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What I am learning
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RadLad



Joined: 01 Dec 2008
Posts: 466
Location: At the center of a bezeor
What I am learning  Reply with quote  

Hello! Every forum I ever visit expects a new member to make a topic exalting their presence. Instead of showboating about it, I am going to just stick it way up at the top of a serious point of discussion: writing!

I have been taking a serious stab at writing for about three weeks now. It is not easy, but that is not to say it isn't enjoyable. I am having fun, and whether or not I reach my goal of 60,000 words, I think I can walk away from this a better writer. That said, I am already learning a few things. If you force your eyeballs to look down, you can see them neatly hyphenated!

- Write every day. I only wrote two days, spread out, during the first week. My writing did not flow from one section to the next and felt forced. The last two weeks I have written a page a day. Those pages flow together much better and the story has stayed more consistent.

- Don't let anyone read your work until it is done! This is actually something I remember from past failed attempts at writing. In fact, don't even think about what someone else might say about your writing until you have a complete first draft. You don't have the confidence to go through a harsh criticisim of your work, and there will always be someone who doesn't like what you read. Finish what you are working on before showing it off, or you may give up and not finish it at all, and then how will you ever know?

- Everyone has a different experiance when writing and these rules may not apply to them. Apply your own rules and do what works best for you.

- Map out your story. I don't know how something will happen until I write it (most of the time) but I know how I want to get there and where I want it to lead me. (lesson learned in week two, after week one was spent trying to push blindly from one scene to another)

- Focus! There is a television in this room. Hide the damn remote! No, you didn't just see the shadow of a criminal lurking behind you, and no, the washer didn't just beep. Finish the damn hour, page, or chapter you promised yourself you would work on. Distractions only work to harm... oh look at the kitty!

- Speaking of cats, never let one near your lap when writing. Zeus deleted ten pages the other day when he sat on the backspace key. Lucky for him, I remembered Word has an undo button (after three hours of crying and pulling out my hair). He is now banished to the kitchen when I am working.

- Never start a list when you need to leave for work in a few minutes. They never get finished that way

If you have any other pointers I would love for you to post them here! Thank you

~RadLad
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Trying is the first step towards failure. -Homer S.
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HazelRah: Can we be zombies in your Xmess movie?? please please?
chris: k

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 7:48 am   View user's profile Send private message
Poofiemus



Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 91
Location: Education Camp--I mean, college.
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Welcome! If you introduce yourself in the Who's Who board, be sure to bring pie. Things get unpleasant if you don't.

What I've learned about first-draft writing, mostly through NaNoWriMo, is this:

--DO NOT REREAD. Just don't, okay? That's for after the first draft is done. If you reread now, you're going to try to edit the thing instead of writing. Either that, or get into reading it, then start moping about how much it sucks, and quit. So don't reread! *smacks any rereaders on the nose with a rolled up newspaper*

--When you stop for the day, do it mid-scene, and mid-sentence if possible. It helps you pick up your train of thought faster, which not only helps you get into writing more quickly, it keeps the above from looking so tempting.

--Skip the boring bits. It's easier to fill those in after you get the plot-important stuff in, and who knows? You might not even end up needing them anyway!

I also strongly agree with the "don't show anyone your first draft until it's done" rule. You're just begging for trouble if you break that one. I've realized that a lot of people don't realize just how rough a first draft really is. It seems there's this idiotic notion that writers somehow manage to spit out an almost perfect first draft that just needs typos edited out. Lord only knows how that idea got propagated; it's stupid. Anyway, all the more reason to wait until your first draft at least has its beginning, middle, and ending in place before showing it to people.
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Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:22 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
LostInWalmart



Joined: 26 Jun 2006
Posts: 1900
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speaking of distractions, I have seriously considered installing a cubicle in my basement (near the clown suit and sacks of cement) just so I have a drab, non-distracting place to write. Oh, and NO interwebs access. I also follow the shitty first draft law that allows/requires me to first produce a laughably bad product for my eyes only before moving on. So far I am excelling at this step.

B

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:44 am   View user's profile Send private message
chris
Site Admin


Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
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No argument with any of those observations from me.

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:47 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Amigo



Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 2499
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LostInWalmart wrote:
speaking of distractions, I have seriously considered installing a cubicle in my basement (near the clown suit and sacks of cement) just so I have a drab, non-distracting place to write....

B


Yeah, OK, but isn't the odor down there a tad distracting Mr. Gacy? Shocked Laughing

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:51 pm   View user's profile Send private message
RadLad



Joined: 01 Dec 2008
Posts: 466
Location: At the center of a bezeor
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Poofiemus wrote:


What I've learned about first-draft writing, mostly through NaNoWriMo, is this:

--Skip the boring bits. It's easier to fill those in after you get the plot-important stuff in, and who knows? You might not even end up needing them anyway!

I also strongly agree with the "don't show anyone your first draft until it's done" rule. You're just begging for trouble if you break that one. I've realized that a lot of people don't realize just how rough a first draft really is. It seems there's this idiotic notion that writers somehow manage to spit out an almost perfect first draft that just needs typos edited out. Lord only knows how that idea got propagated; it's stupid. Anyway, all the more reason to wait until your first draft at least has its beginning, middle, and ending in place before showing it to people.


As for the first point you made (the first one I quoted, anyways), I'm sure it is good advice, but I have trouble with it. Anytime I go back and take something out or try to insert a scene after something has been written, I feel like I'm taking a square peg and jamming it into a circle. I might just need to develop the talent to weave it in like it belongs, but I am not at that point yet. For now I'm writing strictly linear.

There are a lot of ideas people have about writers, and making a perfect first draft is just the tip of that iceberg. Since I am still taking baby steps in this arena I'm sure I am still misinformed about, but I go in understanding that I will be wrong about almost everything.
_________________
Trying is the first step towards failure. -Homer S.
_______________________
HazelRah: Can we be zombies in your Xmess movie?? please please?
chris: k

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:41 pm   View user's profile Send private message
zendao42



Joined: 05 Sep 2006
Posts: 13570
Location: Somewhere in a galaxy near you
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I used to do first drafts in my head-
this, of course, was back when my memory still worked
& I never had to write more than 5 pages anyway... Wink

It was kinda like the show-your-work thing from math class when I first heard of first drafts-
didn't get why these fuckers wanted to waste my precious time
cuz then I had to go back & make a fake one with stuff crossed out... Rolling Eyes

What were we talking about? Oh yeah, writing...

Well, I guess you know not to do 'shrooms when you have a deadline hanging over your head-
that applies to more than writing, just saying... Wink

Post Wed Dec 03, 2008 3:24 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
LostInWalmart



Joined: 26 Jun 2006
Posts: 1900
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If you skip the boring bits, wait a while before you go back and plunk something in. If you go right back in, you may still be in the same head-space. Also, please do us, your future readers and fans, a huge favor and keep the boring stuff out to begin with. Move it along.

Also, do something completely un-related (see Amy Winehouse Dream in Fan Fiction Here section) - clears the brain a bit.

B

Post Wed Dec 03, 2008 7:25 am   View user's profile Send private message
zendao42



Joined: 05 Sep 2006
Posts: 13570
Location: Somewhere in a galaxy near you
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Dude, how can you manage to sleep after those nightmares?! Shocked

Post Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:58 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
LostInWalmart



Joined: 26 Jun 2006
Posts: 1900
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it's love - what can I say?

Post Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:17 am   View user's profile Send private message
RadLad



Joined: 01 Dec 2008
Posts: 466
Location: At the center of a bezeor
Thinking To Myself By Sharing With Others  Reply with quote  

12-08-08

I was in a nice groove with my writing today, producing a nice 3,000 words, which I'm pretty sure is a record for this household. So far most of my 'chapters' are between 600-2,000 words long. I know no two chapters are created equal, but is there a general rule of thumb for chapter length? And what is the best way to end a chapter? With the end of a scene (either by location or an elapse in time) or at the start of a suspensful moment? Does each chapter need a beginning middle and an end, or can it be just middle?

I came to a point in the story today where I felt like I needed to start writing from the antagonist's point of view for a chapter. Until then I'd written soley in the first person of the protagonist. It was fun writing from the perspective of another character Smile

Final note, I was able to use a real life experiance of mine that was totally surreal and put it into a scene and I think it turned out really well. Actually experiancing it in real life (well, kind of. I stretched the truth to make it sound funnier) made it easier to write out.

~End transmission

P.S. cat snuck into the room and is trying to sneak his way, one paw at a time, onto my lap to sit on the keyboard. The trail of catnip I left leading outside has proved useless.
_________________
Trying is the first step towards failure. -Homer S.
_______________________
HazelRah: Can we be zombies in your Xmess movie?? please please?
chris: k

Post Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:40 pm   View user's profile Send private message
Poofiemus



Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 91
Location: Education Camp--I mean, college.
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Right on, dude! I haven't written anything since November 30 thanks to the evil that is Finals Week.

I don't think there is a rule of thumb for chapters, but then again I never pay attention to them when reading, much less when writing. However, I would like to point out that there apparently isn't such a thing as one that's too short if it's balanced out by other, more normal length chapters. *Points to Stupidest Angel, chapter: "So. . ."*

I love changing perspectives, perhaps a little too much. That's why I can't stick to first person. =P

Ah, pets and computer work. Let me just say, having your pet on the keyboard when writing is bad, but if you saved recently you'll be fine. Having your pet on the keyboard when you're playing World of Warcraft however. . .
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Post Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:08 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
walk



Joined: 19 Feb 2008
Posts: 3329
Location: sittin here on mah porch with dis here gun
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a formal aloha
good luck with the writing Very Happy
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my dad

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Post Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:42 pm   View user's profile Send private message
zendao42



Joined: 05 Sep 2006
Posts: 13570
Location: Somewhere in a galaxy near you
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Dude, try to keep the chapters under 20 pages-
& if you have a really short one, try to avoid mentioning your mother & fish... Wink

Post Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:39 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
chris
Site Admin


Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
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Lenth of chapters really depends on the book. I just finished reading a 400 page book with only five chapters. I don't think I'd want to deal with a block of text that long, but it worked for this author.

For myself, I'm with Zen -- keep it under or around 20 typed pages (With the font I use, it's about 300 words to the page.)

Your main unit of development, however, is the scene. And there's absolutely no rule on scenes except that they need to accomplish something -- reveal character or move the story forward. I've spit scenes over two chapters because they were starting to run on too long, and I've moved scenes (when it didn't effect the flow of the story) to flesh out a short chapter.

I think you want to try to keep your chapters in a consistent range, but don't change the story just to fit the chapters. (I think the hardest part is to get the scenes to line up with the chapters -- that is, "This chapter is only nine pages long, but this next scene will be about ten pages, so I need to end the chapter here, despite the fact that the preceeding chapters were fifteen pages long.") That said, there are no hard and fast rules. I've written three word chapters, and twenty-three page chapters -- in the same book! Chapters are there to serve the writer, not the reader. But I think that people fall into a rhythm when they're reading. For instance, if they're reading a James Patterson book, they might say to themselves, "I'm going to read three more chapters, then turn out the light." Where with a Michael Chabon book, they might say, "I'm not going to be able to finish this chapter tonight, so I'll just stop here." (Patterson tends to write 1000 word chapters, Chabon more like 12,000 words.)

Strangely enough, I find that the first chapters of a book tend to be shorter, and then they get longer toward the middle of the book, then shorter again toward the end. I don't plan it that way, it' just tends to happen that way.

If none of that helps, then all chapters should be exactly fourteen pages long. Not a word longer or shorter or it's wrong. (Some people like to have perameters. Who am I'm to deprive them of what they need?) 14 pages, bitch! Get to it.

Post Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:07 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
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