PDA

View Full Version : Good Ideas, Terrible Execution



xiph
05-26-2008, 12:05 PM
I've been looking at some of my unfinished stories and I've finally discovered a trend in my life:

1. I have a story idea.
2. I start writing it down.
3. I hate the way the story turns out.
4. I abandon the story and stop writing in general.
5. Rinse and repeat.

Right now I'm thinking of fixing my old drafts because they contain surprisingly interesting ideas. The thing is, with my current writing skills I'm just going to frustrate myself and go through the same cycle - yet again. Any tips on how to write better rough drafts? Other words of encouragement or related suggestions?

Or maybe I should just get a ghostwriter.

alleycat
05-26-2008, 12:14 PM
What is it about the stories that you hate?

I don't know if this would help or not. Maybe for an exercise write something relatively short and simple (say, 1,000 to 2,000 words). Then go back over it until you're satisfied with the writing itself. It could be anything, a scene of two siblings fighting, a story about two lovers breaking up, a courtroom witness on the stand, anything; it wouldn't have to be a complete story. The idea would be to help develop your ability to say what you want to say.

anicabache
05-26-2008, 12:45 PM
Here are some tips to improve your writing skills:

1. Practice is Everything
2. Reading Improves Your Writing
3. The Power of Free Association
4. Encourage Feedback
5. Write As If You Were Speaking

Hope it helped.

Regards!

Adam Israel
05-26-2008, 12:46 PM
Keep writing. The more you write the better you will get.
Read critically. You may catch problems in other peoples work and realize you're making the same mistakes.
Don't give up.

Mumut
05-26-2008, 03:54 PM
I'd split the task up. Find out what is turning me off my own work.

Is it the story? Write down in point form the main stages of the story. Is it worth reading? Is it interesting throughout? Where did you start disliking the story.

Is it your writing skills? Is the story understandable? Does the interest continue throughout the book? Are the scary parts terrifying and the suspense kept high?

Is the story too long? Are there redundent passages?

In other words, pinpoint the stage at which the story loses it for you. Then you can be more precise with a cure.

JJ Cooper
05-26-2008, 04:11 PM
Don't make them rough drafts.

I write ten chapters (around 15,000 words) then edit. Helps with all sorts of things. Then after a detailed edit, I move on to the next ten and repeat the process.

That way when I'm finished it's not a rough draft.

JJ

tehuti88
05-26-2008, 04:44 PM
I kind of went through a similar process with a novel series of mine. I wrote three of the novels and started some of the others, time lapsed, and now I think they all suck horribly.

The difference is that I was writing other things in the meantime and I know I've improved. The thing is, to improve, you have to suck a lot first. The only true way to get better is to just write, even if it's horrible.

If you have it in you to finish one of these stories, even if you cringe throughout the whole thing, then try doing it...nobody's going to see it except you. I have so many horridly atrocious stories sitting around! So humiliating to think what ideas I thought were good stories! But I haven't thrown them out because who knows?--when I, or you, get to be a better writer maybe we can finally pull them off in a way that doesn't suck so much. :)

When the story is finished, THEN you can ponder what might be improved about it, or what might be wrong. Maybe you have to actually finish one before you'll even know what's wrong with it, if anything?

Either way, good luck (from someone who knows all about not finishing things!).

Kalyke
05-26-2008, 06:16 PM
Frist drafts-- the writing you churn out right after being convinced the idea will swim, are usually homely. As psychotic as it may seem, after I get some chunk of writing, I have a board meeting with all my writerly instincts and then start cutting, adding, changing, moving and finding the right words. All writers should be good editors and have a true sense of telling a story. Storytelling and writing are two different functions, though both use "writing" as a foundation. Writing looks at words and sentences, storytelling looks at the whole thing, from beginning to ending, and works on ancient plots, hierarchies, stereotypes, rhetoric, and things like that. These are arts, and all arts need to be practiced. I am just on the verge of being able to put out novels with good plots, great characters, fabulous endings, which are well written at the same time. and I have been tossing out manuscripts for 10 years. Getting to this point has been hell because I have a big ego and think I should have been here years ago. I should also have a yacht, and a pool boy.

Someone here has a signature : "A professional writer is an amateur who didn't didn't give up."

That is so true.

maestrowork
05-26-2008, 07:12 PM
1. I have a story idea.
2. I start writing it down.
3. I hate the way the story turns out.
4. I abandon the story and stop writing in general.
5. Rinse and repeat.


Here's a tip: substitute #4 with "I keep writing until I type 'THE END' " then I put the book away for a while."

That's the problem for so many new writers: they lose interest in their stories and they don't finish what they set out to do. I've met writers who have started on 10 or 15 novels but never finished one. I said, "How about picking the best idea out of the bunch and stick with it till the end?"

It may be a trunk novel after all but by George, at least you can say you've written a novel.

Rowdymama
05-26-2008, 10:37 PM
I would isolate all those bits you really like and study them carefully. What is it about them that you like so much? Is it the situation, the writing, what? Once you have answered that, you will know where your strengths lie.

Then, what is it that you so dislike about them? Those are your weaknesses. Capitalize on your strenths and try to fix the weak spots a little at a time.

You may have the feeling that there is something wrong, and I can't tell what it is. This is common among writers; at least a third of the questions I get on allexperts.com deal with this question. It takes years and years of study and practice to learn how to judge your work with the eyes of an editor.

You need a mentor!

Piglet
05-26-2008, 11:39 PM
xiph - I have the same problem. I don't even get very far before thinking that my writing is rubbish and the story is rubbish. I then give up, scowl with jealousy whenever I hear of someone getting their novel into bookshops, slowly start thinking of ideas and off we go again.

So what I'm doing instead, is to think carefully about my idea before putting words onto paper. I'm trying to plan out my novel and find an idea I'm excited about. It might well not work, but I'll give it a go.

There's also that line about genius being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

Mr Flibble
05-26-2008, 11:47 PM
I started with a good idea and terrible execution.

I improved,

I read.

I improved some more

I learned

I improved some more

Now that completely crappy MS is getting full requests, and the other MS I looked through the other day, which had a great idea but far too much telling, is geting an overhaul and may turn out ok.

If you like the idea, you can change it with the benefit of hindsight and make it so. Expect much work though.

Dale Emery
05-27-2008, 02:03 AM
Consider adding:

1.5. I sketch out a story based on the idea.
1.6. Based on whether I like the sketch, I decide whether to write the story.

Dale

Matera the Mad
05-27-2008, 02:30 AM
There's one way to get better--write!
Your ideas will never take flight
Until you get down
And pen words 'til you drown.
Then suddenly everything's right!

(well, almost every thing...after editing a few times :D )

MumblingSage
05-27-2008, 03:29 AM
Right now I'm thinking of fixing my old drafts because they contain surprisingly interesting ideas. The thing is, with my current writing skills I'm just going to frustrate myself and go through the same cycle - yet again. Any tips on how to write better rough drafts? Other words of encouragement or related suggestions?

Or maybe I should just get a ghostwriter.

Heh. When I first looked, I thought 'Hey, they've started a thread about me!' Story of my life.

My advice: do it. Fix the old drafts! I've done it myself and they always come out better (though sometimes a bit longer) the second time around. And if they don't work the second time around, try for it a third. The thing is, you need to take your time on making the second draft. And it's probably best if the first is finished--that is, it's best if you're rewriting a complete story, rather than redoing the first five pages and then having to make it up on your own again. My method of rewriting is pretty much starting the thing over from scratch, occasionally referring to the original for direction or any really good lines or details.

And if you still don't like it, post it or the most problematic parts of it up here for us to take a gander at. We all love nitpicking, right? :D

MitchMauldin
05-28-2008, 07:54 AM
A very important part of writing is to learn to retain your Focus upon one concentrated effort. I know that my writing tends to get distracted amongst the many different things and ideas that I have going on at once, but I tend to lose my Focus when I have that many things going on both inside my head and on paper (my MS Word file(s), thus I lose the desired Focus that I must retain in order to actually achieve desirable results that are not only efficient but effective as well.

One good way to Focus your thoughts is by meditating or just getting completely away from your desk, writing area, etc. and spend some quality time connecting with your inner thoughts in a peaceful serene area such as a park, etc.

Hope this Helps...

t0neg0d
05-28-2008, 11:53 PM
Don't make them rough drafts.

I write ten chapters (around 15,000 words) then edit. Helps with all sorts of things. Then after a detailed edit, I move on to the next ten and repeat the process.

That way when I'm finished it's not a rough draft.

JJ

I agree with this in soooooo many ways

Stlight
05-29-2008, 01:34 AM
Xiph,
The point of early drafts is that they aren’t perfect, parts are bad, parts embarrassing and parts you have no idea why they are there. The early drafts are for getting to know your characters, letting them try different things - like children learning something new - and getting to know their world. It’s not a make or break thing. Give yourself and your characters permission to fly.

As Maestrowork said, get to the end on every story and trunk it.
Then pull out the first one you finished and re-write it. Don’t think should I re-write it or shouldn’t I, just do it.

I repeat the process nine times for each novel. I stop at nine and start querying then. If I didn’t have a cut off point I’d still be re-writing the first one, because no novel is ever perfect. I wanted to write more than one. <G>

Breath, trust your muse, enjoy it a little and good luck.

Stlight