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> Your Writing Process, And/Or Problems with Same
Kazaera
post May 4 2019, 11:51 AM
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I agree with SubRosa and trey, especially this part:

QUOTE
The second is to just not concentrate much on that aspect of her.


The point where powerful characters become problematic is if the story only requires those traits where they can curb-stomp almost everyone. Having a supremely powerful fighter is not actually a problem for the story, the problem comes if the story then only consists of the literary equivalent of loving camera close-ups of action sequences where they destroy everyone without breaking a sweat.

A really great way of avoiding this is to move the plot into a realm where they aren't over-powerful. Maybe that's politics. Maybe that's stealth - the extremely powerful fighter finds they have to break in somewhere and navigate past traps to steal something without alerting anyone. Or they have to go undercover somewhere to gain information. Basically, throw problems at them that hit their weak spots.

You can even see if you can turn their power into a weak spot in its own right. Does your character ever underestimate the danger others pose to her? Discount someone because they're not powerful in the way she's used to? Act recklessly, knowing she can always blast her way out? Jump to combat or magic as a solution when a more diplomatic solution would have been possible? Having her make a mistake along these lines, and then be hit in the face with the consequences, is a great way of levelling this sort of power.

Also... OK, take this with a grain of salt because I think we write very different stories wink.gif but one of the ways I deal with supremely powerful characters is to skip over scenes that obviously showcase their power. (Ex: Methal Seran, in my story, is a ridiculously powerful mage. If he runs into a group of bandits, I am not writing that fight out; I scene break to the point where his summons is sweeping up small piles of ash.) This actually serves as a reinforcement to how powerful they are, because you as the author communicate that the conclusion to this fight is so foregone you don't even have to write out the combat scene, but at the same time eliminates OTT action scenes that can make your character come off as too perfect.

(On the flip side, I'd actually tread carefully around things like training montages, flashbacks and other sorts of "justification" for how powerful they are, because that still means story time focused on the things your character is fantastic at.)

Re: 2 - do you have to infodump at all? If this is a fanfic, readers can be expected to know roughly what a powerful TES mage would be capable of. Communicating "she's a powerful mage, and also a necromancer" should be fairly doable, and at that point her throwing a lightning bolt, conjuring a scamp or charming someone shouldn't come out of left field.

Other than that, other great ways of showing this kind of thing can be to show the character using their powers for mundane things. Maybe she summons a scamp to carry her shopping, charms an innkeeper into renting her his best room, uses a powered-down lightning bolt to shock an unwanted suitor or scare off a wild animal. This is great for making your character's powers seem real, and means that when she does end up using them in an important situation it's not out of left field.


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Darkness Eternal
post May 5 2019, 03:22 AM
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QUOTE(SubRosa @ May 4 2019, 01:51 AM) *

I can think of two ways to avoid her seeming like an Uber Mary Sue. The first is to immediately having her face off against opponents who are just as powerful, if not more powerful than her. The second is to just not concentrate much on that aspect of her. You mentioned politics. Spending more time on machinations and manipulations would make her physical or magical oomph less important, and stress her social and planning skills instead.

Having a well-established character to start with can be tricky in the abilities, because it might seem like deus ex machina when they use their powers at an opportune moment. One way to mitigate this is to try to present such a power you know is going to be pivotal later as a Chekov's Gun. For example we see her practicing her teleportation early, then she uses it at a critical junction later. A way to mitigate it seeming uber is to perhaps have her practice session not work exactly how she wanted it. Maybe she teleports to the wrong place. Then when she does whip it out later it seems like a real achievement when it works correctly.

My other thought is to try to simply keep her abilities all wrapped up together in a logical package. For example I recently created a superhero character who can project beams of hard light. He also uses the same hard light projected from his feet to fly. He can also use it to create force fields. They all fit together, so when he pulls out a new ability, you go "of course he can do that'.


That makes sense. The story will have two main characters, one is more out-in-the-field while she gravitates toward scholarly inclinations(though isn't above being involved in conflict), so there's plenty of focus on political savvy and the like rather than other areas. Situations where she'll be less inclined to use her own arcane knowledge and more her intellect. Thanks Subrose, this helped for sure! I just need to blast past a writer's block I'm having at the moment.

Interesting piece on Chekov's Gun. I bookmarked that page for future reference.

QUOTE(treydog @ May 4 2019, 01:58 AM) *

And another way to keep it from being too over-powered is to build in a "cost." For example, (unlike in the game mechanics) a healing potion drawing energy (fatigue) from the user.

So... although she has the powers, she has to use them judiciously and sparingly because each one (perhaps?) causes a vulnerability or etc. of some sort. And that would provide character-building as we watch her make choices.
Much like our regular RPG's, I see. Indeed both clever way for character-building and lessening the use of force. Thanks Trey!


QUOTE(mALX @ May 4 2019, 03:19 AM) *




RAVEN !!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT !!!!!!!!!!!!



Yes!! smile.gif

QUOTE(Kazaera @ May 4 2019, 11:51 AM) *

I agree with SubRosa and trey, especially this part:


A really great way of avoiding this is to move the plot into a realm where they aren't over-powerful. Maybe that's politics. Maybe that's stealth - the extremely powerful fighter finds they have to break in somewhere and navigate past traps to steal something without alerting anyone. Or they have to go undercover somewhere to gain information. Basically, throw problems at them that hit their weak spots.

You can even see if you can turn their power into a weak spot in its own right. Does your character ever underestimate the danger others pose to her? Discount someone because they're not powerful in the way she's used to? Act recklessly, knowing she can always blast her way out? Jump to combat or magic as a solution when a more diplomatic solution would have been possible? Having her make a mistake along these lines, and then be hit in the face with the consequences, is a great way of levelling this sort of power.

Also... OK, take this with a grain of salt because I think we write very different stories wink.gif but one of the ways I deal with supremely powerful characters is to skip over scenes that obviously showcase their power. (Ex: Methal Seran, in my story, is a ridiculously powerful mage. If he runs into a group of bandits, I am not writing that fight out; I scene break to the point where his summons is sweeping up small piles of ash.) This actually serves as a reinforcement to how powerful they are, because you as the author communicate that the conclusion to this fight is so foregone you don't even have to write out the combat scene, but at the same time eliminates OTT action scenes that can make your character come off as too perfect.

(On the flip side, I'd actually tread carefully around things like training montages, flashbacks and other sorts of "justification" for how powerful they are, because that still means story time focused on the things your character is fantastic at.)

Re: 2 - do you have to infodump at all? If this is a fanfic, readers can be expected to know roughly what a powerful TES mage would be capable of. Communicating "she's a powerful mage, and also a necromancer" should be fairly doable, and at that point her throwing a lightning bolt, conjuring a scamp or charming someone shouldn't come out of left field.

Other than that, other great ways of showing this kind of thing can be to show the character using their powers for mundane things. Maybe she summons a scamp to carry her shopping, charms an innkeeper into renting her his best room, uses a powered-down lightning bolt to shock an unwanted suitor or scare off a wild animal. This is great for making your character's powers seem real, and means that when she does end up using them in an important situation it's not out of left field.
I understand. This also makes sense. Focus on other areas rather than specifically combat ones. It also makes perfect sense from a story standpoint. She's forever trapped in the guise of a young lady, and is very limited in terms of displaying any combat prowess or magical abilities mainly because she's always expected to behave as a lady of the courts, nobility, etc.

I've been analyzing my rough drafts and revising the major scenes here. Though she's strong she's very young and inexperienced when it comes to human interactions, and learns some hard truths after underestimating once-trusted rivals. For the sake of blending in mortal society, she'll have to make certain decisions. For sure this is a great way of leveling it.

This does come in handy!

You mentioned using magical abilities for mundane things. Funny you said that since I have a few scenes where she uses a familiar to fetch her bottles and personal zombies to find specific books in her library. I've noticed plenty of great characters here in the forums using such skills, such as Buffy using her abilities while making camp and bedrolls. Sometimes we have a habit of forgetting such things can be used in the day to day basis for the simplest of things. I for sure haven't used this yet in any stories I've posted.

Thanks Kaz!


--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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BretonBlood
post May 5 2019, 03:48 PM
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My writing process is.... I suck at writing and finishing stories. I can picture everything I WANT to write I just don't know how to put it into words that are good writing, not like the talented people here on this forum anyways! So I end up with writer's block and never get around to finishing my stories.


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My first short story - "A Thief's Ascension"
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treydog
post May 5 2019, 04:26 PM
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QUOTE(BretonBlood @ May 5 2019, 10:48 AM) *

My writing process is.... I suck at writing and finishing stories. I can picture everything I WANT to write I just don't know how to put it into words that are good writing, not like the talented people here on this forum anyways! So I end up with writer's block and never get around to finishing my stories.

(Raises paw). I "think" we are getting close to finishing the fits and starts of our story, but I hear what you are saying.

So- to your specific- "knowing what you WANT to happen, but how do you make it good?"

Write the things you KNOW need to be there. Sentence fragments- phrases that have meaning to you- anything to get words on paper (or screen). And just keep doing that until you decide- that's all the stuff I can think of for now. And then- step away from it. Let it "cook". In a few days, come back to it and start thinking about what needs to go where, and how to connect the pieces. If you have the ending- write the ending, then figure out how you got there. Make it up. It's YOUR story, so no one else can tell you it's "wrong."

My 1/2 Septim anyway....


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Darkness Eternal
post May 5 2019, 07:58 PM
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QUOTE(BretonBlood @ May 5 2019, 03:48 PM) *

My writing process is.... I suck at writing and finishing stories. I can picture everything I WANT to write I just don't know how to put it into words that are good writing, not like the talented people here on this forum anyways! So I end up with writer's block and never get around to finishing my stories.

I wouldn’t say your writing sucks at all, and writing stories and finishing them can be challenging but luckily there are plenty of ways of getting over them. One thing I do is just sit down and think of my characters, setting and plot. I think about their aspirations and wants and what’s keeping them from obtaining that, the antagonists, etc.

George R.R Martin said there are two different types of writers:

QUOTE
I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they're going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there's going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don't know how many branches it's going to have, they find out as it grows. And I'm much more a gardener than an architect.




--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
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Kazaera
post May 9 2019, 02:54 PM
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QUOTE(BretonBlood @ May 5 2019, 02:48 PM) *

My writing process is.... I suck at writing and finishing stories. I can picture everything I WANT to write I just don't know how to put it into words that are good writing, not like the talented people here on this forum anyways! So I end up with writer's block and never get around to finishing my stories.


I hear you a lot on this one. Writer's block used to be a semi-permanent feature in my head.

Honestly, the thing that's helped me the most here? Forcing myself.

Absent other commitments, I currently have a routine that requires me to write 300 words every day. I picked 300 because it's small enough that even if I'm not feeling the writing (which is basically always) it doesn't feel insurmountable, but it's large enough that if I stick to it I write more than 100k words per year. I have a whole routine for this: an alarm that goes off at which point I will go make myself a cup of tea, light some candles, sit in the one particular armchair with my laptop and write.

Thoughts on this:
- the #1 thing that will help you learn how to get what you picture into words is practice. (Also very high up here is reading, but that's easier to manage.)
- real, imperfect, flawed writing that exists for other people to use is far better than a perfect story that only exists in your head.
- even if you can tell which sections you bashed out just to hit the word count... your readers won't.

(That last point is really striking. Under my new regimen I've written stuff that around word 306 trailed off into "ugh this all SUCKS it's not GOING ANYWHERE delete later". Generally, when I come back to that section a few weeks later my reaction is "what was past me on about? this is fine!")


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TheCheshireKhajiit
post May 9 2019, 03:51 PM
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QUOTE(Darkness Eternal @ May 5 2019, 01:58 PM) *

George R.R Martin said there are two different types of writers:

QUOTE
I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they're going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there's going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don't know how many branches it's going to have, they find out as it grows. And I'm much more a gardener than an architect.


He forgot to mention the type of writer who starts an epic series and then sells it halfway through to hack tv people and then goes on tour to ride the coattails of the show’s popularity when he should be writing.

FINISH THE DAMN BOOKS GEORGE!!


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BretonBlood
post May 9 2019, 09:24 PM
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QUOTE(treydog @ May 5 2019, 11:26 AM) *

QUOTE(BretonBlood @ May 5 2019, 10:48 AM) *

My writing process is.... I suck at writing and finishing stories. I can picture everything I WANT to write I just don't know how to put it into words that are good writing, not like the talented people here on this forum anyways! So I end up with writer's block and never get around to finishing my stories.

(Raises paw). I "think" we are getting close to finishing the fits and starts of our story, but I hear what you are saying.

So- to your specific- "knowing what you WANT to happen, but how do you make it good?"

Write the things you KNOW need to be there. Sentence fragments- phrases that have meaning to you- anything to get words on paper (or screen). And just keep doing that until you decide- that's all the stuff I can think of for now. And then- step away from it. Let it "cook". In a few days, come back to it and start thinking about what needs to go where, and how to connect the pieces. If you have the ending- write the ending, then figure out how you got there. Make it up. It's YOUR story, so no one else can tell you it's "wrong."

My 1/2 Septim anyway....



QUOTE(Darkness Eternal @ May 5 2019, 02:58 PM) *

QUOTE(BretonBlood @ May 5 2019, 03:48 PM) *

My writing process is.... I suck at writing and finishing stories. I can picture everything I WANT to write I just don't know how to put it into words that are good writing, not like the talented people here on this forum anyways! So I end up with writer's block and never get around to finishing my stories.

I wouldn’t say your writing sucks at all, and writing stories and finishing them can be challenging but luckily there are plenty of ways of getting over them. One thing I do is just sit down and think of my characters, setting and plot. I think about their aspirations and wants and what’s keeping them from obtaining that, the antagonists, etc.

George R.R Martin said there are two different types of writers:

QUOTE
I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they're going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there's going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don't know how many branches it's going to have, they find out as it grows. And I'm much more a gardener than an architect.




QUOTE(Kazaera @ May 9 2019, 09:54 AM) *

QUOTE(BretonBlood @ May 5 2019, 02:48 PM) *

My writing process is.... I suck at writing and finishing stories. I can picture everything I WANT to write I just don't know how to put it into words that are good writing, not like the talented people here on this forum anyways! So I end up with writer's block and never get around to finishing my stories.


I hear you a lot on this one. Writer's block used to be a semi-permanent feature in my head.

Honestly, the thing that's helped me the most here? Forcing myself.

Absent other commitments, I currently have a routine that requires me to write 300 words every day. I picked 300 because it's small enough that even if I'm not feeling the writing (which is basically always) it doesn't feel insurmountable, but it's large enough that if I stick to it I write more than 100k words per year. I have a whole routine for this: an alarm that goes off at which point I will go make myself a cup of tea, light some candles, sit in the one particular armchair with my laptop and write.

Thoughts on this:
- the #1 thing that will help you learn how to get what you picture into words is practice. (Also very high up here is reading, but that's easier to manage.)
- real, imperfect, flawed writing that exists for other people to use is far better than a perfect story that only exists in your head.
- even if you can tell which sections you bashed out just to hit the word count... your readers won't.

(That last point is really striking. Under my new regimen I've written stuff that around word 306 trailed off into "ugh this all SUCKS it's not GOING ANYWHERE delete later". Generally, when I come back to that section a few weeks later my reaction is "what was past me on about? this is fine!")


Thank you guys! These were all really great advice, I am going to try and learn from them and put them into practice in hopes that I can finish some stories. Really appreciate it.


--------------------
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ghastley
post May 13 2019, 02:45 PM
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Just don't try to use my writing method, which is to implement the story as a mod first. biggrin.gif

I'm currently writing a new chapter of Clark's Skyrim story, and I've only managed to build three levels of the dungeon, and most of that needs a lot of clutter, room bounds and portals, and other work.


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