Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#1
I come up with a fair share of story settings, but half the time they end up either done already in ways I can't figure out a way to avoid, or my story is actually unique but I can't think of a plot that's long enough to become a book. Which means I'm pretty terrible at subplots since I can't even nail the main plot. Does anyone have advice on this? I really do want to write, if not professionally then just as a hobby, and I'm kind of losing hope because I get excited for a story then can't figure out where to take it.

I'm thinking subplots would function kind of like side quests in a game, is that a correct thought?

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#2
You'll always end up with some elements or parts that share with other stories and universes, and that's not a bad thing. In fact, you probably should be inspired by things you experience and pull from those as your influences. 

You essentially make it unique in the same way. You need to pull from the parts of your life that are uniquely you and add those to the story as well. 

In terms of how to write out a whole story, there are two types of writers: Discovery and plotters. Discovery writers just sort of write and make it up as they go along. It involves a lot of going back and editing and fixing things afterwards. I feel like this isn't you since it doesn't come naturally. So you're second option is to create an outline and plan out everything in advance. 

How to do that? You normally start with the end, then the beggening, and then the middle. Start with a simple three act structure, and figure out how you want to end your story first. Where are we taking the characters on this journey? What conflict will they overcome? How will they change as people. Once you have that, decide where they start from and how to set it all up. And finally, plan how to take them from point a to point b. 

I'd say that's all a pretty general overview. HMU if you have any specific questions. 

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#3
Given that there are billions upon billions of stories out there, chances of making something completely 100% unique is about zero. So don't worry about not being "original", because even if you think you're doing something new, there's probably a silly name for it on TVtropes.
Just do something you think is creative, that's all the readers can expect of you. It's fine ^.^
And if you can't do a long story, just write shorts! There's nothing wrong with that, and if you set a bunch of shorts in a single universe you can shove them into an anthology (those are always fun lol).

Hamavery64 Wrote: I'm thinking subplots would function kind of like side quests in a game, is that a correct thought?

Not exactly. Subplots like, for example, a romantic subplot, can and should be woven into the main plot of a story in a way that doesn't distract from it too bad. I think what you're thinking of is called a side-arc? Or maybe a mini-plot. Something of that nature lol

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#4
All of your questions can basically summed up in the phrase, "just write." Let me explain, so there are three main things that go into making a good story. One is experience/knowledge. That comes from living and research. Two, Read as much as you. Across genres and authors. This shows you how to write. Learn the feel of a story basically. Three, write stuff. Anything, if you have short stories, write that! No everything has to be epic length. Small tales have their place in the world. I can't tell you how many times I got frustrated when a story idea became to large to be just a short story.

I would say subplots are more like parallel plots. Things that are going on around, but not often the main focus. Like a developing friendship or hatred. Reoccurring sensation caused by external factors and internal ones with character growth/decline. 

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#5
No, subplots work because no one only has one thing going on in their lives, and so showing more things going on makes the world feel larger. We call them subplots because they're connected to the main plot; even though it's natural to have lots of things going on, we still expect things to match up. 

Regardless, don't get hung up on unique worlds. Start writing and develop it as you go. You'll find many ways to make your world different just by making small choices here and there. In fact, one of the most unique things to do is to draw on real history. Are you writing a medieval fantasy? Then pick up Ian Mortimer's The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England, as well as Frances and Joseph Gies' books Life in a Medieval Village (or City or Castle). The wealth of small details will help make your presentation feel unique and alive just for the cost of reading a few books. No degree in medieval studies required. Not doing medieval? No problem. Similar books exist for ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as modern-but-pre-20th nations. Not doing Western settings? Sadly, I haven't found decent replacements for China, Japan, India, Africa, etc., but people are still people; apply the lessons from the above to what you learn from good histories of non-Western areas, because even though religion and culture change, farmers and merchants and soldiers are pretty universal. And of course using Dr. David Livermore's Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are lecture series to both understand other cultures and craft your own is worth its weight in gold -- or would be, if it were a physical book. (Though he does have a book, Leading with Cultural Intelligence; it's just that this version is aimed at corporate executives.)

Ultimately, your most important factor is going to be your characters. We need characters we can identify with and care about. Plot and setting are both important, but character is more important than either of those two combined. 

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#6

StgBria Wrote: You'll always end up with some elements or parts that share with other stories and universes, and that's not a bad thing. In fact, you probably should be inspired by things you experience and pull from those as your influences. 

You essentially make it unique in the same way. You need to pull from the parts of your life that are uniquely you and add those to the story as well. 

In terms of how to write out a whole story, there are two types of writers: Discovery and plotters. Discovery writers just sort of write and make it up as they go along. It involves a lot of going back and editing and fixing things afterwards. I feel like this isn't you since it doesn't come naturally. So you're second option is to create an outline and plan out everything in advance. 

How to do that? You normally start with the end, then the beggening, and then the middle. Start with a simple three act structure, and figure out how you want to end your story first. Where are we taking the characters on this journey? What conflict will they overcome? How will they change as people. Once you have that, decide where they start from and how to set it all up. And finally, plan how to take them from point a to point b. 

I'd say that's all a pretty general overview. HMU if you have any specific questions.

Thank you for your response! I'd say I'm kind of half and half with the make it up as i go and plan it out people. I make up the first half then lose the rest lol. But I'm happy to say that I had a moment of inspiration and came up with an entire story, or at least the basics of one. I'm getting there! 

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#7

NovelNinja Wrote: No, subplots work because no one only has one thing going on in their lives, and so showing more things going on makes the world feel larger. We call them subplots because they're connected to the main plot; even though it's natural to have lots of things going on, we still expect things to match up. 

Regardless, don't get hung up on unique worlds. Start writing and develop it as you go. You'll find many ways to make your world different just by making small choices here and there. In fact, one of the most unique things to do is to draw on real history. Are you writing a medieval fantasy? Then pick up Ian Mortimer's The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England, as well as Frances and Joseph Gies' books Life in a Medieval Village (or City or Castle). The wealth of small details will help make your presentation feel unique and alive just for the cost of reading a few books. No degree in medieval studies required. Not doing medieval? No problem. Similar books exist for ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as modern-but-pre-20th nations. Not doing Western settings? Sadly, I haven't found decent replacements for China, Japan, India, Africa, etc., but people are still people; apply the lessons from the above to what you learn from good histories of non-Western areas, because even though religion and culture change, farmers and merchants and soldiers are pretty universal. And of course using Dr. David Livermore's Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are lecture series to both understand other cultures and craft your own is worth its weight in gold -- or would be, if it were a physical book. (Though he does have a book, Leading with Cultural Intelligence; it's just that this version is aimed at corporate executives.)

Ultimately, your most important factor is going to be your characters. We need characters we can identify with and care about. Plot and setting are both important, but character is more important than either of those two combined.

Thank you, I'm very thankful for these pointers. I have come up with a simple story, and now i'm going to work on creating characters that should hopefully be good, as well as explore some sub plot possibilities. Thanks again! :)

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#8

Mad Wrote: Given that there are billions upon billions of stories out there, chances of making something completely 100% unique is about zero. So don't worry about not being "original", because even if you think you're doing something new, there's probably a silly name for it on TVtropes.
Just do something you think is creative, that's all the readers can expect of you. It's fine ^.^
And if you can't do a long story, just write shorts! There's nothing wrong with that, and if you set a bunch of shorts in a single universe you can shove them into an anthology (those are always fun lol).

Hamavery64 Wrote: I'm thinking subplots would function kind of like side quests in a game, is that a correct thought?

Not exactly. Subplots like, for example, a romantic subplot, can and should be woven into the main plot of a story in a way that doesn't distract from it too bad. I think what you're thinking of is called a side-arc? Or maybe a mini-plot. Something of that nature lol

This really helped me, thank you. In fact taking the first bit of advice you made helped me come up with the basics of a story that is (to my knowledge) actually pretty self reliant, but of course like you say, its probably easy to see some of the inspirations lol. And thank you for the subplot information too! I'm going to start experimenting with those too. Thanks again! :D

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#9
Don't worry about your world being original. Most scifi/fantasy universes have elements in common with Tolkien, Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Star Trek. That's fine and pretty much unavoidable. Focus more on making your characters interesting and your plot make sense. People like to read a well-written story, even if they've seen elements of it before.

As for how to write a story, I start with an idea that interests me. For example, what if a galactic empire fell and there was nobody willing to put the pieces back together? (that became Reign of Discordia). What if Athens had conquered Macedonia? (that became Echoes of Olympus). What if they followed Star Trek Voyager up with another show set in the Federation in the same timeline? (that became my fanfic, Star Trek: Horizon).

Once you've dreamed up your premise, just figure out your characters and what elements drive the plot, then write an outline. Some people don't use outlines, but I swear by them. Whether you stick to it or not, it gives you a road map to follow, and that really helps when you get into the middle of your work.

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#10
Honestly, I don't know. But I do know that sometimes a joke idea can turn into a huge thing. Like, when I wrote I Nearly Died And My Tongue Was Swapped With A Demon King's, I had no course or sense of direction, it just sort of happened. Why people like it or why the heck it has nearly 1.2k views, I will never understand (over at scribble hut here https://www.scribblehub.com/series/316729/i-nearly-died-and-my-tongue-was-swapped-with-a-demon-kings/ ) but like, I guess since people like it, I've begun building a world I never even intended in the first place.

I've found that really quirky words and quirky worlds go hand in hand. And that titles like mine are clickbait according to a user over there, which I've never even thought of as being. It was a joke story not meant for anything but my own amusement and poof! People went nuts. Now I am actually considering publishing it. I've got more worlds I'd like to build as well now. I'll get sillier and sillier alas, but now that I've a root idea, I can build a whole new idea off of it.

It uses familiar elements people know but in a strange manner that is unique and funny, serious and tragic. Past Chapter 7 things will slow down a bit but then pick up again as the world develops more. I am literally pulling it out of a hat this story and on my own. I've gotten to the point where I try to publish at least one to two chapters a day if able. So as for building a uniquely you made world? It takes funny to sometimes create serious. It takes uniqueness to make interesting. It also takes clickbait titles apparently for some reason? Just me but it just...makes no sense why it is being so heavily read. But I'm guessing that's fine then. :D

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#11
Originality is a trap. Throw it out of the window right away. If you're putting stuff in your story for the sole sake of being original, you're ruining your story. Popular tropes, settings, and plots are popular for a reason. Good stories often have something unusual in them, but it's never there just for the sake of being unusual; that just makes a story feel gimmicky and disjointed.

Instead of asking, "am I being unique?", ask, "do I have something to say?" If the thesis of your story is best supported by including wise, long-lived elves who live in the forest, put 'em in. If it isn't, don't. If you have something to say, it won't matter how overused the tropes you're using to say it are; if you have nothing to say, no amount of originality in the world is going to make your story interesting.

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#12

Derin_Edala Wrote: Originality is a trap. Throw it out of the window right away. If you're putting stuff in your story for the sole sake of being original, you're ruining your story.



This. Originality is preferable to the repeated tale, yes, but is also WAY overrated. Many of your favorite stories are just rehashings of stories told time and time again. King Kong is a play of Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King is Hamlet with lions, and the original Star Wars film was the coming-of-age fantasy story but with space wizards.

However, as for how to create an entire world and story, do what I'm doing. I took an idea for a character I built for a tabletop game and am spinning it into a multi-part hopefully-epic by working backwards.

What do I mean by "working backwards"? Create your villain. Before you continue, create your villain. What is your villain's evil goal? Why is that your villain's evil goal? What is the evil plan to fulfill the evil goal? How will the villain execute the evil plan? And how will your hero foil the evil plan?

You would not believe how much of your story just creates itself from there. If you want to be masochistic like me, you can create multiple seasons that are relatively self-contained and have their own villain, and then you go through the process for each of them. But regardless, you do that and I bet you'll have a decent story outline sooner than you think.

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#15

Derin_Edala Wrote: Originality is a trap. Throw it out of the window right away. If you're putting stuff in your story for the sole sake of being original, you're ruining your story. Popular tropes, settings, and plots are popular for a reason. Good stories often have something unusual in them, but it's never there just for the sake of being unusual; that just makes a story feel gimmicky and disjointed.

As someone much smarter than I once said, originality doesn't mean something completely new; it means a return to an origin. It's why a sunrise or a spring day or a majestic mountain can always inspire poetry. 

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#16

TienSwitch Wrote: If you want to be masochistic like me, you can create multiple seasons that are relatively self-contained and have their own villain, and then you go through the process for each of them.

Which is exactly what I'm doing for my Rathorn fiction (Patreon and Amazon only, unfortunately. It's not here on RR). Six six-chapter episodes (each chapter approximately 10 novel length pages apiece) is one season, and I have the first two seasons pretty well mapped out, though the primary villain from season one will not be retired at the end of the first season. He'll be the thorn in the side of my barbarian protagonist for a good long while.

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#17

Darrin Wrote:
TienSwitch Wrote: If you want to be masochistic like me, you can create multiple seasons that are relatively self-contained and have their own villain, and then you go through the process for each of them.

Which is exactly what I'm doing for my Rathorn fiction (Patreon and Amazon only, unfortunately. It's not here on RR). Six six-chapter episodes (each chapter approximately 10 novel length pages apiece) is one season, and I have the first two seasons pretty well mapped out, though the primary villain from season one will not be retired at the end of the first season. He'll be the thorn in the side of my barbarian protagonist for a good long while.



Good to see I'm not the only one doing season/episode content rather than traditional novel chapters. I'm looking a superhero fantasy series at about 6, possibly 7 seasons with 10-13 episodes apiece (each episode will be split into three chapters here on Royal Road due to length), with two running major antagonists for half the story and a third one hovering in the background, his presence and existence more of a threat than any action he himself takes. But most of the individual season will have their own antagonist. 

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#18
I don't try for entirely original settings. In fact, nowadays most authors don't either. Because whether in fantasy or sci-fi, most of the things have already been done to some extent and new ideas, especially one without the slightest influence of some other thing, is close to impossible. What's possible is taking something that interests you, even if it's not original, and presenting it in a new and(most importantly) entertaining way...

Re: How do you come up with a universe that hasn't been done before? And how do you create a whole story?

#19
Often, my worlds come about with What If Scenarios. What if and then. I am the type of person who does a lot of thought experiments in my own head and they are often what birth and engineer my worlds. I think about how something has impacted the real world and then ask, well what if it didn't happen, and then begin to build from there. On top of that I get inspired by real world history as well. As someone who writes a lot of fantasy myself, and am into history, I write what interest me. I am so tired of Greek worlds that are white, when we know they would have been painted. And in some parts of history, black was not considered a very fashionable color as it is today. Something I think a lot of fantasy worlds miss, everything is colored through our modern lens instead of trying to imagine the vibrant color, and the sound. Castle wouldn't have had thrown rooms. And woman would literally sew their hair into their circlets. I write what fascinates me, inspires me, or what I am questioning. And that's how I world build.