Writing Advice

There's no better way to get writing advice, than from other writers!

Have you learned something helpful about writing based on your experience? Share it here. Need to ask a question to fellow writers? Drop it here!

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  1. MCKapo

    What are some ways you guys have of plotting out time travel novels.

    My idea is quite lofty, but a dark epic fantasy action romance type of novel, spanning a continent through centuries (and eventual destruction of continent) in 1700’s like yeas, ancient years, future years and post apocalyptic years, where two are MCs are an alien bound to a space-time interspatial sword and the immortal son of a ruthless king.

    I want it to go back and forth possibly, but how would I ploy and work this out with time travel?

    any special programs used?

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    Reply 0 Replies Jun 6, 2018
  2. Ferguson_The_Great

    Hi all.
    My first post here.
    So it’s in the form of a question. After many months and sleepless nights I’ve completed the first draft of my novel. It’s a kooky, surreal, futuristic story about a village of cats, a village of cows, a dragon, a badger, a snake and a magical river. And the terrifying beasts that live in the woods.
    Aaaaanyway, I’ve become somewhat stuck now. I had the goal of finishing the first draft, and thought I’d be able to breathe a sigh of relief when it was completed. Apparently writing the second draft is equally terrifying. I’ve read online advice, but what I can’t seem to find is advice on EXACTLY what I’m trying to accomplish on second draft. I’m not looking at grammar or spelling, im trying to improve on the story, but i still find myself editing minor sentences and reordering a couple of words. Is there any method or goal you put into your head when you go about the first edit? What exactly are you trying to accomplish this time around?
    Any help would be appreciated, thanks
    Ferguson_The_Great

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    Reply 1 Reply Apr 4, 2018
    1. RoseOfNoonvale

      One thing I would suggest is looking at character development. Read through your own story and keep track of how your characters change and adjust to the events happening around them. See if there’s anything that doesn’t make sense, and adjust it. Keep track of things that seem out of character (for example, if Hermione in Harry Potter were to not finish a homework assignment, or fail on a test, or not study anything she’s supposed to), and think about if it is necessary. If you find this difficult, ask someone else to read it and give you advice on the storyline. Is there anything that doesn’t make sense? Any strange plot twists that don’t affect the storyline at all, and are unnecessary?

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      Reply 0 Replies May 5, 2018
  3. Madison

    To the user who requested advice on characters with anxiety (the first comment was somehow deleted:)

    First, clearly discern fear from anxiety. Fear is just that: a founded aversion to something, usually with a reason. (Fo example, someone who is afraid of dogs more than likely DOES NOT have anxiety. They probably just have a fear of it, regardless of whether or not they have a reason to be afraid of dogs.)

    Anxiety is different. It’s a condition. Technically, anxiety is different than fear, even if the illness seems to entirely revolve around being afraid. There isn’t always a clear cut reason for anxiety, which makes it all the more frustrating for the sufferer. Anxiety usually has a lot of fears associated with it. A lot of the times, those with anxiety worry about the ‘what if’s. Most of the time, the scenarios they worry about more than likely won’t happen, but they still obsess over them, unable to control it. (i.e. What if I get poisoned while eating out? What if I say something wrong and my friends start to hate me? What if I suddenly fall ill and die?) These uncontrollable thoughts become overwhelming, oftentimes causing avoidant behavior in the sufferer. This is where the misconception that people with anxiety are cowards comes from.

    Another thing is that there are different types of anxiety. Most will feel anxious throughout their lifetime; worrying is simply human nature. However, when anxiety significantly disrupts one’s quality of life, it’s probably indicative of an anxiety disorder. According to psychologists, there are seven main types of anxiety disorders. These include:

    – Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (This is the most common type of anxiety disorder. It is characterized by consistent worrying about everyday things. Those with GAD may often feel on edge, sometimes not even knowing what it is they’re worrying about. When the sufferer identifies the fear, they go out of their way to avoid the trigger at all costs. This disorder can be greatly debilitating due to the fact that it masks everyday tasks difficult and frightening.)

    -Phobias (Like fear and anxiety, fear and phobia are two different things. If dogs scare your character a little, but they can easily deal by avoiding being near them, it’s a fear. However, if the fear is so debilitating that they are constantly worrying about dogs and what might happen if they encounter one, (this is called disaster thinking,) it’s more than likely a phobia. Like GAD, this inspires avoiding the trigger at all times. The intensity of anxiety that accompanies the phobia varies from person to person, from mild to debilitating. Someone can have a phobia of almost anything.)

    – Social anxiety disorder/social phobia (Social anxiety is characterized by fear of social situations and unfamiliar people. Sufferers may feel afraid when in a crowd or speaking in front of others. They often fear embarrassing themselves and the judgement and thoughts of their peers, thus causing them to avoid being in social situations. Sufferers are often self conscious and self depreciating, beating themselves up over even the smallest mistake they make in front of others.)

    – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) (OCD is an anxiety disorder that is commonly mentioned, but rarely understood. It is characterized by founded obsessions and compulsions that overlap, causing the sufferer to feel great anxiety should they not act on their compulsions. To break things down: obsessions are thought based. They cause the sufferer to become focused on a certain negative thought, sometimes constantly. For example, if a sufferer is obsessed with the thought of harmful germs, they will constantly worry about getting sick and become mindful of what they touch and washing their hands. Compulsions are behavior based. They fill the sufferer with the desire to complete a certain action in order to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsession. The sufferer may feel significantly better about germs if they wash their hands immediately, but they will not feel better until they can do so. This hinders day to day life significantly due to the sufferer’s need to act on their compulsions and preoccupation with their obsessions. OCD is NOT being a neat freak. It is a mental illness characterized by obsessions that must be met by acting on compulsions. Do not downplay it in order to contribute to the stigma.)

    – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is caused and triggered by a traumatic event. It is commonly seen in war veterans and abuse survivors, but is not limited to those particular groups. It is characterized by reliving and being affected by the event, and is commonly accompanied by specific triggers. For example, a soldier might be triggered by the sound of gunshots. Though the response varies, a sufferer will often freeze up or shut down during an episode, reliving the event in some form of another. Flashbacks are usually the root of the problem, as well as nightmares and disaster thinking. PTSD sufferers can easily become emotionally withdrawn and depressed. It is best for them to receive some sort of trauma counseling or treatment in order to lessen and cope with distress.)

    – Panic Disorder (Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by the presence of panic attacks in the sufferer. Panic attacks are frightening anxiety episodes that are characterized by an array of physical and mental/emotional symptoms that vary from person to person. More often than not, the attacks are triggered by things that actually possess no danger, though the sufferer becomes very afraid and distressed.)

    – Agoraphobia (Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by the fear of going out in public. Sufferers often have trouble leaving their own homes, common public places such as restaurants and grocery stores triggering their anxiety. Agoraphobia sometimes goes hand in hand with panic attacks and traumatic events. If an event causing significant stress outside of one’s home, they may begin to avoid leaving home, becoming confined to their own living quarters.)

    Your character may suffer from any anxiety disorder, each one being different from the other. Any one of these conditions may be referred to as ‘anxiety,’ but they all have very different specifics. It’s good to know which one your character has, and to keep that in mind.

    Anxiety disorders affect different facets of one’s life. For example, someone with social anxiety may be a total daredevil when it comes to climbing mountains, windsurfing, or any other crazy hobby, whilst panicking at the prospect of attending a dinner party. It’s important to know what an anxiety disorder means and how it affects the sufferers.

    Another thing about anxiety is that it is not limited to worrying in itself. Most of the time, anxiety disorders are accompanied by physical symptoms along with the mental symptoms. These often take the form of panic attacks, which are often accompanied by symptoms that include, but are not limited to:

    – Rapid heartbeat

    – Sweating or intense feelings of hot/cold

    – Tingling, numb, or weak sensations in the body

    – Feelings of unreality or depersonalization

    – Breathing problems

    – Dizziness or feeling lightheaded

    – Chest pain

    – Stomach pain or nausea

    Finally, I will say that anxiety can be important to the character, but should not outweigh their other qualities as a person. Though you can and should address your character’s anxiety disorder, think of them and address them as a person, not a walking mental illness. As someone who has suffered anxiety, there is nothing more disheartening than reading bad representation. At best, it turns off the reader. At worst, it spreads misinformation and contributes to the large existing stigma surrounding mental illness. I would suggest not limiting your research to what I’ve said, and continue to read up on anxiety disorders and those affected by them. I would also suggest having someone knowledgeable about and/or suffering from anxiety to read through your work.

    If anyone else has anything else to add, feel free to add to or correct anything I’ve said.

    Best of luck and happy writing!

    -Madison

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    Reply 1 Reply Apr 4, 2018
  4. Madison

    What do you guys appreciate most in the first chapter of a story? What gets you hooked, and keeps you there? Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to a story’s opening?

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    Reply 1 Reply Mar 3, 2018
    1. MCKapo

      Beginnings that start with dreams, and them waking up before something awesome happens. Or getting dressed and explaining everything that happens… pet peeves .

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      1. Madison

        Same! Those are both done to death, honestly.

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  5. Madison

    I have an issue with this, too. My more long winded sentences always seem necessary to the narrative, but with sentences lasting 23 words on average, it does seem kind of long winded. 😛

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  6. MCKapo

    I’d start with reading what you’ve written down out loud. When you come to a pause, that’s where you’ll end the sentence.

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  7. kehlani_

    Hello! anyone have advice on what to do when you have TOO many ideas? I love all the characters, and stories that play in my head. Yet, I struggle with finishing any of them because I have so many ideas at once. How do you decide which story to stick with and finish? hmmmm.

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    1. cemo

      I sort of have a similar thing where when I’m writing a novel, I will get to a rough patch and immediately want to write something else. What I do is keep track of my new ideas in one document, so that I don’t forget them, but keep on writing my current project until it’s done. To be honest, sometimes it just takes sheer willpower to get things done. It’s not going to be easy, but you have to do it.

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  8. Purplelily96

    I’ve learned that I can lengthen my stories by adding how my characters feel. I’ve also learned to describe details that could lengthen the story.

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  9. MCKapo

    How to do you guys go about plotting out your stories? How do you create/think of complex plot and subplots?

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    Reply 2 Replies Mar 3, 2018
    1. Purplelily96

      I usually have a certain idea of what I’m gonna write. Try outlining and figuring out the small details ’cause it brings bigger ideas

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    2. MCKapo

      I can usually get the beginning and the end, but it’s everything in between I have trouble with.

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      Reply 1 Reply Mar 3, 2018
      1. Mys_Marie_Post

        I tend to face this same struggle @MCKapo. Especially when I’m writing longer pieces of work such as novels. My ideas usually put me somewhere at the beginning or the end and leave me to figure out all the stuff in the middle on my own. To work past this I usually try some form of outlining/freewriting. I’ll take my idea, sit down with a notebook and a pen (bit old fashioned I know but I find I work better with pen and paper when I’m first starting something and this way there are fewer distractions than one would have with a computer/internet access on hand) and write it out. Not the story/idea itself but a summary of what the idea is/what happens during the time period the idea is taking place. Then, I write out what I want to happen after this point/what should have happened before I/my character(s) got to this point. This can come in form of figuring out character backstories or world building the history and culture of my setting. Having an idea is always great, knowing where to go with that idea is the key and even if you can only figure it out a step at a time each step will get you a step closer to the finish line whether that’s the beginning if you’re working from the end or the end if you’re working from the beginning.

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