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FFC #59 - Still Learning

Posted November 3rd, 2020 at 12:42 PM by TGRF
TGRF's Fan Fiction Chronicles - Entry #59

One of the things I've found true about writing, is that the methods are always changing. As a writer, there's always something you haven't discovered, some technique you haven't learned.

I am not yet 'back'. I'm getting close though. I recently was able to actually outline part of a story for the first time in months (the story in question fell apart unfortunately). While I haven't yet written anything, outlining is something I wasn't able to do either, so this is a promising sign.

But while I've been mysteriously unable to write, I've still been studying writing. I wanted to fill you in on some of the things I've discovered, so that you'll know what to expect when I do finally get back to writing. Because at this point, my writing could be vastly different from what it was.

I now know that I learned the writing process backwards. The first book I picked up on how to write was centered around key elements published authors often miss. That book contained virtually nothing about the basics of how to write; I learned that only much later (and still am).

This resulted in me not using the 3-act structure until very recently, not really knowing what a character arc was, and not knowing how one created a plot- or character-driven story. Over the last few months, I've learned (and am still learning) those foundational building blocks which I wish I had learned a lot earlier.

As a result, my writing is going to change. From the beginning, every story I wrote was centered on a message, or theme. Over the last few years, my focus on themes has faded a bit, but they still remained what the entire story was built around. When I found out about character arcs, themes fit right in (since the character has to accept a truth by the end to defeat the obstacle). But most recently, I've learned about purely plot-driven stories, where theme seems to not exist.

In contrast to a character-driven story, a plot-based one does not change the protagonist. It's about a simple progression to defeat the obstacle. In most action movies, there's nothing learned, nothing gained, no point made. While I can certainly appreciate the movies (and similar stories) from a viewer's/reader's point of view, creating them is a bit more difficult for me. I don't have anything to center the story on. I know how to create and outline the story, certainly, but the theme was, for me, always the answer to why I was writing in the first place. Without the theme, the story is downgraded to something which merely 'pleasantly kills some time'. That's something I don't want anything I create to be labeled as.

However, I am fully aware that plot-based stories can have themes, even if a lot of them don't. For instance, The Dark Knight. Super clear theme, no major character transformation (unless you count Two Face). So it can certainly be done; I just need to figure out exactly how, and recreate my process accordingly.

And that's what I'm doing. As I discover these new (to me) parts of writing, I'm reworking my process to incorporate them all.

Where am I in terms of stories? Like I said, getting closer. I've been worldbuilding a post-war Valhalla for awhile now, so it seems like that will be the setting. The first story is fluctuating between a traditional character arc or my first attempt at a plot-based story. Unfinished ideas about a vampire story keep appearing as well, so there's a good chance you'll see that at some point. That's all I know for sure right now.

As always, I'll keep you updated, and let you know if anything changes. Until then, keep writing.

Posted in FFC
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Sylvano the Wasabus's Avatar
The very best stories I think are both character driven and plot based at the same time.

It takes a lot of dedication and bravery to write all the time. Sometimes it is like breathing; you breath in, then you have a break from that and breath out. Breaks are good sometimes.

Writers are hardest on themselves. I read something once and I've never forgotten it and it's changed the way I'm able to work.

It's about a writer who wrote everyday. Some days he though his work sucked. Other days, it was pretty good. That really bothered him. He decided to keep a journal, charting his daily work. At the end of one month he looked at everything he had written and it was a consistent quality. His work was at the same level everyday. But on the days he thought his work had sucked he was in a bad mood. When he was in a good mood he thought his work was okay.

The moral for me was that we are our own worst enemies. We sabotage ourselves.

Now I like to write something and then put it away. Then I'll write something else. When that is finished I go back to the first thing and look at it. Most of the strong emotions that compelled me to write that piece have gone by then and I can just look at the quality of the writing and fix it.

Be nice to yourself. Write if you want to, and put off the judgement until later when you can look at how a thing is written rather than the feelings you have tangled up in it. You do write well. This blog post is proof!
Posted November 4th, 2020 at 01:39 PM by Sylvano the Wasabus Sylvano the Wasabus is offline
TGRF's Avatar
Thanks for those words @Sylvano the Wasabus

My case is a little different because I actively want to write very much and actually physically can't write fiction currently - I feel like this might finally be letting up after several months, but I'm not quite there yet.

Your advice is excellent; that's why I used another HSers user to read through what I wrote and critique it before I posted it. He's unfortunately vanished, so I have to do it myself now, but I know the value of not trying to critique your own writing until you've let it stew for a bit.

I agree that the best stories are probably the ones which combine character and plot. I've never outlined from a plot perspective though, so I want to try my hand at a pure plot-based story first, before I re-add character arcs into the mix.

Posted November 4th, 2020 at 04:44 PM by TGRF TGRF is offline
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