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Thread: Writing Stories Which Don't Suck (Part 2 of 2: Finding Inspiration!)

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  1. #1
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    Writing Stories Which Don't Suck (Part 2 of 2: Finding Inspiration!)

    Inspiration can come from anywhere, at any time.
    In the words of Jim Jarmusch, "Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: 'It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.'"
    I would recommend doing what I do when it comes to finding inspiration: keep a notebook and a pen of some sort on me at all times.
    If someone says something funny, make a mental note to write it down; you can use it.
    If you see something random, write it down; you can use it.

    One other tool I use to find inspiration is StumbleUpon. Set it to the "humor" filter.
    Then Stumble.
    Will it fit your needs?
    For example, Stumbling this turned into this:
    They suddenly came across a large pole sticking out of the ground. From the looks of the wires which hung down from it, it appeared to once be a telephone pole. However, on top of the pole was a large sheet of plywood, with a ladder on each side to support the weight and offer a means up and down the telephone pole.
    On top of the sheet of plywood, there was what remained of an RV. The wheels had been removed, but it otherwise remained intact, giving it the appearance of a houseboat which had somehow found its way on top of a telephone pole.
    Pie and Cake stopped their bickering and stared at what was possibly the strangest thing they had seen all day.
    While I haven't quite gotten around to refining it yet (see my previous tutorial on this subject), you can see where I got the idea from.
    I repeat: inspiration can come from anywhere.

    My friend, for example, was speaking about chainsaws. Then he came up with an idea for an anti-terrorist "Rocket-Propelled Chainsaw".
    That RPC turned into this:
    There were guards in this guard post, and these guards by now figured out that Pie and Company were no longer good friends, but rather people who kill their good friends.
    As such, the guards were now not too happy with Pie and Company.
    A spotter spotted the five, who were currently meandering for their lives down the grassy trail, and picked up a device.
    This device was shaped like a large rectangle, with open ends at either end of the rectangle. He mounted one end over his shoulder, and pointed the other end at the Blues.
    A beeping noise came out of the rectangle, indicating that it knew where the Blues were, and that it was not a very happy rectangle right now, plus adding that it would like very much for there to be no more Blues there.
    The guard pushed a little red button on the rectangle, and the thing inside the rectangle made a ferocious noise, like a cat stuck inside of a small tin box with no litterbox and nothing to scratch.
    The guard pulled a little button and the thing making the noise launched out of the rectangle at a very high velocity.


    Mr. Chainsaw was not a very happy chainsaw.
    He was made in Kirkland, Washington, and he thought that he was going to be sent up north to the Canadian lumberjacks.
    He really liked the lumberjacks, and he wanted to help the lumberjacks out as much as he could. He would do this by being a good chainsaw to them, and he hoped that they would reward him by using him to cut down extra-large trees.
    He liked cutting down extra-large trees.
    But no, some guy, who was annoyingly located a bit south of Hawaii, but a bit north of Australia, ordered him by mail, and so he was sent south rather than his intended north.
    Mr. Chainsaw was not too happy with this.
    He, along with many of his brethren chainsaws, were taken to a lab facility of some sort. In this lab facility, some guy with a monocle and a mustache and a top hat took him and his comrades and stuffed a rocket onto his rear end.
    He didn’t like that much, as he didn’t think that strapping a rocket to his rear end would aid much in the cutting down of trees, something which he noticed a distinct lack of on this island.
    He was then shoved into a small, rectangular box with two openings, and he had something prodding him where his cord was. He sat there in this box for a little while, and then he got picked up and pointed at something or another.
    His rocket made a little beeping noise, and then the thing prodding him where his cord was pulled his cord, causing him to start up.
    This isn’t right, thought Mr. Chainsaw, I don’t see any trees. I just see a group of five people.
    Suddenly, his rocket ignited and he was sent blazing out of his box at this group of five people.
    One of them, who looked as if he were the leader, glanced up.
    “HOLY CRAP!” he cried, “IT’S A-” Mr. Chainsaw missed this middle part, but it was something which ended in “-ing”, “CHAINSAW!”
    The leader ducked, and Mr. Chainsaw barely missed him, although he did catch a small tuft of his hair.
    He didn’t want to get the poor guy, he wanted to cut down some trees. That was all he ever wanted to do, was aid the Canadians in cutting down some trees.
    Mr. Chainsaw’s misery was soon brought to an end when he got embedded within the side of a mountain.
    That's a good 600 words. I could expand on that even further if I wanted to; I could make the idea as long or as short as I want.
    Inspiration can come from anywhere.

    I stumbled upon TVtropes. I've heard of TVtropes, I've been there before, but during this particular visit, I looked at a page involving breaking the fourth wall. Someone on the site mentioned a comic where the author is an actual character in the comic itself, and about how the other characters in the comic plot to kill him.
    A plot idea in my notebook right now is to have 2 evil characters teleport a man known simply as "The Author" into their story so they could kill him, thus ending their misery.

    If you're stuck on a story idea, look around! Inspiration is all around you; you just have to find it.
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  2. #2

    Re: [Tutorial] Writing Stories Which Don't Suck (Part 2 of 2: Finding Inspiration!)

    Before I begin, none of what I'm about to say is meant to be insulting...but I am going to be completely straight with you.

    Your message is on point and I'm glad you at least grasp proper concepts, but your examples are downright pathetic and your previous writing is incredibly amateurish. While your intentions are good, you come across as...rather pretentious actually, seeing as your own writing is downright mediocre (at least, what I've seen of it).

    For example, the writing in your story "Army of Idiots" is atrocious, yet you're attempting to teach others how to write properly. Sorry, but unless you can prove to others that your own writing is good your own words will ring hollow.

    You've likely improved since "Army of Idiots," but I'm going to use it as an example anyway.

    ORIGINAL
    The base they were launching an assault on was just an entry point into enemy territory. It was just an abandoned, decades-old power plant. It was the first major attempt at a viable wind-powered power generator. The idea was, instead of having many small-output miniature wind power generators, you could build just one, giant fan, powered mostly by the wind, but also using some nuclear reactors for power. Several years ago, this power generator was abandoned due to the lack of power generated; it wasn’t feasible. After years of neglect, it is now just a pile of ruins on a shark-infested beach, but, if taken, it could be the biggest stronghold they had as they marched off to victory.

    The air was tense with the anticipation of battle. They had many of their best soldiers standing on the beach, waiting. There was no way the enemy could withstand their attack.

    Unless... Unless the enemy, codenamed "blue", had their best soldier, the one who never lost a single battle.

    Little did they know that soldier was stationed at this outpost.


    REVISED
    The facility pinpointed for assault was a decrepit power plant which had been abandoned decades prior to the Covenant invasion. Despite existing in a state of disrepair, the generator machinery still worked flawlessly; the exterior wind-powered fan spiraled smoothly in its housing, constantly buffeted by the off-shore winds native to the coastal location. Backup generators were located inside, near the main entrance, ready to be activated in a moment's notice. If this installation were successfully captured, it would serve as a formidable stronghold for the occupying forces and as a defensible foothold into enemy territory.


    An elite squadron of Spartans, clad in distinctive red MOLJNIR armor, stood silently on the beach The humid ocean air was thick with anticipation. Adrenaline coursing through their veins, every solider was ready for the upcoming battle, visualizing their upcoming victory.


    However...despite their preparation, despite their experience, even despite the presence of their most accomplished veterans...flickers of doubt passed through the group, like whispers in the wind. Intel had warned them of the presence of an advanced enemy combatant, unparalleled in battle. Rumor had it that this unknown warrior had never lost a single confrontation and was capable of boosting the morale of those he fought with.


    As fate would have it, that very soldier was assigned to defend the power plant Red Team so desperately needed, were they to begin successful assaults into enemy territory.



    See the difference? Until you can prove to us that your own writing demonstrates a high standard of compentency...it will be hard for us to take you seriously.
    Last edited by Jean-Luc; January 12th, 2010 at 01:07 PM.
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    Re: [Tutorial] Writing Stories Which Don't Suck (Part 2 of 2: Finding Inspiration!)

    Your sentences do not vary enough in structure. They are all very basic elementary-level constructions, with the result being a rapid-fire snapping off of concrete details. There just isn't any depth or feeling to it. Needs more metaphoric descriptors, too.

    TeeKup: I don't much care for men crawling in the mud
    TeeKup: id rather them be crawling in my bed
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    Re: [Tutorial] Writing Stories Which Don't Suck (Part 2 of 2: Finding Inspiration!)

    That draft of the Army of Idiots was a while ago; it's been revised countless times since.

    Also, I see you picked up on the Halo influences in that story. It used to be Halo fanfiction, but I decided to take that story out of the Halo universe, leaving a few homages here and there. Good job on catching it (though calling the jeeps "Warthogs" might have something to do with it).

    E: As for the "elementary-style" sentences, those particular sentences are meant to be rapid-fire. Here's something more along the line of my typical writing:
    Sniper Country was a barren, desolate hell of a place. They said that when God was making the Earth all those years ago, Sniper Country was one of the last places He made. In fact, by this time, God was so thoroughly tired of making the planet that He just said, “Screw it. You know what, just… Just screw it.” And thus Sniper Country was born: Miles of God-forsaken desert which looked like the red surface of Mars, with two gigantic mesas stretching up on either side, forming one of the world’s largest box canyons. Blue had carved out one mesa and converted it into a system of tunnels which also functioned as a base for the Blue team, and the Reds had done the same to the other. Each side only existed because the other side was there (like most places in this damn war), and both sides were full of snipers who just sat there, watching the broad expanse of desert and waiting for someone wearing different-colored armor to venture outside.
    Please note that I'm not saying this is a piece of art; I haven't revised it yet. It's just to show more typical sentences than my succession of "rapid-fire" paragraphs up top.
    Last edited by English Mobster; January 12th, 2010 at 09:24 PM.
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  5. #5

    Re: [Tutorial] Writing Stories Which Don't Suck (Part 2 of 2: Finding Inspiration!)

    Still, your writing style isn't exactly captivating, and is somewhat rudimentary in vocabulary. You're drawing way too much from the Halo universe. By that, I absolutely mean your descriptors of locations and reasons for being there. Everything you've written is easily visualized in machinima. You've done absolutely nothing to construct your own universe and draw the reader in.

    You should really get away from using your own work as example. Take quotes from books by Tom Clancy or books like Das Boot, which really work hard to put you in the place as a viewing entity, rather than a reader.
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    Re: [Tutorial] Writing Stories Which Don't Suck (Part 2 of 2: Finding Inspiration!)

    True; true. 'Tis something I need to work on.

    Interesting tidbit: This was originally GOING to be a machinima, once upon a time. Back in 8th grade, the idea first hatched in my head to make this a machinima. All the characters had their names chosen by their original voice actors. I had 100+ episodes scripted.
    The problem was simply the logistics of getting everyone online to film. It was extremely difficult; the project fell apart, and the scripts were re-worked into novel format.

    For the record, I have tried to set up some kind of a backstory in the latest draft of said story:
    There are multiple things which do not fit together in this world, things which do not like each other in the slightest. For example, soda does not taste very good when it is poured into a bowl of cereal. Lions do not play “tag” very well when paired with baby narwhals. Buttered toast does not like gravity in the slightest, tending to follow Murphy’s laws to the letter. Fairly large rocks are not very fond of glass windows, especially when said glass windows are in their way.
    Among the other things which do not fit together in the slightest are the Red and Blue governments.
    They HATED each other, and pumped trillions of dollars yearly into their fight. However, neither side really truly knew WHY it was that they were fighting, nor why it was that they could not co-exist. Sure, there was the whole “Communism vs. Capitalism” thing going on, but neither side knew how the first Communist rebellions began. What they did know was that once the last of the Great Democracies had fallen, the Blues rose from the ashes under the banner of the Unified Earth Government. Their power spread until they exerted complete dominion over the entire planet, and the resulting corruption and mismanagement of the government was what led to the rise of the rebellious Red government.
    That’s one theory, but I severely doubt that either side actually KNEW how this war began, should you have asked them.
    It just seems that humans like to fight over stupid things for stupid reasons.
    To put things simply as possible, the Red government was not too fond of the Blue government. In fact, the Reds were the opposite of fond of the Blues. They really didn’t like the Blues too much at all, actually.
    After years of warfare and billions of lives spent, the Red government had exerted complete and utter dominance over Europe, Africa, and Asia. Victory was near; their massive war campaigns would not be for nothing. Soon, they would stand triumphant, trumpeting their massive victory over the forces of capitalism. The last vestiges of Blue hope lay in America, the last remaining stronghold of the inferior economic system.
    Tension filled the world’s stage as the Reds slowly planned for a massive attack on the New United States, the last remains of the Unified Earth Government. They had already taken parts of Canada. Continual fighting forced territory all the way down the northwest to be declared a “no-man’s land”. One last, final, decisive attack would crush the remains of the Untied States and defeat the Blue capitalism forever.
    Unfortunately, due to budget constraints and hundreds of those annoying war protesters, the Reds were unable to launch said massive attack. After much deliberation among the Joint Chiefs of State, the Reds decided to drop in a couple detachments of their best marines to get the job done and take it from there, slowly sending in more marines as the budget allowed until they were able to crush the U.S. like a small bug.
    And today, the first wave of the Red’s attack had begun.
    Last edited by English Mobster; January 12th, 2010 at 10:54 PM.
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  7. #7

    Re: [Tutorial] Writing Stories Which Don't Suck (Part 2 of 2: Finding Inspiration!)

    Truth be told, I'm not sure it works in either machinima or novel format because your basic scripts seem rather uninspired and fit too tightly to what we KNOW from the games. That's not to say that Halo-inspired stories can't work however; the Eric Nylund and Joseph Staten books proved that.

    You have a tendency to avoid risk-taking both here and in your map-making and it's holding you back as a potential artist. Start exploring, even just a little, and I guarantee you'll start seeing improvement.

    By the way, I'm fully aware that you're trying to avoid the correlation to Halo but your descriptions are WAY too close to what Halo demonstrated for the reader to ignore it.
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    Re: [Tutorial] Writing Stories Which Don't Suck (Part 2 of 2: Finding Inspiration!)

    I've decided to try to distance myself further from Halo in that story; the Warthogs have been renamed to "Chupas" (still a Halo reference, but a bit less obvious one; props if you can get it!), I've added a bit more backstory, etc.
    What's funny is that I posted these stories in the quick-crit thread and I was totally ignored, but when I make a thread which is tangentially relevant, I get some crit on it finally.
    Interesting the way that works, isn't it?
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  9. #9

    Re: [Tutorial] Writing Stories Which Don't Suck (Part 2 of 2: Finding Inspiration!)

    That is such a horrifically and blatantly obvious halo machinima reference. You've done nothing to distance yourself from the haloverse, you just adopted from another part of the whole community :/

    You should probably scrap army of idiots, since all it has done is piggyback the halo franchise. Just quit creating in reference to the haloverse all together. It's either drowning your creativity or falsely bolstering what creativity you think you might have. I mean, it's possible to be original in creating halo assets or fan fic, but, you've done nothing but copy both literature and model-wise, and thrown in internet memery here and there. It's not clever, it's not entertaining.

    Take a break from halo. It's obviously hindering you.
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    Re: [Tutorial] Writing Stories Which Don't Suck (Part 2 of 2: Finding Inspiration!)

    I would scrap Army of Idiots... Except for the fact that it is now 127 pages, Times New Roman 12 pt, single-spaced, totaling in at over 75,000 words.
    It's my baby, lol. I'm not going to send it to a publisher for AT LEAST 2 years; legally, I have to be 18 to enter a contract IF it were to be published (which is approx a 500 to 1 chance, so crossed fingers, but not getting my hopes up).
    It's going to have 2 years worth of polish on it, so I'm going to make sure this shit is quality shit by the time I send it in to a publisher.
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