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Scrambled WIP

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Vel, Sep 30, 2021.

  1. Vel

    Vel Dreamer

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    After a few months of a hiatus, I came back to my WIP and read over my notes, character backgrounds, lore, and scenes. I was absolutely mortified :unsure:. I almost cringed at how silly my ideas seemed. It's like during my break my style of writing and ideas completely changed. Now my question is if anyone else has experienced this?

    Is rewriting my entire WIP, lore, timeline, and even scraping characters a good idea? Some characters just feel a bit out of place now and cant fit into the story like I thought they would. A problem I also ran into is organization and "perfection". I tend to try to perfect my timeline and make sure everything lines up precisely, characters are in the right place at the right time and make sure certain scenes are before and after another certain scene. It's all a little overwhelming.

    Another question, what's a good way to put together a good character? How do I stay away from a cliche, bland character?
     
  2. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

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    One of the important steps in editing is to step away from your WIP for a bit to look at your project with fresh eyes, as you'll see problems you wouldn't notice otherwise. And you discovered just that! So all those feelings are normal. Start a new file and take another whack at your story (don't delete the previous version, there might be stuff from it you might want to take or you might even change your mind about how bad that draft is).

    As for organization, it really depends on the story. I've read stories where knowing where each character was at every minute was clearly thought of by the writer, as this information is the basis of many mysteries and is doled out to the reader throughout the story. And then there are stories where it's not really fixed when stuff happens (pretty much any RPG with sidequests is like this). Is it critical that you know exactly when everything happens for your story? That's up to you to figure out. But the order of scenes IS very important. Each scene is progressive and moves the story to conclusion. The conflict or tension should be rising, we should be learning more about the characters, it should build on what we already know. Yes, there can be some scenes that can be put in different order, but they would Hit Different and would change the experience of the reader.

    Example:
    Fred finds out he's out of milk
    Fred goes to the store
    Fred crashes his car, killing someone

    vs
    Fred finds out he's out of milk
    Fred crashes his car, killing someone
    Fred goes to the store

    One is a normal day that gets interrupted by a terrible incident. The other is a guy being very callous about committing murder. These two Freds are very, very different based on their actions, even though the things they do haven't changed.

    For making a "good character," it really depends on your story. Really short stories don't have as much room to craft someone compelling, so they may be more carbon-copy of common archetypes/tropes, and that's fine. But if your story is 100,000 words and they're still a Bland Generic Action Movie Protagnoist, then that's going to be more of an issue. For all of your main characters and antagonists, come up with their internal and external motivations, their wants vs needs.
    • External motivation: I don't want to get killed by this spooky monster, I must survive this hurricane, I have to win this duel
    • Internal motivation: I must learn that people do love and care about me, I have to learn the true meaning of friendship, I have to learn to trust in my own abilities
    • Want: Pretty much every Disney movie starts with an "I want" song: I want to be king, I want to see where the people are, I want to see what's just around the riverbed. It's something a character consciously desires at the start of the story, and it can be for shallow/misguided reasons (as king no one can tell me when to go to bed)
    • Need: What the character truly needs to be happy/whole/satisfied/whatever. Simba needs to learn that being a king is about responsibility, and that includes making tough choices like owning up to your mistakes. This is the "seizing the sword" part of the heroe's journey
    So if you have a bad guy, he might want to take over the world, but he needs a reason besides "idk I'm evil." Your hero needs a motivation besides "idk my mentor told me to." Once you come up with these, it'll be easy to keep these in mind as you write scenes.
     
  3. NRuhwald

    NRuhwald Scribe

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    I've been there! What you decide to do with the beautiful mess you've created depends on you. Without knowing you and your project better it's hard to give good advice. I do have some thoughts on making an interesting character. I won't repeat what Chasejxyz said above about goals and motivation, but knowing that will put you well on your way to a good character. Other advice I've heard is to give your character an unexpected quirk or character trait that goes against what readers would expect. For instance, a military flight instructor who loves to go to the ballet, or even dances him/herself. And let's not forget those flaws!
     
  4. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Auror

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    Is there anyone you can share your work with? (If no one in your personal life, creating a portfolio on this forum may be an option.) Sometimes what feels cringy to you is actually fine in the eyes of others. Getting other people to read it could give you some solid perspective.
     
  5. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Maester

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    I've taken a step back from my work in progress and I've come back to it. Much of it sucks but it's worth it.
     
  6. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Inkling

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    Yes, of course. This is why I like to put my writing aside for at least a few weeks (a few months would be better) between drafts. During this time, I usually work on short stories instead.


    Perhaps. I've done this many times, but getting an outside opinion would be wise. And whatever you do, remember to keep a copy of your original file separate so you can go back to it if you want later.


    This is a whole thread in itself or more and there are many answers. The one I like best is to put the character in situations where they have to make critical decisions that will forever affect them. How a character reacts under extreme stress will make sure the character is never bland.
     
  7. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Maester

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    Further to my previous post, stepping back from your WIP and comng back to it after a while will often lead you to ditch much of it. My WIP has been through many changes over the last few years. The latest was changing the name of the Empire to the Banjari Empire.

    Don't discard what you have done. It might come in handy further down the line.
     
  8. Vel

    Vel Dreamer

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    This really gave me a new perspective on how I can improve my writing! I'll definitely come back to this thread soon.
    Thank you for this advice/information! :)
     
  9. Vel

    Vel Dreamer

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    Every now and then I'll share ideas of mine with internet friends, but as of right now I only have access to my school laptop, which is restricted from downloading programs and apps that aren't district approved. (even harmless backgrounds from the chrome store :(). My notes, drafts, and WIPs are mostly written on paper until I can get my personal laptop fixed.
     
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