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I’m new to writing, I’ve written several stories over two years but never seem to make it passed 5000 words.  I have a terrible time showing vs telling and keeping the same tense throughout the story.   How do you guys manage that? 

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Welcome, it's nice to meet you! 

 

14 minutes ago, Joseph S. Roberts said:

How do you guys manage that? 

Practice. But also, we don't worry about it during the first draft of a story (easier said than done at times) and fix it during the editing and revisions stage. 

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Yes, what Alley said. And it might be easier for you to start writing short stories to get the hang of things. Then, as you get accomplished, you would feel comfortable moving into novels.

 

Joe, I moved your thread here to the writers' forum for you. :D

 

 

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Maybe your writing style is suited for short stories right now?  There are magazines and anthologies that might be looking for stories up to 5,000 words. 

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17 minutes ago, SpecFictionGuy said:

Maybe your writing style is suited for short stories right now?  There are magazines and anthologies that might be looking for stories up to 5,000 words. 

This is true too! There is nothing wrong with a short story. I personally enjoy reading them. 🙂

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Hey! I said short stories first! :D LOL

 

24 minutes ago, Joseph S. Roberts said:

Thank you, I don’t have the ability to post in other forums yet or I would have put it in the right one.

 

Joe, you are allowed everywhere except the critique forum until you have reached 10 comments. :D

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2 minutes ago, lynnmosher said:

Hey! I said short stories first! :D LOL

 

 

Joe, you are allowed everywhere except the critique forum until you have reached 10 comments. :D

Oh okay, I didn’t know, still getting my feet wet in this forum. 

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2 minutes ago, lynnmosher said:

Hey! I said short stories first! :D LOL

😱 😄

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1 hour ago, Joseph S. Roberts said:

I’m new to writing, I’ve written several stories over two years but never seem to make it passed 5000 words.

 

What seems to be the problem that is holding you up?  Is it insecurity in your writing or just that you write short stories with a logical ending point of 5,000 words?  Or is it something else?

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1 minute ago, suspensewriter said:

 

What seems to be the problem that is holding you up?  Is it insecurity in your writing or just that you write short stories with a logical ending point of 5,000 words?  Or is it something else?

I’m not exactly sure what’s holding me back.  I think it’s more procrastination than anything. I love to write, it’s my way of coping with my inner feelings and get all the negative thoughts out.   Very therapeutic 

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Just now, Joseph S. Roberts said:

How do you guys manage that? 

Just like @Alley said, it takes a lot of practice! As you write more, you'll start feeling a lot more comfortable. Also, you should read all you can.

 

And by the way - hi! Nice to meet you :D 

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When you do get up to 10 posts, you should go share something on the Critique Forum.  The critiques and advice I've received there have really taken me to a whole new level as a writer.

 

When I first joined this forum a little over a year ago, I couldn't make it past a 5-7,000 word short story either. Now I've published one novel and have another at the beta-reading stage.

 

I know, I sound like a "Before and After" advertisement, but it's true. Sometimes all you need is a little help...or a kick in the pants. We'll be happy to provide both.

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And there is nothing wrong with being a short-story writer! Easier to finish and edit and rework. And some of them may become the basis for a longer story later, IF that's what you want do. Personally, I have written many, many, many more short stories than "novels" (all three of them, none published. Short stories can get your feet wet and teach you a lot.

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Welcome.

I've found that reading and doing critiques has helped me a great deal in my own writing.  

 

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On 5/20/2020 at 11:29 AM, lynnmosher said:

Hey! I said short stories first! :D LOL

 

Lynn, you posted yours as I was almost finished with mine so it was pretty close to a tie. 😁

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On 5/20/2020 at 8:56 AM, Alley said:

But also, we don't worry about it during the first draft of a story (easier said than done at times) and fix it during the editing and revisions stage. 

 

Welcome!

 

This is literally the exact advice given to me by this exact person that allowed me to finish my first manuscript! I'm a perfectionist and the details of the actual wording were making me spin out so much that I couldn't move forward. 

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My first novel, I went through 17 drafts or so. There wee so many problems in my writing, so many things I needed to learn. It is impossible to learn all the skills at once, so each of my editing passes, I fixed one or two things. This was years ago, but I remember some of it:

 

- one pass for dialog tags. Remove them when they are unnecessary, not get fancy, and use right punctuation.

- one pass for authentic dialog - British slang for the English woman, prison slang for the prisoner, etc.

- one pass for addding a better villain

- one pass to make the chapter beginnings and endings flow

- one pass for dialog / narrative balance - not too many pages of dialog without narrative and vice versa

- rewrite the beginning and ending

- one pass to conform to 4-Act structure better (a key plot point was too short and needed to be expanded)

- several passes to make it shorter and remove boring stuff

 

During my first book, I realized that writing scenes with many characters was hard, so I started with small scenes and worked my way up until I could handle battles with dozens of characters, then thousands (not all named, of course!)

 

All through the process of that first novel or two, I read books about dialog, setting, structure, character arc, self-editing, scene-sequel, cliches to avoid, you name it. You can only learn a little at a time.

 

Then, as I went from book to book, I identified weaknesses. My first book was a mess with a timeline that stretched out for 25 years. So I wrote a short story that lasted a day (really a novelette of 20,000 words.) My next novel spanned a period of a single month. Thus I learned how to manage the timeline better. My current novel will last a whole summer and into the Fall.

 

My first novel didn't have much romance - I knew I couldn't handle that. To grow myself as a writer, I wrote a Fantasy Romance. I also edited a few romances for others here at CW. That helped me see how they do it.

 

My current novel is a YA fantasy. Why? I never wrote any stories with teenage characters before, so something else to learn.

 

My first fantasies were in a fantastic world I created. My novelette was set in the town where I live. Making a "normal" suburban town seem interesting was a challenge. It helped me to improve my command of setting. My current novel is set in Cambridge and Boston, where I work. It is fantasy, but I make extensive use of real places. My goal was to take a dingy corner of town where the bridges and railroad tracks and warehouses are and make it completely magical.

 

Another trick - read poetry by the masters. I am not a very good poet (though my daughter is - she is an MFA grad student) but reading poetry helps me to loosen my prose and improve my vocabulary. It really helps me with description and capturing mood.

 

My desire to write began in high school. In college, I suffered depression and all creativity left me. I tried taking writing classes, but dropped them in despair. After college, the Lord helped me recover. It was slow. Write a letter to the newspaper. Write an article for the church newsletter. Learn how to write business proposals as a management consultant.

 

I went on a mission trip to Romania with a church choir. When I returned, I was able to write Christian songs and poetry. Ideas for novels came to me, but I couldn't get started. Still no confidence or discipline.

 

Got married, had kids. Then one got sick and at the same time I lost my job. I spent every night in the hospital with my daughter for a week. With nothing to do, I got a notebook from the gift shop and thought, "This may be the last time I have this much free time for awhile." I decided to outline a novel, right there in the hospital. It took nine years to finish. It was twenty years after the idea came to me, but I finally got it down on paper.

 

That week in the hospital was about 16 years ago. I have not stopped writing since. In my twenties, my best friend said I'd never finish any of my stories. That was hard to swallow. You may have similar voices in your life. You have to decide who you are going to listen to.

 

Here is another voice: Don't give up. 

 

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Great advice as always on this thread... One other thing I'll add is don't be afraid to write out of order. Maybe you've got an amazing ending in mind - go ahead and write it. Don't wait to write everything else before you get to it, and don't worry about having to change something later, because you'll have to change lots of things later. I wrote the "climax" of my memoir/biography first. Really, any scene that you have a clear concept for and you're excited to write, just go ahead and write it. And, if you're writing fiction, go ahead and write scenes that you may not even use in the current book. If you like the writing but they don't fit, put them in a save-for-later folder. Sort of tangentially related, don't be afraid to move things around in your outline even if it breaks chronology. I did some of that even writing nonfiction and the "flashback" ended up better than just writing a straight chronological version. 

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I tried doing what Christ suggested, writing scenes out of order, but my little mind couldn't keep track of what I had written that already happened and what hadn't happened yet. I would strongly suggest a careful outline of what you have where if you write scenes out of order.

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