Over-thinkers Anonymous

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
User avatar
KD Lightle
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:34 am

Over-thinkers Anonymous

Postby KD Lightle » Thu May 23, 2019 6:59 pm

So, lately my problem is keeping ONE story idea. I start a story. It's a cool story, I like it. Then I get an idea that changes the idea slightly, and I think 'Ok, that's cool. That works'. I re-start the story. But it doesn't stay there. It keeps morphing and mutating and then before I know it, I don't have anything even remotely resembling the original story idea. I've re-started half a dozen times, and have gotten no-where. And there's a month until the dead-line for this Quarter.

How do I convince my brain to stick with ONE story idea, and write that One story, without getting distracted and writing half a dozen other stories?
Reality can be beaten with enough imagination - Mark Twain.

User avatar
JVAshley
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:37 pm
Contact:

Re: Over-thinkers Anonymous

Postby JVAshley » Thu May 23, 2019 7:09 pm

This is a relentless issue for me. I asked Dave F. about it, and he said (I am paraphrasing) that I needed ask myself if making the change just to changed the story or if it made the story better. Otherwise, I was caught in a continuous loop.

Good Luck, I am still fighting this battle.
1x SF
3x HM
2x R

User avatar
KD Lightle
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:34 am

Re: Over-thinkers Anonymous

Postby KD Lightle » Thu May 23, 2019 7:14 pm

How do I know if it's better?
Reality can be beaten with enough imagination - Mark Twain.

User avatar
orbivillein
Posts: 198
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:37 pm
Location: Anatoll

Re: Over-thinkers Anonymous

Postby orbivillein » Thu May 23, 2019 9:39 pm

Stories stray when what a given story is actually, truly, really about wants to be realized. The tangible action strives for a complete process, meantime, the subconscious wants to be heard. Subtext is a story's subconscious. Without subtext that is congruent to and opposite of a tangible action, a story is another of many similar yet indistinct and stale stories.

"Cool" circumstances, unless those are influenced by and influence relevant subtext and overall unity of action, then are mere melodrama -- spectacular events, settings, and characters that spike plot apexes, though never a drive toward a wanted goal or score a destination.

See James Joyce, Ulysses, for a vignette novel that lacks a subtext action, no outcome destination, and is more or less a writer collection of "cool" Dublin culture allusions, invented language, anecdotes, vignettes, and sketches, connected only by Leopold and Penelope Bloom and Stephen Daedalus' connections to each other. No message, no moral, except no moral message: this is one day in the everyday life of Dublin and, by extension, anywhere, anytime, anyone.

What is the story actually, truly, really about? What personal meaning making does the story strive to achieve? Message? Moral? Albeit covert subtext, for readers anymore will not be morally lectured at. No philosophic and hypocritical moral law assertions will do, instead, a subtext's prime action is an energetic personal moral truth discovery outcome. What is the personal discovery?

Too philosophical? Yeah, yet that's what a fully realized story achieves: personal moral truth discovery subtext and all the more fresh, vivid, lively, and appeal for it. A moral truth discovery is often reduced to a proverb. Then a writer knows that's beauty, truth, goodness's good, better, best.

If a moral message is covert subtext, and best, yet how to locate one or include one challenges readers and writers. Identify a person, entity, institution, or social-moral phenomena target. Identify what the narrative's tone is toward the subject or topic. Disapproval or approval? Or neither, and targets the either-or fallacy of for us or against us? Or other overall attitude toward a topic or subject and subject to personal transformation, maturation, due to personal discovery, revelation, realization about the attitude. Within the overall attitude is the moral truth discovery of substance and the moral message.

For example, a biblical proverb is a subtext moral message basis of L. Ron Hubbard's The End Is Not Yet, Astounding Science Fiction, 1947 serialization, per Mark 13:17.

English Standard Version:
"And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet."

User avatar
disgruntledpeony
Posts: 901
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:21 pm
Contact:

Re: Over-thinkers Anonymous

Postby disgruntledpeony » Fri May 24, 2019 2:57 am

KD Lightle wrote:So, lately my problem is keeping ONE story idea. I start a story. It's a cool story, I like it. Then I get an idea that changes the idea slightly, and I think 'Ok, that's cool. That works'. I re-start the story. But it doesn't stay there. It keeps morphing and mutating and then before I know it, I don't have anything even remotely resembling the original story idea. I've re-started half a dozen times, and have gotten no-where. And there's a month until the dead-line for this Quarter.

How do I convince my brain to stick with ONE story idea, and write that One story, without getting distracted and writing half a dozen other stories?


You could try writing a quick summary of the new idea down and continuing the original draft. You might still end up changing the story later, but at least this way you'll get a chance to see what might have been.

On the other hand, if this is a consistent pattern of behavior, it might be good to hold a brainstorming session of sorts when you first get the idea, taking some time to write an outline and/or doing some free association to get your core ideas down. This might potentially give the story a chance to evolve before you start writing the manuscript as a whole, thereby saving you a few steps.

I don't know what your current writing process is, so these are my best suggestions at the mo. (Based on your description, it looks like you might write by the seat of your pants rather than outlining, but that's just a guess on my part.)

KD Lightle wrote:How do I know if it's better?


That knowledge, subjective though it is, usually comes with practice. (Beta readers might help with this, too.) Essentially, if it ups the stakes or tightens up the narrative it's probably a good thing. If it makes things needlessly complicated in some way or another, it's probably not a wise change to make. In the end, the best benchmark is to take some time to figure out which version of the story you think you'll like better, because it's your story and it should make you happy.
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, ?

User avatar
JVAshley
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:37 pm
Contact:

Re: Over-thinkers Anonymous

Postby JVAshley » Fri May 24, 2019 7:35 am

Like orbivillein said, my stories often wonder when I do not have the core or essential idea nailed down. If I have that (I usually have to meander a lot before I find it) But once I have it, I can measure all deviations against it to see if they hold up to the original idea or change it.
1x SF
3x HM
2x R

User avatar
KD Lightle
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:34 am

Re: Over-thinkers Anonymous

Postby KD Lightle » Fri May 24, 2019 8:45 am

Thank you, everyone. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I will endeavor to streamline my ideas, and figure out what 'better' is.

I have to remind myself, it takes practice and persistence. And, as someone else pointed out to me on FB, I have to give myself permission to fail. I've been beating myself against the "Gotta Win WotF" wall for so long, it's crippling my ability to write.

Thank you.
Reality can be beaten with enough imagination - Mark Twain.

Wulf Moon
Posts: 671
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:54 pm
Location: Olympic Peninsula, WA

Re: Over-thinkers Anonymous

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon May 27, 2019 11:41 am

KD Lightle wrote:Thank you, everyone. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I will endeavor to streamline my ideas, and figure out what 'better' is.

I have to remind myself, it takes practice and persistence. And, as someone else pointed out to me on FB, I have to give myself permission to fail. I've been beating myself against the "Gotta Win WotF" wall for so long, it's crippling my ability to write.

Thank you.


I feel for you, KD, but I'm going to kindly suggest a different mind set. it's not really about Gotta Win WotF. It's about Gotta Write Good Story. When one finally levels up from novice to professional writing--and that takes a great deal of concentrated study and practice--your stories will start selling, here, or elsewhere, or both! It's why many pro out just when it looks like they're about to win this contest. They leveled up. They hit that critical point where they mastered their craft and unique voice to such a level that professional editors recognized it and were willing to buy their stories. WotF has nothing to do with your ability to write. *You* have everything to do with your ability to write. However, if you choose to exclusively send your stories to WotF, that will cripple your chances of getting published elsewhere. And there's only twelve stories a year WotF can buy (and maybe the odd Finalist if there's room). There are far more than twelve people breaking out into the level of professional writing in any given year around the world. Do try to win this contest, but don't place all your hopes and dreams here. That *is* a mistake.

Write. Complete. Send it out. Here first, and then to the next market your story would be suitable for. Repeat.

Don't view your apprenticeship as crippling. Embrace your apprenticeship. Tell yourself this is how everyone apprenticed, and you are willing to put in the time to learn your craft and master it.

All the beast!

Wulf Moon
Wulf Moon
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Annual Critters Readers' Choice Award: First Place, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
Gala Awards Ceremony Speech: https://youtu.be/9Vf1eeeKPRA Located at 1:09: 00


Return to “Writing: Craft, Talent, Technique”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest