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The Story

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Some people take a kernel of an idea and fashion it into a story. They design a set and setting and populate it with principal characters.

From there they might outline and organize it's structure and then begin to write.

Try as I might, I can't seem to do this. I can visualize characters of moderate depth. I can construct a place in time out of history or my own life, I can cultivate and interesting style, but the idea of a story eludes me. The few successes I've had were stories that have arose out of my unconscious during the writing process. This is something that you cannot do on command and when I try it mostly results in failure.

What do you do?

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With my writing I think up an ending, then work out a start that might get me there, then start writing from that start towards the ending I have thought up. In 1/3 of the instances I can't get from the start to the end, so the story ends up in my waste bin. In 1/3 I get from the start to the end I have thought up and have a finished story. In the final third I find the story goes off in some completely different direction and I do not get to the end I wanted but have something different and often a far better story.

The best piece of advice I was give during a creative writing class was 'just keep writing, as long as you are writing you have a chance of writing something, if you are sitting around waiting for inspiration you are writing nothing.'

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There are pantsers - who just write, and those that carefully plot before hand. To date I've been the former and I've yet to finish a novel. The reason: I've never known the ending. Knowing the ending is a real boon. It's good to know where you're headed - even if it's not set in stone.

Maybe it's just me but short stories don't seem to be the same species as longer length works: they're easier by far.

There are gazillions of 'how to write' books out there. I've read a few and, though, no doubt, they offer laudable advice, I've come to the conclusion all writers are different in their approach. Also, advice from an author you haven't read, or don't like, isn't much use.

Here are a couple of URLs that might be helpful:



http://www.riyria.blogspot.co.uk/- this is Michael J. Sullivan's blog. Scroll down the menu for his writing advice.

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Camy's right, as usual. You should know the ending before you start. You don't have to know it in detail, but without an end in mind, you're not writing toward anything. Knowing a few colorful scenes may get you started, but they don't lead you anywhere. Every story I've started without knowing where it'll eventually be going has ended up in the waste heap.


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