Writing Advice

by Will11

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Here is some advice for writing that you may find useful.

1: Begin with an idea. This idea can come from an experience, a place you have been, a movie you have watched, something you have read or it can emerge as a creative idea completely out of the ether (some writers find reading a particularly great source of ideas, the more you read, especially well-written books such as classics, the more you are feeding your creative cells). Your idea could be any genre: Non-Fiction (Edutainment or Historical), a Fantasy adventure, a pieces of Fan Fiction, a Murder Mystery; the list goes on.

Not all ideas are good ideas however and not all ideas readily adapt themselves to a multiple-choice story (especially non-fiction ones). Some writers find themselves discarding the majority of their ideas, sometimes after working on one at some length (see all the unpublished stories on the profiles of members, which often outnumber the number of published stories). Do not be afraid to drop a project if you feel it is not working, after all, the potential for creativity is infinite. Actively seek out new ideas with new experiences.

2: Plan it. Some creative writers like to invent the story as they go along, which is fine for fictional prose (particularly short stories) but with multiple-choice stories this often leads to unfinished stories, stories published in parts (always a bad idea unless you have written at least 10,000 words or 20 A4 pages on Word) or stories with sudden and illogical endings. You should, at least, have a rough beginning, middle and end in your head and an idea of how the story will branch and develop, these do not have to be set in concrete and you can change them later on. Some authors plan their entire story out in spider diagrams, this approach works particularly well for some traditional choose-your-stories (e.g. dungeon explorations).

3: Write it. Here is the part where a lot of authors fall down. They have their idea, they start their story and then they lose interest. Sometimes that is because the idea does not have enough potential but sometimes it is because of the lack of commitment of the writer. Life, study and work does get in the way so you could set yourself a target of how much you want to write on average on a daily basis. You do not have to write every single day (or even every week or month) but you could use this is a rough guide to how much you should be writing over time. If you have planned your story well you can even estimate roughly how long a story will take to finish. Try to make your writing target realistic and achievable.

For example, suppose you decide to write an average of 1 page (500 words or 5 paragraphs) a day. You have a good week, writing 2 or 3 pages some days and not at all on others but on the second week your cat falls into a wood chipper and you need to repaint the front of your cabin so you cannot write for a week. That is fine, the following week you have more free time now you do not have to open tins of cat food or empty litter boxes and you write 14 pages in 3 days and hey presto your story is finished. You publish it proudly, print off a copy and spend the night reading it aloud at the grave of your late lamented pet. His spirit blesses you with happiness.

4: Motivate yourself. This is key to writing, the energy to the wonderfully amazing super-computer that is your beautiful brain. The more you self-motivate the faster you will write (free time permitting). For some people this is easy: they have such an exhibitionist need to transpose the ideas in their head into a physical form that, like food, drink or going to the bathroom, they have to do a certain amount every day. For others, they can barely force themselves to pick up a pen (think students tackling an assignment).

Remember this: nobody is forcing you to write. It is your choice. We are all here because we have an interest, to a lesser or greater extent, in writing. Everyone motivates themselves in different ways (points, trophies, positive feedback, admiration, possible sexual interest from loved ones, etc) but self-motivating (possibly through practice) is the most effective way to write. If you are hoping for positive feedback and praise to keep you ticking along sometimes the internet can be a barren wasteland in that regard, occasionally inhabited by invariably 1/8 rating trolls of the lol fag commenting kind (the best thing to do with trolls, incidentally, is to treat them the same way as their parents do and ignore them, do not feed the trolls or they become more active). Try to have your own goals.

Also, try not to get distracted when writing. Do not have the TV on or lose yourself in Tik Tok when writing. The Forums can be great for ideas but quite a distraction when you are writing. Something that might help is to put on a 30-minute or 60-minute music playlist quietly in the background and write until the end of that playlist. Do not force yourself to write if you are tired. Writing competitions can be difficult for some people because they do not manage their time well, rush and turn in substandard stories. So, that brings us to advice number 5.

5: Set a reasonable target. It is fairly important you have a rough idea of how long you want your story to be. The main mistake writers make is that their stories are too short because they cannot get much out of their original idea; while it is possible to write an ok story in 1,000 words (2 pages) - think quizzes or escape room type stuff - to write something likely to make a real impression on people you should probably be going for perhaps 10,000 words (20 pages) but a lot of great stories are much, much longer. I am particularly thinking of Eternal, written by Endmaster, here, the best story by the best author on this site, which is practically the gift that keeps giving owing to its impressive (and consistently brilliant) story length. Unfinished stories, stories in parts or generally badly written stories (almost always fairly short) invariably get taken down.

6: Structuring. Apart from avoiding linear or broken stories you should also avoid run-on sentences and over-long paragraphs. About 20 words per sentence (1-2 lines) and three or five sentences per paragraph (say 100 words, 3-7 lines) are standard (5 lines is a good average for a paragraph) but there are exceptions to this. Sometimes, for impact, you can use a single word (Obliterated) or sentences (Your beloved cat Foofy has been obliterated.) for effect. Some special forms of communication you might use in your story (newspaper articles, letters, texts etc) defy easy categorization.

7: Proof Read and Rewrite. Do not be afraid to rewrite or reshape your story if you think it is necessary. You should definitely read through your story after you have written it (or go back and reread as you finish each chapter or part, if it is long enough). Most writing mediums (this website, Microsoft Word etc) can pick up most typos or grammar errors but all writing can always be improved, even after publishing. Do not rush through a story in one night and publish your little masterpiece to an eagerly expectant world so that the adulation and photos of semi-clad admirers will rain down on you because you probably will not get the reaction you were hoping for.

8: Do not be afraid to push the boat. One of the best things about this site is that it is quite flexible on content: if you want to include taboo topics you can, if they are artistically justified and not just sexploitation (though, you will probably also get away with mild erotica as long as it is not explicit hardcore porn of the do not try this at home until you have practiced a few times with a friend variety). If you think it adds to the impact of your story or gives your characters more depth, then go for it. Some of the best stories on here, if they were made into movies are not the sort of things you would feel comfortable watching with your grandma (unless she is a pretty chill gran).

9: Publish! When you are confident you can publish your story and see the feedback. Feedback can be slow, generally the more you write the longer it takes for people to read it and the less feedback you will get but also the more valuable that feedback is likely to be. It is hard not to take criticism personally but by paying attention to constructive criticism and ignoring destructive criticism (the latter is usually more badly written and gives you no useful, practical, implementable advice) you can improve as a writer.

It is always a good idea to keep a copy of your story for yourself (some writers write their story on Word first and then copy and paste it onto this site) and some writers, for the sake of variety, can work on multiple projects at once which means sometimes, when the stars align, they can publish two or more stories in relatively quick succession. Know your limits though: do not start and leave unfinished several different stories, typically two or three is a nice, manageable number for when you need a break from working on one particular story and want to change to another.

10: Learn from others. I mentioned earlier about the importance of reading the work of others for ideas about content and style. Do not directly plagiarize (copy and paste chunks of their writing and pass it off as your own) but use it to inspire you. For example, suppose you read a Fantasy Dungeon crawl. Maybe you have been watching a lot of Star Wars lately and think you could do something similar but in space with different characters, monsters and dangers? You know what interests you and if you find it interesting and you show respect to your reader by presenting it reasonably well then there is a good chance other people will find it interesting too. And thus, the praise of a stranger will brighten your life.

To summarize:

1: Have an idea from something you have experienced (books, life, movies, etc) or thought up.

2: Plan it a little, anything from generally in your head to detailed page-by-page notes is fine.

3: Write it with some consistency.

4: Motivate yourself - easy for some, difficult for others.

5: Try to make your story a decent length.

6: Try to make your structuring and writing style reader-friendly and attractive.

7: Proof read and do not be afraid to rewrite.

8: Do not worry if something is a bit extreme.

9: Publish and wait for feedback.

10: Learn from your mistakes and successes and try to apply it to your future writing.

Good Luck and enjoy writing!