Writing Tips - Let's help each other not be crap.

[Insert Meme Here]

Bonjour--I mean, Buenos Diás!
kiwifarms.net
Given i can't get these stories past the 39,000 word mark I'd like to try something else, but nothing seems to be working
That's not a creative slump, that's a lack of planning and dedication. Here's a question you should ask before creating anything: what do I want the viewer to get out of this piece?

Do you want to make them sad? Do you want to make them angry? Do you want to pose an ethical question? Do you want them to laugh at a magical world of absurdity? Do you want them to watch two lovers who were torn apart get back together in the end? Do you want to tell the story of someone stuck on an island? Do you want to tell the story of a regency era's young girl's adolescence? It doesn't really matter what you want them to get, but everything else about a story is malleable and subject to whimsy--plot, characters, everything. If you don't set in with a clear goal, you'll just kind of float around with no direction, whereas if you have a goal to work toward everything else is about moving forward towards it. I've heard that every story needs an overarching theme, but I don't think you need to plan it out so specifically like that, so much as you need to go in what an idea of what you want to get out of it... if that makes sense. Overthinking is just as bad as underthinking a story.

On a more personal note, I always make my characters first, then decide on the climax (NOT the ending). I do this for two reasons: character creation is my favorite part of writing and, by knowing what the climax is, I can build events leading up to it based on how I know my characters would act in a situation (since I made them beforehand). This way, there is always some kind of forward motion I know can be made, since I'm going somewhere specific, and the ending should just be the logical events after the climax.

Your initial statement:

Lately I'm finding the only way story I can do is with the protagonist getting fired from their job and then discovering a magical realm down the block.
Sounds incredibly dull from the start. Maybe your protagonist is bland and has no real motivation, and thus isn't moving the story forward. I find the main character is often the most difficult character to create. I've seen a lot of stories with this kind of setup, where the author spends a lot of time creating an alternate world, but virtually none on the protagonist. Some try to defend it by saying the main character is a self-insert for the reader, but the main character should have a goal to strive for and a definable personality imo. I don't relate to nothing, but I can understand someone who is different from me, at least, even if they act in ways I never would.

Actually, why not just have the story start in the magical world? I often find that "normal person finds their way into magical/special world" to be very... uh... they take me out of the experience, not draw me into it. But a story that just takes place in a magical world could be interesting just by virtue of being different from real life, and I'd have to suspend my disbelief less. If there isn't a very good, specific reason for why the story starts in the "real" world, I'd say skip that part. The recent popularity of isekai stories in Japan may also result in some feelings of over-exposure with the concept.

Also, don't worry about word count. Make a complete story. Make it as short or as long as you like, but make it complete. It's like writing an essay in high school--so many don't have anything to say, but pad the word count with bullshit to fulfill a requirement. No one wants to read that. I'd rather read a shorter story that told itself than a longer one that wasted my time.
 

Crunchy Leaf

cronch
kiwifarms.net
I agree that that plot beginning sounds dull, and it's very much done. What happens once they're in this magical world? Are there adventures? Do they fall in love with an elf? Do they grapple with staying there or going back home? What's happening around the 39,000 word mark where you can't go on?

If you like that kind of story, why not write it from a different perspective--like a person or creature in the magical realm who has to deal with the regular-world person? Or a magical person gets fired from their job at the apothecary and winds up in our world.
 

8777BB5

Keep Her Sexy and Straightforward
kiwifarms.net
That's not a creative slump, that's a lack of planning and dedication. Here's a question you should ask before creating anything: what do I want the viewer to get out of this piece?

Do you want to make them sad? Do you want to make them angry? Do you want to pose an ethical question? Do you want them to laugh at a magical world of absurdity? Do you want them to watch two lovers who were torn apart get back together in the end? Do you want to tell the story of someone stuck on an island? Do you want to tell the story of a regency era's young girl's adolescence? It doesn't really matter what you want them to get, but everything else about a story is malleable and subject to whimsy--plot, characters, everything. If you don't set in with a clear goal, you'll just kind of float around with no direction, whereas if you have a goal to work toward everything else is about moving forward towards it. I've heard that every story needs an overarching theme, but I don't think you need to plan it out so specifically like that, so much as you need to go in what an idea of what you want to get out of it... if that makes sense. Overthinking is just as bad as underthinking a story.

On a more personal note, I always make my characters first, then decide on the climax (NOT the ending). I do this for two reasons: character creation is my favorite part of writing and, by knowing what the climax is, I can build events leading up to it based on how I know my characters would act in a situation (since I made them beforehand). This way, there is always some kind of forward motion I know can be made, since I'm going somewhere specific, and the ending should just be the logical events after the climax.

Your initial statement:


Sounds incredibly dull from the start. Maybe your protagonist is bland and has no real motivation, and thus isn't moving the story forward. I find the main character is often the most difficult character to create. I've seen a lot of stories with this kind of setup, where the author spends a lot of time creating an alternate world, but virtually none on the protagonist. Some try to defend it by saying the main character is a self-insert for the reader, but the main character should have a goal to strive for and a definable personality imo. I don't relate to nothing, but I can understand someone who is different from me, at least, even if they act in ways I never would.

Actually, why not just have the story start in the magical world? I often find that "normal person finds their way into magical/special world" to be very... uh... they take me out of the experience, not draw me into it. But a story that just takes place in a magical world could be interesting just by virtue of being different from real life, and I'd have to suspend my disbelief less. If there isn't a very good, specific reason for why the story starts in the "real" world, I'd say skip that part. The recent popularity of isekai stories in Japan may also result in some feelings of over-exposure with the concept.

Also, don't worry about word count. Make a complete story. Make it as short or as long as you like, but make it complete. It's like writing an essay in high school--so many don't have anything to say, but pad the word count with bullshit to fulfill a requirement. No one wants to read that. I'd rather read a shorter story that told itself than a longer one that wasted my time.
I agree that that plot beginning sounds dull, and it's very much done. What happens once they're in this magical world? Are there adventures? Do they fall in love with an elf? Do they grapple with staying there or going back home? What's happening around the 39,000 word mark where you can't go on?

If you like that kind of story, why not write it from a different perspective--like a person or creature in the magical realm who has to deal with the regular-world person? Or a magical person gets fired from their job at the apothecary and winds up in our world.
Thanks for the help guys. For the record I hate the "average person discovers magical world" plots with a passion, but got sucked into writing it due to a suggestion of a friend. Hopefully with your advice I can get back to what i want to write about
 

[Insert Meme Here]

Bonjour--I mean, Buenos Diás!
kiwifarms.net
For the record I hate the "average person discovers magical world" plots with a passion, but got sucked into writing it due to a suggestion of a friend.
Okay, so take this to heart: no one else's advice on a specific story truly matters, except maybe a copy editor. And friends and family give the absolute WORST advice. If you try to please everybody, you please nobody, and if you write a story the way someone else wants you to, then you're not writing YOUR story. You're writing someone else's half-baked idea. Would you build someone else's dream home on your property?

Write for you first, the reader second. Cuz if you're not into what you're writing, it'll show.
 

adorable bitch

laughing at you
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Hey, I'm writing a story taking place in a very fucked-up magical world that resembles our own world with some horror elements.
I'm planning for some pretty screwed-up shit to happen, and I want some advice to stay out of the realm of edgy and brooding.

I'm hoping that by making my characters generally likeable and hopeful people I can combat this? (though, throughout the course of the story their hope wavers quite a bit, with good reason.) Some good things happen to them throughout the story as well. The two main characters are also pretty flawed and some have had some pretty awful stuff happen to them in the past. One of them is a stoic.

I'm not even sure if this is a reasonable thing to be afraid of honestly. I've just been worrying about this recently for some reason.
 

[Insert Meme Here]

Bonjour--I mean, Buenos Diás!
kiwifarms.net
I'm planning for some pretty screwed-up shit to happen, and I want some advice to stay out of the realm of edgy and brooding.
Simply put, space it out and intersperse it with good or at least hopeful things. Bad things happening to characters we like causes emotional stress. Not necessarily a ton, it's a very useful tool for viewer investment, but too much of it just wears a person down to exhaustion. This is the worst thing that can happen in your story, because they'll stop caring about the characters.

It's okay to make your characters suffer. Often good, even. But if one thing after another is happening solely because you want them to suffer, that's not engaging for the reader. Most people aren't into torture porn. "Making characters miserable" also isn't a plot, and without a plot, there is no line of reason to follow why events are happening. If it just feels like bad things are happening because bad things HAVE to happen to these characters in this story, it will feel pointless, hollow, and tryhard edgy.

You know how in porn with "plot", the plot only exists to string together the sex scenes? Don't do that with scenes of fucked up shit happening. Context is key. Your characters should have a purpose in the story other than "being miserable."
 
M

MW 002

Guest
kiwifarms.net
Not sure how helpful this will be to anyone, but if you’re thinking about writing a fantasy epic then perhaps start by writing a short story or two that takes place in that universe? It should at least be helpful in that it gives you a feel as to what kind of world you’re writing.

((I’m currently doing this as I’m taking a break after finishing my first draft, which I have decided to put aside because I have some more interesting ideas in mind))
 

adorable bitch

laughing at you
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
anybody got a good resource for writing skin-tones? beige, fair and brown seem sort of boring and vague for the main characters.
 

[Insert Meme Here]

Bonjour--I mean, Buenos Diás!
kiwifarms.net
anybody got a good resource for writing skin-tones? beige, fair and brown seem sort of boring and vague for the main characters.
Question: why is this information relevant? Generally, less description is more in regards to characters unless there's some significance. And by significance, I mean plot-level significance (like in Inconegro, where skin tone actually mattered since it allowed the main character to go undiscovered.) Even things like name choice can color (ha) a person's impression of what someone will look like, and it breaks immersion for the reader to suddenly have that broken later on. You wouldn't expect a LaQueesha to be Japanese and you wouldn't expect a Jae-Hyeok to be Middle Eastern. On the other hand, names like "John" or "Maria" could be just about anything, in a given context.

But in answer to your question, avoid it, and replace it with more interesting and relevant information that hints at it if the reader absolutely MUST know what the Pantone of their skin is. Compare what the following tells you:

"I really miss mom's chorizo... no restaurant in this tiny-ass town has anything close."
"I really miss mom's haggis... no restaurant in this tiny-ass town has anything close."
"I really miss mom's kachori... no restaurant in this tiny-ass town has anything close."
"I really miss mom's hárkal... no restaurant in this tiny-ass town has anything close."
"I really miss mom's dim sum... no restaurant in this tiny-ass town has anything close."

See what information that tells you about their background just by swapping out one thing? Why hold their hand when they can form a picture of it themselves?

Don't fall into the trap of laying out information like bullet points. If you're going to describe something, find out why you're describing it. If the description is boring, it's probably boring information. But also don't be afraid of boring information; if everything was artistically described every time, then you just end up with purple prose. It's okay to let some information be basic if you have to tell something outright but it's not reasonable to guess in context.

Another method is to put it into a scenario where their skin is contrasted with another object or something, and just kind of slip it in. Something like, "Lana picked at the loose string of the tablecloth, desperately trying to find an answer for him. She wants to run away. She wants to hide. But she knows she can't, and so she takes a deep breath and fans her hand out against the white tablecloth, her fingers spread out like a melted chocolate stain."

[I know it's not art as an example, but you see the implication of darker skin for Lana here, right?] There is no absolute answer that will work, it depends on what your writing looks right. But if you're super-concerned about a character's skin and not the character's purpose, you're focusing on the wrong thing. If it's an issue born out of not knowing how to add details to things without making it boring, that's a general writing problem you need to work out. Write more, fix it later.
 

adorable bitch

laughing at you
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Question: why is this information relevant? Generally, less description is more in regards to characters unless there's some significance. And by significance, I mean plot-level significance (like in Inconegro, where skin tone actually mattered since it allowed the main character to go undiscovered.) Even things like name choice can color (ha) a person's impression of what someone will look like, and it breaks immersion for the reader to suddenly have that broken later on. You wouldn't expect a LaQueesha to be Japanese and you wouldn't expect a Jae-Hyeok to be Middle Eastern. On the other hand, names like "John" or "Maria" could be just about anything, in a given context.

But in answer to your question, avoid it, and replace it with more interesting and relevant information that hints at it if the reader absolutely MUST know what the Pantone of their skin is. Compare what the following tells you:

"I really miss mom's chorizo... no restaurant in this tiny-ass town has anything close."
"I really miss mom's haggis... no restaurant in this tiny-ass town has anything close."
"I really miss mom's kachori... no restaurant in this tiny-ass town has anything close."
"I really miss mom's hárkal... no restaurant in this tiny-ass town has anything close."
"I really miss mom's dim sum... no restaurant in this tiny-ass town has anything close."

See what information that tells you about their background just by swapping out one thing? Why hold their hand when they can form a picture of it themselves?

Don't fall into the trap of laying out information like bullet points. If you're going to describe something, find out why you're describing it. If the description is boring, it's probably boring information. But also don't be afraid of boring information; if everything was artistically described every time, then you just end up with purple prose. It's okay to let some information be basic if you have to tell something outright but it's not reasonable to guess in context.

Another method is to put it into a scenario where their skin is contrasted with another object or something, and just kind of slip it in. Something like, "Lana picked at the loose string of the tablecloth, desperately trying to find an answer for him. She wants to run away. She wants to hide. But she knows she can't, and so she takes a deep breath and fans her hand out against the white tablecloth, her fingers spread out like a melted chocolate stain."

[I know it's not art as an example, but you see the implication of darker skin for Lana here, right?] There is no absolute answer that will work, it depends on what your writing looks right. But if you're super-concerned about a character's skin and not the character's purpose, you're focusing on the wrong thing. If it's an issue born out of not knowing how to add details to things without making it boring, that's a general writing problem you need to work out. Write more, fix it later.
It's mostly because I have a strong idea of what the characters look like in my head and I want to display it in my writing. I know it's not the most important thing, and I'm not talking 5 paragraphs of prose. It's less of a matter of race and wanting the reader to imagine some of the crap I've designed. Some of the characters are also from a fantasy race. I want them to have a clear image of them in their minds, and not find out halfway in that they've been imagining the character wrong.

To be completely honest, I also really just enjoy designing characters. (though I've probably picked the wrong art-form to express that in)


Some people I know get their knickers in a twist when I use food to describe skin though, so I've been wondering what sort of words I could use. (tawny, fawn, rosy, sandy, etc)

I've also done a bit of thinking though and I think you're partially right. I believe I may be overthinking this. The human races don't really need to have their skin described all that much, and the characters I've made that come from different (familiar) cultures are pretty self-explanatory. Plus the people that bitch constantly about skin-color and race are usually stupid as shit and never satisfied by anything you do to please them. (as evidenced by this website)

edit: I also think other physical features of the character convey more information and hints to their character than skintone.
 
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M

MW 002

Guest
kiwifarms.net
Okay so I just wanted to post this and say:

If you’re ever in doubt about your ability as a writer, share a sample of your work with other people. You’d be surprised to see how others will perceive your works (good or bad).
 
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BubbleButt

Told Ya
kiwifarms.net
I've always had trouble with outlines, so my writing is mostly pantsing it.

However, that's something I would really like to change so I can actually have a throughline to finish one of my drafts someday because they just go off the rails depending on my mood.

Any good resources or outline skeletons anyone could recommend for practice?
 
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MW 002

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Just gonna spread the word about it here: https://www.curensea.com/home

If you want to dump some of your writings somewhere and have people tip you for your work, Curensea is a pretty decent platform for it. It’s not a get rich quick scheme though, but if you end up earning enough tip coins then you can actually get paid for your work.

Something to consider if it’s a side thing you want to do.
 

kinglordsupreme19

Diurnal Dominance Dispenser
kiwifarms.net
I've always had trouble with outlines, so my writing is mostly pantsing it.

However, that's something I would really like to change so I can actually have a throughline to finish one of my drafts someday because they just go off the rails depending on my mood.

Any good resources or outline skeletons anyone could recommend for practice?
The only outlining resource I've ever read isn't even one for books: it was Dan O'Bannon's guide to Screenplay Structure. It was a good read, and although I didn't quite use the three-act structure he advocated, I definitely became a lot more confident in my construction was a result.
 
M

MW 002

Guest
kiwifarms.net
Okay, if I read ONE more fantasy/Science Fiction story that has allegories to racism/transphobia/sexism/any kind of bigotry from the ebul white men, I am going to toss my laptop across the room. It doesn’t help that none of these authors really have anything new to say on the subject apart from a cheap way to see “see? Look how woke my work is” without really going out of their own comfort zone.

This is even more aggravating when it’s a dystopian. We have a lot of stuff going on in the world today that could make for an interesting dystopian if viewed in a different pair of lenses.

No seriously, there’s more interesting stuff out there to make social commentary on. Unless you have something new to say about bigotry that people either don’t bring up often/never bring up at all, find a different subject.
 

Salt Water Taffy

Only bad witches are ugly.
kiwifarms.net
Okay, if I read ONE more fantasy/Science Fiction story that has allegories to racism/transphobia/sexism/any kind of bigotry from the ebul white men, I am going to toss my laptop across the room. It doesn’t help that none of these authors really have anything new to say on the subject apart from a cheap way to see “see? Look how woke my work is” without really going out of their own comfort zone.

This is even more aggravating when it’s a dystopian. We have a lot of stuff going on in the world today that could make for an interesting dystopian if viewed in a different pair of lenses.

No seriously, there’s more interesting stuff out there to make social commentary on. Unless you have something new to say about bigotry that people either don’t bring up often/never bring up at all, find a different subject.
Going off of that it's really starting to get stale that every irredeemably evil dystopian government is basically the Nazis with a slightly different color scheme (and this has been a problem since even before Nazis became the go-to boogeyman again in the last two years or so). People who aren't creative enough to develop a new dystopian world but still want to write a dystopia just cut and paste Nazis and give them space zeppelins (oh hi First Order). Putting a stamp that says "Nazi" on your dystopian gvt's forehead is the author's shortcut to say "YOU AREN'T SUPPOSED TO LIKE OR AGREE WITH THESE PEOPLE" with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and they think that the audience will automatically like the protagonists because they're punching Nazis. First off, if your characters are boring, most people aren't going to immediately like them just because they punch Nazis (except for a very niche market of Antifa people). Second, a dystopian government that was simply cut and paste from a historical government isn't going to feel genuine (this tends to get lost underneath all the "the Nazis were bad, kids!" that pretty much all WWII related media has had for the last few decades, but the Nazis didn't just appear out of nowhere to do evil. The specifics of Nazis, ideological and stylistic, were very much a product of the time and place it arose from and likely won't happen in a similar enough way to warrant cribbing their iconography ever again.) So if your evil government just appeared one day to reign evil, it won't feel believable and thus it won't feel as much of a threat. At this point when I see a dystopian government start burning books, I know their days are numbered, because what's the author gonna do, let the Nazis win? For the love of Godbear get some new uniforms and get a new logo doesn't look like a four-boomerang-shaped symbol.
 
M

MW 002

Guest
kiwifarms.net
Going off of that it's really starting to get stale that every irredeemably evil dystopian government is basically the Nazis with a slightly different color scheme (and this has been a problem since even before Nazis became the go-to boogeyman again in the last two years or so). People who aren't creative enough to develop a new dystopian world but still want to write a dystopia just cut and paste Nazis and give them space zeppelins (oh hi First Order). Putting a stamp that says "Nazi" on your dystopian gvt's forehead is the author's shortcut to say "YOU AREN'T SUPPOSED TO LIKE OR AGREE WITH THESE PEOPLE" with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and they think that the audience will automatically like the protagonists because they're punching Nazis. First off, if your characters are boring, most people aren't going to immediately like them just because they punch Nazis (except for a very niche market of Antifa people). Second, a dystopian government that was simply cut and paste from a historical government isn't going to feel genuine (this tends to get lost underneath all the "the Nazis were bad, kids!" that pretty much all WWII related media has had for the last few decades, but the Nazis didn't just appear out of nowhere to do evil. The specifics of Nazis, ideological and stylistic, were very much a product of the time and place it arose from and likely won't happen in a similar enough way to warrant cribbing their iconography ever again.) So if your evil government just appeared one day to reign evil, it won't feel believable and thus it won't feel as much of a threat. At this point when I see a dystopian government start burning books, I know their days are numbered, because what's the author gonna do, let the Nazis win? For the love of Godbear get some new uniforms and get a new logo doesn't look like a four-boomerang-shaped symbol.
To add to this:

It really annoys me whenever writers of dystopians often overlook the social aspects of what leads to new government take overs/revolutions leading into totalitarianism (the Russian Revolution is a perfect example of how a revolt just lead to even more suffering, rather than the positive change most citizens were hoping to obtain after overthrowing the Tsar).

Actually, it’s what annoys me about the Handmaid’s Tale: Gilead is portrayed in a way that it seems like it occurred overnight, regardless of the fact it most certainly wouldn’t happen that quickly in the real world without any international intervention. Sure, if the religious were to occur in any era before the 60s in America, I might be able to suspend disbelief. But anytime past the year 2000 and I’m not going to be able to overlook it at all.

If you’re going to write about an evil government- try writing a prequel regarding the social circumstances that led to the pseudo-Nazi-Communist-Trumpenreichen society in the first place. What was the previous government like? Did people actually like the previous government? What was society as a whole like back then? The more thought put into it, the more believable it will be.
 
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