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The Writers' Workshop


Ventessel's Avatar


Ventessel
03.22.2013 , 07:55 AM | #91
Quote: Originally Posted by bright_ephemera View Post
Paring down: Never delete. Cut any language that needs cutting and store it in a Scraps section or separate file. It is probable that you will never use those particular phrases again. It is possible that some statement that genuinely does not belong in this scene will turn out to be ideal for a scene you write later. Be merciless in reducing a scene to its necessary elements, but set the rejected passages aside rather than deleting them outright.


[...] Sir Terry Pratchett's helpful observation, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” Subsequent drafts are all about removing and shaping material until you can do a good job of telling the reader the story.

Thoreau: "Simplify, simplify, simplify!"

William Strunk, Jr., quoted in the introduction to the Macmillan Paperbacks edition of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style: "Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell."
Well, I must say that I'm honored to have my advice included among the likes of Strunk, Thoreau, and Pratchett. Strunk's little volume (or rather, the revised edition that E.B. White helped put together) accompanied me all through high school and college, it is invaluable as a reference for syntax and language use.

Pratchett is a marvelous writer and I'm quite the fan. I would also recommend reading over anything by Orson Scott Card, especially two books he authored on writing. I believe the first is a guide to writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the other is a guide to characterization and POV.

Not the biggest fan of Thoreau, however. I much preferred his mentor, Emerson. That's mostly a matter of taste, however. There's no doubt Thoreau is a great writer, it's his philosophy and style I don't care for. Still, ending up on the same editing board as these fine gentlemen is more than I bargained for.
The Heir to ChaosAdded Chapter Sixteen-- 17 APR 2013
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” ~ George Orwell

Ventessel's Avatar


Ventessel
03.26.2013 , 10:39 AM | #92
As I begin work on my fanfiction piece (linked in the sig) I have found a few conventions to be very helpful in sketching out plot.

First, I maintain a "storyboard" of scenes in the upcoming chapters. I give each scene a moniker or two/three word description for reference (this helps me keep a mental picture of what I want to happen in the scene) and then arrange them for what I feel is the best dramatic effect, or to suit the pacing of the story.

Second, I keep a character sheet. This is a document that gets updated regularly as I read and reread my own work, it's less a source for future stories as it is a record of what I have currently going on. Each character gets a quick description and their background, even the parts that haven't made it into the story yet. I describe their motivations and goals, and any other powerful personality traits that might shape their interactions.

Third, I write a list of "hooks" or "twists" that I want to introduce to the plot down the road. These can be as simple as someone getting married to their long-term love interest or as complex as a key character having a change of heart and turning on his allies at a certain moment. They're not all "twists" in the sense of unexpected changes, but some are. For the most part, these are key points I want to highlight in future scenes, usually they expand on the relationships between characters, reveal important details about the plot, or introduce new themes I want to work into the narrative. I think of them as seeds that will grow into future scenes.

When I sit down to write a new chapter, I look over the storyboard first and see if there's anything I want to add in from my "hooks" sheet. Planting new seeds, to carry my earlier metaphor. I may shift a few scenes around, or add in new ones. I generally have the storyboard planned out at least three or more chapters in advance, so I can make small changes ahead of time and not have to engage in extensive rewrites.

Once the scenes are picked out, I look to see if any characters need to be revisited. Some characters are static, but most undergo some kind of dynamic, and the key is to make sure that as the narrative advances, so do the characters. Depending on the scenes I'm writing for that chapter, some characters may need to evolve, or adjust their plans and outlook based on events that have occurred. Then I sit down and crank out a chapter, scene by scene.
The Heir to ChaosAdded Chapter Sixteen-- 17 APR 2013
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” ~ George Orwell

Canino's Avatar


Canino
03.29.2013 , 03:54 PM | #93
Quote: Originally Posted by Osetto View Post
I write in much the same way as you do. Start something, and keep writing it as long as the ideas readily flow from my mind. Only when nearing the ending of one of my stories have I actually planned ahead, jotting notes of what will happen in each upcoming chapter (which I've technically already deviated from), Times would come when I knew where I wanted things to go, but the actual process of writing seemed to escape me.

What works for me, is that whenever you find yourself unable or unwilling to proceed, just stop and take a step back from your piece. Trying to force something forward will rarely yield results, and whatever those results are, they often prove unsatisfying. Oddly enough, my trick for when I cannot write... it to write. Something different though. I have six unfinished stories posted on these boards. I started with one, then wanted to try something different. Then during the course of that, found a new appreciation for the previous piece. I don't know how far back I'd be on 'Acolyte Ascension' if I hadn't taken a break to work on 'The Dawn Eclipse'. Hopping from piece to piece has yielded much more content than what I would have produced had I focused on a single one.

Sometimes you don't even need to put forth a great deal of effort starting something new. Just the thought process behind thinking about new characters and stories can jog something in your mind. Take a break, find out what inspires you, and utilize that. I want to write after I see a new movie, play a new game, think about tabletop RPGs. Creativity begets creativity. What are you writing about? What made you want to write about that in the first place? What makes you want to continue writing about it? Something made you want to begin. Something will make you want to continue. Find out what stimulates you, even if it is something far removed from writing.

Everyone's mind works differently. We're unique in our responses, our organization tendencies, and how we operate most efficiently. I know for me, once I've planned absolutely everything out, that story is dead to me. How structured your approach to writing is, is entirely up to you, as only you can adequately judge the results.

As for posting after a long absence, the nature of the forums allows for little complication. A new post, no matter how far apart will still be right next to its predecessors. If people have forgotten what preceded it, the content will be right there above it. Paired with an author's note, maybe a quick recap of what has happened so far, there shouldn't be any reason to worry about new posts no matter how delayed they are.
Sorry for not thanking you earlier, my life got expectantly busy. So now- thank you. I been mulling over a new idea for a story, all while thinking of different character traits to my original story to add and change. I've been writing a few scenes and laying out key parts of my original story for use later. I also started using my swimming to inspire me, and I think it works amazingly well. Thanks again!
STATEMENT: I'm just a simple assassin...I mean bodyguard, master. You have nothing to fear.
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Ventessel's Avatar


Ventessel
03.31.2013 , 04:55 AM | #94
Here's a great general resource, from Orson Scott Card's website, called "Uncle Orson's Writing Class".

It's a series of articles, workshops if you will, on writing advice. It's all top notch, and very down to earth. Mr. Card is succinct and to the point, conveying things he's learned over his successful writing career.
The Heir to ChaosAdded Chapter Sixteen-- 17 APR 2013
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” ~ George Orwell

Blimble's Avatar


Blimble
04.03.2013 , 02:33 PM | #95
Personally, I write 1 Chapter... if it receives zero comeback I cancel that story out and start fresh. I write after people comment on what I have written, otherwise I just see it as a waste of Chapters
1. Baby born with artificial leg. 2. Doctor grows human hearts in cabbage patch. 3. When faucets attack. 4. Shoelace vests. 5. Homicidal anything. 6. Cats who stalk. 7. Toilet paper thief strikes roadside bathrooms. 8. Cannibal grandparents.

Caernos's Avatar


Caernos
04.03.2013 , 07:51 PM | #96
Quote: Originally Posted by Blimble View Post
Personally, I write 1 Chapter... if it receives zero comeback I cancel that story out and start fresh. I write after people comment on what I have written, otherwise I just see it as a waste of Chapters
Hmmm, see I generally operate on a different method, post nothing until the work is complete. Since most of my works go unfinished, this is why I rarely post up stories. I'd rather get their opinion on the whole story, rather than just one chapter. It's hard to get interested in something off of just one chapter.

Currently, since I never get anything posted, I'm toying with posting some of my more "in progress" works, and seeing if that will give me the motivation to continue. Of course, I'd actually have to start posting said "in progress" works before I can decide on whether or not I like the process.

Old habits are hard to kick unfortunately.
Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

bright_ephemera's Avatar


bright_ephemera
04.04.2013 , 05:15 AM | #97
Quote: Originally Posted by Blimble View Post
Personally, I write 1 Chapter... if it receives zero comeback I cancel that story out and start fresh. I write after people comment on what I have written, otherwise I just see it as a waste of Chapters
Quote: Originally Posted by Caernos View Post
Hmmm, see I generally operate on a different method, post nothing until the work is complete. Since most of my works go unfinished, this is why I rarely post up stories. I'd rather get their opinion on the whole story, rather than just one chapter. It's hard to get interested in something off of just one chapter.

Currently, since I never get anything posted, I'm toying with posting some of my more "in progress" works, and seeing if that will give me the motivation to continue. Of course, I'd actually have to start posting said "in progress" works before I can decide on whether or not I like the process.
I spent several years writing things, resolving not to post until it was finished and polished, and consequently never posting things. Since then I've gone (perhaps overboard) in the other direction: I post as soon as any given chapter is finished and let feedback catch up as it may. In my first fic I posted three chapters in three days and was starting to consider abandoning the project before I first received feedback; at first I was too busy focusing on the story to worry about the reception.
the Short Fic Weekly Challenge - 70+ authors to date. 1900+ stories. New prompts weekly!
Bright's Fanfic Threads
Forever Shenanigans!
Ceterum autem censeo, Malavai esse delendam.

Euphrosyne's Avatar


Euphrosyne
04.04.2013 , 10:04 PM | #98
Is there any sort of consensus about characterization?

Kind of talking about every sort of character here, from OCs to the hero/ine to supporting characters from the game story, but I'm mostly interested in that last one. Should an author spend time on an ekphrasis of a character - or on plot elements designed to do more or less the same thing - even if the character's personality, motivations, etc. are at least broadly similar to those seen in the game?

Yeah, I know, "don't 'should' me, 'cause I'll 'should' you right back", but still.
Euphrosynē (n., Greek) - "mirth, merriment"
Fanfic: Beyond Good and Evil

Ventessel's Avatar


Ventessel
04.05.2013 , 09:07 AM | #99
Quote: Originally Posted by Euphrosyne View Post
Is there any sort of consensus about characterization?

Kind of talking about every sort of character here, from OCs to the hero/ine to supporting characters from the game story, but I'm mostly interested in that last one. Should an author spend time on an ekphrasis of a character - or on plot elements designed to do more or less the same thing - even if the character's personality, motivations, etc. are at least broadly similar to those seen in the game?

Yeah, I know, "don't 'should' me, 'cause I'll 'should' you right back", but still.
That depends entirely on what kind of story you're trying to tell.

If the purpose is to create an intriguing or new plot, and you're using characters from the game, then focus on the plot and its developments.

If you plan on exploring the characters themselves, then start from the baselines established in the game and work in your own direction, whether you're expanding on characters or looking at different aspects of familiar ones.
The Heir to ChaosAdded Chapter Sixteen-- 17 APR 2013
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” ~ George Orwell

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
04.28.2013 , 07:14 PM | #100
Hey everyone, you may remember back on post #36, I had the idea of an in-character prose piece that would shine light on a particular subject in the Star Wars/Old Republic canon, expanding on things that might be useful for a fan fiction writer. It was the recording of an assassin, kindly offering his expertise on how to defeat the 'undefeatable' Force-user. Well, it wasn't the only one I did, and with the formal announcement of the Cathar's upcoming release, I thought it time to post another I've been sitting on.

Back when the Cathar were announced as a playable species, one of the first things brought up were concerns about how could they work within the Sith Empire. While events have shown the Empire capable of evolving, it wouldn't explain the character's inclusion in the years prior to events in-game. Plus, you have things like the Bounty Hunter dealing with Mandalorians, who the Cathar aren't too fond of. So I wrote a piece providing insight into the mind of a Cathar at the time of the Treaty of Coruscant, espousing the relevance of the 'individual' in a galaxy of collectives.



The Self Realized Cathar

Spoiler
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