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Dealing with Genre Drift (thats probably not the actual term):
I never asked for thisIíve been practicing writing since the start of middle school, and I'm having a bit of a problem, my inspiration is changing. After reading a particularly amazing realistic fiction story, I realized that no fantasy story had ever had an impact on me anywhere near this. Suddenly when I draft urban fantasy plots they all seem hollow. I canít bring myself to invest emotionally in fantastic elements the same way I can in real life anymore. And there arises my problem: I only know how to write fantasy. A story outline about a man having to choose between overworking to get enough money to support his new marriage or spending that time with his new wife soon escalated into some kind of Ghandi-esque story of mage rebellion in the modern day. A different story outline of moving to a new town soon started to look too much like Bordertown for comfort. I can't help it, itís a compulsion. sometimes I dont realise its even happened until I reread the outline. My plots escalate in scale without me wanting them to; until I look back and am so disgusted I drop the work. Itís not that I donít want fantasy elements involved, I love the genre. Itís that I want the real elements and human interaction to be at the absolute forefront, not the background. I think I know the reason. This isnít a thread about my problems so Iíll just shorten it. Bullying and resulting social anxiety made me miss out on four and 1/2 years of social development. I had nothing to say about the real world, so I only wrote about fake ones. Now that my life has been looking up in a huge way for four years, I want to write about the real world again. But you donít just suddenly regain five missed years of human interaction. I donít know where to start, especially when it comes to conflicts, antagonists that seem realistic (I can write great sympathetic fantasy antagonists, but I have huge problems making realistic ones) and the motivations and thoughts of characters who are outgoing. TL;DR: I try to write or at least outline writing every day, but now Iím thrown in a new genre with new conventions, and I need some advice on how to transition from fantasy to realistic fiction even though I dont fully know how to write from other peoples viewpoints. EDIT: This is a brand new account and I cannot reply until tomorrow. So heres the general pattern my writing follows 1. Come up with conflict/story that would work in either realistic fiction or urban fantasy (like the buisnessman story) 2. Find trouble supporting dramatic tension using realism alone, add fantastic elements to back it up (IE: making the buisnessman have some kind of magic talent that causes others to pressure him into a job that he hates, but only people like him can do) 3. Fantastic elements mutate into a plot tumor that swallows up the realism and leaves it burried rather than backing it up.
edited 25th Feb '13 11:19:53 AM by SalmonPunch
"You like Castlevania, don't you?"
Well, you become a good writer by reading a lot. So, I guess just go read/watch a lot of stuff with realistic settings. If you understand how literature works, like narrative and dramatic structure and characters and all that, you should be able to apply that stuff to any genre and have it work. That stuff about your stories getting too big — I think that's kind of ridiculous. You're the writer, you have complete control of the story. If the story is going in the wrong direction, go back and rewrite it. Maybe you should try to do some writing exercises like "write a story that takes place in one room or over the course of a single day". I'm actually having the opposite problem. I'm a realistic crime-fiction kind of guy and now I'm trying to get into epic fantasy adventure stuff.
Wolf1066Following on from what WSM said, work out a rough synopsis/plan of your story - "businessman wants this but such-and-such so he whatever but so-and-so so he..." finishing up with "he gets it" (or "he doesn't get it but over the course of the story he's changed so much he no longer wants it") Then write your story to that guideline. So long as your rough plan does not randomly have fantastic elements creeping in ("but he discovers he needs to get the Ring of Alakazam from the middle of the enchanted forest of Eeee" would be a give-away that that's happening), it'll give you a framework grounded in reality to work with that "seat-of-the-pants" writing would not. Doing the planning first will stop the gradual drift towards the fantastic end of the spectrum as you'll know in advance what mundane stumbling block the character is heading for with your "buts" and what non-fantasy reaction he's going to have with his "Sos". Reduce the scope as WSM suggested - the confines of a room or a short period of time (not that there's a reason the characters can't leave the room or that they have to get it done within a certain time frame or else, just set yourself that constraint) - to keep the action grounded in the real world and a realistic timeframe without it slipping into an epic journey to rival The Odyssey.
edited 25th Feb '13 2:40:24 PM by Wolf1066
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
Talk to people. Read books. Watch shows. Observe people. That's how you learn human interactions. It's up to you to determine which helps your writing the most. Of course, practice! As the above posters said, start with something small. Since you find yourself drifting, then writing short segments will let you catch yourself sooner rather than later. Again, the above posters have already made very good points, so I'll instead provide you with a very simple writing prompt: "There's this guy in a bedroom. He has an hour to waste." Go!
Tolkien freakI've got a very similar problem. I've got an urban fantasy original project and a retelling on my hard drive. The retelling is longer and feels easier to do than the original. How do I get the original project rolling/started? (BTW, it has some similarities to Lord of the Rings).
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
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