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Why my writing works with a little XXX!

Catchy subject, no? It's true, though. Read on...

I can't just write like the experts here. I will just get stuck at some point, lose the story/plot momentum, stare until eyes relax & things get fuzzy, then go lie down.

My whole life is like this! In my case (we're all different), I need to map out the whole thing ahead of time, and though I poked fun at for it, you're welcome to see what that looks like here. But the way I have found from my day job writing is that I start big and go small. This makes sure I don't get stuck on a detail. Don't know if this is what you mean by being stuck, but this is one way to explain it:

1. Do a high level outline, based on whether you are a 3-stage, 5-stage, or whatever format writer on this piece, like:


  • Jump into situation X
  • Hero meets allies, forms plan to ____
  • Confrontation
  • Resolution

I just made that up, and it makes no sense. But it is a high level, 10 seconds of what is going to happen in big chunks.

I used to use MS Word for the next part, but I now use XMind and mind map it.

2. With those (4 in this case) 'sections', I start to fill in a few things I know for certain about each part. This starts out like:


  • Jump into situation X
    • Hero is in a burning building
    • Can't remember what happened
    • ...
  • Hero meets allies, forms plan to ____
    • Deal with hopelessness of situation
    • Work into story: X
  • Confrontation
    • Antagonist prepares
  • Resolution
    • Guy gets girl
    • The End?

These random, out of order sub-bullets are just the stuff you know has to happen at some point in that section, or else the next part won't make sense.

4. Once I have all the things I want to happen in each section 'brain dumped', I put them in order of sequence (what happens first, second), and notice those broad things in the story that can be combined into the same scene. I personally keep it simple and make each scene a chapter.

5. Finally, with the whole thing laid out, I add notes to each scene (see above link for examples) for the big 3 I was taught a million years ago. These 3 things, I was told, are what every scene must do before you move on:

-Let the reader learn something new about the characters (maybe write a character's diary entry for how they saw the scene from their point of view before writing it in manuscript)...
-Move the story forward (just follow the outline you made earlier-easy! What has to happen?)...
-Resolve a previous scene's issue/question (reduce intrigue, gaining understanding/compassion), set the stage for the next scene (create intrigue), or both.

6. This is a big thing I am still trying to learn fro the same thing you are going through:

-When I get stuck on a detail, a phrase, describing the environment, anything, I put in an XXX and comment, like:

XXX describe this pothole better!

...and I move on. Likewise, if in the middle of my train of thought, I get inspiration for a new thing to add somewhere other than where my focus is, I just know I will forget it quickly, so right where I am writing, I add:

XXX Add details about the car in the chase scene-radio blasting ragtime

...and I keep going. This way, I rest easy knowing I won't forget it, so it is 'out of mind', leaving me to keep focusing.

This way, I can do as the experts here have said, "Just write the next word!", and if I can't think of that word, I can just put a:

XXX come up with a better word here!

...and it doesn't slow me down. The right word/phrase/etc. will be very obvious to you later, just not now... So why let it bog you down and mess with your head? :)

HTH

...Are you asking "Why the XXX?" Good question. In all the ways that I will ever write, I will never use the series of letters 'XXX'. So when I want to track down what is left to be done, I just CTRL-F (Find) that string of characters. It is also so striking a series that it is easily noticed in print or electronically. If I used a normal word, it could (and used to) get past spell and grammar checking, only to be an embarrassment.

Comments

I can't just write like the experts here.

Honestly these guys here usually discourage me, which is why I haven't been posting too often. I feel they are on a different level in terms of writing ability and I've always felt they should be given their props for quality.

The way you outline feels like the snowflake method (one which I've used often in the past and has kinda embedded itself into my brain whenever I create a new story).

I love the sub of XXX whenever you get stuck. Usually I just put down the project for a day and come back the next.

Good stuff Yumi. It was nice to here from you again.
 
Awww! How sweet, Laughing Duck! (now there is a phrase I never imagined myself saying as a child...!)

I was trying out brevity, which is always a disaster...

What I meant by "I can't just write like the experts here" was that the advice by the more advanced writers here has been to just keep writing when you are stuck. I think this is great, but it is a habit I don't have yet. I'm trying, but I don't have that kind of automatic action that successful writers seem to have.

What I do find useful is that I am far from the best writer here. So instead of me being depressed that I'm not as good as I've told myself I am, I can actually glean a few tricks & tips from those who have plowed through what I consider normal.

I mean, could you imagine going somewhere to improve yourself, or just enjoy what you are doing more (hobby or living), only to find out that you were the best one there? How would you learn? Where are the mistakes you are making now and will make later?

So WF has inspired me to work around these [trivial by comparison] issues I have, and instead of being depressed by the success of others be inspired. Maybe getting past the little things that frustrate me that I took for granted that everyone had isn't as difficult as I once imagined!

So yes, while I give props to those more experienced than myself, I was really just trying to express how advice like "Just keep writing!" to a newbie can be like handing a microwave oven to a medieval knight and asking them to make dip with it. Instead, I now see it as me watching someone doing something seemingly magic that makes me feel like I can actually do it as long as I apply myself and remember the "Three Ps Of Success": Practice, Practice, and above all else, Practice!

:)

Thanks again, LD!!
 
Laughing Duck 137z;bt5870 said:
The way you outline feels like the snowflake method (one which I've used often in the past and has kinda embedded itself into my brain whenever I create a new story).

Sorry... I forgot to mention the Snowflake Method in my last...

I've heard about it, and know zero about it. Isn't that the one that looks at things like the center of the snowflake, or a fractal? And you set levels, or degrees of detail, after you get a higher level/layer done? Like, each one gets more & more detailed?

If I'm imagining it right, then this is exactly how I talk frustrated writers in my wacky, non-traditional genre out of their 'ruts'. If you get stuck at layer 3, then follow it's origin up one level to where that part originated on layer 2. If you described/defined layer 2 properly, layer 3's parts should be a snap, or routine.

I keep things brutally simple for some things, like the methodologies I've created over the years, and other things I allow myself to swim in the details, relishing the planning ad anticipation of the "what if"s... :)

What were we talking about, again? Hahahahah!

:)
 
I mean, could you imagine going somewhere to improve yourself, or just enjoy what you are doing more (hobby or living), only to find out that you were the best one there? How would you learn? Where are the mistakes you are making now and will make later?

What I think of is this:

Lets say in life you were always a perfect writer. Years and years of being perfect at your craft (can you be perfect at a craft) someone along the way said you should teach. You begin teaching and as it turns out you suck at teaching. Why? Because you've never experienced failure. But if you know these people who have overcome hardships of learning their craft, you can teach examples of how to overcome speed bumps.

Hope that helped clarify.
 
Isn't that the one that looks at things like the center of the snowflake, or a fractal? And you set levels, or degrees of detail, after you get a higher level/layer done? Like, each one gets more & more detailed?

That was pretty darn close for someone who doesn't know the snowflake method.

Easier to post this than write it out.
http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/

If I'm imagining it right, then this is exactly how I talk frustrated writers in my wacky, non-traditional genre out of their 'ruts'. If you get stuck at layer 3, then follow it's origin up one level to where that part originated on layer 2. If you described/defined layer 2 properly, layer 3's parts should be a snap, or routine.
 
Laughing Duck 137z;bt5873 said:
What I think of is this:

Lets say in life you were always a perfect writer. Years and years of being perfect at your craft (can you be perfect at a craft) someone along the way said you should teach. You begin teaching and as it turns out you suck at teaching. Why? Because you've never experienced failure. But if you know these people who have overcome hardships of learning their craft, you can teach examples of how to overcome speed bumps.

Hope that helped clarify.

It would be hard to put it any better than that!

:)
 

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Yumi Koizumi
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