I love the way this one turned out, all the little details like the hair and the lace and the fabric folds! I also love that you can interpret this as different BP and DT characters. She could be Lily, but she could also be Rose, all pink and yellow, after convincing the Doctor to actually stay for the party in their honor and their hosts provided them with appropriate clothing. She just caught him looking at her cleavage during their dance and he’s fumbling for an excuse or apology, he’s not sure which, while continuing to look-notlook. Hehe! Feel free to use as inspiration for fic, if you want!
What are some good tips for getting started with writing a book? I have a concept but i can't put it into place.
Getting Started with Your Story
There’s no one way to start writing a book. For some people, it’s enough to just jump in and start writing to see where the story takes them. If you’re not too keen on that idea, then here is oneprocess (as in, not theonlyprocess) that might help you move beyond your concept.
Concept ≠ Plot
Many writers mistake concept for plot, but they’re actually two very different things. A world where everyone grows up with superpowers is a concept; the plot is what you decide to write about within that concept - the specific characters and what happens to those characters; who your antagonist is and what conflict arises when that antagonist goes after what they want. All of these things contribute to your plot.
So first, define what it is you actually have at this particular point. Do you just have a concept? If so, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to develop that concept into a plot.
Concept >>> Plot
If you’ve decided that all you really have is a concept, then how do you take it and turn it into a plot? You brainstorm. All brainstorming really amounts to is expanding your ideas. All you’re doing is asking questions about the concept and delving deep into the answers.
The most simplistic way to start this process, especially if you’re struggling, is to ask one of two questions (or both, if applicable). These two questions: What could go wrong? What could go right?
Going back to my example about a world where everyone grows up with superpowers. If I were to ask the question “what could go wrong,” I’d end up with a whole list of possibilities.
The powers suddenly disappear
People start abusing their powers
Someone figures out how to steal powers
A hierarchy of strong vs. weak powers develops, creating superiority/inferiority dynamics
Someone is born without a superpower
There are many more possibilities I didn’t even think of here, but any one (or more) of these could become a plot. Choose one that sounds interesting, and then ask yourself “and then what?”
Say I choose: Someone figures out how to steal powers. Then what does that person do? Do they recruit people to do the dirty work for them? Do they work alone? Do they hoard these powers and barter them for other goods? Do they attempt to enslave people? Do they attempt to take control of institutions? What do they do?
Your goal is to take your ideas and turn them into actions taken by characters. People doing things. And each piece you add will usually lead into another. If you went with the idea that this character is stealing powers and essentially selling them for other goods, you’d have to ask yourself follow-up questions. First, who are they selling to? Why would anyone buy a new superpower if they already have one? What uses would they have for additional ones? What is the key demographic that this person is trying to reach? Secondly, what are they selling them in exchange for? Money? Favors? Souls? What is this character getting in return?
Now that you’ve examined potential actions that the character takes, you’ve also exposed potential new characters.
People they’re stealing from
People they’re bargaining with
People that try to police these crimes
People that try to copy this character’s process
At the beginning of this section, I talked about using “what could go right” as another optional jumping off point. This is a good path to follow if your concept is already really negative. For a concept where someone is killing people for some pointed reason, you might ask “what could go right” and explore ideas where the killer is caught and brought to justice.
The point of all this is to think about change as a means of taking your idea from concept to plot. A concept is static - it doesn’t move, evolve, or change. By developing a plot, you’re forcing the concept to be challenged in some way. If you think about it that way, you’ll be able to formulate conflicts, and the people that orchestrate and fight against those conflicts.
On that note, I think we’re ready to move onto the third piece of my graphic above.
Plot = Character Actions and Consequences
At this point, you have sketches for characters. You’ve got this nameless, faceless person that is stealing the powers, and all these other nameless, faceless people that I listed above. In essence, we have character concepts. And just like we turned our initial concept into a plot, we have to turn these character concepts into actual characters.
The basics are the easiest way to start. You figure out their name, their gender identity, their age, their appearance, some brief backstory and personality traits. I personally prefer the simplest questionnaire that I put together back in the early days because it hits on the poignant pieces of a character without overwhelming you with 100s of questions.
Now that you’ve given your character concepts names and faces and potential behaviors, you start to consider how one character’s view of the world inspires them to take certain actions, and you then think about how those actions affect your entire story.
We already kind of talked about the motives of the power thief in our example, but definitely delve deep here. On the surface, this character seems bad - stealing from people and then selling what they steal. But depending on what it is they’re getting in return, could we not argue that this character is a supernatural Robin Hood? Maybe instead of selling, they’re giving, and maybe the characters they’re stealing powers from are people that abuse and misuse their powers. Character motives can take a plot and turn it on its head, forcing you to reconceptualize everything. And that’s okay! That’s part of the process.
But separate from that idea, if we have a character concept of someone whose powers were stolen, and after developing their basic backstory, we discover that person’s name is Rose, and she has an especially close relationship with her brother. So when her powers are stolen, how does this affect her life? Was she using her powers to keep her brother alive and protected? What she using them to keep a roof over their heads? Was she using them as part of her job, as a means of providing? What happens to her life when her powers are stolen? And what will Rose do about it? Whatever Rose does will impact the story. If she does nothing to get her powers back, how does she solve her problems and does that make for a good story? If she does decide to act, then you’ve moved onto a new plot point to dive deeper into.
My point is, character concepts come from plots, but characters themselves often create plot, as their decisions and mistakes and successes create new outcomes. So if I could modify my original flow chart:
Before you develop something, you conceptualize it. You have a concept, then you make it a plot. You have concepts for characters, then you make them characters. And those characters end up driving your plot, to the point that this happens:
Plot inspires character. Character inspires plot. And it just keeps going around and around and around. Breaking it down into these pieces helps organize the process, but developing a story is rarely this neat and tidy. You’ll get ideas that don’t make sense, ideas that aren’t cohesive, characters you don’t need, characters that piss you off, problems you can’t solve, or plot points you’ve committed to that you no longer like…it will be messy. But it’s your mess, and the more you work on developing your own process, the more it’ll make sense to you. And it’ll become easier to know how to go about fixing it when something’s not right.
Have fun with this process! It’s supposed to be fun. When the pieces start to become clearer, you’re able to put them together in a rough outline. And once you have a rough outline, you can start writing, and really see it take shape.
Loosely based off of how often Lindsay posts about her vivid dreams/nightmares - I like to imagine that Ruby has the same issue.
Given her wild imagination, Ruby probably has a lot of really intense dreams. Some of them good and some of them not. Yang is accustomed to it, she’s had many nights where she wakes Ruby up when she starts talking or yelling in her sleep.
It was a harder adjustment for the dorm room though, when Blake first heard Ruby yelling “WHERE IS SHE?!” it was pretty scary. Especially since she only really knew Ruby as a bubbly and bouncy kid.
Weiss hated it at first, if only because the one time she woke up and tried to help it was after Ruby had a really bad nightmare and started crying and talking about her mom and Weiss was completely unequipped to help. It made her feel bad, like failing a test. How could she be the best partner ever if she couldn’t make Ruby feel better?
So she eventually asked Yang for some advice and when she said she wanted to help deal with it, on the rare occasions it came up, Yang was surprised but grateful. Blake wanted in on it too, for team unity and all that. Not because she cared - she didn’t. Of course not…not Blake Belladonna….nahh.
Eventually, they worked out a system and if Ruby started talking in her sleep, first one to hear it was on Ruby Duty.
Blake would usually hear it first, but if Weiss happened to as well it was Weiss’ turn. For the really bad ones, they’d bring in Yang and Yang would sit up on Ruby’s bunk until she calmed down and both Weiss and Blake would usually stay up, pretending to be asleep, waiting for Yang to come down meaning Ruby had fallen back asleep.
It’s not anything any of them talked about, and it didn’t happen very often, but Ruby’s dreams were something all of them became very aware of and adjusted to.
When Beacon fell, Ruby didn’t have anyone there to help her through the bad ones. It took a toll on her for a while because she struggled to fall asleep. Once she hit the road with Jaune, Nora and Ren - it was something she knew would happen and hoped she could handle. She was trying to convince herself every day that she was old enough to take care of herself. She didn’t need a bed buddy to help her through a bad dream.
Then a bad one hit her during a night camping in the forest. It wasn’t her mother or a Grimm attack - it was watching Penny be torn to pieces. It shook her, badly - to the point that she woke up screaming and scared the hell out of her new team.
With no way to keep it to herself, Ruby told them all about her dreams and how they’ve always been something she’s dealt with. About how after Beacon fell, they were even worse and more like flashbacks than nightmares - tormenting her.
That’s when Nora started sleeping a little closer and Ren started helping Ruby clear her mind before it was time to go to bed with breathing exercises and good stretching routines to help her relax. Jaune would make a note to tell dumb jokes he’d heard or tell Ruby about all the silly things he collected as a kid.
The nightmares lessened and Ruby found herself sleeping better. Which made it all the easier to help Jaune when she found out he wasn’t sleeping well either