Terk

Story Ideas & Discussion Thread

2,559 posts in this topic

It's been mention (by Peacemaker7) of late that we could do with a thread to keep together discussion of new ideas and advice for new storytellers.

So, here we are. If you have any questions to ask or want any advice on your story, ask here, we'll only make fun of you a little bit icon_razz.gif

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by Uzee:

Hi

I have never created a FM story yet, i plan to as soon as i start playing FM 2008.

The only idea i have so far is that i start the story off by saying that i have been on a 2 year break from football, last club i managed was Osasuna in 2005, i briefly mention how i performed at this club, how my squad looked like, what my league position was etc.

Then i start telling story of my present club, which will be in FM 2008.

Please give me advice on writing a FM story. I will basicly write my thoughts and decisions that i have made etc. But i have noticed that most of you add extra sort of attractive imaginative stuff, like "a meeting with a club for an available job, at a 5 star hotel, where you observe sheets of paper containing squad and other info, while drinking a fancy drink" etc.

I was thinking of doing this type of creative stuff too, what you think???

Any advice/tips are welcome.

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by Amaroq (blatantly fishing for FMSer of the year votes):

Uzee, there's plenty of different styles to work with.

Some people do just their match results and a one-paragraph write-up of them .. while at the other end you have people who try to evoke every ounce of emotion a real match endures.

Some people do very detailed stories, and oh there happens to be some football in it, while other people do nothing but the football.

I'd say, pick what's going to interest you to keep writing it .. don't bite off more than you can chew, by which I mean, don't set yourself an extremely high standard if you're not likely to follow it with equal.

For a story to have any life, its got to entertain the author first.

Beyond that, if its well written, it'll find an audience, and don't worry so much if the audience is different from another writer's; Faramir and flipsix3, for example, both have 15,000+ views on their top active story, and their styles are very different.

Two things I would advise from a mechanics perspective:

1. Write in Word, Wordpad, or Notebook, not in the little pop-up "post" window on the website. Then cut-and-paste in when you're ready to post. (That lets you spellcheck, edit, save, etc, and prevents accidental "oops posted before I was ready" mistakes)

2. Don't "postflood" - if you drop 20 pages worth of posts one after the other, its going to be intimidating and offputting to new readers. Post a bit, leave a cliffhanger or two, and engage your readers that way.

3. Get ahead - goes hand in hand with that. If you play-and-write a bit ahead of your posting, it gives you a couple advantages. One, you'll have days where you don't feel like writing or playing, and you'll have some material saved to post then. Two, you can "foreshadow" events yet to come. Three, you may observe that something which happened a week or two earlier was more important than you thought it would be at the time.

Oh, one other thing.. when the "annual awards" nominations are posted - should be in a couple days - take the time to read several of the award nominees: if you're serious about writing your story, you can learn something from each of those authors whether their style matches yours or not - even if its a "what not to do" lesson

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Best piece of advice I could give, especially for a first story, is just to make sure you write in a style that you are totally comfortable with and enjoy. If you try to get too ambitious with a style you aren't that comfortable with you'll probably lose interest in it yourself too soon ( that is very much from experience! ).

My first story was a mish-mash of styles which probably didn't flow as well as others as a result, but I wanted to try out a few different angles - e.g. diary style, newspaper reports, narrator style and even bits of commentary or conversational interludes thrown in. I really enjoyed writing it and got a decent number of readers, probably largely because the fact I was enjoying writing it showed, even though the quality was variable.

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One of the best pieces of advice anyone can give, particularly to a newer writer is, do not be afraid to fail.

So you start your story, write it a couple of days and then think oh crap, this is not working as I expected. Don't worry. Remember there is a 7 day posting rule in this forum, you cannot post new stories more than once a week so take that time to decide what you want to do before chucking it in. But also, if you are battering along with a story and you feel it's really getting tedious to write, don't force it. No-one will think any less of you for walking away from something that isn't working out.

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Punctuation and grammar IS important. (See what I did there huh icon_razz.gif)

Many people have come on here and posted something totally unintelligible,

i woz maniging arsenil wot & we wun 2-0 & we wus gud 2.

Whilst that may be accepted in other forums these days, it is not accepted in here. For a start, no-one is going to take the time to read such bull crap anyway.

Always remember to capitalize 'I' this is one of the most annoying thing some lazy writers do. There is not excuse for it and I personally will not take the time to read a story in which the writer cannot be bothered with the basics.

Remember paragraphs. And the spacebar. So many new writers come along in their enthusiasm and post a huge long post which could be the greatest piece of writing ever, but it's all one huge chunk of text and is very painful to read.

Also remember that each portion of direct speech is a new paragraph so give

it

room to

breath.

Listen to people who offer advice and don't go taking the huff. We actually want new writers on here but stop and think for a moment, why are you writing here?

Writing is primarily for your own enjoyment, but we also write for others to read. If no-one else reads what you write, it is a bit depressing. So if people offer advice, it is because they are trying to help and listening to that advice will go a long way to ensuring that people DO read what you write and post nice comments like, wow this is really good PM7, welcome back PM7 (for the millionth bloody time), we luv you PM7!

And thats another thing. Take time to actually read other people's stories and take time to offer them praise - and advice - where appropriate. However, do not just post KUTGW in random stories in the hope that people will read yours. Reading other people's stuff is a good way to learn, and can sometimes inspire us to new ideas.

Heaven knows HD's & Terk have stolen enough of mine icon_razz.gif

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Heh, I think reciprocal theiving is a factor, to be honest.

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Oh, and DO actually base it on an actual game.

Which is something didn't do and got away with. icon_razz.gif

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Originally posted by BenArsenal:

Oh, and DO actually base it on an actual game.

Which is I something didn't do and got away with. icon_razz.gif

Silly "I"s icon_biggrin.gif

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Originally posted by BenArsenal:

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by BenArsenal:

Oh, and DO actually base it on an actual game.

Which is something I didn't do and got away with. icon_razz.gif

Silly "I"s icon_biggrin.gif </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

...... icon_rolleyes.gif

(Sorry for triple post icon_redface.gif)

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I wonder if the actual world would actually be any poorer if the actual word "actually" and its variants didn't exist icon_razz.gif

Only teasing by the way - I actually use it way too often myself even though it actually adds nothing at all to the actual meaning of a sentance icon_rolleyes.gif

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I'm pretty sure I managed to top the million mark with the word 'though' at least pre-checking anything I'd written for some reason.

Getting ahead I think is rather key to be honest, helps you maintain a steady flow of updates rather than sporadic rushes of enthusiasm, hardly critical mind.

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The question of how far ahead you play before posting is a good one. In my early stories I would tend to post more or less as I was playing so if I lost interest in a particular save then the story would grind to a halt. Now I have a self-imposed rule not to start anything that I have not played for at least one season. So now rather than having lots of half-finished stories littering up the forum I now have lots of half-finished saves littering up my hard drive!

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Hi guys, have to say this thread is a good idea icon14.gif

I started my first story a couple of months back (An Englishman in Sweden), and lost my way with it for a bit. I'm planning to do one with FM08, is there any advice you can give me having read the other one (if you have icon_razz.gif)?

Cheers

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I've just gone and read through "An Englishman in Sweden", HK, and I'd say (this is going to sound hypocritical coming from me) just make sure you get past seven posts icon_razz.gif Seriously though, from what was there it looked very promising, you were nicely building a character for yourself and it was pretty well written.

I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for your new story, whenever it should arrive.

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Thanks Terk, I'll bear that in mind icon_wink.gif

I think the problem was I didn't start the game with the intention of doing a story, and it just felt a bit disjointed coming in after three or four seasons. Add to that a lack of preparation and, well, there you go.

Lesson learned, I think. Roll on 08..

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HK, "An Englishman in Sweden" looked a lot more mature and well-developed than most "first stories". In particular, you've got: good grammar and punctuation; nice use of spacing, italics, and bold without overdoing them; good word choice; character development; and most importantly, conflict.

It didn't feel disjoint from a reader's perspective, and you're obviously beyond "intro to writing" icon_wink.gif so the things I'd remind from my earlier post are "Work in a real editor", and "Get ahead"! For you, I've an added observation that you're being too hard on yourself in your comments here. I wish I'd gotten into it to give you an encouraging "nice start" in-thread or something, it looked very promising.

. . .

Let's talk about conflict for a moment, though, as its a generally useful topic for new writers.

Its not just about giving your character "something he wants but doesn't have" - promotion, title, true love, Champions League.

The stories that really come to life for me are ones in which the author can identify and set up a recurring conflict, one which sustains indefinitely.

"The club is on the verge of bankruptcy" can last a good long while.

Board takeover rumours can last months.

Alternately, you can introduce a villain, a recurring character whose actions and goals oppose your main character's. Like two cards leaning into each other, these two can sustain a tenuous balance almost indefinitely.

In HK's final post, his chairman sells the team captain without his permission. Bam, instant conflict: between "profit" and "success on the pitch", and with the power dynamic, the fact that they're each stuck with each other.. that's a conflict he could milk for 20 pages of degenerating relationship icon_wink.gif.

There's plenty of other things you can do:

Set up a major rival, especially one with more financial muscle than you (Chelsea, United, Arsenal).

Identify a "villain" referee, and call it out every time he comes in with a call against you.

If you've got one developing, play up a player/manager conflict.

If one of your players costs you a game, play up the player/fans conflict.

If you want to tack on a fictitious conflict, more tangentially related to the game:

You could set up internal politics within your board, with a pro-manager and anti-manager faction, or some other dynamic: pro-success/pro-money, etc.

There's plenty of scope for a "villian" female character, hundreds of different directions to take that.

The "Rupert Wormwood" character (journalist as villain) in "Blade" provided immediate conflict, a "You love to hate him" sort of character.

Flipsix3 has adopted perhaps the toughest challenge for Edgar Allen, giving him conflict with himself, an authorial challenge of the highest order, to pull off successfully!

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I'm going to agree with Terk and Amaroq HunterKiller and say that your story was very promising and I wish I had come across it sooner and seen how good it was, very nice start and development of the story, despite starting six seasons in.

I shall look out for any future story you may start!

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You'd have to host them somewhere and link to them. Erm, can't remember the place people use, photo or file something.

Think I'm losing the will to live.

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what good will my story be if i cant include the screenshots ???!? icon_confused.gif

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there has to be another way to include the screenshots.............

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Originally posted by count blake:

what good will my story be if i cant include the screenshots ???!? icon_confused.gif

Screenshots won't help your story.

The point of a story is to present a written summary of your career as a manager. Including pics here would rather defeat the purpose of a story!

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ok....but i dont want people thinking im making up some random hero story, when this is what im actually going through

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We're really not the "FM'07 Records Thread". icon_wink.gif

This isn't so much about "proving that you're a good FM player" as it is about sharing your story with some friends.

Personally, I don't want a constant reminder that you're playing the game.. I want a description (like in your last post!!) that makes me emotionally involved in your experience.

That can be comedy, tragedy, your emotions, the fans' emotions, anything... but its not a screenshot! icon_biggrin.gif

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In creative-writing classes, a common mantra is "Show me, don't tell me."

For example:

TELL: The man who walked into the store was obviously nervous. Sizing up the other customers, he put his hand in his jacket to finger his gun, then realized that looked suspicious, so he took it out again.

SHOW: The man walked into the store, sweating, though it was barely 10 degrees Celsius outside. He glanced shiftily from side to side, and he kept putting his hand in and out of his pocket.

The second shows the reader that something is wrong without telling him what it is. You "see" that he is nervous .. but you don't know what he's got in his pocket, or why he's nervous.

A screen shot, of course, is the ultimate "tell me", the exact opposite of "showing me". icon_biggrin.gif

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ok, as haven't got FM 2008 yet and i ant FM for 2 years now. I will in the meantime make a structure/notes for my story, like what kind of a manager i am,kind of a profile of the me.

for example i 'd mention in the intro somewhere that deep down i prefer defensive style fo play, but would never think of converting the attacking teams tot his style. I will only hope that the right club come along where i can play a defensive style.

Also that mostly in the past there have been the strikers that do the common thing star strikers do, that is run, run fast, dribble, lost of tricks, flair, good on the eye of viewers etc. But personally like players like Van Nistelrooy, the type that score many vital tap in goals, clever positioning and doesnt run with the ball.

I will post a rough bulletpoint draft here of the intro etc of my story.

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Punctuation and grammar IS important. (See what I did there huh )

I couldn't agree more with this, in fact, for me it is the single most important thing. Proofreading also shows great respect for your readers. If I go in and see text speak, typos everywhere etc, my immediate thought is "if this bloke can't be bothered taking time over this then why should I?" It's a huge turn off (though everyone makes the odd mistake, that's natural).

When I started out I stuck stubbornly to football only. When I read stories from people like Terk and Axeman full of misfit managers with complicated personal lives, I realised that people have to be entertained as well as hearing about the football. You can also take the PM7 route, and go for more comedy type stuff.

Sticking to football only is a tough ask, if you feel like that, Amaroq does that very well, but it must be exhausting icon_rolleyes.gif and even he branches out now and then.

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The story I have in the Hall of Fame was my third one written here. It is about 95% all 'on the park' stuff, introduces a small element of 'off the park'. Most of it is also pretty rubbish by today's standards. I like to think though that what made that story so popular was that at times I was able to convey the raw emotion of what it is like to follow football and that to me is what a lot of new writers lack and some try and tack on 'off the field' activities as is in someway this is going to make their story better.

Football itself is a highly emotive game and it's odds on that the people reading know exactly what it's like to feel the pain of defeat. Which is also why winning everything is not important at all. In that story, my team did have a huge degree of success, but it did not come without a great deal of heartbreak. You cannot of course always 'arrange' for your game to provide you with poignant moments, but when it does, milk it for all it's worth!

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How to start a story

Originally posted by ______ (in e-mail):

I always like to give a big lead up to actually becoming the manager, just to set character, history and make the actual fact of you getting the job to be more realistic as opposed to what is the usual way of doing things it seems, which is:

"I somehow know the Chairman and he offered me the job"

"I'm an ex-player for the club and got offered the job"

"I was a promising professional but got an injury that ended my career early" - most overused opening or backstory in FMS

I fully agree that the "career ending injury" is the most overused opening in FMS, and those others are pretty bad, too.

If you've got to suffer a career ending injury... don't put it in the first post! icon_biggrin.gif

I think that's a typical "new writer mistake" - don't start with background. It's "Show me don't tell me" all over again.

Ideally, you want to start with a cliffhanger, to suck them into reading "What comes next". Heinlein was best at this:

"As I left the Kenya Beanstalk capsule he was right on my heels. He followed me through the door leading to Customs, Health, and Immigration. As the door contracted behind him I killed him."

Damned if anybody can read that and not read the second paragraph! (Opening lines of Friday.)

Write your backstory.. its useful for you-the-writer to know .. just don't post it!

Pick the story up in the middle, at a point where the conflict has already reached boiling... and then reveal the backstory in bits and pieces.

If you're "playing in advance of posting", that can let you choose a key moment of the season:

- Ten matches to go, six points back of safety.

- The halftime team talk which turned a game around, and after that, the season.

- The argument with one of your players which threatened to tear the team apart.. and what you did about it.

- The player rising for a header which he just has to win.

- The injury which turned a promising season to mud in a split second.

Alternately, if you're going for a strong out-of-game story, don't start with anything football related at all: start by setting up the out of game conflict. Read flipsix3's opening post of Leaving the past behind: until the last paragraph, you can't even tell that its about football at all... but anybody whose ever had a breakup immediately identifies with Ed, and we get the first glimpses into his character in how he handles it.

More importantly, we've established the conflict, and what he wants, and how what we needs is different from what he wants..

Some other classic "First Posts":

The Bet (Faramir) - a powerful man visibly nervous entering a seedy building? .. of course you have to read on to find out why!!

The Strands of Time (PM7) - a murder? A life that our narrator could have saved? .. of course you have to read on to find out why!!

The True Story of a Footballing Legend (PM7) - Starting with a funeral? Why did so many people care?

The Highly Recommended, Improving Influence of Cold Hard Cash. (attjen) - Why are we here? Qatar? Americans? Shady dealings? What?

They each throw the reader into the deep end; few of them even reveal the team involved. icon_biggrin.gif

They're all a lot more "gripping" than "After the shock sacking of Joe Bloggs, the new manager of Somewhere FC was .. ME!"

So, why write the backstory at all?

For yourself.

You want to know more about your character than we-your-readers do. He'll be a lot more "alive" if you have details to let slip, possibly to let slip repeatedly.

Playing career ended via injury? Don't reveal that until its relevant to the character, maybe because his achy knee can sense the storm coming. ;-)

He used to play for Clermont? Have somebody mention that to him in conversation.

If nothing else, having unrevealed backstory and characterization to reveal as you go keeps it from losing your "out of game" stuff and falling into a matches-only story; you still have work to do as a writer!

The flip side of it is, you can do foreshadowing. His favorite side is Newcastle? Mention it early.. and have him follow Newcastle's results even if he's managing several divisions below. Then when he gets offered the Newcastle job, your readers have an emotional investment in Newcastle already, and may already know some of the key players.

Other things you can do - give your character details. A favorite drink ("Shaken, not stirred."). A phobia ("Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?"). A car - better yet, one with personality ("Gay, bounce!"). A pet. A friend who has nothing to do with football. A bogey team. A recurring saying. A mannerism. ... they'll all come together to make the character "alive" much more than.

Limit yourself to revealing no more than one per post.. and come back to them. Repetition breeds comfort.. and real people are creatures of habit.

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Of course, if you're HD, feel free to ignore all of that and drop the injury direct into the title. icon_biggrin.gif

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The counterpoint to the old "injury ruined my prospective glittering career" is to have actually had a glittering career, which I did with the character in my stories.

The benefit of this is it adds instant depth to a character and story (as with the character in mine going back to Inter having been one of the club's legendary players). It also makes it more believable that you would get hired to all these huge clubs (i.e. that you had a big reputation in the first place), as opposed to "major footballing shock, Barcelona hire Joe Soap from Middlesbrough who was on the dole at the time".

Oh and I may have mentioned this before but making the character a complete larrikin helps a lot. Via this route, I even managed to get a libel trial into one of my stories, as well as the usual drug taking, boozing, and womanizing stories.

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OR actually not have a glittering career or an injury, but like most successful football managers just be an ordinary, run if the mill player. And of course, it depends as well which level you are managing. It also depends whether your story is serious or amusing.

The only openings that seriously annoy me are those that offer nothing to the story, or are just plain ridiculous. Joe Soap can go to be manager of Barcelona but there has to be a damned good reason, even if it's just their President got the wrong number, and you then have to be consistent throughout the story.

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I would also that whilst everything Amaroq says may be correct, it is also totally wrong.

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Sometimes you can ignore all the 'rules', and it just Works.

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Getting past the reason why I am the manager is always the most tedious part of a story for me. As far as I am concerned it is totally uninteresting and just something that has to be "got past" in order to establish even a hint of authenticity to my being manager. I am definitely guilty of using the 3 most used reasons above simply because I can't be bothered fabricating a past for every story!

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im wondering, would it be better to show the story, match by match, rather than any rubbish boardroom stuff, i always get bored by that .

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Originally posted by glamdring:

Getting past the reason why I am the manager is always the most tedious part of a story for me. As far as I am concerned it is totally uninteresting and just something that has to be "got past" in order to establish even a hint of authenticity to my being manager. I am definitely guilty of using the 3 most used reasons above simply because I can't be bothered fabricating a past for every story!

Basically, no imagination, it's why you'll never be one of the forum greats icon_razz.gif

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Originally posted by count blake:

im wondering, would it be better to show the story, match by match, rather than any rubbish boardroom stuff, i always get bored by that .

Write it how you best feel comfortable with. Apart from the obvious spelling, grammar etc there really are NO rules.

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Originally posted by Peacemaker7:

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by glamdring:

Getting past the reason why I am the manager is always the most tedious part of a story for me. As far as I am concerned it is totally uninteresting and just something that has to be "got past" in order to establish even a hint of authenticity to my being manager. I am definitely guilty of using the 3 most used reasons above simply because I can't be bothered fabricating a past for every story!

Basically, no imagination, it's why you'll never be one of the forum greats icon_razz.gif </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

True icon_razz.gif

I'm interested mostly in the football though - I like to sometimes bring in other aspects concurrent with the football, but there are only a small handful of realistic reasons for someone becoming manager of a football club. Imagination is fine so long as it is believable icon_wink.gif

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It only has to be believable though, within the context of the story. It's why stories which open with, I was sitting at home when the Man Utd chairman phoned me to offer me a the job as manager even though I have never been involved in football, totally turn me off and I won't read beyond that because quite clearly the story will be tripe.

You can though write a story about being offered the Man Utd job without any experience, it really just depends how you do it and at the end of the day, some people will read any old crap anyway.

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It's also about confidence too - the reason that, for instance, HD and myself can write stuff that is 'off the beam' so to speak is mainly because we have the confidence (or arrogance if you like) in our own abilities to pull off virtually anything story wise in this forum. Others don't have that confidence and end up trying too hard, and it shows.

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Having played round with FM08 a bit. I was wondering is there a call for a superleague style story? I was trying to think of some sort of twist in the way of writing it but can't yet think of one.

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There's always room for 'superleague' stories. Depends where your bias lies, big club/small club etc. You could 'dispose' of a smaller league and fill it with teams that are in the game but not manageable or just go for a traditional big Euro or world league.

If memory serves me right, have we ever really had a truly successful 'superleague' story - apart from the odd 'Old Firm in the EPL'

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