template for your organism...say you use a sort of arrangement of canvas and light metal framing to arrange the house, then set loose a modified coral. The canvas is soaked in a hormone that they need or something and they build thick concretelike walls, to order.

Actually, they're trying to use that approach to clone organs. I think the best so far is a working muscle (not just muscle tissue, it has blood vessels and stuff, no nerves, though, as I recall). Pretty cool stuff, eh?


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jackonus
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Very cool indeed. I like your framework with living overlay idea. I've seen one story (can't remember who) where people lived on floating mats in the ocean and they had to bath the things with fluid to keep them alive. There was intelligent kelp on that planet, I think.

As for cloned tissues, muscle is a great one. I use that for roadways that move vehicles along at great speed using peristaltic contractions to "surf" the cars along. Potholes are very painful, by the way!


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Masdibar
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Eeeewwwwww.
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jackonus
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eeeeewwwww backwards is wwwweeeee!!!!

(okay, it's a homonym for whee!!! but you get the idea. Imagine traveling 200+ mph in your own personal vehicle without burning fossil fuels and without having to pay attention to the driving task. Way too much fun for mere mortals!

But, when government types get involved, there's invariably cutbacks in maintenance so... Imagine if our roadways today were fitted with pain sensing neuronal pathways that alerted crews when they were in need of repair. They'd be screaming for attention!

It's all in how you look at it.


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Lyndasan
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OK, Evilstar, back to you.

The best advice I ever got for writing was contained in three simple steps:

Read

Write

Don't stop

The ideas will come. Believe me, they will come. Once you get going, there will be no end to the ideas. The index card idea seems like it might be helpful. Try whatever works for you. Just JUMP IN FEET FIRST. Exand your universe by reading and observing and write, write, write. Try the class here. Try some writing exercises. Write about anything you can think about. Keep going. If you have the desire, there's nothing stopping you, so stop being scared and get going! :-)


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Varneshi
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Evilstar,

Why not just take on of the charactors in EG and write a story for him or her. For example. Remember the kid that attacked Ender in the showers and died for his indiscersions? (oops there goes the fingers again!)

Take him and write a story around him (that's if Mr. Card doesn't mind of coarse...).

Ask yourself these questions...

How did he get to Battle School?
What cuased his hatred towards Ender.
What type of family did he come from...etc.

Then go from there.

Varn


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Survivor
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Card explored the issue of how someone like Bonzo got into the Battle School in Ender's Shadow.

And I don't think that Card would likely smile too much on writing a story about Bonzo anyway, the VBS writers are forbidden to even refer to any character from Ender's Game in their writing.


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