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Writing Stories

Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:49 pm
by Bob Whitely
I do a great deal of writing. Plays, skits, short stories and I've written some novels too. I haven't pursued any of the novels or short stories yet, but I have produced a large number of my plays and skits, both in Las Vegas and abroad. As you likely know by now, while I'm working hard on the Cosmothea Blended-Genre RPG, I'm working even harder on our first anthology - it's slated to come out December 2014.

I thought I'd share with you my thought processes as I sit down to write a story. For those of you that like to write, you might find some of this helpful. It's the culmination of a lot of practice and research. There's other ways to write than this, but I think it's a powerful way to write. Some people can do just fine without it, but from what I've read, most of them end up doing gargantuan amounts of rewriting by skipping this advice...

The second novel I wrote ended up being 450 pages long and is still waiting on a major rewrite one of these days. I've written a ton of stuff since, but the thought of returning to that particular novel for a rewrite is a daunting task, because it wasn't organized enough so I feel like I can pretty much just set it aside and write again from scratch. I also left out some important details that would likely bump it another 60 pages. That's not a fun feeling, and I would never write so loosely now like I did back then.

Re: Writing Stories

Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:57 pm
by Bob Whitely
I can definitely see the appeal of moving forward until the first draft is done, come what may. It's a good feeling to know you finished a draft, and you do learn more about your characters and how the plot works (or doesn't) along the way. That said, I far prefer to write using an outline, detailing the outline to the point where I know pretty much everything that's accomplished in each chapter and roughly how to get there.

A detailed outline enables me to check continuity, timing, character locations, logic issues, etc. I can essentially see the entire story in condensed form, and spot all sorts of problems before even starting to write the actual manuscript. That's a really good feeling too! And I think it's a stronger position to be in than looking at a novel that needs a major rewrite because you didn't deal with things earlier. Takes more time though. Some people do detailed personality outlines as well. I do them, though not always in super detail. Usually I've got a pretty solid idea in my head for a character, but I do write some stuff down for reference, including back-stories, goals and motivations.

I know not everyone feels comfortable writing with an outline, preferring everything to be free flowing straight out of their heads, but it does seem to greatly speed up second and third drafts when using an outline. When I deviate from the outline, I'll go back afterwards (during a break in writing), and review the outline for ripples in the story due to my changes, and make sure I made the right decision to deviate, and update my outline so future chapters still make sense and still work.

Re: Writing Stories

Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:27 pm
by Bob Whitely
We need to allow ourselves to explore, not stubbornly marching down the exact path we had planned out when we first sat down to write despite red flags. With this system, you should be able to spot a lot more mistakes earlier. At the same time, it's crucial to allow yourself to try new things. Personally, I can't imagine writing without a solid outline anymore. I don't try to get things perfect with the outline system, but the draft is much closer to what I was looking for when I do it this way and do a bit of editing as I go. The first draft does take longer this way, but if you have to completely rewrite everything, a fast first draft isn't worth much, IMO.

It is so liberating to have a good outline, so you know that you are on track, and to have so many reference points. For example: As I write, I can quickly compare what I'm doing to the outline; it tells me about how far along I am on the novel, if I'm on track with the story I said I wanted to write, and how my pacing is going. It reveals roughly how many pages I'll end up with too at the pace I'm using.

If a scene isn't as important as another one, yet has a higher word count, that's easy to catch too. I might look at a chapter or scene and realize it's too long or not long enough - doesn't go into enough depth for its level of importance. Doing all of this, for me at least, makes sure I have a decent first draft and that the next draft isn't as painful. Just my two cents. Cheers!

Re: Writing Stories

Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 4:21 pm
by Bob Whitely
I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a curse, but I've been hit lately several times upside the head with some fun story ideas. I discovered awhile back that I'm running out of time. See, there are only so many hours in the day and so many days in the week, and... well you get the idea. It's not that I think I'm the most awesome writer on the planet or anything. I know I'm not! But out of all my talents (which are several, but the same can be said of every one of you!) I am first and foremost a storyteller. That's my greatest gift and so if I can't find the time to write a story, I'm hoping one day someone else will write it for me! It's been a lot of fun working with these various writers and helping them with their Cosmothean stories.

They've got lots of great ideas on their own, of course, and I'm not manhandling their stories, but it has been fun brainstorming with them, offering suggestions, etc. and I'm hoping that in the future, when I lay down the basics for various stories in the timelines and other locations in the Cosmothea setting and game products that others will be inspired by those concepts and write many stories of their own!

Knowing that my own time is limited, and I'd never be able to write all the stories that I have ideas for, I've been in the mode of picking and choosing which stories will make the cut, and which will have to be left as snippits within the Cosmoverse to inspire others to write about. It is not always pleasant to do this as it hints to my own mortality, but we all have to choose wisely how we will spend our time, and there are many talented people out there.

I look forward to seeing where they take the Cosmoverse in the days ahead and am pleased to be able to offer the backdrop for others to explore. Lord willing, that backdrop will be published one day and we'll be able to see more and more stories appear, whether official or fan fiction!

Music, a Must while Writing?

Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:30 am
by Roadkillpancake
I once heard Salvatore give great thanks to Fleetwood Mac, who provides his inspiration while writing.

Since I am about to venture off into hours of writing, I was wondering what other writers like to listen to while they write (if they listen to anything at all).

Right now, my inspirational charge comes from the Irish band IONA.
Lead singer for Iona: Joanne Hogg, with Dave Baindridge and Troy Donockley (who plays a Uilleann Pipes with unmatched Mastery).

What is it about your music?

Re: Writing Stories

Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:59 am
by Flowswithdrek
If I put music on while writing it just takes over and I get no writing done, I can't even listen to people talking on the radio.

Re: Writing Stories

Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:47 am
by Pippa
Well I am wondering if I have a tendency to hyper-focus, since while I do like to put on some music when I'm writing (mostly movie or game sountracks), I don't even hear them anymore when I'm on a roll.

Re: Writing Stories

Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:13 am
by Flowswithdrek
Pippa wrote:Well I am wondering if I have a tendency to hyper-focus, since while I do like to put on some music when I'm writing (mostly movie or game sountracks), I don't even hear them anymore when I'm on a roll.

It is of course possible that I just haven't found the right type of music - hyper-focus, hmm that sounds like a cool device. Can we have one of these in the tech level charts, Bob? :D

Re: Writing Stories

Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:47 pm
by Ragnarok
It depends on what music it is. If it's too loud or too hard, it's hard to pay attention to what I'm trying to do.