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Old 04-13-2013, 04:46 PM   #1
Katsunami
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Should I write a fantasy story, or not?

For some time, I'm stuck with part of a Fantasy story in my head.

It would consists of three parts:
- Creating a Talisman (like in First King of Shannara)
- Questing to assemble a band of heroes (like many AD&D RPG's)
- Some sort of confrontation with $Evil (like most Fantasy stories)

It could be written as three books, or as a single volume with three parts.

The only part that bounces around my head at this moment is the last few chapters of Part 1; They'd be a plot twist, a climax, and a cliff hanger all at once. I have ideas for the ending of parts 2 and 3 too, but they are much less concrete.

The three endings would all be unique, they'd each hint toward a different Fantasy book, which an avid Fantasy reader would (probably) immediately recognize. They'd be sort of a homage to the stories/endings I liked best up until now.

The story itself would contain recognizable elements from many different Fantasy sources: Tolkien, Brooks, Salvatore, Eddings, Martin, Goodkind to name a few, and even elements from some (AD&D) RPG's.

I'd like opinions on the following:

1. I've never written anything fictional before, except school reports and my final thesis to finish my studies. (Uh. Maybe that came out the wrong way. I meant, beside writing stuff for school, years ago, I never wrote anything.)

2. My native language is Dutch. My knowledge and understanding of English is comparable to Dutch, but I am not a language expert, not even by any stretch of the imagination. I know I *will* make subtle, or maybe even some blatant mistakes, even if I'd write in Dutch. (Which I won't. I don't even read in Dutch anymore, except if the original work is Dutch.)

3. Should I actually start writing this, and *if* I ever get it done, (self-)publish it? I can imagine that many people would think: "Oh noes! Another indie Fantasidiot producing bad writing! NOT AGAAAAAAAIN! WAAAARGGGHHH!!"

I have the feeling that I'd finally want to write a story after reading so many by others, especially because I have that ending bouncing around. However, I doubt that I have the experience, knowledge, and patience to actually write it. I'm even in doubt with regard to the world needing yet another "standard" Fantasy story, even though it will (probably) contain some original elements. To be honest, it even feels a bit as if the entire story would be a filler, mere padding, just an excuse to write the three endings.

And if you say: "Yes, write it, even if it's only for yourself", then what should I aim for? Try to create a world, outline it, set the story in it, divide it into three specific parts, of maybe 150 pages to end up with a 450 page book (if I ever finish it), or "just write and see where it ends"?

edit: with regard to the last question, I'd be inclined to go with the first approach. As I'm a software engineer by education and work, I have a feeling that designing and writing a story would (should?) be similar to designing and writing a computer program. Stating what you want, dividing into objects, tasks and subtasks, and so on...

Last edited by Katsunami; 04-13-2013 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 04-13-2013, 04:55 PM   #2
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First and foremost write it because you can't not write it. Second find someone who can catch the mistakes in language you expect to make as English isn't your 1st language. http://www.NaNoWriMo.com might be a good site to look for some help from as well. Good luck with your story.
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Old 04-13-2013, 09:49 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Katsunami View Post
[...]edit: with regard to the last question, I'd be inclined to go with the first approach. As I'm a software engineer by education and work, I have a feeling that designing and writing a story would (should?) be similar to designing and writing a computer program. Stating what you want, dividing into objects, tasks and subtasks, and so on...
+1 for crich70 said: "First and foremost write it because you can't not write it."

As for how you do it: I'd say start and see what works. I, too, am a software developer so I do know about planning projects - but that doesn't work very well for my writing, I don't really know why. On the other hand, detailed planning is what works best for some. You'll only know which is for you once you sit down and try.

So sit down and start with the bits that are in your head and see where that takes you. You can write the lead-up bits later if they turn out to be necessary - you may find they aren't. (I can't remember who said it, but there's a quote to the effect that: there's nothing wrong with most first novels that dropping the first three or four chapters wouldn't fix.)

Write, and worry about the details of language later. You can get help with that if/when it comes time to share the result.

I think that once you sit down and make the start you will find that either the process "grabs you" and won't let go, and you can join the rest of us that write because it is compulsive. Or, you will get it out of your system and not decide that it's not for you.
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Old 04-13-2013, 10:33 PM   #4
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+1 for crich70 said: "First and foremost write it because you can't not write it."
Hm. It's an interesting thought, but of course I *can* not write it if I so decide. Still, it may bother me that I've never tried...

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I think that once you sit down and make the start you will find that either the process "grabs you" and won't let go, and you can join the rest of us that write because it is compulsive. Or, you will get it out of your system and not decide that it's not for you.
Maybe this is the best thing to do.

I've not even started, but I feel as if I'm "padding" the story already, just to make it big enough to fill a (very) small book of, lets say, 200 pages, just so I can use the end I've already thought up. It feels the wrong way around, but maybe it's good to have a goal to work toward. The "lead-up" would be about 80% of the first part/book, so I think it's rather necessary to write :P

It's a bit strange just to sit at the computer and make stuff up, knowing that in the end, it'll be "just" another fantasy story. Or more accurately, it'll consist two or three smaller stories, each in their own book forming a duology or trilogy, just because I want the ending to be the actual end of the book itself. (I hate omnibusses. Yeah, I'm weird.)

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Old 04-13-2013, 10:38 PM   #5
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Hm. It's an interesting thought, but of course I *can* not write it if I so decide. Still, it may bother me that I've never tried...



Maybe this is the best thing to do.

I've not even started, but I feel as if I'm "padding" the story already, just to make it big enough to fill a (very) small book of, lets say, 200 pages, just so I can use the end I've already thought up. It feels the wrong way around, but maybe it's good to have a goal to work toward.

It's a bit strange just to sit at the computer and make stuff up, knowing that in the end, it'll be "just" another fantasy story. Or more accurately, it'll consist two or three smaller stories, each in their own book forming a duology or trilogy, just because I want the ending to be the actual end of the book itself. (I hate omnibusses. Yeah, I'm weird.)
What may seem just another fantasy to one person might be a lot more in someone else's eyes. I wager J.K. Rowling had no idea how popular her story about Harry Potter would become.
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Old 04-14-2013, 01:27 AM   #6
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Hm. It's an interesting thought, but of course I *can* not write it if I so decide. Still, it may bother me that I've never tried...
Yes, we could all decide not to. I could, and did, decide not to smoke cigarettes ... a brave resolution that lasted almost five years - I can give you the number of days and hours if you want - but then ... .

I spent years thinking that I wanted to write, and while I wasn't actively writing it was easy to keep saying no. I started a few times, but the ideas faded or ran out of steam. They didn't have what it took to keep me interested, so how could I expect them to interest anyone else? Then an idea came to me and I wrote it out as it was in my head, just a half-dozen pages or so. And for some reason the idea wouldn't let go, and so I kept picking at it ... and I'm still going. I expect (hope) to give up cigarettes again before I expect to give up writing.

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[...]I've not even started, but I feel as if I'm "padding" the story already, just to make it big enough to fill a (very) small book of, lets say, 200 pages, just so I can use the end I've already thought up. It feels the wrong way around, but maybe it's good to have a goal to work toward. The "lead-up" would be about 80% of the first part/book, so I think it's rather necessary to write :P

It's a bit strange just to sit at the computer and make stuff up, knowing that in the end, it'll be "just" another fantasy story. Or more accurately, it'll consist two or three smaller stories, each in their own book forming a duology or trilogy, just because I want the ending to be the actual end of the book itself. (I hate omnibusses. Yeah, I'm weird.)
I try not to think too much about what others will think of the story while I'm writing it. I leave that for the second draft - that's the point when I try to step back and ask myself questions like: Does it work? The reader can't actually see what's in my head, have I told them enough, or too much? Is this bit really necessary? Is it boring?

But it would worry me to feel that I was adding "padding" while I was writing - and that is what it feels like to me when I try to plan out the story in detail. I write from inside the story, what happens is what happens inside the the story, none of it is deliberate padding. ... But some of it must turn out to have been padding, because big chunks get cut when I come to the second draft.

I judge what I am writing, as I am writing, purely on my own reactions. It has to keep me interested and involved when I go back and read over it (which I do again and again in an iterative process as I'm writing, to try and keep myself inside the story). Anything that fails that test I assume isn't working and I take it out or rewrite it.

Whether or not I ever achieve any external success, at least this process has benefit of creating a story that I like.
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:46 AM   #7
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As I'm a software engineer by education and work, I have a feeling that designing and writing a story would (should?) be similar to designing and writing a computer program. Stating what you want, dividing into objects, tasks and subtasks, and so on...

You are over engineering your solution. Instead of rolling your own authentication scheme just use NTLM and roll with the Windows Integrated principles using AD groups for authorization. By not worrying about those basics you can actually work on the important parts - the business logic and the model.

Or in other words, shut up and start writing. See where it goes. In the end you will never have the answer if you do not try and see.
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:24 PM   #8
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If you don't absolutely need to write this, i guess the questions i'd ask myself are: why is a reader going to want to read this? Am i giving readers something they can't get elsewhere? I'd want to have good answers for those questions.

I get the "it'll bug me if i don't write this" feeling. Me too. By and large, i'm comfortable with silence. But something nags at me if i don't write; i get to sleep easier after a good day of writing.

I've published more in my second language. I could edit my grammar errors, but it helped to have natives go over my writing for things like style. Iit's really a good idea to have someone go over your writing whether or not it's in your native language. There are native speakers, but there's no such thing as a native writer.
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Old 04-15-2013, 06:43 PM   #9
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If you don't absolutely need to write this, i guess the questions i'd ask myself are: why is a reader going to want to read this? Am i giving readers something they can't get elsewhere? I'd want to have good answers for those questions.

I get the "it'll bug me if i don't write this" feeling. Me too. By and large, i'm comfortable with silence. But something nags at me if i don't write; i get to sleep easier after a good day of writing.
I've been looking a long time for something to create that may be interesting to other people, and writing may be the "easiest" to do so.

It's certainly "easier" than creating a website: at first, I'd need to design and write the website, or at least modify a standard package such as Wordpress to fit my needs, and then maintain it, all of which would take a great amount of time already. When that's taken care of, the content needs to be created, which takes even more time. And what content should/would I create that other people might find interesting? While I'm (quite) knowledgeable with regard to certain topics, I don't feel that I'm enough of an expert to start writing about them; and *if* I'd write about them, the information I have to offer is already out there.

While I enjoy music and play the Hammond organ (and have a very passable knowledge of music theory), I'm one of those guys that plays from sheet music, and totally collapses when you take the sheets away. I'm not a composer. I've tried it, and I can't do it.

Lastly, I take pictures, but because of several reasons, the main one being not having a car (and not being allowed to drive one because of a visual handicap), I cannot go to the places worth taking pictures of that would be interesting to someone else but me. Therefore I don't go out shooting "poster-worthy" material.

Writing requires nothing but a vivid imagination, a computer that's less than 10 years old and of course good understanding of the language you will be writing in. I have the computer, I think my understanding of English may be good enough to not make a *complete* ass of myself, and I think I'll be able to come up with (some) original stuff.

While talking with a friend, he pointed me to some manga he was reading and anime he was watching. I saw one of the characters, and *poof*: a new character for my story just presented itself, even including a few scenes it should be in. It will not be 1:1 copy of the anime character of course, but it definately gave me some idea's to get started with. Because of the type of character it is (race, behavior, living environment), a part of the world basically created itself in no-time in my head. If I split the story into two books, I already know both endings, and (most of) the first chapter of both books....

The only thing I'd need to do is sit down, put these ideas down, and then actually expand upon them, and write the friggin' story.

Maybe, if it'd ever get finished, the story/stories could be uploaded to an eBook store for $1 a piece. In the mobile world, people got rich and whole companies got founded on $1 software or games. It's worth a shot. Why not?

And even if the work is never sold once, then at the very least, I can put the results somewhere to download for free and have the satisfaction of people maybe reading it when they come across it. I would have actually, finally, *created* something. (Outside the programming I do for work.)

===

Now... I've been looking into Scrivener, as I will definately need some software to organise stuff. In another thread, I'd said it would be best to write in Sigil directly instead of something like OpenOffice, but Sigil has no organisational capabilities; and I've already found out that I definitely want that, to organize a book like a project.

There are other programs such as StoryBook and yWriter5, but it seems Scrivener is used the most, looks to be the best supported, and the only one that exports to clean epub. While playing with the trial, I must confess that I like it. (Luckily, there's now a Windows version.)

Actually, I've found a 20% discount coupon for Scrivener, bringing the price down to €25. That would get me 4-5 eBooks. I've got almost 100 books in Calibre that I've not read yet (they're all on my TBR-list), so I don't need that €25 for more books right now.

Maybe I should just buy Scrivener, start out, and see where this ends. If worst comes to worst, I've blown €25 and some time. I can handle the €25 (I know people who blow €50 a week on cigarettes or whiskey; no offence intended to anyone) and if not spent writing, I'd use the time on some of my numerous other hobbies anyway.

Starting the story instead of this post would have provided me with over 900 words; about 5000 characters, or 2 pages in a standard mass market paperback. That's 10-15 of the first chapter already.

===

What the hell; I'll just try it.

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Old 04-15-2013, 07:22 PM   #10
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What the hell; I'll just try it.
That is the spirit! Scrivener is a great tool, if you are the kind of person that works in pieces. I messed with it for a while and could see how useful it could be, but it just does not work in my story flow.
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Old 04-15-2013, 07:39 PM   #11
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I've been looking a long time for something to create that may be interesting to other people, and writing may be the "easiest" to do so.

It's certainly "easier" than creating a website: at first, I'd need to design and write the website, or at least modify a standard package such as Wordpress to fit my needs, and then maintain it, all of which would take a great amount of time already. When that's taken care of, the content needs to be created, which takes even more time. And what content should/would I create that other people might find interesting? While I'm (quite) knowledgeable with regard to certain topics, I don't feel that I'm enough of an expert to start writing about them; and *if* I'd write about them, the information I have to offer is already out there.

While I enjoy music and play the Hammond organ (and have a very passable knowledge of music theory), I'm one of those guys that plays from sheet music, and totally collapses when you take the sheets away. I'm not a composer. I've tried it, and I can't do it.

Lastly, I take pictures, but because of several reasons, the main one being not having a car (and not being allowed to drive one because of a visual handicap), I cannot go to the places worth taking pictures of that would be interesting to someone else but me. Therefore I don't go out shooting "poster-worthy" material.

Writing requires nothing but a vivid imagination, a computer that's less than 10 years old and of course good understanding of the language you will be writing in. I have the computer, I think my understanding of English may be good enough to not make a *complete* ass of myself, and I think I'll be able to come up with (some) original stuff.

While talking with a friend, he pointed me to some manga he was reading and anime he was watching. I saw one of the characters, and *poof*: a new character for my story just presented itself, even including a few scenes it should be in. It will not be 1:1 copy of the anime character of course, but it definately gave me some idea's to get started with. Because of the type of character it is (race, behavior, living environment), a part of the world basically created itself in no-time in my head. If I split the story into two books, I already know both endings, and (most of) the first chapter of both books....

The only thing I'd need to do is sit down, put these ideas down, and then actually expand upon them, and write the friggin' story.

Maybe, if it'd ever get finished, the story/stories could be uploaded to an eBook store for $1 a piece. In the mobile world, people got rich and whole companies got founded on $1 software or games. It's worth a shot. Why not?

And even if the work is never sold once, then at the very least, I can put the results somewhere to download for free and have the satisfaction of people maybe reading it when they come across it. I would have actually, finally, *created* something. (Outside the programming I do for work.)

===

Now... I've been looking into Scrivener, as I will definately need some software to organise stuff. In another thread, I'd said it would be best to write in Sigil directly instead of something like OpenOffice, but Sigil has no organisational capabilities; and I've already found out that I definitely want that, to organize a book like a project.

There are other programs such as StoryBook and yWriter5, but it seems Scrivener is used the most, looks to be the best supported, and the only one that exports to clean epub. While playing with the trial, I must confess that I like it. (Luckily, there's now a Windows version.)

Actually, I've found a 20% discount coupon for Scrivener, bringing the price down to €25. That would get me 4-5 eBooks. I've got almost 100 books in Calibre that I've not read yet (they're all on my TBR-list), so I don't need that €25 for more books right now.

Maybe I should just buy Scrivener, start out, and see where this ends. If worst comes to worst, I've blown €25 and some time. I can handle the €25 (I know people who blow €50 a week on cigarettes or whiskey; no offence intended to anyone) and if not spent writing, I'd use the time on some of my numerous other hobbies anyway.

Starting the story instead of this post would have provided me with over 900 words; about 5000 characters, or 2 pages in a standard mass market paperback. That's 10-15 of the first chapter already.

===

What the hell; I'll just try it.
There are pre-made templates (made by other users) that you can download and install in the program as well. So you don't have to start from scratch when setting up how you want to work.
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:03 PM   #12
Katsunami
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That is the spirit! Scrivener is a great tool, if you are the kind of person that works in pieces. I messed with it for a while and could see how useful it could be, but it just does not work in my story flow.
Because of writing software for a daily job, I'm used to working in pieces... sometimes very small pieces. And I'm used to working "project-like" in an environment such as Eclipse.

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There are pre-made templates (made by other users) that you can download and install in the program as well. So you don't have to start from scratch when setting up how you want to work.
Thanks, I'll look into it
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:18 PM   #13
crich70
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Because of writing software for a daily job, I'm used to working in pieces... sometimes very small pieces. And I'm used to working "project-like" in an environment such as Eclipse.



Thanks, I'll look into it
You're welcome. To find many of the templates look in the forum at :The Zen of Scrivener - Usage Scenarios." You'll find a good handful or more of them there.
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:54 PM   #14
VydorScope
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Because of writing software for a daily job, I'm used to working in pieces... sometimes very small pieces. And I'm used to working "project-like" in an environment such as Eclipse.
I use Eclipse also (but really prefer Netbeans for that world), and Visual Studio 2012, and TFS, and SVN, Atlassian, and all that too. I am the "Enterprise Architecture - IT Architecture Team Lead" - which is a fancy way of saying I have been promoted to my level of incompetence... eerr I mean moved up form active development in to design and project management.

But I write novels differently then I code. Shame, Scrivener really looks like a great program for what it does.
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Old 04-16-2013, 12:43 AM   #15
Harper Kingsley
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I use Scrivener, but I guess I'm not very scientific because I just use it so I can have all my projects available on one screen when I want them

For a fantasy story like you're talking about, you might want to start with an outline. Beginning, middle, end. Then fill in the details, easy peasy Don't worry about length or even if you're going to have it as a series yet. Right now just focus on what you're going to want to have happen. What are the overriding points you want to express in your story: love, friendship, revenge, etc. What is the base message of your story? Why would this group of people want to hang together?

Sometimes my outlines are very sparse--just a few scenes strung together that I happen to want in a story--and then I let the characters carry the day. I give them a goal to reach and I have a few set events that take place in their world, but otherwise their personalities decide what they're going to do and how they're going to react to any given situation. Other times I sketch out every single scene, keeping in mind the rules of "And and But."

"Tony Stark is enjoying his life as a billionaire playboy weapons manufacturer and enjoys showing off and is very proud of his new weapons system and is in Afghanistan showing it off, but his convoy is attacked and he is wounded with his own weapons and taken captive which leads to him planning his escape. He builds the first armor to save himself and Yinsen and they stage their escape, but Yinsen is killed and Tony is filled with regret and remorse for what's been done with the weapons he's built. He returns to civilization and builds new armor and becomes Iron Man to make up for his past, but his old armor is found and reverse engineered to be used against him."

Every event that happens in your world should make something else happen. It keeps your characters motivated and the story will flow forward naturally.

Also, with dialogue, I was told that "said" is always the best (I'm saying that as someone that edited a story where the author thought '"Don't do that," he ejaculated loudly' was not terrible at all. It was terrible.) "He said," "She said," "Bob said," "Mary said." The dialogue should flow naturally and you don't need to add a bunch of fidgety stuff in-between; your dialogue should be able to work by itself and the reader will infer the emotions.

Write the story you want to read. If you get bogged down somewhere, put some placeholder text describing what you think should be there, and just keep on going. You can go back later and fill in what you missed.

tl;dr Hope that helps
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