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lurker

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  1. "You're hitting the Y tonight again, aren't you?" my friend interrupted my dinner to ask.
  2. I can relate to how you feel about finding your old story, Jack Frost. A little while ago, I learned that my older brother had salvaged the machine on which I saved all my college era writing - letters to friends, research papers, newspaper columns, and a few fiction projects. He zipped the files all up and sent them to me - reading it was an interesting, often embarrassing trip down memory lane. But there were some pleasant surprises too, little gems, including an offhand, amusing poem that I had written when I was tired of listening to a friend complain about the same dysfunctional relationship yet again. You may think your old story is cheesy, but maybe there is a part of it - even as basic as a metaphor in one sentence - worth saving. That leads me to the question I think you're really asking here, though: How do you take this wonderful story that you have in your head (and now somewhat outlined on paper too) and make it reflect that in writing? That empty white screen/blinking cursor IS intimidating, and I have a lot of respect for how honest you are being about a fear that I think most - if not all - writers feel. I think it's great to have people share their tips for how to get over that initial hurdle, and I suspect there are as many approaches as there are writers! Some people prefer to just dive right in and start writing from the beginning, assuming they can always change it later. Whether you can relate to this or not (personally, I can't), it does offer a powerful reminder: you can always delete or edit later. Writing something down is NOT a huge commitment! So even if you later deem the beginning part "throat clearing" words, you can always delete them, but at least you got started. For me, I think it helps to think about it in 'baby steps' - sentences and paragraphs first, scenes before chapters, no need to work from beginning to end. You're just getting words down. Don't even worry about showing anyone else yet, though feel free to if you're comfortable with it along the way. Use less formal 'outlining' techniques on the side to get your language honed and flowing. For example, if you're having trouble getting a handle of how to write a character, keep a running list in your outline of adjectives that describe him or her and maybe even the active verbs that most accompany a person of that type. And then the biggie: Force yourself to hammer out one scene. It doesn't have to be the beginning. Introductions are hard. It can be in the middle, the end. It can be a scene of dialogue between characters that you think will have to happen. Don't worry about where it fits. Just get a flow for the words, something that you can work from. Don't worry about how good your first attempt is. You know the corny thing teachers say about writing being re-writing. That's all true. So start the process knowing it won't be perfect, and that it doesn't have to be. Your story will come if you're willing to fight the paralysis and just let it happen...
  3. Delia hugged the tree as she looked down at the ground far below. Through the branches, she could see the bright yellow of the bulldozer. The engine sputtered and whirled, spitting out black soot, chasing away birds through the rustling leaves. A man wearing a safety vest stepped out from the machine, yelling into his bullhorn, "You have one last chance to come down!" "Never! I won't let you destroy our planet!" Delia shouted, shaking her fist. The man replied, "You have no choice! Your principles are no match for our bulldozers and power saws!" Delia embraced the tree with all her might. "If you want to cut down this tree, you'll have to kill me as well." And so they did.
  4. Good stories are based in conflict. They can be outer conflicts or inner ones (that a character has with him or her self). But there has to be at least one - and more often a series of conflict - that move the story along. To me, a story should end when the conflicts are resolved - not before and not after. It can be a 'happy' ending or a 'sad' ending or maybe even neither. But there has to be some resolution. I think a lot of online stories would be better if the authors knew when to stop.
  5. Heh. I think you misunderstood me. I never meant that the author should EXPLAIN why he or she is breaking the rules IN the story! Yeah, I agree with you that this would be silly. I just meant that the author should know why he is doing it and be able to explain it, if asked. Beyond that, I'm curious which story you're referring to when you mention changes in perspective between characters. Usually, stories that do so are switching between first-person narratives (a technique that I don't think works for the most part). But you mention that this story swaps between third person - which I'm a bit confused about. Is it third person limited omniscient? I'm not familiar with any online stories using this perpective.
  6. The first rule of writing is...there are no rules. The second rule of writing is...there are no rules. Oh wait, that's something different. I'm thinking of shirtless Brad Pitt, which has me all distracted. Actually, I know this goes beyond the original question, but I want to point out that there ARE lots of rules. Rules, conventions, standards of procedure, whatever you want to call them, blah blah semantics blah. You do not have to follow them all (as noted above, you probably SHOULDN'T try to follow them all). You don't have to follow most of them. In some cases, you don't have to follow ANY of them (think Shakeperian type-wrtier monkeys!) The key is that when you make a choice to break the so-called rules, you should be able to explain WHY you did and how it works within your story.
  7. I checked out your new website and just one word... WOW!!! PS That's a GOOD wow. very nice! PPS I guess this is more than one word, but hey, I'm not known for brevity.
  8. I think a lot of the opinions above make sense: don't force uniformity, let the story dictate the chapter length, and extreme differences in chapter length can disrupt things for readers. But I think the deeper question should be: what IS a chapter? That is, why do we break stories into smaller segments, and what is each chapter supposed to do? To me, chapters are the building blocks of a story and break things down for the reader in smaller, digestable parts. How you choose to lay out the sections makes a real difference in how the story 'reads' to your audience. Not every chapter needs to have the same 'feel' as another chapter, especially given the role that different chapters play in how you are telling your story. Chapters that lay out background will flow differently than chapters featuring the climax of the action. Generally speaking, though, a well-paced story builds in action and intensity - focusing on some conflict (or multiple ones) and then offering resolution (though not always a 'complete' or 'satisfying' resolution). The same is true of a good chapter. I think a lot of serial online 'chapters' aren't necessarily constructed with much attention being given to how they fit in terms of the general story (pacing, development, etc.), which is a problem. Some authors do have a natural sense of when a chapter just 'seems' finished. Others meticulously plot/outline what must happen in a given chapter, giving some structure to what each chapter is supposed to accomplish. Other authors may find that a (flexible) word count keeps them in check to break down a story to manageable parts. And other authors seem to try to copy standard online 'conventions' for when a chapter is done, often with mixed results (all too often including the abused cliffhanger that is resolved in the first paragraph of the next chapter). All in all, I don't think you should have a set idea of how long/short chapters should be or aim for a specific word count or for uniformity. But you should have an idea of how your chapters fit in telling your story, and not only is there nothing wrong with being conscious of this fact, it's probably a good thing. Most authors don't have an innate sense that allows them to be blissfully unaware as the chapters magically fall into place.
  9. I agree that there is definitely a time to "let go" - even if you would want to keep playing with the piece. And that's it's VERY important to get outside feedback on when something is really 'done.' I just want to add that it also helps to put something you've written down for a while and come back to it at a later date. This technique helps you have appropriate perspective that you may lack if you try to evaluate your own work critically when you just finished writing it.
  10. I've been busy with life stuff too. I don't have time to keep up with everything on the forums. But I've stopped in chat every now and then and there is usually no one around. So I often don't even think of looking anymore even when I could.
  11. lurker

    The b**** must die!

    I've told this to you before, but I will repeat it again: You need to lower your expectations from this friendship and decide whether/how much to include Justin in your life. Yes, it sucks when your best friend ditches you for a boyfriend/girlfriend. It's a lousy thing to do to a friend, though nearly everyone is guilty of doing it, to some degree, at some point in life (especially as teenagers). But you can't make Justin dump his girlfriend and the more you try to harp on how manipulative and evil she is, the worse YOU look, and you help her build a dichotomy where it is the two of them versus the rest of the world. The situation sucks. You can't keep him from acting like an ass of a friend. But you CAN control how disappointed/hurt you are when the predictable continuation of the saga happens...
  12. Those links are great! My personal favorite - though it's not funnier than any of the others - is #27 about prologues. If a story has an incomprehensible prologue, I just won't read the story. Period.
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