The most basic question from a beginning writer. - Page 2


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Thread: The most basic question from a beginning writer.

  1. #11
    If you really don't like research, try romance and keep everything to the modern era. For really short stories and flash fiction, you can do anything you want because you've only got so much room. There's only so much research you can pack into 500 words.

    Another thing you can do is read. Read a lot. Dissect what you read. What works? What didn't? Could you employ this technique or that concept? A nice thing about reading on these boards is that you're learning about your craft and helping others on theirs. Look through comments that any given work has received in the workshop areas. Everyone's at different stages in their writing game, but all perspectives are worthwhile, and you can learn something from all of them.

    Also, while it's better for your career in writing to stick to one genre, you can blend 'em all or possibly make your own subgenre. There's a lot of gray area and overlap between genres.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  2. #12
    To my mind the most basic question to ask a beginning writer is why they want to write. What is it that you want your writing to achieve? Having a clear idea of your motives will help you to decide how to achieve your objectives. A stock piece of advice is to write what you know, but do you feel that you know anything worth writing about? If not then in her book The No Rules Handbook for Writers Lisa Goldman suggested as an alternative to "Write to discover what you don't know yet." In other words by researching a subject that is unfamiliar to you you may see it in a new light and write about it in an original way. Stories must come from somewhere, so where will yours come from?

    I started writing because I had a story in my mind but couldn't understand where it had come from. Despite my being elderly it didn't seem to have been inspired by my past experiences or even by the stories that I had read or other fiction media. I had no ambition to be a fiction writer, so why did I have this story circulating pointlessly in my mind and demanding to be written? In fact it turned out to be a psychic experience. Unless you also feel some weird psychic motivation to start fiction writing you should ask yourself exactly what it is that you want to achieve and the means may then become evident. Don't ask me though; I'm not psychic ... not now anyway.

    Stories usually use combinations of stock motifs which gently massage readers' preconceptions. These stories no doubt sell many copies, if that is the writer's ambition. Some writers seek genuine originality and instead try to violate readers' expectations by "perverting the form" with mixed results in terms of popularity. Many such attempts may in themselves simply be more complex standard motifs because so many variations have been conceived before. My own novel involved a time machine that didn't actually travel through time and the fairies at the bottom of the garden in the story sometimes wore body armour and carried semi-automatic weapons, but I've no idea how unusual those details are. Anyway the real story was the apparent psychic inspiration for the novel and not the fiction that I wrote at all.

    How do you start writing????
    If I told you that my solution was to start writing, or at least doing the research, six years after I finished writing the story then it wouldn't help you at all, but that's my personal story. Certainly there are some who advocate just writing anything that comes into your head to begin with because it will probably be worthless anyway. You will either discover that you are a natural pantser or that proper planning has its rewards, depending on your own aptitude. I suspect that fiction writing, especially pantser writing, may partly involve a phenomenon that the American parapsychologist Rex G. Stanford called "psi-mediated instrumental response" (PMIR) No, I haven't a clue what he meant by that phrase either but it basically means that people may use psychic powers in their everyday activities without realising it. A characteristic of this phenomenon appears to be that one can gain some control over it simply by believing that it is possible, so perhaps you should just try self-confidently writing a masterpiece and then pick up the many pieces later if it all falls apart. You won't be the first to try that approach. A familiar more general term covering PMIR is "luck" and there's probably a lot of that involved in fiction writing, so I wish you good PMIR with your writing.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Plaidman View Post
    I am a complete beginner at writing. It's something I've considered doing for several years. Here is the question that is at the heart of my problem:

    How do you start writing????

    I honestly don't know. I've tried a few times and ended up with a few paragraphs (or just sentences). But that's it.

    Can anyone offer some advice on how to start?
    Why do you want to write? What is it about the process, craft, etc. that appeals to you?

    I was the same, when I started. Wrote a few bits and bobs, thought they were garbage which they probably were, thought it wasn't for me, and gave up. But some things kept coming back - a line, an phrase, a name, a mental picture - which seemed so alluring that I didn't want to give up. I wanted to create something that encapsulated the sense of ... whatever it was ... that those thoughts seemed to embody. So I did that. Started with the first line, and tried to make it such a line that I didn't want to leave it at that. Nothing else would have sufficed. So you might try that. Do the same with the second line. Then on to the third, and so on. Be excited in your writing journey knowing you'll stumble on many such gems as those early words.

    Good luck With writing, you can create whole worlds and entire lives.


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
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  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    If you really don't like research, try romance and keep everything to the modern era. For really short stories and flash fiction, you can do anything you want because you've only got so much room. There's only so much research you can pack into 500 words.
    I don't think that I dislike research, I'm constantly looking things up. I just find it intimidating. For example, let's say that I want to write a story and the setting is modern day Chicago. I can look up all matter of information about the city and it's people. But it's tough to capture the feel of being in the city unless you go there and spend a significant amount of time there. I certainly wouldn't mind doing that, but my wallet says otherwise.

    There is a difference between hard facts of a person, place, event, etc. and the direct experience of those facts.

    I think right now the idea of flash fiction is very appealing. It should be a good way of cutting my teeth in the art.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by JustRob View Post
    To my mind the most basic question to ask a beginning writer is why they want to write.
    I think it's the feeling of a need to create. It's like I really want to make something that other people can appreciate, but I don't know what. Yet.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Plaidman View Post
    I don't think that I dislike research, I'm constantly looking things up. I just find it intimidating. For example, let's say that I want to write a story and the setting is modern day Chicago. I can look up all matter of information about the city and it's people. But it's tough to capture the feel of being in the city unless you go there and spend a significant amount of time there. I certainly wouldn't mind doing that, but my wallet says otherwise.

    There is a difference between hard facts of a person, place, event, etc. and the direct experience of those facts.

    I think right now the idea of flash fiction is very appealing. It should be a good way of cutting my teeth in the art.
    Watch documentaries and read up then. Much cheaper than going there. Most works aren't going to capture the feel of a place all that well anyway, so have at it regardless. Look up reviews and travel guides, too, because these sorts of things are chock full of what a place really feels like. Look up crime maps of an area, find the place on Google Maps street view. You can get a lot of how a place feels that way.

    Better still perhaps: write about stuff you're intimately familiar with already--your job, where you live, stuff like that. The closer to your life the work is, the more "research" you've already done.

    Flash and poetry are great places to start out. I started in shorts stories and poetry for school projects before turning to novels. There's always a prompt running here, so dig in and get writing.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    Why do you want to write? What is it about the process, craft, etc. that appeals to you?
    I think it's about creation. It's being able to create people, places, events, etc. and for other people to gain enjoyment from it.

    For example, I do a bit of cooking. I'm particularly good at chili. And, I roast turkeys for Thanksgiving. I know how to do these things. I can go from start to finish and usually turn out something that my family enjoys. I can't say that about writing. I want to produce something enjoyable, but I don't know how to do it. Yet.

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    Watch documentaries and read up then. Much cheaper than going there. Most works aren't going to capture the feel of a place all that well anyway, so have at it regardless. Look up reviews and travel guides, too, because these sorts of things are chock full of what a place really feels like. Look up crime maps of an area, find the place on Google Maps street view. You can get a lot of how a place feels that way.

    Better still perhaps: write about stuff you're intimately familiar with already--your job, where you live, stuff like that. The closer to your life the work is, the more "research" you've already done.

    Flash and poetry are great places to start out. I started in shorts stories and poetry for school projects before turning to novels. There's always a prompt running here, so dig in and get writing.
    I do enjoy a good documentary. I hadn't considered reviews, travel guides, etc. It's like using someone else's experiences.

    I'm not too thrilled with the idea of writing about my job or life. I read and watch movies as a method of escaping these things. Not that their all that bad. It just seems rather mundane.

  9. #19
    You should probably try to join a writing group and look up creative writing lectures online. Most say to do alot of reading on the side. Ideas aren't the important thing, it's technique and voice you need to develop. So start off with a basic prompt, or find one online and just dive in. See where your imagination takes you.

  10. #20
    How do you start writing?

    Just write, and write some more, and keep writing every chance you get.
    The first 200,000 words are just practice.
    Write, write, write. Short stories, blurbs, page-long stabs, bits of stories that go nowhere...just write.
    At first you'll suck balz, but eventually you'll either dry up, or flow like a river.
    Writers write a lot.

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