Do authors write stories, or do they write themselves?

Meredith Malkins
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Do authors write stories, or do they write themselves?

Post by Meredith Malkins » Sun Jan 22, 2017 6:22 am

I've just finished a book called "My Heart & Other Black Holes", by Jasmine Warga. It was a great story (if you ignored the bad editing: poor sentence structure, sunlight glinting off shiny objects when it was well after 5pm in winter, that sort of thing), right up until 9 days left. I was left bitterly disappointed with the ending, and with the book in general. Why? Because of bad writing.

This author clearly didn't understand (and certainly wasn't told by editor or early readers) that you don't write the story, the story writes itself through you. She by-passed all the work she'd done before for the ending she wanted, making at least one character completely defunct, and accidentally making her narrator unreliable. It could have ended happily ever after, just in a different, more realistic, and much less condescending way.

I want to start a discussion about books that were forced by an author to go the way they wanted it, with not-so-great results. Or maybe you disagree, and think that the author writes the story. Or perhaps you're somewhere in-between.

Share with the group. What do you think?
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Prof. Tarma Amelia Black
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Re: Do authors write stories, or do they write themselves?

Post by Prof. Tarma Amelia Black » Tue May 09, 2017 5:43 am

Watching the posts from the HOLWriMo, and having read what many authors write about their writing style and where the stories come from -- I'm thinking that the stories and how they are written are as varied as there are stories.

Why is this?

Some authors refuse to write out the plots of the stories ahead of time. They do not know where it is going and they don't want to know where it is going. One very well-known author says if she writes out the story line, and plot, then she doesn't write it ... because she knows where it goes.

Other authors have written that they have in their head, they know all of the story, from the get-go, whether they write it down or not. They know who does what and when and how ... and this goes for a story (and story line) which encompasses many books of a series! And it stays virtually the same as the original concept.

Then others have written they know some parts of the plots and think they know EXACTLY where everything is going and then someone shows up in the middle of the story, unexpectedly, and sort of muscles their way into the story. (One person who did this, showed up in a story, actually ended up the main character of anothe whole book -- much to that author's amusement, bemusement and delight.)

What little I've written usually starts out with an idea, a situation, and then develops. I seldom know precisely how it will end although I might have a general idea of this or that. And then, sometimes (as you say) the story writes itself, willy nilly, and no matter what I do to try to change it, it goes back to what it IS. Period.
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Hanna Inari
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Re: Do authors write stories, or do they write themselves?

Post by Hanna Inari » Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:42 am

Well. First of all, I think that it is much easier to continue a story than it is to start and finish it correctly. If the author knows the characters well, the story might be endless, finishing only with their death, and there is no way to stop the characters that want to tell their stories unless you kill them, and even after that, there may still be their children left... I'm not even joking. My stories always ended with the death of all the characters because they just won't stop living and the things continue happening to them... so, when I was writing my own story in my school years, I had an outlined plot for 5 generations of characters and the previous characters were almost all dead, and of course I didn't write it all, I wasn't able to, I've only written one book. Before that, I only wrote short tales about animals and all of them died at the end because of the same reason.

Also, I don't know any of the famous writers so I can't ask them about it... but among my friends, there are different ways of writing stories. I have a friend who is excellent at plotting. He writes an entire plot and then he just follows it. It seems strange to me, because I have to listen to what the characters have to say about themselves, and so I can't have any plans. I can have only a vague plan because they never tell me things in exact order. (And that's why I rarely finish things). I tried to write according to a plan and I kind of succeeded and people said that it was good, but to me, it was dead, because I didn't talk to these characters, they told me nothing about themselves, the story was over before they had a chance to talk to me, and I never got to know them. And yeah, I'm one of the people who don't write a story if they already know the ending.

I think that all ways of writing are good as long as the author is content with the work, even though it is clear which way I prefer. :D
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