Re: Advice to Teenage Writers

#1
I was typing a reply about this on another thread, realized this was gonna get kinda long, and so I'm making a whole thread about it.

Here's my advice to anyone in their teenage years who is feeling called to be a writer:

Write lots of stuff. Don't work on a novel unless you're the Eragon kid and you have parents in the industry. Write short stories, write poems, write vignettes, write experimental visual novels. Write a LOT of stuff. Write stories based entirely on stylistic gimmicks, write stuff you absolutely have no interest in, write intentionally poorly-- just do it often, and keep it short enough that you can stew on it without getting too attached. Have fun writing before you shackle yourself to a bunch of long projects that you still need more writing experience to pull off.

I tried shackling myself to big projects all the time, all of which failed badly except for collab fan projects where I wasn't the driving force anyway. Pretty much anything I wrote at that age was pretty lame, but I have a ton of great memories of the stuff I wrote, especially all the weird gimmicky short stories, and I think they were a huge factor in how I developed my writing style and honed storytelling concepts that I hadn't paid much attention to.

You can find almost everything I wrote back then online now, so I'll share examples of the sorts of weirdo stuff I wrote back in high school. You can read if you like, but the examples are mostly on the kinds of gimmicks and formats I tried to force myself to go through with:

  • Borax - A story with grammatically correct sentences made to be as long and difficult to parse as possible, telling an epic fantasy story in just a few paragraphs.

  • Dead Trees - A second person, present-tense story about a soldier laying wounded on the battlefield.

  • The Bulbears: Lordess to Nomad - A Pikmin parody fan fiction starring a minor enemy from the video game, but written like a bad fantasy epic. The dialogue is in haiku.

  • S.T.A.R. - The story of a woman who undergoes great turmoil in life and becomes increasingly divorced from reality as she has mental breakdowns, and the narration reflects that.

  • Waiting for the Mow - A "parody" play of Waiting for Godot, which I hadn't read at that point, about characters standing at an overgrown front lawn.

  • The Dream Accomplished - A fake news article about an alternate timeline where Martin Luther King Jr. became President. This is really terrible, moreso than anything else on here. Don't read this.

  • Righteous - A short story in the POV of an ambitionless nerd that does nothing but consume media all day, having an existential crisis about that.

  • Madoka Precure - A fake series overview of the anime Madoka Magica as if it were a kids' show.

  • Facing the Temporal - A time travel poem.... or something???

Anyway, all of this is to illustrate the sorts of stuff that you should be trying to write while you're a teenager and still growing as a writer. Branch out and do all sorts of weird stuff! Figure out what sorts of stories you actually want to write by writing as many types of stories as you can think of. Your dream project can wait, and it'll be better for it. So start a writing journal, or try to do a write-X-pages-every-day challenge, or something. Just... probably, don't share it all online like I did....

Does anyone agree/disagree with this? What did you do in high school for writing?

Re: Advice to Teenage Writers

#2

Thedude3445 Wrote: (...) write stuff you absolutely have no interest in, write intentionally poorly-- just do it often, and keep it short enough that you can stew on it without getting too attached. Have fun writing before you shackle yourself to a bunch of long projects that you still need more writing experience to pull off.

While I agree with most of what you wrote, this one part seems weirdly contradictiory to me both in theory and in practice. Writing things you don't enjoy just for the sake of making your writing better in some way is... miserable? Why subject yourself to such a thing? I'd rather recommend reading genres you're not too interested in with the approach of trying to learn what good parts of writing you're not familair with you can integrate into your own abilities.

Additionally, having one bigger project isn't that bad of an idea in my opinion. The thing is, one needs to realize that it won't be perfect - so a ballance between trying to write as well as you can and knowing the limits of your abilities needs to be reached.

Re: Advice to Teenage Writers

#3
Spend less time preparing to write the story and more actually writing it. Even if your outline and support material, like character sheets, setting, etc, are so detailed it might look like you wrote the story before you actually wrote it, you are still going to rewrite your first draft, because you'll think of more ways to improve it.

Re: Advice to Teenage Writers

#4
Caladbolg Wrote:
Thedude3445 Wrote: (...) write stuff you absolutely have no interest in, write intentionally poorly-- just do it often, and keep it short enough that you can stew on it without getting too attached. Have fun writing before you shackle yourself to a bunch of long projects that you still need more writing experience to pull off.

While I agree with most of what you wrote, this one part seems weirdly contradictiory to me both in theory and in practice. Writing things you don't enjoy just for the sake of making your writing better in some way is... miserable? Why subject yourself to such a thing? I'd rather recommend reading genres you're not too interested in with the approach of trying to learn what good parts of writing you're not familair with you can integrate into your own abilities.

Additionally, having one bigger project isn't that bad of an idea in my opinion. The thing is, one needs to realize that it won't be perfect - so a ballance between trying to write as well as you can and knowing the limits of your abilities needs to be reached.


It's supposed to be contradictory. Write something you have no interest in, and have fun doing it anyway. Don't write with the goal of publishing a work but for trying out a completely different type of story than you usually do. That could end up surprising you with how much you are interested it. For me, writing poetry mostly as a joke in high school led me to realize that I genuinely did enjoy writing poetry.

Though your note about READING things you might not be very interested in is a very good one that I also recommend. Reading is always the most important step towards improving writing.

As for having a bigger project: it's not a world ender to work on one, as long as you know whatever work you do in high school probably is all gonna be scrapped in the end. Which may be fine for some people, but for others that could be a dealbreaker.

Re: Advice to Teenage Writers

#5
I never considered working on short stories or poems, but it seems, strange enough, more useful than I thought. When thinking of a chapter or a part of my story and writing(I'm actually picking the sentences but it counts I suppose, all left is to paste them into a document) it as a poem, a clearer idea of what and how I should do it comes to mind. But short stories seem much harder to me. How short or long a short story should be, or what kind of genres are more prone to be short stories? How do you, at least somewhat satisfactory, tie the very few plot lines introduced in a short story? It all comes back to the experience, I assume, but longer novels tends to give an easier time on that to me because I have a longer time and multiple chances to tie up the plot to its end, though the pressure and plot handling becomes more and more complex.


Would you advise me to try out writing some? If so, and if you don't mind replying, what kind of genres will give an easier time to write in the first tries to get used to it? I would really like to know these.

Re: Advice to Teenage Writers

#6
Raskaro Wrote: I never considered working on short stories or poems, but it seems, strange enough, more useful than I thought. When thinking of a chapter or a part of my story and writing(I'm actually picking the sentences but it counts I suppose, all left is to paste them into a document) it as a poem, a clearer idea of what and how I should do it comes to mind. But short stories seem much harder to me. How short or long a short story should be, or what kind of genres are more prone to be short stories? How do you, at least somewhat satisfactory, tie the very few plot lines introduced in a short story? It all comes back to the experience, I assume, but longer novels tends to give an easier time on that to me because I have a longer time and multiple chances to tie up the plot to its end, though the pressure and plot handling becomes more and more complex.


Would you advise me to try out writing some? If so, and if you don't mind replying, what kind of genres will give an easier time to write in the first tries to get used to it? I would really like to know these.

 

Short stories can be anywhere from a single page, to 30 pages double-spaced. Basically anything up to 10 or 12,000 words. The medium of flash fiction is even shorter, to the point that you can even have a 200-word story and still pull it off.

It's a lot easier to write "realism" kinds of stories set in modern-day Earth and focusing entirely on characters. It's fun to write fantasy and sci-fi short stories, but they require either A) minimal fantastical elements B) very condensed worldbuilding, or C) for you to make the fantastical elements so vague you don't have to worry about it too much. My favorite to READ are surrealism/postmodern, sci-fi, and mystery, but all three of those can be quite hard to pull off sometimes.

And yeah, sometimes novel writing is a crutch; you can stretch stories out longer so that a weaker plot can still carry. But it's difficult to pull off satisfactorily in a short story! A lot like how a lot of TV shows would make for very poor movies.