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tDandy
06-12-2012, 07:16 AM
Hello Absolute Write, I'm a 21 year old writer who has been pre-writing a novel for almost two years now. I have 76 pages of fragments of manuscript mixed with outlines, character sketches, and discussions of overarching themes. In honesty what manuscript I do have I don't like and the concept I still love but I can't seem to get any momentum in writing it. I feel like before my trouble was that I didn't know what to say—I write poetry mostly but have always aspired to be a novelist—so I started to pre-write and now that I have a solid outline I seem to be at a dead end. I'm not sure whether I should scrap the project and call it overly conceptual or to keep going even though I seem to be crippled by fear and instead filling pages with over wrought concepts. And friends and family are nothing but encouraging when I show them my poetry or short stories, the only quality feedback I ever got was from an ex who I'm not exactly on good terms with now. So, I guess what I'm asking is how to become a writer, and what you guys think about how I should proceed?

Duchessmary
06-12-2012, 07:52 AM
:welcome: Yes. Put butt in chair. Get to typing, making notes, and doing it. I've been a wanna be writer for probably 25 years or so and I'm finally doing it. My husband and daughter have absolutely no interest in what I'm doing, and I've finally said, who cares? I've submitted and been rejected, and I have torn down my original MS and started over again.
Do not give up. There's a story inside you. Write it, and the best of luck!

Shaded
06-12-2012, 08:31 AM
Don't scrap it. You've put time and effort into it for a reason. If you love the concept, the words will come. Just sit down, and force yourself to write. Once it get's started, everything should just begin to flow.
If you're looking for some support, maybe a writing buddy would work for you. Good luck.

Bufty
06-12-2012, 07:02 PM
Writers read and write -that's about it.

Head up a page Chapter One and get writing. If you don't start and keep going you'll never finish. Pretty simple, but true.

I hummed and hawed for years and stared at blank pages until the penny dropped -the words and story won't appear by magic -I have to type them.

Be careful you don't get lost in concepts and ideas and background and back stories - the reader wants to know what is happening to the characters NOW.

Good luck, welcome - and spend time browsing the Forums.

quicklime
06-12-2012, 07:46 PM
tdandy,

spend a few hours browsing the Basic Writing Questions threads....then, ideally, a few weeks. Then months.

you learn to write by reading both things you enjoy in fiction, and how-to, as well as by actually writing. But this site is a better how-to, and much more info-dense, than most how-to books I have seen, so it is a great place for that part of the equation.

writerjohnb
06-12-2012, 07:55 PM
You've made a good start by coming to a writing forum. Writers need interaction with others in the biz, writers, editors, publishers, etc., or they're writing in a void. Friends and family can give you the encouragement, but other writers will rub your nose in cold, hard facts when needed. You need both to grow.

Other writers can also give you tips and advice about markets, agents, manuscript format, etc. Many successful, professional writers maintain websites with advice about the writing industry. It's a good way to get ideas from those who've already made it and want to pass their experiences down to novices.

I don't recommend posting your work, or seeking advice on forums for critique because you'll mostly get advice from non-writing wannabees, who begin their posts with "I'm not a writer and I know nothing about it, but here's what I think you should do."

Find a writing group, either in your hometown or online, where you critique each others' work. If you get a beta reader, it should be someone who writes regularly. IMO, the only time a reader review is valid is when they've paid money to read a novel and want to let the world know they've got their money's worth (or not.) Seek harsh criticism, it's what makes you grow.


Don't get hung up on surfing forums and talking about writing. WRITE. I only come to writing forums while I'm eating lunch in my office, and mostly to glean information about promotion and publishing.

Lunch is over; good luck to you.

JohnB

Bufty
06-12-2012, 08:23 PM
Your other comments are appreciated by the OP I am sure.

But the highlighted comments below show - hopefully unintentionally - an unwarranted disrespect for those fellow writers who responded so helpfully to your two submissions to this Board's Share -Your-Work critique Forums.

You've also posted crit comments yourself.


Don't get hung up on surfing forums and talking about writing. WRITE. I only come to writing forums while I'm eating lunch in my office, and mostly to glean information about promotion and publishing. :Shrug:



=writerjohnb;7349177]...
I don't recommend posting your work, or seeking advice on forums for critique because you'll mostly get advice from non-writing wannabees, who begin their posts with "I'm not a writer and I know nothing about it, but here's what I think you should do."


JohnB

DahlELama
06-12-2012, 08:37 PM
First of all, if you're writing, you're already a writer--welcome to the weird and wild club!

Second of all, don't let yourself get bogged down, either by negativity or backstory or fear or your need to make things perfect. The most important thing is getting a first draft down on paper. WRITE FORWARD. Your first draft is not going to be perfect, and you need to know that that's okay. There is time to edit, and there is time to revise. You will never get to do those things if you don't produce the manuscript. Realize in the middle you want to change a plot point? Leave yourself a note and keep going with the manuscript the way you want it. Nothing will paralyze a writer like the need to think you need to produce a perfect initial product. YOU DON'T.

Third, no one gets to see your writing without your consent. There's literally nothing to fear here but fear itself. Coming to a writers forum is a great first step, but before you get into it with other people trying to do this for a living, be confident about much critique you're ready for. If what you want is strictly support and no critique, be sure that's the environment you're putting yourself in. Twitter is a surprisingly great place to meet encouraging aspiring writers, and might be a good first start for you while you're still trying to get your thoughts together.

Finally, figure out if a writing program might benefit you. Some people swear by Scrivener, which I think might be really beneficial to you, judging by the way you do your pre-writing.

quicklime
06-12-2012, 09:58 PM
I don't recommend posting your work, or seeking advice on forums for critique because you'll mostly get advice from non-writing wannabees, who begin their posts with "I'm not a writer and I know nothing about it, but here's what I think you should do."

JohnB


an awful lot of the wannabes here have books to their names. A great many who do not are probably within two years of it.



whenever you go someplace new, it is a good idea to learn about the folks there...particularly BEFORE speaking.

mirandashell
06-12-2012, 10:05 PM
OP - one of the most important things I learnt here is that you're allowed to write crap. Everyone's first draft is crap. Even great writers write crap first drafts. The most important thing is to write. Get it down on paper or screen. Sit your butt in a chair and write.

Then the work starts. Editing is both fun and torture. Often at the same time.

But the most important thing? Write.

tDandy
06-13-2012, 02:04 AM
Thanks for the replies everyone! I'm currently using Scrivener and I have my entire outline very thoroughly organized in there. My novel is composed of three separate but intertwining stories that tell one overarching (meta) narrative. So, perhaps that's what's holding me back. Are there critique circles on here? How do I find one? Online would probably be best. And anyone willing to help please message me or throw me a link! I'm fairly experienced as a poet so I hope I can contribute my own critiques in that department and (despite what it says by my user name) I have thick skin and am always willing to take constructive feedback of all kinds. Hopefully I've found a good community here! :D

Fallen
06-13-2012, 02:11 AM
I only come to writing forums while I'm eating lunch in my office, and mostly to glean information about promotion and publishing.


All well and good if you've written a book. But like the op said, she wants to know how to become a writer. To do that she had to take two paces back from publishing and just get to grips with putting pen to paper and establishing a routine. So talking to other writer's about those methods is a smart step.

Fallen
06-13-2012, 02:15 AM
Thanks for the replies everyone! I'm currently using Scrivener and I have my entire outline very thoroughly organized in there. My novel is composed of three separate but intertwining stories that tell one overarching (meta) narrative. So, perhaps that's what's holding me back. Are there critique circles on here? How do I find one? Online would probably be best. And anyone willing to help please message me or throw me a link! I'm fairly experienced as a poet so I hope I can contribute my own critiques in that department and (despite what it says by my user name) I have thick skin and am always willing to take constructive feedback of all kinds. Hopefully I've found a good community here! :D

There's a Share Your Work (SYW, password 'vista') sub-forum here on AW, but you need 50 posts before you can submit in there. That's easily taken care of by commenting on other people's work, and more importantly -- by getting to know them.

It's good to get to know the people you want to critique your work.

tDandy
06-13-2012, 02:36 AM
This forum is a little hard to navigate, where are these SYW forums?

Additionally, I'd like to PM with someone else in the literary fiction (if possible, obviously any advice is welcome) I just want to talk about process and the way I've developed this idea in depth. I need guidance, as I said.

MaggieAmada
06-13-2012, 04:46 AM
I was in your place when I was twenty-one. I just couldn't get the story out and I stopped, put it aside. It took years to find my way back to writing.

Whatever you choose to do, don't stop writing. It took me almost a year to write the first book. It took me another year to edit it and I'm still changing things here.

Write a crap first draft and then improve upon it ten times if you have to. The story forms in your head and follows you around if you just start to write it down. You'll wake up with a scene in your mind and reach for the notepad or the phone on the side of your bed. If you let them, the stories will seduce you to the point you can't help but write.

All you have to do is sit down and put words to paper (even if they're crap).

Fallen
06-13-2012, 10:47 AM
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26 (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/Click here)

password: vista

There is a literary forum there. Try and get to know / comment with other authors too. Remember they are writers with a heavy schedule; taking on a new author behind AW scenes takes a huge amount of their time. :)

Good luck.

spqrobert
06-16-2012, 05:00 AM
I used to do a lot of outlining, too. Unless you can't remember your goal, I think that outlining has a lot to do with self-doubt, that what you have to say at the micro level of your novel is not as important or valid as your macro idea. Let's face it, though, your micro writing reflects on your personal experience in life: it combines parts of your perspective, environment, and parts of the people you've known. There is a lot of social pressure not to be reflective on real experience. That's why so many people just go through life showing up with nothing to say out of impassive faces, and so are always bored with everything. But your experience is 100% VALID, and the cutting up of it and its reconstruction into Frankenstein monster characters and situations is what the micro process of writing is all about. Understanding that my ideas could be realized through my valid personal reflections solved 50% of the problem for me. But you know what really got me to sit down and write DAILY toward a singular goal? My word-per-day minimum: 500 words at least every day. Sometimes I go back and rearrange the previous day's work, especially if my mind was focusing on the big picture and wasn't in the micro-realm where it needed to be, but it's gotten me far into my first novel.

CaseyMcG
06-16-2012, 06:42 AM
I absolutely agree with spqrobert 100%.

This problem has gotten to me plenty of times and stopped me from writing because I was worried I wouldn't be able to tell the story the right way, or do the concept justice, or I just felt lost and kept losing sight of my original story. But sometimes, getting through the messy-micro draft(s) are what you need to do to flesh out what your writing is trying to accomplish.

My current WIP is the 3rd reincarnation of a completely sloppy, all over the place high concept manuscript I started my senior year of college. Three years later and I've finally, after working through it a few times, discovered what the story needed to be told.

You've just got to figure out how to balance the micro to support the macro without losing heart or voice. It might take a few tries but that's okay. You'll never know until you get it down on paper (or typed up on Scrivener as the case may be.)

I'd say pick a scene you have in mind, one in particular you're really excited about writing and just write it out. Worry about the build up to it later. It might turn out that you'll have to change it, or scrap it all together, but for now use that momentum and excitement to just write. Books can't do that themselves.

ohthatmomagain
06-16-2012, 06:59 AM
For me, the first draft is fun. I don't know my characters fully. Heck, some of them don't even have names (my English teacher is named right now.. Ms. English.. har!), but I don't let that stop me. You just write. Have fun creating your world... then re-read it. Write down your characters, and edit.

I don't have a lot of support. My family knows I do it, but probably wish I would write less (3 blogs and a novel will do that to the poor patient people). You will find a lot of support on here :)

NikkiSloan
06-16-2012, 09:50 PM
This forum is a little hard to navigate, where are these SYW forums?

Additionally, I'd like to PM with someone else in the literary fiction (if possible, obviously any advice is welcome) I just want to talk about process and the way I've developed this idea in depth. I need guidance, as I said.

Scroll all the way down to the AW Writing Lab group - that's where the SYW forums are. It's almost at the very end and it only shows up when you're signed in.

I know it's a repeat of what others have said - but the way to learn how to write is to put your butt in a chair and just write. You'll really find out what works best for you that way - like the outline or no outline options. Adjust what you're doing to suit your needs as you go along - it's never too late to start a character list with names and descriptions, or timelines, or maps.