July 2023's Writer's Support Thread

What do you guys do when you’re simply stuck? You don’t know what words to write down. I’ve heard “write whatever then go back and edit later” but that’s the problem; I don’t know what words to put down.

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Go another scene or another project. But I am being an hipocrite; I am in same situation. I know. what I want to write, my issue it is i don’t know how, my words run flat.

But I still writing, It is the only way. I know. Brute will force; then later on, editing it and polish.

You can do it! I trust you .

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I think we all run into this to varying degrees, when I am having trouble figuring out how or what I want to write I default to just world building or researching instead, if I don’t want to do that than I read other people’s work critically. Tends to be the usual line I personally follow. (If not wanting to read, I draw, and if I don’t want to draw it’s time to just take the day off and make brain empty because I don’t think I’m in the space for it. Usually, though, I can find a compromise at some point and end up making progress along the way).

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Yes the video breaks it all down but does have major spoilers for the franchise.

A lie is something false that the character believes about themselves or the world. It influences their want and is something that they must overcome to make a major change in their life.

A ghost is an event or experience that haunts the character giving them the belief in the lie. It is the ghost that keeps a character believing a lie even after people have demonstrated otherwise.

So for example I’ll go over one of my character’s four aspects. In my WIP Dawn of Heroes I have a character by the name of Breaker. Spoiler warnings for people that read my WIP. A lot of this has not been revealed yet.

Want: To find her sister and put away her vigilante persona.
Need: To find out that she cares about others and can do things to help them. That not all of the world is cold and indifferent.
Lie: That she is only a costume vigilante to find her sister.
Ghost: Her life growing up she has not had a chance to interact with people outside of specific social circles. Once her sister left the social circle she went missing showing the whole world is cold and indifferent.

Notice how they all connect and influence each other. The want drives the character’s actions. She can get a new want later if she ever finds her sister, but in the end the want wont actually help the character when/if they get it. Characters can have more than one need and lie as well. For example Breaker again:

Want: To find her missing sister, one of two people she could ever be herself around.
Need: To discover that it is fine to be herself. That she does not need her family’s approval.
Lie: That she must always put on a mask (figuratively and literally) around others because she is not socially accepted.
Ghost: Her family and their family friends ostracized her sister after finding out that she would not live by their rules. Her sister then came up missing months later.

Now the former example is something for the character to deal with over this first story. The latter is meant to be tackled over multiple stories.

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Ohhhh This is a very useful explanation, thank you for taking the time to write this out, I will definitely check out the video and make use of this! (I feel bad for not having checked out the video before replying but as I said before, my lack of even basic understanding of the Star Wars franchise made me hesitant.)

If you don’t mind me asking, so for example, could a good ‘lie’ be falsely attributing blame for something that happened in a character’s past to their own lack of conviction? Even in a situation where they never could realistically have done anything to fix it? (Like being unable to prevent your parents’ murder).

Could the more significant part not be attributing singular lies, ghosts, wants, and needs, but rather a compound of a few of each that feed into eachother to flesh them out beyond a singular motivation? (Having shorter term goals completable within a singular story, and longer goals that can’t be completed until later for a series spanning multiple books?)

I’ve had a vague understanding of “ghosts” and “lies” for a while but haven’t really understood it as concretely as this explains it. Thinking through what ‘haunts’ people, the events that were pivotal in forming them into who they are (negative or positive, honestly) is valuable. Also now I want to read that WIP of yours :supervillain:.

It stuns me how active I can be in the forum and still miss projects that have been going on for years, every few days I hear about another one where the Author has been working like 4 years on it and I’m just left bamboozled.

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For names, I do the old-school approach. First, determine if the name is appropriate to the setting. And then, I harvest given names and surnames from different sources. Receipts, handwritten notes, even names from the internet… I just mix and match them. When I really get stuck, it’s name generators to the rescue.

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Put simply, yes.

Keep in mind that the Wants, Lies, and Ghosts are allowed to change and shift throughout the story.

In the movie the Lion King, Simba’s character shifts between different states of his character growth. One of those is a Lie about his influence over something that was not his fault. In his youth, he probably looked like this:

Want: To be King and rule to live a life where no one can tell him what to do.
Need: To understand his place in the world comes with responsibilities.
Lie: That being a King is fun and easy.
Ghost: Raised in a life where every tells him who he will and should be.

After the horrific events and self exile he looked more like this.

Want: To not be responsible for his mistakes.
Need: To understand his place in the world comes with responsibilities.
Lie: That he was the cause of his father’s death.
Ghost: He witnessed his father dying as consequence of his father saving his life.

In this case the main character meets two new characters that give the MC exactly what he Wants, but it does not fix anything. It only delays issues until they have to come to a head. Then one time-jump later and after meeting back up with an old friend that gives him hope to return and maybe redeem himself he looked more like this.

Want: To be forgiven for his past crimes.
Need: To understand his place in the world comes with responsibilities.
Lie: That he was the cause of his father’s death.
Ghost: He witnessed his father dying as consequence of his father saving his life.

In this character study notice that Simba’s Need never changes, but the Ghost does and that influences the Lie which influences the Want. There are a lot of factors that influence the Want even when the Lie and Ghost remain unchanged, but those Wants only work because of the Lie. The Need should not change because that is the point of the story, to reach this Need.

Personally I would start small until you get use to the power of Wants, Needs, Lies, and Ghosts. If you have multiples of these issues stacked on top of one another, track them separately; this way you can track their resolutions individually. I would also recommend to keep them related. Like with my Breaker example there is a long term set but they relate in many of the same themes of escaping being locked in from her upbringing and being with others that can relate to her.

By adding too much to any of the areas you can make it hard for the reader to follow the character’s development throughout the story. Keeping it to one helps you as a writer and them and a reader focus, but you are allowed to shift what the focus is when a Want is no longer applicable.

Don’t do this a lot though, most good stories might shift this once. Even the Lion King’s second shift was only the Want, not the Lie or Ghost.

I made sure to use the term haunt to help illustrate why they call it a Ghost. :stuck_out_tongue: Though some books will call it a Wound instead.

I hope none of this was confusing; I can ramble at times.

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When I write I tend to have a starting point and an end point where I try and write from A to B and let the story evolve as you write it.

Using my hobby project The Graveyard Watch as an example.

[A] was the MC has to watch over a dead body that may or may not come back from the dead and I offered three reasons for the player to choose.

[B] is the MC has to survive until dawn either killing or stopping the undead creature.

However as I was working on the character creation I noticed that one of the three options [University student doing a course] offered a lot more interesting angle on the story so that was rewritten using that as a starting point and now the player can choose what kind of university student they are and how they got to be the leader of this group of students.

This means A is now

[Student takes part in their eccentric professor’s unusual course because they want to or because they need the extra credit.]

B is still the same.

Because of the change the character creation has changed and evolved because of it and what was going to be a one v one experience is becoming a group v one but a group that can be split up or break apart and could even come to blows against each other.

My muse once told me that writing a story is like following a river for the first time. You have a start point and you know the river has an end somewhere but the current will ebb and flow and take you to new places along the way.

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I just saw that Turncoat Chronicle has its Steam page!

Congrats @Hazel :revolving_hearts:

Thanks for telling us about a project you are passionate about!

It is good to show that many of us have projects and endeavors outside the Choice Script world. I am happy a passion project of yours is advancing well.

I like this imagery and I am going to use it myself :slight_smile:

I will often write a snippet involving another idea of mine.

The excerpt I intend to share this month will be an example of this. I had to switch my mind from being in an editing mode into a writing mindset, so to jump-start it, I focused on a “yet put to paper” vision I had of a future idea, which let my mind start to refocus on writing.

Now I am focused on mapping out and coding chapter 3 of the “docks route” of Patchwerks.

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Does anyone have a wordcount minimum limit that they adhere to every day? I feel like I want to have one to motivate myself, but I’m worried it will just stress me out instead.

And on the topic of what to do when you’re simply stuck, I personally do something to take my mind completely off my work. Watch something, read a book, play a game. Giving your mind a break from its stewing on your ideas will often leave you refreshed when you come back to it. (On that note, in my experience, avoid distractions that will let your mind still dwell on the topic, like taking a walk or doing something mindless. Idle minds are terrible for writer’s block.)

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I’m drafting a chapter at the moment, having written the code beforehand. I’m not really thinking much about wordcount amount. The way I do it is setting myself a deadline and calculating out how far through the code I will have to get each workday, then aiming for that or higher. That works for me because I strongly prefer breaking down my goals into small chunks, though others do well with daily or weekly goals.

But everyone does it in different ways and I would be cautious about giving yourself a strict goal without a good reason. If you’re not working to a deadline, there may not be a real need to give yourself one - it can just generate stress especially if you don’t have reasonable expectations of yourself. (I am subject to deadlines, but part of my adapting to freelance life has been not treating myself like I’m my own nightmare boss.)

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When I am not editing, I have a weekly wordcount goal of 7k, so 1k average a day. Sometimes I don’t reach 1k a day, but so long as I get the 7k for the week done I am fine with it.

I did not start with a goal this high. It was only after I pushed myself through NaNoWriMo that I found out where my limits were and reflected on how long it would take me if I stuck to my old goals. Before that I had something closer to 4k a week.

If you have a wordcount goal, make sure you give yourself achievable limits with some wiggle room.

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I can’t work with a set word count every day; it doesn’t work for me and generally leads me to get frustrated and stop having fun. The moment that pressure goes is the moment the words begin to flow.

So, instead, I try and set myself a goal of finishing off a squiggly bit, or a concept, each day. And sometimes I find myself inspired and the words come (today, I was on a train and ended up writing a whole extra romance scene for one of the characters). Other times, it doesn’t work out that way. I find that without those goals, I slack off, forget things, and it’s just as bad as feeling up against it.

Of course, everyone has their own way.

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I tried it. I had to give it up because never reaching the quota was becoming too depressing. For others it seems to work but not for me

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Because I’m used to writing web novels, I can manage writing at least 1,500 words per day. But in this case, after I complete a chapter in Falrika the Alchemist (which has a minimum of 7,500 words per chapter, not including the prologue), I get to have a day off to prevent the dreaded burnout.

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When I saw this, I was just giddy. It was almost enough to distract me from the very last edits and tests to the game. It feels amazing to reach this point, after so many years of work. I’d had a perverse hope that I’d get it all done in time to be published on the solstice (when the game’s climax takes place), but knowing that it’ll be out soon is more than enough of a reward.

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Yes! Yes! Yes!

Chapter 22 of Last Dream is now online! I managed to hit 97% of the project completion!

I’m almost there!

Thank you, everybody, for your love and support! :heart_eyes:

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I have no idea if this is the right place to post this, but while going through beta I have had so many pieces of feedback requesting the ability to pet cats. There are only two in the game (and one squirrel), but people really want to be able to pet those cats.

The next update will introduce the ability to determine who the cat likes (through cat-kiss blinks), but also the ability - subject to the cat’s disposition toward you - to give the cat a little pet.

Hardly a ground-breaking announcement, but I just throught it was great that’s what people want.

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So June did not quite go as I planned as I forgot that my already crappy immune system does not deal well with El Nino years. Ended up sick for the last half of it and only starting to feel better now.

That being said, I did manage to finish most of the Garden section of BS:C before I got sick. Unfortunately, the rest of the time was just writing notes (which I’ve been going through and trying to translate into English from the gibberish I wrote down).

My goal for July is to get an updated demo out with the rest of this chapter’s paths completed.

Hope everyone is having a good July and good luck to anyone who’s competing in NaNoWriMo’s July camp.

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I just heard back from my application to write for CoG it was unfortunately unsuccessful. However, I have been given feedback on why I was unsuccessful and encouraged to work on cleaning up my prose,

So it may be a sad moment for now but it also gives me a clear goal to work on and that will only improve my writing.

Something I can work on while writing the Graveyard Watch.

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