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> Your Writing Process, And/Or Problems with Same
treydog
post Mar 17 2006, 03:51 PM
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From: The Smoky Mountains



As we seem to have achieved a "critical mass" of writers here, I thought I would begin a thread regarding how it is we do this thing called "writing." The idea of this discussion is to maybe help each other with the creative process and also talk about how we deal with "writer's block."

Here is my process- please note that I do not believe that everyone (or anyone else has to write this way. It is simply what works for me.

Before I ever wrote the first word of Trey, I had made up my mind as to who he was, how he felt about certain things, what his "values" were. He dislikes Imperials and the Empire, hates slavery, isn't very good with authority figures, is perfectly willing to steal (although not from the poor or weak), etc.

I keep a spiral notebook in which I write dialogue, scenes, etc. in longhand. Even though I have been using a computer for (mumble-mumble) years, the act of actually writing in pen and on paper helps me connect with the material. Although I try to maintain a certain flow (chronological in the case of Trey), I have learned from bitter experience to write down EVERYTHING right when I think of it, even if it won't show up in the story until much later. To assist with finding those orphan ideas, I use different colored pens and assign them numbers. Then, when it is time, I just make a note to myself, thus "Insert 15." I usually do not write every word that appears in the final, just as much as I need to get going. Sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less.

Because I am doing a straight MQ story, I depend heavily on the Construction Set to get the in-game dialogue right. On the other hand, I consider how Trey will react to certain characters and situations and "create" conversations are needed if things are to make sense

Once I have enough (usually 3-6 pages) manuscript, I go to Word and begin turning my scribbling into real story. A lot of composing and creating takes place at the keyboard. The manuscript may simply say "Temple Informant." I will take actual dialogue, plus maybe some additional conversation to show the interaction between Trey and the NPC and develop the scene. A quick spell check (Word hates ES names), and I am ready for the next step.

The most important part of the process is the read-through. This is the place where I read the installment out loud to the talented and patient Mrs. Treydog. The purpose of this is to ensure that the writing "flows." If something I am reading "clunks" when read out loud, it needs to be fixed. I also find typos or missing words during the read-through. Additionally, Mrs. Treydog may ask questions or provide other suggestions.

Example- in the scene with Delitian she asked me, "How does the captain know who Trey is?"

So I wrote in the "I am Trey of High Rock" bit. Interestingly, the "... I've heard the name" response is already in-game.

Once I have fixed whatever did not work on read-through, I post the installment.

If this thread survives, I will talk later about dealing with writer's block.

Edited to fix typo and to add:

One of the hardest things for some writers to do is to decide when is "it" finished. The read-through also helps with that question. Bottom line- you have to let it go sometime. If you polish the story long enough, you will be left with nothing- particularly not the enjoyment.

This post has been edited by treydog: Mar 17 2006, 04:41 PM


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Padalin
post Mar 17 2006, 04:07 PM
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Ohh thanks treydog im hoping taht this would help a noob writer like me.
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Zelda_Zealot
post Mar 17 2006, 05:58 PM
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Sometimes I just write what ever comes to me, if it does not work out it gets to meet mister delete button. But really most of my writing time is spent sitting in a chair stairing at the computer screen, waiting for something to float across my mind.

But in rare moments something that I really like pops into my mind, where is swims around for a few days, gaining more and more ideas, until I finally get around to writing it.

Unfortunitly this has not happened in a while, partly because I am a bit lazy, but mostly because my computer with all of my WIP's died...

P.S. Please continue with the writers block part. It might help, and if it does I might copy some of my work off "fanfiction.net" and continue it.


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Kiln
post Mar 17 2006, 08:02 PM
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This thread has the potential to help those frustrated writers out there, this was a really great idea Trey.

Lets see...I usually try to think ahead of each part and I ask myself how this part will effect the character later on and if the actions of the character seem true to his or her personality.

If an installment fits with the rest of the story then I post it but if it doesn't then I usually scrap it, saving only parts that fit well and getting rid of those that don't. Make mental notes and keep in mind what you want to happen later on in the story, then build up to it.

I start each part by first developing a general idea about how each part will play out and then I start adding smaller details like how the character will do a certain thing and adding a few descriptive elements so that the reader can get a clear picture of what you want them to see. Description is a key element in writing.

Maybe the worst thing that a writer can do is to become bored with his or her own work, the most important thing is to have fun with writing the story and don't be discouraged by a lack of comments on your work, just because people aren't commenting doesn't mean they aren't reading.

I think that one of the best ways to keep yourself interested is to give yourself a goal in writing the story. I generally try to slowly change and develope the character, as the story progresses to show that the events the character has endured have changed him in some way. An example of which would be slowly changing a thief into more of a honorable sort throughout the duration of the story.

To keep readers interested I try to give the character a personal goal that doesn't have a direct effect on the storyline, from something as simple as getting a new sword to something as complex as searching for an ancient artifact.

Before I post the update I read over it to make sure it is easy to read and understand, if its not then I begin revising until it seems more reader friendly.
And the last thing I want to add is, don't forget your paragraph spacing, it is hard for people to read large amounts of text without any spaces.

I hope my words help some of those writers who are just beginning to write or are having trouble writing.

-Kiln


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He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee. - Friedrich Nietzsche
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Agent Griff
post Mar 17 2006, 08:10 PM
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My writing style is pretty strange. Since most of my story's actions and characters are made and designed by me it's pretty hard for me to think all of it. It may be easier to tell the story of the Main Quest in Morrowind as Trey or Jack Cloudy does but I've fixated it in my mind that I will be one of the, if not, the first guy from these boards to write a tale telling the story of Oblivion and its main Quest.

But before I actually get my hands on Oblivion everything my character does is thought out by me based on some guide lines on how Knightly Guild quests were handled in Daggerfall. That's why some of you may get the sweet feeling of playing Daggerfall when you read my story. Unlike some people on these boards I don't write my story down, I think it up and write it as it comes to my head. It may be hard and a bit chaotic but at least it's satisfying for me to realise that I'm telling my OWN home-made story and not the story of Morrowind which is pretty cliche' by now in my humble opinion.


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Taillus
post Mar 17 2006, 08:41 PM
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One thing, for me that I always take into consideration is who my main character is (Taillus) and what it is that he will be doing. I think making a simple timeline makes things easier. Give your character or characters a to do list of sorts. This way you cannot end up backed into a corner.

Another tactic I use which may not work for all writers here but if you are ever in a jam and cannot find a way to continue at the moment just take a break and write a small fic for the one shot stories thread we have here. It allows you to get your creativity flowing while giving you a change of scenery. Sometimes that is all it takes to get you ack on track.

Worst case scenario, you can always ask one of the writers here for help. I know that I would never mind in the least if someone wanted my constructive criticism and I bet there are a number of people here that would be very glad to as well.

A major point to remember is that no one can just fly through a story and complete it in minutes. Take time as well as pride in your work and don't forget that Rome wasn't built in a day. Do what ever gets you in the zone wether it be listening to music or anything else and never stop having fun with it!!!


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“Worry not, young Breton. This will be over very quickly but I wish I could say that it would be painless. You will suffer greatly before you join the countless other souls that fuel my power.” - Taillus
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jack cloudy
post Mar 17 2006, 09:28 PM
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I am a bit of a daydreamer, so I usually come up with bits and pieces through the day which I write down. Keeping to the Morrowind storyline as well as keeping only one character makes things easier. At least it wasn't a total disaster as with my last story which was sci-fi.


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Wolfie
post Mar 18 2006, 01:22 AM
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Writing...process? What the hell is that? tongue.gif
I just sit down at my computer whenever i get a vague idea for the next part of my story, and then i type til i run out of ideas lol


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minque
post Mar 18 2006, 06:50 PM
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Hmm haven´t we all different tactiques? Me I develop the next part in my head, sort of "daydream" it..then of course it´s cruisal that I get the opportunity to write it down as soon as possible...otherwise I might very well forget it again! kvright.gif

Such as just now.....these last three days when I´ve been here in Germany, walking the streets of Stade, then I´ve come up with a lot of stuff.....So guys keep your fingers crossed I do remember it all when I come back on sunday evening! ohmy.gif


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treydog
post Mar 19 2006, 03:21 AM
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From: The Smoky Mountains



I think we have some excellent ideas here- one thing that comes out clearly is that writing works differently for different folks. Rather than go on a quote-fest, I want to point out some of the points that strike me as being important:

-It should be fun- and that goes at the top of the list for a reason.

-Have some idea of where the story is going when you begin to write. It will save you headaches down the road. And it will keep your readers interested.

-Build your ideas on a solid foundation. That foundation may be character or plot, or better, a combination of the two. Add details and descriptions that give your story a “feel” or “atmosphere” that fits your concept.

-Give your ideas time to mature. The amount of time required will be different for different people- and different for the same person with different ideas. Writing and revising is part of that process- just don’t overdo the revising part.

-Often, a useful technique is to let your ideas “cook.” That is the highly technical term writers use to refer to the act of letting the story float around in their brains before committing it to paper.

That isn’t everything, and not all of those will work for everyone, but it is a start.

Writer’s Block

To talk about this, our greatest enemy, we have to define our terms. So first, let me describe what it is not. There are a great many things that keep us from writing- real life being the most prominent. But that is not writer’s block. The fact that your parents, husband/wife, girlfriend/boyfriend, dog/cat/fish/ferret, etc. hates you is sad- but it is not writer’s block. And this is not Treydog’s advice to the lovelorn.

Writer’s block is also not really the inability to write anything- it is the inability to write anything that you LIKE. There is something all writers have that is called the “monitor function.” Sometimes it is useful- more often, it is a pain. The monitor function is that little voice in your head that tells you every idea you have is stupid. If you listen to it, you will be paralyzed. To write, you have to have enough confidence to tell the monitor to shut up.

Other times, you hit a place in your writing where you aren’t sure what happens next. Maybe you have written yourself into a corner- like Mark Twain did in Huckleberry Finn.

Or maybe you simply feel like you have run out of ideas.

And maybe it is something else entirely.

But the key thing is: what do you do about it? The answer is simple to say and hard to do- you have to write your way past it. The only thing that will get you past a writer’s block is to write. As some other folks have suggested, sometimes you have to put one story aside and work on another. Another thing to do is set up a routine that helps you write. When I get really stuck, I always go back to pen and paper. There is something about the physical feel of the point forming words on the page that puts me back in the proper frame of mind. Another trick is to change the scenery. Stop trying to force your way through the stuck place in the story and go around it. What I mean by that is, think about what you are sure its is you want to happen eventually in the story. Write it down. Now think about how you can get to there from where you are. I cannot repeat often enough that you need to write down every idea you have, right when you have it. It may just be a fragment of dialogue or a bit of action, but you know it will need to be in there somewhere.

Another thing that can help is to talk through the problem with someone. The very act of expressing your ideas out loud (or through IRC or IM or whatever) will force you to shape them into something more substantial and intelligible. I listed those methods for a reason- they are conversational, meaning you get instant feedback. Discussing your ideas, problems, plans, etc. via email can also work- I have actually used that technique with my story. The advantage of a discussion is that you can try out several different approaches and see which one “feels” right.

Sometimes, a stuck place is actually an opportunity. Example- in the original story, Trey once got stuck in a cave because he was hauling all of his books, alchemy apparatus, etc. around with him. That really happened in the game. And it was a wonderful opportunity to introduce some humor and to give some insight into the character. What would he give up? What would he keep? When you get stuck in your writing, go back to your original concept of the character and the story. This person is your creation, speaking with a voice you gave him/her/it. If put some time into thinking about who the character is, that planning will help you find a way out of the problem.

“What would Telina (or Kiln, or Jonacin, or Serene, or Clangor, etc.) do when confronted by a drunken Nord singing an obscene song?”

“How did that Khajiit get here? And why is he wearing a dress?”

In other words, do something unexpected, but in character. It is a fantasy world after all, so use some imagination. Just because it is imaginative doesn’t have to mean it breaks your concept of your character. And listen to what your character is telling you. If you are doing this right, that character may have grown and changed from you original concept. When I started Trey, he most decidedly was NOT going to be the Nerevarine. He was going to tell Caius to take a hike. But- it was so much more interesting to watch (and write about) his heel-dragging, whining, surly acceptance of the inevitable.

Bottom line- when you are stuck, write your way through it. If you can’t think of what to write, talk your way through it. If you can’t find anyone to talk to, talk to yourself. Everybody already thinks writers are weird anyway.


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The dreams down here aren't broken, nah, they're walkin' with a limp...

The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
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ShraX
post Mar 19 2006, 04:15 AM
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Here's my process:

I sit down at my computer (I think too fast to get everything down on paper before it flies outta my ear, so I have to type it) and just start out of nowhere, not knowing anything or what's gonna happen, who'll do what, what's gonna be said.. nothing. I improvise everything on the spot without any prior ideas etc, and it works best for me. As I write (and it's continuous.. if I ever take a break, I completely lose my train of thought and have to wait a while, usually until the next day, before I can successfully go on from where I left off), I refer to what I wrote in the previous entries and paragraphs, and even sentences, so what I'm writing in the present makes sense.

Although, it'd be nice if I wrote everything down as I thought of it as Trey posted he does. Many ideas have popped in and flown outta my head, many good ones, as a consequence of not putting them down on paper so I remember them for when I write a new entry. I'll likely never do that though, but I don't feel, for me at least, it's absolutely necessary.
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Tellie
post Mar 19 2006, 12:10 PM
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Ok...My process:

1:I sit down, enjoying a good cup'o tea, or coffee for that matter. I read through my last two maby three posts, and do a little brainstorm, to see what ideas will fit in. If one does not fit in, it's usually scrapped, but if I see that it can be used later, I put it in my archive, to dig it up again some other time.

2:I get pen and paper, and actually writes the whole thing by hand, and cross out things that may have escaped me during the brainstorm. After I have written it down on paper, read through it a couple of times, and corrected what was wrong, I type it in on my comp. Then before i post it, I follow jona's advice, and readit out loud sometimes...after that I post it...and wait for the replies..which I love to get, by the way.


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Franavu
post Mar 19 2006, 03:54 PM
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From: Pseudopolis Yard, Ankh Morpok



Okay, here's how I write. Before I started with the story I knew pretty much what I wanted to tell. I'm working toward a goal.
When I start to write a new part I've already been thinking about what I want to do and how I want to do it for a while. Sometimes days, sometimes weeks or even months. I keep te plotline in my head till I have the time to just sit down and write. Which I do pretty irregularly due to certain circumstances. But when I sit down behind my PC I usually get quite a lot done.
I do most of my writing on Friday nights, when I get home after a week at university. I write as much to tell a story as to unwind after a long week of hard work, it's a way to relax for me.

My style is a bit unsual, but for me it is a lot easier to tell my story in this format. I think you should pick the format that is best for you and the story you are trying to tell, I think that may help a lot in terms of progress.

Well, I hope the previous made sense and that someone finds it useful.
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Kell-Reevor
post Mar 30 2006, 12:38 AM
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Great idea Trey, I'm glad you started this thread.

My "technique" (if you could call it that) for writing a fan-fic is to simply sit down and write. Usually I have an ordered storyline listing important events, but I have a bad habit of 'over editing' said storyline.

For something like a short fan-fic, it is just easier for me to open up Word and simply type. Once I get started, I can usually keep going until I have an reached an acceptable point. The text is then reread and finally posted here. I would not recommend this method, as the content it produces is typically serviceable at best.

For a much larger project I have in development, I can safely say that Trey's notebook pointer is among the best advice anyone can give. The difference between freehand and typing your thoughts is amazing. The very condition of the notebook can add to this effect. For example, the one I use is going on 7 years old and has survived both a fire and a coffee spill. It's aged and tattered appearance works well to set the feeling.

I recently started to use this notebook to record my thoughts. As of now, it is still fairly empty. I have different sections marked throughout it, such as: lore, tech, characters, etc. If a thought comes to me, I jot it down in the appropriate section.I usually review what I have written, then transfer what I like over to computer. Any info I don't use is still kept in the notebook in case I find a way to change it into something I like. For a project on this scale, I intend to devote years of planning before I even consider writing the first word.

Before you start writing, it would be a good idea to make sure you have the planning done. Editing as you go has its ups, but constant editing can leave you with a completely different story than what you started. Before you write you peice, you should ask yourself, "Is this the story I want to write?" If this is something you are taking seriously, then you want to really make sure its what you want it to be. Review all of your planned material as diligently as you would your first draft.

I hope this helps. Through the few stories I have written I have developed bad habits typically surrounding a lack of planning. That is why I really stress that part so much. I think Trey's advice was probably the most helpful of all, and again I would like to thank him for starting this thread.

This post has been edited by Kell-Reevor: Mar 30 2006, 12:51 AM
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davion
post Apr 2 2006, 06:58 AM
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Hey i'm back but whats new, every month i seem to dissapear don't I? lol, well this is my writing style.

Before i start i make sure i have everything i need. Make sure i'm not thirsty, not hungry, don't have the urge to have a smoke, that kind of stuff, then i'll sit down, open up microsoft word do all the paragraphing and tittleing and that stuff and where i am ganna put the words and the font and size and all that.

Then i sit there for several minutes trying to think of a name for the story. After about 2 minutes, if i haven't thought of anything that sounds good to me, i'll just pick a random name like, "Joo-Joo Bongaloo!" or something then when i get more into the story and figure out what the feel of the story is going to be, i rename it with the appropiate name.

After i get the tittle settled, i turn on music via xbox or ps2 and T.V.(input 2), and hit tab for the paragraph indention thing, place my fingers on the keys and start typing. I have no clue what i'm going to say, I don't plan out what i'm going to write, I don't even think of where i want my story to begin. This is litterally what happens, no joke!

I place my left middle finger on the W key, my thumb on the SPACEBAR, my ring finger on the A key, my index finger on the F key, Pinky Finger on CTRL key, then i put my right index finger on the N key, my right middle finger on the K key, and my right ring finger on the : key, my right pinky on the SHIFT key, and my right thumb on the space of plastic underneath the SPACEBAR.

Why did i tell you all that? Beats me i just did, thats all there is too it lol. Thats just how my hand naturally sits on my keyboard when i'm getting ready to type.

Now when it comes to writing actual story, my mind goes blank and my fingers just start bouncing all over the keyboard and i don't know how the story turns out until i'm finished with it. Then when i'm done for the time being, i go and check to see if i put the same thing mroe than once right next to each other and look for type-o's and what not.

Like the story i just started called, "Endless Oblivion" i had no idea how i was going to make my char do anything, didn't know what race it was ganna be or what gender or anything, i just named my story then placed my fingers on the key and they went off and did their own thing and when i checked back i was done with that part.

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Trey your style works for you really well, but its not for me but some of those things you listed can be used for spell checking, taking the authentication of what your talkin about and all that good stuff.

What i don't do that you do is that i don't have what the NPC's say word for word. I find that if you do that it they sound too much like machines, just like in the game lol. I take the basic topic of what they were talking about and type it back out in my own style, to make the reader feel like the NPC chars my main is talking to are actually people and not just having the MC walk around like he's in the Matrix™ ya'know? lol. What works for you though ya'know what i mean? thats just how i do.

Something that i didn't see you talk about Trey, and i did a brief read so i could have skipped it and not known it but this is what helps me too.

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With me i cannot write a story just out of the blue like steven king and all them. I have to base it off of a game i have played or a book i've read that i'd like to have seen more of a certain character and what not. I mainly stick to writing stories about games i have beaten.

Like i finished writing a story based on the Half-Life 2™ game. But insted of writing down what you did as Freeman in my own words, my main character was Adrian Sheapard from the Half-Life 1 expansion pack Opposing Force. I called it, "Opposing Force 2" because i really wanted to see Sierra come out with a sequle to that expansion pack, so insted of waiting for them to(possably never) come out with one, i decided i should write the story based on how i think it should go down. It's not very long story, but opp force wasn't very long either. But if you guys have ever played HL1 and the OpFo expansion you'll know what i'm getting at.

But back to what i was originally talking about. Inspiration.

I make sure i know the game pretty well before I write a story about it or what i did, ect., ect., . If i know the story well enough, or if its still fresh in my mind, i'll write the story. If not, before i begin to write, i'll go into the game and start playing the game from a new char or whatever, and as i play i get random sentances between 2 random made up chars pop into my head.

Like today, i had beaten Oblivion last night, and so i made a Adventurer char to go around and get all the goodies and what not, and on my journies i came to a house and i got an idea in my head that i will probably use in the story with something along the lines like, "I had journied through The Great Forest for several days, and after my encounter with several of the wilderness beasts, i had ran out of rations so i went to the house to see if i could possably get some water or food."

And after that poped in my head i was inclined to go see who was in the house and i got in it and everything in there was thrashed, and i found noone, then when i made it to the attic i found like 2 familys worth of skeletal remains up there.

Ya'know, inspiration. My problem though is, i can keep what came up in my mind locked away until i go to sleep cus once i wake up i forgot how i wanted to do it and all that so i have to jott down what i want, and if i think that it was actually stupid when i wake up the next morning, i go and edit it to make it work with the rest of the story.

If your like me and write stories based on games, then playing the game MULTIPLE times, even if its the same story line over and over again it, to me at least, helps give you ideas and the like.

Well i think thats all my 2 cents. smile.gif


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Fuzzy Knight
post Apr 3 2006, 04:50 PM
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Great thread you've made here Trey, now as I've come back after a break from this place I see that it's a lot of good writes here now, good quality writing and good stories! As I've made a couple of stories myself they really just popped out of my head whilst I was on the computer and I didn't put time enough to really go deeper into the stories which made my two stories pretty much die over and over again even tho I really wanted to continue sad.gif

I've read the replies here and you're tips Trey so hopefully I'll start something up after a while, story taking place in "Oblivion" smile.gif But we'll see, still need to learn from you guys here since I only knew how to write about people fighting kvleft.gif
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Kell-Reevor
post May 22 2006, 08:24 PM
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I stumbled across this website during my neverending web browsing.

It's not so much as a process than it is a group of guides supplied by Elfwood that can help writers in need. I've read a few so far and learned a great deal.

ELFWOOD Tutorials

Check out the "Character Creation Form" and the Villans essay.

I hope this helps some of us who feel we need it.

Note: the link may have trouble loading at times, just be patient and try again later.
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minque
post May 22 2006, 08:30 PM
Post #18


Wise Woman
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Joined: 11-February 05
From: Where I can watch you!!



Ah that site is great Kell! I´ve bookmarked it....it will certainly be of use for me...Thank you for sharing.... tongue.gif


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Chomh fada agus a bhionn daoine ah creiduint in aif�iseach, leanfaidh said na n-aingniomhi a choireamh (Voltaire)

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The Ascendant
post May 22 2006, 09:10 PM
Post #19


Retainer

Joined: 29-April 06
From: Oakham, England



I haven't written anything that I've put on here, although I do often use Morrowind/Oblivion as inspiration for English coursework stories (and I get good marks biggrin.gif). I'm also writing a big long story that isn't based around TES at the moment. I might dig out one of my old English courseworks and post it here for you lot to read and criticise.

Anyway... my writing technique consists of me spending a while thinking of the next part of my story and then refining it, usually during my lessons indifferent.gif I then begin to write it on computer as and when I get the chance, adding parts here and there as necessary or removing parts that don't fit at the time and pasting them in another document just in case. I won't often use those parts in the way I wrote them, but I may use them as a basis for a future part of the story.

I always have a vague idea of what I want to happen in the story and a few points it has to pass through to get there, although I generally have no idea as to how it's going to get to the next "set" point and just write parts as the ideas come to my head.


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"If you make something idiot proof someone will invent a better idiot."
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treydog
post May 22 2006, 11:19 PM
Post #20


Master
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Joined: 13-February 05
From: The Smoky Mountains



Kell, that site is quite useful. I, too, will add it to my bookmarks.


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The dreams down here aren't broken, nah, they're walkin' with a limp...

The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
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