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Old 01-13-2017, 02:16 PM   #1
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Do you ever feel caught between a rock and a hard place?

I know my biggest one is that I want to write a shorter, crisper story, but I personally always feel like the plot and characters are just skeletons of what they should be.

And to me, it feels like i am wasting a plot, throwing away characters. So as I am writing my next story I am struggling to avoid making it into another novel, but at the same time feeling disatisfaction at the apparent one dimensional and linear result.

What are the things you tend to struggle with as writers?
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Old 01-13-2017, 02:51 PM   #2
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My biggest one, by FAR, is that I tend to come up with characters and/or a situation that seem to have great potential for a story, I'm excited to explore their story ... but I have a hard time figuring out what the end point of the story is. I'm trying to tackle this -- Just yesterday I made a list of my favorite started-but-don't-know-the-ending story fragments, and decided that the next one I work on will be the first one that I can figure out an ending for. (endings may change during writing, but no more writing without having an idea of where I'm going)

My second biggest is probably trying to be 'realistic' in terms of degrees of drama, coincidence of events, etc. I get a lot of stories that I think could be cool, but after I've written ten thousand words not a lot has happened. I'm not sure how to deal with this.

With regards to keeping stories down to being actual short stories, I hit that one too. When I've done it, it is usually by dint of having a bit of a concept in my mind, a little bit of time, and deciding that I have to bang out an entire draft of the story in that time, beginning to end, no time for anything that slows me down. Usually at the time I think I'll go back and flesh it out lots later on, then when I look back later I don't find many places that I want to mess with much after all. But it is hard to make a skin and bones story when you are used to ones with more flesh on them I almost always have mixed feelings about them afterwards, but I've had more feedback on those than on anything more ambitious that I've tried.
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Old 01-13-2017, 08:44 PM   #3
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I struggle with the unknown resolution issue as well. My work-around for this has been to at least have a concept of what I want the ending to accomplish, even if I'm not sure how it's going to accomplish that.

In my recent long stories, the intent has been for the heroine's 'getting fat' to provide the solution to the story's conflict. Having that in mind, I can organize the characters and events in such a way that leads to and sets up an endgame in which someone's weight solves the problem. By the time I get there, the 'how' of that process starts to become clear based on how the story has worked its way to that goal. If side characters and subplots can participate in making the the narrative goal work, they get to be in the story; if they don't, they get stored away for the next one. It funnels things towards the climax, and also funnels me towards creating the climax.

I have trouble approaching short stories, too (as evidenced my my submissions here). I enjoy going on slow-burn adventures too much and haven't figured out how best to compress that into a concise snapshot.
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:27 PM   #4
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i can relate. and i admire people who can write a two or three page story and wrap it up and be done with it. i can't. that's not me. i turn everything into a novel too. i feel like characters and their stories need to be developed too. if i summed it up in a couple pages i would feel like readers didn't know anything about my characters, or care about them or their desperate plight.

my biggest challenges are with editing, what to leave in, what to take out, sometimes the right order of things because i write it out as i think of it and then rewrite it later. sometimes i have trouble seeing the big picture as i'm editing. and i also catch myself skimming through when i should really be scrutinizing. it helps to read out loud, like good self-editors are supposed to do, but it's still a struggle sometimes.
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Old 01-22-2017, 09:34 AM   #5
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I'm glad I'm not alone in the same struggles - of length and where to find the logical end. Its definitely the character development and the world around them that informs their challenges/behaviors that blows all brevity plans right out of the water.

I used to write shorter things, but the challenge of creating 'semi real lives' pulled me into lengthier bits. I kind of think the only way I could go back to something much shorter would be to keep it purely sexual... not that there's anything wrong with that!

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Originally Posted by jakemcduck View Post
my biggest challenges are with editing, what to leave in, what to take out, sometimes the right order of things because i write it out as i think of it and then rewrite it later. sometimes i have trouble seeing the big picture as i'm editing. and i also catch myself skimming through when i should really be scrutinizing. it helps to read out loud, like good self-editors are supposed to do, but it's still a struggle sometimes.
THIS! totally my editing life too
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Old 01-28-2017, 12:16 AM   #6
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I tend to read fiction that has well defined plots, and that causes me to write the same way. A slow boil to a big climax, pun intended .
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Old 01-31-2017, 02:56 PM   #7
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Clearly I have the length problem, so I guess like most here I relate to that. Then again, I was setting out for length on this last thing--not as a goal, just an expectation. I didn't expect it to be this long, either in time or keystrokes.

The other thing I struggle with is getting the direction I want without manipulating a character or situation to say what I want him or her to say. It's something I pick on in others' writing, and that has been a problem in my six-month-long block (I write ahead because of editing and I don't want to post something and get stuck). I want the characters to do what they would do, not what I contrive the to do. When this combines with a needed outcome--as in this pivotal part I'm working on now--I apparently have trouble.

Finally, what I write is never good enough.
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Old 01-31-2017, 03:04 PM   #8
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Finally, what I write is never good enough.
Said nearly every writer, ever!

But I hear you about forcing a character .... and sometimes if you don't force them, that adds literally chapters as they back away from something, do other things, then come back to it once they are ready
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Old 02-01-2017, 11:39 AM   #9
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The biggest thing I found that helped me with any writing was to first develop an outline. Great so you know where you start. And then you know what you sorta want to do in the middle. Great. Write them down, give yourself three bullets to get from point a to point be and make a connection. This could inevitably lead to a resolution as you start to think of scenarios and character breakdowns. I'm not going to lie, this part of the process can be boring but it is easy enough to establish a storyline and begin working. It also allows you to critically think about what could happen if your character did something else. Just follow the same process. Just my two cents.
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Old 02-01-2017, 12:04 PM   #10
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I agree with so many of these points!

For me, my characters are real people. Trying to force them into a plot makes them feel like fictional figments created merely to facilitate going around a track. To my, my characters are real , and they often get sassy and make me re-write chapters that are beautiful, stunning...but aren't THEM. They would never say or do that, and so I end up re-writing chapters I really had hoped to keep.

For me the logical end has been my personal challenge that I have been trying to overcome - because they are real people hacking off communication with them abruptly feels...weird, off, hackneyed.

I also think in order to not fall into the pit-trap of typical fiction "Lolz, bhm, bbw, belly, jiggle, wriggle, fat, gut lets-just-use-trigger-words-as-much-as-possible-because-this-isn't-a-real-person" without a plot, I ended up lurching in the exact opposite direction.

I'm trying to find a sexy middle for myself!!!
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Old 02-01-2017, 01:25 PM   #11
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One aspect so far hasn't really been addressed here - it's a bit the chicken & egg question. Not only as a writer, but mainly and initially as a reader - I for my part prefer novels and longer stories.

There are some really great short stories out there, where an author manages to capture the panorama of an entire character and his/her development in a nutshell.
But many short stories leave me dissatisfied - if I like the characters, I want to know more about them. Or some authors specialize in short stories - and often they end up being formulaic; if you read one, you more or less know them all.

My own writing is a mix of this personal reading preference and the fact that I enjoy spending time with characters I like - be it the brain-children of other authors or my own. It's fun watching them develop ... Xy, Ashley, Jake, you all hinted that you have similar experiences. My own characters tend to talk to me in the back of my head, tell me what they would like to do next ... but maybe I'm just crazy... or into the epic style of life.
Bottom line - most things I write end up in overlength.
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Old 02-01-2017, 01:44 PM   #12
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Just a quick note that I don't think I've ever seen a complaint from readers on here about any of the longer stories (other than the wait for new chapters!). It is more a challenge for the author, because it can take a lot of time to complete the story to some satisfactory level.

Agouderia: you made an interesting point, about character development. I think that in the traditional short story there was either no real character development, or else the final 'twist' in the story coincided with a spurt of development (the Grinch's heart growing three sizes moment, as it were). Granted that many short stories have the twist being more purely plot based, or sometimes the twist is killing off the character in a surprising way, or whatever. Anyway, makes sense why you would not be a fan of the genre, when you appreciate character development strongly.
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Old 02-01-2017, 01:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbauto View Post
The biggest thing I found that helped me with any writing was to first develop an outline. Great so you know where you start. And then you know what you sorta want to do in the middle. Great. Write them down, give yourself three bullets to get from point a to point be and make a connection. This could inevitably lead to a resolution as you start to think of scenarios and character breakdowns. I'm not going to lie, this part of the process can be boring but it is easy enough to establish a storyline and begin working. It also allows you to critically think about what could happen if your character did something else. Just follow the same process. Just my two cents.
Definitely. There's a color coded Excel spreadsheet for everything I write, often including graphs.
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Old 02-02-2017, 01:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbauto View Post
The biggest thing I found that helped me with any writing was to first develop an outline. Great so you know where you start. And then you know what you sorta want to do in the middle. Great. Write them down, give yourself three bullets to get from point a to point be and make a connection. This could inevitably lead to a resolution as you start to think of scenarios and character breakdowns. I'm not going to lie, this part of the process can be boring but it is easy enough to establish a storyline and begin working. It also allows you to critically think about what could happen if your character did something else. Just follow the same process. Just my two cents.

See I can't do this. I envy those who can, though. When I use this method the story is formulaic, stuttering, and my characters rage at me. Or worse, the character never breathes with life. Instead, - shadow of a placeholder is used to facilitate an already existing plot. To me both life and stories are completely people driven. If the plot doesn'5 feel character driven...i don't hate it, but it feels bland. "Insert female protagonist who likes fat guys here." Or "insert any random bhm between 200-250 lbs who is shy about his weight here".

I am reading a series currently; i am in the fifth book and am having problems remembering the characters. When they appear as side characters in book a they are full of life and personality. In their star book, every single main character pair suddenly becomes the exact same person as the other mains in every book. The author locked themselves into a set of behaviour to facilitate the plot, and it feels neutered and too mathematical. Reading the books back to back I am noticing certain events always happen by a given page.

Also; i can't write if i am bored. I have sooo many other things than fleshing out skeletons including real life fleshing outs.

Hat tip to those who can use this method, though!

Mine is more like:
I should do a story about them travelling in mountains.
Oh! It should be cold for lots of cuddling!
And the main character is a douche.
Why is he a douche? Why is he there?
Ok, so how would he react if....
And he reacts that way because..."

And that mental checkin with the characters results in:

"I wouldn't fucking say that."
"Yes, Xy, lovely chapters, but you aren't telling MY story anymore."
"...."
"Don't ask me what I would do next - i wouldn't have done that, so i don't know what i would do in the aftermath any more than you do!"
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Old 02-14-2017, 08:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agouderia View Post
My own writing is a mix of this personal reading preference and the fact that I enjoy spending time with characters I like - be it the brain-children of other authors or my own. It's fun watching them develop ...
Right now I'm actually attempting to write something shorter based on not particularly liking the the characters; I'm not sure what I'm going to end up with, but I thought I'd give it a whirl and experiment a bit. It's actually kind of hard when you're regularly fighting the urge to apologize to the reader for their stupid / manipulative behavior
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Old 02-15-2017, 10:49 AM   #16
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I have a story with characters who thrill me, but i seem to have no umph to get going
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Old 02-15-2017, 12:34 PM   #17
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Perhaps this is a universal author's dilemma.

I thought of a weight gain story last night and wrote down the bones of it for the future. I certainly envision its being a shorter story, but in thinking about how I would flesh it out, so to speak, my problem is that it's a story about a girl gaining weight, just like all the other stories.

I say it's universal because there are of course theories that there are always just a limited number of stories that we're all just retelling. If that's the case, then this dilemma is every author's dilemma: there's nothing new under the sun.

I think this definitely contributes to the longer length of my stories because to make the story different the story has to be about weight gain AND something else other than weight gain to be a new story. With SGG I think about the next scene that needs to happen to tell the story I want to tell, then come back in my mind with the thought. "Oh, yeah...I have to tell the story of her weight." Now the nature of weight gain is that it comes to define you, so that angle is nice for the weight gain brand and for intertwining those two threads of interest. But I recognize that the shorter the weight gain story, the more stock it becomes.

By the way, the problematic SGG scene, the writing of which was like the editing process X 100, is finally done! I say done. I mean it's on ice waiting for what would be probably a final edit, maybe even after consultation. Now that I figured out the important stuff, the stuff I already wrote leading up to it isn't gong t change significantly, so I can start posting it!

After I edit it, of course, which after this toenail pulling is just about the last thing I'm motivated for.

I am actually motivated for continuing the story as planned: I already banged out drafts of the next two scenes the night I captured the problematic scene.
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Old 02-15-2017, 03:08 PM   #18
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One things that I struggle with is when I'm having a character be clueless, or selfish, petty, mean, etc. I always have a desire to somehow indicate "I know, this is not how all FA are!" or "I don't condone this behavior!" or whatever. I know I should just trust the reader to realize that I'm not writing my idea of perfect people, but it is amazing how often I have to edit out a lot of editorializing of various forms. Unless I force myself to be almost dispassionate about the whole thing, but that only really works for very short stories I think, anything else needs more humanity.
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Old 02-16-2017, 10:44 AM   #19
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I should also mention that I really suck at thinking of titles for stories. I can't even calculate how much time they've been hung up because I couldn't think of what to call it. "Stuff Bob did that day", "The story about the guy who went to the resort", "The one where they meet at the class reunion ", etc.
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Old 02-16-2017, 12:49 PM   #20
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I should also mention that I really suck at thinking of titles for stories. I can't even calculate how much time they've been hung up because I couldn't think of what to call it. "Stuff Bob did that day", "The story about the guy who went to the resort", "The one where they meet at the class reunion ", etc.
A lot of my stories have such inventive titles as "Gabby and Max."
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:03 PM   #21
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What I can't stand is when someone steals someone else's title.
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Old 02-17-2017, 12:07 PM   #22
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Titles are easy for me. My problem is female character names. Oh, the male protagonists are easy - something based on Polish or French saints, Anglicized Polish or French surnames, voila - but women are difficult.
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Old 02-18-2017, 06:55 PM   #23
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Titles are easy for me. My problem is female character names. Oh, the male protagonists are easy - something based on Polish or French saints, Anglicized Polish or French surnames, voila - but women are difficult.
Now that's gotta be pretty unique. Writing my story would be your own personal version of Hell!
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Old 02-20-2017, 05:15 PM   #24
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Now that's gotta be pretty unique. Writing my story would be your own personal version of Hell!
I'm in fiction Hell currently. I've so many short story and novella ideas. I have three novellas I'm working on currently - all three plots are being hand written. I have two requests I just started to plot write for.

And all this while trying to keep sane as a computer programmer working with younger programmers who were never taught proper coding documentation
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Old 03-08-2017, 10:05 PM   #25
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I have written a story that contains two plus sized female friends that meet a man. The dilema that I have been having is that what size are they. It is not a weight gain story. It is more of a romantic comedy story. They need to be of different but similar sizes, with their size clearly being an issue. The first time I wrote it the ladies were 160 and 200. Then an edit put them at 250 and 300. Then 200 and 250. And so on. I personally prefer women well over 300. But, and I apologize if I offend anyone, I want the women to be a relatable size . And yes I understand that height and body structure have alot to do with weight. I am trying to come up with a size so the reader can more accurately picture them in their mind.
I appreciate all opinions and suggestions. Thanks
by the way "second chances" is a working title
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