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DirtySyko
05-24-2005, 11:39 PM
I didn't know where to put this, so I thought this forum would be good. Since people come here to mentor others, I figured people would enlighten the rest of us with their methods of writing.

So when you get ideas for a new book, how do you start? Do you begin taking notes? If you start taking notes of your ideas, do you do it like a diary, by dating everything you write?

How do you go about developing characters? Do you think of characters FIRST then let them build the plot? Or do you think of a plot, and build characters around the plot?

Everyday you write what do you keep track of? Word count? The date?

I could ask a ton more questions, but I better stop... I'm just wondering overall the process YOU go through while writing.

Julie Worth
05-24-2005, 11:48 PM
I establish very little before I start. No notes or outline, just a nebulous idea. Characters appear and talk to each other, things happen. After a while the world becomes rather filled. When thereís enough complexity, I become resistant to adding new characters or subplots. Somewhere past the halfway point, thatís when I get a clearer picture of how itís going to go, but even then, I may not know the actual denouement until I write it.

maestrowork
05-25-2005, 01:02 AM
I think until my head hurts before I put anything on paper. But I don't really do the whole portfolio thing. It's mostly in my head, most of the time. I might do some outlines, or do a little plotting, but mostly I just sit down and start typing. Between BIC sessions I do tend to think a lot on the plot, and listening to my characters talk... oh yeah, they talk to me.

William Haskins
05-25-2005, 01:48 AM
i'm into outlines. i think they're hot.

very hot.

mommie4a
05-25-2005, 02:13 AM
Do you guys have any idea how much I hate when I have nothing to add to a thread? Damn that Leo.

Jamesaritchie
05-26-2005, 07:44 AM
I didn't know where to put this, so I thought this forum would be good. Since people come here to mentor others, I figured people would enlighten the rest of us with their methods of writing.

So when you get ideas for a new book, how do you start? Do you begin taking notes? If you start taking notes of your ideas, do you do it like a diary, by dating everything you write?

How do you go about developing characters? Do you think of characters FIRST then let them build the plot? Or do you think of a plot, and build characters around the plot?

Everyday you write what do you keep track of? Word count? The date?

I could ask a ton more questions, but I better stop... I'm just wondering overall the process YOU go through while writing.

I don;t get ideas for new books. When I want to write a new book, I write down a title I like, drop a couple of spaces, and start writing. In the opening, I stick what I hope is a good character into what I hope is an interesting situation, and then let him work his way out of it.

I follow the protagonist around, and write down what he does, sees, hears, feels, thinks, etc.

I do not plot. I hate plotting and I nearly always dislike novels that have been plotted. I'm firmly with Stephen King and ray Bradbury where plotting is concerned. Just tella story. If you do this, plot comes along as a byproduct.

The only thing I keep track of is daily word count. I don't keep notes of any kind, and I never write down ideas. If I can't remember an idea without writing it down, it's an idea unworthy of a novel.

SRHowen
05-28-2005, 01:21 AM
I sit, I play music (Napster) and I write. I don't even really think about it--I just write whatever comes into my head and go from there--starting with a character.

Then I let my fingers be the outlet of the characters as I write out this bit of their life.

Only thing I keep track of daily is word count.

triceretops
05-28-2005, 04:54 AM
I think Jamesaritchie said it best. In my case, I have two roomates who are movie fanatics. We constantly argue about plot and story mechanics. My present work came out of a "what if" scenario that we all thought was pretty clever and original, so I started to hammer out the script, without giving any thought to outlines, notes or guidelines. It just took off on itself, and I've approached 93,000 words in 70 days. I'm now wrapping up the script with a huge battle and resolution (which has blocked me up a little bit), but I don't have that fear and intimidation that I would have if I had meticulously outlined this book. It gave me freedom to explore run with it. So this book was an explosion out of my head. If they could all be so easy!

Triceratops

William Haskins
05-28-2005, 08:10 PM
i'm convinced!

i'll never outline again.

Julie Worth
05-28-2005, 08:21 PM
i'll never outline again.

Smart move, because if you want your characters to perform for you, you have to give them free will.

William Haskins
05-28-2005, 08:25 PM
Smart move, because if you want your characters to perform for you, you have to give them free will.

that's what god thought, and look what it got him.

actually, i will continue to outline, though i don't necessarily advocate concentration camps for those who choose not to.... yet.

triceretops
05-29-2005, 12:40 AM
William--there's nothing wrong with outlines at all. I had to use them for my non-fiction book. And I can see now that the edit on my first draft is going to be a beeeaocth, because I have so many loose ends to tie up. Every time I go to sleep I'm dreaming up just one more plot problem that I neglected to take care of. So it seems like a tradeoff. I feel that I'm going to work much harder to clean this script up, but I got it written in record time. As you approach 70,000 words or so, you're memory (or mine) starts to fail. I can't remember pertinent dates, times, births, events, and sci-fi terminology that I invented in the begining. My futuristic Hummer is called a Landcruncher, Chummer model. It took me an hour to find that term in the book so I could use it again. I have over 150 such terms that are exclusive to the text. I think for sci-fi and fantasy we should divise a vocabulary database at the very least to keep track of our funny little made-up words.

Tri

Jamesaritchie
05-29-2005, 07:16 AM
No, there's nothing wrong with outlines. Some very good writers use them. I do, however, think outlined, plotted novels read differently than non-outlined, non-plotted novels.

Process does affect product. I've always thought the best way for a new writer to decide whether or not to outline is to look into the writing methods of several of his favorite writers. The way your favorite writers go about it is probably the way you should at least try first.

When I did this with a dozen or so writers I most enjoy reading, I found only one of them outlines, and he does so very lightly. His entire outline is about 2,000 words that touches only the high points.

Kiva Wolfe
06-09-2005, 04:03 AM
If you aren't mentoring with an established author, I suggest purchasing a writing software program to help you through these creative humps. I am not endorsing, but suggesting something like DramaticaPro, which might resolve the plot vs character-based fiction conflicts you may be experiencing.

Best of luck!

Vanessa
06-09-2005, 04:38 AM
I don;t get ideas for new books. When I want to write a new book, I write down a title I like, drop a couple of spaces, and start writing. In the opening, I stick what I hope is a good character into what I hope is an interesting situation, and then let him work his way out of it.

I follow the protagonist around, and write down what he does, sees, hears, feels, thinks, etc.

I do not plot. I hate plotting and I nearly always dislike novels that have been plotted. I'm firmly with Stephen King and ray Bradbury where plotting is concerned. Just tella story. If you do this, plot comes along as a byproduct.

The only thing I keep track of is daily word count. I don't keep notes of any kind, and I never write down ideas. If I can't remember an idea without writing it down, it's an idea unworthy of a novel.

This is how it works for me also with fiction. Most times I don't have a title. I somewhat have a concept in mind and I just write. I let the characters lead me. Although outlining does provide a sense of direction, it doesn't cut it for me. I do understand it's purpose and understand why some do it. I guess to sum it up, it's all about what works for us individually. I do agree that it is a must-do for non-fiction.

Jamesaritchie
06-10-2005, 10:36 PM
If you aren't mentoring with an established author, I suggest purchasing a writing software program to help you through these creative humps. I am not endorsing, but suggesting something like DramaticaPro, which might resolve the plot vs character-based fiction conflicts you may be experiencing.

Best of luck!

My own experience is that purchasing such software is the worst thing a new writer can do. To say the least, the success rate of new writers who use writing software as abysmal.

Jamesaritchie
06-10-2005, 10:37 PM
that's what god thought, and look what it got him.




It got Him great stories, unpredictable plots, and a whole world of wonderful, and highly individualistic, characters.

Jamesaritchie
06-10-2005, 10:39 PM
I do agree that it is a must-do for non-fiction.

Not a must. I've known a goodly number of nonfiction writers who didn't plan or outline. If you're writing a user manual or a technical book, outlining is probably necessary, but most types of nonfiction can be written as well without an outline as novels can be.

DaveKuzminski
06-13-2005, 06:18 PM
This is extremely interesting to me. When I started writing, I outlined how the story would progress using the high points and a smattering of lesser ones. Now, I'm at the point where I write without any real outline, though I will jot down a few ideas that I think might work well in that manuscript just to avoid forgetting those. Instead, I draw upon some of the existing characters and add in new ones as needed since I'm working on a series at present.

Of course, I find it disconcerting at times when I realize that I have absolutely no idea of how the story will end. At other times, I marvel at how some of the pieces fit together, especially when the fit isn't apparent at first, but reveals itself slowly.

But I can only echo what others are saying. Use the method that works for you.

triceretops
06-14-2005, 12:56 AM
You can never write fast enough that your story jumps the gun.

Triceratops

SRHowen
06-14-2005, 02:03 AM
the story is usually about five or six paragraphs ahead of me--I must learn to type faster---I only do about 120 WPM now.

Jamesaritchie
06-14-2005, 05:53 AM
the story is usually about five or six paragraphs ahead of me--I must learn to type faster---I only do about 120 WPM now.

I can type fairly fast, but if I write more then ten or twelve words per minute, I produce ca-ca.

Julie Worth
06-14-2005, 06:01 AM
I can type fairly fast, but if I write more then ten or twelve words per minute, I produce ca-ca.

When I'm in the flow, I can't write fast enough...and I type very fast!

Jaoman
06-16-2005, 06:05 PM
Wow. We outliners are a minority. Maybe we can apply for a tax break.


It got Him great stories, unpredictable plots, and a whole world of wonderful, and highly individualistic, characters.

I think he was talking about cheeseburgers.

Jamesaritchie
06-17-2005, 07:19 AM
When I'm in the flow, I can't write fast enough...and I type very fast!

Ten or twelve words per minute is when I'm in the flow. Of course, ten words per minute means a finsihed 100,000 word novel in only 167 hours. At only two hours per day, five days per week, that's a finished first draft in only, what, seventeen weeks? That's about three per year, even at two hours per day with weekends off.

I can write faster than this, but if I do what I write isn't publishable. I follow the old carpenter advice of "measure twice, cut once," only I phrase it "Think twice, write once."

At ten or twelve, or if I'm really flying, fourteen words per minute, what I write has been thought about twice before it goes down on paper. When I get any faster than this, it isn't, and for me, the quality of the writing suffers greatly.

mdmkay
06-18-2005, 09:53 AM
I have a tendency to change techniques with every book although I lean heavily on the side of characters, a vague idea of where I want the story to go and then let the characters lead me there. I did however have a great story idea but haven't had the time to write it yet and so I did do an outline for it so I wouldn't forget what I wanted to do with it.

The first childrens story I ever wrote was something like 1400 words or so for a read-a-loud for young children. It sucked, I threw it away finally, (it was a cute story but it just wouldn't really work out one way and the other, I finally trashed it, JD pulled it out and tried his hand at fixing it (did I mention I tried and tried to fix it so it would work?), still sucked, waited awhile and got a wild hair and went back again to fix it.....ended up with a different story approx 350pg mss for YA....absolutly loved it, but again the original story still sucked, another story idea came from the YA book that came from the original mss (haven't gotten it done but its a great idea just haven't had time yet. lo and behold the other day I was feeling quite creative (you guessed it took another try at it) now I have a middle grader WIP from it that is going to be hilarious but the original story.........still sucks and won't work

That first story may have not come up to par but it sure has been worth its weight in gold for stimulating spin offs.

DirtySyko
06-18-2005, 10:19 AM
For you guys who take little to no notes:

How in the world do you remember the ideas you get if you don't write them down? I'm sure you have tons of ideas circulating throughout your head, but if you don't keep a list of them it's almost impossible to remember what they were... Unless of course the only time you get ideas is WHEN you write, and you immediately put the ideas into the story, but I doubt that's case... Because sometimes you'd have to get ideas for something to happen far later on in the story. So when that happens don't you write it down so you can remember later?

I don't see how anyone can go through without taking notes.

Meantime
07-08-2005, 06:57 PM
I start with a protagonist, nobody else, and think of a story surrounding he (or she).

The story develops in my head, and I introduce other characters one by one. The major plot lines I write down and connect. The outline I make up is very loose - it's just a guideline and I allow it to evolve as the characters evolve. Once I start writing, I put things in the hands of my characters and let them find their own way along the outline. This works very well for me; it keeps everything focused, allows the characters to develop, and gives the plot a more natural progression, at least in my eyes.

I do keep sudden and copious notes, if I dream up a good bit of prose or an idea to make the novel better, I write it down immediately. Once it's incorporated into the book (or not) I dispose of it so my desk doesn't seem cluttered.

Jamesaritchie
07-09-2005, 02:03 AM
For you guys who take little to no notes:

How in the world do you remember the ideas you get if you don't write them down? I'm sure you have tons of ideas circulating throughout your head, but if you don't keep a list of them it's almost impossible to remember what they were... Unless of course the only time you get ideas is WHEN you write, and you immediately put the ideas into the story, but I doubt that's case... Because sometimes you'd have to get ideas for something to happen far later on in the story. So when that happens don't you write it down so you can remember later?

I don't see how anyone can go through without taking notes.

The point is not remembering all the ideas. You only want to remember theones worth keeping, and believe me, that's about one twentieth of what will run through your head.

If you have to write it down in order to remember it later, it's much better forgotten.

Nothing is more useless than a notebook filled with ideas and notes that will never be used. Or worse, will be used only because the writer wrote them down and thinks he should use them.

Then again, I don't write anything down in my checkbook, either.

icerose
07-09-2005, 05:24 AM
Story lines and characters usually come to me. My mind carries so many I have to write them down and there are several story ideas that have come to me that I still really love that are in my notes. Without my notes I would have lost each and every one of them. There are obviously some ideas I will never use and are not usable but I write down everything because it helps me keep a line of focus.

I hate outlines, the closest I have come to an outline are sometimes I know how a story is going to go and I write it down to keep track of that allowing for changes along the way.

As for you writers who forget terminology, I am the same way, I always keep a stack of notes of pertinant information and things I make up, including names either at the end of the document or in a seperate file so that rather than re-reading my story to find those stupid but important details I only have to review a page or two.

I agree, go with what works for you, each writer has their quirks. :)

Sara

sunandshadow
07-09-2005, 07:50 AM
I start with a relationship - for example, one character given as a pet to another character, or one character assigned command of another character, or one character setting out to seduce another character. I decide how both characters are going to react to this situation, then what motive they have for reacting that way, and what personality causes them to concentrate on this motive rather than another one.

For example, the seducer opts to use blackmail to try to force the object of his affections to spend time with him. The choice of blackmail is motivated by the character's beliefs that the deck is stacked against him and he won't succeed if he tries to be fair or persuasive instead, and his belief that he is very clever and sneaky and will not lose at his own game (of blackmail).

The seducee resists passively and resists feeling sympathy for the seducer. She reacts this way because she doesn't actually dislike the seducer, but is bound by honor/duty to stay away from him. Further, she thinks blackmail is unethical and objects to his choice of method, and thinks she shouldn't get involved with someone unethical because that makes him dangerous and not trustworthy.

Then I choose an outcome of this conflict: the seducer gets the girl but only after he gets a lesson in ethics. The girl is happy to be 'got', but only because the seducer has used his cleverness to find a way to release her from the burden of duty. The theme is in here if one looks for it.

Now (using the theme as a guide to check appropriateness) I choose/create a fun setting to support this relationship and conflict. The setting determines the characters' special abilities and appearances, and provides some social restrictions and stereotypes to act as obstacles to getting to the outcome - maybe the two characters don't speak the same language.


This method works well for short stories and 5-act plays but is somewhat problematic for novels because it's tough to create several relationships/conflicts which whork in a lagical sequential order with the same characters and worldbuilding.