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Trying to write a book... of sorts. : Writers' Block Party • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Trying to write a book... of sorts.

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polis1
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Trying to write a book... of sorts.

Postby polis1 » Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:01 pm

Hi, Writer's Digest community! I'm happy and proud to be a member here! There is no doubt a number of useful posts that already deal with such, but I have so far only been able to find broadly related posts or sales pitches on such. Perhaps someone here would be willing to lend some of their knowledge or expertise on the subject?

If I may, I'd just like to request some assistance regarding the development of both plot and character.

I started writing a book several years ago in the genres of hard science fiction and science fiction but over the past 'six to nine' months have really lost momentum due to a few basic problems. The one that is pertinent here is development. My initial seed for the story is buried in some pretty dreamy grounds: with a trained team of scientists, a character resembling the antagonist in Avatar lands on a distant, unknown planet, along side a gargantuan forest. The appeal of the planet is that its solar system is placed at the edge of a galaxy which in turn is aligned with a series of other galaxies in such a way as to present an exceptionally rare type of gravitational lens. Before the team is able to set up its technologies that in turn self-assemble and launch into orbit, they encounter some undetectable thing in the forest against which their technology is useless.

To embed such in a believable setting, I have had to think up an actual civilisation given the fact that otherwise too much is lacking: the reader's being confined to a ship and such a small team, for example, as well as the claustrophobia therein; little would be about character development and interrelationships, etc. It's not that such a ship couldn't hold a large crew but that in space, one of the most likely and therefore credible forms of space travel would require that the organism be more or less frozen in sleep. Because of such, I've decided to create a ton of back-story that ends with the initial "seed" (versus having the story stem from that seed into something else). Said back-story has led me to the main character Kale's starting on a ship that overlooks mining robots in an asteroid belt. He nearly dies in an accidental bombardment by trojan asteroids but is rescued in an escape pod by the Ilm, that part of his species with which his own, the Maada, has been on the brink of war for centuries. Soon afterwards he is disillusioned somewhat to the actual interplanetary reality of his civilisation and the fact that "the enemy" has always been right there on his own planet Jar rather than on Om, the species's mother planet.

So far in my story, I have come up with ten or so nominative characters but am at a loss as to how to make them really have meaningful relations with one another and in depth personalities. I'm familiar with the best books that explain personality and how to develop it in characters, but what I'm looking to do is install as a rule of thumb a minimum of characters that have at least primary or secondary roles rather than what they have now, mere names (most of them). I'd also like them to have genuine relations, however the nature of the relations.

As a problem, I don't imagine that the requested solution is one that can be provided in a '1, 2, 3' fashion, although general tips of the sort are rarely bad in and of themselves. With such a premise in mind, I'm not sure if the right inference is that I continue trying to "connect the dots" of the plot and incarnate characters accordingly. Obviously conflict is one of the principle driving mechanisms of any good read. I'm struggling with developement, as I said, not just in plot but in characters: that is, do I 'connect the plot dots' until Kale is on the right planet(?), which will in turn give me the necessary components to develop primary and secondary roles for characters, or come up with a 'deck of cards' cast and design the plot accordingly, or both?

As regards the plot, I feel like I have made it to letter C. As in: I have an A and a B and finally a C... but I'm trying to get to Z. I don't want to just jump over to Z. I want the entire abecedarian plot we're so used to hearing about. Perhaps the plot needs to be churned out before the characters can really be developed?

All help (and for that matter any, if indeed you've made it this far) is more than welcome and most appreciated.

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cynicalwanderer
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Re: Trying to write a book... of sorts.

Postby cynicalwanderer » Tue Jun 14, 2016 5:41 am

"I've stopped giving advice. Even when people ask for it, they resent getting it." -Ross Macdonald.

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Re: Trying to write a book... of sorts.

Postby Oldtimer » Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:52 am

I'm definitely an outliner. I write soft sci-fi, and keep a timeline showing when certain events happened - say, when the MER rovers were launched, or when asteroids whizz by in close proximity to Earth - and I fit my stories around those events. I don't have enough scientific knowledge/imagination to predict future events or developments.

My timeline is primarily a list of when my characters are born, and these events are slotted in to show how the characters have aged when the events happen. I am writing a series at the moment. Overall there will be a lot of characters but I try to confine the number to half a dozen in each book. Cynicalwanderer's method is more comprehensive than mine, but it sounds a very good one. The only drawback to me is that I would spend far more time creating the spreadsheet than I would writing the story. It would be too interesting in itself.
Read samples of my Martian series (by Dorothy Piper) and two romances (by Joni Havel) on Smashwords.
Hard copies of all are on Amazon.

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Re: Trying to write a book... of sorts.

Postby polis1 » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:20 am

Last edited by polis1 on Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Trying to write a book... of sorts.

Postby polis1 » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:34 am


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cynicalwanderer
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Re: Trying to write a book... of sorts.

Postby cynicalwanderer » Tue Jun 14, 2016 2:24 pm

Best of luck with your book, Polis. It's always good to see more hard SF being written, although space operas do of course also have their appeal.

I'd not heard of Lucidchart before - I'm going to look into that now as I've been after a better way to track my notes both for my writing and my video game development projects, so thanks for the tip.
"I've stopped giving advice. Even when people ask for it, they resent getting it." -Ross Macdonald.


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