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 Post subject: Writing fiction
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:45 pm 
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Location: Sheffields
Who's writing fiction? Who's written some already?

I've wanted to write fiction since I was about 17, but I've always felt too overwhelmed by the enormity of a novel to get started. There's an opening scene that's been in my head for a few years and never gone anywhere.

Then yesterday I was sitting in the bath and realised that I could just start writing and see what happens. So I've been writing this opening chapter. I've got about 2,000 words down.

Specifically, I've realised that you don't really need to have ideas and then start writing. You can start writing and then have ideas.

I dunno whether this will go anywhere - I mean, I'd never have done this if I'd been at work this week - but it feels good.

Some of you must have done this, Anorak. Come on, share up. I want tips!

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 Post subject: Re: Writing fiction
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:24 pm 
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I really enjoyed creative writing when I was little, but it's always been apparent to me I don't have the attention span to write a novel.

Some years ago, I decided to write a series of short stories. They weren't very good, but they weren't really meant to be. Here is the shortest:

Quote:
Sarah the Panda

Sarah was a panda; of this, she was quite sure. Her parents were less convinced; to them, she looked like a perfectly normal seven-year old human. There was no history of panda on Father's side and no history of panda on Mother's side, but Sarah remained adamant - she was a large, furry, monochrome bear trapped in a small girl's body.

At school, she would sit on her own in the playground and eat leaves. She never said very much.

By the time she was thirteen, Sarah's peers had beaten some sense into her. She grew up to become an administrator.

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 Post subject: Re: Writing fiction
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:44 pm 
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You may want to write some sort of 'storyboard' first with the general outlines of your story, and a short biography for all your characters, including the relationships between them. Even if you don't end up using it in your story, it may be helpful for yourself to get a realistic feel of who they are, where they come from and why they behave a certain way. And it's fun to do! While you're at it, research the times and places your story is set in, so you can get ideas and a feeling for relevant details that will colour your story.

We have 4 big pinboards hanging on the wall with notes pinned to them, indicating in big lines what's going to happen when, where and how. Then the actual writing is supposed to be going to connect those points.

It sounds like fun! The real trick is to just sit down and do it, isn't it? But the actual sitting down is often the hard part of course, especially on days when you don't feel inspired. Good luck, Pete!

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 Post subject: Re: Writing fiction
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:28 pm 
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I was recently having a rummage in my wardrobe and found a screenplay I started (and aborted after about ten pages) when I was about 19 in 1994. It was exactly the same premise as Human Traffic, but had vespas in it instead of cars. I even had a Danny Dyer type character and a John Simm one too. Maybe I should've sued.

I don't have any tips Pete, sorry. The screenplay was cringingly awful.

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 Post subject: Re: Writing fiction
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:23 pm 
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Whenever I try to write a story, I can never get beyond a few paragraphs. So I chop it around a bit until it rhymes and then I have a song.

BEHIND THE MUSIC.


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 Post subject: Re: Writing fiction
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:53 pm 
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I used to write a lot to no great end and I spent 12 months putting together the storyline and character studies for a comic that I never got around to (it was the nineties, there were a lot of all too apparent nods to tarantino, john woo, watchmen, riot grrrl, it was super zeitgeisty... it was about zombies too, I would have been so ahead of the game if I'd done something about it) but there were some ideas/characters I still think about and sometimes think I might develop but never do

I've had an idea for one story in the last year or so (the title is a peach) but like so much else never take it any further- who else would want to read it?- that's my hang up, the fear that what I'm really doing is being incredibly self-indulgent and vain all weighed down by a heavy heavy sense of low self esteem and hyper self criticism, I'm so self-conscious, it really is adorable/icky... and also not a recipe for being at all productive

it's a fucker

maybe one day I'll squeeze something out and then get to polishing it

I did a lot of writing for my degree (illustration), writing was quite important with that, the way words and images relate, create connections that aren't always apparent when you combine them, until after, until it's all on the page, images and words pinging off one another

I should write for fun but I always have that vain glorious 'someday people will read this' thing going on in my head which means I clam up and don't do anything

I guess, pete, the recipe to success is don't be a sadsack prick like me, then glory will surely come your way

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 Post subject: Re: Writing fiction
PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 12:20 am 
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I think to be helpful I'd endorse eveything that dennis has said (seems entirely sensible/motivating to me) and to find a system that works for how your particular brain works- for some sketching out the story might be the easiest place to start and while you do that maybe keep a check on the particular themes you're writing about so that the germ of your idea for the story threads throughout, not everything you write needs to be included but will help you on your way (things like character studies and how characters relate to one another) and then once you've got that down you can work on the style of writing and honing and revising how you write... raymond queneau's 'exercises in style' often gets cited for that

but you may be somebody who can just write and write and the ideas fall onto the page... that you write lyrics and music would seem to me to be a huge benefit

and, I guess, ultimately you need to enjoy it... any creative endevour, it would seem to me, should have a basis in the pleasure and investigation/practice of being creative

this may all be just me being a huge great perfumed ponce, mind

the other piece of advice I've been given is don't try to include every idea you've ever had in what you're writing, you'll get bogged down very quick... well, I know I did/have

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 Post subject: Re: Writing fiction
PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:58 am 
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I know nothing about writing but wouldn't the best place to start be short stories rather than a novel? Most of the writers I'm familiar with (which are science fiction so I don't know if this could apply to writing in general - I very rarely read any other type of fiction) tend to start with short stories, often linked being in the same universe with the same characters. And quite often their first novel will be a rewrite of one or more of their short stories so it doesn't mean that your ideas would be wasted but would give you a chance to practise on something a bit smaller first.

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 Post subject: Re: Writing fiction
PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:10 am 
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Pete, I know someone who has just had her first novel published by Harper Collins. She says they told her to write the first three chapters and then see where you are. And then take it to a publishing house and become a millionaire.

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 Post subject: Re: Writing fiction
PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:02 pm 
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This is all good. Ta, you lot. x

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 Post subject: Re: Writing fiction
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:23 pm 
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My friend had her book about acid folk published about two years ago. And now she has finished her first novel, the first part of a trilogy ( be strange if it was the second or third part ), and sent it off to various publishers. That was about two months ago and she's heard nothing so even if you're a published author it's not easy to get your work into Waterstones.

Another friend has had short stories and a novel published. But it took him ages to complete anything. You really have to stick at it. I've tried writing a novel several times but lacked the commitment. I've written a few short stories instead.

I'm burdened with a published uncle, he's an expert on Jack the Ripper and has had numerous books published mainly about infamous murderers, who has chosen the factual route rather than the fictional one because he lacks imagination to be a novelist. I worry I've inherited a parched imagination too and it rather stymies me. Another problem is that I'm so lazy, a part of my character I detest.

Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Writing fiction
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:53 pm 
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I'm one term into an MA in scriptwriting, it's TERRIFIC fun but the main piece of advice every single one of the many many many many books I've read about it, and the lectures we've had, is thus: JUST SIT DOWN AND DO IT. Everything else - backstory, arcs, character motivation etc etc etc is all there for when you've DONE that particular bit.

So it sounds like you're doing it right. That's four grand you've saved right there!


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