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View Full Version : I need a mentor...this will be easy.



Celia Cyanide
04-02-2006, 07:07 AM
Hello, everyone! I am hoping to get a published author to be my mentor. It really won't be a lot of work, because I don't need you to read my manuscripts. I just need help with ideas. I don't know how to get ideas, and the ones I do get don't seem right to me. Send me a PM, and let me know if you would like to help. We can talk more about my level of experience, and what my goals are. Thank you.

Fahim
04-02-2006, 10:26 AM
What's the genre that you write in? That's always important if you want ideas :) At least, I'd think so ... but I might be wrong :p

Forbidden Snowflake
04-02-2006, 02:42 PM
That's funny, usually writers tend to have a million more ideas than they could ever write down. :)
We'd need to know genre and if novel or short fiction and so on.

Celia Cyanide
04-02-2006, 06:19 PM
Oh, sorry! I want to write a novel.

And I have lots of ideas, but they all sound dumb to me, and the ones that don't sound dumb to other people.

Yeshanu
04-02-2006, 09:12 PM
Celia,

Ideas for writing are something you have to get on your own. I get mine from reading the newspapers and asking, "What if?" I get mine by reading other novelists, even ones I idolize, and think, "How could I have told this story better or differently?" I get mine by going out and living every day and paying attention to what happens to me and those around me.

Judging an idea as "dumb" before it's been put down in novel form is a big mistake. If you condense the ideas for most novels into one sentence or idea germ, they'd probably seem dumb, too. But in the writing, they're expanded and enriched as you add more ideas to them, and suddenly you've got a not-so-dumb novel where a dumb idea used to be.

Just write. Don't judge your ideas before the full story is down on paper, because in the end, the idea doesn't count nearly so much as the story.

If you want published mentors, you can turn to three books that help me sometimes when I'm out of ideas:

Outwitting Writer's Block, by Jenna Glatzer
The Writer's Idea Book, by Jack Heffron
The Writer's Idea Workshop, by Jack Heffron

They'll help you get started, but the most important thing you need is something you can do for yourself: STOP JUDGING THE IDEAS YOU DO HAVE BEFORE YOU'RE EVEN OUT OF THE STARTING BLOCK.

Idea generation is just like every other skill: The more you do it, the better you get. Yes, your first few ideas may seem dumb and trite, but so what? You write those stories, and you'll find out why they're dumb and trite, and you'll improve, not only in your writing, but in your idea generation.

Good luck!

Now get to work... :whip:

Celia Cyanide
04-03-2006, 05:43 AM
Thanks everyone for your replies...

Yeshanu, I think that is good advice. My problem is this: I like the ideas I have, but other people tell me they won't work. Even after they read it and tell me they enjoyed it, they still don't see how I will be able to query an agent and make the idea sound interesting, and I don't either. When people suggest a better idea, it just sounds completely uninteresting to me, and nothing I want to write about. I'm not really sure what to do, and I'm not sure a mentor would be able to help me with this.

Fahim
04-03-2006, 05:49 AM
Don't listen to people :) If an idea interests you, just go with it and write the story and pitch it. To me at least, the idea has to appeal to me first - otherwise, I am not invested in it. So go with what appeals to you and stop listening to other folks. OK, maybe not stop listening completely but only if it doesn't make sense from your POV :p

sunandshadow
04-03-2006, 06:45 AM
I think the replies to this thread have missed the mark a little bit so far - it is not some sort of requirement for being a writer to just have lots of ideas. Me, I naturally have lots of ides for characters and worldbuilding, but not for the details of plot, so I use brainstorming techniques to help myself brew some up. I think the best exercises are the ones which help you get to know yourself - like making a list of various things you have read about in other books and thought were really cool. Especially if you thought something has a lot of potential, but was underdeveloped or underused - ask yourself how you could do it better.

Also, try combining two cool but unrelated ideas - say you love wolves and spaceships, how about wolf-like aliens on spaceships? Or how about a space animal which behaves like a wolf and can carry passengers inside itself like a ship? That's a pretty darn creative idea, and one I never thought of before I made it up for this example, so it's like living proof that brainstorming can be cool. ;)

Other than that, Celia, could you tell us what genre of novels you want to write, and maybe give some examples of favorite novels that you have read and would like to write something similar to? Since your friend's objection to your ideas seems to be that they are boring, have you considered the posibility that maybe your friend is not in your target audience, and simply is not interested in the whole type of book you want to write rather than your specific ideas?

Finally, if by chance you happen to be still in high school it's probably too early to worry about what is publishable and you should just write as much as you can to hone your skills.

Celia Cyanide
04-03-2006, 09:16 AM
Good questions!

I like odd and dream-like books, like Alice In Wonderland and Naked Lunch. Existentialist authors, like Camus and Sartre. Not really genre fiction.

Also, I am a college graduate.

It is not just my friend, but everyone, who seems to think that my ideas, in and of themselves, are not very interesting, and that no one would want to read them.

Mostly, I just need someone to exchange emails with me to talk about ideas, and see if there is anything in my life that would be fodder for a novel.

Jamesaritchie
04-03-2006, 06:27 PM
Thanks everyone for your replies...

Yeshanu, I think that is good advice. My problem is this: I like the ideas I have, but other people tell me they won't work. Even after they read it and tell me they enjoyed it, they still don't see how I will be able to query an agent and make the idea sound interesting, and I don't either. When people suggest a better idea, it just sounds completely uninteresting to me, and nothing I want to write about. I'm not really sure what to do, and I'm not sure a mentor would be able to help me with this.

So stop showing things you write to other people. Any idea can be made interesting in a query. Writing a good query is as much an art as writing fiction. Learn to write a good one, and you ideas will sound fine to an agent.

Celia Cyanide
04-03-2006, 06:47 PM
So stop showing things you write to other people.

The problem is not when I show the things I write to other people. People like my writing. It's my ideas that do not sound interesting. You have said as much yourself in the past.

Jamesaritchie
04-03-2006, 08:25 PM
The problem is not when I show the things I write to other people. People like my writing. It's my ideas that do not sound interesting. You have said as much yourself in the past.

Yes, but ideas seldom sound interesting. Tell you what. Pick three bestselling novels and write down the idea behind them. I'll bet you a nickel that at least two of those ideas will sound terribly uninterestng. But you can gussy any idea up to make it sound interesting. It's all in how you present the idea. That's the problem. When your ideas sound uninteresting, it's because you present them in an uninteresting manner.

Celia Cyanide
04-03-2006, 08:53 PM
I'm sorry for being unclear about this, but part of the problem is that the ideas don't sound interesting to ME. I feel like I have nothing to write about, even though countless people tell me I do. I would like to get a mentor to help me with this problem. Thanks.

sunandshadow
04-03-2006, 11:46 PM
Well, I gave my advice already - research your own preferances and brainstorm some interesting ideas - so I'll share recommendations for some of my favorite surreal books instead. :)

Paul Park - the Sugar Rain trilogy
J. G. Ballard - The Unlimited Dream Company
Italo Calvino - If On A Winter's Night A Traveller
Samuel R. Delany - Dhalgren
C. J. Cherryh - Voyager In Night

Jamesaritchie
04-04-2006, 12:22 AM
I'm sorry for being unclear about this, but part of the problem is that the ideas don't sound interesting to ME. I feel like I have nothing to write about, even though countless people tell me I do. I would like to get a mentor to help me with this problem. Thanks.

I'm afraid you've lost me there. Ideas are nealry always teh easy part of writing, and every writer I've known has enough ideas in his or her head at any one time to write for ten years.

And you, perhaps, confusing idea with story? Ideas are often boring and uninteresting, but this in no way means a vibrant, exciting story can't be written from the idea. The idea is what you write about, but excitement comes from the way you write about it.

sunandshadow
04-04-2006, 12:34 AM
Here's another idea: write down all the ideas you have, then rank them in order from most interesting to least interesting. Now ask yourself, what makes some more interesting than others? Can I add even more of this to the interesting ones to make them more interesting?

Celia Cyanide
04-04-2006, 01:08 AM
And you, perhaps, confusing idea with story? Ideas are often boring and uninteresting, but this in no way means a vibrant, exciting story can't be written from the idea. The idea is what you write about, but excitement comes from the way you write about it.

Maybe that's what I need help with, then. I don't know.

eclipse115
04-24-2006, 04:01 PM
I know this thread is a bit old but if you're still having trouble with ideas and the process for coming up with ideas then I can help. A lot of times you just need someone else's eyes to see that interesting twist or that great character.

We can talk about it on aim or msn. I know with my designs I always need a "buddy" to work with me and push me through the block. Right now I write for my website www.girlsgamingguide.com. Let me know if you're interested:

aim: eclips115
msn: eclipse115@yahoo.com

Pearlie
04-29-2006, 02:41 AM
This idea of ideas is driving me crazy. I never thought of writing as involving "an idea".

Writing--to me--is a conveyance of feelings that takes off through imagery, character and plot, etc if we're talking about writing fiction. If you're talking about non-fiction, one is usually driven to write about something one is familiar with or expert at... or knows how to do extremely well, like gardening, knitting, losing weight, training parakeets... Buying bedlinen or preparing unusual deserts in 15 minutes. But even in fiction, its not so much a matter of ideas, its a matter of weaving around what you are familiar with or interests you. I myself am very much into music, and therefore find that all my plots revolve around musicians or music. If you're into abstract, surreal or avant gard styles of writing, then just let the pen or keyboard take you where it will. You shouldn't care what others say about your work--not even agents. They don't care about art, they only care about what will sell. Many who are exceptionally successful in writing and other areas didn't make it big by following popular concepts! The Naked Lunch is freestyle intellectual and openminded. It flies without caring where it lands. Persistence is what its about. Writing flows from persistence.

rich
04-29-2006, 02:49 AM
Pearlie, don't make this worse than it is.

AdamH
05-09-2006, 03:58 AM
I'm sorry for being unclear about this, but part of the problem is that the ideas don't sound interesting to ME. I feel like I have nothing to write about, even though countless people tell me I do. I would like to get a mentor to help me with this problem. Thanks.

Hey Celia,

Not sure if you even check this thread anymore. Just found it randomly jumping around from board to board. Figured I'd add my input in case you do.

All right. First, I want to make sure I understand what you're saying.

1. You write ideas that interest you BUT no one else thinks they're any good.
2. Other people who suggest THEIR better ideas don't toot your horn.
3. People say you have lots of stories to write about but you don't believe them.

Am I following along alright so far?

So, let's break this down. First, discard #2. Other people may have good ideas in their mind but it doesn't do any good if you have no interest whatsoever to write them. Just forget about any idea thrown your way that you don't like. No need to pain yourself in trying to spin a story out of it.

Next, let's go to #1...which is really the inverse of #2. i.e. you like idea they don't, they like idea you don't. As a writer, the idea that interests you takes precident over anyone else's mundane ideas. These ideas are YOU. I like writing adventure conspiracy character driven stories weaved around the framework of events that could happen in Nova Scotia. You might not find any interest in this at all but it's what I enjoy. It's what I know. So use your ideas and turn them into a story.

...or is that the problem? You have these ideas but don't know where to begin the story. Just a stab in the dark on that one.

So let's look at #3. Why don't you think you have a lot to write about? These ideas that you have. Are they stolen from someone else's life? Seems like those you confide in for these opinions ("countless people" from the quote above) have you in a tizzy. "You have bad ideas but a great life to pull stories from." An idea is a seed for a story. They're one and the same. Are these people judging you because they think you're pulling the wrong ideas out of your life? Just look at what I said about #2. I doesn't matter. Write what you think is interesting, everyone else will fall in love with your story. You'll see. :)

Good luck, Celia. If you need any help figuring things out, you know how to PM me.

tarra74
05-18-2006, 04:05 AM
I have found The Writer's Brainstorming Kit to be a big help with this very problem. It can be found at http://www.gryphonbooksforwriters.com/?page=shop/flypage&wt=1.00&product_id=5&CLSN_1737=11479106361737d4d9362ac3c7aa8d50