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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old 06-08-09, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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Default The Writer's Circle – Week #1 [Writer's Block]

Welcome to the Writer's Circle! Where every week is a new discussion on writing, the written word, even tips and tricks to help make your writing stand out!

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So begins the first session of Writer's Circle! This first weeks discussion will be on a topic that I'm sure has effected many of you in the past, and may even be bothering you right now! Its “writer's block.”

I was browsing the pages of this months “The Writer” magazine and I stumbled upon this little letter to the editor. It pertains to the existence (or in this guys opinion, lack thereof) of the condition “writer's block.” Here is what the letter says:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Davis in “the Writer” July 2009 issue

Writer's block

With all due respect to Lois Duncan [“5 ways to break writer's block,” April], There's no such thing as writer's block, and writers need to stop using this misleading, warn-out phrase.

If you are unable to write, it's either because your characters have nothing to say, do or think, or you simply don't have a workable idea in the drawer.

Check your plot for action that demands your characters' attention. Check your characters for a lack of motivation to act. And if you don't have an idea, so what? Ideas worth writing about simply happen, and they will.

Stop claiming to have this mythical, exclusive “writer's block” disease. The problem is in your story. And if you're between projects, take your foot off the throttle. Where is it written that you must have an idea every day of the week? Writer's block? I don't think so.
And this is where I would like to open the discussion. What is your stance on the theory of writers block?

Personally, I don't really think that it exists either. Don't get me wrong, I do have bouts of time where I am seemingly unable to get anything accomplished, however, I do always manage to get something accomplished.

What are some possible ways of combating what could be known as writer's block? Like the man wrote in the above letter, there is always the option of checking

Quote:
...your plot for action that demands your characters' attention.
you can also,

Quote:
Check your character for a lack of motivation to act.
This is a great idea, if you are in the middle of a story you are working on!

But what if you aren't currently working on a piece of fiction right now? What if you are between 'publications' yet you feel compelled to get something accomplished?

Here are a few things that I like to do if I am between stories and cant think of anything specific to write about.

1.I go over my existing characters. It seems to me that there is always something that needs elaboration or clarification. Whether it be their own personal background, or just some features about them like their height, weight, personality. There is usually something that I can do to make things more complete when it comes to my characters. Not only does it sometimes turn up possible avenues for my character to travel down, it helps me get a better handle on what my character is and isn't capable of.

2.I check over my past stories for possible continuance. If there is one thing that helps me break the 'writer's block' it's this. Reviewing my past stories almost always helps me come up with something to write about. Take my first short story I did for example. When you read At the End of All Things, you will notice that Brother-Captain Vicarus wakes up after something significant has happened. What was it that happened? Now, I'll admit, I wasn't that interested in writing a background piece for that short story originally. I had initially intended it to just be some sort of amnesiac occurrence and then leave it at that. There was to be no background stories at all. But what do you know, I was struck with what could be called 'writer's block' one day and decided to have a look over the story once again. There were a couple of things that stood out when I read it again, and coming to my senses, I decided to start writing a background for Brother Vicarus. Of course, I did continue on with the story after At the End of All Things. I've written and posted the Prologue and Chapter One of my new novel, The Ghost of Iron here on Heresy-Online since then. You can find them under the link in my signature called “the Lair of the FAN FICTION KING!” So you can see, checking over your pasts stories can be a great way to find things to write about.

3.Pick up the nearest Codex! Heaven knows, if you are looking for story ideas pertaining to the 40k universe, your nearest Codex will have plenty of them. And if you've done any 40k gaming in the past, you'll have a copy. Doesn't matter which edition really. If you're looking for something to write about, most have the same races involved. Some of the older ones have different looks about them, but generally from a fictional standpoint they are the same (basically). Check through the different race sections, especially in the rulebooks. There are plenty of special character sections that talk about how characters act, their history, some background fluff, and even some notable campaigns. Lets take a look at the newest 5th edition rulebook for an example. Page 126-129 will find you with a time-line describing 'The Time of Ending.' There are quips about events happening all throughout the time frame, from 744.M41 all the way to 995999.M41, each bearing a little text about what happened on those notable dates. Look here for example.

Quote:
995.M41
Tau fleet units strike at the shrine world of Ghola's Hope.
Lets look at this for a second... All this thing talks about is the Tau attacking the planet...WOW! Obviously there is much more that we can do with this.

For example, what Sept has attacked Ghola's Hope? Who was there to defend it? Were the Imperial Guard involved? What type of planet (what it looks like) is it? Were Space Marines involved? Was the attack repelled? Did the planet fall? What was the battle like? Was it just a space fleet battle? Imperial Navy? A Battle-Barge? WHAT!? As you can see, there are many things that are left unsaid with this passage. Use this to your advantage! It can be a really good idea starter. The basics are already laid out in front of you by those who wrote the codex, now all you need to do is write the story behind it! Which brings me to my next tip...

4.Create some new characters! Now that I'm in the mood to start a new story, the characters have to come next. I went to local library (of which I am an employee) and borrowed a copy of 'The Writer's Digest' Character Naming Sourcebook second edition, by: Sherrilyn Kenyon. You should check it out sometime and possibly buy it. It is a fantastic book with 486 pages of names from many different cultures. I never have a hard time picking out names to use as characters. Each name puts a different picture in my head right away. I jot down the name, signifying whether or not it is a male or female character, and then move on to find more. This really gives me a good running list of characters to work with whenever I am in need when writing a story. And it also helps if you refer back to my first tip #1, “Review your existing characters.”

Hopefully this post has been of some help to you all. It has been a blast putting this together for everyone! Please let me know what you think about it.

I would like to open up the discussion here for everyone. What is you stance on “Writer's Block”? Does it exist, or is it just a type of bored dyslexia! Do you have any tips to share that could help someone win their battle with writer's block? Let hear it! Can't wait to see what comes out of the woodwork!

Write On!

Commissar Ploss

Come back next week on Monday for the next Writer's Circle discussion session! Where every week is a new discussion on writing, the written word, even tips and tricks to help make your writing stand out!

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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old 06-08-09, 02:17 PM
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I wouldn't say I get writers block. However linking plt devices and writing 'middles' is often a long drawn out process... I guess you could call it block, but generally it stems from too many ideas that often conflict or are counter-productive.

My own advice (it works for me) - write something else. Anything, a short story, a synopsis, a charcter background or even a poem. I find that writing a different form (rather than subject) helps shift my perspective enough to get the original piece going again.
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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old 06-08-09, 02:35 PM
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I would have to say that 'Writers Block' does not exist for me. I am going to however make up a new writers syndrome for myself. I suffer from a combination of 'Writer's Boredom' and 'Writer's Confusion'.

'Writer's Boredom' is just that. I often find myself writing and I just think I have been sat here for an hour now, I can't be arsed anymore. For this I find a brilliant cure is headshoting some undead Nazi twats on Call of Duty 5. I stop thinking about the story altogether and get my much needed break.

'Writer's Confusion' sadly comes from my over-active mind. I get a basic idea of the storyline then I being thinking this would be awesome to put in, ohh and so would this. While it leaves me with plenty of options I do then get a little brain overload when I try to find a way to fit all of the stuff I want to into the story with it still making sense. Unfortunately this can't be sorted out by some, if I do say so myself, brilliant headshot zombie kills. This slows down writing alot because I have to get a nice sleep so sort my 'Writer's Confusion' out.

Finally I would suggest that 'Writer's Block' simply comes from an underdeveloped storyline and a lack of knowing where to take the story next, or how to link certain key parts/people in your story together. To sort this out I would suggest you stop writing for a while and just think about where you want the story to go. Once you have sorted that out you should be cooking with gas. And if you are not perhaps you are just suffering from my newly invented 'Writer's Boredom' or 'Writer's Confusion'.

Do not disallusion yourself brothers, today we die, our bodies broken and our souls shattered, we will be remembered as corpses on a battlefield.Raise hell my brothers for one day our great Father will hear of our struggle, and he will be honoured to call us his Sons. In death our Glory shall become eternal.' Karik Farron, 1st Lord of the Dark Scorchers at the Fall of Kempar.


'like a blind man in a dark room trying to find a black cat that isn't there'-imntdead
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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old 06-08-09, 02:50 PM
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I dont believe in writers block however i often find the first sentences of my feeble attempts at writing are the most difficult. Once that is in place the block fades away into insignificance. I rarely feel stunted for ideas, more i struggle to find that dramatic entrance the more it lips away

I deal with it by breaking out ye olde horus heresy and having a read
Sometimes a phrase jumps out and i see a beginning and sometimes not.
I think other writers you enjoy can stimulate your mind and open up possiblities. For me dan abnett is my preference but thats just me.

i think writers block probably could be prevented if actually planning out my stories. I allow my inspiration to come spontaneously and therein lies my weakness, in my opinion

kudos to lillian thorne for the awesome sig
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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old 06-08-09, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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Great stuff guys! Lets keep the stuff coming! This is exactly what i was hoping to see! AWESOME!

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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old 06-08-09, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zondarian View Post
'Writer's Confusion' sadly comes from my over-active mind. I get a basic idea of the storyline then I being thinking this would be awesome to put in, ohh and so would this. While it leaves me with plenty of options I do then get a little brain overload when I try to find a way to fit all of the stuff I want to into the story with it still making sense.
This is exactly what I was getting at. I think it stems from a lack of objectivity (in myself at least). I don't why it didn't occur to me sooner. Being a musician/songwriter/producer I always excercise caution when adding in 'cool ideas'. A simple application of proper planing is going to be a good start. What do you want to write about? How are you going to write it and why are you writing it?

It's far too easy to just dive in and trust your gut, only to be frustrated and 'blocked' halfway through the creative process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zondarian View Post
Finally I would suggest that 'Writer's Block' simply comes from an underdeveloped storyline and a lack of knowing where to take the story next, or how to link certain key parts/people in your story together. To sort this out I would suggest you stop writing for a while and just think about where you want the story to go. Once you have sorted that out you should be cooking with gas.
Exactly. Rather than think about the story in exacting detail, consider the mechanics of writing.

I feel more confident as an author already
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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old 06-08-09, 03:30 PM
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I think writer's block stems from writers "painting themselves into a corner" so to speak. Their characters have done everything possible, with the story limiting them, and then there's something else that pops up, and it's unfeasible to imagine the characters being in any condition to do it. A lot of the stories I've read are battle, battle, battle, battle, end. These are good for some of them (Halo's SPARTAN-IIs and Space Marines, of course), but some of the others are a little bullshit in my eyes. I always like to write as if I was making the decisions. Like say, after a battle, would I just run to the next one. Well, if that other battle wasn't kicking down my front door, hell no! I'd grab a beer, reload my rifle, and chill out for a while. I try to introduce random elements and little bits of dialogue in these "filler" spaces that fleshes out the characters and the story pretty well, to a point sometimes where I make mistakes in my writing based on earlier fiction, because the plot has evolved so much.

When I do get "writer's block" it's usually with me sitting at my computer writing, and then for no apparent reason I'll go "Do I like where this is headed?". If the answer is "no", then I will just delete the entire segment and go play video games or read a book (or go to "work"). If I'm genuinely in need of inspiration, I continue to scratch the barcode off my library card through it's rigorous use, or listen to music.
I use for large-scale battles, or especially for space fights. It's very dramatic. I prefer punk or alternative when writing filler, normally Rise Against or something similar.

Most of all, I think "writer's block" is a cheap form of "I don't want to update today" that stems from someone not looking far enough into their own storyline. In one of my stories I referenced a box under a character's bunk in the first few chapters. Later, when the character's ship was boarded, I referenced it again. And finally I used it as a weapon when the character was confronted by an enemy. Even the littlest, stupidest detail can prove to be very useful later in a story, and I encourage people to read back over their own writings, to pick up the little details they may have missed themselves, even though they wrote it.

Happy writing!
-Dirge

You'll forgive me, but you must be mistaken. I've met your makers, and they don't even know your name...

GIVING CHASE- ORDO HERETICUS FIC
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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old 06-08-09, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Great post Dirge! Thanks for contributing you comments! and awesome track by the way...it IS very dramatic...

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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old 06-08-09, 08:13 PM
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One thing I often find is that fan-written stories - not just 40K ones, I'm talking in any genre - lack endings. Or, at least, they lack decent ones. I always remember, ages ago, watching an interview with Sting when he was talking about his songwriting process and he said "I write from titles..."; he would have to have a title that he found compelling and evocative, or he couldn't write words that made much sense. Similarly, when it comes to prose, I write from endings; I think if you don't have a good way to end the story, you're not ready to start it yet. Cool fight scenes and snappy dialogue are all well and good, but it's got to end well or it's like having a fantastic hors d'ouevre and then being served a McNugget. I tend to think up senario, plot, characters and so forth like anyone does, but I won't put pen to paper (OK, finger to key) until I know how it's going to end. The Death Guard story 'Incursion' that I've linked to in my sig is building up episodically, but I know how the last episode is going to end no matter how many episodes I come up with along the way.

As evidence, I present a short story I wrote a couple of years ago based in the gameworld of the MMO 'Dark Age Of Camelot' (a criminally under-rated MMO, by the way) - Journey's End. OK, the many references to in-game locations, classes and such may not make sense to anyone who hasn't played the game but I think it has a really strong ending. I actually thought that up by itself first, just an ending in isolation, and then reverse engineered a story from it since I thought the image of that final scene was so powerful. Another device I like in 'Journey's End' is the use of tense - present tense to describe flashback, and past tense to describe what's actually happening now. The idea was that everything that happens now is aftermath, the slow unravelling after a vicious battle, whereas the battle itself is fast and immediate in the protagonists's mind.

One thing I find very interesting is trying to describe, in prose, the elements and mechanics of a game as realistically as possible. If I'm writing for the world of Dark Age Of Camelot, how do I describe the effects of a Warlock's bizarre chambered spells in real-life terms, or the many various weapon styles and effects? Likewise in the world of 40K, what does that splinter pistol sound like? What is a Sorceror of Chaos actually doing as he casts Gift Of Chaos? I have long been a firm believer in the school of thought that fantasy works best when described as realistically as possible, and as such I really enjoy the process of trying to translate gameworld mechanics and the like into prose that tries to be as convincing as possible in the world it builds up.

As for dialogue, it's a hoary old cliché but I frequently do the thing of speaking my dialogue out loud to myself to see if the rhythm of the speech works, if it sounds like something someone might actually say rather than just a bunch of words. Different characters will have different ways of speaking, and it's nice if you can convey a feeling of differing levels of intellect and thought process between characters with their manner(s) of speaking; hopefully part 2 of 'Incursion', which is all basically one conversation between an Inquisitor and his subject, conveys this impression.

Just my 2 cents' worth...


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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old 06-08-09, 08:59 PM
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The ending is the most important part of any story to me because, as obvious as this sounds, it is the last thing that is read. If you are going to become a well respected and liked Author people have to walk away from your work pleased. A bad ending ruins all the brilliant work you put into the story. It is like aniseed, tasty with a bad after-taste. Is it worth going back, many people think no.

Another major thing about the ending is that it has to be suitable for your story. If you spend ages getting people to fall in love with your character, it may not be good to end with his death, unless it sends a very clear message and highlights a part of the characters personality that has always been there.

Unless you are very brave don't go for the 10 years later sort of ending, people often feel short changed, they like to walk away with something to think about. And after reading about the heroic adventures of [insert name here] you often don't like to then read that they went back to their nice comfortable life and had a cuppa.

And finally the cliffhanger. If you do this well it is probably one of the best ending that is possible, but if you don't do it well then it can be counted as a tick in the epic fail column. For a cliffhanger to work well you have to not know how things will turn out. As a cliffhanger an IG with a stick staring down a Hive Tyrant is not going to work, you know how it will turn out. But if it is a Space Marine with two power weapons, you can allow yourself to think either way. That the SM wins, or that the Tyrant wins. This leaves the reader with a feeling of wanting, they want to know how things turn out, and most importantly they will come back to read your next piece of work. However the cliffhanger is another risky ending, and if you can't pull it off well or have the courage to do it then your readers may well just leave frustrated and pissed off.

On a personal note I find it neccasary to request that no one does an ending where the hero just walks off into the horizon, that just pisses me off.

Do not disallusion yourself brothers, today we die, our bodies broken and our souls shattered, we will be remembered as corpses on a battlefield.Raise hell my brothers for one day our great Father will hear of our struggle, and he will be honoured to call us his Sons. In death our Glory shall become eternal.' Karik Farron, 1st Lord of the Dark Scorchers at the Fall of Kempar.


'like a blind man in a dark room trying to find a black cat that isn't there'-imntdead
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