Do you doubt your writing?

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hoihoisoi
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Do you doubt your writing?

#1 Post by hoihoisoi » Sat Jun 04, 2016 5:43 am

I've been working on my script for about a good solid two to three months now, but it's only recently that I've reached a point in my script where I've encountered a pretty tricky plot hole to go around and for the past few days I've been experimenting with different way to go about it and how to continue the story and so on. It's actually gotten to the point now where I'm doubting my own writing and how good the story actually is.

The key issues I keep thinking about is:
-Are my characters well developed enough?
-Is my phrasing and word choice good enough?
-Does this or that scene make sense?
-Am I running through the story a bit too fast or am I dragging it?
-Should I reveal this or that or let this or that remain as an unknown as of now?
-Is this story going to appeal to the readers? (I'm most concerned of this lols)
-Is it just not good enough?

I seriously am not sure why I'm so worked up about all these the past few days. I'm not really sure if you can call it author's block because I know how to continue with the story and I know where this event is leading me to. I feel like I'm seriously doubting my skill as a writer right now and I don't really know how to go about it. Do I just steamroll on to the end of the script first before reviewing everything or do I take a day or two to think the script through again? I'm seriously unsure. Do any of you guys have these moments too? And if you do how do you cope with it for the most part?
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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#2 Post by ghostpel » Sat Jun 04, 2016 9:25 am

Being far from a professional writer, I may sound a bit naive here but..having someone to looks at your draft should solve most problems. A Nice friend is good for your self-esteem. If you're lucky he'll pointed out where the problem is.

Recently, I've drawn my draft (yes, I can't write anything decent with words alone) have my friend reading it.
His insights are both encourage and helpful.
I was relieved that my characters are still likable despite being a bunch of problematic individuals.
But other than that...um, well not so flattering.

One of them is, there's chess scene where I thought, 'okay, I'll be vague here and hope my reader won't mind...'.
Turned out he minds! after his explanation how chess match really works, I realized how ridiculous the whole concepts was.
I ended up scrapped a whole scene and have tons of research to do before writing it again. But it's still felt better than 'what he would think...' phase, and definitely better to do it now than after spending years making complete VNs.
(Still, he's not editor, expecting something more than 'perspective from someone other than yourself' is not right)

About your question, I'm too concerned to finish the first draft to doubt myself. "I did that enough back since I wrote the outline!" (although I obliviously don't follow it...bad habit.) .

TL;dr : the Beta reader is your answer. better if he or she is your friend.

Also, being inexperienced myself, still looking forward to someone replying to this thread too. ・ω・;;

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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#3 Post by Parataxis » Sat Jun 04, 2016 9:28 am

Do I doubt my writing? Constantly. Mostly how slow I am in comparison to the projects I am working on for my VNs, but all the rest of the questions are there, waiting to strike when I least expect it....

But it sounds like your problem is one of two different things. It could be just writer jitters and self doubt--in which case what helps me is almost always to just sit down and think about why I am telling this story and why it excited me to begin. Then I remind myself that first drafts always suck. They are abjectly terrible because the point of a first draft is to fill out all the pages so there aren't blank pages and anything extra it does is a bonus.

BUT
The thing you must be careful of, is that sometimes when you get this sort of block, it's because deep in your writer soul you know that there's something not working in your story. In which case you need to fix it.

Now, How you go about this depends on how you write. So for instance, I am very slow and so massive rewrites are sometimes difficult. So if I am running into this sort of snag it usually grinds my writing to a total halt and I end up rewriting the offending scene over and over. If you are like me, what you need to do is talk out your plot problem with some one, figure out why you are dissatisfied and fix it before you continue.
My friend on the other hand is a writing speed demon, and for her, it is often helpful to play out the results of even slightly off drafts, because it makes it clearer what exactly was the problem and also gives her more "page time" to discover new things about the characters. So she would write through to the end.

Ultimately, sometimes you need to do what is right for you, and that might be writing to the end and assessing. But if you do soul searching and decide you need some one to talk to, feel free to drop me a line.

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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#4 Post by doodlemancy » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:51 pm

Doubt is a good sign. Doubt means you aren't Tommy Wiseau. You think him or Uwe Boll or M. Night Shyamalan or any of the other hacks out there ever asked themselves "is this good?" I mean I guess The Room is its own kind of strange masterpiece, but imagine the kind of ignorance and complete confidence it takes to make something like that and show other people. Hooray for doubt.

Have someone beta read for you. Ask them where they got confused or bored. Ask them what they thought was interesting or what excited them. Try your best not to stress over whether or not your story will have any appeal because honestly, you cannot write something everyone will like. People's tastes are so varied. You can make the best french fry in the world and someone who doesn't like french fries will be like "mehhhhhhh".

As for revealing information: I really recommend re-watching or re-reading some of your favorite stuff and paying really close attention to when and how crucial plot information is revealed. Look at how much "unknown" you really accepted at first. I always notice myself going "wait, but they don't know ______ yet, shouldn't they know by now?" A lot of stories keep you hanging on that kind of stuff a long time! Also, take a good look at something you hate, and tear it apart. Figure out why it's not working. You have to consume media to make it, in my opinion. I always find that I get sharper after I've watched or read something really good, even if it has nothing in common with my story.

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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#5 Post by hoihoisoi » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:57 pm

@ghostpel
A beta reader was actually on my mind about a month or so back but I scratched it off without thinking too deeply about it. Looks like I'll probably need one whether I like it or not. X( But I do agree with you that, I should really be worrying about completing the first draft before looking at the finer details of things of the scripts like phrasing, likable characters and so on.

@paratixis
I think you hit it right on the nail when you said 'deep in your writer soul you know that there's something not working in your story'. It's kinda that feeling especially at the current plot hole. For me, I think I should really try to finish off the first draft first before going through the entire script again to find what is and what isn't working because I do write relatively quick and I find that if I do stop at any point, it'll bring my motivation to a grinding halt, so I'll probably have to finish the first draft with the plot hole present and solve it one way or another later on.

@doodlemancy
I guess you're right that everybody has their own tastes in everything including writing, but I guess we as aspiring writers try to strive to achieve something that most of our readers will feel is in rather vague terms 'good' for the most part. And yea, sometimes I don't really see how people get their confidence from when it comes to writing cause it's just such a subjective art. Honestly I find myself worrying about everything from choice of words to phrasing after finishing a short section of my writing. And yea, I really should take another look at the VNs I used to play which sparked this interest in starting my very own project in the first place.
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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#6 Post by Klawzie » Sun Jun 05, 2016 1:20 am

Of course. Even professionals with decades of experience and awards question their work. Everyone wants to be better and if you don't ask yourself questions, you won't think about what you're doing, and you won't learn. Just don't let it STOP you from writing, because then you're not even learning slowly.

As paratixis said, I do find that when I have trouble with moving forward, it's generally because I've subconsciously noticed something was "off". It's split pretty evenly between "what I've already written" and "my upcoming plans" being the source. If it gets bad enough, I "drawer" the draft and come back to it after at least a week. I have a finished novel I've shelved for the last three months because I still have my concerns on it and I couldn't pinpoint what they were. I edit much, much better after I've had time to lose familiarity with it.

Beta readers are useful too, of course. Don't worry about whether they're good writers themselves - just if they are good at giving feedback. (If they're prone to only giving head pats or silence, then they aren't useful. Even rudeness is more useful than the other two, because to be effectively rude, they generally give at least some indication of what their issue was.) Ideally, they would be familiar with the "genre" you're going for. And if they aren't, know up front that they aren't so you don't try to fix your "sweet romance" story by taking their suggestions to add sex, foul language, and an unresolved ending "because it's more realistic". (That's not what "sweet romance" readers are after and they would rage. But you could take the feedback and go, "Are there points where I could give the story more verisimilitude without spoiling the flavor I want for the story?")

On the off chance that this might be part of the issue - Don't worry about chasing the ideal. Not everyone is going to agree with me on this, but hear me out.

Most readers, in my experience, aren't going to notice whether "verisimilitude" was better for the sentence than "realism". They'll only notice if they stumble over the word and aren't able to figure out from the context the rough definition - so they're noticing if they've been thrown out of the story because you didn't give enough context cues for them to continue on. (Or if a character uses the word when it seems unlikely that they would.) A lot of the time, people who try to craft "perfect" stories are too caught up in the pretty words to notice that their readers are either confused by the showiness or bored by the loss of an author's voice from having been overworked and all personality taken out of it. It's okay to have flaws. They're like fingerprints.

Anyway - my point is ultimately, "Entertain the reader first and foremost. Learn so you can tell the story in your way with more ease. Don't sweat over perfection. Perfection is boring anyway."
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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#7 Post by foofox » Sun Jun 05, 2016 5:28 am

I am not a professional writer and I do doubt my writing, especially with whether I have the characters motivated enough.

What helped me a lot was reading a few books about writing. One thing that stood out for me is conflict. Conflict is the engine that drives the story forward. If you don't have any conflict, you don't have any fuel to get you over the plot hole into the next scene.

Conflict could be within the main character, between characters. It's also at different levels in the story. Once I had found the conflict in my story, things became easier. Now all I have to do is write...

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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#8 Post by Krel » Sun Jun 05, 2016 7:50 am

I agree with doodlemancy in that your doubt is a good thing – you aren't just passing off your work as perfect, and because of this, you're able to see ways you can improve. This is important; no writer is perfect, and seeing these flaws is the first step to overcoming them.

I also agree with ghostpel that having another person to review what you've written is very helpful, because we can't help but be biased in evaluating what we write. Similar to this, just by reading what you've written a couple of days later, you start to see your own script in a more fair light, almost as if you are a different person yourself.

I would suggest combining both your own criticisms and those of an independent person. Other people may disagree, but I feel as though if you yourself don't like aspects of your work (e.g. the characters or story pacing) it's often unreasonable to expect others to. And having another person to read your work after this shows you if your self-criticisms are too harsh or too lenient.

Above all, don't get discouraged if you find things that need to be fixed in your writing; this is a good thing, it means you are improving!

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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#9 Post by MoonByte » Sun Jun 05, 2016 12:30 pm

I would go as far as to say: those that don't dpubt themselves are bad at it.
If you look for example at artists that make the most gorgeous shit ever and ask them what they want to improve, they will ALWAYS be able to answer that. They might even start "whining" about errors that nobody but them sees.
Being aware that there is always someone better than you and that you can always improve is important. Doubting yourself belongs to that.

I am especially prone to that since I am not only not an native english speaker, but also more on the art than writing side. I have written short novels and made games for most of my life, but that doesn't mean that I am extraordinarily good at it. Especially in english I often even fight with such meager things like fighting with the vocabulary. I know exactly what to say in german, just to have to browse through a dictionary to find the english term. If I am unlucky, then that term has a different context, different connotation (such as "hug" and "embrace") or there might even not be a translation since it is something common to german.

So yes, I doubt my writing always. I regulary proof-read my own things and notice that I tend to be repetitive in the words and grammar I use, that I have the most simple typos and stuff. It is frustrating, but I also believe that being so picky about it will help me improve (that and moving to Glasgow).
Nonetheless, it is important to also acknowledge second opinions. If people praise you, accept it because it means you are doing good (but never accept that you might be perfect). If people critisize, check if it is valid. I mean, things like "This is the worst shit ever" is obviously something that can be ignored, but if there is something constructive like "You should be careful with not overusing if-sentences", then you should check back on that.
Especially for reusing the same words again and again, a lot of online word count websites also offer lists of which words are used the most. If it is a word that could be exchanged with others, it might be an option to at least half the amount of "but"s with "yet"s or something.

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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#10 Post by TheJerminator15 » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:50 am

It's good that you have the ability to doubt your writing, it shows you care about it and have the drive to improve. Even professional world class writers constantly doubt themselves.

There are people who will write a first draft, refuse to look over it and praise it as a masterpiece. The most relevant case I could think of is Misty Chronexia, an anime youtuber. He placed his book as a story up there with something like FullMetal Alchemist and Steins;Gate, but it was infamously really disappointing and appeared to be no more than a first draft.

For example, I doubt my work because I find myself writing incredibly slow. Which makes it hard to remain confident about writing for projects because I start panicking about whether I'll get it done and rewritten in time.
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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#11 Post by lancermonna » Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:51 pm

Do I doubt my writing skills? Ha! All the freakin' time, dude. :lol: In fact every day. But I try to shrug it off and keep going. <- That's easier said than done though. Ultimately, I strive to make my characters appear as true to themselves as possible. For me, strong well thought out characters really pull the story forward. I try to make sure that my character(s) truly sound authentic. I want people to feel like they can walk up and talk to them in real life. Does anyone else fear that players will notice that your characters are being fake or it's as if they don't have a voice of their own? This is my biggest fear.

I feel that taking the time to tell the stories my characters want me to tell is what's the most important. It may be weird, but I treat my characters as real people who come by and visit me when they have something interesting to tell. But that's just me being nit-picky about the stories that I want to develop. I fear that the player may not find my characters interesting enough to want finish my game. That's why I am spending so much time on crafting my storytelling skills. Really developing my craft so that my characters are interesting enough to grab the players attention.

I will always doubt by skills in telling an interesting story, but I don't see it as a bad thing either. Like @MoonByte stated earlier, it's good to doubt yourself. I would also recommend not letting your doubts get the best of you either. That in itself is another way of killing your game.

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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#12 Post by Rossfellow » Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:00 pm

When I made someone read my Proof of Concept draft and I realized how awful it really was I wanted (still want to) roll myself into a ditch and never surface again.

But I have to keep going.
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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#13 Post by andrewngn13 » Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:07 pm

Showing doubt about what you write is a good sign that you are looking to always improve. But I'm sure you got that idea from all the posters that came ahead of me.

1. When in doubt(which is mostly always for me) have someone read it. It doesn't have to be an editor, a friend is fine. Once they finish get feedback from them, but also ask them questions such as "Did so and so feel -insert adjective here- enough? or etc". Often times they'll tell you about parts where your writing is awkward, but it's important to know that everything else is up to par also.

2. Don't doubt yourself. Sounds hypocritical right? If you know there's one part of your story that you are absolutely certain is right, leave it at that. Worrying about it may just cause you to degrade your work without meaning to.

3. If I ever think that my writing is becoming odd or going to a weird tangent, a little exercise I do is...well do a little exercise. Getting up and clearing your mind is one of the best ways to come back to a piece and look at it in a new light.
*That was a tangent
**The exercise is try and see if you can summarize what you've written so far in as few words as possible. If it's too short, you need more details in your piece, too long you need to cut back on information. I've found if you can appropriately summarize without losing too much in the way of details, you're usually in a good spot.

Keep going OP. Your finished work should be as good as you want it to be, a measure of your determination to make something great.
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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#14 Post by Zerix » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:11 am

Honestly, I doubt my writing every time I put pencil to paper or fingers to the keyboard. I worry about how other people will read my work. Will they see some hole I have forgotten to fill? Will they think I am boring? Will they just stop reading in the middle? I have to get past those feelings every time I try to write a story, which is probably why I have started so many and finished very few. It is something I think everyone has to struggle with to some degree, lesser or greater. However, self doubt can be turned into something positive. It can be your motivation to improve yourself and your writing. The trick is to not let it strangle you and stop you from finishing.

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Re: Do you doubt your writing?

#15 Post by TheGreatTheorist » Thu Oct 13, 2016 6:44 pm

Find a plot hole? Plug it.
Characters being so plain? Color it.
Scene doesn't make sense? Tell us why.
Too fast or too slow? Look at the word count.
Don't know what to reveal? Keep it a secret.

I've been experiencing the same conflicts like yours for the last 2 years (when I write in local language on non-VN works) and it's frustrating, as if the whole world puts their pressure on me. Having a supportive comment is reassuring, but having a honest critic is always better so look for this one.

Being rejected is common for writers, you can't appeal everyone with what you work. Harsh criticism, cynical comments, and many other rocks will be hurled on you whenever you want to write anyway.

Doubting is healthy but put it aside for creative works, you are not playing russian roulette with it. You can always make improvements as you review and plug any holes in it.

Just one thing for sure: "Always know when to stop; we are making a good story, not a reality. Perfections in logic, aesthetic, and emotions can't be realized without actually experiencing it." Having past bad works can tell you everything about your weaknesses and you can learn from it. I'm awaiting your works, I'm interested in what you have in store.
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