Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#2
Tell the story and ideas you want to tell first. Then tell it in the best way you can. But make sure that you continue moving forward instead of being bogged down in edits and plotting.

For example, my story started with me introducing the entire cast over two months of updates. Then I took time off to plot the major ideas of the story. And then the updates returned, even though they are much slower due to many reasons. Like irl and having to go back to edit the story to improve its narrative while being careful not to retcon anything.

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#4
before you even begin writing set a bar and stick to it.  recognition or lack thereof can be a slow and insidious motivation killer if you go into it expecting big things right out of the gate. (unintentional Darkest Dungeon, I should play that soon...)

be prepared to write for yourself or a select, small cast of silent readers while you gather experience and get better acquainted with putting your story together in a satisfying way.

if youre determined to make your story work, then spend the time on the small details and complete them fully. do you have a System? nail the EF out of the System and place a checkmark by it. this will give you a base even when you think nothing is working, go to the list and look at that checkmark; it's nice, isn't it?

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#5
Not sure how much I qualify, but I'll give my 2 cents on the subject.

My advice is to have as much fun with it as possible. Don't worry about your grammar/spelling being super on point, don't worry about the dialogue being top-notched or your characters being super developed. That'll all come in time. Just focus on telling the story that you want. Then once you've finished your first draft look it over and ask yourself "Am I ready to take this to the next level?"

If yes, then you're ready to write the next draft, where you start to focus more on improving the technical aspects of your writing. As you practice more and more your skills will improve. It doesn't happen overnight, but the more you keep at it the more you'll see your writing pay off.

However, if you focus too much on writing "the perfect story" right out of the gate, then you're going to overwhelm yourself, and more than likely crash and burn and end up calling it quits.

Just my take on it, I myself still have much to learn but this is how it was for me my first years of writing.

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#7
Remember to always continue advancing the plot.  The story is boring when you write about things that have nothing to do with the plot.  Your fancy teaparty with novel greeting gestures mean nothing to a reader.  Especially in fiction.  We are here to read a made up story, not made up history.  

Try not to obsess about editing.  Learn proper grammar so mistakes don't happen.  Editing is the most mind numbing part of writing a story and kills off all motivation writers have.  

Rather than edit, plan.  Plan out as much of the story as possible then you can just fill in the gaps.  The best fictions I've read are ones with heavy planning.  

The most important lesson though is to be consistent.  Laziness grows exponentially if you let it.  The most popular authors are the ones who are consistent.  

Getting to the top of the best rated list is more about not making any massive mistakes. Most of the stories on there aren't that well written, they've simply made very addictive storylines and they haven't done anything stupid like tread into politics.  

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#8
As a writer just starting out, its important to have a second person that can act as your sounding board, it can be family or a friend. Being able to bounce ideas off someone can really aid you in fleshing out your story. Likewise - just telling a person about your story, or a particular scene, will help spark additional ideas, changes, or reveal weak points that you need to shore up that may not be immediately obvious to you.

Read and Research. Reading regularly is incredibly important to the success of any writer. The more you read, the more you're exposed to the concepts and ideas of others, their writing styles, and their settings. All of it can prove useful to you as a budding writer to construct your own worlds and settings and evolve into a professional writer.

Lastly, don't second-guess yourself and don't worry about trying to write something unique. Accept the fact that what you write likely will not be unique at all, but rather a rehashed version of a slew of other stories that have already been used. Understand that what will make your novel enjoyable is not its uniqueness, but how you write your story, how the characters grow and evolve as well as interact with one another throughout the story.

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#9
Please read a lot. Read a lot OUTSIDE of Royal Road and even outside of web fiction in general. (Project Gutenberg's got a LOT of free material to peruse.) Read many different genres. Read for entertainment but also study how writing is formatted, how prose flows, how dialogue is woven. Study the ways books make you feel the way you do, and how writers use their words to captivate you personally. 

Also, if you're just starting off, I recommend writing short stories, NOT novels, maybe even for an extended period. Write something you can easily finish and something where you can experiment with style and characters and form and fun without having to worry about creating an extended narrative for thousands of readers. Developed an overly complex system? Great: test it out with a 5,000 word story that uses it. Thought up a really neat character? Wonderful; write a 500-word flash fiction in their POV to flesh them out further. Personally, I wrote over 100 complete, mostly crappy short stories over the course of six or seven years before I completed even a single novel-sized project. And it helped a LOT. Maybe five years is too many, but a year or two dedicated almost entirely to short work will benefit you immensely, and finishing, not abandoning stories gives you a great feeling.

If you are a brand-new writer, you need to Study and Practice. Which, for writers, means read a lot, and write a lot. But read many different things, and write many different things. That's how you'll find your voice, master the fundamentals of grammar and formatting, and nail down the kinds of stories you want to tell.

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#10
I concur with Thedude3445's post greatly. I would heavily suggest reading and getting a feel for how words are laid out, how sentences flow, and how paragraphs are constructed. These are the fundamentals. Writing word after word is as simple as an artist drawing a line, but like an artist (who would have a hard time drawing a great straight and confident line without practice), a writer has to practice writing word after word. You do that by just simply writing, so go ahead and do. 

However, artists gain inspiration and knowledge of their craft from visual art, and thusly, so too should writers pick up the literary. Read, from the classics to the moderns. Especially don't confine yourself to writing here in Royal Road, since--while there are some precious gems, lots better than published novels--lots of them tend to be pale shadows of actual novel writing. Of course, that is attributed to a lot of factors, such as novel writing having professional editing, but my point stands. Read, then write, then write and read. 

I've encountered a fair few of friends who "write" but really don't like to "read", and I always tell them "How do you shit without eating first?"

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#11
Respond to comments.

As authors, we frequently tunnel vision onto the things we think we're portraying while often missing the mark by a wide margin. Other times we hit a target without even realizing it.

Talk to your readers. Ask them what they think. Ask them what you did right, what you did wrong, and how you can improve.

I've gotten some of my best constructive criticism by engaging with my readers, and I know that they gave it because they knew I would look at it.

People are much more likely to come back to a story when they see that the author takes their opinions seriously.

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#12
I'm not a writer, but it is a sound advice about creating in general.

It is very likely you won't be a hundred percents happy with the most things you write. You could and would always find ways to improve it and perfect it and how to change minor things and present everything better and better, and that is all fine and good, but the important thing is to not stall on it and get stuck with that when you don't completely like it for days and weeks and even months be it one scene, one page or whole chapters. Go on and continue to write, try new things, write new things, read new things, it's ok to come back later if you want and work on it, but don't obsess with the idea of perfection forever and hurting your own creativity because of it. The more you do, the better you'd do.

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#13
Hello, Fuchsia! 

Welcome, and good luck on your first story!

A lot of the advice above is gold. I particularly like the advice about writing what you wish, telling it well and reading diversely.

A couple of things I'd like chime in with:

1. Have some sort of goal in mind. You may not have a full ending planned out - and it might change over the course of the story - but it is a good idea to have a direction that you're writing toward. No direction might work for something like a slice of life, but for other more 'active' stories - like xianxia - having that focus will really help your plot function smoothly. A  direction cuts down on the need to retcon, you can foreshadow better, and you can make decisions in your narrative that helps you trim the story. 

Also, a real danger with web serials that have no end-point planned is that you just might run out of gas one day, with no idea how to end the story.

So some sort of idea of how things will turn out is helpful.

2. Characters. A lot of stories live and die by their characters. I don't just mean the protagonist. A fleshed out cast that the audience is interested in can make up for a lot of pacing, plot, tone or world building issues. 

Tension often comes from seeing a character the you're invested in struggle to achieve their goal in the face of adversity. In order of that to work, one needs to be invested in that character and their journey. Make sure your characters are solid and serve your story.

Oh, and most importantly, have fun!

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#14
realize that you don't have to accomplish everything you set out to do all at once. I've learned recently (still digesting) that a story should start simple enough, but with underlying complexity. I would advise that one shouldn't overload the story or readers will be lost while they aren't really invested in what's happening. later on, when readers have had time to live and breathe in the world and characters one can.

this may seem like a no-brainer but for me, it wasn't. and I expect that it may not be for others as well.

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#17
There's a lot of great advice here. Some that I should probably read a few more times.

The only thing I want to add is this:

Understand your ability, manage your expectations, and cherish those little nuggets of praise you may recieve.

It's easy to get caught up thinking about all of the great places your story may go. Maybe you'll end up on the trending list here, or become a bestseller on Amazon, etc etc. Or, maybe you just make something beautiful for you and a handful of others. The thing is, you'll never know how it'll actually go, and those daydreams can get in the way of actually writing. So just write what you want to write, and make sure you're impressing yourself as you go along.

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#18
Most important of all: Don't give up. Remember that right now you're practicing to improve, not sitting down to write an instant masterpiece.

Writing is a long, slow path, and for a very long time (unless you get insanely lucky) there will be little or no acknowledgement from the rest of the world. And, frankly, that's a good thing. Beginning writing is flawed, imperfect, and an essential stepping-stone to greatness. But just as you wouldn't want an audience of a million for your first attempt at playing an instrument, be glad that only a handful of people will stumble upon your early works.

You need feedback, you need suggestions, that handful of people are invaluable. But a lot of people are not nice about it and it's very easy to be discouraged by the casual negativity that is so easy to find. So as much as it's easy to imagine that all you need is more viewers, more recognition, more exposure and everyone will love your story - maybe hold off a bit on that. 

[This is not targeted, just my general thoughts for writers starting out. I haven't looked at the stories of anyone here.]

Re: Tips for writers just starting off

#19

Lilith Wrote: Most important thing is choosing a platform suitable for your genre. Every site has its own preferred flavours, and if you don't suit that taste, you'll never get any acknowledgement.

But you'll do fine in RR with a xianxia, so don't fret.


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