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Creative writing. Some help please?

  1. earnestshub profile image88
    earnestshubposted 5 years ago

    Some time back I tried my hand at creative writing.

    I tried to use my imagination and write a story based on a real event from my distant past.

    A friend of mine is a creative writer and I enjoy reading his stuff, and he told me to lay it out better.

    My problem with writing was I could not move away from the story itself to make it more interesting, as when I tried all I did was say what happened.

    I guess it has a beginning, but the middle and end don't look to be in sequence.

    Also when I tried to change it, I thought that those who were there would think I was a liar if I "enhanced" it.

    As this was my first attempt, I feel sure that someone here will have some idea of what to do with it.

    The other factor is that I was a kid at the time, but the hub does not reflect well on me, so maybe I need to learn how to write a character other than myself in to the main protagonist.
    Any help appreciated. )

    Here is the hub.

    http://earnestshub.hubpages.com/hub/Sat … he-sixties

    1. wayseeker profile image93
      wayseekerposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Hey Earnestshub,

      This story is well written.  In particular, the description of the fight was quite detailed and effective, and the dialogue written for the central character gave him a great sense of voice. 

      I understand the frustration you've felt trying to put this together--writing a piece that is meant to be fiction about a personal story that is nonfiction puts you in a strange place.  Where do I embellish?  Where do I stay true?

      My suggestion would be this:  as you've said at the end of your post here, don't try to write a story directly about yourself.  Instead, write a story centered on the situation, but form it around an invented character.  This frees you from the need for staying "truthful" to any specific events and will allow for an interesting exploration of both the character and his situation.

      If it were me, here's how I'd start:  I know I have a guy that's a capable fighter, prefers to keep a low profile, but is in confrontation with someone who is a bully.  I'd probably try a few different ways of getting into this guy's experience:  showing him at school, at work, or hanging out with his friend's somewhere.  In that writing, I'd try to find a way to introduce the conflict with the other character, but I would not necessarily stay attached to it needing to be exactly what your problem actually was.  Write into this guy a bit, and see if you can find out, through the writing itself, why this guy would be in conflict with the bully. 

      Essentially, instead of planning it all out, or needing to follow the course of the original events, just set up a new character in a new situation and then follow his lead as you write.  Discovering the details as you go is one of the great joys of fiction!

      I feel very much like I rambled a great deal, but I hope this helps.

      Good luck in your writing!


    2. Hyphenbird profile image96
      Hyphenbirdposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Hi Ernest. The Gotham Writer's Workshop has great hints and helps. Much is free but one can take writing classes also. You can get started there. Also, I advise for you to read lots and lots of short stories and creative writing, then go back and read more. You will find everyone writes differently but it all works, hopefully well.
      Don't be concerned that someone might  think you lied. Creative writing is just that.Remind a reader of that if he/she states the story is not one hundred percent as it happened in actuality. The author takes an idea or actual occurrence and builds upon it. I like to say it is based on one ounce of reality and five pounds of imagination.
      I have not read your story yet because I wanted to give unbiased input. I will read it later today and if you want, let you know what I think. Regards, Hyphenbird.

      1. earnestshub profile image88
        earnestshubposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Thank you, I think you have given me some neat tools here. I will do some reading of this type. One of my problems seems to be that I do not red enough of this type of material, I will remedy that. smile
        I would be honoured of you could read it and provide feedback. smile

        1. Hyphenbird profile image96
          Hyphenbirdposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          Hi Earnest. I did read the story. It is very strong and makes an impact. As a "girl" it was difficult for me to read without flinching. It does maintain itself as a story. I would suggest you add more descriptive sentences and allow the reader to imagine some of what occurred.
          The brother thing is kind of confusing though to me at least. All in all, you have a good story with unusual settings. As you read and study story writing, you will find yourself continually refining and editing. Allow yourself to do this and the story will evolve naturally.
          I hope this helps you. Have a great day. Hyph

          1. earnestshub profile image88
            earnestshubposted 5 years ago in reply to this

            Thank you! I cut a piece out, I will put back in to clear up the brother thing, and will now enjoy making changes thanks to the help I have received.

            I will see if I can use more descriptive sentences and get my head around all of this.

            Thank you so much for all your input, I am yet to do much reading as we are moving house, so busy, and of course the library is already packed for the move.
            My daughter has some good books I have not read, and I will find most of the recommended reading at the library apparently.
            I'm lookin good! lol

            1. Randy Godwin profile image94
              Randy Godwinposted 5 years ago in reply to this

              Creative writing is a whole new ballgame for some, Earnest.  Although I don't do much here it is still my favorite genre.  I have been lucky enough to sell several mystery stories for a nice piece of change in the past and plan to experiment more on Kindlebooks as one of my previously sold stories is now on Kindle and another on Audiobooks.

              I even rate a "highly acclaimed author" rating, though I don't put much stock in the reference.  Keep at it and I'm sure you will do well.  smile

              1. earnestshub profile image88
                earnestshubposted 5 years ago in reply to this

                Thanks Randy, I appreciate the encouragement. Nice to know you have been published in the genre, I have some ways to go before I get this first small effort in shape. smile Crawl before I can walk I guess. smile

                1. Randy Godwin profile image94
                  Randy Godwinposted 5 years ago in reply to this

                  No problem, Earnest.  Somehow, creative writing is scarier than writing informative articles.  As usual, we are our own worst critics in this effort.  But success in this genre is much more pleasing to me than the others.  smile

      2. Urbane Chaos profile image91
        Urbane Chaosposted 5 years ago in reply to this


        I like what you said here, "Creative writing is just that.Remind a reader of that if he/she states the story is not one hundred percent as it happened in actuality. The author takes an idea or actual occurrence and builds upon it. I like to say it is based on one ounce of reality and five pounds of imagination."

        While you try to stay as close to the actual story as you can, it's alright to deviate a little.  I'm putting together a story about a gunfight that happened near where I live back in 1897.  I was able to dig up old trial records that detail the events, there's obviously a lot missing.  These records were lost until a few weeks ago when someone found them and brought them to me.  Other than what's listed there, there's nothing known about the people or the town back then. 

        In writing this story, I've had to research places and events that are similar in order to fill in the missing gaps.  While the story should be pretty close to accurate, most readers understand that writers don't know everything, and at times have to use their imaginations to fill in the missing gaps. 

        If it makes sense, moves the story forward, and helps get the reader involved in the story, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.

  2. earnestshub profile image88
    earnestshubposted 5 years ago

    Thank you very much! You did not ramble at all, in fact I thought you're advice was very good, and although it still scares me a bit, I will give it my best shot. smile

  3. wayseeker profile image93
    wayseekerposted 5 years ago

    Fear adds an edge!  Keep in mind that even if what you write turns out to be complete drivel, which I'm sure it won't, no one reads the first draft other than you anyway.  Take the good that comes from it and work it forward, leave the rest behind.

    Best of luck, and keep me posted on how it goes!


    1. earnestshub profile image88
      earnestshubposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Thank you. Most kind of you, and I will keep you posted. smile. smile

  4. Lisa HW profile image83
    Lisa HWposted 5 years ago

    Personally, I think your story is perfectly well written.  But, if you feel like you'd like to add more to it than, as you say, just what happened, I can see why any writer might want to add something to a story in one way or another.  However, you're thread gave me an idea for a Hub (so, thanks).  It may be too long or too "not-worth-reading", but I just wanted to mention you gave me the idea for the Hub (which somehow seems worth at least acknowledging).  smile

    1. earnestshub profile image88
      earnestshubposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Thank you Lisa. smile

  5. Urbane Chaos profile image91
    Urbane Chaosposted 5 years ago

    Mr. Earnest..

    I have to say, I really enjoyed your story here, and I'm a picky bastard when it comes to this kind of thing.  There was a lot of things that I really liked about it:

    First, you had a good hook.  Mining towns are usually dangerous, and fights are frequent there, but the way you wrote it left me asking, "What are You doing there?"  Almost immediately, I pictured a good kid who liked to stay on the right of things, but somehow got put into a situation where he had to defend himself.  Two overbearing guys were coming at you, threatening you, now what are you going to do about it?

    Usually, I stop reading after the first three or four sentences, but that wasn't the case here.  You drew me in and kept me wanting to know "What's next?"  (I did have to look up the word "arvo" though)

    Second, even though it's in first person POV, you really drew out the characters.  That's something that's extremely hard to do.  I got a clear picture of who they were, as well as the emotions running through the lead character.  Extremely well done here.

    and Third, the fight scene was very well done.  A lot of writers make the mistake of leading with the reaction and following with the motivation.  In real life, this just isn't possible.  People don't scream before they get hit by a bullet.

    So, on to something that you mentioned here:

    "I guess it has a beginning, but the middle and end don't look to be in sequence."

    When writing creatively, don't think "beginning, middle, and end".  That's great for an essay, but it doesn't always work here.  Instead, think "Hook, Conflict, Resolution".  Many times, it's impossible to start at the beginning.  People don't need a long dissertation on how the characters came into being.  With a hook, you jump right into the story, and let the reader fill in the blanks from there.  Sometimes there is a bit of history that has to be added, but there's a proper place and way to do that.

    For example, the text you have in parenthesis essentially stops the story and takes the reader back in time.  This causes the story to lose momentum.  Try to work the history into the story in a way that keeps the story flowing.  For example, and a rather hideous one, but you can get the idea: "...in a whining tone that instantly pissed me right off.  Somehow he found out about me getting denied a shot at a real boxing match."

    After the hook, conflict follows.  This is what you may think of as the "middle", but that's not really an apt description of it.  Again, I think you did an excellent job with the conflict.  From what I interpreted, the conflict was this: The young man has encountered two of his biggest foes.  Even though they are bigger than him, he must do something to win the day.  So, instead of shying away, he faces his fears and charges headfirst into a fight that he has a good chance of losing. 

    You've heard this before, I'm sure: Conflict in writing is evidenced in three main ways; Man against Man, Man against Nature, Man against Himself.  In your story, you pitted man against man, and man against himself - and did a beautiful job at it as well. 

    Now, with the resolution, this is where I got lost.  It was at this part, "His brother never got started really, as he had tried to..."

    Ok, so you fought the first brother and came out victorious.  Great.  But, where was the second brother the entire time the fight was going on?  Was he just standing there, watching?  Did he go away to get popcorn? 

    You say that his brother never really got started, but this is mentioned after the fight is over.  I had to stop and re-read this a couple times before I realized that I had jumped back in time, to before the fight.  This could be what your friend was talking about when he said to lay it out better.  When you introduce Bob, also introduce his brother.  Tie in the two so that their actions occur in the right time frame.

    ...and who is Peter?  and Alan?  I'm assuming that Alan is Bob's brother, but I don't know for sure.  Was there a secondary fight between Peter and Alan going on at the same time?

    The history that follows this is good, but I don't think that it's in the right place.  Somehow, this should be worked into the story.  I've never been good with larger flashbacks like that, so I usually just avoid them.  I'd offer my opinion on how to do that, but with flashbacks, I'm clueless.

    Finally, to give the story more impact, don't tell the reader what the moral of the story is - instead, show them.  After the fight scene is over with, show the boy feeling a sense of pride, of a new found self-awareness.  Let the reader infer the moral from sharing the feelings with the young man.

    I know I wrote a novella here, but honestly, this impressed the <censored> out of me.  I can see this being made into a much larger book.  The plot is excellent, and you have a truely unique voice.  Even those these are just my opinions, I hope that it helps out in some way.

    Thanks for sharing this - I really enjoyed it!

    1. earnestshub profile image88
      earnestshubposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Thank you very much! I am learning to write, but no nothing about structure. Some how I left out that Peter had gone into the pub to get beer but was right behind me and a lot of other details that I have obviously cut out by accident.
      Allan is Bob's brother, and the two always hung together.
      I just read it again, and found all the points you have made are spot on!
      Your kindness in going to so much trouble to help is much appreciated. smile

      1. Urbane Chaos profile image91
        Urbane Chaosposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Not a problem - and sorry that was so long!  If you decide to update it, let me know.  I'd love to read it again.  You have such a unique style that I think you could really go far. 

        There's two books that I always recommend.  Both of these can usually be found at the libraries here. If they don't have them there then I can look around and find the important parts of them online.  I had them bookmarked once upon a time..

        Anyway, the best book I've ever found is by Dwight V. Swain, titled "Techniques of the Selling Writer".  It's a dry read, but I don't think there's a better book out there.

        The second book that I always recommend is "The Elements Of Style" by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.  It's a smaller book, but it's packed full of good information.  If I remember right, there's an old version of it that you can read free on Google Books. 

        I think that between those two books, you can learn everything you want to on structure.

  6. Alastar Packer profile image83
    Alastar Packerposted 5 years ago

    I read it earnest and love to read about bullies getting their comeuppance.You've got noting to concern  yourself with as far as your creative writing skills, in fact your very good. Hey, let those who don't believe truth is stranger than fiction worry about whether you embellished a little thing or two. 99% of the time life's true adventures do all the embellishing themselves just fine & dandy. Right mate.

    1. earnestshub profile image88
      earnestshubposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Thank you Alaster! I am going to consider your statement carefully and try to wrap my mind around the idea you presented. You have all been very kind and helpful. smile

      The story is unembellished, but I am beginning to see it differently, and the rewrite may be a little more creative.

      As you enjoyed it, I will try to keep it intact and make the changes needed, (who the hell is Peter for one example of needed change.)

      I cut part of it out then left my reader wondering who two of the characters were. Peter is still around, but I guess he won't mind if I tell his part in it all. smile

      There was a big crowd in the street, so I guess a few of them still hate my guts for laying in the way I did, but stuff em!

      Like I said in the story, I knew what was needed. smile

  7. earnestshub profile image88
    earnestshubposted 5 years ago

    Most kind of you. smile Our local library will probably have them, and I will check online. I will rewrite it soon.

    You are a wealth of information. smile

  8. Alastar Packer profile image83
    Alastar Packerposted 5 years ago

    Hi Hyphenbird. The Gotham Writers Workshop looks like a good one for the more advanced Creative Writing Authors as well. Roessner, Caliban and Finneran are some impressive writers each in their own niche. Read and read some more sounds simple; but sums it up nicely. And don't you think that in certain situations it could be "one ounce of imagination for every five pounds of reality?" Merci.

  9. Fiction Teller profile image60
    Fiction Tellerposted 5 years ago

    Hi Ernestshub,

    I think this story has lots of potential and that it could be even stronger with some work.

    Right now its biggest issue for me is that it reads more like a blog entry than a fictional story.

    Can you make it come alive more for the reader, right from the beginning?  Go crazy with the "show not tell" rule?  If you can pretend your narrator isn't you, but some other guy who was in your position and make him into someone new, you can implement subtle changes that can spark up the hook and make it read more like fictional narrative.

    You can extract key elements from the story and make them dynamic.  Bob's offense against your sister is a good example.  Don't tell us it happened - show us.  Not by taking us back to the event, but by integrating it into the story.  And place it in early, to garner reader sympathy for the narrator.

    And as someone else said, I'd go lighter on the "moral of the story" part and show us the moral in your recounting of the story.  Let us figure out the moral as you embellish the events and characters, shaping your characters into archetypes - basically, giving the reader clues so he can draw his own conclusion.  People accept fable-like lessons in fiction more readily if it seems that they are the ones drawing the conclusions, not the authors.

    I also don't really know the characters because they're still pretty fuzzy in this draft. Starting with an action scene is fine, but it's important to seed in the reader as quickly as possible a sense of who everyone is and what's at stake.  Right now, it's just a fight between a coupla guys, y'know?  A fight is always interesting in real life, but in fiction (even fictionalized truth), there's got to be a reason for the reader to care about the narrator.  Why should your reader care who wins?  Does he like the narrator? Dislike the O'Malleys? Why? Guide the reader to understand.

    (It's a bit hard to explain, but I know from reading your posts and hubs that you're a super-nice, intelligent, creative, and talented guy.  But in the story, I'm not told anything about the narrator that's particularly compelling.  That's good stuff.  Show us why to like him.)

    There's another reason we need to get to know the narrator better.  We need to learn whether or not we can trust his perceptions and accounting, because we're seeing the story wholly through his eyes.  It's one reason first person POV is so hard; the events and opinions being recounted are only as believable as the narrator's character.  For example, I know the narrator claims the O'Malley brothers are this way and that way, but I don't yet have any way to evaluate the narrator's statements. That stuff needs to be written in by subtly acknowledging your reader's expectations.  Have you considered showing some of your hero's weaknesses?  Giving your narrator some weaknesses could show up his strength and "good-guyishness" even better and give your reader some point of entry into the world.

    Here are some examples of what I'm talking about, ways to make the hook read like fiction instead of a blog. These aren't meant to be your story, really, they're more to show you some different ways you can make real events read like narrative without departing too much from reality.

    Approach 1

    "Here we go again," I thought.

    The O'Malley brothers and I go way back.  Small Australian mining towns are rough on a kid from the bush, as I learned the hard way.  My sister, Jane, learned it too, at Bob O'Malley's hand, the bastard.  So of course I hated the man, and maybe I was a little afraid of him, too, and my animosity had nothing to do with the fact that he'd just stopped me in the alley to taunt me about losing the chance to box Friday night.  Well, maybe a little...

    Approach 2

    I was already in a bad mood when Bob O'Malley walked up to me and ended his boxing career. He didn't know it. And I didn't mean to be the catalyst. But I was in no mood to deal with bullies and, well...Poor bastard.

    Approach 3

    All I wanted to do was fight.  But Jack told me I was too young for the boxing tent and to piss off.  I was still unhappily pissing off down the alley twenty-four hours later, missing the bush, hating the mining town where I'd come to live after blah blah blah, when Bob O'Malley walked up to me and said, "Going home to cry?"

    I stared at him blankly.

    Approach 4

    I threw the first punch.

    It surprised both of us.  Fighting to me, even then, was discipline.  Toughness.  A bit of ego.  Aggression.  Not slugging it out in an alley like a raw, untrained kid. 

    Everyone knew that about me, even the O'Malley brothers, who had utter contempt for me.

    But Bob O'Malley provoked me, and I'd been deprived of my match the previous night.  So I hit him...

  10. earnestshub profile image88
    earnestshubposted 5 years ago

    Wow! So many thoughts! Thank you for the compliment of reading this, I appreciate it very much.

    You have frightened the daylights out of me with the skill you have demonstrated here, that has me feeling a bit inadequate. smile

    I wish I could run away and have you write it properly, but I will do this thing!

    Having never written anything even remotely like fiction in my life, it is both exciting and scary.

    The scary bit may take some self analysis. I seem to feel like a liar rather than a writer if I even change a name!

    I hope to be up to the task though, as your efforts to explain what you mean are excellent and I feel sure some of it will soak in after I get over the impact of reading it. lol

  11. Fiction Teller profile image60
    Fiction Tellerposted 5 years ago

    Aargh, I didn't mean to frighten you.  You're not inadequate; well, at least no more than we all are - I'm pretty sure that a feeling of inadequacy is de rigueur for writers.

    I'm sorry for the too-much-bluntness.  I agree with many of the positive comments given so far; I was trying to focus on what I saw as your challenges because that's the kind of stuff I masochistically like to receive in critiques and that people are always too afraid to tell me.  When I started writing as a kid, people told me so much what I was doing right that I had no idea what I was doing wrong and it took years to figure out...one blunt critique can be a super awesome time saver, saving me years of mistakes.  I sometimes forget that not everyone falls down to their knees in gratitude for having their ego smacked against a wall, wrung out, and tossed in the can like I do...

    So the idea is NOT to take the kind of approaches I did - they're in my writing style, not yours.  There are zillions of ways to tell your story that you'll be more comfortable with.  If you have problems divorcing yourself from the character, writing the story in third person POV may be a really good idea.  You can use stream of consciousness; you can write it as poetry; you can even use epistolary form and pretend it IS a blog post, only an exaggerated, fiction-like one. 

    I really like your idea of writing in a new character.  What about writing the story as an email the narrator's writing to a young kid who's in a similar situation as you were? The underlying story would be the real story, and the overt story simply a narrative framework. By inventing a new character (the kid), you could be freed from feeling bound by what actually happened.

    I remember writing one story as a teenager that was a recounting of a real life event.  It was so-so - I hadn't succeeded in making the conflict larger than life, and in the end it seemed smaller than what it had actually been.  I hadn't learned yet that it's okay to take a great big step away from the literal truth in order to get at the figurative, metaphorical truth of what happened.  That's the key your readers will take away - the new ideas they learned, not who said what and when.

  12. slmorgan profile image60
    slmorganposted 5 years ago

    I enjoy your creative writing. Read my "Fate Has It" (a mystery) and tell me what you think.

    1. earnestshub profile image88
      earnestshubposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Sure. smile Thank you!

  13. earnestshub profile image88
    earnestshubposted 5 years ago

    Fiction Teller, it is not that you are too straight forward, it is just that I lack the understanding.
    Let me tell you a little story by way of explanation.
    I used to have mechanical workshops, car repair and spare parts businesses.
    After many years in the trade, I could not recall how much I had learned over the years and found myself needing to remember how little I knew when I started as a learner myself.

    I feel a bit like one of those apprentices at this time. You see, you can move this around and toy with it, you could probably write a movie from less! lol I on the other hand have only written some humour, a few personal tales about my life in the bush and the rest has been dry such as how to rebuild your Honda gearbox, or something on my other hobby-horse, psychology..... very dry stuff.

    I actually like that you cut to the chase, it is a common trait in my culture to be straight talking and I appreciate it. I don't even think you have made any critical statements, just provided honest advice.
    I hope you don't find this foolish, but I am pretty gob-smacked by writers like yourself, and am in awe of many fine writers here and elsewhere. The thing is, I am going to do something with all the generous advice I have had, but it may be in bits and pieces over a few weeks. Thank you again for this extended kindness.

  14. Fiction Teller profile image60
    Fiction Tellerposted 5 years ago

    Ah, I get it now.  Thanks for saying that, you're welcome, and yeah, I've been writing fiction for many years, so if I weren't halfway competent by now, that would be bad.

    I get that you need to chew on all of this; I always need months after getting critiques to regain ownership of my story enough to make changes...!

    I wanted to say that I don't mean to brush over the concerns you have about feeling free to alter reality in your story. It's just that I think it's like any other fear; it can't really be reasoned away by argument. And there's good cause to be afraid. There's a lot of power in what we do and if you're still learning how to use the tools of the trade, you wouldn't want to be wielding it recklessly, especially with real people involved.

    1. earnestshub profile image88
      earnestshubposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Thank you, I see you understand perfectly. Why am I not surprised? smile
      I have enough knowledge to see your skills, mine are still in trainers. smile
      Thank you, I hope I can reason with the unreasonable fear while keeping sight of myself and not trying to run before I can walk. You are a good teacher, I will heed whatever I am able to, and thanks for the input, it has been well received, and I hope you read the next draft.
      You are a nice person, full of great ideas, I have had a good time speaking with you today and have heaps to learn from what you have written. smile

  15. recommend1 profile image70
    recommend1posted 5 years ago

    There is very little that could be called wrong in this writing Earnest, lots of good stuff and a lesson in Oz-speak - if I were to be hyper-critical I would say that I don't need the moral of the story trotted out for me and it might be better left unsaid directly.