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I feel like the worst writer EVER!

Got a question/comment about the creative process of writing? Post it here!
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Divia
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I feel like the worst writer EVER!

Post by Divia » Sat July 11th, 2009, 9:47 pm

I'm reading how to write the break out novel. I am learnin some interesting things and then I am like oh my dear lord in heaven I suck at this writing thing.

All of my confidence has been sucked right out of me. I dont feel like my conflicts are big enough now. My characters aren't big enough now..that my story isnt big enough! I dunno when I read this book I feel like evertyhing has to have a big bang or wicked twist.

Maybe I should stop reading the book beccause its making me second guessing myself. I dunno.
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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Sun July 12th, 2009, 4:10 am

It might work best to take one suggestion at a time, and one scene at a time. One of his best ideas, I think, is about infusing every paragraph with some type of conflict, whether it's a subtle as a darkening on the horizon that suggests a storm cloud or as strong as the open conflict between two characters that drives a major turning point in the plot. Don't think about your whole novel at once - just analyze one scene, and then add in some conflict throughout where you see you can. Once you've done that, you're bound to feel better about that scene, and you'll know you can, scene by scene, improve the whole novel. And don't let it make you feel like a "bad" writer - all writers have to revise!

Another thing to keep in mind is the title of this book is: Writing the Breakout Novel. The whole idea is to make novels that are already good enough to be published into novels that are good enough (with a pinch of luck) to become bestsellers.
Last edited by Margaret on Sun July 12th, 2009, 4:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Sun July 12th, 2009, 6:37 am

Don't make EVERY conflict a big conflict, don't make every character too big, or you'll end up with a Mario Puzo story, just perhaps with less dead bodies.
Just make sure that everything pushes the story forward.

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juleswatson
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Post by juleswatson » Sun July 12th, 2009, 7:47 am

I agree, Divia. I've just (just) started reading Maas' book as well. It's always good to be reminded of some of the basics of good novel writing. But they are just that - basics. They should form the underlying structure or skeleton, however plenty of books deal with those issues in more subtle ways. If we all wrote as books about plot tell us to write we would be writing thriller novels composed only of action. You have to write from your heart and what drives you and what you want to say with your book. All that stuff about conflict is human psychology (as readers we like being intrigued, made uncomfortable, unsure etc) and those things do keep people reading. So you absolutely need it. But you have to adapt it to what you are doing with the rest of the novel, too. See how you can bring those elements in to your book more strongly, but don't go chucking it out quite yet! See it as a way to improve, that's all. Lots of novels have "small" well-drawn characters living "small" lives but there is still conflict. The Girl with the Pearl Earring didn't have much plot but it had A LOT of conflict and suspense, done in subtle ways. All you need to remember is you want readers think, "Ooh, what happens next?" That's all, pretty much!
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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Sun July 12th, 2009, 11:11 am

To be honest I never use 'How to write' books because I'd just end up like a rabbit staring at the headlights. If you're a bird, you don't need a flight manual If you prefer the areoplane approach, then I guess you do, but just take it one step at a time. I do think that 'how to' books can murder the creative muse and they should be used very judiciously indeed and adapted to the way you write. I remember reading Rhona Martin's book on how to write historical fiction some time ago, and I just used it as a tick list. Am I doing this? Yes. And this? Yes. I've also use Robert McKee's 10 commandments in the past, but in both cases, the book and the McKee were at a very simple level. As above mentioned, I'd just turn into roadkill if I read something more technical, but I know I am definitely a bird.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

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Leo62
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Post by Leo62 » Sun July 12th, 2009, 12:52 pm

[quote=""EC2""]To be honest I never use 'How to write' books because I'd just end up like a rabbit staring at the headlights. [/quote]
I couldn't agree more :D

I do think it's a bad idea to read analytical books when you're writing a first draft. Just let the muse do its thing, however *badly* you think its going, and get to the end.

Once you start revising and rewriting your draft, that's the time to revist these kinds of "how to" books (the other time is in the planning phase, before you start). The time *not* to use them is while you're actually writing IMO. It can kill your creativity stone dead if you try to analyze yourself as you go along, plus you'll drive yourself nuts in the bargain. :D

A great book on how to balance the creative and analytical sides of your writing mind is Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. It's 70 years old and still one of the best books on writing I've ever read.

Good luck Divia - and don't give up!

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
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Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sun July 12th, 2009, 1:25 pm

I actually read a lot of writing books. I just don't take them very seriously. That's because nothing is so individual as creativity, and it does well to keep in mind that what works for one writer -- and for his/her readers -- may be absolute rot for another set of writer / readers.

I'm going to check out the 'How to write HF book you mentioned, EC. I've never read one specifically for HF (it does seem like the advice given in a lot of writing books, like Stephen King's, are aimed at producing thrillers) because I like what you write. I saw that Gary Jennings wrote one on writing HF, but since I have never been able to get past the TMI (on all levels) in his books, I didn't figure I wanted to know about the creative process that produced books that I don't like to read.

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Post by catholicone » Sun July 12th, 2009, 2:39 pm

Divia--What chapter are you on? I'm on Ch. 3 in his book. Don't get discouraged, just write what YOU like and use his exercises as jumping off points for the day. I like his suggestions, but if it doesn't work for your WIP then just ignore what you don't think is consistent with where you want to go with your novel. It's kind of like raising kids, what works for one family may not work for the next family and that's ok.

juleswatson--I completely agree with you! 50%-75% subtle conflict mixed with 25%-50% big drama is what I like in books that I read and write. What chapter are you on in the book?

MLE--Are you talking about the book by Persia Woolley?

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Sun July 12th, 2009, 5:04 pm

Thanks for the advice everyone. :)

Catholic I finished the book last night.

I do have the historical fiction writing one. Maybe I'll give that a go.

But I think everyone is right. I shouldn't put too much stock into these books. Just go with the flow etc. etc. Although writing the list of characters really helped me a lot. I finally figured something out that had been buggin me for a long time.

I feel better now. Thanks :)
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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Sun July 12th, 2009, 5:33 pm

Divia, you are not the worst writer ever. I've read some of your work and you couldn't even crack the top 100.

I generally don't read books on how to write a book either.

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