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Writer's Block:
Help for an Author-to-Be
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Help for an Author-to-Be:

Hello there! As you can probably tell from the title, I started this thread because I need help with being an author, and I hope nobody minds my asking for help.

Before anyone says it, I know there are probably other posts dedicated to this subject, but the thing is, I don't need help with just one subject, I need help with...well...everything. Y'know, plots, characters, ideas for stories, etc. Is that ok with everyone?

So if nobody minds helping me out now and then, here's Question Number 1 - if I used Wordpad to write a story, would the publishers accept it? (I hope so, I don't have Microsoft Word)
 
 2 Mr AHR, Sat, 9th Apr '11 1:29:05 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
As long as it's properly formatted and grammar checked, I see no reason why not.
It honestly doesn't matter how you format it, just as long that when you send it to a publisher, you're formatting it according to their standards (which they'll set, which can usually be found out on their site, or whenever they let magazines and such know that they're looking for submissions).

[up] <day d. oacev

Ah, I see now!

OK, next question - is it best to start one's writing career with a novel, or a short story? Or does it not really matter?

And if I become established in one genre (e.g. chic lit), would it be ok if I wrote a book in another genre (e.g. sci-fi)?
 
^ Don't worry about that stuff when you're first starting out. Just write what you can write, and see how it turns out.
If I'm asking for advice on a story idea, don't tell me it can't be done.
 7 Durazno, Sat, 9th Apr '11 4:03:20 PM from Academia Relationship Status: Robosexual
All business!
I agree with Ettina. The answer to that one is completely individual, so try different things until you find a form that seems more comfortable.

(Even after you do, though, don't be afraid to experiment.)

To the OP: what is it that made you interested in writing as a career in the first place? What types of things do you like to read, and what genres/forms do you want to write?

Maelstrom
Hear ye, hear ye: for those lacking in word processing power, I present the most un-calamitous device ever seen this side of the Pacific Ocean!

I give you, Open Office!

If you're worried about writing with Word Pad, just use Open Office. Hope that helps.

edited 9th Apr '11 5:08:17 PM by Five_X

 10 Major Tom, Sat, 9th Apr '11 7:31:26 PM Relationship Status: Barbecuing
Eye'm the cutest!
@Fruitstripepengiun: Choose for yourself which type and genre to write. Write something you would like to read is what got me started.

Endless Conflict: Every war ends in time, even supposedly this one.
 11 SKJAM, Sat, 9th Apr '11 7:44:48 PM from Minneapolis Relationship Status: Cast away
Great and Powerful
Some general advice: Invest in a dictionary and a style guide. (Strunk & White does nicely for the latter.) Skim through both, noting areas for closer study later. Even college graduates get stuck on the spelling or meaning of certain words.

Mr. Spell Checker is your ally, but he is not your friend. Use one if you have it, but double check to spot false cognates.

Spelling and grammar are less important in the first draft, so if you're feeling inspired, go ahead and just keep writing. Then mercilessly go through after a short rest and revise as appropriate. Your beta readers should never see anything earlier than your second draft.

Grow a thick skin, because even the nicest of critiques is going to sting a little. And once you put your work out in public, people are not going to feel compelled to be nice.
 12 chihuahua 0, Sat, 9th Apr '11 8:09:46 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
I'll say at least write a few short stories for yourself before attempting to write a novel, to get your writing legs. Publishing some short stories while writing a long-term project is also a good idea, since it would help pay the bills if you're becoming a full-time author.

 13 SKJAM, Sat, 9th Apr '11 8:28:35 PM from Minneapolis Relationship Status: Cast away
Great and Powerful
If you're lacking for ideas, or rather a "which idea to do first", there are various communities on the internet that have "fic challenges" where a certain amount of the parameters for the story are already set. (No more than 1000 words, must be about lesbians on the moon, happy ending. Just as an example.)

Simple writing exercises can also help you stretch your skills. For example, writing a scene from one character's point of view, then writing it from the other character's pov.
 14 d Roy, Sun, 10th Apr '11 1:36:09 AM Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
I can't think of any other devices, but remember this: be prepared to have your draft rejected by publishers. Repeatedly. I can't remember who the author is, but there's one now bestselling author who once got rejected over 70 times before getting his work published.

Oh, in an related note, do not fear criticism because you will come across it really often. It can be pretty scary, if you think about it.

You should also read whatever you can get a hold of. Focus on the genres or forms that you enjoy the most, but make sure to try everything. Poetry, novels, short stories, plays, non-fiction, mythologies, legends, etc. Sample different authors and things written at different points in history. When you do this, you begin to understand how to tell a story (anything from the mechanics to the several different ways plots can unfold), how characterization can work, which plots and devices are stereotyped and trite, which tropes are used, and how the author plays with them.

See ALL the stars!
[up][up] I think that was J. K. Rowling
Da Rules excuse all the inaccuracy in the world. Listen to them, not me.
Thank you all for your words of advice!

To Betsyandthe Five Avengers: I decided to persue writing as a career because I've always liked reading, and it's something I'd like to try my hand at. And I like to read...well, anything. I'd like to write anything, too. Well, nearly anything.

There are 4 things I will NEVER write about: 1-Anything too gory and sadistic. 2-Horror. 3-Religion (it's too contraversital). 4-Politics.

To Five X: Thank you for your kind offer, but I am happy with Wordpad. I do have one question, though: does anyone know how many Kilo Bites equal one page? I ask because Wordpad doesn't show the number of pages you've used.

And there's something else I'd like to know. When one is on welfare benefits, the benefits stop if they get a proper job. What I would like to now is: if an author is on welfare benefits when they are starting out, can they continue to claim benefits, since their work isn't going to earn much money at first?

Just one more thing - if I was to write a children's story, would I need to add pictures or would I need to explain where I'd like the pictures to be, and what I'd like the pictures to be OF? And (regardless of age group) apart from chapter headings, would I need to do anything else to make it clear where one chapter ends and another begins? Or is all that something for the editors to figure out when they edit the book?

edited 10th Apr '11 6:27:24 AM by fruitstripegum

 
Away on the wind~
It's not the number of pages that counts towards the file size- it's the number of characters used, I believe.

I'd suggest getting a job, rather than relying on welfare benefits, and working your writing around that.
There are too many toasters in my chimney!
Number of characters? What does that mean?
 
See ALL the stars!
A "character" in the computer sense is a single letter, punctuation mark, digit, or other symbol, such as a space. This also includes "non-printing" symbols such as newlines, page breaks, and tabs. A single character takes up 1 byte (unless you aren't using the English alphabet) and a kilobyte is 1024 bytes.

[up][up][up] 2.6-3.2kb per page. However, it's far more sensible to use a text editor that shows page count. This is because formatting information will also take up space, but isn't actually visible, which will throw your count off.

(Also, what CA said about finances.)[up][up]

edited 10th Apr '11 6:33:04 AM by Yej

Da Rules excuse all the inaccuracy in the world. Listen to them, not me.
Away on the wind~
This may also help with that.

But yes- I will second the recommendation for Open Office. It has far better formatting options than Wordpad.

Do not let your work suffer for this :/
There are too many toasters in my chimney!
 22 jasonwill 2, Sun, 10th Apr '11 7:01:37 AM from West Virginia
Best advice I can give: don't give up.

If you have an idea, but you can't finish it, tuck it away. You might be able to later. Ray Bradbury released his sequel to Dandelion Wine 50 f***ing years after the first book.

Now that is holding onto an idea.

edited 10th Apr '11 7:01:55 AM by jasonwill2

as of the 2nd of Nov. has 6 weeks for a broken collar bone to heal and types 1 handed and slowly
There are 4 things I will NEVER write about: 1-Anything too gory and sadistic. 2-Horror. 3-Religion (it's too contraversital). 4-Politics.
And now that you've set boundaries for yourself, cross them. Multiple times, if need be.

Experiment with things you hate. Dive into the unknown. Stare into the abyss, and write about what you see. Comfortable topics make for comfortable stories, which usually end up pretty boring.

You don't have to publish these kinds of stories, mind you, but you should write them for the sake of writing them. In fact, 10 times out of 10, you're going to be doing a lot more of writing without publishing than you will be writing for publications. There's never a problem having projects you're working on that are intended for publication, but those can and will take a lot of time to get right. In between all that, you should write to build your portfolio and experience. A writer doesn't get experience writing by publishing or being published, but by writing, writing, and more writing.

Make yourself uncomfortable with your writing. Not to sound too egotistical, but that may be the second best piece of advice you can get on the subject.

Thank you, thank you! All this advice should prove to be very helpful indeed!

Ummmmm...I truly do not wish to offend anyone, but I was wondering if...if anyone has an idea for a story I could write? Any type of story, I'm not fussed. And any ideas for any characters to star in any type of story?

Don't get the wrong idea, I promise that this is not gonna be a one-sided thing. If I get any ideas for stories and/or characters, I'll post them on this forum for some constructive feedback. Call it equivelant exchange, if you like.

Once again, I hope I haven't upset anyone, and you do not have to give me ideas if you don't wish to.
 
 25 Durazno, Sun, 10th Apr '11 4:11:21 PM from Academia Relationship Status: Robosexual
All business!
I wouldn't worry, fruitstripe, but I think that you'll find that ideas are cheap among writers. Just about any writer you meet will be full of 'em; the thing that most will be lacking is the time and wherewithal to actually sit down and write them.

That said, you're looking for a prompt? I'll offer one, but you might hold out for something more specific.

Two characters, one human, one not* are adrift in a lonely powerless vessel* . They are rescued by a third character who does not seem entirely trustworthy. Who is this mysterious person and how should our heroes deal with hir?

Total posts: 135
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