I want to write a novel

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by TSE, Sep 29, 2011.

  1. TSE macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2007
    Location:
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    #1
    I absolutely love writing short stories in my spare time, and people I know say I am really good at it and I have always been an extremely creative individual.

    I have been wanting to write a novel. I have ideas... but I just don't know how authors make stories 200-300 pages long, how do they accomplish that? I have always wondered.

    And also, how can I improve my writing and storytelling skills? Will just simply reading make it better?
     
  2. lighthouse_man macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    #2
    Some people find writing novels a lot easier than writing short stories. I don't know how good your short stories are, but you probably know or feel that there is a whole lot of space for development. More conflict to add, better character development, more characters, etc. unless your short stories are of the simple anectodal stock.

    Why don't you pick your favorite novel and start analyzing it by writing down its flow and pace and story elements, even creating curves for the plot and characters and see how that goes.
     
  3. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    #3
    All good stories begin with a solid character foundation. We need a protagonist we can empathize with, see through, and come alive with.

    Have your previous short stories been largely plot-driven? I ask because most short stories are short on character and long on plot. However, the best short stories are expository pieces that let us get a glimpse of a character, a conflict surrounding him/her/it, and ultimately feeling something for them because we've gotten to know enough about them to understand why this event is significant.

    Without a good character base, your plot will feel forced, inorganic, and contrived. However, once you establish a good character base, you will find yourself asking, "what would Bob do?" and your plot will come alive as if Bob was more than mere fiction.
     
  4. TSE thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2007
    Location:
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    #4
    I will post one of my short stories tomorrow morning and let you guys see for yourselves. It is late now.
     
  5. roadbloc, Sep 30, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011

    roadbloc macrumors G3

    roadbloc

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    I wrote a novel. Best thing I've ever done. Many people do wonder how it can be done, keeping on track of such a large piece of work all the time. Many people asked me if there was ever some miracle software of my computer which helped me, probably in hope that they could use it for their works. I am sad to tell you there is not.

    I first began my novel hungover and wanting a distraction. I opened Word 2000 on my Windows 98 laptop and began. It took me 1 and a half years to eventually complete it (part time writing) and then another half a year to get someone to publish it. Many people may like tracking their notes on software such as Evernote, or using these 'advanced' word processors designed for novel writing in mind, but personally, I can't stand them. They're an unnecessary distraction. Any old word processing software suited me fine. That may be different for you, but my advise would be not to count on some miracle software being out there that is going to make it any easier. Don't waste time searching for it, for it is unlikely it exists. There is no secret to how authors achieve such long books, apart from the fact that they sit down and spend most of the day typing.

    I personally find it hard to complete a novel the nearer you get towards the end. Newer ideas crop up in my mind, ideas for the next novel. However I find it isn't the writing of it which is the hardest, but the challenge of getting it published. When I did finally find a publisher, they only put it on eBook stores (although paper copies are now being printed soon), and money from the book at first was very slim.

    Anyway, I hope this rambling has helped. And here is my novel :) UK link. US Link.

    EDIT: One more thing, I don't read. So them who say you have to read more are talking rubbish. Reading != Writing. Totally different thing. Read by all means if you wish, but I doubt it will help you to write.
     
  6. ender land macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    #7
    Practice!

    Identify your weaknesses in writing and continue to refine them.
     
  7. z3r0inc macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    #8
    Just to let you guys know, NaNoWriMo is starting in a month. http://www.nanowrimo.org/

    The goal is to write 50,000 in one month. It actually is a great start and tries to conquer the initial fear of writing something large. Don't worry about anything and just freakin' write stuff.

    Write drunk, edit sober. Or do what I mistakenly did: Write drunk... keep drinking...
     
  8. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #9
    I'm buying it, somehow I'm intrigued. ;)
     
  9. FloatingBones macrumors 65816

    FloatingBones

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    #10
    How do you eat an elephant?

    Several apps now exist that allow writers to work on big projects in bite-sized chunks. The Mac (and PC Beta) app Scrivener was written by an aspiring novelist in the UK. It has great tools for researching and organizing your writing: storyboards, etc. You may even like to use it for writing short stories.
     
  10. Theclamshell macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    #11
    Damn you!! As soon as I saw this thread title I was going to post this :p
     
  11. roadbloc macrumors G3

    roadbloc

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    Well if you really have bought it, I hope you enjoy it and thanks a lot.
     
  12. TSE, Oct 2, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011

    TSE thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2007
    Location:
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    #13
    Choices


    I parked my van in front of the house belonging to my friend, Adeeb in the suburb of Woodbury.
    The clock on my van reads 11:01.
    Opening the door of my car, a thought rose to my mind.
    Wouldn’t it be funny if I pranked him by ringing the doorbell to his front door, and ran to his backdoor and knocked the door there?
    I walk to his front door, laughing the whole way.
    Stop for a couple seconds to get it out of my system.
    Get ready.
    I ring the doorbell and sprint quickly and quietly around his house to his backyard.
    I climb the stairs to his patio as fast as I could and go to his backdoor.
    I look through his screen door expecting to see him looking around outside his front door.
    But instead…
    I see no one.
    No one!
    “Hmmm… that’s strange,” I think to myself,” Why is that?”
    I mean… I just texted him eight minutes ago.
    I get my cell phone out of my pocket and sit down on a bench out on the patio.
    Turn it on, read the text.
    Printed on the screen,” U can come over now dude.”
    Wait for a couple more minutes.
    Ok… what should I do…
    As I am thinking I hear a noise from the outside of his patio.
    It’s coming from upstairs, from the inside of his house… from an open window.
    It sounds like a shower.
    I then hear… something else…
    Loud banging.
    Struggling.
    Sounds as if someone is gasping for air!
    The gasping suddenly stops.
    I hear laughter.
    Loud, chaotic, obsessive laughter.
    Oh no… Adeeb must be in trouble!
    I immediately dial 9-1-1.
    “Hello. 9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”
    “Hi umm… I’m at my friend Adeeb’s house and I think he is trouble, come quick!”
    “Ok we will dispatch a police to your cell phone’s location immediately.”
    I run to my van.
    Nine minutes pass.
    It is now 11:19 AM.
    The police force rolls up to his house.
    Four Dodge Chargers, painted in black and white with “Woodbury Police Force” decals pasted along the sides.
    Police lights going everywhere.
    Loud police sirens.
    The whole shebang.
    “Is this the place?”, asks an officer, pointing to the correct house.
    “Yep… I heard struggling and really obsessive laughing coming from the upstairs.”
    “Okay… we will see what’s up. You should stay back.”
    I take a couple steps back, but my curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to see what happened in that house.
    Ten officers, intently and very cautiously knock down the door after a series of ringing attempts.
    They stealthily enter the building to the unknown.
    I wait, my palms sweaty in anticipation, my body leaning on the side of my van, waiting for something. Anything. Where could Adeeb be?





    Eleven minutes go by. It is now 11:39.
    All of a sudden…
    The loud sound of glass breaking, explosions, and people crying from pain emerges from the house.
    Then, quietness.
    What could it be? Where is Adeeb? What happened to the police officers?
    I try to peak through the open door from the other side of the street.
    As soon as I go to do that, the door slams shut.
    I then see the curtains slightly ruffle, and then nothing.
    I am scared out of my mind at this point.
    I don’t know what to do.
    I look around me, nervously.
    I reach for my cell phone in my pocket.
    It isn’t there, I must have forgotten on the patio bench.
    I do not want to go near that house.
    I go into one of the cop cars and grab a walkie talkie.
    I hold the button on the receiver.
    “H-h-hello?”
    “Yes, troop 841, we have been trying to contact you, where the **** are you?”
    “This isn’t a cop, this is Michael James. The cops entered my friend Adeeb’s house and now they…”
    The radio shuts off.
    I need to get the hell out of here before I am dead.
    I get out of the cop car, grab my keys, and haul ass towards my van.
    When I get there, I notice something.
    All four of my tires are popped.
    How could this be?
    How did that happen?
    I look at Adeeb’s house.
    The window to his room has writing on it.
    “…you will not escape.”
    As I finish reading it, I start trembling to my knees in fear.
    What has happened? Where is Adeeb? I keep thinking to myself, “I cannot believe this is happening”,
    This has to be some sort of nightmare.
    After gaining back some of my composure, I walk over to Adeeb’s neighbor’s house and ring the doorbell.
    Nobody answers.
    As I turn my head to leave, I notice the windows to the house are all broken.
    I peak through the window.
    What I saw next was truly unbelievable.
    Hanging from a chandelier, I see five bodies…. All hung with nooses around their necks.
    I look away quickly, crying and stumbling in fear.
    I hit my head against the wall to the house, trying to wake up from this nightmare.
    This can’t be happening. This can’t be.
    Once again, I regain my composure.
    I look through the window again, looking more observantly.
    It seems to be a whole family.
    A father, a mother, two teenage brothers, and a young sister.
    I cannot believe my eyes.
    I rub them.
    Still there.
    I cannot handle this.






    I go to several other houses neighboring Adeeb’s, each one the same story.
    Every house has dead bodies of the ones that live there, hanging.
    After the fifth house, I decide to run away.
    I need to get the hell out of here.
    It is now dark out.
    My parents are probably worrying sick about me.
    They don’t know what I am going through right now.
    What I have witnessed is truly disgusting.
    As I am walking down Bailey Road in a rural part of Woodbury, I see a Dodge Charger, painted in white and black with lights on the top and in decals says,” Woodbury Police Force.”
    Oh thank god. Someone that can help me.
    I immediately start waving, jumping up and down to signal the cop.
    The car stops, and through the window I see the officer signaling me to get into his car.
    I quickly open the door and hop into the back.
    “Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for saving me…. You probably know what is going on by now!”
    “Yeah we do… It’s a pretty serious situation, this is probably the biggest case of homicides we have seen in Minnesotan history EVER.”
    “Yeah… tell me about it.”
    We come to a round about.
    But I notice something. We did a complete 360 and are going the way we just came.
    “Hey… where are we headed officer? We just came this way.”
    “Yeah… haha… erm… the police station is this way… it’s faster to get there that way…. It’s more convenient, uh… you get the point!”
    “Okay.”
    But then… we turn back onto Adeeb’s street.
    My heart starts pounding. I start sweating profusely. My stomach sinks.
    “Uhhh… officer?”
    He starts laughing chaotically.
    “Hahahahahahahahaha….. you thought you could escape? HAHAHAHAHAHA!”
    I try to open the door. It’s locked.
    Pounding on the glass yields no success.
    The speedometer reads 92 miles per hour.
    I close my eyes and brace myself for the worst.
    After a sharp turn, the car brakes suddenly and my whole body crashes into the back of the passenger seat.
    I cringe from the pain to my ribs.
    I hear a garage door closing so I open my eyes.
    Adeeb’s garage door closes.
    There are no lights on.
    No noises.
    Nothing.
    The police officer hunches over, lifelessly.
    I curl up into a ball in the feedle position, crying from fear.
    I do not want to leave this car.
    I just want to die.
    After an unknown period of time, I wake up to the smell of rotting flesh.
    I am still in the back of the car.
    The officer’s body is hunched over the wheel, with flies eating the rotten carcass.
    I notice small lines of sunlight seeping through the small windows in Adeeb’s garage.
    I must have fallen asleep.
    A sharp pain is felt on the right side of my ribs.
    There is a gigantic blood stain on my shirt where the pain is felt.
    I lift my shirt up to inspect.
    A gigantic brown and yellow bruise surrounds a gigantic gash.
    I remain in the same spot in the back of the cop car for several hours, laying.
    My life starts flashing through my mind, as I think about all the good and bad that had happened in my life. Now being the worst.
    Tears running down my cheeks.
    I grab the dead and rotten officer’s nightstick, and bash open a window.
    Cutting myself in multiple parts of my body on the broken glass, I struggle as I climb out through the window.
    I look around the garage and find a rope.
    Tears running down my cheeks..
    I tie one end of the rope into a noose.
    Tears running down my cheeks.
    I tie the other to a hook on the ceiling.
    Tears running down my cheeks.
    I put a cinderblock underneath the noose.
    Tears running down my cheeks.
    I stand up on the cinderblock, put the noose around my neck, and take a deep breath.
    Tears running down my cheeks.
    This is it.



    Right before I am about to jump, however, something catches me eye.
    There is a small bike with training wheels sitting at the corner of the garage.
    I stare at it.
    I am instantly taken back to the days of being a young lad.
    It’s kindergarten.
    I have spent a whole Sunday trying to learn how to ride my bike without training wheels.
    My father has been giving me a running push at every attempt.
    My brothers and mother are all outside, enjoying nice, cold lemonade, talking.
    It’s starting to get dark.
    My father suggests we give up for the day and try again some other time. Maybe I am too young.
    I beg for him to give me one more chance.
    He agrees. One more try.
    I get settled on the bike, putting my right foot on the pedal, my left foot on the sidewalk to keep balance.
    My dad puts both hands on my back.
    “1… 2… 3… GO!”
    He starts pushing, I quickly transfer my left foot to the pedal.
    I am pedaling.
    My father isn’t pushing me anymore.
    I am riding my bike without training wheels.
    The cool breeze runs through my hair.
    A big smile is put across my face.




    A big smile put across my face from the memories.
    I cannot die. I am loved. People are counting on me. I need to see them. They need to see me. I will not let them down.
    I see an old shovel sitting in the middle of garage. I grab it.
    Quietly and very nervously, I creep towards the door that leads to Adeeb’s house.
    I quietly crack open the door.
    There is a very loud creak as the door opens.
    It is open only about three inches.
    I look through the sliver of the threshold.
    I see Adeeb’s kitchen.
    Broken glass everywhere. Broken dishes. Blood everywhere.
    I look up.
    All the cops are there, hung around their necks, swaying slowly and lifelessly.
    It is getting dark, my guess would be it is around 7:30 pm.
    I need to get out of here. I need to see my family. I need to live.
    I grasp the shovel with both my hands as hard as I can, close my eyes, bow my head and pray through my thoughts.
    “God… if you are out there… I am sorry for not being religious and taking you seriously…. But if you are out there… anywhere… please be with me…”
    I kick the door open with all my force and charge in.
    My heart is racing.
    Adrenaline pumping.
    I am looking around. Nothing.
    I run down the hallway.
    Everything is tipped over.
    Everything is destroyed.
    There is writing on the walls, written in blood.
    “Choice.”, over and over.
    After searching the whole main floor, nothing.
    I now have to make a decision.
    Basement or upstairs?






    I scream from the top of my lungs,” Whoever you are… whatever you are… you will die and I will live!”
    I hear Adeeb’s voice.
    “Help me. Help me…”
    “Adeeb?! ADEEB?!?!”
    No response.
    I decide on the basement.
    After grabbing some matches and a couple pieces of broken off wood, I manufacture a handmade torch.
    I light it on fire, also grabbing a large meat cleaver from the kitchen.
    Torch in one hand, cleaver in the other, I open the door to the basement.
    There is no light down there besides the light the torch radiates.
    I then hear ruffling coming from the basement.
    Fear is pulsing through my body.
    I think of my family. My will to live. I will not give up.
    I take the first step into the basement. The stair creeks.
    I take my second step.
    BOOM. The door slams shut behind me.
    The noise of the door shocks me so much I trip and fall down the stairs.
    My torch goes out.
    There is no light.
    Searching around the floor of the basement, crawling around with my hands searching for my cleaver, I hear laughing coming from every direction.
    It gets louder and louder.
    Ouch! I feel a sharp pain in my hand.
    It appears I just sliced my finger on the blade of the cleaver, but at least I have it now. I grab the handle.
    I then get up, and limp, very quietly and slowly as possible.
    I don’t know where I am.
    I don’t know where I am going.
    I don’t know where I will be.
    After what seems to be five minutes of walking, I hit a wall.
    The lights turn on.
    I notice a large, hand painted picture on the wall.
    It looks like a 16th century gothic painting.
    There are more of them.
    They are all over the wall, neatly placed.
    Each one is absolutely stunning.
    But… I notice something.
    Each one is a portrait of someone.
    There is one of each of the cops that were hung.
    There is a one for each family I saw that were hung.
    There is one of everyone that was killed.
    Each with a nameplate at the bottom of the painting.
    “Officer Wilson Conrad”
    “Officer Lamont Vernon”
    As I am reading names, I hear voices, causing me to pause.
    “Help me… help me escape… choose to bring us back…”
    “Helllpppp… the second choice…. The second option… I need to see my family…”
    The paintings are talking to me.
    But what are they talking about?
    I then notice something else.
    There is an empty painting in the corner of the room.
    I walk towards it, feeling an unexplainable cold chill throughout my body, getting worse the closer I get to this empty painting.
    Nothing. It is just a picture frame.
    I read the nameplate.
    “Michael William James”
    I fall back in disbelief… trembling.
    I stare at it.
    I am the next in line.
    I am the next to die.
    I must save myself and these people.
    The paintings continue talking,” Go… go upstairs… be careful… pick the second option…”


    I go back upstairs.
    It is now the middle of the night.
    The only light is the dark blue light of the moon, shining through the cracked windows of Adeeb’s house.
    I limp my fatigued and severely damaged body to the bottom of Adeeb’s staircase.
    I take several deep breaths to prepare myself for what is to come.
    I will most likely die… but I feel no fear.
    I have accepted the fact.
    I take my first step.
    Then my second.
    Then my third.
    Then my fourth.
    By the seventh step, my eyes are now level with the top floor and I can see all around the top floor.
    There is nothing broken, nothing shattered.
    Weird.
    I finish the staircase.
    Look around.
    I hear Adeeb’s aquarium.
    I walk towards it.
    I have to take a couple of turns to get there.
    End up facing the aquarium.
    I look down, see fish food.
    Grab a couple flakes, open the aquarium door and drop the food.
    I crouch down to see the fish eating the food.
    A therapeutic feeling emits through my body.
    After watching Adeeb’s fish finish off the last of the flakes, I smile from knowing there are other things alive besides me.
    I turn around.
    I am in Adeeb’s room.
    I see Adeeb’s bed. In it, under the blankets, there is a body figure.
    Here goes nothing.
    I quickly rip off the blankets from the bed.
    I look at the body.
    It is Adeeb.
    “… Adeeb?”, I whisper quietly.
    “… Adeeb…?”
    Tears start running down my eyes after realizing he is not responding.
    He is dead.
    “Whoever you are… I do not care who you are... or what you are… I will end this!”







    I firm my grip on the cleaver and walk down the hallway.
    Nothing in any of the rooms.
    All there are in each of the rooms is Adeeb’s family, dead in each bed.
    There is one last room.
    One I haven’t explored yet.
    I put my hand on the doorknob.
    Grip it.
    Twist it.
    Push it open.
    Darkness.
    Moonlight shining through the room.
    A mirror reflecting it off, blinding me.
    I walk in, moving so my face isn’t in the direct way of the light.
    This is Adeeb’s guest room.
    Nothing is in here...
    What could it be…
    How is this possible?
    There has to be something killing everyone?
    I sit down on the bed…
    Thinking to myself.
    Pondering.
    But then I feel a cold, cold, hand runs down my back.
    I freeze up.
    Look to my left where the moonlight is.
    There is a man sitting right next to me, his arm reaching around my back.
    “Hello.”
    I look into his beating, yellow, bloodshot eyes.
    He is dressed in an old fashion gothic 1600’s tuxedo. A tobacco pipe is in his mouth. He has an incredibly pointed chin.
    “H-h-hi…”
    “You are Michael William James, I assume?”
    “Y-y-yeah… who are you?”
    “I am the devil. My name is Lucifer. Nice to meet you.”
    He reaches out to shake my hand.
    I ignore his request. “You killed everyone here?”
    He frowns at ignoring his offer to shake hands. “Yep.”
    “But why?”
    “Because… you see Michael… People doubt I exist. I want to make them believe I do. I want to strike fear into people’s eyes who doubt me.”
    Silence.
    “So you are just going to kill me?”
    “No”, he grins,” I want to have some fun.”
    “I am going to give you a choice.”
    “Three choices to be exact.”
    “Option one, I give you a gun, and what you must do is kill three people you love the most.”
    “Why would I choose that?”
    “Because if you don’t, I will instill hatred into everyone’s soul. They will kill each other savagely for one hundred years. Like beasts. Rape, death, and destruction will be the norm. After one hundred years, the human race will start all over again.”
    His grin gets bigger.
    “Option two.”
    “I will bring back everyone here that is alive.”
    “I pick that one!”
    “Really? I am not finished yet…”
    “Oh… go on…”
    “I will bring back Adeeb, the police officers, all these families… if you do one thing.”
    “You must kill as many newborns as I bring back to life. Savagely. Sacrifice them to me.”
    My mind cannot comprehend the horror.
    “Option three!”
    “I will leave, and change nothing from what has happened. You will live. Everyone that is dead will remain dead.”
    “But everyone will believe you did it.”
    “So my question to you is… what is your choice?”
    I think to myself.
    Should I pick the first option?
    Where there will be the least amount of deaths? But the deaths are people I actually know and love…
    Should I pick the second option?
    Where I value the lives of people I know over people I don’t?
    Should I pick the third option?
    Where all the people remain dead, and everyone believes I am the murderer? My family and friends won’t know what to think… The disappointment on everyone’s face…
    This is where I will end the story…
    My question to you is… what is your choice?


    Here's a story I wrote freshman year!
     
  13. lighthouse_man macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    #14
    After going through your story which I assume is your best to have chosen it here, I have to tell you that family and friends can hardly be objective.

    There are so many problems with your story that I don't really have the time or patience to go through. I suggest you read more and try to understand what you're reading from a critical point of view, that of someone who wants to write.

    If I should say anything, I'd tell you that it is very easy to create an intriguing setup but if the resolution is not better than the setup then what you have is a dud. Lucifer? Really? And an open ended drivel? Come on! And where is the second act if it even matters?
     
  14. Firestar macrumors 68020

    Firestar

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2010
    Location:
    221B Baker Street.
    #15
    I haven't read it yet, but why is there only one or two lines before a new line?

    I've been working on two chain stories with friends (two different friends, two different stories) for months, and I think doing a chain story definitely helps (especially with writer's block).
     
  15. appleguy123 macrumors 603

    appleguy123

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    Location:
    15 minutes in the future
    #16
    I can't find this online anywhere, so I'll try to ask here. Richard Dawkins claims to have written a word processor called Scrivener in his book The Blind Watchmaker. Are these the same programs?
     
  16. Badradio macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2004
    Location:
    Manchester
    #17
    No, the Scrivener app mentioned above is primarily written by a guy named Keith, and while roadbloc obviously knows what he's talking about on most issues, I disagree that book-writing software is just a distraction. Scrivener is amazing as a planning/plotting/researching tool, and the mode of writing each scene/chapter in a separate file really helps to break up that elephant of a novel into edible chunks. I used it for a novel, and use it for shorts, blog posts, planning the next books... everything that involves getting words down.

    As for real novel-writing advice, I'll pass on some from Michael Marhall Smith that I know to be true; before you can write a novel, you need three ideas. Not three events for your character to experience, but three separate ideas for narratives or situations. One idea is a short story, three is a novel.
     
  17. CalBoy, Oct 2, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011

    CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    #18
    Ok, now it's time for some stone cold truth: this is not novel-quality writing.

    I'm going to only touch on the 3 major problems that I see but this isn't an exhaustive list:

    1. There is a difference between action and effective action. In written form, mismanaged action sequences can be brutal on the reader. Building tension and using it correctly are much more difficult than if you had the luxury of visuals (e.g. a movie has the benefit of music, images, etc). Your writing reads as if you imagined these sequences one at a time in your mind, and then wrote them down as you pictured them. That just doesn't work with writing. You can't keep telling us what's happening like a stenographer; we need to feel the significance of the scene. Show us why we are invested in this story. For a good example of this, read (or reread) the duel between Voldemort and Harry in The Goblet of Fire or any number of Stephen King thrillers. As it stands, your action scenes leave me thinking, "so what?" Strange things are happening, but I have no context, no emotional stake in the events, and no reason to think that any of this action is actually going help bring the plot to a climax and help resolve the tension brought on by the climax.

    2. There's no Plot
    Is your entire story a setup for an ethics class? This feels like the prompt for the infamous Heinz Dilemma. That's fine, but I wouldn't say there's much of a plot in such things because the point is that it's a quick mental exercise. Your ethical dilemma is preceded by a choppy series of events that lets us know what the devil is referring to, but that could have been accomplished with 2 lines of dialogue.

    You see, a plot must introduce conflict of some kind. The protagonist(s) must have an end goal, and must be frustrated in some way from achieving that goal. The plot is the character's growth and change as he/she learns to overcome the frustration. This basic formula is true in all stories, even ones that take on different twists and don't seem conventional.

    I must stress that you CAN have ethical dilemmas in your plot; in fact, they are quite common for protagonists to experience. However, the protagonist must make a choice at some point. Without that, there is no point to reading the story. As readers, we are free to ponder the choice for ourselves and consider the choices the protagonist has made. There are some protagonists who are simply horrible at making decisions, but that's what makes them entertaining and endearing for readers.

    3. You can't be a lazy writer.
    There are numerous diction and vocabulary errors in your story. You also have some factual errors (the one that jumps out most to me is "1600s gothic Tuxedo"-Tuxedos were not around in the 1600s; they would have been called something else, and you could have easily looked that up). You may have been a freshman in high school, but that doesn't excuse not proofreading your story. This is especially important because you felt confident in this story; it represents what you think is at least above average for your work.


    My critical eye aside, you should write because you enjoy it. Plenty of people write just for themselves or to share in a small group. If you have the ambition to write a novel, you need to have the fortitude to take criticism seriously and make changes. You are a long way from writing a novel. I'm not saying you can't ever do it, but you need to develop your skills still. I'm going to dust off an old chestnut and remind you that you have to learn how to crawl before you can run.
     
  18. TSE thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2007
    Location:
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    #19
    Thanks for the honest criticism guys. I really appreciate it.

    The story was actually just a stream of consciousness that I wrote when I was bored one night, I just kind of typed what I felt and had no real idea where the story was headed.

    I am not expecting to become the next Stephen King or anything. At least not right away.

    I'm going to start reading a lot more than I have in the past, studying the various aspects of how novels are written, how conflicts build up, etc.
     

Share This Page