Fringe Fiction Unlimited discussion

Story Development

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael Benavidez | 1696 comments so I've been curious about how everyone writes their longer stories, such as developing the plot, character traits, the twist (if any) at the end, etc.

I'm a bit of a short story type of writer, but this current one I'm working on is making it's way to Novella maybe novel length. With it stretching out longer than I thought, I'm constantly coming to dead ends and just obstacles that I'm not used to facing. Especially pacing.
So just curious, how do you go about constructing your story?

message 2: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1826 comments Mod
I advocate outlines. You plug in the major plotlines, subplots into a numerical list to get yourself situated and then expand upon each section.

message 3: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Pacing is a huge one, it was one of the biggest lessons I've learned in writing. I don't know if it will help you, but I'll share what works for me. I do understand where you're coming from, it took me years to move from short stories to full length books.

Make everything interactive. From the weather to the dialogue, allow all of it to interact within a scene. It did take me a while to get the hang of this, but once I did the pacing really picked up and I started writing faster as a result. So I hope it helps.

message 4: by Michael (new)

Michael Benavidez | 1696 comments i think i got something like that Courtney, not so much the listing. i do got a pocket book i carry with me with dialogue ideas and subplots and the like but i think i'll write it all down again just the same , as you said.
i think i'll go ahead and do that Lily! i know every writer's different but you never know what works until you try it out

message 5: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Best of luck! At worse, it might be a good writing exercise.

message 6: by Michael (new)

Michael Benavidez | 1696 comments thanks haha i need it! and that isn't too bad a thing, ain't nothing wrong with learning from your mistakes

message 7: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) :)

message 8: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1826 comments Mod
Yeah that's all I got for layering a story then lol

message 9: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) lol Hey, whatever works!

message 10: by Amy (new)

Amy Butcher | 46 comments In terms of the nuts and bolts, I don't know if anyone has used Scrivener, but it's software exactly for that purpose. I've been using the trial version, and I have to say I wish I had this when I was in University! (It would have made research a lot easier.)
For fiction, you can post "cue cards" on a bulletin board, so you can add and remove scenes, characters and settings in a visual way when you're brainstorming. There's a 30-day trial and I think it costs $40 to buy, so not exorbitantly expensive either.

message 11: by Michael (last edited Apr 29, 2014 10:18AM) (new)

Michael Benavidez | 1696 comments shall look into that! thank you Amy, sounds like something I need if I ever get the hang of it

message 12: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) yWriter is the same as Scrivener and it's simplier. It's also freeware.

Personally, I don't find any benefit from similar programs. Give me a blank page and my own imagination anytime. But then, I'm old school like that ;)

message 13: by Ken (last edited Apr 29, 2014 10:49AM) (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) I usually won't start a book until I have the overarching plot in my mind--where the story will end, and some things that will be needed to get there. I've heard writers say that sometimes their characters take over the story and move it in another direction; if my characters do that, I'll either make it a sub-plot, if it fits into and is relevant to the main plot, or I'll store it in my memory for use in a future novel. As far as pacing goes, this is part of the editing process. After your work is "finished" (first draft), you have to read it. If some scenes take a little too long to get to--a lull in the story--you may have to cut some things or rewrite them in a tighter fashion. If a scene seems to come up too abruptly, in a way that jars the reader instead of just being an intended surprise, you'll need to add some scenes to lead into it. I ran into the latter problem with the novel I'm currently working on, and now the added scenes add much to the story. This comes only with experience, and the way to get it is to keep writing. I started out writing short stories, and now I don't want to write anything smaller than a book -- as you can tell from this long post.

message 14: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1826 comments Mod
I used to use Scrivner! Excellent for organizing and would building :)

message 15: by Amy (new)

Amy Butcher | 46 comments There are of course a million ways to skin the cat. I've resorted to spreadsheets, software, index cards strewn around my office in a fit of despair.... all to ward off the heebie jeebies of the blank page! Ah, how I hate it.
Tip of the hat to old school methods though...

message 16: by Michael (new)

Michael Benavidez | 1696 comments really liking all this advice now to just find all my notes and organize them

message 17: by Fredösphere (new)

Fredösphere (fredosphere) Lily wrote: "Make everything interactive. From the weather to the dialogue, allow all of it to interact within a scene."

This is a really intriguing suggestion. I'm going to give it some thought. Do you strive for this in every scene? I can see it working better in some cases than in others.

For pacing, I make sure that important things are given plenty of ink, even if they are events that happen quickly and are easily described. In that case, draw it out by showing the characters reacting to its importance. Or you can spend extra time setting the scene. It's irritating when some major plot element flies by and the reader isn't given time to absorb it. Unless the author is going for an ironic effect, it's a mistake.

message 18: by Fredösphere (new)

Fredösphere (fredosphere) For shaping a long work, I outline and use Scrivener. I've tried outlining with spreadsheets and it always turned into an unwieldy mess; Scrivener solves that problem and my first novel (in progress) would not have come together without it.

I'm influenced by the Snowflake Method and the Scenes and Sequels approach described by Randy Ingermanson. For the Hollywood Formula, I read "My Story Can Beat Up Your Story" by Jeffrey Alan Schechter. All writers should learn the Formula and be prepared to adapt it to their own purposes, IMHO.

message 19: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Fredösphere wrote: "Lily wrote: "Make everything interactive. From the weather to the dialogue, allow all of it to interact within a scene."

This is a really intriguing suggestion. I'm going to give it some thought. ..."

In all fairness, I write thrillers, where pacing is most important. So, for other genres, you might want to tone it down :)

message 20: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Roberts | 616 comments I generally write out the jist of the story, list characters and their profiles, chart how the characters relate to each other, create timelines, etc.
No matter what though I end up straying from the path. My stories and characters tend to take on life of their own.

message 21: by Mark (new)

Mark Lily, that's an awesome insight about making things interactive. I love that.

Michael, I agree with what everyone said above, but don't be afraid to explore a little bit too. If this story is growing on its own, let it get a little bloated. When you need to get back on track, refer to your notes. Then, in the editing process, you can trim a lot back and find out what threads work.

message 22: by Michael (new)

Michael Benavidez | 1696 comments Mark, that's pretty much how i'm going to do it. The one thing I have learned from all of this is to be organized, though. That way I can always look back on things if need be, and such. Writing down plots and the like seem to be a major key everyone is contributing. As well as Lily's advice on interactive. Apart from that, I'm going trial and error with what feels organic and not forced. I just love hearing people share their thoughts though so it's a wonderful thing for me to see all the replies

message 23: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Fantastic thread :)

message 24: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) For me, I started with a beginning and an end. I knew exactly how the story was going to open and end, it was the middle that needed fleshing.

What I did was started with chapter ideas or what I thought might happen in a chapter. Sometimes it was just a title that developed it. From there I wrote a synopsis for what was going to happen. When I had basic plot from beginning to end written I moved to writing full summaries of the chapters.

After the summaries came to filling the gaps with actual story and dialogue.

My process is extensive though. I'm meticulous in the way I do things to flesh them out just right for me.

Just work a little at a time. If you hit a dead end sideline where you were going and explore different options to see if they work any better.

message 25: by Yolanda (new)

Yolanda Ramos (yramosseventhsentinel) I bought this book, Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks. I recommend it, it helped me a lot. I more or less knew the beginning, middle and ending of my book and just worked my way to the end. I agree with Sarah, after a while, your characters tell you where to go next. I guess I'm more of a 'pantser'

message 26: by Sara (new)

Sara Thompson (sdpogue) I'm a weird writer and can't even begin to share my process because it changes with each story.
I tried Scrivener and didn't like it. Then I tried My Writing Spot because it was the only one that was compatible with the tablet I bought my husband (someday will buy my own). It's a great set-up but the site would crash almost daily.
So I moved to using Google Drive and I love it. I can access it from any of the computers we have (I have 2 work computers, 1 home and a laptop). I can set up my documents as I like and cut and paste info if necessary. It's what works for me and as long as I can get to a computer somewhere I can access the documents when I have thoughts I want to add.

message 27: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1826 comments Mod
@ Thomas - I've been known to work my way towards the middle too.

message 28: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Story development is a lot like watching a child grow and marking on the wall how tall they are now. So you feed the child certain types of healthy food so they'll grow better and faster. But if you inject the child with steroids just to see the final result as soon as possible, you'll end up with a frankenchild.

And I believe that's the longest metaphor I've ever written.

Story structure, from what I've seen a heard, seems to vary so much per author. Me, I start with endings. If I don't have at least one possible ending in mind, I can't write the beginning.

message 29: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) @Lily, that's a good metaphor.

message 30: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Glad you enjoyed!

message 31: by Monica (new)

Monica Pierce (monicaenderlepierce) | 115 comments Hmm, I start with a log line, then figure out the absolute lowest point for my MC. Then I work forward to the end and backward to the beginning. My outlines consist of the log line and the "what happens" for every chapter. Pacing comes naturally as long as I remember that, like the whole novel, each chapter, each scene, even each sentence has a beginning, a middle, and an end. If every word isn't contributing to the whole and isn't serving at least two purposes, then it gets cut. I draft long and edit without mercy. And I work with a developmental editor as early as possible in the process.

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