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Hopelessness in drafting (1 Viewer)

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I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been/is in the situation where writing almost becomes depressing. I try so hard to incorporate all the aspects of a great story into my writing but I need some advice. I'm doing what seems to be a "must" and have introduced the main characters, the antagonists, the character flaws, and the problem but I'm having trouble putting action into my story and making it flow. My last story was so action packed I was afraid anyone who read it would get tired because there was no let down; my current work is all plot development but no action and it worries me. Secondly, I always put WAYY too much detail into it. I'm the kind of writer who describes every gulp of water, the texture of dirty glass and I am trying to moderate that by taking transitions into my drafts. For example instead of transitioning between scenes with the details of the car ride or the emotions she may have felt between two locations I would say, perhaps a quote or a detail from the next location and try to specify "when she arrived" or something of the sort. I hope this makes sense and would appreciate any advice.
 

popsprocket

Retired Chief Media Manager
People misuse the idea of 'action' in writing a lot. Although it can mean literal action like gun fights, what it is really getting at is the action of a story. So if your story is based around a kid who doesn't get along with other kids at school, then the action is him sorting out his problems. Look at the plot of what you're writing and decide what the action of the story is. Are you covering that in your writing? Good, then it's just fine the way it is.

As for too much description, keep in mind that every writing style is different and there's no such thing as 'wrong', but also remember that your reader doesn't need to know that your character has an itch on their left knee. The key thing to remember here is to keep your writing concise. Anyone can describe an action or location or a mood with a thousand words, but good writers can paint enough of a picture that your brain can fill the rest in with only a few concise words. You need to say more, with less space.

As for 'transitioning' between scenes, you seem to be on the right track. If a character goes to meet their friends and nothing important happens in the interim, then we don't need to read about it. It's safe to just say something simple and short like "She arrived with only a few minutes to spare." at the start of the next scene.
 
The key thing to remember here is to keep your writing concise. Anyone can describe an action or location or a mood with a thousand words, but good writers can paint enough of a picture that your brain can fill the rest in with only a few concise words. You need to say more, with less space.
Thank you very much; that is exactly what I struggle with. I've had countless arguments with people about stories like Grapes of Wrath where an entire chapter is devoted to...what is it? A turtle crossing the road. I like that kind of detail. I like being able to think that you're in the character's mind when you detail what they're thinking but I always go overboard. I think maybe it was Hemingway who said that he would delete every other word in his writing when he was editing, keeping only what was vital. I really appreciate the advice on the action too, that really helps me. My other story was always travel, fighting, survival and this one has, like you said, the action of this particular story. I appreciate the detailed answer.
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
What I think you're struggling with is a mental condition known as 'inability to be one's self'.

Symptoms include saying things like:

I'm doing what seems to be a "must".

And:

I try so hard to incorporate all the aspects of a great story into my writing

The treatment? Good advice. Hope mine will help.

1) The thing that makes a story great is the fact you wrote it. Don't let other people or norms of the writing world detract from the writer you are!
2) Try doing the exact opposite of what you are doing. You might realise it can work just as well.
3) Detail is not about quantity - it's how it's used. Think not what, but why.
4) Try to enter the 650 word LM competition. You'll only gain from it. It'll serve as a great excuse to write something completely different.
5) Can I read some of your writing?

Hope that helped,

Cadence
 

Nickleby

WF Veterans
It's not how many words you use, it's what you say that matters. When Steinbeck wrote a chapter about a turtle, he was trying to tell the reader something, but in an indirect way.

With a short story, a good rule of thumb is to stay on message. A good story can be summed up in one sentence. Use that one sentence as your yardstick--if a word or sentence doesn't contribute to the message, take it out.

If the story is about a violent criminal, then a leisurely drink of water doesn't belong. If the story is about a person committing suicide by swallowing pills, then the same drink of water does belong.

Another consideration is in how you present that drink of water. If a character has just been poisoned, and we know that the first symptom is extreme thirst, we see it in a different light. If two people are having a casual dinner in a restaurant, a sip of water is not part of your message. The reader has almost certainly eaten in restaurants and knows what such a meal involves.Concentrate on telling your story, because that's what the reader wants to hear.
 

Jon M

WF Veterans
Another consideration is in how you present that drink of water. If a character has just been poisoned, and we know that the first symptom is extreme thirst, we see it in a different light. If two people are having a casual dinner in a restaurant, a sip of water is not part of your message.
And the Raymond Carvers of the world rise up and fume with disagreement. But then it really wouldn't be a sip or even water at that point.

O Symbolism, how I love / loathe thee.
 
1) The thing that makes a story great is the fact you wrote it. Don't let other people or norms of the writing world detract from the writer you are!
2) Try doing the exact opposite of what you are doing. You might realise it can work just as well.
3) Detail is not about quantity - it's how it's used. Think not what, but why.
Sorry, I'm trying to get the hang of this quoting thing; I don't know if it worked this time. That's really quite helpful. It's a struggle even determining my style especially when I'm trying something new with archetypes and redoing ages old ideas. (Kind of a contradiction, I hope that makes sense.) I think experimenting with exactly what you said, doing the opposite, if it doesn't turn into anything will still be great training. Also, "it's not about quantity--it's how it's used" is the best advice I've heard so far. It makes sense to try to say the most with the least words but also, if I'm the type of writer that can make every detail count that's comforting. You can definitely read something of mine as long as you promise not to be too disgusted, I am young and inexperienced after all. :)

To the person who mentioned the Steinbeck thing, I've tried that and it's actually great even just for brainstorming new ideas. A six word story like "The world spins. I fall over." brings up tons of new ideas the more you do it. I appreciate that. I tried to remember everything everyone said so I could reply with one but it doesn't seem that I remembered quite enough.
 
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