I get this often while writing, but I get a plot idea, but then second guess myself, and it ends up with the whole story falling apart. The latest one ive been working on (for 3 days]) is a story focusing on the daughter of a villan, who has just been killed by the 'hero'. The story was going to be set in a fantasy world, but im finding it hard to create one etc, so I tried to set it in the modern day, but that was equally as hard. I dont know which one is better than the other. Any help??
Ah, there is a lot here, I will try my best to give you advice that will cover all of this. First, let’s take a look at…
Dealing with Self-Doubt
You say you second-guess your plot ideas and that as a result, the whole story falls apart. This has to be the main thing that I struggle with whilst writing too, so I can completely understand where you’re coming from. Generally though, I think this has a lot to do with self-doubt and maybe a little anxiety about whether the reader would appreciate/understand/like the direction you’re taking things in.
It is really, really hard to write a whole manuscript when you deal with excessive amounts of self-doubt like that, because no matter what you come up with, your head is going to tell you it’s rubbish, boring or just not working right.
There’s nothing wrong with understanding one idea is better than another, but when it takes you to a point where none of your ideas stick, it can be frustrating and, quite frankly, takes all of the fun out of writing.
The best advice I have for you is:
- Step One: Create an outline first, or make notes. Even if you’re the kind of writer who doesn’t plan ahead and writes better by the seat of their pants, the least you can do to help yourself out a little is understand how you want your characters’ journeys to pan out. You don’t have to plan everything from A to B in intricate detail; even a vague plot summary should help to keep you on track. Remember: it is far easier to edit something you’ve already written, so the key here is to get a first draft done. If it helps, end each session by summarising, 1) what has happened (or what you have written so far) and 2) what is going to happen (aka what you’ll write during your next session).
- Step Two: Persevere. Be strong, don’t look back and if you absolutely have to change something, don’t edit what you’ve already written to fit with the changes. Instead, make notes about what needs to be changed on your second drafting stage and plough ahead with your writing.
- Step Three: Forget about what other people think. This is the hardest one. Sometimes, it pays to just isolate yourself from all external opinion and get down to some hard graft. Whilst the Tumblr writing community is great for when you’re in a fix, if you concern yourself too much with current trends, diversity in your writing, how to write specific characters, etc… you’ll never get a first draft written, out of fear of offending someone, or writing a book nobody will like. In the end, it doesn’t matter what the first draft says or does - you’re the only one reading it! Once you’ve got that manuscript down, then go back and analyse your mistakes and problem areas. There’s always room for improvement, but before you can improve something, it has to actually exist first, flaws and all.
Some days, it doesn’t matter that you have all of this in mind; you’ll hit a snag and you’ll feel like you have to rip everything up and start over. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Take a little break, enjoy some you-time and come back to it with a clear head. It’s never a good idea to do something in a fit of strong emotion and as long as you go back to the basics: making notes, persevering and focusing on the goal of finishing your first draft, you’ll have that manuscript done in good time.
- 10 Ways to Avoid Writing Insecurity
- The Writer’s Guide to Overcoming Insecurity
- Overcoming Self-Doubt
- But My Plot Isn’t UNIQUE or BIG Enough…!
- Motivational quotes and posts I’ve amassed for myself!
Deciding on Setting
The setting of a story can be a very important literary device, or it can bring to life the ideas you have in your head. However, no setting in writing is easy. Even if you set it in the real world, in the exact neighbourhood you live in, you still have hard work to do when it comes to bringing that setting to life.
When you find yourself torn between two types of setting, ask yourself the following:
What does this setting add or take away from my story?
Think of it like a list of ‘pros and cons’ and consider what you want your story to say, not just to yourself, but to the people reading it. What great ideas, themes and scenes do you have in your head already and what would be the best way to present them?
If you find you really can’t choose, then consider using both settings. Think about how you might be able to mesh them together; do they coexist, are they on different planets, different timescales? Sometimes if you can’t generate any ideas at all that feel suitable, it’s time to look at the story with a different perspective. There can be so many new and exciting things to do with it where the older ideas have failed, so if you really love this story and want to keep at it, don’t give up on it!
You do also have to be prepared, however, so don’t skip out on world building and researching as this will only make your job harder. Really immerse yourself in the setting you want for this story by asking lots of questions to yourself about it. Who lives there, what is a daily routine like, what is the weather like, what is the terrain like, etc.
Also, nothing is set in stone. You can change your mind at a later date or even think about developing the story and the setting further before committing to one set of ideas. Stories evolve over time, and this can often be for the better.
It’s my own personal way to consider a fresh idea as a sign to abandon the one before it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to think of anything better if it was the best it could have been.
- Location, Location, Location: The Fundamentals of Choosing a Setting
- Guide: Choosing a Setting for Your Story
- How Do I Choose a Setting for My Story?
- Creating the Perfect Setting
I hope this helps you out, ionarachel! Best of luck with your writing.