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Old 2013-10-05, 01:52   Link #1
EscapeReality
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Kazamatsuri City
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Fiction Ideas

How do you get unique ideas when writing stories? I seem to always use a bunch of stock tropes/characters. Same goes with the plot - how does one write an unexpected twist?
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Old 2013-10-05, 03:36   Link #2
RobotCat
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Very few things are truly unique. Good writers know how to take older ideas and build upon them, adding their own flare to make it feel fresh. So take a trope/character you like, then tweak him a bit.

I'm assuming you have a set of characters you tend to gravitate towards writing. Try changing changing the setting so something really drastic, then try to think about how your characters would live in this new world. Or have a major event happen to them and try to figure out how they'd react. These would be good places to start if you find yourself writing the same characters and tropes. If you want to give a few examples it'll be easier to help.

As for unexpected twists, that is something that takes a lot of experience and knowledge to be able to pull off well. A great twist cannot be telegraphed too easily, but must also make sense in the context of the story. The best kind of twists are unexpected, but once the reader comes across it, re-reading the entire book should give a ton of new revelations that make the reader go 'ah ha!' as opposed to making them scratch their head. This generally means that the twist is something you need to design early on, then design the entire plot leading up to the twist so that it flows with it. Again, it's something that comes with experience and sometimes requires that specific stroke of genius to accomplish.
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Old 2013-10-05, 08:06   Link #3
mystogan
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one of the most basic theme is the good guys and bad guys theme, however it is altered and reshaped based on the setting and plot. A plot development also depends on the development of the character and the plot can also be built based on the ending, if you have an idea of what ending would befall this fiction world and the characters the plot can be developed in that directions as well.

well it requires nice plot and great timing to pull off a great twist, sometimes while reading a story one starts to predict that there will be a twist coming, but it totally blows your mind when the twist is something else entirely than what you anticipated.
To inject the twist often signs are left through out the story leading to the twist, but it is the best twist when the reader does not recognize these signs and when the twist is revealed then the reader goes back in his head realizing those signs.

it takes work and experience to pull off a great twist.
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Old 2013-10-05, 08:22   Link #4
Masuzu
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I go by the <<You Don't Write What You Don't Know>> principle.

It's mostly just to establish limits to narrow down what I'm allowing myself to work with.


Strictly speaking; <<Twists>> are not my specialty.

If I were to write out a twist; it'd have to be something that makes sense in hindsight, with hints throughout that would only make sense after the fact.


I don't think about being unique.

I never placed value in uniqueness.

I can only speak for myself, but I don't think trying to be unique for the sake of being unique holds value.
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Old 2013-10-05, 09:13   Link #5
Chaos2Frozen
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When in doubt- look to past successes.

What are some of your favourite plot twists in any story? What was so good about it?

Like what others have said- don't worry so much about creating original character tropes and archtype, there's a reason why they keep being used; because they work.
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Old 2013-10-05, 10:07   Link #6
Wild Goose
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*shrug* Depends on the medium and what I'm writing.

I find that for some reason, I tend to write in two ways: descriptively, and dialogue where everyone's poking away at each other and building off what they're all saying. I find that for me, perhaps because I deal with a lot of conversations, and I pretty much grew up talking to my mom all the time, I find that I can make conversations flow, like turning on a tap.

Plot, now that's the thing that's like digging for gold, lol. That's kind of a weakness I have, which is why I originally embarked on a collab project with another author: she'd do the major worldbuilding and political thought, I'd do the dialogue and the characters building off on each others' words.

Ideas... as to ideas for my fics, I guess when it comes to crossovers, it's because I read a fair bit of stuff, and so there's a lot of ideas floating in the brain, requiring some stirring of ideas...

For me, the way I come up with a story concept, as cliched as it is, is with two words: What If? For example, this snip came about because I thought to myself, "What happens if there's a Bolo at Sadogashima?" Tropical Thunder came about because I wondered to myself: "What would the RMAF look like in the Unlimited/Alternative verse?" And then tried to fill in the blanks.

That said, sometimes inspiration strikes and you need to put it down to paper. For me, that's usually because in my mind, I'll see a scene, or have an idea, and I just let it flow. Evaluation came about after I helped sasahara17 beta his writeup for the VF-8 Crusader. This little post by Kei inspired me to write Cerberus Office Life. A random discussion on overheating Phaeston rifles and thermal clips led me to do quick snipfic of two N7s talking, one of them attempting to make a hot spring with thermal clips, and using buckets of water to both cool thermal clips and heat MREs.

An image in my mind of Louise standing on a hill with a Geth Juggernaut beside her inspired me to write Stand Together.

...welp, I was pretty unhelpful here. ^_^;;

I find that for me, the best way to find ideas, things to write about, is to first read. Read voraciously. Every month, read at least one book on one subject. Read books about the subject matter you're writing about; several years ago, I was writing about a black ops TSAB mage team for Nanoha, so I read a great many books on special forces (which allowed me to impress Chaos later on, lol). The more you expand your horizons, the more knowledge you have, the more ideas will flow into your mind.

Your mind is like a food processor making a smoothie. You can't make a smoothie without putting new things in, rather than just milk or yoghurt.

tl;dr: read loads of stuff, take in various media, don't be afraid to try other things or move out of your normal stuff.

Oh, and if you're doing any works involving SWAT teams, watch Flashpoint. Fucking awesome Canadian policing show.
__________________
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One must forgive one's enemies, but not before they are hanged.Heinrich Heine.

I believe in miracles.


Last edited by Wild Goose; 2013-10-05 at 10:19.
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Old 2013-10-05, 11:13   Link #7
jvcscasio
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I usually listen to music, then imagine a scene with that music as back ground (I do this even if I don't want to, I can't stop my imagination).

Then I create a story to fit that scene in and write. The twist you do the following:

- Imagine the twist first: Magical girls turn into witches! That's new!
- Create a beggining that don't give your twist: Magical girls have to defeat the evil witches! See how they are different from each other?

Then you write the story. By starting at the end, you gain control over the story and can give false hints through the book/manga/movie/series and make the twist ending more surprising
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Old 2013-10-05, 18:56   Link #8
SaintessHeart
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The foolproof method I use is to go out and do different things, be it a job, helping someone or looking for something.

Keep doing it until you get bored of it. Then find something new to do. Keep cycling through until you get something that holds your interest in a particularly long time.

That is where all the weird ideas will come in.
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Old 2013-10-05, 19:37   Link #9
Wild Goose
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Another thing, which seems simplest of all, but you'd be suprised how easily it's overlooked:

When doing fanfiction of a particular subject, continually immerse yourself into that subject. For example, partially inspired by The Miracle at Palaven, I've been writing up a series of stories about an N7 team. For a while, inspiration flowed, then stalled, and I started to draw blanks. Then I looked at the calender and realised I hadn't played any form of Mass Effect since April this year.

So I fired up Origin, launched ME3, and started doing Solo Bronze and Silver again. And then it was like a tap was opened, and the creative juices began to flow.
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Old 2013-10-05, 22:06   Link #10
LeoXiao
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For me, when I get a good idea, I try to write it down and dump it in a word document. Unfortunately my ideas are usually quite vague and general. I find that for every cool plot or story I make, I keep running into the "devil in the details" problem and realize that I am often completely lacking in requesite background knowledge or even the proper vocabulary with which to describe what I want to.

On the other hand, stories aren't really carried forward by description, but by people and events. You can write something totally unrealistic and still have it be vastly enjoyed. It depends on what you are trying to depict and how you do it.
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Old 2013-10-05, 23:51   Link #11
Wild Goose
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What I usually do - well, with regards to military-related writing - is to write out my scene, get my idea down on paper.

I then shamelessly abuse Spacebattles' War Room subforum and ask: "Does this work?" For example, for certain details about carrier operations and arrangement of hangars in Journey Home (which admittedly I didn't write, but BETAed for), I asked on Spacebattles, and then helped sasahara17 revise as required. I'm quite lucky that SB has a significant portion of former and current active duty from various branches and militaries, and lots of other people who are well-read on this subject, so there's a lot of knowledge out there for the picking.

Really, I can't suggest this method enough - write down the idea first, then go to people with knowledge and get them to fact-check. Which is something that I do when I BETA for Comet and DYRL, albeit I'm the fact-checker going to experts to help him fact check.
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Old 2013-10-06, 00:00   Link #12
Fireminer
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Me? I'm a simple man. Unlike other writers, I tend to simplify my work and instead creating my mark with flamboyant words and overwhelming emotional. The whole plot is half of a reason would that story be good. The Detail is what make the different between a masterpiece and a stocking work!

And Goose got that right. Try join a Fanfiction thread. For example, a large part of my "The Fallen Sakura Petal" was written with the help of people on Infinite Stratos Fanfiction thread.
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Old 2013-10-06, 00:11   Link #13
EscapeReality
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Kazamatsuri City
Age: 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobotCat View Post
Very few things are truly unique. Good writers know how to take older ideas and build upon them, adding their own flare to make it feel fresh. So take a trope/character you like, then tweak him a bit.

I'm assuming you have a set of characters you tend to gravitate towards writing. Try changing changing the setting so something really drastic, then try to think about how your characters would live in this new world. Or have a major event happen to them and try to figure out how they'd react. These would be good places to start if you find yourself writing the same characters and tropes. If you want to give a few examples it'll be easier to help.

As for unexpected twists, that is something that takes a lot of experience and knowledge to be able to pull off well. A great twist cannot be telegraphed too easily, but must also make sense in the context of the story. The best kind of twists are unexpected, but once the reader comes across it, re-reading the entire book should give a ton of new revelations that make the reader go 'ah ha!' as opposed to making them scratch their head. This generally means that the twist is something you need to design early on, then design the entire plot leading up to the twist so that it flows with it. Again, it's something that comes with experience and sometimes requires that specific stroke of genius to accomplish.
Completely agree. I should have specified that I want unique details to flavor the story, since my concept is not very new. I'm writing a coming-of-age story, where a character realizes that she's been doing something wrong, through her experiences with other characters. It's a simple concept, but I want it to seem less of a sermon. I guess I want the message to be there but veiled behind good presentation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mystogan View Post
one of the most basic theme is the good guys and bad guys theme, however it is altered and reshaped based on the setting and plot. A plot development also depends on the development of the character and the plot can also be built based on the ending, if you have an idea of what ending would befall this fiction world and the characters the plot can be developed in that directions as well.

well it requires nice plot and great timing to pull off a great twist, sometimes while reading a story one starts to predict that there will be a twist coming, but it totally blows your mind when the twist is something else entirely than what you anticipated.
To inject the twist often signs are left through out the story leading to the twist, but it is the best twist when the reader does not recognize these signs and when the twist is revealed then the reader goes back in his head realizing those signs.

it takes work and experience to pull off a great twist.
I don't quite know what the ending should be yet (tragic or happy); I don't know enough about my own characters yet (having trouble with multi-dimensional development). I don't think I ever write what the ending should be; I just see where the story eventually leads to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Masuzu View Post
I go by the <<You Don't Write What You Don't Know>> principle.

It's mostly just to establish limits to narrow down what I'm allowing myself to work with.


Strictly speaking; <<Twists>> are not my specialty.

If I were to write out a twist; it'd have to be something that makes sense in hindsight, with hints throughout that would only make sense after the fact.


I don't think about being unique.

I never placed value in uniqueness.

I can only speak for myself, but I don't think trying to be unique for the sake of being unique holds value.
I'm just saying that if I brainstorm, I could occasionally dig out sophisticated ideas from my head. Maybe sophisticated is the better word. I'm not trying to be insincere with my writing. It's just that if I write whatever I think, the story just doesn't reach the level of development I want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos2Frozen View Post
When in doubt- look to past successes.

What are some of your favourite plot twists in any story? What was so good about it?

Like what others have said- don't worry so much about creating original character tropes and archtype, there's a reason why they keep being used; because they work.
Good plot twists I liked - I don't know, unexpected deaths always got me. It was good, because one couldn't really believe it when it happened, but looking back, it was entirely plausible (what above poster had said). I also like when the intentions of a character was unclear until the end. It kept me guessing and raised the tension. That isn't applicable for this story though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild Goose View Post
*shrug* Depends on the medium and what I'm writing.

I find that for some reason, I tend to write in two ways: descriptively, and dialogue where everyone's poking away at each other and building off what they're all saying. I find that for me, perhaps because I deal with a lot of conversations, and I pretty much grew up talking to my mom all the time, I find that I can make conversations flow, like turning on a tap.

Plot, now that's the thing that's like digging for gold, lol. That's kind of a weakness I have, which is why I originally embarked on a collab project with another author: she'd do the major worldbuilding and political thought, I'd do the dialogue and the characters building off on each others' words.

Ideas... as to ideas for my fics, I guess when it comes to crossovers, it's because I read a fair bit of stuff, and so there's a lot of ideas floating in the brain, requiring some stirring of ideas...

For me, the way I come up with a story concept, as cliched as it is, is with two words: What If? For example, this snip came about because I thought to myself, "What happens if there's a Bolo at Sadogashima?" Tropical Thunder came about because I wondered to myself: "What would the RMAF look like in the Unlimited/Alternative verse?" And then tried to fill in the blanks.

That said, sometimes inspiration strikes and you need to put it down to paper. For me, that's usually because in my mind, I'll see a scene, or have an idea, and I just let it flow. Evaluation came about after I helped sasahara17 beta his writeup for the VF-8 Crusader. This little post by Kei inspired me to write Cerberus Office Life. A random discussion on overheating Phaeston rifles and thermal clips led me to do quick snipfic of two N7s talking, one of them attempting to make a hot spring with thermal clips, and using buckets of water to both cool thermal clips and heat MREs.

An image in my mind of Louise standing on a hill with a Geth Juggernaut beside her inspired me to write Stand Together.

...welp, I was pretty unhelpful here. ^_^;;

I find that for me, the best way to find ideas, things to write about, is to first read. Read voraciously. Every month, read at least one book on one subject. Read books about the subject matter you're writing about; several years ago, I was writing about a black ops TSAB mage team for Nanoha, so I read a great many books on special forces (which allowed me to impress Chaos later on, lol). The more you expand your horizons, the more knowledge you have, the more ideas will flow into your mind.

Your mind is like a food processor making a smoothie. You can't make a smoothie without putting new things in, rather than just milk or yoghurt.

tl;dr: read loads of stuff, take in various media, don't be afraid to try other things or move out of your normal stuff.

Oh, and if you're doing any works involving SWAT teams, watch Flashpoint. Fucking awesome Canadian policing show.
Reading does help, but I usually end up deriving plot ideas and characters from other works. My story is just going to turn up like a melting pot of different already-created stories.

Dialogue is a problem for me as well. I think my awkwardness pervades my characters. Even when I know the personality of my characters, I can't tell how they're going to reply to a statement.
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Old 2013-10-06, 00:22   Link #14
EscapeReality
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Location: Kazamatsuri City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvcscasio View Post
I usually listen to music, then imagine a scene with that music as back ground (I do this even if I don't want to, I can't stop my imagination).

Then I create a story to fit that scene in and write. The twist you do the following:

- Imagine the twist first: Magical girls turn into witches! That's new!
- Create a beggining that don't give your twist: Magical girls have to defeat the evil witches! See how they are different from each other?

Then you write the story. By starting at the end, you gain control over the story and can give false hints through the book/manga/movie/series and make the twist ending more surprising
My story is based on a song. Helps set the mood and general plot, but little help with detailing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
The foolproof method I use is to go out and do different things, be it a job, helping someone or looking for something.

Keep doing it until you get bored of it. Then find something new to do. Keep cycling through until you get something that holds your interest in a particularly long time.

That is where all the weird ideas will come in.
My story is based on my own experiences. I'm just trying to sensationalize the story in ways that probably won't happen in real life. Hence the writer's block.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeoXiao View Post
For me, when I get a good idea, I try to write it down and dump it in a word document. Unfortunately my ideas are usually quite vague and general. I find that for every cool plot or story I make, I keep running into the "devil in the details" problem and realize that I am often completely lacking in requesite background knowledge or even the proper vocabulary with which to describe what I want to.

On the other hand, stories aren't really carried forward by description, but by people and events. You can write something totally unrealistic and still have it be vastly enjoyed. It depends on what you are trying to depict and how you do it.
I think that was my main problem. I don't understand enough about people (psychology, motivations) to write something compelling there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fireminer View Post
Me? I'm a simple man. Unlike other writers, I tend to simplify my work and instead creating my mark with flamboyant words and overwhelming emotional. The whole plot is half of a reason would that story be good. The Detail is what make the different between a masterpiece and a stocking work!

And Goose got that right. Try join a Fanfiction thread. For example, a large part of my "The Fallen Sakura Petal" was written with the help of people on Infinite Stratos Fanfiction thread.
Emotional power takes specific events to build. I'm having issues leading into the dramatic event.
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Old 2013-10-06, 00:35   Link #15
Fireminer
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Have you try classic Opera or 18th century Novels?
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Old 2013-10-06, 00:53   Link #16
SaintessHeart
NYAAAAHAAANNNNN~
 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EscapeReality View Post
My story is based on my own experiences. I'm just trying to sensationalize the story in ways that probably won't happen in real life. Hence the writer's block.
You don't have to sensationalise, just elaborate on the event which you think is interesting to expand it. Sensationalising just makes things more ludicrous.
__________________

When three puppygirls named after pastries are on top of each other, it is called Eclair a'la menthe et Biscotti aux fraises avec beaucoup de Ricotta sur le dessus.
Most of all, you have to be disciplined and you have to save, even if you hate our current financial system. Because if you don't save, then you're guaranteed to end up with nothing.
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Old 2013-10-06, 01:08   Link #17
EscapeReality
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Age: 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fireminer View Post
Have you try classic Opera or 18th century Novels?
Nope, only the early 19th century ones - Hawthorne (Scarlet Letters) and such. I don't think that their styles would be useful. Hawthorne has a very good skill of describing boring things with great detail. He knows a lot more than I do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
You don't have to sensationalise, just elaborate on the event which you think is interesting to expand it. Sensationalising just makes things more ludicrous.
What I mean is that I want to write about something that probably won't happen to me in real life - you could say it's a way of escapism. The problem is that I have trouble imagining how people would behave when put into those situations.
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Old 2013-10-06, 04:03   Link #18
Fireminer
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Age: 8
Ah, that... Well, in that case, I couldn't give you any advice. That depend on the talent that you were born with.

But just a last warning: Life is Logical hiding in a Chaotic shell. Never to make something too beautiful, too good and vice versa.
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Old 2013-10-06, 06:26   Link #19
Wild Goose
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Age: 28
The problem with fiction is that it has to make sense. Real life, on the other hand, doesn't have that constraint.

There are some parts of Black Hawk Down that nobody would believe would happen in reality, but did (for example).
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One must forgive one's enemies, but not before they are hanged.Heinrich Heine.

I believe in miracles.

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Old 2013-10-06, 11:15   Link #20
LeoXiao
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Location: Vereinigte Staaten
Age: 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by EscapeReality View Post
I think that was my main problem. I don't understand enough about people (psychology, motivations) to write something compelling there.
I think that first it's best to write short stories, and I mean really short, like a page or two at most. Take something that's been bothering you, apply it to a fictional character and setting and topic, and begin writing. It doesn't even have to be good; but it's practice at least.

I find another problem, which is kind of the opposite of the "too few details" thing, is to over-engineer a story or passage. A lot of the time too much information can be redundant and bog down the core aspects of what you are trying to convey. Weirdly enough I really started thinking about this only when I began working for a newspaper; in articles, often you get a bunch of information that could be relevant but depending on how important the piece is or how much space is allotted for the article you have cut a lot of the material out. Articles are designed to be easy to read while also laying down the critical info; this principle applies to fiction as well, I think.
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