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New to Writing and the Forum!

edited August 2015 in Writing
Hello Everyone! I am new to your community.

As yet I am not a writer; however I am in the process of starting! I have always been pulled to this for years, and I have never understood why. Then, last year, I suffered clinical depression which I am still recovering from today. It was then, that I wanted to write about what had happened to me and turn it into something. But I now seem to have more ideas then I know what to do with.
I have been having very vivid dreams, and most of my plots/ideas are coming from those dreams. I am more into the Horror / Thriller genre so that is the setting I will use.

I just wanted to know; when you all first started and penned your first peace (knowing it wouldn’t be your best), did you select the idea you wanted to use carefully? Meaning, you knew your idea was a good one but didn’t want to waste it on a first time attempt. Or did you rewrite it?

It’s difficult because I have all these ideas and I don’t know if they are separate plots or could fit into one big plot. Ideally I want to Screenwrite and write a script.

Also if I could add...

What do you guys do when describing locations that you have never been too? I am based in the UK and if I wanted to locate my characters in the USA, I want to make sure that I am writing accurately.

This applies to naming your characters as well. Do you guys obsess about using full names that have not been taken or do you just use first names? Ideally I would like a full name for my characters for a more complete profile. But I don’t want the worry of taking somebodies name and making them some psychopath!

Thanks in advance, any dvice would great.


  • edited August 2015
    Hello, ThrillerThinker, welcome- you may become known as TT. :)

    You'll soon have lots of advice, as we've all gone through the process at some time in our writing lives.

    There's a lot of questions there, and I don't mean to be unkind but you're trying to run before you can walk, as you've said you are starting writing.

    Personally I started writing a novel and realised I didn't have the knowledge or skills I needed to do it properly, so I stopped and joined the local writers club and began the learning process, by entering short story competitions within the club and getting a little feedback.

    Writing is good therapy and keeps my bouts of depression away I'm glad to say.

    Write down those dreams at the first opportunity, write down your ideas.

    The world wide web can take you to places you need but can't get to at the moment.

    Names, you can google to check for potential issues.

  • Well, normally a first post is a quick hello, so...
    Hello, TT.

    But you are brimming with questions, too!
    You are cursed with what all writers experience - a wealth of ideas. Fabulous!

    What you need is a notebook. Write it all down and let it evolve. Nothing will be wasted. If you have an entire plot for a book - great. Why not sketch it out in note form? You will find that your writing skills improve over time. If you decide to actually write it, be prepared for the long haul of editing.

    In retrospect, you'll realise that a first draft wasn't as good as you thought it was at the time, so take every opportunity to hone your skill. You can join a writing group, read writing magazines/manuals, and engage in conversation with writers.

    *looks around*.

    Yep, there are plenty here.

    Competitions are a great way of improving personal standards as you know you have to give of your best. When you read, consider why a book works - bear in mind the story arc, the structure, the language, the dialogue, etc. Scripts are very specific in format and style. Look at the BBC Writers' Room for some examples.

    I'd be very careful about setting a scene in a place that's unfamiliar. Someone, somewhere, will know that place and will be only too keen to put you right. You can give a flavour of a place without being specific about names.

    As for character names, you can always use Google. I would imagine, though, that many characters' names already belong to someone. You will see that at the beginning of books there is always a disclaimer confirming that any reference to a living person is purely coincidental.

    Anyway, welcome to TB!
  • Hi TT!

    I, too, wouldn't set your novel in America especially if you've never been. Atmosphere is very important, but not only that, there are so many subtle ways in which life over there is different.

  • Language use being a major one.
  • edited August 2015

    Don't worry about having more ideas than you know what to do with. That's pretty much standard and worrying about it just eats into your writing time.
  • Hi TT, there's no harm in playing around with your best idea first. It can be a long term project that you put aside and refine and improve as you gain experience. As others have said, I'd cut your teeth on short stories.
  • Welcome, TT!

    Hey, you could always start by using up some of those ideas in the monthly One Word Challenge here on Talkback
  • Thanks for the support guys!

    Yes, I am one of those that do tend to jump in head first without checking for water! But the short story competition sounds fun. I will give it a shot. Plus it might highlight some of my weaknesses that I need to work on.

    I have two note books. One small one that I can carry around with me and I use to roughly jot things down and play around with profiles, names and locations. Then I have a bigger one that I write down more finalised ideas that I have messed around with in my smaller note book.

    Regarding my method; I am a relatively visual person and currently work in digital. So I am planning on designing each scene on Photoshop – each scene being a window. Once I have all of my windows that I am happy with, I can then go on to writing about each window in detail. I believe they call this a roadmap. If a window needs editing, I can amend the design to see if it fits. I would just like to visualise my story. This will also help with colouring, layout, format…maybe even music.

    I did check Google for all the names I had put together. ALL where taken! I read a lot of the True Crime magazines (I know, not for the faint hearted), but there are many stories in there that contain names from the 1800s. I feel to use really old / rare names.

    I will check out those short story competitions. I really can't wait to get my teeth into a project. I am going to have some kind of brain explosion if i don’t use these ideas!
  • Hello and welcome TT.
  • Hi and welcome, TT. From what you have said, you need to just start actually writing - even if it's brief sketches of all those stories that you're brimming with.
    Don't procrastinate any more - it's a slippery slope - just start writing. Once you've got a few story drafts written, concentrate on editing and polishing each of them - one at a time.
    Good luck!
  • edited August 2015
    Welcome, ThrillerThinker.

    As yet I am not a writer; however I am in the process of starting!
    There's not really a process - grab a pen / laptop / back of an envelope and get going! If you feel like you have too many ideas to choose from, let fate pick one for you. Write them down on bits of paper and pull one out of a hat / bag / old sock and go with it. The important thing is to get to the end of it so you have something complete. It may be better to start with 'smaller' ideas so it doesn't take too long to finish. Writing a novel takes FOREVER, and those other ideas floating around will seem a million times more attractive than the one for which you've slogged your guts out to reach 30,000 words, with another 60,000 ahead of you.

    Meaning, you knew your idea was a good one but didn’t want to waste it on a first time attempt.
    Don't worry about 'using up' ideas. If you write a story and find it hasn't turned out as you imagined, that's not a big problem. You can go back and have another try, change bits, chop it up and put it back in a different order, alter your characters, etc. If you look at it and find you aren't interested in doing any of that, it's probably a sign that the idea wasn't quite as good as you first thought. But that's OK, too - not every story will be a masterpiece. Besides, you're bound to have learned something, and at least it's one idea off that overwhelming list!
  • TT, welcome to TB! You're mapping out your stories in frames, which is a great way to do it. The visual prompt is obviously your natural choice, so use it well.

    Given the number of characters out there, it may be impossible to avoid using a name that appears somewhere else. So long as the characters themselves are unique to you, there should be no confusion.

    Nothing is ever wasted in writing; if it works, fine, but if it doesn't, you'll have learned something: that the characters are wrong, or the plot is weak, or the era of the setting is a poor fit. You have to write it to find out.

    The old saying, write what you know, is no longer held up as a mantra. It's far too limiting for fiction. However, write where you know is important, if your chosen setting is real. Send your character the wrong way down a one-way street, or have him turn left and drive out of what's actually a dead-end, and you're asking for trouble. It can be done, but you need to do masses of research if you're going to get the usage of the geography right - not the same as looking at a map or even Google Earth.

    Try sketching out your ideas and see which ones link together naturally; you could find the bare bones of a plot there. Keep the rest for another story. Write the beginning - the first idea that comes to you when you see that skeletal plot emerging. It may lead nowhere, but it may set you off along a profitable line of thought.

    Don't be sacred of putting words down - they're not set in stone. You can hit 'delete' at any time you like. Go on - give it a try!
  • Thanks again for your amazing comments and welcomes.

    I have started writing my plots – what I meant was that I haven’t actually starting the main project. I guess you can say I am just in the process of tidying my head up of these ideas.

    Also, The one I want to go with is about something that happened in my personal life and twisting it to be more exciting and darker. But what I need to do is also twist it so that it is unique. The plot itself has just “annoyingly” been done (and sold well) as I was writing out the plot! But I feel I want to keep it going, but I will need to change bits to make it different. I already have an idea in mind -- I just hope it is enough.

    The reason I want to stick to this particular idea is because I can almost see how it starts and has stuck in my head for months. Even to the finest detail. For example: Of how the china cup is sitting on the wooden coffee table, the shouting of a man and a woman in the background with the sound of dishes being thrown. Basically a domestic fight and in this scene there is a bronze tint. So that is telling me that is the scene I must use.

  • Most stories have already been done, TT. It's usually the way we write them, rather than the plot itself which makes a story unique.

  • Exactly PM!

    *stares at wheel and wishes 'if only'*
  • Hi ThrillerThinker.
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