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Thread: General Discussion: THE STORY

  1. #1

    Default The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    Before you all freak out, "General Discussion: THE STORY" and my old "The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips" have been merged. I'll post brennen's original post here:

    Quote Originally Posted by brennen.exe
    Ok, not a story at all, I just thought you guys should have a general discussion thread. More importantly, I needed a thread to post in and didn't want to hijack one or create my own. Sigh, the burdens of being an admin.

    So, I'm going to sticky this so general chat can be aggregated here rather than taking away from the other topic-oriented threads such as monthly and whatnot, but if you all are against the idea... well, I guess I can delete the thread later. I imagine nobody has complaints though? Good. For outsiders, feel free to use this as a Question/Answer section; for insiders, feel free to chat or ask for general suggestions or tips for... stuff, like, I dunno, maybe ideas you haven't yet framed into a story. Writer stuff, you know? But seriously, I have some questions:

    1.) Is there anything you wanted stickied while you have my attention?
    2.) How active is this section, really? Do you think you need a moderator? Do you want to elect one?
    3.) If for nothing else, a moderator could make news postings for the monthly-writing. Interested still?
    4.) Why do I suck at writing?

    Moving on.

    I suck at writing. To be continued.
    So yeah, the two threads were very similar and a few people thought they should have been merged. I respectfully requested to keep the first post to continue info dumping. However, the codes of conduct within brennen's thread were a little more loose so feel free to go by those rules rather than the guidelines outlined in mine.

    Also, I hope we didn't do anything illegal by thread-jacking an admin.~

    ---

    The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    Spoiler:
    Because I have no clue how to explain things better than through enumerated questions pertaining to the context of said current subject, I'm going to explain things through enumerated questions (with answers, oh ho) pertaining to the context of said current subject.

    Spoiler:
    What is this thread?

    Spoiler:
    Instead of what this thread is, the purpose of this thread is to A) stimulate discussion on the writing process and gather perspective by looking into the creative minds of the participants and B) provide help to writers both fresh and seasoned. Frankly put, this is a general writing thread. Not so general to the point where we'd be discussing current, known writers or our favorite books but instead the writing process itself.

    Rather, if there's an aspect of the writing process you feel strongly about then this would be the place to share your views and possibly even discuss/debate that perspective. In addition, this place doubles as a helping center for writers looking to sharpen their skills by gathering a more organized opinion. If our discussions go well or a writer steps up and adds in their own helpful tips then I'll keep the first post updated to reflect this help and provide general articles that people may want to refer to during their time writing or reading.


    Follow whatever brennen said.~


    How should I post in this thread?

    Spoiler:
    I think it should go without saying that you should be respectful so I won't get into that point. If you'd like to discuss something with other writers that pertain to the writing process then you'd come here and talk about it. Like for instance, you could come here and ask, "What makes a good character?" That would definitely stir up an entire conversation. Or, perhaps you think you know what a good character is. In that case, you'd come here and tell us what it is and then we'd proceed to either agree or disagree with you, thus stimulating conversation.

    Also, don't be afraid to cite examples in your discussions. I know I said earlier that this thread isn't so general that we'd be discussing our favorite books or whatever but what I meant by that is that you shouldn't make it the concentration of your discussion. If it pertains to the context of your argument on the writing process then by all means. Just don't make this about any specific work. This is a point that is very easily misconstrued so be careful when you do so.

    Here, if you'd also like, you can present a sample of your work for a quick review or to give us an example of whatever it is you're going for or need help with. In this, don't feel insulted if we seemingly tear it to shreds. I don't think anyone here is going to have a personal vendetta against you so you should take the majority of opinions here as constructive criticism. And sometimes, even if you write really well, if what you're going for doesn't land with a lot of people then maybe you should consider editing or rewriting. It's always a good thing to gather perspective especially during work like this.


    Also whatever brennen said.~


    Huh, there actually weren't as many questions as I originally thought there'd be. It would be arrogant of me if I continued this thread with enumerated questions because the following section is the helping portion and quite frankly, I'm not the best writer alive so everything I outline can't be indisputable. In fact, even if I were the best writer I would still encourage people to speak up and share their opinions.

    ---

    Writing

    (I'm totally going to keep doing the enumerated question thing.)

    Spoiler:
    What makes a good character?

    Spoiler:
    In terms of main or major characters and even in terms of secondaries (though not necessarily sides), a good character would be one that lends to the story and adds something to it. It is possible for a character to be complex without being a strong character in that it doesn't affect the outcome, direction or even context of the story. In this instance, I would recommend avoiding fleshing out your characters unless they're going to add something to the story overall. Even what you would presume to be minor, just so long as it at least fits the context of the themes then that would be a fairly decent character.

    For example, if your character drinks a lot, has an abusive past and grows as a character ultimately giving up all their horrible deeds and becoming an upstanding samaritan when the theme of your story is... bunnies... that probably isn't a good character. At least not in the context of whatever story you're writing. In which case, they shouldn't be in your story at all. No one denies that it's a complex and maybe even interesting and awesome character but they have to belong to the story to at least some degree.

    And if they do nail belonging to the story then that's when you must determine how significant this character is going to be. If you give a lot of screen time to a character, please do the readers a huge favor and make them interesting. One of the most unsatisfying things you can do for a reader is make a major character show up from the beginning to the end and then they're just... the same character. Nothing learned, no struggle, no clear development, nothing. And bare this in mind because a lot of people love to think this way, actions are NOT development. Learning a new power isn't development. Washing clothes isn't development. Repeating the same formulaic storyline of a previous arc but just dressing it differently isn't development.

    You should never concentrate so much on the "what" a character is doing but rather "why" the character is doing it. And even when you go so far as to make that your concentration, does it matter? You don't want to repeat yourself or plateau development. We, as people, grow all the time and learn new things from our experiences. Sometimes we may even change perspectives. It's quite possible that during my conversations here, my perspectives on the writing process will change. So when you write a character that's pretty much thinking, "Same old, same old", you're not giving your readers much of an incentive to give a shit about them.

    But also keep in mind that spotlight has a lot to do with how much a character should develop. If it's the main character then they probably shouldn't be changing perspective every two seconds and being completely in flux. You have to be mindful of the reader and give them some stability. But at the same time they should be influencing the plot and moving shit along, gradually developing as they go. Likewise, if a character isn't going to be in for the long-haul then you probably shouldn't give them any extended concentration or present the illusion that they're significant unless they influence the direction of the plot and serve to extenuate the main characters. - Uncle Kenny


    What is the "through line"?

    Spoiler:
    A "through line" is basically like the spine that your writing follows, and it's kind of what ties everything in your work together. It's most obvious in argumentative writing where you should be arguing for a particular point. If you lose sight of that, your work goes off on a ridiculous tangent and you might not even be arguing what you started with. It's something that plagues me all the time, and that's what happens when you don't have a through line.

    Basically, as long as you have a beginning, middle, and end, you've got a through line. Almost. Your story could be... Fox lives in a village and goes on an adventure -> Fox winds up opposing the Raccoon Army who is trying to destory the world -> Fox becomes a rabbit to defeat the Raccoon Army Leader. Sure you've got a beginning, middle, and end here. But that Act 3 is rather... disjointed isn't it? You can't really have that. Just having a beginning, middle, and end isn't enough.

    The beginning is the defining stage. This isn't just about defining the characters and setting, but also about defining what is at stake in the middle, and also defining the final conflict. All great stories kind of have this full circle element to them, and that's because the ending should be directly rooted to the beginning.

    The middle is the transitioning stage. Here, you're developing plot threads that build a kind of bridge between the first and third act.

    The end finally should take what happens in the transition stage and look at directly how it impacts the defining stage to create the resolution stage. The climax should have some rooting in the opening chapters.

    So I'm just discussing basic plot structure? Well, yeah, but the importance of this is that the "through line" is what keeps everything on track. You don't have to be obvious to the reader, but you have to have this destination in mind from the outset and the "through line" is basically that.

    So if Fox is going to be a rabbit to beat the final boss, you might need to litter some rabbits along the way. Foreshadow. Yeah. - Kitsune Inferno


    Phew... You know what? I really want to go on and write a lot more but I'm tired right now and I'll just do so later. This post is eventually going to get ridiculously long so feel free to just add your input for now and discuss things or ask questions.
    Last edited by Jazzy Jinx; May 21st, 2012 at 03:12 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    Hrm...I guess I can chime in:

    I suck as a writer, and yet I excel as a storyteller. I pull things out of my ass, but I can't plan for the life of me. I create characters to fill roles and go from there. All I know is the beginning, some of the middles and the end. After that, it's all BS from there.
    I'mma poor role model.

  3. #3
    Must've been rats Sakonosolo's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    I really should do more planning before I write. I typically have a basic storyline and write until I feel I'm done. Sometimes this gets me stuck in the middle of a story. Other times I can get ideas from multiple places and splice them together. A lot of the stuff I have written I get the general idea from songs or other fiction. But yeah, I need to plan more.

  4. #4

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    A good character is not necessarily a dynamic character, Kenny.
    Like Rorschach. With in the plot-line of Watchmen he doesn't change. Or Ogami Itto from Lone Wolf and Cub, a better example, since he doesn't even change in flashbacks.

  5. #5

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    I never said a good character is a dynamic one. In fact, I contested it in one of my paragraphs. What I said was that a good character lends itself to the story and adds something to it. That means that it either progresses the idea of the story or adds a perspective pertaining to the theme of the story. If a character doesn't influence the story or contribute to it in some form, that's an issue.

    Unless, ya know, they're one-time side characters that'll never show up again and even that's arguable.

  6. #6

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Kenny View Post
    That means that it either progresses the idea of the story or adds a perspective pertaining to the theme of the story
    A comedic character in a tragedy can do neither. That said, their role are usually minor, only to lighten the mood.

  7. #7

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    A comedic character in a tragedy is a plot device. And even if I was just going to argue based on the specific line you quoted me on when you know damn well that's not what I meant by reading the whole post, comedic characters often add to the theme or perspective of the story by providing a wider scope of thought and putting into perspective however major a theme is. You don't realize how serious shit truly is until you see something lighter right next to it. Sometimes that comedic character might even piss you off because you'll think, "Why is he making light of something that's so obviously serious?" which in turn generates more thought on whatever tragedy you're seeing beyond, "Oh, that's kinda sad."

  8. #8

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    Yummy thread is yummy.

    I think Character-Character Dynamic is equally important as Character Development.

    What I mean is the fact that people aren't necessarily the same person around everyone else. If you have a large cast of characters, your characters aren't going to act the same around each other. A great example used to comedic effect is Sanji, who goes from being a lovesick servant around Nami and Robin to being a jerk to the guys. A more moderate example is the fact that Sanji and Chopper spend a lot of time together. Both of them are rather silly characters, but they tend to be a bit more serious around each other. In the meantime, Luffy, Usopp, and Chopper are complete goofballs in each other's presence. I know it goes without saying, but your characters have different perceptions of each other, and that's not just across the good-evil spectrum. Probably goes without saying, but it's still rather important.

  9. #9

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    I have the same problem as Cuddles really. If I can stop being humble for a bit, I can make great characters and pretty creative ideas for powers and concepts for stories, but I can't plan out arcs for the life of me. I am getting somewhat better at this but it's still a big challenge.

    On the topic of the writing process do any of you have some sort of ritual you must undergo when you write? I can write anywhere at just about any time so long as I'm not distracted, but my best writing comes whenever I listen to Iron Maiden. Do you guys have something like that?

  10. #10

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    I used to be an extremely shitty writer.

    My current conception of writing is that it should be simple and direct. Avoid repeating yourself. The sentences should have a logical flow. It is important to keep your reader interested.

    It is more or less like writing a story for a movie. Jurassic park is an example of great writing.

  11. #11

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    Whenever I listen to stimulating, fast music, I write much better. I struggle to come out with pages per hour when I don't listen to music, but if I listen to music that has lots of patterns to it and isn't repetitive, I can write about a page every 30 minutes that would've been just as good as what I'd have made if I sat there pulling my hair out over it, possibly better. I really have no idea if I'm a good writer or not, but moving quickly and establishing a lot of mysteries has seemed to keep my Creative Writing teacher interested. One thing I've also been doing for a while is looking at common tropes, then doing a little twist on them. And I can only write in absolute pitch-black dark, lol. It's kind of freaky.


  12. #12

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Demonicpoodle View Post
    Whenever I listen to stimulating, fast music, I write much better. I struggle to come out with pages per hour when I don't listen to music, but if I listen to music that has lots of patterns to it and isn't repetitive, I can write about a page every 30 minutes that would've been just as good as what I'd have made if I sat there pulling my hair out over it, possibly better. I really have no idea if I'm a good writer or not, but moving quickly and establishing a lot of mysteries has seemed to keep my Creative Writing teacher interested. One thing I've also been doing for a while is looking at common tropes, then doing a little twist on them. And I can only write in absolute pitch-black dark, lol. It's kind of freaky.
    Mystery is essential to a good writer. The star wars prequels are the perfect examples of bad writing by spoiling the plot twists of the original trilogy.

  13. #13
    BEST! BREAST!! CON-TEST!!! dirt monkey AL's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    A good character is one that has a life of his own. He doesn't move according to what you want him to do, but goes his own way, and almost writes the story for you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silence View Post
    And when this manga closes out, and Luffy's arm stretches back to deliver that last punch, I wanna feel the crunch of the dream coming true.



  14. #14

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    My problem with that is that my characters want to change the story that I've already mapped out whenever I let them do whatever they want. I completely agree but sometimes you have to force the plot to take precedence over a character's actions. Otherwise you're on the fast track to plot holes.

  15. #15

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by sanji499 View Post
    Mystery is essential to a good writer. The star wars prequels are the perfect examples of bad writing by spoiling the plot twists of the original trilogy.
    Do you mean like the medi-chlorians? Yeah, that's an excellent excellent example of a unexplained thing (The Force) that absolutely should never have been explained.

    Of course it doesn't help that the explanation was hugely retarded.

  16. #16
    Finally came back around Akumu's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Cuddles the Dark View Post
    Hrm...I guess I can chime in:

    I suck as a writer, and yet I excel as a storyteller. I pull things out of my ass, but I can't plan for the life of me. I create characters to fill roles and go from there. All I know is the beginning, some of the middles and the end. After that, it's all BS from there.
    I'mma poor role model.
    I am actually kind of the same. I can make up fantastic stories, but I never often have the patience to put them to the page, or have them read well. I've gotten better at it, except for the patience thing. I have a folder in word labeled "unfinished work" and there are literally over a hundred projects in there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sakonosolo View Post
    I really should do more planning before I write. I typically have a basic storyline and write until I feel I'm done. Sometimes this gets me stuck in the middle of a story. Other times I can get ideas from multiple places and splice them together. A lot of the stuff I have written I get the general idea from songs or other fiction. But yeah, I need to plan more.
    I'm not a big outliner/ploter, at least when it comes to short stories, I may have an idea where I want the story to go, but 99% of the time the ending changes multiple times as I'm writing. I tend to let the story and characters take me to the ending. If I write an outline, I end up constrained, and generally end up being less creative.

    Also, in my opinion, the most important part of the writing process is revising and editing. I always do several drafts of a project before declaring one as "final." I also have a group of people who are always brutally honest and are always willing to revise something of mine as critically as possible.
    Also, after finding a final draft, I like to step away from it for a week or two and then coming back to it that way I have fresh(er) eyes and am able to more critically judge my own work.

  17. #17
    The Devil's best friend.
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    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Monkey King View Post
    Do you mean like the medi-chlorians? Yeah, that's an excellent excellent example of a unexplained thing (The Force) that absolutely should never have been explained.

    Of course it doesn't help that the explanation was hugely retarded.
    Kinda like Oda having Vegapunk explain the science behind 'Haki'.

    Wait a minute, can I ask anyone here question: What the fuck was the point of the prequels? What did it really add to the mythos? I like to see an answer to that.

  18. #18

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    The Star Wars prequels were like fanfiction.

  19. #19

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    Mystery is definitely something I need to incorporate into my writing more often. Best example I have is my series that looks into the afterlife, you never find out what the afterlife in heaven is REALLY like. There's never a moment in which one of the main characters is in heaven, and you get a full understanding of what's it like.

    But my general fear of using 'mystery' is that people general hate mystery. People often look at unanswered questions and consider it to be laziness.

    --- Update From New Post Merge ---

    Quote Originally Posted by Chucklepants Fallupface View Post
    The Star Wars prequels were like fanfiction.
    Pff. I wrote better fanfiction in grade school about Sub-Zero, Sareena, and Lara Croft.

  20. #20

    Default Re: The Writing Process: Discussion & Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Monkey King View Post
    Do you mean like the medi-chlorians? Yeah, that's an excellent excellent example of a unexplained thing (The Force) that absolutely should never have been explained.

    Of course it doesn't help that the explanation was hugely retarded.
    Well yes because it contradicts the beauty of the force which was more about the strenght of the determination of the person not science. Effectively, it is bad writing because it ruins Yoda's speech on the force. Yes, Oda understands Star wars with Haki which is more or less the same thing.

    Lucas also ruins Vader's identity in episode 5 by saying straight in our face his identity in episode 3.

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