The Writing Thread (Novels, scripts, screenplays etc.) Page 3

  • rice_sandwich 22 Jul 2018 12:13:28 6,453 posts
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    @GoatApocalypse

    That's true. It's often a bigger picture perspective. A lot of short stories I've read don't stand up to a closely detailed analysis of the plot or character actions but then they're not really supposed to. It's more about leaving the reader with food for thought, being surprised by an unexpected outcome or flipping social norms etc. on their head.
  • macmurphy 22 Jul 2018 12:46:10 4,286 posts
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    @GoatApocalypse

    Just copy someone else’s style. James Jones had some freaky mentor (Handy?) who created a writing colony. One of the exercises they did was just to copy out Hemingway word for word. Jones went on to write some crackers.

    I copy Cormac McCarthy a lot. I find I then have bits of my own and it doesn’t just come off as a blatant copy. And even if it does it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you wrote a new story and people said it reminded them of him. I’d be pretty fucking stoked.

    Pick a story you like, or an author, and try and mimic their style and their narrative voice. It gives you a bedrock that you can build something of your own on.
  • rice_sandwich 23 Jul 2018 09:22:51 6,453 posts
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    I'm about 1200 words into my short story,
    making decent progress and probably 20% of the way through. I suppose it'll be as long as it needs to be. I'm not sure if I'll hit the epiphany, discovery or unforeseen event so typical of short works but I have an idea for the ending at least.
  • Deleted user 11 August 2018 13:32:17
    Any budding poets on the forum?

    Been reading a lot of Emery Allen and Mindy Nettifee lately. Really raw and powerful stuff.

    It seems so easy to construct poems like that but mine are ahead so trite.

    Edited by GoatApocalypse at 13:32:54 11-08-2018
  • JoelStinty 15 Dec 2018 20:16:44 8,927 posts
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    Anyone got any tips for picking up a short story/novella where you left off. I had an idea for a story for a while and I started it once a upon a time ago with nanowrimo and it was more mood based rather than a structured narrative. I think potentially it could go somewhere but I've struggled to find the same rhythm and mood to carry on and it isn't going anywhere.

    I hadn't written much so I think it might be easier to start again I think. I tried re-writing those passages out again to see if I could get into it, but I can't.

    I got the writing bug though, I really enjoyed writing up my travel adventures for my parents and friends to read and I have had loads of good feedback. Like, the first time I have ever had people say nice things about me. So I feel pretty good about it at the moment.
  • rice_sandwich 16 Dec 2018 06:19:42 6,453 posts
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    @JoelStinty

    Just start. Don't be precious about any previous efforts. Starting from fresh isn't a problem. You'll probably end up discarding or substantially changing large chunks of any existing stuff anyway.
  • sunjumper 16 Dec 2018 22:39:36 3,532 posts
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    @JoelStinty
    What rice said, just sit down and write. You'll get back into the flow.
    Bonus tip would be to reread what you have written so far to get back into the story. The rest will pretty much sort itself out. The story might change the way it works compared to your original idea but that's all part of the process.
  • jrmat 28 Dec 2018 10:28:31 204 posts
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    I've had a go at writing a short story, just over 3k words. Is there a place to get it reviewed? My wife has read it and liked it. I think it's ok, although to me reads like a GCSE essay, but that was the last time I wrote any fiction to speak of, so that's probably why.

    Do you guys have any reviewers that you use?
  • RawShark 28 Dec 2018 12:27:43 1,210 posts
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    @JoelStinty For what it's worth, its not too dissimilar to going back to a game you abandoned.

    You put a few hours into a game, maybe enough to start making decent progress, then something else comes up and it gets left by the wayside. You get the time to start playing it again but realise you've forgotten most of the story and the muscle memory is long gone.

    It's easy to bristle about the time you've wasted the first time round, but sometimes you just have to put it down as spent costs and start the whole thing again. (This has actually happened to me with God of War, but I digress).

    Just put that first effort down as a draft. Read it again, think about what you'd like to keep, then chuck it in the bin and start again. Your story will rise from the flames as a more spectacular beast for it.

    And don't forget, the minute you start a project your brain has already written the first draft in your head. Its just a case of getting it on paper.
  • sunjumper 28 Dec 2018 16:20:26 3,532 posts
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    jrmat wrote:
    I've had a go at writing a short story, just over 3k words. Is there a place to get it reviewed? My wife has read it and liked it. I think it's ok, although to me reads like a GCSE essay, but that was the last time I wrote any fiction to speak of, so that's probably why.

    Do you guys have any reviewers that you use?

    Not quite the answer you are looking for but you can always post a link to the story here and you will probably get some useful feeback. It helps if you also say if you want us to look into something specific.
  • JoelStinty 28 Dec 2018 17:16:41 8,927 posts
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    @RawShark Thanks, I have literally thrown most of it away (Though not deleted) and have started to write something new from a passage i particularly liked. I wasn't quite sure which way i wanted to take it at first, but I have decided to go with one idea and see where it takes me.

    My next task is stop being distracted and sit at a table and write. Last few sessions i've just started to write for 10-15 minutes but ended up being distracted.
  • jrmat 28 Dec 2018 20:06:40 204 posts
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    @sunjumper Good idea, thanks.

    Here's the Google docs link.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1irA3h_DUDJ_OcRU22evb1r8USNKH6c6wUa6GpgrdH5w/edit?usp=drivesdk

    I suppose I'm after how to make it look like it was written by an adult for an adult. Any any commentary at all really.
  • sunjumper 29 Dec 2018 15:45:29 3,532 posts
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    jrmat wrote:
    @sunjumper Good idea, thanks.

    Here's the Google docs link.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1irA3h_DUDJ_OcRU22evb1r8USNKH6c6wUa6GpgrdH5w/edit?usp=drivesdk

    I suppose I'm after how to make it look like it was written by an adult for an adult. Any any commentary at all really.

    OK. I had a look at it.

    Is this a first or very early draft? Depending on where you are in the editing process you'll need different kinds of advice.

    It's pretty decent all in all. There is the solid groundwork for a good story here and you really know how to build up tension. Starting in the middle of chapter 2 you build up a feeling of danger and urgency and even manage to pull of a jump scare of all things in written form. This is really the strongest part of the story.

    The most problematic bit that I see here is the pacing of the story. It starts out slowly and then without much build up there is a little exposition explosion regarding the wife of our protagonist. And a little bit later we are already in full escape mode.

    While you are killing it with the tension, I think that the story would profit greatly from a slower start that shows us first of all who the protagonist is and who his daughter is and what kind of people they are. You don't have to add a million chapters of backstory but just a bit more context so that the reader gets to know and like the protagonist. Right now I really don't know what kind of guy he is. The same goes for his wife. I understand that her sudden breakdown came out of nowhere for the protagonist but we still need to get to know her as a ‘normal’ person first to also feel surprised and horrified by her sudden violent actions. Seeing how the mother is actually mentally ill it would also be interesting to know what happened after she was institutionalised. Did the protagonist try to keep contact? If not why? If yes what happened between the two? Actually this is a really interesting situation full of possible drama that you can milk to great effect.

    Also it is not really clear how much he loves his daughter. Also the relationship to the sister in law is not really clear. He helps her out (which is fair enough) and the daughter seems to love the dogs, but why exactly is he helping her out? He does not seem to be a fan of hers. It's perfectly OK for him not to like her but it needs a bit more context.

    Your writing style works well and your descriptions are nice and clear and with a bit of polish you can make it shine. If this is an early draft there is nothing here that can't be easily be improved during editing. If you have been working on these three chapters over and over for a long time it'd be best to just keep writing the story just to clear your head and get some distance between you and the text as obsessive over editing often has the effect of weakening the prose instead of making it better.

    Something I really liked is that it is a father who is protecting his daughter as the cliché tends to go towards only mothers caring enough about their children to protect them.

    If you keep on working on it I’m sure that you have a really gripping story here, which right now could turn into everything from a thriller to a horror story or something else entirely.
  • jrmat 29 Dec 2018 16:35:47 204 posts
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    @sunjumper Wow, thanks mate, appreciate the in depth feedback, really I do. It's not a 5 min job :)

    I'll have a go at replying to your queries. I haven't written any fiction at all since my GCSE's, I'm now in my mid 30s, so a good 20 years.

    I wrote that in about 5 hours, roughly 1 hour a day over 6 days. I reviewed it and removed the odd sentence and word which I felt was superfluous and made any spelling corrections etc. This took about an hour. So this time 10 days ago it didn't exist.

    The scenario from Stephen King was to write 5-6 pages. I realised I was going over that and so tried to reign it in, which along with my inexperience, may explain the pacing and lack of context.


    For the characters. I initially titled chapter 1 daughter, chapter 2 as father and then 3 as father and daughter. The idea was to get to know that character and then the other characters from their perspective. So you'd only get to know Gareth in chapter 1 from his daughter's perspective, hence why any descriptions of him would be limited as she's young. I had toyed with the idea of having a chapter per character, but couldn't figure out how to make it work, so Roberta doesn't make an appearance at all and the wife isn't fleshed out that much.

    Gareth is a weak character, the type who doesn't like confrontation, making decisions, saying no or is that successfully socially. This means he gets roped into house and dog sitting, has an umbrella in light rain, they eat cheeseburgers in the car rather than the restaurant, get the bags knocked over by the dogs, confronted his wife way too late, hasn't got remarried, gets beaten at snakes and ladders, poor word choice in talking to his daughter etc. However, he loves his daughter and is a trier and wants to do better and improve, willing to help out etc.

    Whereas his wife and her family are more aggressive / assertive, hence why Roberta is well off and can get Gareth to house sit even though he doesn't want to.

    Jane is suffering the effects of having a Mum she can't have contact with, so lacks confidence, isn't doing great at school, is more friendly with dogs then any other friends.


    The idea of the story is to have tension, with the perfume effect but it's about hope and confidence. There's some glimmers of hope in Jane gaining confidence and the Dad gaining courage and making decisions even though it's not super clear that he should, he's happier making bold choices on a feeling. This turns out to be a good choice and the bond with his daughter is strengthened as she respects his increasing courage.


    Sorry for marathon post, I've tried to answer most of your very good questions succinctly. I was aiming for story that didn't look like a school project and not a children's book. Defo a million miles away from a polished publishable literary work.

    Please keep it coming, this is really useful, I'm keen to keep on writing.
  • jrmat 29 Dec 2018 17:38:33 204 posts
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    By the way which bit was the jump scare? :-)

    And a bit I missed... I wasn't sure how best to introduce the bit about his wife and it does feel like a giant paragraph out of nowhere. I thought him thinking about it in his sister in law's house whilst playing a bit of a brain dead game made the most sense and could be broken up when it was his or his daughter's turn. Any suggestions on how to do it better would be well received.
  • sunjumper 29 Dec 2018 18:06:19 3,532 posts
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    @jrmat
    The "jump scare" would be the docs jumping him when he scrambles back to the car. There I was thinking that it was pretty early for knifes in the back. It worked though.

    To introduce the wife better you need to introduce the protagonist better. The moment you start showing us what and who he is you can slowly fade into memory lane.

    But now that I know that you have just started writing my advice would be the following: stop worrying for now and have fun with your story first. Right now you are in deep “first draft” territory where most authors tell you to keep it hidden from the eyes of other people and even from the sun in the sky. Usually first drafts come out all wrong and deformed. But for what it’s worth right now you have two advantages, you are new to the craft and it is a first draft so that you are free to just go wild. I would suggest to keep writing and moving the story forward everything else will cost you a lot without yielding much.
    Right now decide for a point of view that you want to follow for a while and stick to it. Gareth (right?) would be the best choice it is far easier to write an adult than a child, so that would be a great place to start. Right now he is running away, he is afraid and he wants to protect his daughter so these are the things that are first and foremost in his mind. Is he even returning home? (Doesn’t his wife know where they live?) What exactly is he afraid off? Also that fear is a good way to show how much he cares for his daughter.

    You said that he is actually a bit of a coward that’s OK, but show it more. The scene in the garden with his wife and the knife was good where he stood petrified and was hoping his neighbours would call the police is a good example where we see what kind of man he is also it is a situation that feels very human. It is easy to empathise with him. That’s a good example of “show, don’t tell”.

    Right now I think the biggest flaw is the motivation of the mother. Why if she did escape would she want to return home? And if she did why would she be aggressive towards husband and child? This needs to be addressed. But for now you have built enough momentum and seeing how the father thinks it is plausible enough that he is running away because he is taking no chances (reinforcing the idea that he is a bit of a coward) and you can worry about that later.

    Use the momentum you’ve built, move forward and we’ll see what happens.
  • jrmat 29 Dec 2018 18:55:22 204 posts
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    @sunjumper Thanks man. I was keen to end it around about there. Gareth and Jane being at home and him calling the police as redemption for his not doing it the first time around. Bit of a liberty I suppose but I wanted to keep it as a short story.

    The last page needs a bit more, I was keen to end it as I had less time to write for various reasons and so it ends more abruptly than it should.

    Yeah, sticking from one perspective would work better and allow me to introduce the wife better. I liked the idea of multiple points of view but haven't done it well enough.

    I was, I'd read about the show don't tell, good one.

    Will keep on writing :-)

    Edited by jrmat at 19:44:20 29-12-2018
  • sunjumper 30 Dec 2018 17:08:58 3,532 posts
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    @jrmat

    Ah you're aiming for a short story? Judging from the pacing and the chapters I was assuming that you were going for something closer to a novel. But no worries. First of all follow you story to its conclusion and then we can see how to polish it. Right now follow your characters where they lead, everything else is built from that. In the end the “mistakes” you make during the writing of the story now will help you learn a lot about the craft and how to build a proper story in far shorter time that trying to do it the right way from the beginning. Having your own examples and working out why some parts work while others don’t will provide you with far more lightbulb moments as when trying to learn it in a more abstract way.

    I’m looking forward to the rest.
  • jrmat 30 Dec 2018 18:24:56 204 posts
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    @sunjumper Yeah I like that. It was an exercise from "On Writing" by Stephen King and I got carried away with the 5-6 page suggestion which meant I ended up truncating it. Yep, defo, learning a tonne, thanks for your input, very valuable.
  • jrmat 30 Dec 2018 22:24:10 204 posts
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    For anyone wanting to see a writer write live, I can recommend Inside Creative Writing by Robert Olen Butler on Youtube. I'm 3 hours in at the moment, it's a long process as you might imagine but he shows his starting point and talks through what he's doing as he does it. He's a Pulitzer prize winner and knows what he's talking about.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIcnmiT0Mc8&list=PLTCv6n1whoI23GmdBZienRW0Q0nFCU_ay
  • sunjumper 30 Dec 2018 22:32:50 3,532 posts
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    Now finall has come the moment I have to admit I'm old. Proper old.

    The idea of YouTube video of someone doing live writing and commenting the process while it is happening is mindblowing and not in a good way...

    How? Why? WHAT?!
  • jrmat 30 Dec 2018 22:40:06 204 posts
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    Ha, I'm old too, and I agree, it seems odd. But I quite liked what I've seen, even though it is drawn out.
  • sunjumper 11 Mar 2019 22:13:54 3,532 posts
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    I wrote a short story (bit less than 2.5k) for a change.
    And for a change it is not a first draft but I took the time to edit the thing. That was like pulling teeth.

    A fantasy story about an emperor who lost everything and has gone a bit mad in the process.

    Heaven's Bridge

    Have a look.
  • BearFishPie 12 Mar 2019 15:41:31 810 posts
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    I really enjoyed it! You’ve managed to fit a lot of world-building into not a lot of text - and given enough characterisation to the lead to give a sense of investment to proceedings
  • sunjumper 12 Mar 2019 22:10:55 3,532 posts
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    @BearFishPie
    Many thanks for your kind words. I'm happy that I'm arriving at the stage where the readers actually get the impressions I intended to evoke.
    I had a quick glance over the story earlier and was surprised how many fucking typos I have missed. Ah well...

    And I'm still not quite happy with the final part it does not quite work as well as it should.
    It is nice to finish a story and add at least one layer of polish to it for a change.
  • jrmat 13 Mar 2019 12:17:01 204 posts
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    @sunjumper like it. The sense of isolation and going mad is really there without feeling spelled out.
  • sunjumper 13 Mar 2019 23:44:13 3,532 posts
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    @jrmat thank you very much for the feedback. You've been a great tie breaker and it shows how important it is to have several readers comment on your work. A friend of mine was looking for more exposition and was wondering about the details of things alluded to. I kept the details light as the world surrounding the story isn't really what the narrative was about. With your input I can put the diverging opinion down to a matter of taste.
  • jrmat 14 Mar 2019 09:22:10 204 posts
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    @sunjumper I think peaking curiosity is a good thing and there's no need to answer all the questions. It did feel a bit like it could be a chapter 1 to full on science fiction novel, nothing wrong with that. It kinda reminded me a bit of the poem Ozymandias if you're aware of it.
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