April 02, 2020, 05:12:58 PM

Author Topic: The first words... How to start...How to plan?  (Read 6097 times)

Offline Yuan François

  • Godling
  • **
  • Posts: 262
  • Total likes: 0
  • Gender: Male
  • Love is a sweet poison, but it kills nevertheless.
    • View Profile
The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« on: July 08, 2013, 03:57:27 AM »
I'm a new member of this Forum. I'm a young author, and I have a lot to learn. I have an aspiration to write a novel, and am basically at the bottom of the writing pyramid; the "wanna-be's."

I've been told that I'm a talented writer, excelling over others at my age. However, I can't seem to organize my ideas to put on paper. I am a perfectionist, and it seems that every sentence I write is insufficient.

I struggle to connect the fragments of the fictional world I wish to create. I find myself tearing out leaves and leaves, or deleting paragraph after paragraph on Microsoft Word.

It seems my mind is too crowded, since I cannot properly develop the plot. I think about the end of the novel before I begin. I reminisce on the thoughts of the best moments that would take place in my novel. I'm eager to start writing those moments, but grow weary writing the sections before the thrill, or the advancement of the plot.

My questions are:

1. How can I properly develop and organize my thoughts, so as to create the ideal world in which the ideal characters divulge in?
2. I seem to lose interest after the few paragraphs that mark the beginning of the novel, should I start with a bang? Should every chapter be thrilling?
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 04:00:30 AM by Inextremis »
"It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."
-Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

http://enygmatickid.wordpress.com/

https://princeandprodigy.wordpress.com/

Offline Doctor_Chill

  • RPG Ringleader and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ta'veren
  • **
  • Posts: 3700
  • Total likes: 776
  • Gender: Male
  • You've been pugged.
    • View Profile
    • Acerbic Writing
Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2013, 04:58:56 AM »
I'll give you a word of advice, as a young writer myself. Being an artist is the most depressing job (save law work, which I plan on going into) that a person can have as a career. We like to focus on the bright shiny spots, but reality makes us understand there will be lows, in the pacing as is your case.

I'm having this trouble right now, trying to push on with the chapters I like to call "character development."

My advice for #1 would be to plot a rough outline. I know quite a few writers disagree with this, rather wanting to pants their way forward for a little bit, feel the wind in their hair. But I assure you, if you have the exciting parts already in your head, place them down in order. Then move away, think on it for a while, and place more exciting parts in between. Few at a time will be enough. You don't have to do the whole novel before writing, just enough to where you feel "safe" and "comfortable" continuing on.

As for #2, I always start out a chapter with a scene that sticks in my head, usually stating the outside descriptions, then carefully moving into the action, if there is any; or start with dialogue. I've heard people like it. :P

Hope this helps. If not, I can further with other questions you might have. Always happy to help a fellow young writer. :)
“It’s a dangerous thing, pretense. A man ought to know who he is, even if he isn’t proud to be it.” - Tomorrow the Killing, Daniel Polansky

Offline DjangoWexler

Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2013, 05:50:49 AM »
Basically, in order to write a novel, you will have to defeat your perfectionist tendencies.  Perfectionism is an asset in many areas, but not in long-form fiction.  You have to stop thinking in terms of "ideals" and just get something, anything down on paper.  (Or in Word.)  Pick your starting point, start writing, and don't delete and redo anything, ever, until you finish a draft.  Repeat the mantra "I can always fix it in the next draft." 

The Thousand Names -- released July 2!
http://djangowexler.com/book-info/

Offline Yuan François

  • Godling
  • **
  • Posts: 262
  • Total likes: 0
  • Gender: Male
  • Love is a sweet poison, but it kills nevertheless.
    • View Profile
Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2013, 06:45:59 AM »
I'll give you a word of advice, as a young writer myself. Being an artist is the most depressing job (save law work, which I plan on going into) that a person can have as a career. We like to focus on the bright shiny spots, but reality makes us understand there will be lows, in the pacing as is your case.

I'm having this trouble right now, trying to push on with the chapters I like to call "character development."

My advice for #1 would be to plot a rough outline. I know quite a few writers disagree with this, rather wanting to pants their way forward for a little bit, feel the wind in their hair. But I assure you, if you have the exciting parts already in your head, place them down in order. Then move away, think on it for a while, and place more exciting parts in between. Few at a time will be enough. You don't have to do the whole novel before writing, just enough to where you feel "safe" and "comfortable" continuing on.

As for #2, I always start out a chapter with a scene that sticks in my head, usually stating the outside descriptions, then carefully moving into the action, if there is any; or start with dialogue. I've heard people like it. :P

Hope this helps. If not, I can further with other questions you might have. Always happy to help a fellow young writer. :)
Thank you, this did help. Is it also a natural thing for the plot to undergo major changes after little thought or a sudden revelation? Is it healthy? Will I ever reach the point of satisfaction?
"It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."
-Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

http://enygmatickid.wordpress.com/

https://princeandprodigy.wordpress.com/

Offline Yuan François

  • Godling
  • **
  • Posts: 262
  • Total likes: 0
  • Gender: Male
  • Love is a sweet poison, but it kills nevertheless.
    • View Profile
Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2013, 06:50:02 AM »
Basically, in order to write a novel, you will have to defeat your perfectionist tendencies.  Perfectionism is an asset in many areas, but not in long-form fiction.  You have to stop thinking in terms of "ideals" and just get something, anything down on paper.  (Or in Word.)  Pick your starting point, start writing, and don't delete and redo anything, ever, until you finish a draft.  Repeat the mantra "I can always fix it in the next draft."

I guess I may have to. Do I have to know my book inside-out before I begin it? Because I find that I create an effective course in the plot when I am a midst writing, and not as a thought beforehand.
 
"It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."
-Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

http://enygmatickid.wordpress.com/

https://princeandprodigy.wordpress.com/

Offline AnneLyle

Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2013, 06:52:05 AM »
I've been told that I'm a talented writer, excelling over others at my age. However, I can't seem to organize my ideas to put on paper. I am a perfectionist, and it seems that every sentence I write is insufficient.

This is something you are going to have to unlearn. It takes time, young Padawan :)

Very few writers get every sentence right the first time. I know I don't! The good news is that it gets better with practice, but right now you need to heed the words of podcaster Mur Lafferty: "You are allowed to suck".

It seems my mind is too crowded, since I cannot properly develop the plot. I think about the end of the novel before I begin. I reminisce on the thoughts of the best moments that would take place in my novel. I'm eager to start writing those moments, but grow weary writing the sections before the thrill, or the advancement of the plot.

We all do - and it's great that you have lots of ideas, particularly the ending. Knowing the ending of the book is a great way to ensure you stay on track with the plot. I always try to have my ending worked out before I start a book, even though it will probably change a bit by the time I get there.

However if you really want to be a writer, you have to have the self-discipline to write past those initial bursts of inspiration. Writing a novel isn't a sprint, it's a marathon, and you need to build up stamina.

If you find it too frustrating, you might want to try writing a few short stories instead. That way you get the satisfaction of finishing a project without having to spend months or years (I'm not kidding!) on it. Short stories won't teach you how to write a novel, but they might help you with improving your prose.

1. How can I properly develop and organize my thoughts, so as to create the ideal world in which the ideal characters divulge in?

If you already have ideas for scenes scattered throughout the book, I suggest you learn how to outline. As a good general introduction, I'd recommend "Plot and Structure" by James Scott Bell:

http://jamesscottbell.com/styled-7/styled-8/index.html

Or for just 99c you can get Holly Lisle's Professional Plot Outline Mini-Course:

http://howtothinksideways.com/shop/holly-lisles-professional-plot-outline-mini-course/

(Holly is the teacher whose courses helped me revise my wreck of a first draft into a published, award-nominated first novel!)

[BTW, "divulge" means "to give away a secret" - take care using words you're not familiar with!)

2. I seem to lose interest after the few paragraphs that mark the beginning of the novel, should I start with a bang? Should every chapter be thrilling?

Every chapter should be interesting, but they only need to be "thrilling" if that's the kind of book you're writing. In any case, first you need to focus on getting the story down on paper!

As an exercise, take a couple of favourite books that you'd like yours to be similar to, and re-read them as a writer. How do they structure each chapter? How do the chapters link together - is there a cliffhanger that makes you want to read on, or do they use the chapter break to switch to a different character's point of view? Reading about different techniques will help you with this, hence the suggested materials above. Check out your local library - I learnt a huge amount from the how-to-write books in the reference section.
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline AnneLyle

Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2013, 06:58:17 AM »
I guess I may have to. Do I have to know my book inside-out before I begin it?

Goodness me, no! The book I suggested describes several different approaches to plotting, from "seat of the pants" (basically making it up as you go along) to full-on detailed outline of every chapter. Every writer is different, so you need to try different methods and find out what works for you.

Because I find that I create an effective course in the plot when I am a midst writing, and not as a thought beforehand. 

My last novel (see signature) started as a 600-word synopsis for my editor which was basically just the beginning and end with some hand-waving in the middle! I knew several of the plot points I needed to hit, so I just started with the first one and wrote blind until I reached the next one, and so on.

The opening scene was written quite late on in the process, once I'd figured out how I wanted the book to start...
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 06:59:50 AM by AnneLyle »
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Yuan François

  • Godling
  • **
  • Posts: 262
  • Total likes: 0
  • Gender: Male
  • Love is a sweet poison, but it kills nevertheless.
    • View Profile
Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2013, 07:04:43 AM »



Every chapter should be interesting, but they only need to be "thrilling" if that's the kind of book you're writing. In any case, first you need to focus on getting the story down on paper!

As an exercise, take a couple of favourite books that you'd like yours to be similar to, and re-read them as a writer. How do they structure each chapter? How do the chapters link together - is there a cliffhanger that makes you want to read on, or do they use the chapter break to switch to a different character's point of view? Reading about different techniques will help you with this, hence the suggested materials above. Check out your local library - I learnt a huge amount from the how-to-write books in the reference section.

Thank you, and I will try this.
THANK YOU :)

Quote
[BTW, "divulge" means "to give away a secret" - take care using words you're not familiar with!)
Silly me. :-[  it seemed I meant to say, "reveal, make known to self, discover." I thought that's what 'divulge' meant. 
"It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."
-Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

http://enygmatickid.wordpress.com/

https://princeandprodigy.wordpress.com/

Offline Yuan François

  • Godling
  • **
  • Posts: 262
  • Total likes: 0
  • Gender: Male
  • Love is a sweet poison, but it kills nevertheless.
    • View Profile
Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2013, 07:07:13 AM »
I guess I may have to. Do I have to know my book inside-out before I begin it?

Goodness me, no! The book I suggested describes several different approaches to plotting, from "seat of the pants" (basically making it up as you go along) to full-on detailed outline of every chapter. Every writer is different, so you need to try different methods and find out what works for you.

Because I find that I create an effective course in the plot when I am a midst writing, and not as a thought beforehand. 

My last novel (see signature) started as a 600-word synopsis for my editor which was basically just the beginning and end with some hand-waving in the middle! I knew several of the plot points I needed to hit, so I just started with the first one and wrote blind until I reached the next one, and so on.

The opening scene was written quite late on in the process, once I'd figured out how I wanted the book to start...
Thanks, Ill be sure to check out the books you suggested. I'm a step closer to my goal.
"It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."
-Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

http://enygmatickid.wordpress.com/

https://princeandprodigy.wordpress.com/

Offline Snikt5

Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2013, 08:50:15 AM »
Some really helpful advice on here.

Personally, my two biggest problems were getting past the initial start and then the editing.

In terms of where to start I can only tell you what I did with my novel and that was to pick the scene that you have in your head, get it down on paper and roll with it. Don't worry if it is not perfect, just get it down. It will make you familiar with the characters you are trying to right. There is no point editing it as it will change by the end of the novel anyway (once you have a holistic view of the story.)

Just get that scene down and then sit back and think, "how did the characters get to this point and what happens next?" In my experience, that scene ended up being Chapter 7 of 29. By the time I edited the novel, Chapter 7 was hardly recognisable from that first draft.

Just write it down and then go from there. There is no point perfecting anything at this stage. Wait until you have a finished draft to try and perfect anything.

Offline sennydreadful

  • Ambient Mage
  • ****
  • Posts: 413
  • Total likes: 248
  • Gender: Female
  • Fantasy Writer and X-Box Obsessive
    • View Profile
    • sennydreadful.com
Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2013, 01:03:12 PM »
Basically, in order to write a novel, you will have to defeat your perfectionist tendencies.  Perfectionism is an asset in many areas, but not in long-form fiction.  You have to stop thinking in terms of "ideals" and just get something, anything down on paper.  (Or in Word.)  Pick your starting point, start writing, and don't delete and redo anything, ever, until you finish a draft.  Repeat the mantra "I can always fix it in the next draft."

All of this! Agonizing over every word slows you down, and your first draft (your vomit draft, a term which pleases me) never has to be perfect. It doesn't suit everyone, but I would recommend giving National Novel Writing Month a go - 50,000 words in a month, no editing, no excuses. It really helped me when I first started writing: it taught me discipline, and the courage to embrace a draft with lots of lovely mistakes.
The Copper Promise

http://sennydreadful.co.uk/

Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2013, 02:22:53 PM »
Every writer finds the approach to writing that works for them, and certainly there are writers who swear by meticulous planning, but if that approach is giving you problems, maybe it's time to try another method.  As an exercise, you could try just sitting down and writing a short piece for an hour (or some similar length).  Get someone to give you prompts, perhaps, and just practice writing with no planning and no thought.  A lot of what comes out may well be crap, but that doesn't matter - the object is to get you used to switching off your inner editor while you're putting down your first ideas.  You wouldn't necessarily write your novel quite so blindly, but it can help you get a happy medium.

Even more than most parts, it doesn't matter at all if your beginning sucks in the first draft.  Most of us end up heavily rewriting the first chapter or so, because everything's different once you know all the nuances of where the story's going.

Offline AnneLyle

Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2013, 03:59:14 PM »
It doesn't suit everyone, but I would recommend giving National Novel Writing Month a go - 50,000 words in a month, no editing, no excuses. It really helped me when I first started writing: it taught me discipline, and the courage to embrace a draft with lots of lovely mistakes.

Seconded - NaNoWriMo was got me from a box full of unfinished novels (I used to write everything in longhand!) to a completed first draft. It was rubbish, but I kept two scenes and rewrote the book around them.

If it helps, think of your first draft as your planning - you're getting your ideas out of your head and onto the paper where you can organise them better. No-one worries about writing deathless prose for an outline or synopsis, so why worry about a draft that does the same job?
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Mordekai

Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2013, 05:15:05 PM »
It doesn't suit everyone, but I would recommend giving National Novel Writing Month a go - 50,000 words in a month, no editing, no excuses. It really helped me when I first started writing: it taught me discipline, and the courage to embrace a draft with lots of lovely mistakes.

Seconded - NaNoWriMo was got me from a box full of unfinished novels (I used to write everything in longhand!) to a completed first draft. It was rubbish, but I kept two scenes and rewrote the book around them.

If it helps, think of your first draft as your planning - you're getting your ideas out of your head and onto the paper where you can organise them better. No-one worries about writing deathless prose for an outline or synopsis, so why worry about a draft that does the same job?

This is what I've just done.

My entire book was a first draft. As soon as I twigged that, it was like realising that I'd been carrying this huge weight and hadnt even realised, until it lifted.

I'd ploughed through 100+000 words, got to nearly the end and thought...
"You know what... I could tell this story much better than I am doing..."

And have decided to do just that. I'm simplifying, I'm finding better words and phrases to describe everything, and I'm enjoying it a lot more, because I am free to explore the language now that I've already written the story.

My new philosophy is simple: Write the story, THEN tell it!

Offline Yuan François

  • Godling
  • **
  • Posts: 262
  • Total likes: 0
  • Gender: Male
  • Love is a sweet poison, but it kills nevertheless.
    • View Profile
Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2013, 05:26:34 PM »
My new philosophy is simple: Write the story, THEN tell it!

Bright Idea. :D
"It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."
-Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

http://enygmatickid.wordpress.com/

https://princeandprodigy.wordpress.com/