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A couple of questions

Discussion in 'Author's Roundtable' started by SavageJP, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. SavageJP

    SavageJP Can't think of anything clever.

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    Thanks a million guys, and Cordelia, I looked up Novel Idea on my iPhone and downloaded it, and I really appreciate you mentioning that, because it has a good template for building and organizing a story and that really helped! Though it's a bit cumbersome, I can at least take all of the points it makes and fill them in on MS Word myself.

    So, in the process of reading Kathodos and The Nascent Ranger (both awesome stories), along with playing the game and doing research on lore, I've thrown together a prologue and a chapter and a half so far. :D Who knows when I'll post it, but you guys really are an inspiring bunch haha
     
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  2. ultimatedovahkiin

    ultimatedovahkiin Now's not the time for fear. That comes later.

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    hey, post the prologue on this thread, and we could read it, and if you would like we could give you a review and some thoughts :)
     
  3. Cordelia

    Cordelia Global Moderator
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    I'm glad I could help you find Novel Idea. I don't know who out there uses the Apple products, so it's always something of a gamble to suggest an iTunes application, so I'm especially glad you not only have access to it, but what you find in it is beneficial. It would suck monkey toes to find it beneficial and NOT be able to use it, though, so hurrah in this instance for having an Apple product!

    I'm currently helping four other members on the site with their fan fictions, so my offer stands if you'd like someone to beta or proof read your story before you share it publicly. However, whatever you would prefer to do for your own comfort and creativity is what I wholeheartedly support.
     
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  4. SavageJP

    SavageJP Can't think of anything clever.

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    Well, alright, I'll post this here first, adhere to you guy's advice, and then maybe proceed to put it into the actual fan fiction section. A couple of my concerns here:​
    • My dialogue is plopsty, awkward, and dull.
    • Too much dialogue
    • Possibly dragging it out more than it needs to be.
    • Writing conventions, how it's formatted.
    • I feel like I run out of names to call people, so I feel like I repeat the names of groups and people too often, and it becomes monotonous.
    I'm critical of myself, and feel free to be critical with me. I value honesty when critiquing, and I don't mind it at all. If you think I should just quit before I get too far into it, then please let me know. I feel so awkward and embarrassed posting this, just because I feel like it isn't all that good. But what the hell right. No one here knows me in real life, and if I need to sink into the void and disappear, I can do so successfully :D
    But thanks to anyone who reads and replies to this, even though I feel it's too long and you'll probably get bored haha, but from a fellow writing standpoint, just tell me what I can improve, and even if this is a good topic to write about. I personally thought it would be since this particular faction lacks a story. Also, let me know if someone else has even done this topic, and I just hadn't seen it.
    Prologue
    4E 190
    The steel tipped arrow flies though the night, striking the unaware beast in the heart. It’s knees buckle, and the forest stands still.

    The gentle sound of twigs snapping and leaves rustling breaks the silence, and a large, burly figure appears over the elk, withdraws the arrow from the lifeless corpse, and unsheathes a Imperial Legion engraved dagger to skin the wild game with.

    As the moonlight timidly creeps across the night sky, it reveals the sunken face of a despairing male Nord. His large jaw was masked by a dark, ragged beard, and his eyes alone told the tale of a man struggling to survive. The Nord bore strong, broad shoulders, capable of hauling many hides across long, rough roads. He wasn’t the largest Nord, but he had an athletic build, and was capable of holding his own in a fight, especially after his gut was full of a hearty bottle of Nord Mead. This Nord of the hunt was Torvald.

    He then dug his knife beneath the hide of the elk and began to slice away anything that could fetch a coin at the Whiterun market. He sliced off one last piece of venison for his own dinner, and then stowed his haul in his bag.

    Torvald was raised the son of a Legionnaire, while his mother was absent post birth. His father was a great soldier and an excellent leader until he was killed in the Battle of Red Ring when Torvald was only five. Torvald carries his father's steel blade as a reminder where he came from, and a reminder that loyalty and the bonds of family are as strong in death as they are in life. After that, he lived on his own, fending for himself until he became of age to enlist in the Imperial Legion in Skyrim.

    Torvald had served many years in the Imperial Legion until he was discharged after his hot headed tendencies lead him to instigate a brawl with a superior officer, Legate Quentin Cipius to be exact (and infrequent encounters with one another across the tundra of Skyrim still do not begin with the exchange of pleasantries). Since then, he’s been traveling across the tundra of Skyrim, pursuing the trade taught to him by his father; hunting. The past years of nothing but the hunt have put immense stress on Torvald. Working day to day and living for the Septim is taking its toll, and nothing seems to relax his nerves like some mead.

    As Torvald slowly paced into The Bannered Mare, the large head of another young Nord, around twenty years of age pops up from over a tankard of mead.

    “Torvald! Old friend! Ahah, how did I know I’d find the best Nord huntsman in Tamriel in a tavern? Your reputation precedes you brother!”

    In the town of Ivarstead, a small village in Skyrim halfway between Whiterun and Riften, Bjorn and Torvald grew up together, and were close friends ever since they were young lads. They were nearly brothers, and Bjorn's family practically raised Torvald when times got tough for him.

    “Ah… Bjorn,” Torvald said with a roll of his eyes and a smile, “Times are getting hard and the Septim is getting weaker, what else is a Nord to do but spend it on some strong drink?”

    Bjorn looked upon Torvald with a sense of utter desperation and his tone grew serious; “Well, that’s why I’ve come looking for you. I’ve got a problem I may need some help with.”

    “Damn it to the gods, Bjorn, what sort of trouble have you gotten yourself into this time?”

    “I'm sorry brother! I’ve been pulling some security jobs here and there, and lately, I’ve been running shipments for some Khajit caravans. "

    Torvald nodded, silently pressing Bjorn to continue with his tale.

    "You see, these caravans are much more serious than I'd ever imagined. They're having me run shipments of their products, which is incidentally barrels full of Skooma and Moon Sugar, across Providence lines. They don't hire their own to do it because of the general distrust Khajit carry with them. I was shipping a load of fur one day when they offered an incredible amount of septims, just to deliver some packages."

    Torvald interjected in a hushed tone; "Bjorn, do you know what kind of trouble with law you could get into for trafficking that much Skooma into somewhere like Cyrodill?"

    "I know, I know, I'm sorry. I had no idea it was Skooma, I swear! You see, the problem is that I was robbed by a couple of bandits on the road heading South just a few days ago. They knocked me unconscious, and when I came to, all I could hear was the bandits talking about Skooma, and how much there was. They made off with as much as they could carry, and left the rest in my carriage, and left me for dead."

    "So they robbed you of the Caravan's product?"

    "Yes, Torvald. I have the rest of it hidden back at home in Ivarstead." He paused his sentence nervously as the light flickered and a dark elf, clearly armed, passed behind them at the bar. "I'm scared Torvald. I've seen the sick, gruesome things these Khajits will do to people who cross them. And now, if I return to them with the truth, they'll kill me on the spot for losing their product, and if I don't return, it appears as if I've stolen all of their Skooma for myself. Now, sitting around these taverns within city walls where the Khajit aren't allowed, I hear rumors of people seeing wandering Khajit assassins, not stopping to talk to anyone, clearly on a mission. Did you see any as you came into the city tonight?!"

    "Bjorn, I didn't think much of it at the time, but earlier today while I was hunting, I couldn't help but notice a slow moving Khajit caravan in the tundra behind the city. I thought it strange because usually the Khajit stick to the roads and move swiftly, but now I understand. They're waiting for you Bjorn. They must known you're here."

    "Oh by the Gods, Torvald! I'm going to be confined to the walls of Whiterun my entire life. That is, until they hire a non-Khajit assassin to come and kill me. Oh Torvald, I might as well end it all now. Leap off the porch of Dragonsreach to my doom. It'll be less messy than if those cats get a hold of me!"

    "Dammit Bjorn, don't be so rash. We can make this happen. We can work this out. Maybe I can negotiate with the Caravans for you?"

    "Oh you mean die in my place, do ya?"

    "No, no. Fine. What if we handled the problem ourselves. We hide in plain sight and I smuggle you out? I have some friends who trade within the city that are on good terms with the Caravan and their shipments out wouldn't be bothered. We could hide you there, then run by Ivarstead and grab all the Skooma."

    "Seriously? I'm all for the escaping, Torvald, but why bother with the Skooma? It's the whole reason I'm in this mess in the first place? Might as well just leave it in my house until the Caravans find out where I live and raid my home until they find it."

    Torvald smiled at the animated expressions that Bjorn was making. He laughed a little bit, and replied. "Hah, I said it earlier didn't I Bjorn? Times are getting tough and the market is weak for fur. The prices of Skooma right now are through the roof! We could make a killing!"

    "Fine Torvald, you better be right, and if I make it out of this alive, I'll be forever in you debt. You know that, right brother?"

    "Don't sweat it old friend. You'll make it out of this alive, and we'll make off as rich men."

    "Well in that case," Bjorn said, getting louder now, and looking at the bartender, "two more rounds of mead over here, love!"

    The cute, young bartender slid two tankards down the wooden bar to the Nord men. They grabbed them and proceeded to gulp down the mead as if it was the last drink they'd ever take.

    And it very well could be.

    The two Nord men each rented rooms for themselves, and agreed to mean at the Drunken Huntsman at 10:00 the next morning.

    __________

    Dawn broke, and the Nord men met behind the shop and where it's owner, Elrindir, was waiting.

    Torvald addressed the wood elf; "Thanks for this Elrindir, you don't know how much I appreciate this favor, I really do owe you."

    "Oh please, Torvald, you've provided me with near half my product for this entire first year I've been in business. The pleasure is mine, and you owe me nothing; as a matter of fact, I'd probably be out of business if it weren't for you."

    "Hah, well thank you regardless, E!" said Torvald with a pat on the back before turning to Bjorn.
    "Bjorn, it's probably best you get in the carriage now. I won't be going with you, Elrindir here can be trusted, and he'll take good care of you. He's a big supplier of fur and bows to the Caravans, so you should make it through their security with no worries. Meet me in the Inn in Winterhold after you've picked up the Skooma; the Khajit won't be found there, they haven't stopped to sell their goods there ever since half the town fell into the sea. May Nocturnals blessing be upon you brother, and shield you from those who seek to harm you. God speed."

    Without further ado, Bjorn and Torvald embraced in a quick hug, and Bjorn climbed into the carriage.

    __________

    Two days passed as Torvald sat in The Frozen Hearth, shivering from the chilled breeze seeping through the cracks in the window panes. He sat gazing out the window, surveying the College of Winterhold. From all he had heard, it was those College mages that had caused the Great Collapse in the first place, but times had passed and arch-mages have come and gone. This didn't stop the locals from forgetting about it though, judging from the number of mage versus local brawls that have occurred in the inn in the short time Torvald had been staying. A hooded figure entered the inn, and Torvald became suspicious of the character. He could tell this was not one of the mages from the college. Then the cloaked figured removed his hood and revealed the reluctant and broad smile of Bjorn.

    He made it.

    "Bjorn. I never thought I'd be so happy to see you. No problems I take it?"

    "No, it was incredible. The Khajit approached once, asked Elrindir if they'd seen me, and that was it. Aside from being rather cramped in that tiny carriage full of crates, it was a pleasant ride. Thank you Torvald. Thank you."

    "It's not an issue anymore Bjorn, but I assume you have the product now?"

    "Aha, always on the next move eh? Yes, I've got it buried in some snow outside the town."

    "Good, there's a mage in the college that I've overheard talking about Skooma. I think he might be interested in taking this off our hands. Wait, what's that mark on your neck?"

    "Huh?" looking down, Bjorn notices some black, vein-like lines on his neck, probably something that had been knocked out of the barrels in the carriage. "Oh, it must be some charcoal or something."

    "It almost looks like you have... black blood. Cold, I like it. Sounds fitting for a serious Skooma dealer doesn't it?"

    "I suppose you're right Torvald" Bjorn said with a chuckle. "You're really thinking about doing this aren't you?"

    "Bjorn. We just evaded and ripped off the Caravans, some of the most vicious Skooma dealers in Tamriel, and now we're reselling their product. We already are doing this."

    The look that crossed Bjorn's face was one of pleasure, as if a sack of septims was just dropped in his lap, which is essentially what happened.

    "Where are we going to work out of though? We need somewhere to safe to store all the product, and maybe even make more ourselves." inquired Bjorn.

    "I passed a place on the way into town, high in the mountains. It's an abandoned military base from the Great War; Fort Kastav. It'll be perfect. But for now, let's get rid of this Skooma and start this out right."

    The two Nords sold the Skooma they had taken from the Khajit Caravans, and made a hefty profit. They took up residence in Fort Kastav, and began life anew, dealing with some of the most unsavory characters in Skyrim, trading for profit and maybe even cutting a few throats here and there. They soon became notorious in dealing in Skooma and blood, and thus, the Blackblood Marauders were born.
     
  5. Irish

    Irish Thane of Solitude

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    I, too, am happy you mentioned the A Novel Idea app, Cordelia . It's nice to have my fanfic ideas organized in one place instead of on scraps of paper that I can never find. Thanks. :)
     
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  6. Jackanapes

    Jackanapes New Member

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    Where can we read examples of your own long form and finished fiction? It would be helpful to see your own long and completed work in action, as it were, so that we could the assess merit of your criticisms and the credibility of your claims.
     
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  7. Cordelia

    Cordelia Global Moderator
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    I think at this point it's safe to say any response that is not on topic can either be taken to a PM, or see its own thread started. I, for one, won't see this thread derailed again. If you don't have any insights to offer the original poster, please consider your options for the conversation you'd like to have instead and keep the thread clean.

    To that end, I'm hoping to have a minute or two today to give your prologue some attention, Savage. If not today, then later this week. :)
     
  8. Jackanapes

    Jackanapes New Member

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    I am replying to a statement made in this thead. If I quote that statement in a new thread, the context will be completely lost. But since you are clearly acting as a moderator, I shall abide by these rules. It might be helpful to note, however, that it would assist the new member if such rules were formulated explicitly and posted somewhere prominent.
     
  9. Jackanapes

    Jackanapes New Member

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    Anyway, to stay "on-topic" (as so very narrowly defined) and address the original point, publishing and even writing serial fiction which changes, depending upon feedback from readers, is a tradition in which Dickens participated and which continues even today. Authors as prestigious as Margaret Atwood are publishing such works. Atwood's interview (linked Time Magazine article) gives a good overview of why she finds this form compelling. http://entertainment.time.com/2012/...on-serial-fiction-and-the-future-of-the-book/

    If it's good enough for Atwood, King, and Dickens I see no reason for authors of fanfiction on this site not to feel free to choose whatever form best suits their needs.
     
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  10. SavageJP

    SavageJP Can't think of anything clever.

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    Haha thanks Cordelia, I've made some edits since I've posted it, but the jist of it remains the same
     
  11. imaginepageant

    imaginepageant Slytherin Alumni

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    I typically write with a small cast of characters, but I love reading books with tons of characters—take George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. He's got something like twenty-five main characters by the end of the fifth book, at least a hundred minor, and several hundred walk-ons or mentions. This is great in some ways: more characters means more story, it gives readers a wide selection of characters to relate to and cheer for (or against), and many different perspectives gives you a more complete view of the world within the story. But, it also has its disadvantages: readers may get confused with too many sides of the story, they may forget what happened with Jon in his last chapter when that was two hundred pages ago. I suppose, like everything, it comes down to personal preference, and what works best for that particular story. If having a lot of characters will make it stronger, go for it! But if it weakens the story, you may want to consider paring them down a bit.

    As for profiles, I rarely make them. I sort of just keep it all in my head. I usually choose a real-world person to "play" my characters, though, so that I can easily imagine their appearance in my mind as I write. (It helps to actually have a picture of them onscreen as I write, too.)

    I post mine scene by scene, but that's because I'm a slow writer, and it's a long story (55,000 words and only about a third of the way finished), so if I waited until it was complete, it would probably not get posted for another two years, and by then who knows if anyone will care about Skyrim fanfic? If yours is going to be long, I would suggest posting it at least chapter by chapter. You can start attracting readers and getting some feedback and encouragement, which definitely helps in the writing process.
     
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  12. Chirurgeon

    Chirurgeon Active Member

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    I must say JP has received some great advice on this thread. And he was given a glimpse into how to post your story as to by chapter or by completed work. Also the debate about it.
     
  13. Delusional

    Delusional Connoisseur of Hallucinations

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    What I like to do for characters in a fanfic or even RP is create them in-game. Since it is a work on the game, why not use the game to model your characters? Even if you have physical traits in a character that are not present in the character creator in-game, at least you can give yourself a very good idea and visual representation of said character.

    I have several characters I have created in Skyrim and some of which I play on regularly that also are characters I use in RPs or are in my fan fiction. It helps get into character if you can create a tangible, visual representation of them and them proceed to "be" them.

    Just another thought.
     
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  14. imaginepageant

    imaginepageant Slytherin Alumni

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    Okay, here's some critique for you!

    Watch out for spelling and punctuation. For example, "a Imperial Legion engraved dagger" should be "an Imperial Legion engraved dagger" (though stylistically I'd probably change it to "an engraved Imperial Legion dagger"). "It's knees buckle" should be "its knees buckle." "Khajiit," not "Khajit." And always end a line of dialogue with punctuation, whether it be a period or a comma to continue the scene: "I suppose you're right, Torvald," Bjorn said.

    You switch between present- and past-tense narration a lot, sometimes within the same sentence. This should definitely be fixed. Choose one and be consistent with it across your entire work.

    While it's good to introduce your protagonist to your readers, a laundry list of facts about him may not be the best way to do it. The golden rule of writing is to show, not tell. For instance, instead of telling us that Torvald carries his father's old blade, you could work it into him skinning the elk: "Torvald dug his father's old dagger into the hide of the elk. He sliced away anything that could fetch a coin at the Whiterun market, wondering if his father had ever used it for the same purpose, or if it had only tasted the blood of elves in the war that had killed him." That shows us three things - the blade used to be his father's, his father had fought in the Great War, and he died in battle - without interrupting the flow of action in favor of exposition. Similarily, when Torvald meets Bjorn in the inn, instead of telling us that they grew up in Ivarstead and were close friends, you can show us in their dialogue: "Torvald! Old friend! How did I know I'd find you in a tavern? Come, have a drink. This mead is even better than what we used to slug down at the Vilemyr Inn when we were lads!" (This, of course, presumes the reader has played Skyrim and will know that the Vilemyr Inn is in Ivarstead. Whether you want to write for an audience who does or doesn't have a working knowledge of Skyrim is a whole other beast, which has been discussed here.)

    I would avoid having your characters address each other by name as often as they do. This is a very common mistake writers make that quickly takes away from the realism of their dialogue. Real people don't talk like that. The only reason we typically say the name of the person we're talking to is to call to them or to get their attention. But during a conversation with that person, we rarely, if ever, address them by name, especially not in every other sentence. The only time I feel it fits in Torvald and Bjorn's conversation is when Torvald first enters the inn and Bjorn calls out to him, and when Torvald says, "Dammit, Bjorn."

    Other than the name-dropping, I think your dialogue is strong, not awkward or dull at all!

    I like the origin of the name of the Blackblood Marauders. And I like how, at the end, you see what this entire prologue was about - how the Blackblood Marauders began, rather innocently, with one friend helping another out of some trouble. It gives purpose to the prologue, and that's exactly what every scene, character, and plot point in a story should have: purpose.

    All in all, I think this is a great start to a story!
     
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  15. SavageJP

    SavageJP Can't think of anything clever.

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    Thank you so much, really. Honestly, with the spelling of Khajiit, I would have never noticed it, and that's a really embarrassing mistake haha. I've noticed the same thing with the name-calling, I feel it makes the dialogue seem forced, and I've been trying to go back and change it lately. I like the advice about maybe combining things into the introductory dialogue as opposed to listing it.

    I think you really pointed out the majority of things that I read as "awkward" but just couldn't pinpoint myself.

    Thanks again, this gave me a moral boost to keep writing, and to go back and keep editing and refining the story before I post it on the main forums, ESPECIALLY when it comes to grammatical errors (specifically when it comes to dialogue and how punctuation goes; I really need to work on that).
    Also, I liked the idea of the Blackblood Marauders too, since it was already a minor faction in the game, but has no real back story. I just hope to not ruin it haha.


    One more question for everyone:
    When you're thinking how your story is going to go, will you think of a scene you want and go ahead and write it? Or will you just wait until it pops up in the right order. For example, I thought of an intense scene I'd like to put in a later chapter, but I'm not sure if I should go ahead and write it now while I have the idea in my head, or if I should wait till the story develops more, and write in the order of things happening. I'm just afraid I'll forget this good idea by the time it comes up, or at least the fine details I have in my head.
     
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  16. Delusional

    Delusional Connoisseur of Hallucinations

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    I see what you're saying with wanting to write ahead, but you should avoid that. If you are just writing as the story comes, don't write scenes ahead of time, perhaps just write a small summary of the scene in a separate document so you can remember it when you reach that point in the story.

    However, I, and many others here, would recommend outlining your entire story before writing any of it. That's right, any of it. If you go through and briefly create a skeletal summary/outline for each chapter, writing will become much less "think of it as you go" and much more "filling in the details in between plot points". Your outline doesn't need to be a spectacular graphic organizer or anything fancy, all you need is a brief, general outline of what will happen in a given chapter, who's involved, what the conflict is, major events that occur, that kind of junk.

    If you outline your novel before starting, you have the entire plot line planned out, and if you feel the need to add in something later on, instead of writing ahead, you can open up your outline document(s) and plug that event or scene right in where you feel you need to, perhaps alter the surrounding chapters to lead into/lead out/continue that scene, and you're set.

    All in all, outline your novel and you will never have the conflict of whether or not you should write ahead (which you shouldn't anyways, IMHO).
     
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  17. imaginepageant

    imaginepageant Slytherin Alumni

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    I mainly write in chronological order, but there have been certain scenes that I'll have tons of ideas for, or that will just get stuck in my head and not leave me alone, and I'll jump ahead to at least partially write them. My entire Skyrim fanfic was built up around a single scene, which won't actually occur until halfway through the story, but I have it mostly written already because I just couldn't wait! I also started the epilogue even though I'm not even close to the end. If you feel the need to jump ahead to a later scene, do it! If you really don't want to, you could at least jot down the ideas and details you have, and any particular lines that you've thought of and don't want to forget to write later.
     
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  18. imaginepageant

    imaginepageant Slytherin Alumni

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    Agree x 1000000000. Some people have success making it all up as they go along, but that method will always, always, require serious revision later on. I've written that way before, and it has always ended in disaster. If I don't know where I'm going, I will wander off and get lost, every time. I'm a pretty hardcore outliner now.

    However, outlines aren't set in stone - they can and will adapt and evolve as you develop your plot and your characters. And that's okay! Sticking rigidly to an outline is just as dangerous as having no outline at all.
     
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  19. Delusional

    Delusional Connoisseur of Hallucinations

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    Yes, indeed. I felt the need to reinforce this because it just happened to me. I have my outline written, and have my chapters briefly planned with a few paragraphs of information on how the plot advances and what complications occur and who interacts with who (or what). I just finished a chapter, and I needed to stray from that outline in order to cover some extra things and give the reader more of a visual portrait of this certain place (being vague in order to keep this project obscure :p) . It is absolutely okay to stray from your outline. You will find that as you write, things may not work out just as you had planned in the outline; that's perfectly fine.
     
  20. SavageJP

    SavageJP Can't think of anything clever.

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    I've been trying my best to work on an outline, and I've pretty much got the main plotline and key points figured out, I'm just trying to figure stuff out to fill in the gaps.
     

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