Re: Planning my first story. Help!

#1
I've met a crossroad. Let me start from the beginning.

I've been wanting to write and post a novel for some time now. I do have quite a number of personal works, but nothing worth publishable on a site. Here's the thing: I've always been doubtful of myself. A few days ago, I decided that I wanted to test out my writing on Royal Road by creating a novella/novelette, and I have a rough sketch of it. It would be a fantasy, royal, murder mystery type. I created a cover, have a plot, characters--you get the gist. But now I'm conflicted. You see, my ultimate goal is not to create a murder mystery novella, but to publish a long, high-fantasy novel. Yet..for some reason, I've always been held back. What if I decide mid-way that I would like to change the entire plot? What if people wouldn't even like to read my work? What if I come up with better ideas in the future, after I've already invested myself into this novel? This has been...daunting me. And I resort to curling up in a shell and convincing myself that I would like to write something shorter first, as a "test trial." But I don't. My conscience hasn't been sitting right with me. I know that these may be just irrational fears, but...my dream job is to become a published author, and my ultimate fear is failure. I'm scared that I might slip up. I'm really probably overthinking this, because I'm..well, treating this like what I'm going to write is gonna come out in bookstores, and I'm a massive perfectionist (which at often times leads me to fear, and then downfall). I've never posted online work before, and I need advice. It's like I hold myself hostage in a cage because I am afraid to run free. What should I do? Should I just go for it?

So sorry to burden you with this. Late night thoughts. I just need some form of affirmation to be able to move forward. <3

Re: Planning my first story. Help!

#5
We're always improving. I tend to be perfectionist, sometimes, too, but don't let that stop you from writing. In a few years, maybe after a few other projects, you'll look back at what you've written and be embarrassed. That's just the way things go, but it only shows you that you've improved. I know my early work isn't the best, but it helped me get where I am today, and was a valuable learning opportunity. I'll probably feel the same way about what I'm writing now in a few years.
And besides, so what if you want to change the plot mid-way through? If it makes things better, that's a good thing. You're always going to come up with better ideas. That's one of the best things about this.
It can be easier to start with a shorter work, but I don't think you really need to. Just write what you want to write, and learn from it.

Re: Planning my first story. Help!

#7

angelofnight Wrote: What if I decide mid-way that I would like to change the entire plot? What if people wouldn't even like to read my work? What if I come up with better ideas in the future, after I've already invested myself into this novel? 

You probably will decide mid-way that you want to change the entire plot, and you almost certainly will come up with better ideas along the way. Every single author in history has struggled with their first novels--many their first few novels. James Joyce, arguably the greatest writer of the 20th century, scrapped his first novel and rewrote it entirely. Stephen King didn't write a publishable novel until his fourth try. When we look at every successful writer, our perception is a little skewed as we just look at all of their successful work and forget about all of the things they did that didn't work out. We don't see the crumpled up and burned pages that never saw the light of day. Just write a novel and finish it; then find out what did and didn't work and apply that to your next one. You don't need to write a 5000 page novel that's going to consume the next few years. Work on a story that can be finished in 300-400 pages. Small steps.

Furthermore, you're almost certainly going to find some people that enjoy reading your work. Plenty of people on this site are very forgiving when it comes to mistakes, as we're all fully aware that most of us are amateurs. The most important thing is to just get some pages out, and not procrastinate like I have for the past few days.

Re: Planning my first story. Help!

#8
You can always write more than one story. Write the first story you want to write. If you get inspired by something else, or think of a completely different storyline you wish you would have used instead, write a different story. Maybe work on them both at the same time if you're not finished with the first one yet.

Note that the first story you attempt shouldn't be your magnum opus. Writing fiction is hard; everyone needs practice, and everyone improves over time. If your life's ambition is to write a specific story, maybe try a few practice runs first with other stories. Come back to your magnum opus after you have some experience under your belt.

Re: Planning my first story. Help!

#9
Thank you so much, everyone, for the responses! I definitely didn't expect to wake up to this. I appreciate it beyond what I can express. 


Llamadragon Wrote: You're always going to have new, shiny, possibly even better ideas. Always. No matter which idea you go with. Pick something and Leeroy Jenkins that shit.
Thank you! I think I take it too seriously, the fact that I have to go with one particular idea. Will do!



SpiralBlue Wrote: Write the story you want to write and don't stop till its finished.

I'll do that! I really appreciate the encouragement!


Tejoka Wrote: We're always improving. I tend to be perfectionist, sometimes, too, but don't let that stop you from writing. In a few years, maybe after a few other projects, you'll look back at what you've written and be embarrassed. That's just the way things go, but it only shows you that you've improved. I know my early work isn't the best, but it helped me get where I am today, and was a valuable learning opportunity. I'll probably feel the same way about what I'm writing now in a few years.
And besides, so what if you want to change the plot mid-way through? If it makes things better, that's a good thing. You're always going to come up with better ideas. That's one of the best things about this.
It can be easier to start with a shorter work, but I don't think you really need to. Just write what you want to write, and learn from it.
Thank you for this! It really makes me see things from a different perspective. I'll definitely taking this writing as a learning experience. 



JenifryConan Wrote:
angelofnight Wrote: What if I decide mid-way that I would like to change the entire plot?

Finish the whole story before you start releasing it. It's a tough piece of advice to follow, especially with high fantasy, because it includes an insane amount of delayed gratification. But it's worth it in the end! The last time I tried publishing my current project, I got seven chapters in before I realised I needed to restart. This time around, I'm going to finish the novel before I start posting it online. I've been struggling with impatient thoughts which in turn make it harder to make any progress. But each time, I take a breath, remind myself that I'm in this for the journey, not the destination, and keep going.

angelofnight Wrote: I'm a massive perfectionist (which at often times leads me to fear, and then downfall)

Same here.

Perfectionism is the fear of making mistakes, and it's unfortunately common amongst creative types. And I'm sorry to say, but it's not the story you're working on that's causing this, it's an internal fear within you. You feel embarrassed at the thought of not being able to achieve perfection, so you struggle to commit to a goal or even get started.

The only way to counter this is to stop fixating on the end product because by doing so, you create a 'perfect ideal' in your head. You'll never create something that lives up to that perfect ideal, so don't place any extra energy into the vision of your end product than you need to. See your writing journey as a series of lessons, not mistakes, and set yourself some deadlines so you can start focusing on completing something over making it perfect. They say we should live for the journey, not the destination, for a reason after all.
I'll be taking your words into deep thought! Thank you!


I relate to that on perfectionism so personally, and it's constantly been mirrored throughout my life. I really appreciate what you've said, especially as someone I could relate to. My eyes are clearer now through that perspective, and I'll definitely live up to it.


Senator Wrote:
angelofnight Wrote: What if I decide mid-way that I would like to change the entire plot? What if people wouldn't even like to read my work? What if I come up with better ideas in the future, after I've already invested myself into this novel? 

You probably will decide mid-way that you want to change the entire plot, and you almost certainly will come up with better ideas along the way. Every single author in history has struggled with their first novels--many their first few novels. James Joyce, arguably the greatest writer of the 20th century, scrapped his first novel and rewrote it entirely. Stephen King didn't write a publishable novel until his fourth try. When we look at every successful writer, our perception is a little skewed as we just look at all of their successful work and forget about all of the things they did that didn't work out. We don't see the crumpled up and burned pages that never saw the light of day. Just write a novel and finish it; then find out what did and didn't work and apply that to your next one. You don't need to write a 5000 page novel that's going to consume the next few years. Work on a story that can be finished in 300-400 pages. Small steps.

Furthermore, you're almost certainly going to find some people that enjoy reading your work. Plenty of people on this site are very forgiving when it comes to mistakes, as we're all fully aware that most of us are amateurs. The most important thing is to just get some pages out, and not procrastinate like I have for the past few days.
I appreciate this so much! I think that I definitely got caught up in the stereotype where I thought that many authors got known for their first works, forgetting all that came before that. 


That's really encouraging, too, as I have never posted my own work online anywhere. Thank you!


IvyVeritas Wrote: You can always write more than one story. Write the first story you want to write. If you get inspired by something else, or think of a completely different storyline you wish you would have used instead, write a different story. Maybe work on them both at the same time if you're not finished with the first one yet.

Note that the first story you attempt shouldn't be your magnum opus. Writing fiction is hard; everyone needs practice, and everyone improves over time. If your life's ambition is to write a specific story, maybe try a few practice runs first with other stories. Come back to your magnum opus after you have some experience under your belt.

Thank you so, so much! I think I was pressured by the fact that many (though definitely not all) authors get known for their first published/posted works, but I have to install the fact in my mindset that my first try doesn't have to be perfect. And that I can take everything as a learning experience. I will definitely do this!

Re: Planning my first story. Help!

#10
Maybe a change in how you view posting your work here would help

RoyalRoad has a small(ish) audience, so gaining fame here won't mean too much in the larger scheme of things. This is your place of learning and your testing ground. View all of us as your beta-readers (who do a lousy job, at that) and your work here as your first draft. No author ever did a perfect job on the first draft of a story: it gets edited, adjusted and reviewed a few times before it ever becomes available for sale.

Re: Planning my first story. Help!

#11

Oskatat Wrote: Maybe a change in how you view posting your work here would help

RoyalRoad has a small(ish) audience, so gaining fame here won't mean too much in the larger scheme of things. This is your place of learning and your testing ground. View all of us as your beta-readers (who do a lousy job, at that) and your work here as your first draft. No author ever did a perfect job on the first draft of a story: it gets edited, adjusted and reviewed a few times before it ever becomes available for sale.
That definitely helps! Thanks a lot!

Re: Planning my first story. Help!

#12
angelofnight Wrote: Yet..for some reason, I've always been held back. What if I decide mid-way that I would like to change the entire plot? What if people wouldn't even like to read my work? What if I come up with better ideas in the future, after I've already invested myself into this novel?
Hello, angelofnight . We meet again! 😃

I have been 'writing' my 'First Novel' ever since Moses first thought his toeses were roses. It has been a long time! 

I have millions of words strewn across dozens of Word files, involving about fifteen stories, all of which live in my head.

It took me that amount of time and effort to figure our how to make my 'monkey bangings'--as I affectionately call them--lay down and become coherent sentences, then paragraphs, then chapters, then plotlines, and finally, then readable stories.

More importantly, it took me that amount of time and effort to find my Voice--to be able to write something that, when read by a person who knows me, the wording and structure and layout says to them without a doubt, "ArDee wrote that." 

And that is really what you are after -- finding your Voice. Find a style of writing, a way of constructing dialogue and scenes and chapters and ultimately, a way of telling a story, that says to people, without a doubt, "Angel wrote that." 

It won't matter much then what you write, because you will have made yourself into an author.  😁