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  1. plaidbutterfly's Avatar
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    #1

    Default Getting started

    I have started writing several stories. I guess I'm trying to find my writing style or niche or something. I've tried the outline approach and found that after going back over it again and again to flesh it out I lose interest in the story itself from having read it so many times. When I tried the just sit down and write it as you would tell it kind of way, well, i get kind of stuck after the first chapter. So I guess I'm asking what are some things I can do to get over this initial hump so the story can start flowing better?
  2. kayelle_allen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plaidbutterfly View Post
    So I guess I'm asking what are some things I can do to get over this initial hump so the story can start flowing better?
    Hear hear!

    That's an issue every writer faces at some point. I deal with that myself. Here's hoping we get some tips along the way.
    Kayelle Allen

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  3. Red Dragon's Avatar
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    Hello everyone,
    I'm looking forward to getting started, too. I hadn't thought of chapter one and chapter two serving different roles other than the opening of chapter one gripping the reader in the first few paragraphs and introducing the main character and problem/quest/goal. So, I can't wait to get my teeth into this, especially re chapter two.
    I thought we would have started. It is midday on the 17th in Australia so I am champing at the bit.
    Rusty
  4. Tristy's Avatar
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    #4

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    I'm also looking forward to hearing what Sue has to say about the first couple of chapters.
  5. SueMoorcroft's Avatar
    Reading: Heartthrob by Suzanne Brockmann
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    #5

    Default Getting Started

    How about trying to plan in 'broad brushstrokes'?

    Take a really basic view of your plot:
    - create a central character
    - give her or him a problem to solve
    - now, don't cheat! Make her or him solve it her or himSELF (in other words, make your central character proactive) via a pivotal moment.

    Can you sketch out your story using the above as a guide? Like this:

    - Jason is married to Cindy and they have a small child, Kimberley. (I would generally do a lot more character work than this, but you don't need to know it for the purpose of the exercise)
    - Cindy has decided she wants to live apart from Jason. She expects Kimberley to stay with her. Jason, horrified, points out that they can't afford to run two homes. He tells Cindy that if she wants the separation, she'll have to come up with the way to make it work. Cindy's feeble solution is that she takes a lodger to help pay the bills.
    - Jason says he will 'become the lodger'. He will move into the spare room while he and Cindy sort out their problems, therefore saving him from the heartbreak of living apart from his child and giving him a fighting chance of saving his marriage.

    This kind of broad planning leaves a lot of interest still for the writer.
  6. SueMoorcroft's Avatar
    Reading: Heartthrob by Suzanne Brockmann
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    #6

    Default The Good, the Bad and Robin Hood

    Hello!

    Sorry to be a little late in my first post. I could blame it on the time difference but, actually, it's because last night I was appearing at the London Writers' Cafe and I got on the train and suddenly had that sinking feeling ... I had prepared my post but not posted it.

    Which brings me to a salient point: I'm British. That means I will use UK English spellings rather than US. Just make allowances for me.

    So, here we are.

    Thank you for joining this seminar. The Webmistress is pleased with the take up and I hope you're going to enjoy my stuff. As well as being a novelist, I write short stories, serials and articles and and I'm a creative writing tutor and have written a 'how to' book called Love Writing - How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction. I know, from my experience, that there is a wealth of material out there about the basics of writing but that sometimes the nuances are neglected. And it's the nuances that can really take your writing on to the next level.

    I'm going to begin with my hot favourite - character.

    Let's assume that you know how to create a character. The next step should be to decide: What is your character's function in your story?

    What it is useful to remember is that you need to be able to identify your character's function because characters will automatically be categorised in the reader’s mind as a ‘goodie’ or a ‘baddie’. Why does this matter to you? Because you need to bear in mind your reader's expectation in order to cast your character in the correct role.

    Look at your story and decide:
    • which characters are intended to be sympathetic? (Sympathetic = the reader likes them. This is the Goodie.)
    • which unsympathetic? (Unsympathetic = the reader doesn't like them. This is the Baddie.)
    • what will the characters learn?
    • will the reader feel satisfaction at a comeuppance or joy at a hopeful ending?

    I think it helps to write with focus to know what one is writing to achieve. If Goodie is really the goodie then s/he will achieve his or her goal by the end of the book. Which is why you need to know what the character will learn. Baddie will be thwarted and frustrated - and you will have fun making certain that this is so.

    If you get Goodie and Baddie mixed up you won't just confuse or mislead your readers - something you often want to do, especially if you write romantic suspense - you will make your reader toss down your book and say, 'Pah!' Making readers say, 'Pah!' is a bad thing. It means you've lost them.

    Of course, you may want your readers to think that Character A is Goodie until he shows his bad side ... If you do that, make certain that you leave him or her a way from the Good Side to the Bad Side. If you have correctly identified Character A from the start, this will be a breeze and you'll be able to leave the reader loads of signposts so that they don't feel cheated.

    In real life people are seldom all good or all bad. In romantic fiction, we reflect this - for the sake of plausibility (and to avoid 'Pah!') Goodie should have some human flaws and Baddie should have some redeeming features.

    But, as well as Goodie and Baddie, there's a third option. A Robin Hood character.

    Robin Hood lives with outlaws, he acts like an outlaw, yet we never think of him as a baddie (although he is a thief) as his motive is so good: he robs the rich to help the poor. If we examine this idea more closely we’re saying that it’s OK to rob people who have something to be robbed of, regardless of whether it’s their fault that others have nothing. Few of us would feel this in real life – but Robin captivates us with his larky character and his conviction that he’s doing something good, even when he isn’t.

    Robin Hood makes a great hero in romantic fiction. He'll make us laugh, he'll drive the heroine crazy, his flexible morals will get them both in more conflict than you thought possible, just because he isn't a cookie-cutter hero. He's naughty but he's nice. But, at the bottom of him, he's good. Pretty much. Mostly.

    So you really, really need to make certain that he's not the Sheriff of Nottingham. He's definitely a baddie.

    Learn to recognise the difference between Goodie, Baddie and Robin Hood and your characters will fulfill their roles in your book, effortlessly.
  7. Red Dragon's Avatar
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    #7

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    Hello Sue,
    Thanks for the broad strokes approach. It's bedtime in Oz, so I'll think on a plan overnight. Problems are easy. The solutions I find almost impossible.
    Would it be too confusing to have goodie, Robyn Hood character and baddie all after the same girl. Robyn Hood would be a type of trickster, would he? I'd LOVE to write such a character, but imagine the escapades and resulting outcomes would be very hard to conjure up.

    See you tomorrow.
    Rusty
  8. SueMoorcroft's Avatar
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    #8

    Default Good, Bad and Robin Hood

    Hi Rusty,

    Hope you had a good night!

    No, I don't think that would be too confusing at all - I think it's a great idea. Robin Hood would be naughty but well-intentioned and probably drag the heroine into scrapes.

    If you have trouble coming up with the solution to problems, especially in short stories, have a look at some problem pages in magazines and newspapers. In there, you get the problem and the resolution! It's just a case of picking out the ones that are unusual, correct for the publication and have enough mileage in them for a story. I have done this several times, and sold the resulting stories to magazines.
  9. Red Dragon's Avatar
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    Hi Sue,
    Just popped back in before I go to bed.
    Getting solutions from newspapers and magazines is a good idea. I hadn't thought of that. I sort of expect to get everything from my head (the elusive muse) and I worry that any other way might be cheating [ie cheating myself].
    Rusty
  10. Anneepf's Avatar
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    Sue, I love your insights! This is my first forum on Coffee Time, and so happy I found something that's a fresh take on one of my hardest subjects: getting the &%$@* book started! (Which is hilarious, because everyone who reads my stuff says my openings rock.)

    Thank you most of all for reminding us of "Pah". The "Pah" factor should never, ever be forgotten. (And, I might add, never has it been so eloquently expressed!)

    From the land of "Duuuuude!" and "Awwwesome!", I am refreshed and invigorated by your wonderful British voice. Keep on keepin' on, sistah! I'm a new fan.
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