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The most basic questions--my 1st story :P


New Member
The most basic questions--my 1st story :p Characters brooding about?

I've written poetry, but never had a story, until the past few months!
So I keep writing random scenes that intrigue me, I suppose that's how most people write?
Being completely dumb about writing any story with a problem to solve, I never thought how my favorite books came about!
I'm sure my point of view is jumping around erratically, but I like what's coming out. I just wrote my longest bit that might be a chapter, with dialogue I actually like, something I was sure I'd never be able to do!

How do you write? How did you learn to check your point of view? I'm worried I might get razzed.
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Jumping from scene to scene based on what interests you is an attractive approach, and it means you're having fun while writing, but it's not an approach I take any more. I realised that skipping the boring scenes makes me eventually hate my story, once I've run out of the fun scenes of write, and it means that boring scenes are guarunteed because I scheduled them in from the start and I've lost interest in them and the story by the time I get to write them, with nothing to look forward to in terms of big reveals or dramatic confrontations, because I've already written them. So now I stick to writing chronologically. This also gives me the added bonus of not having to go back and change things I wrote earlier because the way I filled the gap didn't align well with what came after it.

Of course, if you are just writing for fun, with no desire or need to write a cohesive narrative in the process, a jumping approach is fine. I still do this for fanfic and one project based on a dream I had. In fact usually I end up with different versions that are mutually exclusive, running in parallel from a common starting point. The difference here is that it's only to entertain me, with no intention that anyone else will read it. Hell, I probably won't read it after that line has disappeared off the top of my Word window.

But for projects I intend to finish, I find planning is essential. Detailed outlining, howeverr, is boring to me and it saps my passion for the story before I get to write it, so I create a brief outline, work out the key characters - brief histories, motivations, quirks and flaws etc - and then start the writing process. Before I write the first word of prose, though, I take 10 minutes or so to outline what I'll writing in the following 50 minutes - that scene specifically, maybe one or two good lines - and maybe over the next few days, so where the scene will go afterward, maybe an impact or two it might have a bit further down the line, but only in the vaguest terms at this stage. Some of my thoughts in that 10 minute window might be things like a character's motivations for acting in the way they will (eg, this character is witholding information they should give to the other charatcer because they feel guilty about some part of it and they're hoping the other character never has to find out.) This might not take it into what I actually write in the story, but helps inform me as I'm writing it and might come back later - so I save my notes too, and date them for ease of reference later.

You're new to this. You'll work out your own process. Try a few different approaches and see what works. Some people don't outline at all, just start writing and see where things take them. Some outline in detail and stick to their outline. Some outline, write, diverge from their outline, then re-outline, throughout the book until it's done. Some start by writing the final scene and then work out how to get to it.

Good luck.


New Member
omg thanks so much. I just started with scenes because I have a premise, and some ideas, but, never having written a full story before, not sure if I could/can ;) Completely brand new. Had no idea I could write dialogue 'that long', ugh!
Its funny how story writing was a complete loss to me for years, then I get one spark and off I go! I had a picture come to mind on Midsummer's Eve (really) and wrote a bit then. Looking back its pretty crap, but good ideas.

Also--do your characters lurk about in some imaginary waiting room??? Mine was, he was brooding, and I didn't know why. So I finally started writing, and it all came out! Do you feel schizophrenic? Do your characters 'act' this way? I made fun of my writer friend one time for being schizophrenic. Haha!


No, my characters don't exist unless I'm thinking of them, except in what I've already written (either in character sheets or on the page). There's no waiting room. But when I'm deep into a project, I'm thinking about them all the time, not just in the scenes I'll be writing soon but also in alternate realities to what I have written or entirely unrelated scenarios. One character, about whom I haven't written in years, still lurks in the back of my head, there when I conjure him with a look and a helping hand.


I'd get these random scenes pop in my head especially when plots develop. I learned to keep a notebook to write them all down because they come at any time of day, even when asleep. I found i would forget them, especially dreams, if I didn't write them down straight away. At each filled notebook I'd try to put all these random scenes and bits of dialogue and ideas into some sort of order. It took some organising on a word file by using the outlining tool, but strangely enough all those random bits made some sort of sense with a bit of structuring and lots of infilling.


I plan first, throwing in ideas that seem interesting, and then I add some other scenes, to connect those ideas (sort of like flour in baking). Then, I flesh out the locations, characters, factions, etc., until I am satisfied. Then I write it.


Every writer comes about their process differently. Usually those processes are constantly evolving and morphing to fit story needs and improvements in the writer's ability.

I can only tell you how I got to my current methods.

I started by emulating the writers I loved, writing stories similar to those that resonated deeply & mimicking styles. That didn't work out so well, but it did get me to start studying why I loved the stories I loved, and that's an important early step in developing your own style and voice.

Next, after some dismal initial failures, I decided to study the craft of writing. I read books on writing...a lot of them....and practiced using the techniques. Some of them stuck and they're still with me today. Others didn't fit the type of style I reached for...so I cast them aside.

Somewhere along the way, I started to develop a style that is more of a mashup of the things in literature I love. That style matured and improved through writing...writing constantly & letting others critique my work.

Grow a thick skin to criticism and be determined to improve. Partner with people who come to understand your vision and share work with them. Write as much as you can. In my experience, that's the only way.

Oh....one more thing. If you're not actively writing something, read. Do both concurrently if you can.


If this is your first story, my advice is to ride that wave of "This is awesome!"--and once you get to the "Oh no, this is terrible, everything sucks" don't be afraid to keep writing. Start the story over, scrap what you have and keep only a few ideas, or jump into another idea entirely, anything really. But you want to keep going. Your first try of anything isn't going to be perfect, but it might give you ideas that you hold onto and refine for years. Time will make it better, so long as you keep writing!

For myself, I also need structure and outline to write. I tend to write my stories from beginning to end, because if I write a scene near the end, inevitably the beginning will change so much that that scene doesn't work anymore. I have a very basic outline that details the plot and characters, but isn't chopped up into chapters and scenes specifically because that needs room to change, as it will. In adddition to that, I have a document full of names, terms, and worldbuilding tenets for easy reference, and I have a document where I jot down new plot ideas and revisions in a casual way, just so I don't forget things. But mostly, the story lives in my head-- I can summon up specific scenes and go over them. Often they change every time, and I think this gives me more to work with when I get to that scene. Very little real plotting needs to be done while I'm writing a scene. Editing, though, is all about the plotting and pacing, and a very different process from daydreaming...

Really, there is no single correct way of doing things. Write however feels most natural to you, and maybe try out something different now and again. Just keep at it!


There are different approaches. I prefer a basic story outline to start plus some other details: what is the message, what are the themes, what is the twist, or how does it end. I then go into chapters with a more detailed structure of it, and the rest of the details flesh out as I go along. I also stay flexible as new thoughts might take me in another direction.

Avoiding structure up front will result in a lower quality story or a lot more editing later on. You should also be aware that stories require more work than most forms of poetry. They're not harder than poetry, but there's a lot more editing and iterations to make it good.

One more thing. You may want to consider doing some short stories to start. Short stories can be phenomenal with only one or a few scenes, plus they can teach you 80% of what you need to know for writing long stories.


Article Team
Gosh, where to start...

As mentioned, everyone is different. Every project is different. I plan out novels more than I do short stories. Short stories I tend to pants it.

The following is what I do for novels.

As I develop my idea, I find I need to know the following about my major characters before I start, specifically the protagonist and antagonist. These things may evolve as I write, but this is a starting point.

What do they want externally? What about their world around them are they struggling with. Eg The Evil Empire, The Coming Winter, etc. This is the most obvious goal in the story.

What do they want Emotionally? This is what your character desires. It's what drives them. Eg. Rescuing their love, Saving the family farm, etc.

What do they want Spiritually? This is a very private desire that the character grapples with that will lead to change. Eg. Become a Jedi like their father, overcome their fear of spiders, etc.

I springboard off these questions and their answers to develop my plot, world and other characters.

Once I have this I sketch out scenes (I use the scene/sequel format, which you can google) and organize them according to where they belong in the three act structure. It's a loose organization that evolves as I write. Here's a link to one of my posts on how I see the three act structure.


Once all this is done, I'm ready to start putting down words. I write from beginning to end. I generally don't edit as a I write. I take notes on things that need changing and jot down new ideas. If I realize a major change will effect everything going forward, I may go back and edit, but more likely, I'll just mark the spot and continue on as if I'd made the change already.

I find doing it this way saves time. Sometimes the major change turns out not to be such a good idea and I have to backtrack. If I'd made all the changes before proceeding, it would have been wasted effort.

As for getting your POV right, here's a link to a podcast that discusses the various POVs. I found it very helpful in getting my head screwed on straight with POVs.

The Writing Show - Information and Inspiration for Writers
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Caged Maiden

Article Team
My journey was probably pretty unique. I began writing in 2001 (to stave off the boredom of spending every day and night in a car dealership). I didn't mean to write a novel, but I just wrote and wrote, until I had a book. Then, I was having so much fun, over the next eight years, I wrote eight more. I would have to say my first book was a collection of scenes that I later attached, but the structure existed from the beginning, a loose outline. As I planned future books, my outlines became better, but I'm mostly a pantser, letting my characters decide how they can throw wrenches in their own works.

Now...nowhere in there did I take any sort of writing course or anything resembling real college. My continuing education consists of one semester of Auto Body and a Nutrition diploma. I, looking back, probably had no business writing as much as I did, but it was simply a way to amuse myself and I never ever intended anyone to read my work.

However, because I had about 1.5m words under my belt, that single shred of hope and drive is what motivated me to continue. See, the journey is long. And it's painful and torturous at times. It'll make you believe you've won the race, when you've only hit the first checkpoint. It's brutal. And it's hard to find a fast track.

As soon as I started trading with other writers, it was clear my work was awful. It had every flaw we all do when we start. But you know what? I spent last weekend looking at one of those manuscripts. It was bad. Super weak narrative, schizophrenic characters, flat descriptions, boring settings, silly dialogue with too many beats, the list really could go on and on. Anyways, the one thing I want to say about wading through that pile of drivel a few days ago...the scenes that inspired me and excited me in 2008 still have the same effect. I love those bits I wrote with passion, those scenes that really made my story unique, emotional, and thoroughly mine.

So...write however you want to. It's a long way to the finish line, whether you ever consider sharing your work or not. You just have to understand the trade-off. If you write a few novels fast, you have a stack of work to see you through the future lean times, to motivate you and to bolster your confidence. If you spend time learning the ins and outs of being a good writer, work is slow and progress slower, but by the time you have that first work finished, you're already comfortable with all those little processes it takes to write a good manuscript: outlining, POV selection, characterization, creating tension, and the more advanced items you'll need if you want to publish like research, editing, critique, blogging, querying.

I'm so glad I didn't know how tortuous this path is, when I began writing. I might have run screaming the other direction. I say whatever keeps you motivated to keep working and getting better is a good choice. You might even consider taking your story and rather than trying to write chronological events, break your world and characters away from the big tale and instead write short stories of them. That way you get all the writing experience, but it's in manageable bites, rather than an often boring or overwhelming novel-as-a-first-project. :) Best wishes.
Caged Maiden has good advice about writing a short story featuring your characters. Once you have created a few scenes featuring a certain character, the rest of the story can often become, basically, you asking yourself, "I wonder what happens to them next?"

I generally have an idea how a story will begin and end, and I know a few scenes that will take place along the way, and I trust my imagination enough to fill in the blank spaces in between. Once I'm past the beginning, I try to think, "What should this character do next to achieve their goal?"

If I ever sat and thought, "I have to come up with an entire plot now", I might be unable to do it. But breaking it into pieces and then adding new pieces as my imagination creates them makes writing a book a manageable task.

Everybody has their own method - through trial and error you find one that works for you. Good luck!


At the moment I'm writing short stories of 1 A4 in length to first ensure that I can keep producing a steady stream of material. After that I'll start to work on the quality of it when I know that I'll get the stuff down on paper.