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by squish (xx_squish_xx)
at November 17th, 2006 (02:24 pm)

I joined this comm a few weeks ago and I wonder if anyone is still interested in discussing the writing of fic? (I find myself almost as obsessed with the writing as the fic and am hoping there are others with my affliction.)

I've been stuck on a sequel to my first series for quite a while now and I think I've recently identified my main problem. I have a lot of ideas for it and know where I basically want it to end up. I even have a fair number of separate scenes written. The thing is, it seems that my basic plotline gets off track a bit. I think I have too many subplots and the main plot almost ends up taking a back seat to the subplots (although they all tie together as the story goes along -- and I love them so!).

Has anyone out there had this problem? What did you do: struggle until you tamed the subplots? just keep going with it and write the Big Damn Treatise? tear out the distractors and throw them away or write them as their own fics?

Any response/discussion would be so very appreciated.


Posted by: Ginger Snap (earthwhatwere)
Posted at: November 18th, 2006 02:36 am (UTC)

Cheer up. It's not an uncommon problem.

I'll tell you what an editor at a major publishing house once told me: the key to telling a good story is being able to summarize your story in 25 words or less. If you can cut through all the subplots and bullshit and boil your story down to 25 words or less, then you can figure out what needs to stay and what needs to go.

Once I understood that, it all totally made sense to me. Before that I wrote 120K+ epics that I couldn't quite tie up into a cohesive story. I glibely told myself that that was what book 2 was for.

The 25 words or less is the story you should be telling. It should in some way encapsulate the hero's or heroine's journey(ies). You can have the subplots, but if they don't add to the journey they need to go. If they're there for fluff or filler, cut them and figure out action that will fill out the story in a meaningful way and that will relate to your main plot.

Outline. It's important. You can start a scene without knowing exactly where it's going, but 500 words into it you should have a very good idea where it's going and how you plan to get there.

And, the most important and hardest thing I ever had to learn: No matter how many books you plan for a series to have, each book must be able to stand on its own. Think of the Harry Potter books. All the books have a central theme of good versus evil. Voldemort makes appearances with each book, and what the main characters struggle with for that particular book carries through from beginning to end. However, by the end of THAT book, the plot of that particular book has been resolved. The overall theme of Voldemort and good versus evil is still at stake and will carry over to the next book, but this school year has resolved itself by the time the students go home.

If you're not doing that, then you need to figure out how you plan to.

And gosh, I didn't exactly mean to be that long winded. It's just that we haven't had a post in a while and I've been saving up these ideas and thoughts and got a bit carried away. ;)

Posted by: squish (xx_squish_xx)
Posted at: November 18th, 2006 03:34 am (UTC)
mal inara frame

25 words. Yes, that's good advice. I agree that it should be able to be distilled to something you could tell someone very briefly. And my main problem when I started the sequel to my series was that I didn't really know where it was going. The first series -book maybe?- had a definite beginning and end but this one has taken a while to figure out. I've got a much better idea of that now.

My obsession with this has resulted in my reading books about the process of creative writing (I write a lot, but have never done any creative writing). It's been rather a relief to finally figure out why I've been so stuck!

Now it's just the painful process of cutting. But I think some of those ideas would be best in their own fic (which will make me not feel so bad about cutting them).

And your answer wasn't long! I've been craving someone to talk about writing with, maybe there will be some other responses and the discussion can get going again. :)

Posted by: Ginger Snap (earthwhatwere)
Posted at: November 18th, 2006 03:43 am (UTC)

Definitely save the ideas for future stories. I always tell myself that the characters and the reader can deal with only so much in one story. Don't overload them. ;)

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