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Author Topic: Have you ever written anything substantial?  (Read 580 times)
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Lee
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« on: November 12, 2014, 10:45:51 PM »

If so, how did it go? What did you write? Did you finish it?

I suck at writing, as anyone who reads my posts here knows. I do get As on all my college papers though, so I must not be too bad at it when I really try. I enjoy writing, even if I do struggle with proper grammar and how to express myself in a manner that gets my point across. I used to have a blog that no one read (which is good because it was pretty bad), and I played with the idea of bringing that back, but I think I want to write something big. A novel maybe? I am not sure how creative I am though, so I may just start with my memoirs. I would never let anyone read it, I just want to try to write something major. Even if I don't finish it, I want to give a try.

Anyone else? Thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2014, 11:18:09 PM »

I had a few halfway decent plots sketched out back in college, but the quality of self or small published books I've read shines an unflattering light on my attempts.  They are simply on another level than what I could create. 

Sorry, not much help, but knowing that lots off people facet they same hurdles may help you.  Good luck.
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Lee
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2014, 11:22:36 PM »

Quote from: Caine on November 12, 2014, 11:18:09 PM

Sorry, not much help, but knowing that lots off people facet they same hurdles may help you.  Good luck.

Thanks, but not looking for help so much, just discussion. Although I don't really no where to start, an outline I guess? I am going to attempt to write my memoirs if nothing else. Thought others might like to share.

Curious...you didn't think it was worth trying if you couldn't get published? Wouldn't be fun to try regardless of the outcome?
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Turtle
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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2014, 11:45:53 PM »

A small fantasy novella worth in late high school. Many short stories in college, some actually decent poetry too.

Now, on top of making 3D models, I'm writing the entire fiction background for a science fiction game, as well as the plot for an urban fantasy side project.

The question is not whether you will get published. The question is, can you imagine yourself ever not trying to do this thing that you clearly want to do so much that you're willing to ask strangers on the internet?

Because when I had to ask that question, I already knew the answer, so I started my own gaming company.

I still work freelance, and I'll probably have to get a part time job to fund the final push. But I can't ever imagine myself not having taken this risk. I've invested a lot of time and money into the project, and there's still a risk that I will never see any of it back, but every day I see it coming closer to being both my hobby, and my business.

Writing is a skill that is learnt, but for many, part of the skill some people need to learn is what is good writing, and what is bad. You grasp that your work might be bad. The resources are already out there for you to learn what's good. In this day and age, where the internet learning resources are so wide and varied, many of which are free, it's up to you to find them and make use of them. You have everything to gain, and nothing except time to lose.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 11:47:39 PM by Turtle » Logged
Ironrod
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« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2014, 01:49:57 AM »

I kept a journal from age 18 to about age 35, writing a couple of pages a few times a week. Old school longhand in notebooks, baby. I used to have great penmanship. Stopped doing that when I went on antidepressants and lost the compulsion to write.

Got 3/4 of the way through a sf novel when I was a teenager. It was a long-distance collaboration with another, older writer whom I met through fan publications -- we mailed manuscripts back and forth; mine were typed, his were handwritten. Lost my motivation after he committed suicide. It was a post-apocalyptic Ultimate Computer kind of story. It wasn't very good, except that we did predict the Internet (which we called Monolith) back in 1976. Computers in every home connected by telephone lines was his crazy idea.

I blog about my business every Friday. Nobody reads it. The link is in my sig if you want to see why. Been doing that for the better part of 10 years and I have something like 400 entries. I guess it's what remains of my compulsion.

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« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2014, 02:21:33 AM »

Anything substantial.


Done.
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Rumpy
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« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2014, 03:26:20 AM »

A few years ago I participated in NaNoWriMo and finished it to the end. The story was a sort of fantasy/steampunk set on a world divided by magic and technology, eventually resulting in a civil war of sorts. In the end, I got a proof copy printed, and it felt great holding it in my hands.
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Caine
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« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2014, 04:56:40 AM »

Quote from: Lee on November 12, 2014, 11:22:36 PM

Quote from: Caine on November 12, 2014, 11:18:09 PM

Sorry, not much help, but knowing that lots off people facet they same hurdles may help you.  Good luck.

Thanks, but not looking for help so much, just discussion. Although I don't really no where to start, an outline I guess? I am going to attempt to write my memoirs if nothing else. Thought others might like to share.

Curious...you didn't think it was worth trying if you couldn't get published? Wouldn't be fun to try regardless of the outcome?

No, it had nothing to do with being published, that's just my way of identifying the smaller works that you don't see printed and hanging out on shelves, IE Amazon self publish and indie publishers.  (Hugh Howey, Crusis for instance.)  It was more an indication that the caliber of their writing was much better than mine and what I had written was not in the same league.  I would need a lot of work to make the ideas I had into more than just a short story, but maybe that's all you need in the beginning.  I was hit with writer's block a lot in those days and easily distracted by gaming (so, pretty much the same now, but add wife and kids to the mix)

These days, I don't know where to begin to make a story worth writing, let alone one worth reading.  There is a lot of potential of course, but getting started is the hardest step in my case. 
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Turtle
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« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2014, 06:58:16 AM »

All of my more successful friends tell me this. Don't wait for inspiration and motivation to strike, for they are fickle. Push through the feeling that you have to be super inspired and motivated to work there and then.

Part of the reason why you're asking if you should try before you're published is that you probably don't feel like you are inspired or super motivated like they show in movies and TV, or when you read biographies of people who have done amazing things. Some desire is there, but you don't think you have enough of what it takes to do anything with it.

Gaming is a huge distraction if you let it. Sad part is that you do have to set that aside, not entirely, but while starting out and forcing yourself through the lack of inspiration or motivation. I deliberately went months without games or TV a few years back to get some things done. Now I'm probably going to do the same after burning through just DAI as my only game then nothing for probably the next 6 months.
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TiLT
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« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2014, 09:06:55 AM »

I've been writing a novel for a while, and did try to write one before that too. I'm up to 60,000 words so far, so I'm not doing so bad. I'm hoping to get it published at some point, and feedback from friends has been positive.
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Ralph-Wiggum
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« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2014, 01:59:39 PM »

As a biologist, I've written a number of research articles (although ATM only one is published). They all usually start out pretty bad and only get decent after months of revisions and comments/feedback from others. It really helps to have someone else read through your work.
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TiLT
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« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2014, 02:06:51 PM »

Quote from: Ralph-Wiggum on November 13, 2014, 01:59:39 PM

They all usually start out pretty bad and only get decent after months of revisions and comments/feedback from others.

That's true for pretty much every book written ever. As Ernest Hemingway said: “The first draft of anything is shit.”
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Lordnine
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« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2014, 04:30:40 PM »

I write a terrible blog for my company that gets about a hundred readers a week.  Does that count?
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Lee
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« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2014, 04:39:17 PM »

When you write, do you outline, or just dive in and see where it goes? I won't have time to really start my project until December, so I am sort of planning in my head, but I am not sure I like plans. It seems like I should just start writing from the start and see where it goes.
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TiLT
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« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2014, 05:25:16 PM »

Quote from: Lee on November 13, 2014, 04:39:17 PM

When you write, do you outline, or just dive in and see where it goes?

Both. My first attempt at writing a novel failed because I didn't plan well enough and ended up stuck in the infamous middle. You will get stuck there if you don't plan properly, though it's possible to get out by forcing yourself to keep writing. Writing a beginning and an end is easy. Writing the middle is very hard.

For my current attempt, I wrote 2-3 chapters just to get a feel for the setting and characters and to make sure my basic idea was good enough, and then I put aside the writing to focus on planning. I mapped out every single chapter in the book, wrote down questions I had about them (many new questions appeared while doing so), and kept going until I had no more questions and the whole structure seemed sound. When that was done, I kept writing. This means I managed to avoid the whole problem with the middle in this novel, which was nice.

I find it vital to have a dedicated application to write my novel in, and for that purpose I've used Scrivener. You will not be able to be effective with something like Word, which was never intended to write long documents. Scrivener is almost an "industry standard" as far as I've seen, and a safe choice for writing multi-chapter books. For mapping out the chapter structure and keeping a chart of questions, answers and connections, I use Scapple, though there are probably better alternatives, depending on your needs.
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Crusis
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« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2014, 05:44:26 PM »

8 novels, 1 novella, 1 novellete, and about 20 short stories. My latest story - actually just finished it this morning, is called Dr. Spengle vs. The Unihorn Horror because Nazi's vs. magical, foul-mouthed, battle armor wearing Unicorns. It ran close to 9K words.

As far as plotting I usually have a terrific start in mind, then muddle through the middle parts, and come up with an end - about the time it's time to write the end. Phew - that was a run on sentence. I've written outlines before and managed to stick to them so I'm not adverse to doing them. I find I work best when I jot down plot points, as they come to me, inside the document I'm writing. My first major 3 page outline was for my former agent so she has an idea of where to potentially pitch the book.

When I'm done with a book I call it the "puke-draft" because no one should see what I've vomited onto the page. After about my 3rd rewrite I feel like it's getting there. By the 5th rewrite I've got a decent manuscript. I don't ever workshop or ask for critiques. I work with pro editors and they are good at content stuff as well as correcting my crappy grammar. The reason I no longer workshop is I find that all of that feedback strips my voice right out of the story.

If you want to learn the craft I suggest taking a class. I did a year of classes online at Gotham Writer's Workshop but there are any number of great schools out there. Taking a single creative writing class can be enormously helpful.
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« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2014, 06:37:06 PM »

I write a blog for tennis at www.tacticaltennisblog.com. I get about 3000-5000 visitors a month typically. I have the beginnings of a novel set in 17th century Japan written but I never seem to get going on writing the whole thing.
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YellowKing
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« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2014, 06:58:27 PM »

I've written several short stories. Nothing that has been published.

I really feel like I need to write something and submit it, but I've never had the discipline to do the necessary rewrites. One of these days I keep telling myself I'll find the time to really focus on it, but then a good game comes out or I find some other hobby to explore and I never get around to it.
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« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2014, 07:49:35 PM »

Quote from: YellowKing on November 13, 2014, 06:58:27 PM

I really feel like I need to write something and submit it, but I've never had the discipline to do the necessary rewrites. One of these days I keep telling myself I'll find the time to really focus on it, but then a good game comes out or I find some other hobby to explore and I never get around to it.

This was me until 5 years ago. I didn't submit my first story AND collect my first rejection until I was 40. The problem is that now I don't have time for games and it kinda sucks. I'd love to spend a weekend playing Diablo 3 but I have to freaking write.
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« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2014, 08:06:50 PM »

The most substantial things I've written have been my name at the bottom of large loan documents, e. g. student/car loans.  I expect the most substantial thing I will write in the near-term future will be my signature on a home mortgage.
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Lee
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« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2014, 11:13:57 PM »

Quote from: TiLT on November 13, 2014, 05:25:16 PM

I find it vital to have a dedicated application to write my novel in, and for that purpose I've used Scrivener. You will not be able to be effective with something like Word, which was never intended to write long documents. Scrivener is almost an "industry standard" as far as I've seen, and a safe choice for writing multi-chapter books. For mapping out the chapter structure and keeping a chart of questions, answers and connections, I use Scapple, though there are probably better alternatives, depending on your needs.

I use Scrivener now for longer college papers. Dividing a paper up into sections really helps me stay focused and keep on topic. I tend to be long winded and ramble so it helps to stop that. I know it does outlining too, but I haven't used that feature before. I was thinking of taking full advantage of its index cards when I start this project.
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« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2014, 06:26:43 AM »

I've collaborated on 14 software manuals, written a software administrators guide and collaborated on 12 software training courses for a variety of companies. Do I consider writing - not really. It's dry, mundane and repetitive technical writing with hardly an once of creativity in it. It is however the type of writing that pays the bills.

I have a published writing credit for Interface Zero 2.0 (a RPG Cyberpunk setting) by Gun Metal Games, for which I wrote the content for the remnants of Canada and the fictitious Great Lakes Union.  Despite only contributing about 10,000 words to the entire book, I do consider it my best writing that I've ever been paid a $ for. I've also written a few novella and screenplays, none of which will likely ever be published, but it's fun to dream.

I participate in a writers circle, which helps to keep my interest, compassion and creative juices at least smoldering. We're a collection of wannabies mostly writing in the SciFi and Fantasy genres, but we do get dropped in on from time to time by a local writer that has a good number of published books to her name. I'd probably give one of my legs to exclusively write fiction, but my kids' college fees which are rapidly approaching, always reminds me to hold on to all of my appendages.  icon_biggrin
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« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2014, 02:08:30 PM »

I'm in academia so I write and publish a lot. Though really, there's probably just a couple hundred people who read my work. Such is the nature of having it appear in speciality academic journals.
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« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2014, 02:22:32 PM »

I would love to be able to write something substantial. I enjoy reading very much and loved the creative writing assignments way back when I was in school. The problem is that I have less than zero creativity in my brain. I simply cannot think of anything to write about. I'm thinking of maybe taking a creative writing class at a local college just to force myself to write something. But I keep putting it off. But man, it would be so great if I could just get over this hump and write "something".
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« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2014, 03:37:01 PM »

I've been working on an explosive detective tale set in the Vatican.  It's a two fisted yarn about the men in black and the women who serve them.  It's called "Pontiff with a Pistol".  Here's a sample from the opening page:

Sister Theresa was a habit I didn't wanna break.  But like every other woman in the Vatican, she was already married...and to a guy with far more juice than myself.  The kind of guy who'd burn a bush to get your attention, if you know what I mean.  I tossed back my wine chaser and slid back the little door in the confessional.  "What's your sins, my son.  And I gotta tell ya, you don't beat the last guy's issues with stuffed animals, I'll toss yer ass outta here.".

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Lee
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« Reply #25 on: November 14, 2014, 04:02:57 PM »

Quote from: JayDee on November 14, 2014, 02:22:32 PM

I would love to be able to write something substantial. I enjoy reading very much and loved the creative writing assignments way back when I was in school. The problem is that I have less than zero creativity in my brain. I simply cannot think of anything to write about. I'm thinking of maybe taking a creative writing class at a local college just to force myself to write something. But I keep putting it off. But man, it would be so great if I could just get over this hump and write "something".

This is pretty much me, I am not creative at all. Of course I was our regular dungeon master back in the 80s, so maybe I am not as lacking as I think? My initial plan for fiction is just to do a book in the style of a dungeon adventure. Group meets in the local inn by chance, then has to save the town from the evil lurking nearby. Simple stuff and just about as cliche as you can get, but I am doing this for fun so I am not too worried about it.

I didn't take creative writing classes, but had to take two college level english classes fairly recently, and I didn't find them helpful at all despite the almost constant writing assignments. Just a grind to get something on paper that I didn't give a crap about.
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« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2014, 05:26:06 PM »

Quote from: Lee on November 14, 2014, 04:02:57 PM

Of course I was our regular dungeon master back in the 80s, so maybe I am not as lacking as I think? My initial plan for fiction is just to do a book in the style of a dungeon adventure. Group meets in the local inn by chance, then has to save the town from the evil lurking nearby. Simple stuff and just about as cliche as you can get, but I am doing this for fun so I am not too worried about it.

IMO this is a good way to improve your writing if you're interested in writing for genres that are covered by RPG's. I've watched my son become a decent adventure writer doing just that and 1 of the people in my writing circle significantly improved their writing. A lot can be said too for just playing a character in a tabletop RPG. With the right group -i.e. one that actually likes to roleplay as opposed to just pushing figurines around a grid- it alone will get you thinking in character and help with finding words for dialog. Of course being a Game Master is even better, as you're working with a cast of characters and defining setting elements.

If you struggle for ideas, some RPG settings have adventure generators which give a lose structure for which you write in the meat/content. The better ones have you rolling dice to randomly generate plot elements, personality traits for a cast of characters and elements for a series of encounters. The simpler ones just aid in producing a single encounter. RPG encounters are really just like acts, or scenes within acts, for a short play. While an adventure with enough encounters becomes like a chapter in a continuing story. You have to be careful which generator you use though, because some of them focus primarily on creating single combat encounters. I introduced my son to one of these tools, and what I found best about it was that the random elements challenged him to find ways to logically link them together. That really helped later when he wrote adventures without it, as he was better with things like plot twists and creatively coming up with credible characters and situations.
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« Reply #27 on: November 15, 2014, 03:27:03 AM »

I forgot all about technical writing. I wrote the manual for Caesar III (about 150 pages IIRC), all of the walker dialog, and most of the in-game text. Ditto for Children of the Nile and pretty good chunks of Pharaoh and Civil War Generals 2. Also wrote the text strings for one of the characters in Lords of the Realm II, although I forget which character it was (the Baron maybe?). A lot of that was just grind-it-out stuff but there was some creative component in imbuing feedback with character and humor. I was credited as Writer on C3 and CotN.
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« Reply #28 on: November 15, 2014, 07:41:28 PM »

Quote from: Turtle on November 13, 2014, 06:58:16 AM

...  you probably don't feel like you are inspired or super motivated like they show in movies and TV, or when you read biographies of people who have done amazing things. Some desire is there, but you don't think you have enough of what it takes to do anything with it.

That pretty much describes me. I have tons of ideas written down, but when it comes to actually doing something with them, I don't feel adequate enough in actually executing them and I end up stalling. Most of the time I struggle in getting them to the starting line as I don't really know how to get them started.
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« Reply #29 on: November 15, 2014, 10:04:50 PM »

i used to write rambling stories longhand, then jumped up to multi-page 'giant monster' adventure tales in grade school when i first encountered a computer word processor (Bank Street Writer on the Apple ][e!) - it made writing so much easier and more fun that i just kept going. probably my greatest achievement was creating the word "psychadelic", which was my made-up label for someone with psionic powers. (a classmate who was much more worldly than me in sixth grade asked me after reading my story 'so are they on drugs?' and i had no idea what she meant. she told me that 'psychedelic' was a real word, and i didn't believe her.) i eventually came to the realization after struggling to come up with non-action scenes that these stories were laughably terrible, so i stopped.

i have no ear for dialog and no patience for plot - drawing and other types of visual art are my strengths, not storytelling - so what i write now tends to be intentional nonsense that no one would be interested in reading... but it helps with clearing out and resetting the creative processes in the brain.
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