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I've got an idea for a novel and was wondering if anyone here had some books or websites to recommend for those who need help with structure. I've already got the storyline sketched out and have completed the majority of the research I think I'll need. Basically I just need some organizational tips to get going. Or is it best to just start typing? I tried that and found that it's not very productive. I don't have all that much time to write so anything that will help me organize my thoughts is helpful.

Derek
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If you have the storyline worked out, and if every chapter and section moves the plot forward and leaves the reader wanting to know more, then I would say it is time to start typing.

A good place to start is with the "back-story" of each character. You will be able to use bits and pieces of these stories throughout your novel, and even the parts you do not use will give the novel texture and depth. Best of all, by writing them first you will avoid having to write them later, after you have become totally confused about who did what to whom in his childhood.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_story

Best of luck!

Loren
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A good place to start is with the "back-story" of each character

I agree with this but would also include a 'character sketch'.

However, nothing happens until you just dive in. Don't worry, you'll be writing it at least twice more yet, so no need to procrastinate!!

If you get into the flow of writing, a strange thing happens, the story starts to write itself. One thing suggests another; research suggests a story line; the characters 'take over'.

But you have got to start. No way you can think of it all before you do! ;-)


Mordorth
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Derek: Two highly regarded books on writing are "On Writing" by Stephen King (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0743455967/102-1587273-7134508?v=glance&n=283155), and "Characters and Viewpoints (Elements of Ficton Writing)" by Orson Scott Card (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0898799279/102-1587273-7134508?v=glance&n=283155).

Mark.
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>>>>But you have got to start. No way you can think of it all before you do! ;-)

Mordorth: Absolutely! I'm not one of those writers who can outline everything before I start. I get a general idea and start writing. Before long the story takes over and the characters write their own dialog. The story usually takes twists and turns I never would have thought of before I started (and often the story goes off in a completely different direction from the one I had originally planned.)

Mark.
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Absolutely! I'm not one of those writers who can outline everything before I start. I get a general idea and start writing. Before long the story takes over and the characters write their own dialog. The story usually takes twists and turns I never would have thought of before I started (and often the story goes off in a completely different direction from the one I had originally planned.)

Ok, follow up question for those who don't outline or at most in a limited fashion. What do you do when you get stuck? Do you just skip ahead or try to grind it out?

Thanks for your responses! Just ordered King's book On Writing, thanks for the suggestion.

Derek
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>>>>Ok, follow up question for those who don't outline or at most in a limited fashion. What do you do when you get stuck? Do you just skip ahead or try to grind it out?

Derek: I can't speak for everyone, but when I get stuck I do one of two things (or sometimes both, if need be). First, I go back and reread everything from the beginning, editing as I go. Not only does the editing help me clean up the writing, but I often spot holes in the story, or scenes that need adding, or additional dialog that should be added. More importantly, rereading from the beginning puts me back in the "groove", so to speak, inside the characters' heads and reminds me of the big picture of the story. (Occasionally being reminded of that is more important when writing a novel than a short story.) This technique often helps jump-starts my writing.

If that doesn't work, then I leave it alone for a while and work on other projects (stories, nonfiction, humor). Sometimes ideas percolate in the back of my mind while I'm distracted by other things. Then when I return to the original project, sometimes I'm ready to go again. (If not, edit, rinse, repeat.) It doesn't always work (what does?), but it's helped more than once, and frequent editing is never a bad idea. As good as my grammar and spelling and punctuation are, I'm always spotting typos or thinking of a better way to say something, even after reading it for the tenth time....

>>>>Thanks for your responses! Just ordered King's book On Writing, thanks for the suggestion.

It's an excellent book. The curious thing is that the first half is more autobiographical than anything (talking about how he got into writing, the hundreds of rejection letters he stuck on a spike in the barn, how his alcoholic later years affected his writing, etc.). It gives you as much of the sense of the man as of the writer. It's fascinating stuff; much more interesting than a mere tutorial on writing. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Mark.
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Mark and All:

I find that a hard deadline works wonders for my creative juices <g>. Mark's right, go back and work though what you already have with the idea of moving the "Whole" forward.

Another technique I find works for me is a blank sheet of paper with the main idea in the center. Then start adding one word ideas connected to the center and work out adding ramdom thoughts. Let you creative mind loose. Don't flesh out any thoughts just keep adding until the direction you want to go comes forward.

There is a name for this but damned if I can remember what it is and I'm answering this from my son's office in Phoenix, where I have none of my library around me nore a spell checker.

Take care and keep writing.

Now back under my rock,

Spence, who is enjoying the sunshine and heat...and the flowers.
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Another technique I find works for me is a blank sheet of paper with the main idea in the center. Then start adding one word ideas connected to the center and work out adding ramdom thoughts. Let you creative mind loose. Don't flesh out any thoughts just keep adding until the direction you want to go comes forward.

There is a name for this but damned if I can remember what it is and I'm answering this from my son's office in Phoenix, where I have none of my library around me nore a spell checker.


Thank you. That was very helpful. I rewrote much of what I had and still couldn't get going again. Once I followed your suggestion, it was easy to get moving again. So easy I went on a marathon session and cranked out about 20 pages in one sitting. I've been trying to stick to a schedule of 3 pages a day and found myself not wanting to stop. I'm actually excited about this project again. :)

Derek
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I went on a marathon session and cranked out about 20 pages

GAH!!!

Dang, I am up to about 2-5 a week. (But then my only time to actually set aside is Sat mornings.)

I need to speed up a bit.

Buffy
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GAH!!!

Dang, I am up to about 2-5 a week. (But then my only time to actually set aside is Sat mornings.)

I need to speed up a bit.


I should note that I'm an insomniac. :)

Derek
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Derek:

You are welcome...glad it worked for you.

Now back under my rock.

Spence, who has a week's worth of work to do and only three days.
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€z
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