elizabeth_rice: Snoopy typing on his typewriter (Journal 2)
[personal profile] elizabeth_rice
Hello! There is still a lot I need to learn about fiction-writing, so I've come to you with a question.

What should the starting point be in a novel? Writers always say to start the story at the point where something important happens. Does this mean that the starting point should be the inciting incident?

There are other writers who suggest starting with the second major plot point. What is the second major plot point of a story? For example, in a romance. ETA: using the three-act structure as a guideline, the first turning point (signalling the end of act 1) is the point where there is a personal stake for the main character, it is the point where the outcome of the problem matters to the main character. Would this be the second major plot point? And is it advisable to start a romance story this way?

Also, would the starting point in a romance be very different from the starting point in a slice-of-life story? ETA: I mean, if the romance story doesn't start with the two main characters meeting.

The starting point in a mystery novel, or fantasy is pretty obvious. It's the romance story or a simple character piece that really confuse me.


Oct. 15th, 2009 11:49 am
ilthit: (writing)
[personal profile] ilthit
 A blog called 21st Century Geeks had this post discussing different approaches to writing sci-fi, inspired by Charles Ross' article elsewhere. I agree with 21stCG. There's room for a lot of approaches and a lot of flavours of SF out there. Do you write SF or fantasy? How do you approach those kinds of stories? 

Might veer towards off-topic as it's about television, but it is specifically about television writing and would apply to prose as well. 


Oct. 13th, 2009 07:35 am
guardian_of_hope: Take a breath, it gets better (Rose)
[personal profile] guardian_of_hope
People say to write what you know, but I've also heard that in fantasy, anything is possible.

So here's the background, in my story there are talking animals, they're created by the God and Goddess who look after that particular land, mostly just to appear wise and occasionaly offer useful advice. If I wrote what I know, there would only be dogs, cats and horses, but if I took the 'anything is possible' route, there are a variety of wild animals that I could find useful that I know little about beyond species and random facts.

Here's the question: In the 'anything is possible' version, should I take the time to research things like, say, common illnesses in birds of prey, and make the animals be close to their mortal brethern, or should I just assume that since they were created by the God and Goddess for the purpose of being sort of guides to humans such things are not a concern?

I'm not saying the animals are immortal, but they do have an extended life time, roughly from the time their human partners are thirteen until said partner dies. And they can be killed; like shot down by arrows or stabbed.


Oct. 8th, 2009 03:30 pm
ilthit: (writing)
[personal profile] ilthit
Stories need to be to the point and include nothing extra, say the experts.

I agree in most cases, though I'll also not budge in my opinion that every arguably boring scenery/walking passage in Lord of the Ring was pure gold, but then I'm a nerd. This is a very specific question though.

Mentioning a character's race: necessarily significant and generally insignificant, or not?

The argument being that if race is mentioned, it must be relevant later on, and that unless it has an effect on the plot you do not need to know the race of any particular character.

My counter-argument being that the race of the main characters are significant in the same way their gender or age or ability status are important, because it colours their experiences of the world and change the way the people in their world view them. Even if it doesn't change anything in the story, it adds its own nuance. I think it IS significant, for that reason and also because the assumed default race is so often white; leaving out the characters' race works out a lot of the time as if you're writing all-white casts, even when you're not.

This was probably covered somewhere during RaceFail '09, but I'd like to know what you think.

Edit: This post on The Magic District is relevant to this conversation!
dameboudicca: Blowing papers (Default)
[personal profile] dameboudicca
You know, that advise you get all the time. It has some truth to it (especially if not taken to literally).

But what do you do if you suffer from prosopagnosia (facial blindness), when you couldn't describe the face of someone you knew if your life depended on it even? If you are incapable of reading facial expressions (at least, if they are not really exaggerated). Does that mean you have to write stories about faceless beings who never shows the slightest hint of an expression on their faces? It would be all right if your character had the same condition, but if you don't want that...?

This is not just a question out of idle curiosity, I have these problems, and so far I have avoided it by using generic descriptions (put together from stuff I've read), but it feels a bit like cheating (no, no, not word-by-word, of course not - but still!) - and I'm terrified someone will, eventually, see through it. After all, I know it's fake!

Or, do I have no choice but to continue as I do now?

[somewhat cross-posted]
ilthit: (writing)
[personal profile] ilthit

This is rather long and I apologize for that in advance. But it's a community for talking about writing, isn't it? So there. 

After 15 years of writing, I'd say I'm definitely a writer, even if all I've published is one minor article in a local newspaper, a few reviews in a super-indie publication and tons of fanfic online. I've never really taken my writing seriously enough to try to make money off it, but I'm going for it at last this year for National Novel Writing Month. 

I know - NaNoWriMo is usually for bad writing, but it's a good excuse to really work hard every day and get a first draft done from start to finish. I have a lot of research and planning to do first, even though all I'm going to attempt is a romance novel. I figured it's got to have a better chance of being published, considering the huge percentage of the book market romance novels dominate, and from what I've seen Harlequin doesn't exactly mind "beginner" errors. 

I got a hold of some romance novels for researching the genre, though before I got them I had already got excited and begun to plot - a plot that I now see I can' t possibly use... Believe it or not, I had never before read a bona fide category romance novel. My first one was Linda Lee Guhrke, and I found it so-and-so, but having since read two others I now see that in its genre it was quite brilliant. There are very clear rules and there seems to be a formula for plot points that I intend to calculate by pagecount next. I want to do the genre justice. It's actually interesting to write such specific genre fiction, as the challenge is to make it original and still make it fit. 

I face several challenges in writing this:

- I will want to improve on the clichés, and that's a difficult balance to keep - I don't want to sound like I'm mocking the clichés the reader is likely to love. 
- I really hate the way the heroes are written. I don't find them attractive at all. I don't know how I'll be able to write one of these silly characters and still like him. 
- The man will have to be stronger and more capable than the woman, and that needs to be one of his appeals. This offends my feminist sensibilities somewhat. 
- I will have a lot of doing trying to stop myself from subverting the clichés (my first urge is to write this about a middle-aged overweight couple who are so mundane it hurts, and show the beauty of their love while they munch on industrial cookies on their tacky 80s pattern sofa).  

Pretty much the only thing I'm sure I can ace are the sex scenes, and even there I think I'll need to hold myself back a little. There's also the problem that I'm not at all used to writing novel-length fiction; I tend to peter out long before 10,000 words. The longest I've written so far was 45,000 words. 

All this makes me think I should just write the novel I want to write; it's got more of a chance to be actually finished, but pretty much zero chance of being sold, despite probably being a better book. 

What do you think I should attempt? Mundane romance (this is the idea that fires me up) or something I can actually sell? 
vanessabrooks: (Default)
[personal profile] vanessabrooks
I'm new here and wanted to say "Hello," and introduce myself. I'm a writer. (Duh). I used to say "aspiring author," but realized that was a misnomer. I might not be traditionally published, but I am an author. I am a writer. I write everyday. I'm also a mother, wife and cubicle dweller so I don't get as much writing done as I would like to get done.

All that being said, I poised this question in my blog, but decided to post it to some writing groups as well, simply to see what the thoughts and feelings of others are.

On the subject of description, how important is description to you as a reader? Do you like knowing the exact shade of brown of a character's hair? Their precise height and weight and the placement of the birthmark on their right ankle (just above the heel bone about 2 mm left)? Or do you prefer a brief description so that you can fill in the blanks and form your own picture in your mind's eye?

I am much more of the latter. I like forming an idea, and I've found that in most cases, if the character is fleshed out with sketches or even with an actor portrayal, I'm never 100% happy with the physical features. (The only exception to this has been the most excellent casting in the Harry Potter movies.)

As a writer, I'm the opposite. I will develop my character in fine-detail down to their warts. I may not write it out, not wishing to bore the reader, but it's information that I know. I'm even a big enough geek that I will spend hours on the internet looking for actors and/or models who fit the "look" that I have in mind.

Which way do you go? As a writer? As a reader?
morgia: (Default)
[personal profile] morgia
Hello !

Im new here and I just want to introduce me. Im a French Canadian, a teach at high school and I love to write. My favorite genre is detective fiction, comic fiction, Thriller and adventure fiction, Hummm, Im a french canadian so I don't know if all the genre is all right.... Hope so. My favorite author is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Albert Camus, Alexandre Dumas, Sir Conan Doyle, Stephen king (the old stephen king), Gorges Orwell, Isaac Azimov and all great and new authors I find all around my way.

If you want to friend me you are welcoming. Do you know a communauty where I can post some of my fics in English ???

This communauty look great, I have some difficulty with the end of my novel.... So maybe to chat with other writer will help me.

Have great time
lilsneak: (Default)
[personal profile] lilsneak
Well, hi.
This is my first post and I wanted to start a discussion, so I hope I'm not breaking the rules and such.

So, me and my friend got into a friendly debate [ha, that's an understatement] on whether or not a writer should have experience about the stuff he's writing. For example, how can you write about falling in love and having a boyfriend if you've experienced it before? Or, your first break-up or switching school, etc. In short, can you write about something you've never experienced before and don't know? I'm not talking about how to make a cake or play tennis....that's what research is for.

So, bbs, what is your opinion on this matter? I'd really like to know.


writers: The Writers Community (Default)
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