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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Getting it Done

   
Author Topic: Getting it Done
TheUbiquitousMrLovegrove
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Chances are, we are all writers here, or at least, we want to be writers. I've been writing for three years now, almost all short stories, the reason being that I thought the short story form would give me a chance to hone my skills before starting a novel, and secondly, the idea of writing a novel scared me. How could I write a novel? It's too much, it's too long!

I was correct on my first thought, the act of writing these short stories did improve my writing skills, and as I wrote, I improved in many areas such as charactization, voice, style, sentence structure and so on. But, it left me with a bad problem:

I rarely wrote anything at all.

This was because, writing short stories, I heavily conceptulized the events of the story, both mental, and on notepaper, before sitting down to write. I wanted to sit down and write, but I was always scared, because, "I didn't know the story well enough yet."

Finally, I began working on a novel, for the simple fact that I was growing ill at the limited space I was allowed for ideas in short story form. Once again, for months I planned and calculated, but it lead me no where. Too much left open, too many possible routes to take, I went round in circles. Finally, the idea came to me. "You wasted four months and you've got not the first page written. Just write the damn thing."

So, this is a post that shares my secert to succefully completing a novel. The secert is, just get it done. It's simple, and easy, all it takes it patience and effort. When your're finished, you might not have a great novel, or even a good one, but you will have a complete first draft, and from there you can just fill in the skeleton, flesh the already written story out, and make it beautiful.

Here's what keeps me going. I write, everyday 2 to 3 pages. That's all. Just 2 or 3. When I'm really creative , or I got a long scene, I might even do 4. But look.

At the end of the week, I've close to 20 pages! After two weeks 40! Before sitting down, I don't think about chapter 3, chapter 4, or this or that. I think, I'm writing "this scene". Or "that sequel". I write in my notebook a short summary of what it occuring in this scene, who's there, what I want to hit on, and the scene's outcome. if any good dialog occurs to me as I summarize, i write it in the margin.

Then I do it. Some nights, I don't want to, but I think, it's only three pages! Just give it a try. And at this rate, I'm going to have my first novel, and it will be done sooner rather than later.

And That's my advice to anyone who is having trouble getting it done.


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WillC
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So, what you're saying is that a writer writes? That a writer has to just -- write?
But too, my personal feeling is that there are novelists and there are those who do short stories. A writer can be better at the one over the other, and vice-versa. Which you may be you can't say till you sit and do it.

Will.


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JK
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I said in the role call that I've written a full-length novel. I mention this because it started life as a short story. It also had no 'plan', in that I had a vague idea what happened in the next chapter when I sat down to write this one.
The moral of my story? Every writer has a weakness and strength, and a preferred way of doing things. Some writers I know plan forever. A friend of mine planned a novel for a year and a half before writing it in two months. Some people, like me, sees what comes of their fingertips. However, the pitfall of this is that you write when 'you feel like it', in that only when the muse takes you can you write. Which is fine for me at the moment, seeing as I'm not paying for the roof over my head, but in the future...
Not only can I sympathise with 'just do it', but I can also marvel at how willing you are, TUML, to break into an area where you have no exprience. Every short stroy I try and write either dies or spirals off into a novel-length idea. Perhaps I'm not willing enough to deny myself adding those extra bits. I reckon I can do it, though, I just need to put my mind to it (not easy with a novel needing editting, and two new novels birthing).
Anyway, that's my penny's worth (or perhaps, two cents).
JK

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TheUbiquitousMrLovegrove
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Yeah, well, I wouldn't say I have a difficult time writing a short story, i mean, in terms of skill, it's not that different for the novel. My problem was alway finding the "general idea" or "concept" that translates well into 10 or 15 pages. It's got to be a strong, powerful idea that can be simply expressed, and if you look to closely at it, it becomes too long to fit.

That's very hard for Science Fiction, because a lot of time, the ideas can be very complex.

Novels are great because as long as you plant a flagpole towards where you want to to go, you can just keep layering and building, to see what happens.

And just because a novel is long doesn't mean you have to slave over it 24/7. Like I said, I try for three pages a day, and most days I get it, and I'm so happy to see, finally, this story growing. Sometimes I know, "hey.. I'm going to have to come back to this part and work more into it", but I don't worry about, I've already realized that pages you've already written can grow, when you give it a good second look.


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thenerd
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Personally, most of my short stories end up becoming novels (or novellas, at least). I always end up thinking of ways to add on to them, to make the stories more complete.

I don't devote much time to the planning of my stories, as my plotlines often seem to go off on other tangents while I'm writing.


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JK
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thenerd managed to say in a sentence or two what I tried to say in a similar number of paragraphs. And tangents make up half my stories.
I didn't mean to imply that you did have a hard time writing the short stories, TUML, not at all.
JK

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WillC
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I am impressed. My stories all seem too focused, so that nearly everything I write suffers from the "learn to tell a story" rejection. They all seem to belong in something larger. I suppose I need to learn how to flesh out around the body. Anyone want to collaborate on something?

WillC


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TheUbiquitousMrLovegrove
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What do you mean "learn to tell a story"?


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WillC
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Well, if you can tell ME that perhaps the stories I get back would sell instead. That is what I get on my rejections.

WillC


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JK
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Perhaps they mean that by focussing down on just one thing in the story, it becomes more a description of a thing than a story of a person.
Or perhaps I haven't got a clue what it means either.
JK

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Shasta
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My problem is I write a short story, and my readers become demanding 'fans'.

I wrote a little ditty the other day, sent it around to some published friends of mine and they loved it. In my desire to become published, I found a Vanity Press... and was assaulted (if one could believe that!) by these same friends. "Oh, no!" S.P. said. "Don't waste your work on that! That little Irish thing you wrote would be a great first chapter to a novel. You show that to some publishers and with your fantasy talent, you're in."

Wonderful. It's not a novel piece, it's a short story.

Okay, I don't have an answer for this particular problem... but maybe you have one for mine: What do you do when your fans push you, and you just don't wanna go there? It's not the character or the writing, but the time and the fear of putting out a lot of effort for nothing. (I think I'm too old for this...)

Have any of you sent to a Vanity Press... and has it ruined you? I wouldn't think so, at least you're published, right?

Reference: http://www.barnesandnoble.com


[This message has been edited by Shasta (edited December 27, 2000).]


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JK
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Being as unpublished as I am, perhaps my advice is best not taken as good straight off, but here's what I've heard of Vanity Publishing, and why I intend to steer well clear of it.
For starters, you pay for it. You pay for the actual publication and all the other gumf too. Also, from what I remember from the last set of dire warnings, you don't retain your rights over your work, so they don't have to do anything with it they don't want to, and can do anything they want to with it, regardless, in both scenarios, of what you want.
If you don't want to do novels, don't do novels. Write short stories, and then find magazines that love your stuff as much as your 'fans'. Being English, I can't recommend any US ones (cos I don't know any), sorry about that.
Anyway, that's my 5p.
JK

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Shasta
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Thanks!
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