The Writer's Insight on Writing
Writing a story is a very, very arduous process. It can be very frustrating when one story comes to you so easily that you type it up in one day and it is published after two attempts to send it in, while another takes months to work out, each “version” of the story going on for pages and pages, but never reaching completion before a newer version of the same story is started. Almost any typical story goes through some refining process before publication. The tips depicted in this article are not stiff guidelines. It is not a list of rules, nor is it meant to be. This article is meant to give you an insight as to what my owner goes through each time she writes a story. Oh yeah, I forgot to introduce myself- my name is Kyrouge1234, and I am a Christmas Shoyru. Now then, onto the article.
Every story is different, but there are a number of similarities to every story, no matter who is writing it. A story starts with an idea. The idea may be a bit of dialogue, a scene of action, or a general “what if?” statement. No story can be written unless there is something to write about. On this point, there may be one idea with many different variations. For example, the story of the Court Dancer has been told many times over, each with a different variation. Even though the authors did not know each other, they still had a similar idea. It must be noted that not all ideas make it to completion. So far, out of the hundreds of ideas, my owner only completed about five. Of these five, only one has been published in the Neopian Times. And when I say hundreds of ideas, I am not kidding. She has dozens of journals filled with half-finished stories that she abandoned after a day. This leads to the next main point; the author is her own worst critic.
If an idea “survives the first night”, as my owner puts it, it is a good sign that the story will be finished. Even good ideas may seem ridiculous the next morning. Don’t throw away any of these stories because weeks or months later you may be able to write it in a different and better way. My owner has experienced this after looking through old journals of half-finished abandoned ideas and marveling at what she had discarded. She jokingly calls the journals “story graveyards”, but the ideas were still basically good. Good ideas don’t exactly lead to successful writing because good writing takes skill and experience, lots and lots of experience. Even a “good” writer may take years to find success with a story. This is partly due to the difficulty of finding a style that suits the person writing a story.
Each writer must find the style that is best for them. My owner knows that short stories and multi-series are her forte, and writes only for these areas. Other writers may find that they are better at writing articles, or maybe they write for the adventure generator, and that is just fine. Each person is different, and that is why each writer must explore his or her talents before expecting a good result. The definition of a “good result” varies from person to person, and that is why it is difficult to get into an outlet such as the Neopian Times. To get a piece of writing into these places, the piece of work must be considered “good” by both the people choosing what is to be displayed and the people who read the works chosen. However, just because a piece of work was turned down by TNT or anyone else does not mean anything about you as a writer. Do not be afraid to re-send a story if you really, really want it to be read. If I may be as bold as to offer a suggestion, I would say not to repeat the process my owner went through to get “A Letter from Zoing the Mutant Yooyu” into the NT. Let’s just say that after the fifth time we sent it in that week, we were nearly kicked out of the office. *whistles innocently*
Have someone look at your writing and offer their honest criticism. Even if you think that your story about a poor Blumaroo who made his own plushie sets of all of Neopia is the coolest story in the world, other people may not think so. (I use this example because it was the first story my owner tried to send into the Neopian Times. I strongly suspect that the REAL reason it was turned down was because it was supposed to be a multi-series and she only sent in part one.) My owner is slightly notorious for begging her friends to read the latest update in her story, then forcing them to analyze why they like it. It should be pointed out that this process has helped her become a better writer, even if she has ignored half of the advice. The more views you receive on the piece of writing, the better of an idea you will have on how good the piece of writing is. (On the same note, I will mention that this step may work unpredictably. When we received feedback on “A Letter from Zoing the Mutant Yooyu”, it was mostly lukewarm praise. Even though we felt other people might be indifferent to it, we really liked it, and decided to send it in until it got accepted. We never really expected it to get in, but it was deemed “good” by TNT and published in issue 299 of the Neopian Times.)
If you truly like a story, don’t give up on it. Do not be discouraged if it takes you months to finish. Most stories go through multiple versions before the writer finally likes all of what they see on the page. For our current story, “The Golden Globes of Light and the Artifacts of the Ancients”, my owner is on her seventh version. The average length of a version was fifteen pages long, and the longest version went up to thirty three pages. Throughout the different versions, she changed the main characters over twelve times, the setting at least ten times, and the opening paragraph seven times. She is still working on this story, and it has been about three months since she started the first version. With each version, the people she shows excerpts to like it better, so hopefully she will finish sometime soon and can move on to a different story. I would like this, considering she has about five more story ideas she wants to write about.
Remember to send in your work if you want it to be widely read. It is very difficult for a work to be widely read unless it is displayed somewhere major like the Neopian Times, where literally everyone will have easy access to displayed work. When your work finally gets published, you can have the pride that comes with the trophy and seeing your work displayed in the same place that has sponsored legends. This completes my attempt to give you an insight to the life of writing through the tips and bits of wisdom I have gathered over the years. I hope you enjoyed reading it, but now I must finish writing this as fast as I can before my owner discovers I never did throw away “The Luckiest Blumaroo” and am about to tell all of Neopia how horrible it was...
--- Kyrouge1234 the Christmas Shoyru ---
More coming very soon! Look for the series mentioned. Neomail welcome!