• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

NeoGAF Creative Writing Challenge #214 - "Internal Landscapes"

Mike M

Nick N
Jun 9, 2005
12,923
5
0
Washington
I've also stopped believing that writer's block is a thing. Yes, you can feel less motivated or creative some days, but that shouldn't stop you from writing something, anything, down onto the page. Even if you're just writing about how you can't think of anything to write about, it's better than nothing. There's an article and a quote that I turn to to get rid of the idea that you have to be "in the mood" to write:

Philip Athans' article, "Save the Bullshit Excuses"

And this quote from Stephen's King's On Writing:



I also heard a brilliant comparison on a writing podcast recently. It goes something like this...

Firefighters don't get firefighter's block. They can't show up to work, stand in front of a burning building and say, "Nah, I just don't feel like it today. I just don't think I can do it. I'm not inspired enough."

The sooner you start treating your writing like a job, the more successful you'll be at it. Provided that's what you want it to be one day, you just have to show up and do the work.

By the way, how many resident creative writing challenge writers are planning on making this a side hustle or a career one day, or are maybe already doing it?

Eh, this has always struck me as a pedantic argument more concerned with sounding clever than being accurate, but maybe I'm in the minority on it. "Writer's block" has always to my understanding been "I don't know what to write next for this piece," not "I'm not feeling creative" or "I can't write anything at all." There's a difference between being stuck and not feeling motivated.

My problem is that I don't have a whole lot in my repertoire I feel is worthy of submission. Plus, almost all of my stuff is between 2 and 2.5K words, so that's already an uphill fight to get published.
 

Mike M

Nick N
Jun 9, 2005
12,923
5
0
Washington
Ack, I leave a window open for a reply and a bunch of other posts happen.

Another random question. What do you use to write on the go?

I just open up the google docs app and type stuff on there. Any better writing tools I should be aware of? I have Scrivener on my notebook but haven't made the mobile Scrivener dive.

I don't really write much on the go. I may have my laptop on my bed, but that's as far as I go. I need a keyboard and a flat surface to work, damn it.

I do this, but only in my editing process. That might be why I take so god damn long compared to Mike (I choked at the 45 minutes part)

Well, keep in mind this is also done in conjunction with doing kind of a lot of iterations. It's a fine process for things that are short where I can hold the whole thing in my head in one go. It's kind of the reason I've held off doing a second draft of a novel...
 

B-Dubs

No Scrubs
Mar 19, 2012
60,817
0
685
My problem is that I don't have a whole lot in my repertoire I feel is worthy of submission. Plus, almost all of my stuff is between 2 and 2.5K words, so that's already an uphill fight to get published.

Hell, that's about average length for a short story from what I can tell.
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
Eh, this has always struck me as a pedantic argument more concerned with sounding clever than being accurate, but maybe I'm in the minority on it. "Writer's block" has always to my understanding been "I don't know what to write next for this piece," not "I'm not feeling creative" or "I can't write anything at all." There's a difference between being stuck and not feeling motivated.

My problem is that I don't have a whole lot in my repertoire I feel is worthy of submission. Plus, almost all of my stuff is between 2 and 2.5K words, so that's already an uphill fight to get published.

There are plenty of short story mags that would take that word count, though. Your stuff is objectively pretty good. How long have you been doing this?

I've definitely had the experience where I didn't know where to take a story next. In those cases, I just take a break and write something else instead. I have a "sketches" file in my google docs where I just write short scenes and descriptions which could become potential ideas, but which aren't ties to anything at all. I literally look at them in the same way an artist would look at a sketch book where they doodle and practice drawing specific parts of they body again and again. Kind of like your ideas book, I guess.
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
Welp, here's the second draft of the story I'm working on for this challenge.

EDIT: Scratch that...here's the third draft. (Thanks again to weemadarthur)
EDIT 2: Scratch that again...here's draft four. I think this is the one I'm going to submit, as I mostly just want to move on to something else...

https://www.dropbox.com/s/obgkly3xh7gda3a/Goodbye God Girl (draft 4).pdf?dl=0

If anyone wants to give it a look and give me some feedback, I'd totally appreciate it. I really like parts of it but also think parts are clunky. Thoughts? No pressure if you'd rather not waste the time and just want to read the final version.
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
mu, I just finished Berserk...those last three episodes, WTF? It's like Evangelion levels of WTF? Otherwise, excellent, excellent, excellent show. The music, stylized violence, and characters were all incredibly impressive. The demon stuff was a bit weird, though. Does the manga go all-in on the demon world stuff?
 

Cyan

Banned
Jun 10, 2004
34,830
0
0
Writing hangout in about fifteen minutes. Standard quick recap: it's on Google Hangouts, and the format is ten minutes of chat, then thirty minutes of writing with mics muted, repeated until we've gone for two hours. Webcams aren't required, though several of us will have them. Mics are recommended but also not required, as you can use the text chat.

The hangout link is (quote to see):
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
How's writing hangout going, gang? Productive city? :)

...and man has my creativity been shit the past 24 hours. Added a paltry 300 words to a story I'm working on, but just can't think of where I want to take the story, and am having that moment of self doubt about my actual writing skills or lack thereof.
 

Tangent

Member
Mar 15, 2010
658
0
0
It was cool to hear about everyone's process and I'm glad the article on pre-crastination was helpful to read for some.

I usually spend the first week or ten days narrowing down an idea. I often have a list of ten ideas and I need to narrow down to one. If none of them really grab my attention, this is very difficult. I try to have a draft by Tues/Wed and Thurs at the latest. I write the draft in 1 - 1.5 hrs. I edit one round, and then I submit.

I should probably edit more, but I'm just thankful that I can wake up, scavenge for food, write, meet 50% of responsibilities, and sleep.
 
I usually spend the first week or ten days narrowing down an idea. I often have a list of ten ideas and I need to narrow down to one. If none of them really grab my attention, this is very difficult. I try to have a draft by Tues/Wed and Thurs at the latest. I write the draft in 1 - 1.5 hrs. I edit one round, and then I submit.

I should probably edit more, but I'm just thankful that I can wake up, scavenge for food, write, meet 50% of responsibilities, and sleep.
How? Even at my best I maybe get 500 to 700 words in that time frame.
 

mu cephei

Member
Jan 22, 2010
928
0
0
UK
No ideas yet :( and I doubt I'll be doing the secondary, it's the kind of thing that ties me in knots.

mu, I just finished Berserk...those last three episodes, WTF? It's like Evangelion levels of WTF? Otherwise, excellent, excellent, excellent show. The music, stylized violence, and characters were all incredibly impressive. The demon stuff was a bit weird, though. Does the manga go all-in on the demon world stuff?

Otherwise, excellent?!

Yeah, I think a lot of people forget about the first episode and have a similar reaction to the ending >:D But although the Golden Age arc followed in the anime can be seen as a cool medieval-with-slight-fantasy-overlay story, the... event... at the end and the 'demon stuff' is integral to Berserk. The manga does go all-in on it.

The music fab, it's sometimes cited as a reason to watch the anime, then you can listen to the soundtrack while you read the manga! Speaking of, if you want to read the manga now is a good time, as it was recently reprinted and all volumes are probably still available.

Anyway I'm super happy you enjoyed it!
 
I got almost half of the thing yesterday and wanted to get to at least 3/4 today. But then a spontaneous BBQ got in the way and I now basically only have Thursday to finish this up unless I force myself Tuesday or Wednesday to write where I'm usually really exhausted when I get home. Being a slow writer really sucks sometimes...
 

Tangent

Member
Mar 15, 2010
658
0
0
How? Even at my best I maybe get 500 to 700 words in that time frame.

I never said it was good! Also, though, this is after brainstorming for over a week and having a rough idea in my head of where the story will go.

Right now, I'm stumped. I have ideas, but I'm not wedded to any of them. Grrrr....
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
Philosophical question: what is the purpose of fiction for you? Is it to teach? To entertain? To inspire? To remind? For me, I think it's about recording humanity and reminding people of what it means to be human by revealing basic truths and putting a mirror up to society.

I know this is random, but I'm reading a writing book now that spurred this thought in me.
 
Jun 28, 2012
2,986
0
0
Sweden
chainsawkitten.net
Philosophical question: what is the purpose of fiction for you? Is it to teach? To entertain? To inspire? To remind? For me, I think it's about recording humanity and reminding people of what it means to be human by revealing basic truths and putting a mirror up to society.

I know this is random, but I'm reading a writing book now that spurred this thought in me.

To distract us from the vast emptiness inside.
 

Noisy Ninj4

Member
Mar 29, 2012
2,265
0
405
I come up with neat ideas that sound cool in my head. When I write them down, they actually suck most of the time.

But writing things gets them out so I can reflect more easily.
 

Mike M

Nick N
Jun 9, 2005
12,923
5
0
Washington
Philosophical question: what is the purpose of fiction for you? Is it to teach? To entertain? To inspire? To remind? For me, I think it's about recording humanity and reminding people of what it means to be human by revealing basic truths and putting a mirror up to society.

I know this is random, but I'm reading a writing book now that spurred this thought in me.

Almost entirely for entertainment and escapism. While I'm not exclusively speculative fiction, it is the overwhelming majority of my reading/listening. Stories that can actually occur in the real world tend to be... Well, not boring, but nowhere near as captivating for me.

And, of course, that's reflected in how/what I write. I'll probably never be a great literary author because I don't aspire to literary fiction. I'm genre fiction to the core, and I'm completely okay with that because I don't view literary fiction as somehow being superior to genre any more than I view realism painting being superior to abstract. It's the same medium, but with different aims, so comparisons of relative worth or quality are rather pointless to a large degree.
 

Nezumi

Member
Aug 8, 2011
3,374
0
590
39
Small town near Frankfurt in Germany
Almost entirely for entertainment and escapism. While I'm not exclusively speculative fiction, it is the overwhelming majority of my reading/listening. Stories that can actually occur in the real world tend to be... Well, not boring, but nowhere near as captivating for me.

And, of course, that's reflected in how/what I write. I'll probably never be a great literary author because I don't aspire to literary fiction. I'm genre fiction to the core, and I'm completely okay with that because I don't view literary fiction as somehow being superior to genre any more than I view realism painting being superior to abstract. It's the same medium, but with different aims, so comparisons of relative worth or quality are rather pointless to a large degree.

I've got nothing to add to that.
 

Red

Member
Feb 16, 2008
23,686
2
1,195
Philosophical question: what is the purpose of fiction for you? Is it to teach? To entertain? To inspire? To remind? For me, I think it's about recording humanity and reminding people of what it means to be human by revealing basic truths and putting a mirror up to society.

I know this is random, but I'm reading a writing book now that spurred this thought in me.
To empathize.
 
Philosophical question: what is the purpose of fiction for you? Is it to teach? To entertain? To inspire? To remind? For me, I think it's about recording humanity and reminding people of what it means to be human by revealing basic truths and putting a mirror up to society.

I know this is random, but I'm reading a writing book now that spurred this thought in me.

I don't really know. Sometimes I just have scenes in my head that I think are really, really impactful. Something you would expect at the end of an arthouse movie where in the cinemas the lights go back on but you can't leave yet because your mind is too busy processing the what you just watched. I love this feeling and I try to recreate this (Sometimes more, sometimes less successfully). That's usually what leads to my stories set more or less in the real world. Sometimes I like to sprinkle moral ambiguity or characters thinking about big questions I don't know the answer to into it. In rare cases you get to explore a question from an angle you never approached it from before because that's how your character would view it.

At other times I just have a really interesting premise and want to explore the consequences on the world I'm building. That creation myth I wrote a few challenges back was a consequence of the idea that the people of that world attribute a lot of things to literal manifestations of shards of the goddess. The Robot Hamlet story from the coop challenge was originally Flower's idea but we picked it because I wanted to explore and think through what kind of societies would emerge if you based it only on classic books.
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
Some feedback.

"The Room" by Royal Flush - this went from jaunty to haunting to adrenaline-pumping all in the span of 2,100 words. Well done. I enjoyed much of your description of the environment, though I wasn't crazy about the lack of explanation of the phenomenon itself. Maybe I missed something? Is it Lenore calling from beyond the grave? (Was thinking the Raven by Poe with the raven as part of the painting) The ending was good as well, and I got sucked into the world you created here, especially how you made the escape at the end feel like a life or death decision that gets twisted back anyway. Two slight criticisms: too many exclamation marks, and parts of the dialogue felt forced, like the DJ thing. Not sure if others will agree there.

Thanks for writing and sharing this!
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
More feedback.

"Therapy" by Cyan - as you said, it's incomplete. If you do add to it in the next few hours, I'll gladly re-read it. The idea is topical and I wonder where you want to take this.

"Unspoken Thoughts" by choodi - "The hypocrisy afforded by their arrogance was monumental." Mmm, reads so good. The ending was incredibly tragic and you had my heart stirring as things wound down. The priest section was also entertaining but I wasn't sure how it related to the core of the story, which seems to be Milos' regrets. Yes, his thoughts went unspoken, so you landed the theme of the challenge, but I felt that while you kept my attention, the main section of the story felt slightly divorced from the ending. Still, I'm always up for some snarky religious dialogue, as you'll see from my own story.

Good job overall. You got into the character's head well.

"Seeing How the Other Side Lives" by Mike M - "Well yeah,” said Mike. “Serious recess. You just stand in a line and look at the ground, no playing allowed, right?” Ha. I liked this. And the interactions with your daughter were cute. But yeah, not as focused or interesting as your other stuff, but still entertaining and cute. :) I would've loved to see draft five or six of this.
 

Tangent

Member
Mar 15, 2010
658
0
0
Recollections from the Bathtub

#entry

Looks like this was a rough two weeks for a lot of people, myself included!

For my #entry this week, I thought I would try and do things the way you last minute procrastinators do it.

It was awful.

What? Did you read the NY Times article on how great procrastination can be or talk to Nezumi?

Regardless, WAIT A MINUTE. Don't you know Cyan's golden rule? No disclaimers allowed.

....Sometimes I just have scenes in my head that I think are really, really impactful. Something you would expect at the end of an arthouse movie where in the cinemas the lights go back on but you can't leave yet because your mind is too busy processing the what you just watched. I love this feeling and I try to recreate this (Sometimes more, sometimes less successfully). ...Sometimes I like to sprinkle moral ambiguity or characters thinking about big questions I don't know the answer to into it. In rare cases you get to explore a question from an angle you never approached it from before because that's how your character would view it.

At other times I just have a really interesting premise and want to explore the consequences on the world I'm building.

So that's another question... Well, the same question, but asked again: what is the purpose of fiction for you? Do you guys write more for yourselves? Or more for an audience -- for others to read? If both, which is a bigger priority, yourself or your audience?

I love reading fiction. I like what Chainsawkitten said. With a name like that, you know there will be truth in an answer. Haha! Anyway, though, when it comes to writing -- whether fiction or nonfiction -- it always seems so masochistic. It reminds me of programming. It's grueling and horrible but the feeling of satisfaction at the end is pretty unbeatable, even when you're 100% convinced that you produced something that doesn't your own expectations.
 

Mike M

Nick N
Jun 9, 2005
12,923
5
0
Washington
Recollections from the Bathtub

#entry

Looks like this was a rough two weeks for a lot of people, myself included!



What? Did you read the NY Times article on how great procrastination can be or talk to Nezumi?

Regardless, WAIT A MINUTE. Don't you know Cyan's golden rule? No disclaimers allowed.

I'm not disclaiming anything, just pointing out that I don't know how some of you people even function : P
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
"Recollections from a Bathtub" by Tangent - I'm a sucker for toddlers and parents in stories, which is also why i enjoyed reading Mike's. i think you captured some of the magic of children's dialogue. I especially enjoyed the dimes line. I wonder if you got that from personal experience? I could totally see a kid saying that. Is the mother a terrible person at the end by staring off into her phone, or were you going for something else entirely there? Anyway, this was fine for me, but I didn't feel that a lot "happened." Looking forward to reading more of your entries in the future.
 

FlowersisBritish

fleurs n'est pas britannique
May 13, 2014
3,774
1
0
Maine
Something Crawled into my Girlfriend's Ear

Usual password for this #entry but you can always quote to see

Philosophical question: what is the purpose of fiction for you? Is it to teach? To entertain? To inspire? To remind? For me, I think it's about recording humanity and reminding people of what it means to be human by revealing basic truths and putting a mirror up to society.

I know this is random, but I'm reading a writing book now that spurred this thought in me.

For me, fiction is mostly something to get me thinking about either myself or the world around me. That's why I really like literary fiction but have been slowly trying to expand into nonfiction too.
 

Ashes

Member
Dec 11, 2008
23,378
5
1,105
Greater London
I looked for help in yesteryear, and she came as an apparition, a little girl, and she pointed forward, and told me, grandma, the answer is there.

and whilst yesteryear she was sifting clouds, the floating dust lit up in the air; & the cobwebs amid the neural networks, fell with haste, but the glaucoma quite neatly settled in the heart, that lightless fruit enshrouded my spirits in a darkened room.

Say what you will, but we're there again, thinking that we've thought things through. Suppose I sleep for the next few days, and wait for my gut to pull at the reigns, will nature then know what it ought to do? Will my dreams then help to recapture my lost youth?

My memories then are on the cusp of my tongue, and as ever, I'm so close, just reaching out my hand for that handshake, but no, the lake's too wide, and as the boat bobbles to and fro, my self knows what my mind will yield not, that the treasure maps, our star-sailors used to cross vast distances, they're perilously close to evaporating into thin smoke and I, I can see myself drifting farther away from my armchair, rocking to and fro, on a stained deck, in my yesteryear.


#entry
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
"Something Crawled into my Girlfriend's Ear" by FlowersisBritish - It was creepy, crawly, and unnerving with some vivid imagery. I only question the level of incompetence and lack of care from the doctors, and the seemingly abrupt ending. I was hoping for and expecting a little more to tie things up, I guess. Still, very good.

"A major malfunction" by Ashes - I always enjoy your effortless streams of words and images, but this was too short and incomplete a sketch to really comment on or critique properly.

"DEATH" by mu cephei - Purple prose. Purple prose everywhere. I'm sure there's something trying to get out here, but I just couldn't see it and didn't understand what was going on here at all. Sorry, mu. :-/ My advice would be to try for more clarity next time.

"Dreams Inc." by Nezumi - Interesting and topical concept, but I didn't quite understand the implications of the ending and what they actually planned to do with Tuckerson's body. Otherwise, clear prose and dialogue. You're always getting better. Thanks for writing!
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
Votes:

1. Flowers
2. Royal Flush
3. Nezumi

Good work, everyone. I had a hard time with who should go where and whether to sneak in Mike or Tangent into third place instead. Or choodi. Gah. I don't know.
 

choodi

Banned
Aug 23, 2007
2,735
71
955
Some pretty interesting stories this time round.

My votes go to:

1. Tangent
2. Alucard
3. MikeM

I loved the two stories from Tangent and Mike because they reminded me so much of my family life. I have two kids (3 and 4) and they both resonated with me quite a lot.

Alucard's story was well-written and really nailed the theme I thought.