Hello, hope you're all having a fantastic day! I'm curious as to how the rest of you develop your story, and by this i mean the stages. My way is extremely chaotic, and I feel like my ideas aren't overly awful, but when I see the completed version I peronally think that the original prompt or idea for the story became so diluted and strayed from its origins. My first step is simply writing down the idea, which is usually the ending and the moment I reveal the twist or the moment where I want my reader to go "ahhhhh... I see what you did there." From there, it's really just an attempt to create a story where I can reveal that idea. My heart is never really in it, and I don't focus much on character development or even creating realistic conflict because I just want to usher the reader along to the ending as quickly as possible. Whenever I notice that I'm doing this I'll go back and focus heavily on characters and create conflict. However, having done this the original idea I wanted to convey no longer seems sufficient for the characters and conflict that I had developed.
Anywho.. If anyone has any general advice on writing for a newbie it would be greatly appreciated. I'm also very interested in seeing what the early stages through to the final product looks like for one of your stories.
For me it starts with the first scene, so strongly that even if I write the story and try to change the beginning to a later part or earlier it seldom works. Once I have that beginning thats pretty much it, the next scene is almost always the last half, it consists of the change I want or break thru if you will to the ending.
This works great as I always have 3/4 of the book or story done, the problem for me is the bridge part 2 out 4 if you will. I always am uninspired.
I start with a fragment. They come to me from different ideas or thoughts. Sometimes the fragment is the beginning some times the middle and other times the end (and other times it never makes the final story).
Right now, I have an idea for a great opening, but the problem is I have no idea what the story would be about. So it is sitting around gathering dust.
I don't like to fully formulate an idea before writing. This keeps me from becoming bored with it. After all, if I have already told the story in my head, I can always write it later. And so the procrastination begins.
quote:I'm also very interested in seeing what the early stages through to the final product looks like for one of your stories.
Man, I wish I had know this ahead of time. I just deleted the previous drafts of one of my short stories. I kept getting nervous I would send the wrong one out. Anyway, I was amazed how drastically the story changed from draft one to the final draft (four times through).
Usually, this isn't one hundred percent, I get an idea and then the basic story comes to mind. Notice I said basic, not every scene or every bit of dialogue. Sometimes that idea is an opening, sometimes it's a scene, one line, or the basic plot.
While writing sometimes the store takes a turn from what I envisioned when I first came up with the idea. Usually, again not one hundred percent, when that happens I get writer's block somewhere along the line and it stays until I go back and find where the story deviated from when I envisioned it. I have two stories where I didn't stop when the story changed. A few months later when I went back over, again, one of them I decided it wasn't the story I wanted after all so one day I will write another one.
And as to keeping the originals after you revised a story, I used to do that. But stopped somewhere along the line. Every now and then I still keep an original for one reason or another and twice now I have sent in the wrong version. I name the files differently thinking I will remember the difference but twice I didn't.
I like to use the term 'shaping the snowball'.
In the early stages, a story is a pile of ideas (think snowflakes). I take that pile, squish it together and throw it down hill to see if anything sticks to it. If the story has potential, it will gather other ideas that have fallen on the ground. By the time it reaches the bottom, it turns into a large snowball. I leave it down there for a while, see if it will dissolve on its own for lack of structure or if it will remain firm. If it does, I will go and start shaping it by hand until an exquisite snow statue is formed. That's my finished story.
Organic improvisation mixed with careful planning, that's how I write.
I start with a single line. Most of my stories begin with a pretty cool line that I think just sounds awesome. Then, using that line, I make a story out of it. Sometimes I go back and delete the line, but a lot of times I keep it because it's so cool.
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I start (usually) with the idea. Then I ask who is the MC and why is this idea affecting him - and how? Then I start exploring the complications of the idea and the things that can go wrong. If I have an ending in mind - which I highly recommend - I ask myself what would need to happen to achieve that ending? Sometimes I brainstorm this with my boyfriend because he's a very creative person as well and just saying things out loud helps me to shape them. Sometimes I start to run something past him and by the time I've finished talking, I've figured it out.
But essentially at that point, I come up with a loose, written storyboard, figuring out the scenes I need with an eye to what each scene needs to accomplish. Then I'm pretty ready to write. The rest is invention within that framework. It's not nearly as much of an outline as it sounds like, but it works for me.
And I always keep my previous versions. The first one is, "Title - alpha" the second one, "Title - beta" etc. and I go down the greek alphabet. I've never had to go past 'epsilon'. Then, when it's done I bundle them all into a single folder for that story. My final version is always, "Title - Manuscript", or "Title - WotF Entry". I figure no publisher is going to object to the 'manuscript' in the file name and it helps me keep straight which one to send out.
For me, all I really need is an opening ... though I do like to have and ending in mind.
Once I have the opening idea or scene, I just start writing. I write until I get stuck, then I go back to the beginning and cycle through what I've written, fiddling with words, sentences, descriptions, dialogue -- what have you. By the time I get to where I was stuck, I'm usually able to go on. I just repeat this process until I finish.
That's short fiction.
For novels, it's more or less the same thing, except I like to have a five-page synopsis (Syd Field style) before starting, as well as a list of characters and scenes. This helps me get a grip on the middle. Also with novels, when stuck, I won't return to the beginning of the novel, but maybe to the beginning of the sequence of scenes.
However, I've recently been told it's a good idea to go back and reread your novel every hundred pages to make sure you don't have any big flaws. I'm going to try that with this one.
Usually I have some germ of an idea, then I think of this, think of that, and before I put pen to paper (or hands to keyboard), I usually know where it'll start and where it'll end and where it's all happening, so I can then write out a rough outline---often, though, this outline is missing details like the character's names---they're "Boy" or "Girl" or "Hero" or "Protagonist."
Of course sometimes I get another idea and things change before I reach the end of the story, or I introduce something I didn't write down because it occurred to me in the writing...
My writing process greatly resembles a hydra. I finish up one storyline only to have various loose ends demand their share of the attention, and grow into their own hydras.
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I generally have a character (at least one), a setting, a problem, and an ending in mind. Then I start at the beginning and when I get to the end, I stop.
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I sit down and write the story from beginning to end in three sittings, perfectly. I then add mistakes so that I can come here and meet all the people who will point them out.
When that fails...=)
I always start with a plot idea more than a character idea, involving the end of "aha" that you mention. I then write a brief synopsis so I don't forget it. Often as I write the synopsis, new details begin to emerge (this happened to me while playing a card game a month or so ago, it's a pretty cool story). Then I write a timeline of major events starting with that pivotal resolution scene, and walking it backwards to where the MC first started his evolution.
So I guess that's what most people here do, but I'm an end-writer rather than a beginning-writer.
One thing though, is that I don't hold either the beginning or ending too tightly. If along the way I find it takes a life of its own and starts to get away from me, I ask myself why. I don't write for analogy, but I do believe all my stories reflect different periods of growth in my own life. As I change, so must my stories. So it is difficult if not impossible to re-write a story from years ago and it come out the same.
Therefore, if my story that I am currently writing heads somewhere unexpected...why force it to be something that it's not? Now, if its just running around crazy with no "truth" to it, then you got break its legs and drag it back.