Writing questions

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by BrentMc, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Holy cow, I've never written an entire novel that ran as much as 150,000 words. You've already written the equivalent of a 500 to 600-page paperback novel. And you're only a third of the way through?

    A very important thing for writers to learn is editing, making one's writing concise. You often find in the revision process that there's a lot of stuff you didn't actually need. My first draft of Only Superhuman was 124,000 words and the second was 130,000, but the version that actually sold is about 115,000. Some writers say one should always try to cut a first draft by at least 10 percent.

    And one of the problems I had in those first two drafts was the common problem of "walking to the plot" -- beginning too early in the story and showing the characters heading toward the initial crisis situation and getting ready, rather than just starting with the crisis already underway.
     
  2. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oh, indeed, I have no doubt I'll be cutting a lot. In my defence, it's the first draft of my first attempt at a novel, so I imagine the editing will be ruthless. It's more a project for my own enjoyment than anything, and I'm still in the early stages, but we'll see how it goes. I probably tried to be too ambitious; I'm going to see how the whole thing plays out before I decide where to start trimming.

    Of course, given some of my posts on this forum, I don't think many people would be surprised to learn that my biggest problem is waffling on at length, that I need to learn to be concise...
     
  3. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Mine is just something I work on a little bit here and there. I've been working on it since Oct. 2012, and I'm only 43 pages and 16,000 words into the first draft. Honestly, that's already 43 pages more than I thought I would ever actually write when I first started work on the project. It's mainly just something I'm doing for fun, so I haven't really pushed myself very hard to really dig in. Although most of those 43 pages have been written in the last few months. And I've gone back several times to change things, and rewrite who sections, so I've actually probably typed more words and pages than what are actually recorded.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^I take it your manuscript is single-spaced, then.
     
  5. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I have a half finished 2nd draft of a fan fic lying around I wrote 20 years ago, weighing 200,000 words. Good times.
     
  6. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    The Star Trek story I'm working on is a hair under 159,000 words.
     
  7. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah. Are most manuscripts double spaced?
     
  8. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    ^ Yes. And most publishable manuscripts clock in at fewer than 125,000 words.
     
  9. ainmneacha_Nollag

    ainmneacha_Nollag Living the Irish dream. Admiral

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    I assume the double spacing is for proof reading/editing/inserting (hand written) notes in the manuscript purposes.
     
  10. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    ^ Correct.
     
  11. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    Been reading through the thread and enjoying the knowledge presented. I have a question that may not have a good answer.

    Ideas for scenes come easily to me, but I struggle to find the story, so to speak. I've read that a good story changes the protagonist by the end. How do you develop a plot/story without it becoming just a string of scenes? Am I too hung up on what makes a good story?
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    A good rule of thumb I've recently found useful is the traditional three-act structure:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-act_structure

    It helps give direction and arc to a story, to make sure that it's going somewhere and has things happening.
     
  13. BrentMc

    BrentMc Commander Red Shirt

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    I have read not to do a run down of character description such as he is this tall and has this hair color etc.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for racially sensitive ways to suggest the character is a particular race without just saying their race?
     
  14. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ Hmm isn't this back to ground we covered on page 1 of the thread?
     
  15. BrentMc

    BrentMc Commander Red Shirt

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    What is your favorite book on writing?

    What is the most important lesson you learned as a writer?
     
  16. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    When determining who the POV character is in any given scene, go for the character who is under the most stress, physically or emotionally. I use this rule every day and it works 90% percent of the time.

    (A notable exception: murder mysteries, where often you can't go into the heads of certain characters without giving things away. Makes POV issues more complicated.)

    To give credit where it's due, I learned this from the late Terry Carr, a veteran sf editor and author, and privately think of it as "Terry's Rule."
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2014
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Reminds me of a rule I heard for writing stories as a whole, which is that the central character should be the one with the most at stake in the story's events. Which, again, doesn't work for a lot of mysteries or client-of-the-week series, where the main characters tend to be detectives or lawyers or doctors or fugitives who are helping out the people who have the most at stake. Which is maybe why these days we have so many client-of-the-week TV series where the clients' cases always have a coincidental resonance with whatever personal crises the heroes are dealing with at the time.
     
  18. BrentMc

    BrentMc Commander Red Shirt

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    Interesting stuff. Thanks for the replies. In a book I am reading about writing I read about the point of view character and I realized I had done some head-hopping. Now I am determined to be more careful and establish my POV character.

    That book btw is "Writing Fiction for Dummies". It may sound silly to try and learn writing from a "For Dummies" book, but I think its pretty good and I am only doing this for fun anyway.
     
  19. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    While the author is unfortunately a thoroughly unpleasant person with hard to stomach views on politics and society, "Characters and Viewpoint" and "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy" by Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card are informative reads that align well with many of your questions.
     
  20. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Yeah, the one time Terry's Rule failed me was when I was writing CSI books, since those were more about the forensics than any personal dramas or conflicts. Who should be the POV character in a scene that's all about finding fiber evidence or comparing mitochondrial DNA? In those books, I just tried to balance things out among the regulars so that nobody got neglected.

    "Hmm. Been awhile since we've done a Catherine scene. I guess I better have her find the bloodstain . . . ."