So I have a week of vacation and a punch list of things to do. One of them is to hash out a brilliant storyline with dynamic, relate-able, characters....or at least a storyline.
Now I have plenty of story ideas, the problem is picking just one (or trying to combine 1-3 together into one). This has been my problem since the start. With movies, books and tv shows, I see all these great ideas and my brain wants to make it all into one epic story.
Such a small word. I mean, it's four letters for Pete's sake (who IS Pete anyways?). But it's so utterly unfathomable (now I'm just blabbering) that I can't grasp it. Trying to make the first book that closes the Big Question and open enough doors to explore in later books... as well as laying little seeds that the reader doesn't realize it's a seed until later. Perhaps I want to be this mastermind of plot lines that I just can't do that others seem to do so easily.... or perhaps they (said masterminds of plotlines) had this same conversation with themselves and I will one day rule the world (by Thursday I said... I'm working on it).
So I'm here right now, starring at a blank Word document, banging my head against the keyboard wishing upon some miracle to happen over the span of a week. God (allegedly) created the world in seven days, why can't I (fictitiously that is)?
If you think about it, writing is like the ultimate RPG. You don't just have to create characters, you have to create an entire world. Government, history, languages, names (harder than you'd think), economy, and lets not forget motives. Another big small world. Finding the thing that makes character's tick can be very difficult. The why behind all characters is at times as hard as thinking of the storyline. You want to make the reader believe in the characters so you have to relate them to the character. Why is he bad? Some people just don't believe there are truly evil people in the world... so we have to justify it with a human characteristic (flaw). Why does he want to blow up the world? Oh, well, because he was made fun of at school.
Yeah, it's hard. I've had readers leave in the middle of my book because of a Jump The Shark moment. And as Auden has so brilliantly put it, you take a look at what you've written and try to modify it...try to make it work again. But one change turns into twenty and then it's a slippery slope to "to hell with it, I'll redo the entire book".
So here I am, scarred from previous "to hell with it"'s, wanting to make a solid world/characters/plots and with enough openings for another book. EPIC enough to have the "want" to make another book. And make it fun enough to continue writing and still leave the reader gasping for another turn of the page... only to find the gruesome, but concrete words of "the end".
You know what? *a sudden realization*
It's kinda like sex.
Hmmm, I'll have to think on this analogy further. I could have fun with this one (Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time is like marriage).
To keep up with my music YouTube-ness, here's an oldie
I think any really large project can be like that. At one point I wanted to be a video game designer/programmer. I would sit down and hash out large portions of the design, but get distracted for a while and not finish it. Then when I'd come back, it's like, 'that doesn't make any sense at all! Do it this way now!' So many good ideas, but so difficult to mesh them into a coherent whole.
And Wheel of Time is awesome! My favorite series. I guess the next book is supposed to be the last. :(
First of all, the creative process can't be rush, you can't force yourself into writing a masterpiece.
Remember, you aren't being pay yet for doing this.
So basically you should enjoy the process.
There is not manual which says you should write sitting on the PC. Some of my greatest ideas comes while I'm doing things I can't stop doing, like installing a motherboard or doing the dishes. Well, I can stop, but usually by the time I get to the PC, the idea is gone, or at least the exact essence of it.
I solved this having a little voice recorder, I would talk what it is coming to me, with dialogs included. Well, if anyone heard you, they might think you finally lost it. I have seen my daughter looking to me in disbelieved. But the good news is, I grasped that creative moment and later I can transcribe it or not. Having a blank block of paper and pen handy works as well too. There is something with my mind, it works better when I'm busy.
Try writing the whole story at once. Like a synopsis, later you can just add to it, create the details and do the research.
Just write, stop comparing your works with another successfully published ones. Stop thinking what the reader would think about it. Just write what you like. Now you can do it. There will be a day an evil editor will tell you what to do to make it marketable.
Right now you are the master of the craft. Simply enjoy the process. If you like what you write, there is a chance others will do.
The analogy with sex is really interesting. Well, in that regard, I guess by now you know what happens when you hurry versus when you take your time...
All great advice
"Try writing the whole story at once. Like a synopsis, later you can just add to it, create the details and do the research."
I have 12 of them at the moment. The issue is I can't just pick one
Drat, another idea. Will be 13 by end of day.
Voice recorder? Haha, that would be funny. Everyone would think I'm three sheets to the wind. I've got my trustee notepad... a bit more covert.
LOL @ "I guess by now you know what happens when you hurry versus when you take your time..."
Was reading something that may help with this as well. Try writing some character biographies. I don't mean a short bio or something, but a fully detailed one where you jot down everything about their lives. Maybe even go back further into who their parents and siblings and friends were. Get what, who, when, where down as opposed to why; their relationships, feelings, attitudes, dreams, actions, experiences.
Get to know them. It will make them more believable when you write the story, make their actions and words natural and true because you will instinctively know what they would do and say in reaction to things happening around them. Instead of flat mental images, the characters are suddenly real people; they don't say the words you put in their mouths; they say what they would really say.
The reader won't know the characters unless you know them. If they have no background that you know of, you can't show their background, and the reader will never see one either.
Besides, if there's a lull in the action, you can always have 'em talk about their pasts.
Yeah, already use that heh.
With each of those 12... err now about to be 13... synopsis, I have character (main, secondary, and/or antagonist) bios. Past, present, future with strengths/flaws.
Definitely helps . I also use tags/ytraits, per Jim Butcher's blog. VERY helpful IMO.
Remember that even if you answer the big question, you still have all the Little Question(s) to answer...
Just on top of all the other advice here... :D
You're focusing too much on the whole aspect of being able to write another book afterwards. You don't need to. If there's room for a sequel, then there's room for a sequel; don't force it. You can always do what Tom Clancey does and just write another book with the same characters in different situations. These books, of course, follow a certain order, but they're not sequels per se.
Writer's block is another thing you can't force your way around. You've just got to let the ideas come to you. I've been trying to write a novel for the past ten years (yes, I am only turning 22 on Easter). I'm on the 6th or so embodiment of the story and haven't touched it in I don't know how long. Though not as long as a man married for 15 years who finally realizes his wife isn't attractive (to go along with your sex analogy). It's not that I haven't wanted to work on it, it's more than I've not been able to come up with anything more to write. Plus, I've had so many other writing projects, especially for classes, that I've not had time.
One trick I've used, though, is to just write anything. Freshman year I had a wall covered with comic strips I cut out of the newspaper, and I would write down the jokes and such from them. I've also listened to music and tried writing out the lyrics (note: this works best on the computer: it not only gets your brain working around words, but keeps your fingers up to par).
For a short story I just finished the first draft of (it's for my History of Russia class), I was able to generate the idea from reading Tom Clancy novels. He's my favorite author, and I've read tons of his books; it really helps. Well, not for my novel, but I seem to have a harder time with longer pieces like that. So find a genre/author that's related to what your want to write about, and read those books, as many as you can. I'm not saying steal ideas, but use it as a guide, as a way of generating material for your book, and most importantly for picking up nuances ofr writing that you might not know. It worked for me with the short story: it's a spy novel, and Clancy writes spy novels. I wrote it, though, in a way that would allow me to expand it (I do this a lot) if I wanted, and it could actually be a prequel to Clancy's The Hunt for Red October. I'd probably have to get permission on this, but it might work. Doubt it'd would ever get there though.
Anyway, hope this all helps. I know you said you were trying to get this thing done by Thursday, but I never got around to reading the blog until today.
More good tips