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Book writing

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Berniece McKee, May 31, 2021.

  1. Berniece McKee

    Berniece McKee Acolyte

    Hello everyone! Guys, I have a very important question for you. I know that there are many people among you who have started writing your book/novel or have already written. Please tell us about your problems and how you solved them. Perhaps there are some kind of life hacks?
  2. Eztlirald Clarinda

    Eztlirald Clarinda Dreamer

    Ok, so this might help or it might not. I’ve found that each writer has there own way of “how to write” it’s just a matter what works for you. For me, when hitting writer’s block (usually centered around the plot or what happens next) what I do is I ask questions to the story itself. In my way of writing, the story is essentially writing itself. I ask questions and the story gives me the answers even if it’s days later from the question being asked. I talk to the characters. Like readers, I bond with the characters and ask them questions. They are my imaginary friends so to speak.

    And this is going to sound so cliche but... world building!!!! It really does help. Take some time to explore the world, draw and map it out. Immerse yourself in the different cultures and get to know the people that live in your world. Travel there like you’re a foreign exchange student. Live, learn, explore. Breath the world. When you have a better understanding of the world both culturally and geographically, the story becomes much richer and captivating for your readers.
  3. ladyander

    ladyander Dreamer

    This is an extremely broad question.

    I have been many problems that I have encountered with writing. Quite a few of them, if not the majority of them, were specific and unique to whatever novel I've worked on. From pacing issues, to characterizations, to motivational issues. It's a little easier answering specific issues than for me to try and describe every problem I've come across in the many years of writing and how I solved them.

    However, usually, for me, the advice given by Neil Gaimen is probably is how I solve 95% of some of my issues that strictly are story problem. That's usually where my most of my problems are. Basically, if you get stuck, the solution to the problem is in the story itself. If you come across a problem, re-read what you have already written, and usually you'll find your answers there.

    Now for things like character, well I've only come across a couple of characters that give me trouble. Usually the solution for them is me drafting the story and correcting their actions and dialogue while editing.

    Things like pacing issues are solved if I move scenes and chapters around because sometimes I just don't order things the right way.

    Character POV not working, I should just remove it. Though, this seems to be story specific issue.

    Thinking too hard on a solution to a problem, it's time to walk away and take a break. Said break can be as long as I need.
  4. Eztlirald Clarinda

    Eztlirald Clarinda Dreamer

    “If you come across a problem, re-read what you have already written, and usually you'll find your answers there.”
    This reminds me of a post I found on Pinterest that said the same thing but to go back about ten lines and that’s where the problem is.
    jacksimmons likes this.
  5. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

    Yeah your question is way too broad lol. Every writer is different, and even every project is different. I have ADHD, so a lot of systems/solutions for neurotypical people just won't work for me.

    The most important thing you need to learn is that there are no rules. You can use adverbs, you can start with a character waking up, you can do whatever you want! However! You should both have a good reason for "breaking rules" as well as executing it well. Some of my favorite stories start with characters waking up, but they're not brushing their teeth, they're in a ship cabin and a window just broke, flooding the room with water. But if you approach your project thinking "ah geez someone on twitter said I should never use filter words" and you apply that to your story without really thinking why you're not "supposed" to do something, then you're never going to grow as a writer, nor are you going to develop your own style.

    You also need to consume a lot of media (not just books, and not just in your preferred genre) and you need to think critically about it. You just walked out of a movie, it was so bad, but why was it bad? Was it too slow, was it nonsensical, did you just not care about the characters? Why did that happen? And how can you apply that to your story? Same concept with why you love something, what about the twist really got you? What lead to the tv show having a satisfying conclusion? I recently finished a video game and, boy, did I hate the ending. It took a few days for it all to settle and for me to really articulate why I hated it, why it was a bad twist, why it doesn't fit with the rest of the narrative. I'm not going to forget those lessons, which will keep me from making the same mistakes.

    My current writing problem(s) have been structural/technical since I'm working on an interactive story. I talk to my sister and friends about it, as they're either creatives or programmers, and by knowing what is technically feasible with what I want to do, it's helping me structure the narrative and the plot. There's only one mechanic in this "game" and I want it to be executed in a specific way to have the reader have a certain experience, so both how it looks in a web browser and how the Javascript does stuff is important. Rubber duck debugging works for narrative problems along with programming problems, too lol. This is also a really interesting project, quite different from my giant novel, and I need to work on unique, interesting problems to keep my ADHD brain focused. I haven't really brought up any of the problems in this forum because this probably isn't the best place to discuss the narrative use of finite state machines lol which is why I've been relying on my friends instead.
    Eztlirald Clarinda and cak85 like this.
  6. cak85

    cak85 Minstrel

    For me the biggest problem has been consistency. I took almost 3 years off because of life and personal reasons. Since the pandemic happpend I realized that I can keep finding reasons not to write. If I ever want to finish something it is up to me!

    Now I write every night before I go to sleep or about 2 hours on the weekend. Even if I get 100 words done or 10 words done in a day I am happy with that. 10 words is better than 0 words and slowly it builds momentum. After writing consistently since late February, I am about 16,000 words into my current WIP. I know its not great but it is progress, considering I basically stopped writing for almost 3 years!
  7. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    For me, writing is about constantly finding ways to solve problems. There will always be new/different problems to solve, because every story is different. There are common problems, but there aren't always common solutions. For the most part, there aren't any short cuts. There's just what works for you as an individual and what doesn't. And what works for me, may not work for someone else.

    When I first started to take writing more seriously, I listened to a lot of different podcast interviews with professional writers. Hearing them talk about their experiences was an eyeopener, because i realized the romanticized image of what a writer does and how they do it that gets portrayed on TV and movies and in books is kind of BS. And that was tremendously helpful.

    It made me realize that writing is like any other skill, whether that's a physical skill like playing baseball or a mental skill like being a computer programmer. In order to do it well you have to practice doing it. Unless someone is a genius of some sort, no one just picks up writing and is instantly pumping out literary masterpieces. Everyone has to start off as a noob and practice and practice and practice until they get better and better. And along the way they encounter problems and they practice figuring out solutions. Sometimes those solutions are good. Sometimes they're bad, but you never know until you give them a go.

    For me, it's not about having the solution to the problem at hand. It's about knowing the right questions to ask yourself in order to find your way to a solution.

    One of the things that helped me do this is understanding story structure. One of the most helpful things I did was to read up on story structure. Story structure allowed me to organize my ideas and thoughts and understand how each would fit into my story as a whole. There are many different story structures out there. It doesn't matter what story structure one chooses to use, but I do believe its a necessary to use at least one and understand several more. IMHO, that's a good starting point for someone starting out.

    BUT, how a writer uses structure and when they use it can and will be different from writer to writer. That's why it's important for a writer to write. It's part of the process of learning and figuring out how to ask the right questions and how to use tools like story structure.

    Not sure if this makes any sense, but it's my2cents on the matter.
  8. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

    That reminds me of a recent bad game, Balan Wonderworld. Yuji Naka, the guy who made Sonic the Hedgehog, wanted to make a 3D platformer with Square Enix, and he knew he would have to have a big focus on story, as most Square games are. But he never really focused on narratives before, so he knew he ha to do some research. So he read up on the hero's journey, that very archetypical story structure, and decided "yeah that's enough work." He also wanted a story with no dialogue and everything would be explained through physical actions and dancing.

    As you can imagine, the finished product had a totally nonsensical narrative structure, and no one knew anything about the 2 playable characters, or Balan, or why the bad guy was a bad guy. Naka did have someone write a ~200 page tie-in novel which DOES explain everything....but they're not marketing it anywhere, so it's really hard to find, and the story DOES make sense...but it's not in the game, where it matters. He learned about narrative structure but not how it should be applied to video games, nor did he really understand why it's important. Choosing to have no dialogue is really difficult thing to do! But you do need something in video games because the player needs to know what to do and WHY they have to do it. You can get away with no dialogue in a ballet, or maybe even a musical, or in a movie.

    He wanted a game that EVERYONE could play and understand and enjoy, which is impossible, games 5 year olds like aren't the same as games 25 or 50 year olds like, so he ended up making a game no one likes. I do see a lot of writers saying "I'm worried someone won't like this character" and that's impossible to prevent. Everyone has such different personal tastes or opinions on what makes a story "good" that you can't make everyone happy. What you CAN do is make a product that fits as much of your target market as possible, which if you're a big company like Square you have the market research to know what exactly a 3D platformer gamer wants...but it's Yuji Naka, they gave him free reign, and look what happened.
  9. Stevie

    Stevie Minstrel

    I'd second what Penpilot says. Practice, practice, practice then practice some more. What Stephen King says about how to be a writer - "Read a lot, write a lot." The more you practice, the more you will understand how writing works, the better equipped you will be to solve the problems. Again as Penpilot says, great writers aren't born, they learn. This raises the intriguing prospect that anyone can become a good writer, if you're prepared to put the work in.

    I'd add a couple of things to the "more practice" mix.

    Study what you've written. Compare it to a writer you like. Work out what you're not doing that they are. Imitation is an incredibly powerful learning tool, as is correcting your own mistakes. This is why "allow yourself to write badly" is common advice for the new (and not so new) writer. Writing like your favourite author is no bad thing when you're first starting out. You are copying someone who knows what they're doing. You'll learn from it.

    Don't stress over not having your own 'voice' or style. Once you learn what good writing is, your own style will emerge with it.

    Don't stress not having done any kind of formal creative writing course. Writing is a skill that can be self taught by reading books on writing technique. You don't need to know the technical terms for the mechanics of writing to know what works (but it might help!)

    Understand that writing and editing are two different skills and to be a writer you'll need to learn both. This will take time...

    Finally, don't take my word for any of this. Get a hold of "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle. It is an eye-opener of a book for anyone who aspires to write.
  10. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    Honestly, I only believe in one rule to writing: writers write. Everything else is just tools in your toolbox, and everyone's process is different from others'. Just write. It's a hard, muddy slog through those trenches. You'll find your process along the way.

    cak85 likes this.
  11. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

    As A E Lowan wrote, writers have to write. I think it was Robert Heinlein who once said that "You must write, you must finish what you write, you must refrain from re-writing except to editorial order, you must put your story on the market and you must keep it on the market until it has sold."

    For what its worth I write every day, but that doesn't mean I always write stuff for my current work. If I find I've got stuck on my current work I'll write something else, whatever comes to mind, and that text goes into the random text file for later review and use. But I find the key is to write every day. I don't do re-writes, my dyslexia makes that too difficult.
  12. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    First solution was whiskey. Then I needed to figure out how to solve the hangover problem. It’s just a mad circle of angst, intoxication, and pain.

    Or the question needs to be more specific, heh heh.
  13. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    Chemically speaking, alcohol is a solution. ;)

    But seriously, we're all here for each other. That's what makes us such a great community. One word at a time.
    Svrtnsse and Demesnedenoir like this.
  14. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Maester

    My preference is to write stuff using pen and paper just before I go to sleep. It's the one time I'm relaxed enough to write without caring much about what is being written. More importantly.... no distractions from anything electronic.

    Writing before I go to sleep actually helps me to sleep well.
  15. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    I think a major hurdle for many writers starting out is actually finishing a project. They sometimes get caught up in world building, or stall, or lose a sense of direction or interest.

    A second concern is that new writers sometimes look at their writing and compare it to their favorite authors or other published works. This mistakenly equate their first draft with completed works, that have seen multiple drafts and professional editing. Nevertheless, the comparison has a tendency to shatter confidence and motivation.
    Svrtnsse likes this.
  16. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    The only hack is to get a ghost writer. :p
    Other than that, it's what Lowan says. Sit down and write.

    At least, that's the first step. The second step is what Erwin says and actually finish the story.
    I guess there's a hack there: write shorter stories.

    Take on something that's manageable and that you can finish in a reasonable time, like a month or two. Having finished a story is a massive confidence boost, regardless of the quality of the story. Once you've finished it, you can start on the next one, and you can apply what you learned from the first one.

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