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Should I even bother?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by disasterpending, May 26, 2022.

  1. disasterpending

    disasterpending New Member

    I’m trying to write a book that’s been an idea of mine for well over a year now but honestly it currently sounds like a scuffed Beyonders-Percy Jackson-Eragon mixture with an inconsistent writing style. There’s a (I feel it’s cliché) prophecy and magic and nonhumans/ human hybrids/ animals from various mythologies. It’s also mildly discouraging that my chapter lengths are way too short to have depth. I’m just not sure if it’s worth finishing planning/ writing it at this point.
  2. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    It sounds to me like you've got issues to work out with your writing and story craft, so if you plan to keep on writing in general, the practice could be useful.

    Other than that, there's no real way for a third party with so little info to make an informed decision: it's on you. Welcome to writing, heh heh.
    disasterpending likes this.
  3. disasterpending

    disasterpending New Member

    That’s fair, I definitely need to improve my world building. I know authors tend to write and rewrite a lot so it might just be a first draft thing.
  4. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Absolutely! If the story had a solid, even very basic 3 act structure, who cares if its a mishmash of other stuff? Write it, learn, make it your own. Write it so you enjoy it. Odds are, if you like it, someone else will, and that's a good first step.

    disasterpending likes this.
  5. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

    I've never regretted anything I have written, even the sucky stuff (well, there was that one, but I was young and needed the money!!!). Current WIP has been in my head and not on paper for more than ten years. Bout time it got to moving along.

    If you got the bug, and something to say, then there only one way it happens. Besides, writing is better than everything else that on TV anyway.
  6. Lynea

    Lynea Sage

    There should be no harm in at least making a loose outline. It's more of an exercise, but if you start typing out a synopsis of your story from the beginning you might be surprised by bursts of inspiration that give you momentum.

    Pretty much every fantasy story shares stuff in common with something else, so don't let that be a deal breaker for you.
    disasterpending likes this.
  7. A few secrets about writing:

    All idea's are cliche, especially if you break them down to their fundamentals. Eragon is a complete rip-off of books like Lord of the Rings. It's about as cliche as yo can get, and yet it is wildly successful and an enjoyable read for all that. Magical boarding schools and boys defeating an evil lord to save the world are nothing new, and yet Harry Potter ended up being the most successful book serries written. The idea doesn't matter, it's how you write it.

    As for chapter length, that's, again, completely irrelevant. One of the current most successful writers out there, James Patterson, has chapters which are extremely short, like 500 words or so. The most shoplifted writer of the 90's (Terry Pratchett) had no chapters at all for most of his books. If short chapters are your thing, then go for it.

    Finally, remember that good writing takes practice, a lot of it, just like everything else. Compare it to learning to play a musical instrument. No one ever sat down with an instrument and knew how to play it on the first go. The same goes for writing a novel. Everyone's first novel is bad. I've read some of Tolkien's earliest works (in The Book of Lost Tales), and it's terrible. Anything you're writing now is as good as that, I'm sure. And by sticking with it and practicing he became one of the most succesful authors ever.

    So just write, practice, and don't worry about the quality. For most people, even great, professional authors, the first draft of a manuscript is bad. Write, improve, repeat.
    disasterpending likes this.
  8. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    It took me 15 years of trying and failing before I managed to get my head on straight and simply write my gosh darn first novel. The first few chapters got rewritten countless times, but the one thing that held me back most was originality. I wanted the story to be soooo original. I worried about every seemingly cliche element or anything that was remotely similar to something else that had be done before. It took me 15 years before I realized, I was approaching things wrong, and it was self defeating.

    Every story when stripped down to it's basic form will be similar to something else and will have cliche elements. Those things don't matter. Originality comes from you taking those elements and using them in interesting ways. It comes from you telling the reader how you see that world and its characters.

    Think about fine dinning. Give two chefs the exact same ingredients, and they will each come up with a different dish, or at the very least, similar dishes, but each with their own twist to it. That's what writing is. There are only so many basic plots, but infinite ways in which to express those plots. For example, the movies, Alien, Jaws, and Friday the 13th, use the same basic plot and plot elements, but are all very different movies. The each have a monster rampaging through an seemingly isolated/enclosed environment, a space ship, a town, and a camp. There are people in power who are driven by sin and it's putting people at risk of dying. With Alien, the evil corp, puts people in harms way to capture the Alien so they can use it to make a weapon to make lots of money. Greed is the sin. With Jaws, the Mayor refuses to shut down the beach because of the shark, because he fears loosing tourist dollars. Greed is the sin again. With Friday, the 13th, counsellors at the camp were having sex and allowed a boy to drown, leading to revenge murders on anyone having sex. Lust is the sin here. There are lots of other similar elements among the three, but hopefully that's enough to get my point across.

    What finally put me on track was deciding to stop giving a flip about originality and simply tell the story I wanted to tell, cliches and all. That first book was well... terrible, but I learned a lot from writing it. And, there are a lot of things in that story that I like and may one day revisit. But, I moved on to the next book and the one after that and the one after that. Each novel I wrote, I learned something new, and got a little better and better.

    Writing is a learning experience. You will not get it perfect on the first try. That's like being able to step up to the plate in a pro baseball game and expecting to hit a 100mph fastball on your first swing when you've never even played baseball before. You will stumble. You will fail. But if you really want to write, just write. Don't worry about originality. Just focus on getting the story down, and as long as you keep at it and keep trying to learn, you will get better and so will your stories.
    disasterpending likes this.
  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Yes, this is something everyone must come to grips with. For some readers, Eve of Snows is like Game of Thrones, but if you comparing to Game of Thrones then GoT is a lot like hundreds of other books that came before it. On the one hand, I get it, there are superficial similarities, but on the other, I think people get hung up on the superficial because the deeper stories are very different. If you write a YA book with Greek gods or a school for magic... or in my case, an epic that starts out in a frozen land with an "other" as a threat, you're going to get that critique from yourself and your readers. Don't sweat it, there are plenty of other things to worry about.

    And in the case of mashups, hell, that's how Hollywood often likes to think: Avatar meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest meets American Pie! Brilliant! heh heh heh.

    disasterpending likes this.
  10. Gwynndamere

    Gwynndamere Dreamer

    If the idea has been with you that long, then write it down. Don't think about audience and publishing, just write for your own enjoyment, and it will work out. Use the advice in the other replies to make it better, but do it for yourself. I find when I try to write for publishing it almost comes out forced. When I write for the story, the characters and the enjoyment of writing, it takes on a life of its own and gets better.
    disasterpending and Adela like this.
  11. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

    Write, write, write. It's the only way you'll work out what you want to write and how you want to write it. Unless you write for a living you are (or perhaps should be) doing this for fun. If you don't enjoy writing why continue to do it? It can be very hard to stay motivated when the story seems to be going nowhere, and that's where the enjoyment keeps you going. Your readers, when you get them, will be able to see when you were having fun writing. If you enjoy yourself they'll enjoy themselves.
    disasterpending likes this.
  12. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    A few years ago, I ran 'Top Scribe,' a writing challenge on this site, which was a direct successor of 'Iron Pen,' put forth by Ankari (recently returned from a long absence). In those challenges, the contestants were given four writing prompts and five thousand words or less (at least in theory). You might have expected that each contestant's tale would read much like the others. Not even close.

    That said, my advice, like the others here, is to write. I'd suggest exploring your world via short stories - this builds up your writing skills and fleshes out your world building. It doesn't matter if the tales are terrible, what matters is the practice.
    disasterpending likes this.
  13. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Inkling

    I agree with everyone else—write it. Practice is the most important thing at the beginning. Unless you have other ideas that interest you more, then just do it. Try to finish it, too, however bad you feel it is. There's a certain satisfaction in finishing a novel (even a bad one).

    Depth and length are not the same. Some short stories have a lot of depth, although I agree that it's sometimes easier to gain depth in a longer piece.
    disasterpending likes this.
  14. Snowpoint

    Snowpoint Sage

    If you are actually writing, you are succeeding.
    Best analogy I have is Dark Souls. What Happens when you collect a million souls? Nothing. You have to make it back to a bonfire to spend them.
    In writing you level up by finishing things. Even if they are bad, finish them. This is how you level up.

    I'm the kind of person who plans stories and doesn't write them. (I am working on that!) So, if you are already writing bad stories, you are already miles ahead of me.
  15. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    There's a theme here, in case you hadn't noticed. Everyone who has written a novel has failed repeatedly. They've fiddled and thought and written scraps and maybe even had whole novels that are kept safely hidden away in a drawer labeled Perfectly Awful, Show No One.

    And then they kept going. The ones you don't hear from are the ones who stopped. Keep going or stop: the choice is yours. And that is your Yoda Thought For The Day.
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  16. S J Lee

    S J Lee Inkling

    Keep these things simple! Do you have a story you WANT to tell? Then tell it. Think of your drafts as saved games on some complex video game. If it isn't working out, then reboot an earlier saved game and take it from there. Slap up a chapter on critiques and get feedback on what is good and not so good, and rinse and repeat!
  17. Should I even bother?

    “Well, I’m 34 now. If I don’t make it by the time I’m 60, I’m just going to give myself 10 more years.” -Charles Bukowski (That's a quote which has hung somewhere in my place of dwelling since i was 20.)

    My answer to your question is alwaysYES! Absolutely! Without a doubt! As long as you LOVE and are excited by the process!

    You've spoken above about big picture ideas and writing tendencies; genre mash-up, world building, chapter length, and so little about characters which ultimately dictate if any story will be good. Game of Thrones, without the great character studies, and intricate webs of connection between them, would be closer to having been a paper wasting disaster. But for those characters we invest ourselves in, it's a collection of cool ideas, many of them recycled from earlier written works or borrowed from our own world history and then exaggerated. The story, without family, honor, simple desires, intrigue and motivations of those characters, could easily have fallen flat.

    Your might find your world building improving or becoming more unique once you settle into a few main characters and dig deeper into their wants, motivations and life stories on the macro level. The characters can inform the world they dwell in as easily as the reverse. What makes an inhospitable planet matter is the struggle of the people who live or end up there. And what makes them relatable are the every day lives they live. Family, loss, struggles, hopes, goals, obstacles, dangers, emotions and contradictions.

    Ideally, your bigger ideas should be fully fleshed out from that level as well. What makes an oppressive regime of value to a story is not simply the brutality, but a reader siding with ta character or two who suffer under it, or perhaps having empathy for the contradictions someone working within the regime experiences as they see/suffer the end result of their actions.

    I think all of us can get far too caught up in chasing the cool ideas and world building. For me, world building is equal to playtime. The weekend of the craft. Sitting down and writing is the 9-5 of it. You have to have the same, if not greater passion for the job as you do for the weekend. :)

    And yet, whatever the result or uncertainty you may feel, I still say it's all worth it as long as you enjoy the process.
    skip.knox likes this.
  18. italian in japan

    italian in japan Minstrel

    I would not worry about the clichés at all!
    If you believe Georges Polti and his "The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations," everything we write is a revisiting of something that has been written.

    Everything else you mentioned seems to be more tied to needing practice, or believing in your work and yourself as an author; all of which can be fixed by writing, editing, practicing, rewriting, etc.

    As for chapter length, I do not believe it is tied to depth. You could have very long chapters lacking any kind of three-dimensionality, or short ones with great depth.

    The only thing that I think COULD be an issue is that if you yourself do not believe the story to be good, then it's hard you'll be able to make it good. If you think your story is cool, then it's there, somewhere in your head; just flesh it out, however long it may take.

    If you think your story is sub-par, then it will probably still make for a great exercise for your next great story.

    TLDR: Hell yeah you should bother!

  19. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

    Too many new writers are too focussed on "success", whatever that is.

    Just write for the love of it and learn your craft - that is the ONLY way to approach it at the start.

    Eventually you might write something you think fit for others to read, and eventually you'll decide that only an audience can take you to the next level.

    It took me 15 years before a publisher said yes. And I improved out of sight in that time. As I've said on here many times, I can't read three sentences of my first effort without vomiting blood.
    italian in japan and Gurkhal like this.
  20. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    When writing a story, I often get depressed when I reach the middle. I question and doubt everything. In the past, I often gave up because of my doubts. Then I challenged myself to see the story through to an ending. Those stories weren't always worth sharing, but the experience of finishing a story taught me more than if I'd given up halfway through. I kept going, kept having more finishes, and while many of my finished stories were bad, I kept learning more about what it takes to get to the end.

    Eventually, I thought maybe one of my finished stories might be worth publishing, and I shared it to get critiques. I learned from that experience that I still had a ways to go if my goal was to write something publishable. I shelved a number of finished novels. Then I reached a point where I thought, okay, this one is good enough to publish, and I published it. Well, that started yet another learning experience.

    The way I improved my writing was to push myself to do more than I'd done before, and keep learning from the experiences. I now have two novels published, which feels great, aside from the fact they're selling a few copies. Even after being published, I'm continuing to learn... and I feel better about what I'll be able to deliver next. There's a ton of stuff to know when it comes to writing something that others will not only like to read, but will find in the first place.

    So, my advice is to challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone. The easy thing to do is stop. The challenging thing to do is to keep writing, get through the nasty middle, and give your story an ending. The finished piece might not be worth publishing or sharing, but once you finish it, read it through from beginning to end, assess what you've done, and think hard about what you could have done to make it better. You'll learn from the experience and maybe even gain some confidence to help you through the next writing project.

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