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Writing a book

Discussion in 'The Arts' started by Nimos, Aug 11, 2022.

  1. Nimos

    Nimos Well-Known Member

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    Now that the clickbait is out of the way :D

    I am in fact in the process of writing a fiction book, at the moment purely for my own entertainment, there is some extremely calming and meditative about it, making up all these stuff and characters and world etc. is very fun and gets you thinking.

    I know that there are some people here that like to write, and is not something I have really done myself, and wouldn't consider myself good at it either. Also, I have always been fairly bad at spelling, even in Danish, if it weren't for google, it wouldn't be pretty :D

    But spelling can be solved, either with a program that seems to be rather good at reducing the number of errors one makes or someone else could do it.

    Then there is the writing part, which is the interesting part I think because often we will hear someone say "That person is an amazing writer". But in the end, isn't writing simply to direct the flow of a story sort of like producing a movie? But the characters, plot, descriptions etc. one doesn't need to be good at writing to do, but rather be creative.

    As an example:

    Its round shape flew majestically through the air like a meteor through the atmosphere.

    Or we could simply write

    The ball flew through the air.

    If we assume!! that the first sentence was good writing!, anyone despite how good they are at writing, could with pure creativity or imagination come up with such a sentence, regardless of how good they are at spelling as it is formed in your head anyway.

    And obviously, the other part is the direction of the story itself, meaning that things make sense, and are told in an interesting and correct order.


    Would be interested to hear from people that enjoy writing or know more about it than I do, is my assumption completely wrong?
     
    #1 Nimos, Aug 11, 2022
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2022
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  2. Heyo

    Heyo Veteran Member

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    I can do the "keeping things chronological and logical", some creativity and while I'm not that good with words, I at least am able to describe a situation so that people know what is in my mind.
    What I'm not good at is managing believable characters. That's why I don't write stories, I write scenarios for role playing. I create the world and keep the action going, the players are there to do what I'm not so good at.

    Have you ever played D&D or another RPG? Have you mastered? It's almost like writing, at least it's a good practice run.
     
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  3. icehorse

    icehorse Veteran Member
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    A couple of thoughts:

    - fresh plots are rare, most books tweak plots from a small collection of well known plots. So if you have a fresh plot, that's great, but not necessary. But you ought to learn a little bit about common plots. For example "the hero's journey" is very common, and it has a structure. You should be aware of it, even if you're going to diverge from it.

    - you need to create emotional responses for your readers. If your writing is an emotional flatline, it probably won't resonate with your readers. I'd recommend a small book called "Save the Cat". It's about how to write screen plays, but I think it's great for all writers. As an aside, the title comes from a common strategy in screen plays: when we first see a hero, we learn they're a good person because they do something kind, like rescuing a cat from a tree. The reader is not told directly that this character is good, it's demonstrated.

    - learn about the various ways to accomplish exposition. In other words, you need to find interesting ways to expose plot details and context. The old "a long time ago, in a universe far away" approach usually doesn't work well.

    - devote a lot of words to character development. They don't have to all come at once.

    - My favorite writers have distinct approaches to crafting their sentences. Hemingway is the opposite of Nick Harkaway, but I love them both. I guess the thought here is that there is no one correct way to construct sentences.

    - Stephen King advices writers to set a daily word count goal and stick to it. Maybe it's only 300 or 500 words a day, that's okay.

    And finally, read a LOT of good books of different styles :)
     
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  4. Nimos

    Nimos Well-Known Member

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    I grew up with it, I don't do it anymore, but I used to play lots of D&D and Warhammer roleplaying. But when we played, the stories were just made up on the fly, so it wasn't like the dungeon master would write a campaign or anything, I would call it casual roleplaying.

    The way I do, with the one I'm writing now, and again having no experience with it, I simply do it how I enjoy it. :)
    But I spend a lot of time thinking it out in my head, like key things, situations, or conflicts that could be interesting or if I have a character, what will make them interesting or different, conflicts, strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. and a lot of the times it ain't necessarily connected to anything at the moment in the story or I might use it for creating a third character etc. So it's not very structured.

    I also like exploring how different cultures might be because I think that is interesting, especially if there are things that conflict with our standard moral values today. For instance, slavery, convicting someone without evidence, etc., and turning them into something natural or expected in a world, where a police force might not be present or that is simply acceptable in such a culture because that is how they do it for whatever reason.

    But in general, I think roleplaying games are very good for training creativity and agree that it is basically the exact same idea. You are trying to tell an interesting interactive story to a small audience :)
     
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  5. Nimos

    Nimos Well-Known Member

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    It won't be a fresh plot and I have watched a bit of stuff about writing, one of them being about the "the hero journey" There are some very good videos around, both in regards to screenplay writing and just traditional stories.

    From the same videos, I watch one about that and how you have to make it so people can connect with the main character, I did somehow think it was a given, to be honest. But there are a lot of good tips.

    Dammit!! that is how my story begins :D

    The problem is I don't really work like that :(

    If I get hooked on something like this, I can almost do it non-stop and therefore tend to run myself dry instead, so I probably see it more as a flaw, to be honest.

    But my plan is to just write it out not caring to much about whether it is written well or not, but simply to get it fleshed out. Because at least to me, it seems like you can spend a lot of time fiddling with sentences and how to write them well, and then two pages later, you end in a situation where it might make more sense to add it, and then you have to ruin what you already wrote or somehow move it. Again not sure if that is the right way to do it, but it seems more natural to me? Also as your story evolves your character might change slightly because you got better ideas, maybe something didn't really work and then you have to go back and change stuff anyway etc. And then when it's fleshed out and poorly written, I imagine going through it again and spending much more time making sure that it flows correctly and reads interestingly.
    I also try to make comments at certain key events as well, for instance, if the main character learns something important about another character or simply when they first encounter them the first time so that if I need to change something or I'm not 100% exactly what they learned about them, I can quickly go back and check it or change it on the fly. So it's a bit back and forth, but at least for now, it seems to work :D

    This might be my biggest flaw, I don't read a lot of books, I have read Lord of the rings, the bible, and one other book I think :D

    I like listening to debates and discussions and interviews as mentioned above and then based on that just jump in and try it out. Again, it's for personal entertainment I'm doing it and I doubt it will ever be more than that. So I'm not thriving towards becoming a published writer or anything.

    But I enjoy talking about creative stuff, whether it's art(some of it, very picky about it), music, movies(especially), or books (the few I have read :D).

    If you like writing yourself, which I assume given you seem to know more about than me :D You might find this one interesting it's very long so can watch it in bits:

     
  6. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue Twilight, not bright nor dark, good nor bad.

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    You could merge it...



    The ball flew majestically through the air like a meteor through the atmosphere
    .

    The beauty of writing is the brainstorming and choosing variations for the narrative.

    Best of luck!
     
  7. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    I have never tried creative writing but, as a reader, I am somewhat intrigued by what makes good writing different from bad writing. For instance I've just read a brilliantly well-written novel by Sarah Perry called "The Essex Serpent".....and I've just given up halfway through a really badly written detective story by PD James called "The Private Patient".

    What's the difference? In the latter case I didn't believe in the characters. They seemed cardboard stereotypes of a rather unbelievable kind. The sort of thing Dan Brown might write. In the former case they really came alive, with little surprises and revelations that made them unique, real and interesting.

    But your example is of descriptive writing and this varies hugely. There is a temptation to "overwrite", filling paragraphs with excess purple prose. One needs to sense when enough is enough, but also to give the reader sufficient to form a mental image of the scene, and to do so in a way that creates the mood that the writer intends the reader to feel at that point. Sarah Perry can do that in a very ingenious way. PD James is very clunky by comparison.
     
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  8. It Aint Necessarily So

    It Aint Necessarily So Well-Known Member
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    I hope you don't mind a little constructive criticism.

    Do you really consider that first sentence well written? Do balls fly majestically? What would a flying ball that is not majestic look like and be called instead? If you don't have an answer, you can see the problem. If you want an adverb to modify flew, pick an adverb that adds information, like speedily or erratically - something where the opposite might have been true but wasn't.

    And isn't through the atmosphere a bit redundant after through the air? Maybe the round shape was a meteor.
     
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  9. Nimos

    Nimos Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, actually thought about writing it as you did as well. But it was merely to demonstrate the main point, that if you don't have creativity, it's sort of impossible to be a good writer I think. Because a person lacking this, again, assuming that the sentence is good writing, would never think of that in the first place.

    But a person which is creative or has a lot of imagination can turn a generic situation, like that of throwing a ball, into sounding more interesting than it really is, if that makes sense? simply in their head without having to write it down. So maybe those people that we think of as good writers are simply exceptionally good at this compared to others.

    Sort of like how some people are simply better at drawing and better at capturing the shapes and expressing things through a drawing than others are even though we can all take a pencil and start drawing and then it looks like crap when we are done :D

    Obviously, there is also a lot of practice involved in it and one could imagine that spending some time on symbolism could be useful as well.
     
  10. Nimos

    Nimos Well-Known Member

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    That's a good point, knowing when something is enough basically if I understand you correctly? Because I agree, to use my own example, "The ball flew through the air" might be better in a lot of situations, as it describes exactly what is happening.

    I completely agree, that if the character of a movie or a book, is not interesting or likable, then I don't think we care too much about them or their story. I can only say that it was exactly how I felt about the characters in the Disney Star wars movies, I didn't care about them.
     
  11. Nimos

    Nimos Well-Known Member

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    As I wrote... "If we assume.." it was just a quick example of making up some random stuff, it was not meant to be a fantastic sentence :D
     
  12. Ella S.

    Ella S. Existentialist Anarchist

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    I will say that, for me, neither sentence is better than another in a vacuum. Remember that verbosity slows down the "pace." The former sentence conveys more of a leisurely, awe-struck tone, the second one is more matter-of-fact. Whichever one fits better depends on the context it's used in.

    In my opinion, there is no such thing as "good" and "bad" writing in an objective sense, regardless of the various standards people try to spread around. However, you can be mindful of these sorts of effects that writing has so that you can use them more intentionally.
     
  13. Nimos

    Nimos Well-Known Member

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    One of the videos I watched, was about "Showing" vs "Telling" and that in many situations it is better to show than tell if I got it right :D

    An example:

    1. She was sad.

    vs

    2. Tears ran from her eyes.

    Another one, where it is not related to a person, but the temperature:

    1. It was cold outside

    vs

    2. He wiped his nose and rubbed his hands together to warm them.

    In the first one, we tell the reader how she feels, whereas, in the second one, we show it. And at least to me, I would say that the second one is more interesting.

    And as in the first example, the behavior or action of the character allows the reader to think for themselves, that he probably wouldn't do this if it was a hot summer day.

    In general, I tend to like the 2nd way more as it seems more interesting than just being presented with facts.
     
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  14. Balthazzar

    Balthazzar Christian Evolutionist

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    Prose - it's a visual type style of poetry. I think certain genres don't require a visual element, but fiction would not be one of them. You can write the words, but enabling another to see the scene in their mind is the goal. From sight, scent, to feel, taste, and sound, the senses are utilized in this type of writing style. Some prefer it over more formal writing styles. It's immersive. I hope you do well with your book.
     
    #14 Balthazzar, Aug 11, 2022
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  15. Wildswanderer

    Wildswanderer Well-Known Member

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    Yes and no. Of course it's to direct the flow of the story so it is realistic and exciting. But you have to be good at both describing and plotting.
    I find it very hard to describe what the difference is between a good story and a great story. But one factor would be predictability. You don't want to be too predictable. But certain genres demand your story has a somewhat predictable ending. You can't write romance and have the characters go thier separate ways in the end or a mystery that never gets solved.
    I've written three books, more or less. None were ever published and the third one needs finished just to wrap up some loose ends. There's something very satisfying about getting to know your characters. It's still amazing to me that my own creations can surprise me.
     
  16. Nimos

    Nimos Well-Known Member

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    I agree, we like happy endings don't we :D

    I guess it would be a bit disappointing to read a whole book and then they never solved the murder. The only way I see this working is if it leaves the reader wondering and curious, that way you might get away with it. Meaning that it would be something that people could discuss with each other and try to kind of solve it for themselves if that makes sense?

    Exactly and its kind of funny as you write, that you start out with a character which you basically know nothing about, but as you write, you sort of creating them in your head, "They definitely wouldn't do that!!", "This would interest them". And especially with names, I use a random generator for that, I'm not good at that. But then you add names that you don't really like but are more or less just placeholders, but then after some time, it sort of becomes them, and giving them a new one seems wrong somehow.

    I like that whole thing, sort of like seeing this whole idea come to life, knowing where they walk. Now, mine is a fantasy story, so I found a program on the internet which allow you to create a map with cities, cultures etc. Really cool and you can change everything, adding new races, religions etc. So I use it to keep track of things and slowly fill in the lore. So it's fun as you write and add a location or name a forest or whatever and then go to your map and add it.

    @Heyo

    Have added you, so if you don't know it, I think you would find it really cool. :)

    Azgaar's Fantasy Map Generator
     
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  17. Nimos

    Nimos Well-Known Member

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    Forgot to ask you, have you considered self-publishing? or releasing them as an e-book? Just out of curiosity
     
  18. Wildswanderer

    Wildswanderer Well-Known Member

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    I'm considered it, but that's as far as it went. I have had one book accepted for online publication twice during the early days of internet publishing but both times the company went out of business. And it's not my best book, IMO.
    The first one was as a Western, the second was sci Fi and the third is kinda an adventure/ romance.
     
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  19. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Leaderless Animal

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    Why not write in Danish?
     
  20. Nimos

    Nimos Well-Known Member

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    I could, but I somehow prefer writing stuff like this in English, which I think is a mixture of several things. First of all, I think it's a good language for writing stuff like fantasy, it's a bit difficult to explain, but there are some "good" words. :)
    Also, I grew up with English-written roleplaying games, because they weren't translated, which I still don't think they are. So a lot of the words used in these fantasy words are not really well translated into Danish, like monster names, etc. And even Danish people today when talking about fantasy stuff will mix Danish words with English constantly. For instance, the word "Wight" doesn't have a translation in Danish, but even if they do, people would still use the English word, because that is what everyone does :D
     
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