Let's Talk About Writing!

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Ryan. (My online alias of course being RGL Entertainment) and I am a writer. Or at least trying to be… But I am stuck in the worlds worst case of writers block.

So, to the fellow writers who occupy this forum I ask you this: When you have your characters, backgrounds and setting, whats the next step? How do you decide what story to tell when you’ve created a universe?

I look forward to the discussion. Post away!

Well I too am trying to be a writer I was writing a story not so long ago then realised it wasn’t working out and I wanted to do a slightly different kind of story, so I scrapped it halfway through chapter 4 and I’m currently trying to start a new story.

I wish I could give you some good advise but I’m currently suffering from major writer’s block too but I guess just carry on reading books for inspiration and ask around from other writer’s opinions, though I don’t think you’ll get much luck from the Ultra-Combo forums.

I didn’t expect to get a ton of help from the forums. However if you look around there are plenty of people who are passionate about storytelling. whether they write or not. What I really want to know is what people like to see in stories.

Sad to hear you’re scrapping ideas too, but I know the feeling quite well.

If you’re creating a universe before you’ve creating a story, you’re sort of getting the cart before the horse. You’re primary focus before anything, should be the story. Think of a book/screenplay like a cake. The “cake” part is the “story” with everything else (no matter how many layers) being the icing.

I was trained as a screenwriter and then later on picked up novel writing and the one thing I learned in all of my classes and such is that you can have one of the vastest universes in the world, but if your plot stinks, no one will care.

I love writing fantasy and I am currently editing the screenplay version of a fantasy book that I wrote (will be reediting that one within a month or so) and before I started even getting into the world, I hammered out what my plot was. (about 1 or 2 pages). At this point I didn’t know what my world was or even where. I just focused on getting my characters down, their motivations, and then events that caused everything to happen.

I will break down how I did everything…

My first thing first my Logline (usually just one or two sentences)

Logline (beta) for The Wolf Prince:
A cursed prince joins forces with a witch and a pirate in order to stop a sorcerer from unleashing a ancient evil that could destroy the world.

There it is the jest of my whole plot in one sentence. In almost all stories and screenplays you should be able to explain the plot in one sentence or less. If you can’t you’re story isn’t focused.

After I figured out what my plot was, I then started breaking things apart and asking questions about the world.

How did he get cursed? What type of curse is it? If it is magic, how does the magic work? What is this evil? Why is it evil?..

In short, I let my story evolve the Universe, and then I enrich that Universe each time I perform a rewrite or edit.

Does this help?

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This helps immensely, thank you.

My original plan was to set up everything before I figured out the main plot. Like pulling your toys out of a toybox. You know what toys you have to work with, it’s just a case of deciding what story you’re going to make today. Does that make sense?

Anyways my plot is this: A deafblind teen seeks revenge against the maniacal priest who kidnapped him at a young age and made him that way.

Of course there are many other factors, but after all that is just one sentence. So I think I might be OK in that regard. My biggest issue is deciding what obstacles the main character needs to overcome to carry him to the ending.

I should also make it clear that I’m writing this with the goal of creating a graphic novel.

I think @WebNRaGnArOk hit the nail on the head anyway both your stories seem really cool and I wish you the best of luck.

I haven’t came up with allot of the names in my story yet but it’s about a young human man who discovers he’s a prophecy to stopping an evil overlord in another realm and must join forces with a mismatched team of a angel-ish bodyguard, a British special forces soldier, a mage and a hulking warrior to save both worlds.

I try to think of my characters as devices by which I’m telling a specific story.
In other words, the basic plot of the story is the first thing I decide. Often it comes together in detail as I flesh out characters to occupy positions in that plot. Background is just how I color the world and characters as I go.
If you have the plot outlined, you can then render characters as you need them.

From your position with pre-rendered characters, I’d still go back and get a plot outlined and simply reserve places for those characters before getting the real writing started. You may find your characters changing a bit to fit the story, and that’s fine.

To get a story plot rolling I usually take a big event and decide whether the story takes place before it, or after it, or during it. From there I can decide who the key figures of that event are going to be. Am I writing from their point of view? Are they the main characters? Or are they background characters/mythical figures to whom my characters are working toward defeating/uniting with/whatever?

If the story is building to the big event, (pretty common plot) I just need to decide how my characters are involved with that buildup.
If the story is during a big event, I have to decide to what end am I telling the story. Victory, defeat, prolonging the event, bringing the event to an end, etc. Then, in what interesting way are my characters involved with it?
If the story is after a big event, then I need to figure out what my characters are doing next. Learning to live in a different world? Meeting each other and struggling to reach a safe haven from which they devise their next plan? In any case, this plot direction always needs to build up to another event.

If the reader has no end goal in sight, they start wondering why they’re reading about a bunch of stuff that happens with no direction. The end doesn’t have to be what’s expected, but they still need to feel like the story is building up to something significant.

These are great tips on how to get started. If you were to structure the plot as the simple beginning to middle to end I would say I’ve got a pretty good grasp on how my story starts and how my story ends. It’s what happens in the middle that I’m really struggling with.

In fact I already wrote the beginning. It starts when the priest (Who I’m calling Zealot) blinds the main character (Cairo) by crudely branding diagonal crosses over his eyes. This is a big deal because the crosses (which resemble X’s with the longest arm running down the side of his face.) are the biggest focal point in his design.

One of the things I’m wondering is if I should actually start it there. Any linear story would have you believe that you should always start with the character’s origins right away, however you also have stories like Goodfellas where it throws you into the climax of the story first, then drags you back to the beginning later. Food for thought right there…

Guess it’s just whatever the writer dictates is a more effective intro.

It seriously just blanked out c l i m a x. Get your mind out of the gutter website…

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Maybe what you have in mind for the end should be the middle, and use that pseudoclimax to open up a new goal (the real ending) for the main character.

I’m writing something myself and I’m about to scrap it for the 5th time lol. I found my direction starting to get a bit scattered. The advise in this thread has been very helpful! As Ragnarok wrote it, mine is:

2 professional assassins kill a politicians estranged daughter who was a witness. A city wide manhunt ensues as they deal with law enforcement, bounty hunters and rivals looking to cash in.

Setting: post apocalypse but it’s over, civilization rebuilt to an extent but lawlessness still reigns in the wilds.

I’m not sure I wanna stick to that plotline, or just make it into a series of shorties where they do jobs for the highest bidder.

I’m trying to write a story out just now, but lost my third story due to relatives snooping in my PC where they shouldn’t be. :rage:

My process began with key characters: Main, sub, extras. Within that, you decide what roles they take; Goody, baddy, comic relief, wise advisor, etc.
One you’ve got your characters, build the back story. Most of the time during this process you’ll begin to understand where the lore for the universe and the characters will come from, so that will help shape their way of thinking and limit their actions and emotions too. Any hard man with a back story of brutal violence and no social interaction is hardly going to be going to a ball and make light conversation with the gentry.

So you’ve got your characters and their history, so what do you want to do to them in the story? Do you want them to evolve through a challenge or struggle to improve themselves or do you want them to die nobly in the face of an insurmountable enemy whose destiny will not be denied?

Basically break the story into sections and make up a set of situations or events that lead to a big climactic moment that brings a resolution to the whole dilemma, unless you want to make it a cliffhanger and then write the sequel.

Scroll down to the 31 points of action part. This pretty much covers all the possible parts you can put into a story.

Hope this helps.

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There are a couple of different ways to settle it. One fix that could’ve benefited a few stories is to get your major events down. Write out the beginning of the story, write out the end of the story, write up any major happenings in the middle, and fill in the blanks. That way, you have a structure you can stick to and a path to follow in case you can’t think of what to do; just say "I need my character to get to THIS point for the story to continue to where I want it. What’s the next logical step?"
Of course, it’s also good to edit those points along the way if a previous event changes the context of the plot points, and to write things up fresh when you get to the points you want to revise.
I know it may not be much coming from an amateur like me, but I hope it helps!

Alight think about this…

Your story starts when the main character gets blinded by the “villain”. The hero then has to overcome this “blindness” in order to beat the villain. Your inciting incident is the blinding. (Your beginning should focus on introducing the hero and his world. Did he have a family, friends… The villain, why did he do this to the hero? Did he do anything else, like murder the hero’s love interest?
The middle focuses on the hero learning to overcome his handicap. It’s his goal. He has to learn to adapt and overcome this issue or he’ll never be able to get back at the individual who did this. At the same time, the villain isn’t going to want him to succeed, so he/she will do everything in their power to halt his progress.
The end focuses on the “Final Battle” The hero/villain are equals at this point and struggling to get the better of each other. The Conclusion is the final outcome, with the hero finding a new high/low.

I pulled up some of my old Story Structure Forms to help you create a guide you can build upon…

GHOST: The events that brought your character to their current state.
CONTEXT: The world your character lives in (fantasy or real), the setting, the period… ect ect.
PROBLEM the HERO is AWARE of: The over all problem. What links the hero to the villain.
MORAL NEED: In what ways is your character flawed? How will his transcendence through the Journey change this?
PSYCHOLOGICAL NEED: What is your character’s ultimate desire? Family? Stability? Love? Riches? What motivates him to get out of bed?
INCITING INCIDENT: The event the propels your hero on the “Journey”.
DESIRE: The ultimate goal of the hero. (to defeat the villain).
INTRODUCING the ALLY: Who is going to help the hero get to his goal?
INTRODUCING the OPPONENT/ MYSTERY: More of the mystery around the villain is revealed.
FIRST REVELATION and DECISION, LEADING to NEW DESIRE and NEW MOTIVE: The hero makes a break through, that puts him/her on a different course.
PRESENTING THE PLAN OF THE HERO: With this new information, the Hero makes his first plan.
OPPONENT’S PLAN and FIRST COUNTER ATTACK: The villain screws everything up.
DRIVE: The Hero doesn’t give up.
OPPONENT STRIKES AGAIN: Knocks the Hero off his/her rocker.
APPARENT DEFEAT: Things look bad.
REVELATION: Hero gains the last info needed to defeat opponent.
THE GAUNTLET of DEATH: Hero/Villain are equal at this point its a win/ lose everything moment for the hero.
CONCLUSION: The hero wins.
NEW EQUILIBRIUM: The hero has a new life due to experience, for better or for worse.

This is very basic as everything can get a bit more complex, but this should help you build your story. :smile:

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You just described the Avengers to a T.

Actually, once my character is blinded and made deaf, he succumbs to madness. With an unrealistically enhanced sense of touch, smell and changes in the air, he creates his own version of the world in his head. Which is how he navigates as if he was perfectly fine close to his home.

Most of the story takes place inside of his head, fighting the embodiment of his own madness.

This. It sounds strange, but sometimes creating an outline and making it more and more intricate and detailed is the best thing that I can do when my mind is blocked or I can’t seem to get from thinking about a concept to actually putting pen to paper. Great call, Fwufikins.

I studied writing (mainly post-modern poetry) extensively in college and I’ve written a few novels here and there (nothing I ever thought to get published, more for my own amusement). But I’ve been working on a novel idea (writing twenty to forty pages, revising, throwing it away and starting over repeatedly) for a while now.

It’s gotten to the point where I honestly enjoy putting my mind in that place more than I actually enjoy writing about it. I create characters, events, dialog and full chapters in my mind, only to “clear the mechanism” and mentally wipe them away afterwards.

It’s a bit on the self-indulgent side, as I’d be lying if said that it wasn’t a fun exercise, but it’s been a while since I’ve written extensively and ever since I quit smoking about three or four years ago, my literary flow has become very stunted and I get distracted far too easily.

Anyone have any methods for focusing more easily while writing? I used to be able to sit in front of the computer and write for four, eight, ten hours at a time (with smoke breaks, of course), but now my mind wanders after twenty minutes. Granted, I don’t stay up nearly as late I used to and I always prefer to write at night, so I guess I have that working against me as well. :disappointed:

In truth that formula is used in almost all Hollywood blockbusters and most novels. :wink:

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I think your plot is fine, but as has been said, it’s really difficult to get very far into writing a story unless you have the entire plot outlined.
Every time I’ve tried writing a story from the beginning, it fizzles out rather quickly. I have to know the contents of each chapter before I can write the chapter properly and with focus.

yeah i just need to structure everything and see where i can go from there. im aiming to make it a grueling downward spiral for all parties involved

Deaf!!! I’m deaf… But your story is really cool