The Creative Writer's Guild

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The Creative Writer's Guild

Post by The_Brigadier » Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:12 pm

I couldn't help but notice a lot of creative writers here. :) (Mainly prose writers, not a lot of poets :()

I thought it would be great if we could have our own little spot in AFF. :) Maybe discuss our approach to this art, maybe ask for some critiques, submit ideas, steal ideas, chat about our characters and plots, our experiences.

Why don't we start off with the genres we like to write?

I basically write general fiction. None of my fantasy or sci-fi is hardcore. A canon of mine is to kill a character or two by story's end.
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Re: The Creative Writer's Guild

Post by Current » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:43 pm

I write mostly fantasy, plus a few bits and pieces of stuff I can't classify. It's sort-of-metaphorical, sort-of-philosphical, but not very profound, so calling it philosophical fiction seems inaccurate. And then a series which is fantasy with a bit of sci-fi.

I kill characters on occasion. Out of 12 complete stories, 3 have major characters dying and one has a dozen background characters killed, plus another one which implies a massive number of people might die as a consequence of the story's conclusion.

The longest I've written (and finished) is about 5,000 words. I have a history of started and abandoned novels, so I decided to focus on short stories until such point I have the patience for longer works.
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Re: The Creative Writer's Guild

Post by The_Brigadier » Sat Oct 08, 2011 4:03 pm

Fantasy? That's cool. :) It's comforting to write our own little worlds, disregarding natural laws and screaming MAGIC DID IT!!! and having no one question the story because, well, you made the rules! :D

I'm not a huge of fan of making short stories though. It always needs to expand. I don't think I could ever write a decent sized play or movie script, just because I would want to include more than the audience has patience for.
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Re: The Creative Writer's Guild

Post by Current » Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:36 pm

I also feel the need to expand sometimes, that's why I write series. Means I get to build big worlds but deal with them in small chunks, so far it's the only way that works for me.

But I don't have that much of problem with stand-alones, so I write those as well.

Writing the word "series" in plural form always gets on my nerves
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Re: The Creative Writer's Guild

Post by The_Brigadier » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:51 pm

What do you think your weakest point is?

For me, it is definately the titles and beginnings. I understand the middle ad how the story ends, but getting started is always so hard.
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Re: The Creative Writer's Guild

Post by Current » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:02 am

I'm generally terrible with descriptions of any sort, so I end up falling into this and this.

Also endings. I write best when I know what the ending is and work backwards from there, which is unfortunately rare, so many of my stories end at the point at which I run out of ideas instead of having any sort of satisfying conclusion.
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Re: The Creative Writer's Guild

Post by The_Brigadier » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:36 am

Wow. :( If I didn't know the ending, I wouldn't bother writing the story at all.What's your approach in writing a story? I think that may be one of the issues...
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Re: The Creative Writer's Guild

Post by capnnerefir » Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:19 am

AlbinoBlackSheep wrote:Why don't we start off with the genres we like to write?
Well, you probably all know about my SF work. In addition to all the fanfiction, I've been working on a short SF novel of my own creation lately, which will be part of a longer series. Draft 1 is about 90% complete, and I'm very happy with it.

What you might not know (but could probably guess) is that I've been writing fantasy since I was 15. I started work on a long novel back then and completed two drafts of it in the last 6 years - both of which I have destroyed. I've done some smaller scale work, too, but nothing that I've ultimately been happy with. I think I hold my fantasy to a higher standard than my SF. With SO much bad fantasy out there (and I think you know who I'm talking about), I want to write the kind of story that'll stand up there with the greats. Tolkien, Eddings, Martin, Jordan... It's a very special genre to me, so I'm fine with taking years and years to work on the story.
Current wrote:The longest I've written (and finished) is about 5,000 words.
I've got trouble doing shorter stories, for some reason. When I create a universe, I automatically want to see more of it. No matter what the story I'm writing is about, it always feels like there should be more to it. If I've got an interesting world, I want to play with it, explore it. When I have characters I like, I want to keep seeing them interact with their world. I just can't seem to leave them alone. My shortest completed work is probably going to be my SF story (Let's call it Colonists), which will be a little book around 100,000 words. My longest is probably the second draft of my fantasy novel, which was about 250,000. I expect this latest draft to be at leas 300,000, though it will probably be more.
AlbinoBlackSheep wrote:What do you think your weakest point is?
Honestly? Characters. I worry about making them consistent, making their actions logical, making them likeable, making them understandable...they're the part I worry about most when writing a story, probably because I feel that they're the most complicated part. When anything happens, you have to keep in mind all of the important details of everyone present and figure out how they'd react. There are so many factors that go into characters that it gets overwhelming at times. I'm never fully confident in any of mine.
I actually tend to cheat with my characters. Whenever I'm at a loss for an interesting character, I crack open a copy of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. There's such a variety of people in there, all of whom are so very unique and different. It gives me a great starting point, a sort of template to build characters around. And since they're all historical figures, I don't have to worry too much about stepping on the toes of some other author.
AlbinoBlackSheep wrote:What's your approach in writing a story
I just start with a general idea. Something interesting comes to mind. Sometimes it's character related (What would Sima Yi do if he was in space?), sometimes it's related to something interesting I've read, like a historical event. Sometimes, I just think of something interesting for the universe that I want to play with. Once I've got the general idea, I build a very vague story around it. I try to keep details vague, since I'm always adding, expanding, adapting, and so on. Once I get a few solid plot points down, I get to work.

I've actually found that if I do a detailed outline, I lose interest in the story. I feel like I've already told it. So I do surprisingly little of my thinking ahead of time, with the exception of characters and the universe. Those are the core of my stories. Once I've got the world of the story, and the people in it, the plot seems to come naturally as the result of the characters interacting with the world.

I like to think of it like chemistry. I've got my world (let's call it powdered aluminum) and I've got my characters (let's call them iron oxide). Add a nice magnesium ribbon for ignition (an inciting event) and the result is one nice, glowing pile of thermite (the story).

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Re: The Creative Writer's Guild

Post by The_Brigadier » Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:59 am

Ah. You're here, Ben. Just who I was waiting for. :)
I started work on a long novel back then and completed two drafts of it in the last 6 years - both of which I have destroyed.
I do not think that was very prudent of you, Captain. Yes, it may be painful to read some earlier drafts of your pieces but you can learn from the mistakes you made long ago. Besides, it's fun to laugh at the silly mistakes when you were younger and look at how far you came. (:

You think characters are your weakest point? I personally feel characters are my strongest point. Usually, when creating a character, I lay down a very basic skeleton for who they are, their personality, their upbringing, and their looks. Then I let those skeletons build themselves. Sometimes they like certain aspects that I gave them, and sometimes they remove them. On occasion, they want me to make a decision because they are completely ambivalent to that aspect. It is at that point where I frown and think 'That's your job! Mine is to record what is going down!' :x But nevertheless, I do it any way.

I remember there were certain characters that had trouble choosing their names. Eventually, I said to them 'Guys, pick a name or I'll choose it for you, and you may not like the name that I give. They decided to let me do that. I gave them their names and they all grew to like them. Out of nowhere, a certain character, Ruth, realized she liked the name Mary better. I sighed. To compromise, she is called Mary by certain people, and Ruth by others.

I think that characters are my strongest point because one: they write themselves; two: I consider them to be my colleagues; and three: because I'm so lax and respectful to them, the characters are usually on good terms with me and like working with me. It sounds crazy, but that's fine. :) At least my imaginary friends can put food on my table. :oops:
Spoiler:
Just an FYI: there is absolutely no way you can be original with a character. Billions of stories have been told, "your" character was used in some way, shape, or form whether you relaize it or not. I'm not saying to go rip Bella from [u]'Twilight'[/u] and plant her in "your" story, but don't worry about not being original; no matter what you do, you aren't. It has already been thought up. Does that sound insulting to you two? :thinking: Cause if it does, I totally didn't want for it to sound that way.
I just start with a general idea. Something interesting comes to mind. ...sometimes it's related to something interesting I've read, like a historical event.
Me, too! :D I remember watching the movie Glory (with Denzel Washington), and in the beginning of the movie, there was kid getting an amputation. He was screaming, crying, and begging for his mother. That inspired me to write a story of my own. A bit macabre, yes :oops:, but I got a story from it!!! :lol:
I've actually found that if I do a detailed outline, I lose interest in the story.
Ditto. ditto, ditto, ditto.
Image
DITTO!!!!

Ditto, only nothing else happens in the story. I guess the tale shuts down because the characters don't like being rushed or having concrete rules and events that need to be followed. They prefer to make it up as they go.
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Re: The Creative Writer's Guild

Post by Current » Sun Oct 09, 2011 10:24 pm

AlbinoBlackSheep wrote:Wow. :( If I didn't know the ending, I wouldn't bother writing the story at all.What's your approach in writing a story? I think that may be one of the issues...
Usually, an idea gets into my head, I start playing with it, and if it doesn't go away after a few weeks I decide to give it a shot in writing. The "few weeks" requirement is because I am continuously making stories of some sort in my head, but most of them tend to be
a) insufficiently detailed (I might have a single scene I play out or a single character I explore, that don't lend themselves to expanding into a full-fledged story)
or b) just plain bad.
If the idea lasted the few weeks, it might have some potential, so I start writing about it. Then, if I get lucky I can dig enough into the idea to turn it into a full story, if not I write what I can and leave it until better ideas for it come up.

That's usually. Sometimes, though, a complete idea bursts into my head and doesn't require extensive expansion or it can be incorporated into an existing work, so I simply go with it. The first story I completed was one of these. It started simply as a pun, I thought of a way to give it a creepy twist, and I immediately opened up a word processor and started writing it. That was one of those "working backwards from the end" things I mentioned, I knew the exact last sentence of the story and writing it was just a matter of giving it context. To date, it's still one of the stories I'm happiest with

My problem with endings usually shows up in the first kind of stories, those that originate in my mental games as a scene in the middle. I know I want to develop them, I can usually write a beginning that leads to the middle, but I can get stuck once I get to the one original scene. Sometimes I find out what happens next, other times I just give up and save it in the incomplete works folder. My novels were a lot like that, I had a handful of things I wanted to happen and a world to develop, but I got stuck at points where I simply didn't know what happened next. Short stories help me avoid that precisely because there's a lot less "stuff in the middle" to get stuck on.
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