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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Writing Class » Assignment #3--after you've planned the story

   
Author Topic: Assignment #3--after you've planned the story
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Once you have a plot summary, the next thing to do is try writing a scene.

Pick the one that you like the best, that you see most clearly in your mind.

After you've written that scene, put it aside, and pick another scene to write, then put it aside and write another scene.

You don't have to write the scenes in the order they will be read in the story. Just write the scene that appeals to you the most, and then the one that appeals to you the most after that one is written, and so on.

When you have written all the scenes you can think of, put them in order, and read through them, fixing anything that you think needs fixing, and adding anything if you need to in order to connect them.

Then get some feedback on the story. Others can often tell you where you need to add things to make the plot stronger, and so on--they aren't as close to the story as you are, and they can see things you can't see. They can also see holes that you didn't know needed filling.

Assignments that come after this one may actually be done before it--they involve things like characterization, description,
dialogue, point of view, and so on.

If you do them after this assignment (which is recommended, because this assignment is the one that gets some semblance of the story down on paper), use them in your rewrite of the story.

If you decide to do them before you do this assignment, remember that you are running the risk of not getting this assignment done at all. Don't put off the actual writing!


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piman
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Kathleen -- Thank you for these little writing assignments. They are helping me!
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Survivor
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This is an excellent sequence for writing.
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Shasta
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I seem to create my plot from a sequence of scenes though. So, I guess I should just flip #3 and #2, eh?

<grin>

Yeah, okay, enough loitering... I'm back to work. Honest.


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JP Carney
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I hope you'll forgive me. The reason for this post was to get the thread up do date, so it appears on my screen without me having to ask for it (I think this should work).
After getting your message, Kathleen, I guess I'll go through a couple of these, see how it works. I'll be letting you know as soon as I think I'm ready for a group (ready by your criteria, that is <grin> ).

So, this should get Assignments 1-3 in the here and now, and I'll start to work!

Ciao!

JP


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Ruby
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I think that your suggestion of writing out separate scenes, as opposed to a straight line of plot, is great. It kind of breaks down the work into little manageable segments.

I'm having doubts as to whether to work at my story that way, though. I have my plot and conflicts (after 5 years of daydreaming), I have a world, I know most of my characters. The only problem is, I seem to have the middle most clearly in my mind, but no solid start. I'm afraid that if I leave the beginning till last, I'll miss out on important facts that could reverberate throught the rest of the story.

I'm too impatient to get to the middle, where all the "good stuff" seems to be happening. But if I don't get the beginning over with, it might never get developed at all.
If I start at the middle (and avoid the beginning), I'll get stuck with having constant flashbacks about how the present situation came to be, which would be tedious.

Any suggestions?


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Well, if you really think you can't save the beginning to write later, then just sketch it in.

List the things that need to go in the very first scene, then the things that need to go in the next scene, and so on, until you get to the part you really want to write: the middle.

Remember that you are going to have to rewrite it all no matter what part you actually write first, and you can fix the things that you need to have in the beginning when you do the rewrite.

(I'm tempted to tell you to go ahead and just write the middle with the flashbacks in there and all. You can certainly cut and paste them from the middle into the beginning when you do the rewrite.)

I just hate to see you lose the energy and momentum you have for the middle. You really should write the part that wants to be written when it is begging you to write it.

Consider, they don't film movies in the order in which they will be seen. If you can think about it as if you were filming the book--use 3x5 cards with notes on them for the scenes you need in the story and make a kind of story board out of them if you have to--you can write what needs to be written when it needs to be written.

And then go write what needs to be written next.


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Ymiqel
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*crazy obscene laughter*

THANK you!! I was wasting hours trying to chronologize (sp?) my story.... as *prep* work!!

I can do the fun part first!!

Then the icky chronologizing!!

Yay!


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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You're welcome.


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Josh Anthony
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Maybe I'm just crazy, but I always find it harder to write scenes out of order. In my case, I had the ending for my novel, but even though I thought it was clear I could never write it out - I just couldn't get the character personalities to work out.

So I went and wrote everything in chronological order. What I discovered was that as I wrote, I made certain decisions in writing the earlier stuff that changed ideas I had for the ending - and since I didn't already have it down in stone, I could afford to make those changes. Thus my book felt less like a events-support-ending story and more like a events-result-in-ending story, and this made my novel into something much better than what I had initially come up with.

This may not work for everyone, I realize, since I'm rather unique with my writing techniques, but I would strongly advise writing from the beginning - you never know what crazy surprises you'll invent along the way which give your story that memorable "zest".


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nitewriter
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I write my non-fiction from beginning to end - easy to do since at that point I have all the information to be included in a basic outline. After that it's only a matter of revising and condensing.

Fiction is another matter. Unless a story comes to me in "one piece" which is rare, but it does happen - I write the scenes/chapters as KDW suggests - and the suggestion is an excellent one. Rather than write out that difficult, nebulous scene/chapter - write around it. Meanwhile your mind will be working out the problems of that hard to write scene or chapter. With more of the story down, ideas and insights often come to me about the "problem" scene which. I'm convinced, might otherwise not have dawned on me at all. The big thing is don't beat yourself silly getting down a scene. When you read it later you will often see the writing is really a reflection of your state of mind (frustration) at the time - and what you have written will come across as forced and rigid without the smooth flow you intended.


[This message has been edited by nitewriter (edited August 06, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by nitewriter (edited August 06, 2007).]


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whisperingpines
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"(*crazy obscene laughter*)"


I know the feeling! I have never thought of writing scenes out of order. I have always felt for some reason that the story had to be told from the beginning to the end and that it couldn’t develop the way is should if you bounced around.

(truth is I never thought of bouncing around) I have though of other scenes but felt guilty for spending time pondering a scene the story hadn’t come to yet. I felt like I was wasting time instead of writing when maybe what I should have been doing is like you said. Write the scene that wants written first.

This idea added to OSC’s response to the question on “distractions” (found in the writing lessons section) made me realize that some of the tangents I find myself thinking about while writing might be my (creative muse) trying to throw me the proverbial bone.

I can’t wait to try this idea and see if I can’t get more of my story written this way. Up until now I have found it hard to continue when I hit a roadblock, now I can go around and come back later.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Happy to be of assistance.


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JudyMac
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Quote:
Consider, they don't film movies in the order in which they will be seen. If you can think about it as if you were filming the book--use 3x5 cards with notes on them for the scenes you need in the story and make a kind of story board out of them if you have to--you can write what needs to be written when it needs to be written.

----------------------------------------------------------------

I like the idea of writing out of sequence, and shall give it a go. Thank you Kathleen.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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You're welcome. I hope it helps. And thanks for sharing your ideas.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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posting to keep this topic visible
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JHam
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So I've got my character figured out and I've written the two scenes of the story (It's short about 1500 words now). I want to end the story with the character realizing what he has become and how his powers are going to be used. This is the twelve year old with a form of synesthesia (thanks again for that). The story ends with a moral question. But I'm not sure how to finish it. I have it with the character blacking out and his final thoughts bring up these moral issues but does that seem over used?

I guess my question would be is there a way to plan an ending of the scene without turning the whole story into a cliché or am I just reading too much into the blacking out leaving questions unanswered? Anyone’s advice would be appreciated.

Joe

[This message has been edited by JHam (edited May 26, 2011).]


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Well, I see at least two possibilities here.

First, it may work the way you imagine, but the only way to find out is to write it and get feedback on it.

Second, it also sounds like the first chapter of a novel, in that you end the story with The Realization of What Is Really Going on Here. The rest of the novel would be about what the character does about that information. How the character beats the bad guys who are trying to use him and/or how the character figures out how to put his talent to better uses.

Some readers are okay with a story that ends the way you are planning, but if you've got a sympathetic character in an interesting situation, many readers are going to be frustrated with your just stopping at The Realization.

So you might want to consider writing The Rest of the Story and letting your readers know what the boy does about his problem. It might have a very good chance as a YA novel, you know.


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JHam
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Kathleen

You were so right. I wrote it as a short story and gave it to my wife to have a look while she was at work. She showed it to some friends and they all wanted to know where the next chapeter is. I guess I'm writing a novel.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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posting so this topic will be visible
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