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This 32 message thread spans 3 pages:  < <   1  2  3  > >  
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by EmmaD at 14:34 on 02 November 2006
    I do find that writing a brief chapter by chapter outline stops me from running out of steam halfway through. I don't follow it exactly, its just a guide.


    I think that's very sensible. I remember the director of the recent P&P - which I think was his first feature - saying that he planned out exactly what he wanted to do with every day of filming, otherwise he couldn't walk onto the set with any confidence, but he also had to be prepared to turn round on a sixpence and take the crew and cast with him, if the weather changed (obviously), but also if suddenly some other scene/character/event seemed a better idea...

    I suspect that somewhere in there is the real definition of creative confidence.

    Emma
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by Account Closed at 20:47 on 02 November 2006
    Ken,

    thanks for that link, very, very useful stuff and she's very perceptive eg 'what's the difference between a short story and a novel?' - ans: in a novel the characters change. Simple but so true!

    Casey
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by EmmaD at 23:05 on 02 November 2006
    I think I'd expect my characters to change in a short story too, but there'd be fewer characters, and they'd each only change once, in a small way.

    Emma
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by hmaster at 14:35 on 03 November 2006
    Yes, I think characters can change in a short story as well. There are no rules without exceptions =)

    Also, in my view, there are problems if a plot is too fixed. You might make this solid railway track of plot but you'd be surprised the number of times the characters derail the train and break for the hills.
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by sazzyjack at 15:19 on 03 November 2006
    Kat,I too write out an outline of my chapters before I begin. For my first novel it was along the lines of Jonathan hands himself in- meets Paula for first time...
    That was as far as I went in my planning of the plot. I knew where I wanted to end up, roughly, knew where the overall story was going. I thought I knew how I was going to get there too, but I found that as my characters developed into real people with personalities of their own, there were some things that they just wouldn't do, and decisions that they would make differently than I had planned when they were faced with certain choices. Therefore, I was forced to scarifice some of my plot to maintain the integrity and believability of the characters I had created.
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by Account Closed at 15:36 on 03 November 2006
    Well, of course there are exceptions to every rule but i don't think i've ever read a short story where the characters have noticeably changed. But, to be fair, i haven't read that many short stories.

    I plan my characters out sketchily at first at then in finer detail as i go along.

    When brainstorming at the beginning of a new novel, i place much more emphasis on plot than character, my initial interest is in what's going to happen. And yet i have read often enough 'character, character, character' that's the mainstay of any good story. I'd like to think i fully develop my characters and they do drive the plot but right at the start i concentrate on the beginning, middle and end of the action and the twists and turns. I suppose someone might ask how can you do this if you don't fully know your characters. That's a very good question.

    Casey
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by Mischa at 21:10 on 07 November 2006
    I try to start with the ending. My ending is determined by what I want to say in the story. Everything must then flow to the ending and make it inevitable. From your ending you can build your framework or plot. Characters obviously determine the plot; their decisions must be true to character.

    Somebody (Egri I think) said that any play or story must be based on some premise: ie Othello is based on the premise that jealousy destroys both the object of it and those racked with it, Romeo & Juliet on the premise that love is stronger even than death etc etc. Characters decide the course of the path that proves the premise.

    I am surprised that you have not read the one book you have on writing; it would seem to me that if one is serious about it then one should read everything worth reading about writing, especially by other writers. Like any career or profession one is constantly learning, both through reading fiction and through reading books on the craft or attending courses. Obviously one needs to be discerning about it, and there is only so many ways you can describe the 3-act structure...



  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by EmmaD at 21:47 on 07 November 2006
    Somebody (Egri I think) said that any play or story must be based on some premise


    A story probably does have to have a central premise at its core, but I think for many writers it's a bad idea to start with that premise: the book becomes a series of illustrations of it, like a Victorian moral tale, or a fable by Aesop, and the characters merely puppets. I'm sure that's why - as this thread suggests - a lot of writers start with 'what if...' rather than 'this is...'

    Personally, I only discover what my novels are 'about' in that sense, when I'm well into the first draft, and sometimes not until much later. A lot of my revising involves bringing those ideas out. And then there are usually several central premises.

    Emma
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by Mischa at 07:23 on 08 November 2006
    Emma

    Perhaps we are mixing up premises & themes! One premise, several themes?

    Mischa
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by EmmaD at 07:33 on 08 November 2006
    Could be, but if so, I don't think my novels do have a single, central premise. Except possibly my motto, which is 'It's not as simple as that'...

    I still think that the central premise is imposed on a book by the critic/reader afterwards. I think it's often not the mainspring of it for the writer at all, in which case, as a concept, it's not much use to aspiring writers.

    Emma
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by KateB at 07:44 on 08 November 2006
    Does anyone have a particular Achilles heel when planning and developing?

    I've just talked to my producer about the most recent draft a script I'm writing and we both think it's not ready to go to our financiers yet. What I find really irritating is that, at this stage (2nd draft), I always have problems in exactly the same part of the story - whatever the story. The second half of my second act - in others words, resolution, getting to my ending.

    Is this just a question of bad planning? Or is it, like Emma says, that you have to get to know your characters and themes as you're working, so this kind of hiccup, albeit quite a major one, is to be expected?

    I would really like to find a way of learning from this pattern. And avoiding it next time...

    Kate
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by Mischa at 08:02 on 08 November 2006
    Emma
    I probably agree with you, although I think it may differ for stage and film. A novel is naturally richer and one can explore many premises/themes. Having adapted my 1st book into film I soon discovered that there was only room for one main idea and many subplots had to go.
    Mischa
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by EmmaD at 08:07 on 08 November 2006
    Yes, I'm sure that's true of a film script. I recently read a one for the first time - a friend asked me to - and I was staggered by just how little room there was in it for anything, when you're used to thinking in terms of novels. Of course the real truth is that a film script is a small part of the total of a film, whereas a novel is the whole thing.

    Emma
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by MF at 14:29 on 26 November 2006
    Does anyone have a particular Achilles heel when planning and developing?

    I've just talked to my producer about the most recent draft a script I'm writing and we both think it's not ready to go to our financiers yet. What I find really irritating is that, at this stage (2nd draft), I always have problems in exactly the same part of the story - whatever the story. The second half of my second act - in others words, resolution, getting to my ending.


    Yes!

    This is the problem with starting with "just" a character. It's what I've always done - can't help doing - and I always end up in a similar situation, three-quarters of the way through writing, when the plot loses its tension and lose strands begin to appear (and fray, which means that I can't decide which strand to grab and where to "find" a conclusion).

    I don't think that the problem is starting with a character so much as not taking enough time to consider what that character's journey is going to be. Starting with a question, as Lammi suggests, sounds like a brilliant idea, as it can begin to suggest answers - or at least a sense of direction, and an ultimate goal.

    I also try to sketch out chapters before I start the actual writing; usually one chapter ends up developing into two, but at least I have a framework to hand that helps to keep me focused and remind me where I need to be heading to meet the next benchmark.

    But I'd also be itnerested to know if anyone else can suggest a solution to the "stalling plot" problem...
  • Re: Planning those larger pieces of writing
    by EmmaD at 17:57 on 26 November 2006
    Introduce something which surprises you as much as the reader and the characters - Raymond Chandler's man with a gun - and then if it works, go back and seed its appearence earlier in the novel?

    Go back to the original mainspring of the story - yes, the start of the journey - and see if there's some element of it that seemed less important at the time, but you could keep in play, in the background, only to bring it to the fore now?

    Emma
  • This 32 message thread spans 3 pages:  < <   1  2  3  > >