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To many ideas!

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Garrus, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. Garrus

    Garrus New Member


    This'll be my first post around these parts of the wood. I'm a 26 year old male from sweden who really want to try to write my first fantasy novell. I'm sitting here trying to come up with a good starting point from where i can let the story take on a slight life of its own. But it is difficult. I keep second guessing myself and the approach to getting the story started. I just need to get it rolling. Changing plot and details can be done later on.

    My novell, as i'd like it to play out, is fairly heavy on the magical element. The starting point, as i have it set right now, is that the protagonist is in a dangerous situation. She's weakened and in danger be it by circumstance or design. But instead of going to how the protagonist handles the situation, there's a return to where the even took place that leads to the perilous situation. Not sure if i made much sense there.

    Has anyone had any experience with writing this way? Any recommendations? Warnings?
  2. Twook00

    Twook00 Sage

    So you are starting in medias res, in the middle of a climactic scene where the character is in danger, and then cutting away to tell the story of events leading up to this point?

    I say give it a shot. Just make sure you present the character in a way that we get to know her and want to see her succeed. Putting a character in danger does little to grab my attention if I don't know or care about her.

    And, if it doesn't work out, you can just cut the scene. Or move it to the end.
  3. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    Just do it. Plow forward and get that beginning done, and then decide if it works for you. Even better, write the whole novel and then decide if the beginning works for you.

    You'll probably rewrite it anyway, in large or small fashion, once you have more of the book done and you know your needs better. Thus, all you really need is a springboard into the rest of the novel. Pick one and jump!
  4. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

    I'm not a writer, so forgive me if I'm stepping out of line here, but I can see two problems with a scenario like this. Firstly, it's been done before, many, many times. How often have you sat down to watch a TV show where the MC is in deep trouble, and the next shot has the subtitle '36 hours earlier'? Books, maybe not so much, but it's still a common technique.

    Second problem is that you remove a lot of tension by telling most of the story as flashback. If your MC gets into trouble in the flashback, we know she's going to survive, because we've seen her at a later point in time. So the tension becomes how she gets to that point, and the reader's second-guessing the whole way through (well, I do, when I come across something like this).

    It's difficult to do well, I think. There's a lot to be said for the old Alice in Wonderland principle - begin at the beginning, go on until you get to the end and then stop. You can always move this scene forwards later, if you want to.
  5. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    I'm against the idea that because something has been done many times, it should be avoided. If that were advice to live by, we should just hang up any and all creative endeavors. There's nothing new under the sun...it's all been doe before.

    As pointed out earlier in this thread, if you don't like the in media res opening, it can easily be fixed by pushing the opening to the ending.

    Experimentation in writing should be encouraged. Trying new techniques & pushing out of your comfort zone will expand your palette and speed your growth as an author.

    Go for it.
    Christopher Wright likes this.
  6. This. Also keep in mind that it's experimentation for you -- if you've never tried it before, it's pushing your borders. It doesn't matter if 4 billion other writers have done the same thing, because you're not writing their stories, you're writing your own. If you've never written a romance before, then writing a romance is experimentation for you, regardless of how mainstream Harlequin may be.

    None of this guarantees anyone else on the planet will care, of course, but you shouldn't let that stop you from trying.
  7. Flemming Hansen

    Flemming Hansen Minstrel

    A cool thing about being in the digital age, is that you can throw yourself in the river of your own fantasy, and see if you like the ride. If you don't, you can easily change or delete whatever you dislike, or you can continue down that white-paged torrent of yours.

    In the word of NIKE: Just do it!

    Cherio! :)
  8. WyrdMystic

    WyrdMystic Inkling

    Also, you can keep the tension. It comes from the ride. If it didn't all crime novels would be boring....come on we all know the cop gets the killer.....but how? That's the hook.
  9. Nbafan

    Nbafan Dreamer

    I know exactly what you're going through because I am going through it right now. I am trying to plan out 2 series: one would potentially consist of 2 books and would set up the second series which I envision being a trilogy or longer. Anyway, I keep having ideas but am unsure where to put them, where they will fit in and how, etc. Some of them I will certainly have to modify because they clash with certain elements of my plot. The only thing I can say is keep writing as much as possible and work your way through it. I am not getting near enough writing done because of school right now. Good luck!
  10. mpkirby

    mpkirby Scribe


    If authors took the "its been done before" advice there'd be no new books. Truly innovative fiction is likely a rare element these days. If you like Fantasy, Lord of the Rings, Whatever, then write something in that style. Try to pick an element that's unique.

    Readers have the sense of familiarity, and the unique blended together.

    How's this for an idea.

    Have the main character be in a precarious situation. Perhaps with a variety of ailments, friends injured or deceased, foes closing in (perhaps competing foes), friends coming in to rescue.

    She has options. She can give up (to one or more people), she can fight (possibly to her death), she can use some kind of device or magic that might cause more harm than good.

    Then tell the back-story from the point of view of everyone else in the story. From the friend who travels with her, the competitor, the enemy, the sponsor with possibly an ulterior motive.

    Each re-telling changes the reader's relationships with the main characters. Perhaps the 1st retelling is from the friend, so you have the certainty of friends and enemies.

    Perhaps the next is from a sponsor, and you learn about subterfuge, or an ulterior motive.

    And perhaps the last is from the enemy, when you discover that his agenda isn't as evil as you had originally been led to believe (selfish perhaps), but not necessarily evil.

    When you return to the present the main character has choices, and which ones she takes aren't obvious. The situation is balanced on the head of a pin. It could fall any which way.

    It would be tough to pull of without being repetitive or confusion, so perhaps it's not a great first attempt, but if done right it could be a real mind-bender.

  11. dangit

    dangit Scribe

    I agree.

    Haha I love bending minds.:bounce:.
  12. Helen

    Helen Inkling

    That sounds like an Inciting Incident or an In Medias Res.

    So I'd do that and then, maybe, try and figure out how you got there, which could be your story.

    Just a suggestion.
  13. Greetings, countryman.

    Can't say I usually have a problem with beginnings - to me it usually seems pretty obvious where a story should begin. What you describe does sound kinda like how I opted to begin one of my projects. (First I show the main character is drowing, then I explain how he got there.) It's not a bad approach since it catches the reader right away. The problem, I guess, is transitioning into the flashback without confusing the reader.

    As for second guessing yourself, that's simply a bad habit you need to drop. Writing a novel requires dedication and confidence; you'll never get anywhere if you keep changing your mind.

    The reason it's a common technique is because it usually works. Trying to be original is good, but using a common technique isn't actually a "problem" with your writing.

    Meh. The main protagonist very rarely dies at the start of the book. Besides, tension is something you create by establishing a tense mood, and making the reader sympathise with the feelings of the protagonist. You become worried because you identify with the character being worried. Otherwise you just aren't engaged in the story.

    ...That's actually called the "Alice in Wonderland principle"? :confused:

    I mean, yeah, Alice in Wonderland does go that way but... well, it's not really the first thing that comes to mind when I think Alice in Wonderland.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  14. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

    OK, I seem to be in a minority of one on this. You guys are the writers, so I bow to your superior judgment. I can only tell you how I see it as a reader - if I read a dramatic opening and then chapter two jumps back in time to tell the how-we-got-here backstory, I'm going to go 'Pah! That old trick!' Unless the writing is exceptionally good, or there's some other hook to draw me in, I'm going to see it as trite and hackneyed, and if the opening is trite, I'm just not going to bother with the rest of it. But maybe that's just me.

    I do think it would make it more difficult to write. This is, after all, a beginning writer, and you're advising him to start with a complicated timeline?

    I would say - if this scene is in his head, then he should write it down. Whether it becomes the opening or is just part of a linear plotline, that's something that can be sorted out later. Getting started is the important thing.

    It's a quote from Alice in Wonderland:

  15. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    Try the way you think will be best, then try it the next best way, and continue until you have tried them all, or one just seems to be the best for the story.
    Very little you write will be wasted. You might not use the other attempts this time, but they might work better on the next one.

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