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Author Topic: Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing  (Read 9803 times)

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Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing
« on: April 24, 2016, 05:37:35 PM »
Index

000: Welcome To Sherbet's Big Theories On Writing
001: How Much Influence Should Your Influences Have?
002: Brainstorming Your Idea
                    Side Theory: Why Ideas Can't Be Stolen
003: Brainstorming 2 - Relevant Writing
                    Side Theory: There's Never A Bad Time To Write 
004: Brainstorming 3 - Structuring A Story With Timelines
005: Getting Inside Your Protagonist's Head
006: Empathizing With Villains
007: Battling The Block
008: Descriptive Writing: Sharing Your World.
009: A Prologue Regarding Prologues
               Prologue Theory: Timeline Synopsis

000: Welcome To Sherbet's Big Theories on Writing!

I've noticed that a lot of common questions come up regarding issues people have in cultivating their ideas and turning them into stories they feel satisfied with. Whether it's character development, world-building or just turning something from a story timeline to an actual story, we've all suffered similar issues and many of us continue to do so.

We're all here on MangaRaiders because we're writers/artists/enthusiasts who love manga and anime enough to become a part of the process that creates more of it but the majority of us are also here because we've not reached the point where we've actually achieved it yet. We're still finding our way and we're looking to improve alongside people with similar dreams.   

I genuinely believe that there is not one person on this forum that cannot become a successful creator of manga if they truly aspire to do so. There is no such thing as a mind that is not creative, only one that is hindered. Whether that is through a lack of knowledge, experience or confidence, we're here because we're trying every day to get closer to the point where we can confidently say "I created a manga and I'm damn proud of how it turned out!"

You don't need to be financially successful to be able to say that. If you have created a manga that other people are enjoying, you've done it and you should keep aiming to do more.   

After all, being financially successful from this gig would be pretty damn sweet, am I right? ;)     

SO, I've decided to make a thread where I will give my personal thoughts on different aspects of writing that I feel are commonly asked about or people struggle with. I'm not aiming for these posts to be short individual responses but an extensive in-depth look at the things we commonly struggle with.

I want to give my thoughts on both the dos and the don'ts of developing a story.

I want to talk about:

- Why I think people are having trouble turning that big timeline into something we can all enjoy
- Why that character doesn't feel interesting to you
- What questions you should ask when building your world.
- How much should be developed before you start writing the story itself.
- How to brainstorm an idea and how you know that idea is "The One."
- Storyboarding when you're not an artist.
- EVERYTHING I can think of that's worth talking about to do with writing a story.


What I don't want to talk about:

- Grammar
- Spacing in a story.
- All that stuff that revolves around a person's writing ability rather than their creative ability.


There's three reasons for this(Final list, I swear):
- I'm from the UK and not everybody will use the same grammar I do so that's a pointless discussion.
- There are limitless ways to write a story, sticking to a style that you're not as comfortable with will damage your story if anything.
- It bores me to death talking about that stuff.

I'm here to talk my socks off about the creative process and I don't want to do it alone. I'm going to be making super long posts once a week and I invite you to participate in discussing these subjects. I want to know what you'd like me to post about and more than anything, I want you to tell me what you agree with and disagree with and why. If you convince me my opinion on somethings needs changed, I'll change it.

Because I want to have nothing but the best advice posted up for people to read over and most importantly,

I'm still learning too.

So I'm looking forward to some good discussions here and learning alongside all of you! ;D

Also, gimme a good thread name for this that'll bring more people into these discussions. I've made it very egotistical so far and I'd like that to change! ;)
« Last Edit: November 28, 2016, 04:26:57 PM by MisterSherbetLemon »

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Sherbet's Big Theories: Influences?
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2016, 06:00:26 PM »
How Much Influence Should Your Influences Have?

So this is a thing that comes up frequently in a negative light among writers so I thought I'd start off with a common problem the majority of us will have shared at some point in our time as writers.

As I've mentioned before, we're all here because we love manga and anime and there are many of us who are seeking to become a member of that wonderful world of creators that have people who not only read their work, but they freakin' love it!
I, for one would love nothing more than to see reviews both positive and negative from respected websites and journalists even if I didn't profit from it financially. The idea of just having a bunch of people enjoying something that's mine would be nothing short of incredible.

That being said, a lot of writers seem to suffer from the fear that something that they've written may still not be considered "original" or "unique" despite the effort and love that's been put into it.

We naturally wouldn't want to be creators of manga and anime if we weren't influenced by manga and anime ourselves and so there are several influences that we use when we are writing which you can find echoes of throughout our creations...and that concerns a lot of us!

Let me ask you this: How many times have you pitched an idea for something you want to work on and it's been compared to something you yourself have enjoyed in the past?

More importantly, how much does it suck for your confidence in that idea when that happens?

Because I've had it in the past and personally, it's a risky thing to deal with!

It can completely destroy a project before it even properly begins!

Why?

Because we don't just want to create something that's enjoyable to others. We want to create something that's ours and ours alone! We don't want it to be one of those stories that's considered a ripoff. That's a virtue! We pride ourselves as writers and we want to pave our own success rather than leech from the success of another. That's why it hurts so much to have our stories compared in such a way when they're in early development.

As a result of that we judge ourselves and the output we create very harshly, Sometimes to the point that we completely scrap projects that made us more excited than anything we'd ever worked on previously.

"I scrapped it because the premise sounded the same as something else..."

Now I want you to read that line a couple more times before moving on.

I want you to really examine what it means, particularly the fact that it's just the premise of an idea!

Isn't that a little silly?

Even if it sounded EXACTLY like something else, this is a vague summary we're talking about here.

We are discussing complex storylines here! How can anyone say what your final story will be like other than you?

In terms of manga, you could be talking about something that has the potential to be hundreds of chapters long! How can you relate that to something else when describing it in just a couple of sentences?

Let me give some examples:


Quote
The Premise: Humanity have become the underdogs in a world dominated by a monster that opposes humanity.

So we have:

Attack On Titan - Humanity vs Titans
Black Bullet - Humanity vs Bug Like Monsters
Kabaneri Of The Iron Fortress - Humanity vs Zombies
Owari No Seraph - Humanity vs Vampires

These stories have the same premise but they could not be more different in style, pace or concept!

How about we look at something outside of manga and anime?

Quote
The Premise: A dysfunctional family and the wacky events that happen in their lives.

So we have:

The Simpsons
Family Guy
American Dad
Rick And Morty
Everybody Loves Raymond
The Brady Bunch
Family Matters
There's actually no point in me going on with this list. Google "sitcoms about" and it autofills "sitcomes about families"

My point is that you simply can't define the complexity and uniqueness of your idea in a few short sentences! Stop trying to do it! I get that it's exciting to have this story unfolding in your mind as you go through the creative process but if you think you can pitch your idea as something unique in a world filled with writers who are constantly churning out ideas for anime, manga, movies, sitcoms, cartoons, computer games, tv shows and any other kind of media I've missed out...well...

That's just silly. You're overestimating your pitching skills and you're underestimating the creativity of everyone else around you.

BUT THAT'S OKAY! BECAUSE I'VE DONE THAT TOO!

Which is why I'm telling you that pitching your idea alone for the sake of approval from others is senseless!

I know you're excited by this idea that you can see clearly in your head but it's only going to damage your motivation when someone turns around and says "That sounds like [insert well known media content here]!

You can't define your story in a short message and splurging everything out at once leads to a wall of information which you know nobody will read.

Because let's face it, you wouldn't read it if it wasn't yours.


I once wrote nearly 100 pages timelining the history of a world I created yet never wrote the story for, how ridiculous is that?
What are the chances you'd make it through a single page of that when you have no idea what it's leading to?

J.R.R. Tolkien has a large Lord of the Rings following, some of which read up the entire history he built around those books...

...but I guarantee that NOBODY bothered to read that history until they'd read (or watched) the trilogy and decided that they loved it! 

So What's Your Friggin' Point Sherbet?

I'm not saying share your ideas. Far from it, I love seeing the progress of my fellow writers here and I'm sure you do too!

All I'm saying is don't let comments discourage you just because others can compare what you show them to something else.

Don't search for approval through your ideas, it will come naturally through your stories once they're finished.

The more time you spend chastising yourself over comments people make is just hindering your writing process.

So don't give a damn what people say about your idea pitch. Tell them you're working on this idea if you like but personally,
Screw the idea pitch for now! Save it for when you have a chapter or two to actually pitch it with!

Churn out the first draft of your Chapter 1. Reread it, refine it and reread it again.

In the time you spend writing that Chapter, NEGLECT your manga and anime. Close yourself off from your influences.

After all, you wouldn't have started that Chapter if you didn't already have a clear view of what you had planned for it, right?

If you feel yourself burning out, take a break and go BACK to your influences.

Go back to the things you love for a while and chillax. (Blue's a chillaxing color, right?)

BUT

Don't wait for that moment when you think "I'm ready to keep going."

Just catch up on the stuff you love, maybe watch something new that catches your eye and then go back to that first draft.

Reread it again, see if you feel the same way you did about it before.

Criticize yourself and edit as you see fit. Don't rely on others just yet!
 
The only person that knows if your grand plan for your creation is unique is you!

When you post the draft that you're satisfied with, you'll prove to those people who would criticize you that your story is something that stands on it's own.

Even then, try to keep an open mind and not be discouraged.

Because no matter how many times you reread that thing, it still might not be complete until you've had that criticism.
   
But at the very least, the negative comments coming your way should finally have some merit to tell you where you can improve.

That criticism is a positive thing and your influences are a positive thing.

Don't let yourself treat them as anything less.

and no matter what,


Don't ever let it stop you writing!

Peace out! Share your thoughts!
« Last Edit: April 24, 2016, 06:58:19 PM by MisterSherbetLemon »

Offline Forlorn Serpent

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Re: Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2016, 06:24:54 PM »
I think i understand what you want me to post, let me know if it's wrong.

This post is about the originality. I was going to create a thread where writers deliberately rip-off an idea to create their own. I will use MisterSherbetLemon's avatar for a great example. For those who don't know, Rick and Morty was basically a rip-off of Doc and Marty from back to the future. But they branched out to be something original. Something considered the best show on tv right now. 50 shades of grey was just fanfiction of twilight. I'm sure you can think of some others.

As writers we always want to be unique. However, the public doesn't want new things. They like there timed and tested formula. But, they like what they know with a little twist. Derivatives are important because each story that came before was just a stepping stone to your story. The only problem i see when new writers start their project is that they don't add anything to the endless chain, be it visuals, characters, conflict, stakes, new genre merges etc. I think we all see what each family story cliche has added to the culture as a whole. Those that don't fail.

The problem with pitches is that they are made to be generalized as much as possible. You can't summarize a large project within 25 words without it sounding similar to something else. What i think people should expect their work to sound similar but know how it differs from what others already know. If you don't know how it differs, go back and work on the story.  But you can't throw away pitches just because you don't like it. Blurbs/synopsis/plotlines are important because no one will read your story unless they are interested. And no one will waste their time to force themselves to like something without a foot in the door explanation.

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2016, 06:53:08 PM »
Spot on in terms of what the thread's about really.

There are certainly instances where writers have ripped off other sources, Rick and Morty was originally a Parody that became something bigger and in many cases that can be a good thing like it was with Rick and Morty although that's a matter of opinion. Despite it's origins it has most certainly became something that is it's own.

The main reason I raised this issue was more to do with the common practice on MangaRaiders of people sharing an "idea" and then getting disheartened when it's compared to well known media sources. Like you say, summarizing in 25 words doesn't do a story justice and being disheartened by opinions based on that alone is senseless.

You're absolutely right that a pitch is something that is important but NOT when your story hasn't even got a completed first chapter(I'll need to rephrase that part of my initial post to clarify my meaning, thanks for pointing that out.)

When people are posting pitches without actually beginning their story first it feels like wasted potential because there are people who can be disheartened enough to scrap their story because the pitch wasn't received the way they hoped. A lot of the time that pitch isn't refined because the story isn't fully developed yet.

I guess my concern is people rushing in with ideas that aren't fully developed and being put off from developing it further because the initial pitch was received poorly or compared to something else. It's not something I worry about personally anymore but I've seen it happen.

I think people should prioritize storywriting over storypitching in the initial stages. No matter what gets pitched, it means nothing and proves nothing if there's nothing but theory on how a story will progress through it's synopsis. A story can change dramatically between it's first draft and final draft, is there any logic in posting a story pitch before the first draft of the first chapter is written at least?
« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 10:27:22 AM by MisterSherbetLemon »

Offline legomaestro

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Re: Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2016, 07:52:24 PM »
I call it development hell when people are only interested in throwing pitches rather than actually writing the story. It's sort of procrastination in a sense, and it's the worst possible way to do it.

And for the feeling of not having an original script - I'll always struggle with that, but I've found it festers and is worse when I don't have my actual complete story out there. When you're just working with ideas and don't write something down, put it on paper somewhere as a complete whole you can let go of all that angst. And it's better for everyone in the long run.


Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2016, 10:29:35 AM »
Damn straight Lego!

While it's easier said than done, the best thing to do is try to forget comparisons until the script is actually complete. You're still progressing to a unique story so procrastinating too much on the way there is just holding you back in my opinion...

What can I ramble about next I wonder? ;)

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Re: Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2016, 03:47:30 AM »
I hate it when people throw the word "Originality" as if it some kind of justification system.  Originality doesn't mean that it has to be new, innovated, or ultimate.  It can mean many things but people often use it to hide something they can't explain.  It can be a "base" of a good structure.  Like how dragons for some reason is the ultimate being.  Regardless of what you think it means, you didn't become a writer to write "original" stuff.  You became a writer to write this awesome story of yours that you think is awesome.  Don't get so diluted about comparisons that you forget why you began writing the story in the first place.  Focus on what it was that you wanted to accomplish.

Forget about the labels it may be portrayed, "it's a similar/copy of like X manga/anime".  Technically, everything is a copy of something at some point or some time in history with alteration.  How many more manga/anime do we need about a young punk teenager saving the world?  As they say, "You don't need to invent something new.  You just need to make it better."

Often times people say "it's a similar of like X manga/anime" because their tiny minds can't comprehend your new idea.  It's new, so cut them a break and enlighten them that their tiny minds are capable of expanding.  Thus, why you need a outline of your story rather than just pitching small paragraph of ideas around.  You need a product, not just an idea.   Now there is nothing wrong with "it's a similar/copy of like X manga/anime" when describing your ideas.  You can throw that line out to help people understand the ideal concept, direction, or world.  But you need to have already establish the major foundations of your story.  Its only when your copying the concrete parts from the "X manga/anime" is when you become just another imitator. 


@MisterSherbetLemon

Great guide.  It will definitely help many people out.  If you want to ramble on something then I suggest that if you can figure out how to help new writers on "starting their story".  Many people come with their great idea...and that's about it.  They have no clue where to go from there.  If you could figure a guide on that it will surely be beneficial.  Starting is the hardest part.

Offline CptCog

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Re: Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2016, 11:05:49 AM »


Often times people say "it's a similar of like X manga/anime" because their tiny minds can't comprehend your new idea. 




To be fair, most posts about ideas are foreign to people, so they look for patterns. Low and behold, the story about a hero killing a demon king to save the world has been done so many times it's not funny. That's usually why whenever someone posts an idea and says, "please tell me what you think of this idea", all I can do is compare it to something I know, because it's already done so many times before. Ideas are like raw materials. There's only so many different raw materials you can use. How you combine those raw materials is what makes it original. At least, that's how I look at it.

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Re: Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2016, 12:55:52 PM »
Quote from: CptCog
To be fair, most posts about ideas are foreign to people, so they look for patterns. Low and behold, the story about a hero killing a demon king to save the world has been done so many times it's not funny. That's usually why whenever someone posts an idea and says, "please tell me what you think of this idea", all I can do is compare it to something I know, because it's already done so many times before. Ideas are like raw materials. There's only so many different raw materials you can use. How you combine those raw materials is what makes it original. At least, that's how I look at it."


I understand what your saying, but I didn't want you to take it like it was an insult.  What you've describe is essentially a good example of why it's perfectly fine to use it in that way.  Members of MR are more willing and forgiving (because you guys are awesome that way).  It's when you go outside of MR that you may come across difficulties.  Siblings, friends, or enthusiasts are not as simple to see your side of the coin.  Thus leads to MisterSherbetLemon's intended message of needing develop chapters/plots of a story rather than just paragraphs of an idea.

Raw materials are indeed very precious, but at the same time, worthless on it's own.  Raw materials can be forge in hundreds of ways, but if you have no idea what to do with it, it's value means absolutely nothing.  Like the demon killing plot.  It is a tried, true, and tired plot.  Like a raw material, you can forge the story in hundreds of ways.  Will it be original?  Probably not.  Can it still be enjoyable?  Possibly so.  Therefore, no one should feel too discourage about using an already existed method.  Just know the difference between an imitator and an innovator.

Of course to all new writers out there, don't over think things.  I don't think it's mention in the guide, but the most important message to new writers out there is, Have Fun.  Don't make your passion into a job you'd hate.  Don't be overly ambitious and overly optimistic.  Have fun.

Offline CptCog

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Re: Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2016, 10:47:35 PM »



I understand what your saying, but I didn't want you to take it like it was an insult. 

Nah, I didn't feel like it was an insult (my brain is so big!! It's like that cheat from 007 Goldeneye!!). I was actually saying something similar to yours about materials are useless on their own. It's how you use them. I actually meant in my post that it's hard not to compare what you know to a completely new idea because you're not the creator. We as humans look for patterns for survival, and looking at similarities is part of it (i had to add the psychology aspect XD). But just because it looks like a duck doesn't mean it sounds like a duck. It could sound like... a chinchilla!

And like you said about having fun, i agree, although I think it's really hard for people. That's probably why they only post paragraphs instead of the written script. They're afraid that their story, which they put themselves into, will be caught in a negative light and people won't like it. That's probably another reason why people have issues with motivation. They're too afraid of what others think that they forget to have fun and just write. This guy here (me) has that issue sometimes. Well, lots of times. Then there are some days that writing is just completely fun and amazing because some media inspired me to write or I got this amazing new idea. Then there are times I start writing about the idea, and revise it as I'm writing it. Well, that's not good, because I never finish the idea. Which leads back to what Lemon and Lego said that you should take your idea, stop procrastinating, and just write it to the end, then revise.

And as for extra discussions, I agree with passerby about how to start stories.  I also think maybe we should talk about what to do once a story gets started. Nobody ever seems to talk about that part.

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Sherbet's Big Theories 002: Brainstorming Your Idea Part 1
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2016, 11:23:14 AM »
Writing Theories 002: Brainstorming Your Idea Part 1

If you're an aspiring writer then chances are you already have an idea (or several) of what you want to write a story about. You may have a general plan of what kind of story you want it to be, what the main characters are like, the world and time period it's set in and you may already have a beginning and end for your story ready to go. Or maybe you have an instinctual ability to improvise writing where you can begin a story without any preparation and just fill in the blanks as you go. 

Or maybe you don't. Perhaps you've already written a few stories that didn't turn out as well as you hoped and you're struggling to step it up a notch. Maybe you've lost enthusiasm for your current ideas or you've just written stories you were satisfied with but don't know what you want to write next.

Today's post is primarily for the latter group. The amount of preparation required differs with each writer but certain basic foundations are usually necessary for everyone before putting pen to paper. I'll be covering the preparations that I consider necessary whenever I'm beginning a new story and the questions I think you should ask yourself. There's a lot to consider so I may dive into each of these questions in greater detail at a later date. For now though, we'll just cover our basics.

What Kind Of Story Am I Writing?

This sounds simple enough I'm sure but the answer isn't as crystal clear as simply naming a genre or theme. Even if you already have an idea for your story, you need to ask yourself how you want to write it. There's plenty to consider when debating that.

So let's say I answered that question with:

It's an action story.

  • What kind of action? Martial arts, sword fighting, guns blazing, magic?
  • What dramatic event will be the focus of the story?
  • Where is it set?
  • Is it a modern day story or is it set in a different time period?
  • Is it fiction or is it based on real events?
  • What dramatic event will be the focus of the story?

Okay so we'll try to answers these questions:

It's a medieval fantasy action set in a fictional world where human knights battle evil monsters.

  • What makes the monsters evil? Are they intelligent monsters committing evil acts? Are they just wild beasts?
  • Are the knights doing this out of the goodness of their heart or do they get paid?
  • Where do the monsters come from? Are they just common creatures in this world?
  • What kind of monsters are they? Are they based on mythology, other fantasy influences or are they original creations of yours?
  • Is it a single kind of monster or are there many?
  • Who are the knights?
  • Who is the story about?

Are you beginning to see how much needs considered? We haven't even named this world or decided on a main character yet let alone decided on a beginning or end for this story. Perhaps the next phase will begin to cover that:

It's a medieval fantasy about a boy named Blake who joins a circle of holy knights devoted to ridding the world of Esmiral of all the unnatural wild beasts that were created by an evil dark wizard long ago. These creatures prey on the unprotected villages and travellers they come across and feed upon their flesh. Only the magical blades of these knights can slay them.

Now we're getting somewhere! This is starting to turn into something I'd probably read! It doesn't matter if you're writing a gritty action drama or a family comedy, it all begins with asking enough questions to provide yourself with an informative pitch.

Here's where we begin to get down to the details of what we're writing about. In my example we're talking about a fantasy world filled with magic and fictional monsters. I chose this kind of example because a common problem I dealt with when first trying to write this brand of fiction was the exciting prospect of building my own world.

It's not an exaggeration to say that in one project I worked on, I wrote out over one hundred pages dictating every aspect of the world I could think of. From a summary of a thousand years of historical events prior to my story to the names of irrelevant towns and villages located on the other side of the world from where my story would be based. I wrote out the laws of how magic worked, laws that nobody in my world was actually aware of or ever would be and filled pages with information that almost certainly never be mentioned in the final story.

On the plus side, that kind of writing is admittedly very stimulating and VERY fun...but it's not story-writing. If you complete your story you can dive into the historical details and explanations of magical weapons later for fans to read up on but in the meantime, you're just wasting time that should be spent actually writing.

That's why my next post will be covering the most important questions you can ask yourselves while you're brainstorming an idea:

What Happens In Your Story and What Is Relevant To It?

Thanks for reading, share your thoughts below!   
« Last Edit: May 10, 2016, 11:33:40 AM by MisterSherbetLemon »

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Re: Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2016, 02:10:35 AM »
Dude I'm lovin' it (copyright infringement?) 

Nice to see you still working on this guide.  Wish I had this when I started out writing.  You can say I do most of this stuff naturally without thinking about it but it's great to see it in written form. 

I once ran into a problem of starting a "completely brand new idea from scratch" to test how well I could create up a entirely new idea that I have no experience in (I was bored and too lazy to work on my projects).  That way I couldn't cheat and fall back on previous knowledge & experience.  I then ran to a problem in the "brainstorming" phase. 

I'd solve the What Kind Of Story Am I Writing? and What Happens In Your Story and What Is Relevant To It? (even though you have yet to publish that part).  Even though I had  the whole Plot Diagram laid out, I was still at a lost of it's clarity.  After a few days of struggling with the overall plot I eventually concluded to an important question that I had not considered.  What's the point of the story?  Honestly, that single question solved my entire dilemma.   I pretty much surge forward since. 

Man your spoiling these new aspiring writers.  Keep up the good work.

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2016, 09:01:22 AM »
Thanks man, I'm glad you're liking the series. :)

I was originally aiming to keep it going with a post a week but I fell sick for a while last week and that froze all progress. Hoping to get back to the once a week plan but I'm just going to see how things go for now.

I know exactly the feeling you're meaning and I'll probably cover "What's the point of the story" sooner or later. ;D

We're all aspiring writers so hopefully some folk will share their own knowledge or discuss it here so I can learn some extra stuff of my own ;)

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Side Theory: Why Ideas Can't Be Stolen
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2016, 12:53:44 PM »
Side Theory: Why Ideas Can't Be Stolen

“There are plagiarists everywhere and if I share my idea publicly before it’s legally protected then they’re going to steal it from me! Curse those wretched plagiarists!”

This is a common misconception among new aspiring writers when they are first starting out that absolutely baffles me.

Let me assume for a moment that you’re one of these writers; You have a new idea and you’re super excited to write it down! It has everything you’ve ever wanted from a story, it has that final piece of the puzzle that other stories are missing and someday, it’s going to become your one-way ticket to success! Congratulations to you for coming up with something so unique!

Because of this, you absolutely must not share it with anyone! You can’t have people hearing about your idea and you especially can’t have people critiquing it for you. Otherwise, one of them is going to end up stealing it from you and with it, your predestined fame and glory.

There are so many things wrong about this way of thinking yet the subject comes up all the time in the writing community. I’ve discussed the folly of this mindset so many times that explaining it has become like a punishment exercise at school where I just write down the same lines over and over again.

From now on when someone brings up this subject, all I need to do is link them here to explain why your idea can’t and won’t be stolen.

Why You Can’t Own An Idea

First, let’s look at the definition of copyright and what it applies to. A lot of these poor, mistaken creators believe that their ideas will be left out for the vultures if they share them before acquiring some copyright protection. Except copyright protection doesn’t extend to concepts, ideas or expressions. 

Quote from: This is the definition of copyright:
“the exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit aliterary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc…“
To sum things up, copyright only applies to original works that can be deemed as “completed.” This applies to things such as novels, music, art, news articles, comics, 3D models, computer games and video media. Essentially, if you can sell it as a finished product then it’s yours by right and it’s protected by copyright.

Ideas don’t fit into that category, that’s not a matter up for debate. There is nobody who will buy the pitch without the product. Besides, if your idea only extends so far as the pitch then it’s not as unique as you think…yet.

I’ve discussed this before here but when it comes down to the basic pitch your idea can be made out to sound like anything else. You have an idea for a comedy about a dysfunctional family? Sounds a bit like the Simpsons to me! You want to write about a detective uncovering a conspiracy? There’s a ton of those too actually!

That doesn’t mean your idea won’t someday lead to the creation of something truly epic but while it’s just an idea, there is nothing to show that. The individuality of your story will not begin to show until it’s actually a story! Until then it’s just an idea, no matter how brilliant you think it is.

Why People Can’t (and Won’t) Steal Your Idea

While you don’t own the idea in the first place, it’s still worth taking into consideration the people who might be influenced by your suggestion. All writers are influenced by someone after all, what’s there to say that person won’t be you?

In that sense, you’re right. There’s always a chance that someone will like your idea and try to write their own version of it. But is that really as bad as you think?

Everyone has their own style of writing and their own unique creative process. If you’ve ever taken part in a collaboration or a group writing exercise you’ll have seen this for yourself. Give a group of writers the same story pitch and tell them to get writing, they’ll all start the story in very different ways with their own style. It doesn’t really matter if someone draws influence from your idea because their story will still turn out completely unique from yours!

Realistically though, that’s not going to happen anyway. You’re only going to get plagiarized if someone tries to pass off your completed work as their own. Nobody is going to plagiarize your idea and put in the time and effort to write it as their own, that’s not what plagiarists do.

If someone is willing to put in that amount of energy into writing a story from scratch by themselves, that’s a writer. Despite what you might think watching the success of J.R.R Tolkien and George R.R Martin, this isn’t the typical industry for people seeking easy fame and money. There’s easier things to plagiarize than a book for quick cash.

Most writers aren’t here for the fame and money. I’m sure a lot of them want it but that’s not why they chose writing as a career path. They’re writing because they have a passion for it, which means they probably have plenty of their own ideas to write about without trying to use yours. What? Did you think you were the only one with a good idea in their head?

Final Thoughts

Stop worrying so much people! If you’re so confident in your idea then get on with turning it into a story so you can show the world just how awesome it really is!

If you’re having difficulty with that then share it with like-minded people. There’s a ton of communities for aspiring writers just like you who are all going through the same struggles. Let them read and critique what you write and with a bit of luck it’ll turn out better than you imagined.

You can worry all you like about someone stealing your idea but you’re not the only one who thinks their idea is unique. How awesome you think it is is completely irrelevant to the rest of us. Right now it’s just an idea. There’s no story until you make one.

I have no doubt that each and every one of you is capable of turning your ideas into something magnificent but make sure you have your priorities in check and just get on with writing it.

It’s about time you turned that idea into something people would want to steal.

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Sherbet's Big Theories (and Debates) On Writing
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2016, 12:54:33 PM »
Posted this up as a side note since I still see people posing these questions about copyrighting ideas! xD