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Writing isn't like drawing, and I can't take a step back and look at it and search for flaws in the story, because it's in my head already, and I know it, and I can't forget it. So when I write I write blindly, not knowing the quality of the end result. I wonder if there are ways to help me there, so even if I didn't know with my heart, I knew with my mind that at least it's not wrong in this and that. One of the ways I came up with is to plan my story arcs instead of just writing it. Another way to have a friend who'd read my story and be my guiding dog, but I don't have friends or editors or money for editors. So, do you know any other ways to help my problem?

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    "I can't take a step back and look at it and search for flaws in the story" Actually, that's something you should be trying to do. You might need to put it aside for a few weeks or months before you come back and look at it, though. Apr 14 at 16:06
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There are two sides of writing. First, is the glorious act of creation, thinking up plots, fleshing out characters, and building worlds. Then there is the mundane, blue-color work of making all of those dreams make some kind of sense (also known as revisions).

I think that you are asking about the second and less glamorous part of the job. I will tell you about how I go about this work, but every writer has their own take on this. I typically make multiple passes over the work, focusing on a different aspect of the writing each time. The following paragraphs cover some but not all of the possible things to look at.

Obviously, you need to look at spelling and grammar. I also look at the variation of sentence and paragraph structures. Is there enough variation? Are there sentences that are too long? Are there paragraphs that are too long? Is the choice of vocabulary appropriate? These are micro tests that deliberately ignore the larger picture.

Next, I look at the physical and temporal sequencing of the events in the story. Does the story require a character to be in two places at the same time? Is it clear to the reader what the actual sequence of events is, given flashbacks, foreshadowing, and other writerly tricks? In other words, could the events of the story happen in a real world? There might be reasons why that requirement should be waived, but the writer should make that decision consciously.

Next, I look at point of view. The rule is that each scene should have a single point of view. There should be no jumping from from one point of view in one sentence to another point of view in the next sentence. As always with these rules, there are exceptions and some of these exceptions are regarded as great literature. But you appear to be starting out and my advice is to crawl before trying to leap the abyss.

A related topic is the narrative structure of the story. Who is telling the story? To whom are they telling it? How close in time are they telling it? How close in terms of emotional content is the narrator (that is, showing rather than telling)? Take the same plot but think about it as if it were told to a lover, to a judge, to a stranger in a bar, or to a dead grandfather. Each of these choices creates a different story, some better, some not so much.

Another related topic is the decorations in the story. What does the point of view character notice? What do they not notice? Colors, smells, textures, sounds, music, industrial design, fashion, and a hundred other things can be used to decorate, and thus enrich, the story.

By looking at all of these different aspects, as well as hundreds of others, you can come back to the overall story with fresh eyes. You may find that the story has changed considerably from the story you started with. You might even find that you, as the writer, have changed as well.

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  • Do you really look at spelling and grammar, sentence length etc. before the big picture? Doesn't it feel like a waste to perfect all that stuff on something you end up cutting out? (Or are you just using it as practice?) Apr 14 at 16:09
  • I do that to get as far from the story as possible. Think of it as a calming exercise. It may turn out to be a waste of time but I tend to knead stories many times before they escape. Apr 14 at 22:31
  • Fair enough. I tend to just get away from it by putting it aside for a bit. Apr 14 at 23:43
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I had this problem for years. In fact, I think all writers do. You can't experience your writing the way other people do, because you bring so much personal context to each word and scene.

I think you're actually asking two separate questions here. In terms of structure, there's a lot of good books that can help you learn how to bring order to your writing. The ones I'm currently recommending are The Writer's Journey, Story Genius and Techniques of the Selling Writer.

As far as getting feedback, after years of avoiding it, I joined an online writing group and it's been one of the best experiences of my writing life. The one I'm with is called Scribophile, and I recommend it highly (NOTE: This is not spam, I have no financial interest in the the group). They have a "karma" system that encourages high quality feedback. But I'm sure there are plenty of other good options as well.

I DON'T recommend soliciting feedback from friends and/or family. That's just a recipe for tears and frustration.

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  • +1 for that last sentence. i take great pains to keep my writing accounts out of family hands, lol. Apr 15 at 9:49

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