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Writing and padding it out


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I hesitate to ask this as it is so basic But... does anyone have any tips on how to take an idea and spin it out to proper length? I have read Stephen Kings on writing and whilst it has a tonne of great tips and insight his method of writing without much mapped out seems hard to replicate and not what the bulk of authors do?

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What a big question! I liked On Writing, I should really read it again. But you think you want to be more of a plotter than a pantser, then? Here are a few pieces of advice. The first thing to do, after you've come up with your premise, is to start a story outline. Figure out the level of granularity that will help you the most to then turn it into a proper novel or screenplay (eg. are you just going to write the broad strokes of the plot, or get into absolutely all story and character happenings in minute detail?) Maybe story pacing will come naturally to you, but even if it does, think about the structure of books or films that you like in a similar genre to yours. What made them work for you? What particularly made them compelling? How were they structured in terms of peaks and valleys, slow bits and fast bits? Will your characters live up to the ones in things you love? Spin out what's unique about your premise, come up with characters that will enhance and support it, and properly think about branching off points for each event in your story. 'OK, so THIS happens, so wait, what if because of that, THIS then happens, and then THIS, and that affects this character in THIS way and another character in THIS way,' etc. Give yourself options - maybe do some of those spider diagrams, or stick a bunch of index cards on your very own murder wall. Have fun thinking about conflict and drama if you're writing a thriller, for example. What obstacles can you introduce for your protagonist to really go through the wringer and prove their character? The antagonist probably thinks they're the hero of this particular story, so make them real rather than a caricature.


After you've worked on all of this enough that your story outline and characters are robust enough that you can fire all kinds of questions about them but not easily identify anything that doesn't work, start writing the novel/screenplay itself. Treat the first draft as something that's going to be massively edited later. Don't get too stuck in the weeds of making it perfect, make sure you get to the end. Stick to your outline if it continues to work as you're writing, but don't be afraid to change things if you come up with new stuff that will make your story better. Don't expect your first stab to be any good, but do expect it to be a complete work. When you've finished, start the next thing and stick this one in a drawer for a month before reading it with fresh eyes. Edit stuff you already have, replace it with new stuff if you've thought of something better. Rinse and repeat. When it's as good as you think you can make it without spending years on the finest grains of editing, think about what to do next. Is your desired route self-publishing (which is effectively for funsies unless you get lucky) or trying to get a literary/film agent and make a proper go of this whole writing thing? Whatever you choose, try not to get discouraged. Go for it!


Oh, and have a look at Scrivener, which is a great piece of writing software. You can write in Microsoft Word but there are much better tools to collate everything 'around' the actual text.

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  • 1 month later...

Just write. A lot of people think writing has a formula but it doesn't. Eighthours advice is great, so just write and write and write, even if you think it's absolute fucking garbage, just vomit that shit onto the page. You'd be surprised how many ideas come from such a small initial notion that just grows and develops because your brain has started turning over.

Also Chuck Wendig has lots of blogs with writing advice http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/02/21/25-things-i-want-to-say-to-so-called-aspiring-writers/

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