Where do I begin??

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Where do I begin??

Post by SarahP on Wed May 13, 2009 11:56 pm

I've written short stories for years, but nothing for publishing, and nothing grander than about 15 pages.

While reading I Am Legend, I was inspired through my ponderings of post apocalyptic society.

For the first time in my life, I have an idea that could potentially be woven into a real, honest-to-goodness novel.

My problem is this:

The subject is SO broad, and there are SO many angles to choose from, I can't get past the initial decimation of mankind and my vague "what if" brain storms. There are so many avenues to consider. Without going into specifics, my story deals with the rebirth of mankind.

But I can't decide how I want to look at it. Do I want a sociological view? Deal with conflicts from some new societal structure? Do I want to deal with the Man vs. Science vs. God angle? How about the science of a story like this? How do I begin to find real life science to back up my make believe ideas? I know this much. I don't want an insidious villain. I don't want a Romeo and Juliet story.

Now I'm just rambling. Here's what I'm hoping for from my friends here on CWRG. What helps you narrow down your ideas when there are a lot of directions you can take? For you sci-fi writers, where do you begin your search for the facts that you want to insert? Do you think it's possible to address all of my hot buttons without muddling the story? (I think that's funny, becuase there really is no story yet. Just an idea and some inspiration.)

Are there any books you'd recommend to me, either instructional or post apocalyptic sci-fi?

Thanks for any suggestions you can give.


Last edited by SarahP on Thu May 14, 2009 12:10 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spag)
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Re: Where do I begin??

Post by NaClmine on Thu May 14, 2009 12:30 am

Make a list of possibilities from the ideas you threw out and select a single conflict to resolve. That will be your main plot. It might be narrowly focused, like a family's survival, or it could be broader, like the re-organization of a cohesive society within a limited area like a small valley. Ultimately, plot depends on compelling conflict to drive the story forward and it finds expression through characters, subplots, scenes, and such, all directing the reader to the climax when the plot reaches it highest point of tension and resolution.

So, make a list of your plot ideas (sources of conflict), select the one you find most compelling and start writing!

As far as realistic science, that is a must or your story will lose its believability. For that reason, it is best to build your story around things you know rather than introducing too much unfamiliar science. Use the internet, local resources (colleges, businesses, government, libraries, etc) to research those things that need explanation. If your strength in life is relationships, then write your story from that perspective. If you have a science background, then slant your story toward conflicts involving science. As the old adage goes, write what you know.
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Re: Where do I begin??

Post by ebyss on Thu May 14, 2009 7:54 am

I agree with NaCl, I would start writing and see where it leads you. I think if you start writing, then maybe what really interests you will show.

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Re: Where do I begin??

Post by Garmar on Sun May 24, 2009 1:32 pm

This sounds almost exactly like the problem I'm having. I can jump right into a short story, but a novel length story.... That's sound advice from Dean.

I wish you the best of luck, Sarah. Let me know if you need any help with private reviewing. One of the other members turned me onto Google Docs. You can choose who you allow to see your ms and the suggestions for changes are done in "real time". Very useful application.

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Re: Where do I begin??

Post by Guest on Tue Jun 09, 2009 12:18 pm

For basic low tech survival, try survivalist / living off the grid books / websites. Mother Earth news is a good one, but hard to find. Old how-to manuals are great. I have a bunch of woodworking magazines from the 1895-1914 period that have some incredible ways to get good results without a million bucks worth of fancy tools. Have you read King’s The Stand? Possibly the best of the semi-occult doomsday books. Mostly, have fun with it!
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Re: Where do I begin??

Post by Garmar on Tue Jun 09, 2009 1:01 pm

chuckS wrote:For basic low tech survival, try survivalist / living off the grid books / websites. Mother Earth news is a good one, but hard to find. Old how-to manuals are great. I have a bunch of woodworking magazines from the 1895-1914 period that have some incredible ways to get good results without a million bucks worth of fancy tools. Have you read King’s The Stand? Possibly the best of the semi-occult doomsday books. Mostly, have fun with it!
CS

I love Mother Earth News. It is available online, so no searching! This has been in my bookmarks for years now, well since the big Y2K catastrophe. biggrin Mother Earth Online

I've read The Stand more than a few times. Matter of fact, I have all of his work. Shame is, I've kinda grown away from his writing for some reason, and I used to snap up everything he wrote while it was hot off the press. I agree, The Stand is one his best also; written at the pinnacle of his career.

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Re: Where do I begin??

Post by SarahP on Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:37 am

Thanks so much, guys! You've hit on exactly what I'm looking for! It looks like I have a lot of research ahead of me before I can even begin the writing process. The nice thing is, I think it will help me narrow my plot options as I study up.

I've never been a fan of King, read a couple of his books. But I'll definitely pick up The Stand (if I ever have time to finish I Am Legend).

Thanks also for the resources. I'm actually looking forward to educating myself for this story.
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Re: Where do I begin??

Post by Guest on Sat Jun 13, 2009 12:50 pm

SP
Doing the digging is a lot of fun. Writing is a lot of fun. Self editing is torture and polishing is like being dragged over broken glass. Enjoy the fun parts of the job!

Garmar-could it be we both burned out on King because his writing isn't what it use to be? I think he paid too much attention to the 'you're not a serious writer' remarks of the academics who can't sell anything they can't force students to buy!

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Re: Where do I begin??

Post by Garmar on Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:47 am

Garmar-could it be we both burned out on King because his writing isn't
what it use to be? I think he paid too much attention to the 'you're
not a serious writer' remarks of the academics who can't sell anything
they can't force students to buy!
I suspect you're right.

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