general new author tips?

#1
Started writing a new book and the big problem I used too have was that I would have a ton of ideas and spend ages refining one idea. That's fine but once I start writing it kind of falls apart and i lose interest to write my own story...

So this time I kind of had a idea come out of thin air and just rolled with it. It's coming along a lot better this time, is it okay to write with the skeleton of a book without knowing the ending or like a long term plan? Just want to make sure I can a) follow through and finish the book and b) make something im proud of :)

tips would be appreciated! :)

Re: general new author tips?

#2
Well, my first advice would be to not do any editing on your first two books. Too many want to get the so-called perfect story or something. The truth is that they will never get it if they keep editing instead of writing.

Just write it. That's the most important part. And tips on how to write? Idfk. I suggest time-based sprints. Try and find a discord with Sprinto

Re: general new author tips?

#3
So this is a technique that I do. I famously underwrite my scenes, "create the skeleton," as you said. This allows me to focus on speed instead of what's actually being written. When I finish a chapter, I start editing by adding the missing elements to the page. If I were drawing, my first draft would be the outline and my second would be filling in the blank spaces. Third edit would be for grammar and all the nitty gritty like sentence structure, paragraph structure, etc.

TLDR: It's compeltly acceptable to write a skeleton story and fill it in later. As for not having an outline or an ending, it's called pantsing (writing by the seat of your pants) and famously Stephen King is a pantser.

Re: general new author tips?

#4
I used to have this problem - i more or less solved it by being okay with a crappy first draft - framing it like it's an idea phase. So I don't really invest a lot of time developing ideas. But I do keep going as though the idea i had which I thought was great had already been included to see where it goes. Some of those ideas transform, some fizzle out. It's all okay.

The point of the first draft is to get to the end. I don't publish my first or second draft because it's basically illegible. 

The second part to this problem is adding a planning. The planning phase isn't about the details (as I've had to rediscover) but rather give you a general guideline about where you want to take the story. I do my plotting in 8 steps:

Normal life/day in the life (I don't start by waking the protagonist who is late for school - I start him at school getting lectured by the teacher for being late.... again). 
Trigger/inciting incident - school burned down.
Quest - the prupose of the story (this part I'm discovering is more like a guiding star for Act 2 - which can be structured with two challenges for the protagonist). Who burnt down the school.
Surprise - the thing that basically changes everything that the protagonist thought he knew, and now he needs a new plan to complete the quest. Ex: his mom burnt down the school.
Choice: A difficult choice that the protagonist has to make. Whatever the choice is - either version means he cannot go back to 'normal state' or to the life he was used to. The choice has to cost the protagonist in order to create emotional investment. ex: turn his mom in.
Climax: The direct consequence of the choice the protagonist's choice. ex: Cops turn up at his house to arrest his mom, who learned of her son's betrayal. She slaps the son, promising he'll regret his decision.
Resolution: Essentially the conclusion of the story - his mom flees, with the cops chasing after her.
Reversal: a new normal. Living with his dad, he has to move cities because now he's being bullied because his mom was a pyro.

Sorry... I just go to dark places....

With that off-the-cuff of my head outline, I figure where I 'think' my 3 acts will be. For me that's usually Stasis and trigger, Quest through to choice, then climax, resolution and reversal.

These are all jumping off points for first draft word vomit - idea exploration.

Re: general new author tips?

#5

A Wrote: I used to have this problem - i more or less solved it by being okay with a crappy first draft - framing it like it's an idea phase. So I don't really invest a lot of time developing ideas. But I do keep going as though the idea i had which I thought was great had already been included to see where it goes. Some of those ideas transform, some fizzle out. It's all okay.

The point of the first draft is to get to the end. I don't publish my first or second draft because it's basically illegible. 

The second part to this problem is adding a planning. The planning phase isn't about the details (as I've had to rediscover) but rather give you a general guideline about where you want to take the story. I do my plotting in 8 steps:

Normal life/day in the life (I don't start by waking the protagonist who is late for school - I start him at school getting lectured by the teacher for being late.... again). 
Trigger/inciting incident - school burned down.
Quest - the prupose of the story (this part I'm discovering is more like a guiding star for Act 2 - which can be structured with two challenges for the protagonist). Who burnt down the school.
Surprise - the thing that basically changes everything that the protagonist thought he knew, and now he needs a new plan to complete the quest. Ex: his mom burnt down the school.
Choice: A difficult choice that the protagonist has to make. Whatever the choice is - either version means he cannot go back to 'normal state' or to the life he was used to. The choice has to cost the protagonist in order to create emotional investment. ex: turn his mom in.
Climax: The direct consequence of the choice the protagonist's choice. ex: Cops turn up at his house to arrest his mom, who learned of her son's betrayal. She slaps the son, promising he'll regret his decision.
Resolution: Essentially the conclusion of the story - his mom flees, with the cops chasing after her.
Reversal: a new normal. Living with his dad, he has to move cities because now he's being bullied because his mom was a pyro.

Sorry... I just go to dark places....

With that off-the-cuff of my head outline, I figure where I 'think' my 3 acts will be. For me that's usually Stasis and trigger, Quest through to choice, then climax, resolution and reversal.

These are all jumping off points for first draft word vomit - idea exploration.


right right i seeeeee

just prioritising writing to begin with and then afterwards cleaning it up  DrakanThink

thank you

Re: general new author tips?

#6
Just to echo what AV Dalcourt said, it is completely okay to write without having a full, in-depth plan. The way I see it is this. It's okay if your first draft is crap. Crap is a fertiliser. Figuring out *why* it's crap and fixing it is what leads to the second draft. Removing the last few bits of crap gives you the third. (Also, pardon my language. :P )

As for getting to the end of the first draft, I'd suggest using the pomodoro technique. Get a timer, set it for 25 minutes, and just write. Then take a five minute break and do something active. Friend of mine does a yoga pose. Another reads a book while standing. To each their own, really. Then when the break is done, do another twenty five minutes, then five, then twenty five, and so on. 

Personally, I also use a warm-up before I get started. I set a timer for six minutes, put on some fast music with no singing, and then I write the whole time without stopping. Doesn't matter what. I've sat there and written the word "okay" over and over for the whole thing, or just random words. I'm not allowed to go back and edit anything, or correct spelling mistakes, or fix grammar. I just have to keep writing as quickly as I can. It's a good way to get your head on straight, because it stops you from self-censoring and agonising over every sentence.


Getting away from general writing techniques, I'd say that character work is a great way to get out of being stuck (and you're going to, by the way, because everyone always does.) I use the following sheet:

NAME: (Character's name)
GOAL: (What they want and are trying to achieve)
DESCRIPTORS (a bunch of short adjectives that describe what your character's actually like)
TACTICS: (How they normally solve problems they face in life)
OBSTACLES: (The issues they're going to face in the story that they have to overcome)

That lets you work out your lead character a bit better, and how they move the story forward. When you're stuck, it's particularly good, because it forces you to think about what they have to actually do to solve the problem in front of them. To give an example -

NAME: Ku Li Sheh (generic Young Master no. 645896456)
GOAL: To inherit the sect as soon as possible.
DESCRIPTORS: Arrogant, ambitious, charming, talented, cruel, sociopathic, cold, young.
TACTICS: Violence, social clout, deception, manipulation, dishonourable tactics, army of sycophants, good looks, cunning.
OBSTACLES: Difference in cultivation (father is a Nascent Soul, Sheh has only just formed his core), annoying little sister (Kyu Ti, his younger sister, is very aware of her brother's cruel nature and keeps prying into his affairs), Sect internal politics (the Be family, also long-time sect members, are gunning for the position of Sect Master when Sheh's father dies or ascends, so however Sheh takes over the sect, he has to do it in such a way that the Ku aren't weakened enough for the Be to take over), upstart stranger who courts death (Sheh recently ran into He Ro, a young outer disciple whose caught the eye of Sheh's father. The young peasant shows promise - Sheh has to ensure that his position can't be usurped.)

From that, all I've got to do is figure out what Sheh would do to achieve his goal (murder his father), and then go through each of the obstacles. Once that's done, I have a story.

Hope this helps!

Re: general new author tips?

#7

BadAtScreenNames Wrote: Just to echo what AV Dalcourt said, it is completely okay to write without having a full, in-depth plan. The way I see it is this. It's okay if your first draft is crap. Crap is a fertiliser. Figuring out *why* it's crap and fixing it is what leads to the second draft. Removing the last few bits of crap gives you the third. (Also, pardon my language. :P )

As for getting to the end of the first draft, I'd suggest using the pomodoro technique. Get a timer, set it for 25 minutes, and just write. Then take a five minute break and do something active. Friend of mine does a yoga pose. Another reads a book while standing. To each their own, really. Then when the break is done, do another twenty five minutes, then five, then twenty five, and so on. 

Personally, I also use a warm-up before I get started. I set a timer for six minutes, put on some fast music with no singing, and then I write the whole time without stopping. Doesn't matter what. I've sat there and written the word "okay" over and over for the whole thing, or just random words. I'm not allowed to go back and edit anything, or correct spelling mistakes, or fix grammar. I just have to keep writing as quickly as I can. It's a good way to get your head on straight, because it stops you from self-censoring and agonising over every sentence.


Getting away from general writing techniques, I'd say that character work is a great way to get out of being stuck (and you're going to, by the way, because everyone always does.) I use the following sheet:

NAME: (Character's name)
GOAL: (What they want and are trying to achieve)
DESCRIPTORS (a bunch of short adjectives that describe what your character's actually like)
TACTICS: (How they normally solve problems they face in life)
OBSTACLES: (The issues they're going to face in the story that they have to overcome)

That lets you work out your lead character a bit better, and how they move the story forward. When you're stuck, it's particularly good, because it forces you to think about what they have to actually do to solve the problem in front of them. To give an example -

NAME: Ku Li Sheh (generic Young Master no. 645896456)
GOAL: To inherit the sect as soon as possible.
DESCRIPTORS: Arrogant, ambitious, charming, talented, cruel, sociopathic, cold, young.
TACTICS: Violence, social clout, deception, manipulation, dishonourable tactics, army of sycophants, good looks, cunning.
OBSTACLES: Difference in cultivation (father is a Nascent Soul, Sheh has only just formed his core), annoying little sister (Kyu Ti, his younger sister, is very aware of her brother's cruel nature and keeps prying into his affairs), Sect internal politics (the Be family, also long-time sect members, are gunning for the position of Sect Master when Sheh's father dies or ascends, so however Sheh takes over the sect, he has to do it in such a way that the Ku aren't weakened enough for the Be to take over), upstart stranger who courts death (Sheh recently ran into He Ro, a young outer disciple whose caught the eye of Sheh's father. The young peasant shows promise - Sheh has to ensure that his position can't be usurped.)

From that, all I've got to do is figure out what Sheh would do to achieve his goal (murder his father), and then go through each of the obstacles. Once that's done, I have a story.

Hope this helps!
lately ive just been writing full chapters at once and it is quite a marathon...


ill probably give the pomodoro method a go mmm tyty

and yeah i get nervous that I'm going to get stuck and give up so im just trying it avoid it and wirte with purpose 0 0

Re: general new author tips?

#9
I'll give you the two big ones: Read a lot and write a lot. That's the two pieces of advice that trump everything else, no exceptions.

1) Practice makes perfect. There's a huge difference between reading about how to do something and actually doing it. You don't want to end up like the people who spend all day talking about how difficult writing is on the internet instead of actually writing. 
2) Read other books, especially published work. You'll pick up a lot of writing skills just by casually reading. You'll learn even more if you actively ask yourself "Why does this work? Why do I like this?" while you're reading. Doesn't just have to be books you like, either. Read outside of your preferred genre as well, even read bad books. 

Re: general new author tips?

#10
Everybody has their own method of writing that usually takes some trial and error to figure out. You sound like you're slowly finding yours.

For me, I pre-write by jotting down 3-10 sentences describing a chapter, depending on the degree of depth and story advancement I need for that chapter. Next, I write the chapter with a specific word count in mind, usually in one sitting to prevent myself from being distracted, if possible. Finally, on my second draft, I'll judge if I need to make any adjustments and flesh out specific ideas that I didn't explore enough in the first draft. 

Then I publish online. I don't want to spend an eternity forever editing an idea, because otherwise it gets trapped in Writer's Purgatory.

Re: general new author tips?

#11
My biggest suggestion is: keep writing.

When in doubt, write more.

I read once it takes about 10,000 hours of an activity to become "good" at it. Every word you write, every chapter you construct, will add to your skills. Re-read your stuff. Read good books. Really look at the words used. And then write more of your own words.

If you STOP writing, it might become difficult  to start again. You need to form a habit, and then stick with it! Trust me. The more you think about writing, read while thinking about writing, and developing stories in your head, the easier it'll become to write what you want.

Re: general new author tips?

#12
There's generally seen as two 'schools' of writing.

Planner and Panster.

A planner makes some sort of outline for their work, a panster goes by the 'seat of their pants.'

I've always been a panster and found that outlines or planning tends to get in my way, as I let the story and characters grow as I discover more about them. It took me quite a while to get my groove and hone in on my skills enough to where I could do this without needing major revisions or rewrites. By a 'while' I mean years. Multiple books. It wasn't until I was working on about my fifth complete novel that I was able to comfortably write a book from start to finish without needing to do major revisions to the structure. 

Read the kind of stuff you enjoy reading and want to write like, write and write and write some more. If you've got an idea you want to run with, then do so. Let it be fun and enjoy the moment. Don't worry, you won't always get things right on the first try. It takes time and everyone is different.

Re: general new author tips?

#13
Don't rush yourself when writing, and do what you feel is right for your story, and most importantly RELAX. Don't be so stressed when writing especially if you feel like you are under a time crunch. I've said this multiple times but it just can't be emphasized enough; when you are writing under stress and in a rush the end product will look bad and only you will know why it is that bad.

Re: general new author tips?

#14
1.

Plan out the main story beats.

That includes who the MC and their fellows are, the antagonist, the mentor, the father and mother figures and love interests for them too. Make sure you know what the main twists are, who hero moments belong to and when your character creates a sense of catharsis that has the readers cheering.

2.
Be kind.

Thank the readers often and make them feel welcome. They don't have to read your work, so be appropriately grateful even when they don't like it. A lot of the time you'll get some great feedback as a result, and they'll point out plot holes before they even happen.

3.
Until you publish on Amazon or through a publishing house, you're posting a draft.

Patreon and Paypal donations are just that. Patrons and Donations. They are there to help you reach the end of the story. From there you can edit and publish.

Remember that when you're writing on this (or any other) platform you can always go back and change stuff. That's what the author notes are for.

If you make significant changes, let the readers know what's going on and how they fit. Always thank them too for taking the time to read.

4.
Don't be disheartened by bad ratings or reviews.

It's just an opinion. For every 1 person who loves your novel and posts about it as "the best thing ever" you'll have 50-500 who simply enjoyed it and another 10 who hate it.


Don't stress about those who didn't like it. It just wasn't their cup of tea. 

Check to see if they have valid feedback and then get back to work. Most ratings are a like button for readers, and the reviews sooner or later turn into a comment section for things people didn't enjoy.

Keep writing. 

If you can't make the schedule : Keep writing. 

If you feel like shit because someone made a bad review, jump on the forums tell people and then: Keep writing.

The feeling you'll end up getting from releasing a chapter will wash away any negativity you receive. And you WILL receive it.... eventually.

5. Keep writing.

Keep writing. No matter what... finish the story. If it doesn't finish because it fell apart - get back to the drawing board and :

You got it...


Keep Writing.

Those are my 5 suggestions that have worked for me so far.

Best wishes for your success!

Re: general new author tips?

#16
This is how I got started:

1. Have an idea.

2. Write. Write some more. Get writers block. Go outside. Yell at the kids on your lawn. Get back inside. Continue writing. Get a few chapters this way.

3. Review, refine, and edit.

4. Repeat until you either have a story you want, or recognize it as a dead end. Mercenary Mage was attempt #9 for me personally.