New and completly lost.

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Robin Pike

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Hello members of Aw!

I want to start by thanking Lisa (Admin) for helping me with the registration (i didn't realize that it's hand-approved, so i thought i had done some mistake and sent an email requesting help).

For now i'm going by the name "Robin Pike" (it's the name i use for most internet related things), i'm 23 years old and i'm completely lost.

An introduction is not an easy thing to do, specially because i think i joined AW for selfish reasons. I am not a writer, i never wrote anything "story-like", and i don't know anyone that does. I never thought i would want to write a story of my own, until about 1 month ago. Then everything changed for me. It all started with an empty 2012 appointment book, a song, and a character. In a few minutes i suddenly have this story, set in a certain place, about this character all in my head. Soon after i felt the "need" to share this story with other people, even with only 5 other people in the world read it, i would be happy. So i first thought about writing some kind of very short story and then just share it online. And I set one weekend to do it.

Here ends the short version of the introduction. Everything written after this it's basically me crying, ranting and asking lots of questions. Moderator "reddog" said in the "Writing Your Introductory Post":
"It's a good time to ask questions about AW or writing, too." So, that's what I'm going to do. :)


On that weekend, my project went down hill extremely fast! I soon realized that a short story would not suffice. New characters where born in my head, with new backstories, new ideals, new goals... And then i came to the conclusion that at least 3 of those characters deserved their own story. Then those characters started having families, friends, people around them, relations where established between them... each one of them has their own personalty, and then their physical appearance started to take form, i now know how they behave, how they talk, the clothes they like to wear, the food they prefer and the what they detest.
I feel that I've gotten out of control. Since that point, i have about 9 entire "nations" (not really "nations" but lets call them that for now) in my head and notebooks. For each nation i have their physical and human geography, their politics system, their relations with the other "nations", their people's characteristics and cultures, their economic needs and deals, the kind of fauna and flora in their territory, their resources, their military and political strength/influence... so much information about places that don't really exist. From this, i started drawing possibilities of maps for where the story would take place, and by now i have a good general idea of how everything connects together with the main story.
While doing this, the story started to grow more and more, both in size and complexity. My original idea of a short-story is long gone, i made a quick stop by the "I'll write one book" station, and now I'm pretty convinced that I'll need 3 books, a trilogy, in order to properly tell this story. (And dam it... my stupid brain already has a bunch of ideas for the start of a continuation for that trilogy.)

And it has been fun creating an entire "world" in my mind and notes. But, a few days ago, i was hit really hard by the hammer of reality (and it still hurts). My mind and heart are now filled with lots of questions and uncertainties.
I don't know anyone that writes stories like this, so i turned to some people i know for advice. Family was somewhat supportive, and i'm thankful for the "If that's what you want, do it.", but it doesn't really answer any of my questions. A few acquaintances where a little more demotivating, with a "You're far too young to write a book. Do that once you retire.", other gave me advice that, while a bit demotivating it might be good, i don't know: "If you really love that story, you should not write your first book about it, or it will be bad." In the middle of all of this, i found out that a friend and colleague is actually struggling with the similar problems, because he has a Science Fiction story in his head, and he wants to share it. So now brace for a new rant about my problems.

The first and perhaps major problem that lingers in my mind is the first character, the one that sparked the entire story. After letting my imagination loose, and creating everything after that character, i realized that maybe i can't even use said character in my story. This character originated from an already existing character. She (yes it's a she), is a very secondary character from an already published work, without even thinking i made her the center of my story. She shares with the "original" her first name, more or less her appearance, and somewhat of her "dressing style", tho everything else is different, and the setting is completely different (the story and their personalities don't match very much), I still don't know how to solve this. Removing her from the story is almost impossible, even tho she might not take a major role in some of the books, the story is empty without her. Changing her name and appearance could probably solve it, but then i would have to change a lot of hidden symbolism (that i already engraved into some actions and etc). Should i contact the original author (no idea how) and ask for his permission? When should i do that? Now? When it's done? I don't know anything.

More problems, i don't know if i can write well or not. Like I've mentioned, I've never wrote a story like this before, and i haven't read that many books (not counting books for university about each subject and for research etc) specially in recent years. I don't know if i can even do this! And at the same time I've forbidden myself from starting to write about this story in a "formal" manner, all I've allowed myself to do is to take notes about details/events that come to my mind. I almost can't stop thinking about the story (it almost plays like scenes from a movie in my head, i can see everything), but i also have a thesis to write for the next 8 months, and that requires a lot of reading and writing, so i can't "waste" time writing the story.

I also don't know in what language i should write it! I've said that i would be happy if 5 people would read it, but i think every author's happiness increases according to the amount of people reading his story. Is that wrong? Anyway, some of my notes are in my language, some are in English... some of my notes have sentences that start in one language and end in another (or have random words in the middle that don't match the language of the sentence). My (damaged and retarded) brain makes me think that I'll just make two versions of the books, one in my language and one in English, how hard can it be huh? :flag:

I don't know what would be best, authors from my language in my country, don't usually fair too well with the type of story that i'm trying to share. And i don't know if i could ever see a book in another language being published here, with a complete "no one" as an author. I don't even know if i have the ability to write in any language.

I've seen written, somewhere in the internet, that an author should not write about what he likes / knows more about. What's the meaning of this? I'm afraid of this because the world that the story is set in is heavily based on the knowledge I've acquired from reading research books for university. In some of my notes it looks like I'm writing a manual about some items, and I've also created new things to solve problems that persisted with some of those "items" that i describe. So if i should not write about what I've been researching, then my entire story goes down the toilet.

I also don't know anything about, editing, publishing, what rights do i have... but i bet I'll find things about that somewhere here, once i have the time to fully explore AW. But, regarding authors rights, when should i "register" a book?
Should i wait until the book is finished? But then what if someone steals it before i finish?
If I'm going for a trilogy, how and when should i register? Do i register all 3 books at once, even tho they might not be finished? Or one at the time?
And what about the title? I already put my hands in my head for this one, i came up (in the day that this idea sparked in my mind) with the perfect title for the trilogy (subtitles for each book are still in the "brain machine"), and then i found out that there's some book about board games (i think) with the same name! And behold... one week later i see that one PC game's DLC came out with the exact same name. What do i do?

In any case, every time i listen to the song that pushed this story into me, i come up with new ideas, and my notebooks get more written pages everyday.

I'm going to stop my rant here. I've told how I've gotten into this state, and i asked a lot of questions already. I think I'm just completely lost, and i shameful came here looking for a helping hand to pat me in the head and say: "Start by breathing." or something.

Thank you to everyone that took the time to read my entire rant. And a special thank you to everyone that might be typing right now, in order to calm my heart.
 

Ari Meermans

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Welcome to AW, Robin. You have so many questions and you've come to the right place for answers—that's smart, not at all shameful. You can't learn the craft of writing overnight, though, it takes years. We have members just beginning their writing careers (like you), members who are well published, and members who are agents and editors. We're all here to help.

But, yes, take a deep breath now and calm your fears; you aren't alone. :)
 
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Lakey

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Hello Robin, and welcome!

You have quite a lot here! I will let others with their expertise direct you to answers to most of your questions, but this one jumped out at me, because I have been in a similar place:

The first and perhaps major problem that lingers in my mind is the first character, the one that sparked the entire story. After letting my imagination loose, and creating everything after that character, i realized that maybe i can't even use said character in my story. This character originated from an already existing character. She (yes it's a she), is a very secondary character from an already published work, without even thinking i made her the center of my story. She shares with the "original" her first name, more or less her appearance, and somewhat of her "dressing style", tho everything else is different, and the setting is completely different (the story and their personalities don't match very much), I still don't know how to solve this. Removing her from the story is almost impossible, even tho she might not take a major role in some of the books, the story is empty without her. Changing her name and appearance could probably solve it, but then i would have to change a lot of hidden symbolism (that i already engraved into some actions and etc). Should i contact the original author (no idea how) and ask for his permission? When should i do that? Now? When it's done? I don't know anything.

I don't think you have anything to worry about. Let's look at everything you have changed:

* Character's last name. You can change her first name, too, but if it's not a strikingly unique name you probably don't even have to
* Setting of the story - this is pretty big! It probably involved changing much of the character's backstory, if there even was an established backstory for this character in the work that inspired you. If there wasn't, than you have presumably created an entire backstory for the character that has little to do with the source that inspired you.
* Personality - well how can a character be more different than by having a different personality?

From what you have said here, your character was inspired by someone else's, but you have done nothing that rises to the level of stealing or requiring any kind of permission. You've been inspired - this, in fact, is often how art gets created.

I think I understand where you are coming from. I suspect you think the tributes, the ties to the original, are so GLARINGLY OBVIOUS that everyone who reads your work will immediately recognize the original and point fingers at you. You are self-conscious about them. Do I have that right? I think you are (a) underestimating the importance of your own contributions in altering the character who inspired you, and (b) overestimating the detail with which other people will recall a secondary character in a work that you yourself loved enough to be inspired by.

I say all of this as a person who was inspired by a novel to write a novel of my own, set in the same time and place. As I've written, one by one the ties to the original have been severed - I have changed relationships to suit my story; I have given characters new or entirely different backstories to suit my own story; I have altered personality traits; I have explored different themes. What I have retained will, I hope, stand as a tribute to the original inspiration rather than a copy of it. And while some readers might recognize that inspiration, perhaps most will not.

So go forth and write, be inspired, and spin new worlds around the characters who inspire you.

:e2coffee:
 

Maggie Maxwell

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Related to the same thing Lakey quoted, there's a phrase in writing that we use and often takes us a while to learn: Kill your darlings. What it means is, summarized, you can change ANYTHING. So often when we're new, it feels like, "I can't change this character's name. It's their name!" or "I can't remove this scene. I need it!" or "I can't merge this character with that one, I need them both!" We fall in love with our stories and our characters and the last thing we want to do is change anything. It feels like we literally can't. But really, you're the writer. You can. Change the character's first name. Sarah can become Amy, it's not a problem. Tweak her dress style, Elizabethian style can become Victorian. Even the symbolism can be changed to fit the new changes. You are the master of your story; the clay is yours to form. It may feel intimidating, but you can do it. It might take some harder thinking to make it turn out with something you're as happy with now (that initial flow of work is the hardest to argue with), but I promise you can do it.
 

jconnor

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Yeah, doing something new or unfamiliar can freeze our senses and it doesn’t help if those around you are unsupportive, but being here will help you pursue this direction. Looking up tips to help improve your to writing is but a YouTube search away.

I know I know so many questions, I must know, but the reality is, is the story ready? That is your priority, everything else can fall by the way side. You can most definitely be curious but you have a long way to go before you need to worry about other things. Hell, you may not even like to write but you won’t know it until you do it.

The fact that you have an active brain is a very good thing. The only problem is you may half to cut stuff off the completed story, but that’s a good problem, cutting stuff maybe hard but it’s making your story better.

I see others have offered some advice and I hope you find this helpful and not detrimental. Good luck in your journey and can’t wait for your characters to find life in your smile.
 

regdog

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EvilPenguin

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Hi Robin, and welcome to AW! There's a lot of great resources here to help you out on your journey!

My first piece of advice is to just take a few deep breaths! It's always exciting when a story idea comes to someone, especially when it is the very first idea ever. And I must say, you have put in some great work already! I doubt that a lot of authors (myself included) jumped right in to building an entire world for their first story idea.

Some of your concerns that popped out at me are the ones regarding what language to write in and whether you should "register" the book right now. In my opinion, you should write in the language you feel most comfortable writing in. This will help you get the entire story out, without worrying so much about grammar and spelling and such (although, you will still worry about. There's no way NOT to worry about it when it comes to writing.) But I think you will have less problems writing in your native language, at least for the first draft or two. When you feel more comfortable with the story itself, you can always translate it to English (if you want to seek out English-speaking agents and editors.) I have absolutely no idea what the publishing market is like in Portugal, but I would look into it. You may be able to find an agent that speaks your language and can help sell it to international markets. BUT now is not the time to worry about this. First, you must focus on writing the book itself. I know it's hard, but try to put all thoughts of publishing out of your head until you at least have the first draft of the first novel done.

As for "registering" the book, I believe you're talking about copyrighting. This is something that will come when you publish your book, whether that be traditional publishing or self-publishing. There is absolutely no reason to worry about copyright until then. If you are worried about someone stealing the book before then, as long as you have your handwritten notes on the story and any digital notes or documents that relate to the story, you can easily prove that the story is yours. I honestly haven't heard of any situation where an author has had their pre-published novels stolen and published by someone else, but that's not to say it hasn't happened. I have just heard by many people that under copyright law, something is still yours if you can prove it, even if it hasn't been registered.

My other advice to you is to read more. Read books in the same genre as yours, read books in other genres, and read books on how to write books. There are a ton of great books on the craft of writing (and if you need some recommendations, feel free to reach out to me.) I will not sugar coat this: Writing is HARD. It takes a lot of time and effort and energy. There are so many things to learn, but the best way is through trial and error. So start writing, even if it's only a few sentences at a time. Your first draft will probably not be pretty, and you will have to spend a lot of time on edits. There will be times when you want to scream or cry or throw your computer into the trash (or maybe that's just me...) but if you remember how you feel while you were writing all these notes and getting so excited about the characters, eventually you'll find the love again and keep working on it. Just keep learning, and keep writing. And don't EVER let anyone tell you that you can't write! If you enjoy it and you have fun while doing it, that's all that matters.
 

Robin Pike

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Welcome to AW, Robin.
Yeah, doing something new or unfamiliar can freeze our senses and it doesn’t help if those around you are unsupportive, but being here will help you pursue this direction.
Welcome to AW!

Thank you Ari Meermans, jconnor, regdog and Denevius for the warm welcome and positive encouragement! :)



Hello Robin, and welcome!
Related to the same thing Lakey quoted, there's a phrase in writing that we use and often takes us a while to learn: Kill your darlings.

Thank you both Lakey and Maggie Maxwell, for the warm welcome, positive encouragement and good advice!
Indeed you are both right. Her name is in fact an issue and right now i have no idea if and how i should change it, because i really like how it sounds and how good it can sound when a large group of people is shouting her name.
So i've read what Lakey said about readers might not recognize her, and that's also what i thought, specially because i "found" her in a light novel and she's a secondary character! But i just decided to make a little test about this, (because i've recently heard that there's an animated adaptation of the light novel in question), so i decided to type her name on google... just her first name. Well the result is not very positive for me, it's dozens of images of fan art or takes from the adaptation, and she's literally almost everywhere... i guess she's more popular than i thought. I'll have to think very well and deeply about this, i have about 8 months until i can start writing, so i think that i'll keep her name for now, until i find a new one (or not).
If you are curious, try typing on google the name: "Crusch"
Some representations there are somewhat what i've imagined of her, others not so much. The clothes are in a similar style, the version with armor it's not at all what i imagined.

Regarding her backstory, i actually have no idea what her "original" backstory is. I read a volume of the light novel when i was waiting at a friends house, it was not even a "first volume", i think it was volume 5. And i know that, in the middle somewhere, it had a description of her and, in the next pages, i read about her interactions with a main character. And that was when lighting stroke me and the story started to take shape on my head. Maybe i should read all the volumes of that story, but i'm a bit afraid to actually find out more about the character. Maybe it's best if i don't know while i construct mine. I don't know. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯




Hi Robin, and welcome to AW!

Thank you EvilPenguin for the advice! So i can rest easy regarding copyright and publication, and leave them for then things are ready.
I'll also probably follow your advice regarding the language, tho it just crossed my mind that perhaps the act of translating a book (or chapter to English) might be a good way to also review it? So maybe, if things go well and when i finish my thesis, i'll try that. :)
And yes i need to read a lot more, i mean... i read a LOT. I spend almost my entire day reading for my thesis, so when night comes and i want to rest a bit i think of picking up a book (i currently have The Silmarillion out of the bookshelf and ready) but then my eyes are already so tired of reading and staring at a computer screen that i tend to just listen to some calm music and close them, falling asleep in the end.
Regarding books about "how to write books", i've actually bought one recently on a street stall near my university. I don't know if it's good, but i've read the first two chapters and it seems very interesting so far (and it was quite a bargain i must say... 0.99€ - for any book be it good or "bad" it's already a win). The book's tittle is (well the book is on my language, but it says here that the original tittle is) "Writing a Novel and getting published" by Nigel Watts.



Thank you in general to everyone that took a bit of their time to help me, i'll also find more information all around AW (already read some, very useful, topics). I don't expect that i will post any new threads for at least 8 months, until i finally finish this nightmare of a thesis, but after that i have hopes that my work will start to take shape. In the meantime i'll continue to take notes of everything that comes to my head, and i probably should dedicate at least 2 days into organizing my notes and transcribing them to my computer (right now i have notes everywhere, mostly in notebooks, but some in the back of envelops, i think i even have one on a unused tissue here somewhere). :)
 
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