Tags:
  1. pax727
    Offline

    pax727 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2009
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New York, New York...it's a wonderful town!

    A+ for character development, F for plot...what to do?!

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by pax727, Nov 16, 2009.

    ***Super-duper amateur writer alert...go easy! :redface: ***

    I'm continually finding inspirations for creating compelling characters. Yes, they tend to be the people you find in young adult, non-fantasy fiction...yet, the vast majority (and, unsurprisingly, all of the ones I actually like) pass those lovely Mary Sue "litmus tests" with flying colors. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with them...

    The frustrating reality is that every one of the interesting, realistic, developed (as much as they can be) characters, settings and 1/2 page vignettes I've relished creating sits, metaphorically molding, in a folder on my desktop entitled "Ideas." I am yet to synthesize an engaging, believable plot for one of those "Ideas."

    Where do I find inspiration for creating the plot?! I read voraciously. I talk to people. I watch people. Every plot I begin ends up a complete rip-off of something I've read or heard...or else it grinds to a miserable halt before it ever goes anywhere.
     
  2. Silverman
    Offline

    Silverman New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2009
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Grayson County, KY
    Do you have a location, or type of environment where your mind runs wild with a plot? Where it seems to have a life of its own? Mine is in a calm, low-noise area, and a story very quickly starts in my head.

    How about you find a place that does that for you, and just allow the story to run its course? Don't try to control it, just let it flow, even if it gets a little weird. You can change it later. After it has run its course, then formulate it in your mind. At least that's what I do.

    I hope I helped.

    Silverman.
     
  3. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Forget about originality in plot. It doesn't really exist. Just introduce an obstacle or conflict that your characters need to overcome, and take it from there.

    This may help: What is Plot Creation and Development?
     
  4. ManhattanMss
    Offline

    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    14
    I'll try to share a piece of advice someone gave me once about building a story. It had to do simply with "moments." You take your wonderful vignette that's given life to your A+ character and ask yourself "what's happening now?"

    If you want to deliver a "story," per se, you can't really think of your character as static (i.e., fully defined in your vignette or some prelude to the story you really want to deliver). Your reader will need to understand your character by what happens to her as she faces some unexpected circumstance. Otherwise, the reader has no reason to care how descriptive your vignette might be (how many people do you really "know" who can be fully described in a half-page?). Your A+ character will just not come alive and leap off the page till she finds herself in a tense situation of some kind. So, if you don't start out knowing what that circumstance is, then just go moment to moment till it materializes.

    Is A+ simply sitting in a chair reading a book? Okay, fine. What happens now? Understand that she cannot simply keep reading the book if you want to deliver a story to your reader. Something must happen in the following moment in order to engage your reader in a situation of some kind. Maybe she hears a noise coming from the kitchen. Then what does this A+ character do? It's gotta be something that can plausibly be drawn from (and/or added to) her "character." Does she purposefully ignore it? Does she feel a moment of terror? Does she grab a hammer and put on her shoes? Does she freak out and call the neighbors? Does the library wall blur and open itself up into an inviting meadow? Does she suddenly grow a wart on her face or find herself completely unable to speak? It's gotta be something that changes or grows her in some way from the moment before into something that fits what you want your reader (or even yourself) to come to understand as a very particular, but living, breathing, completely plausible, fictional storyline character.

    If you go moment to moment, you'll soon find your A+ character in a quandary of some kind, trying to figure out how to resolve it; and therein lies the seed of a storyline you can embellish. But the key is to keep those moments unique and surprising and to avoid having them simply unfold in a way that you or your reader or your A+ character can easily and/or accurately predict. Even if you work your way into a corner, this can give your imagination a significant boost from sheer exercise alone. And you'll probably find very interesting tidbits and twists along the way to your storyline.
     
  5. crashbang
    Offline

    crashbang Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2007
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Currently Falmouth Uni, normal home is in Essex.
    plot is inevitably linked to character. therefore, it must encompass your characters.
    if you look hard enough at your characters, the plot may well be right there in the ink.
     
  6. LordKyleOfEarth
    Offline

    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX. USA
    If you are looking for plot inspiration, look here: http://writingforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=75

    You can also google plot generator and get any number of versions. In the end its up to you, the writer, to make sense of it all. Your early work is going to stink. Your middle work won't be publishable. But eventually, after LOTS of practice, you will become pretty good.

    Swing by the Short Story contest forum (linked above) and start reading/writing stories. After the voting ends, take your story to a workshop thread (be sure to have already critiqued 2 or more other stories) and learn WHY it didn't work. What about the plot you wove was bad? Critiquing/analyzing other stories (good or bad) helps you to see what does and doesn't work. You will learn how plots operate and how they can be molded.

    If you are great at making characters, play your early stories to that strength. I used to be terrible with dialog and so my early works have basically none. They were still ok though. And don't be afraid to ask for help. Its what we are here for. :)
     
  7. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    One way to generate plots is to think of an ordinary situation, and then think of bad things that can go wrong.

    I could have sworn I responded to this before, but perhaps I forgot to.
     
  8. thewordsmith
    Offline

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    And, on the flip side of that concept (very nicely put btw) if you don't have a plot, you don't have much of anything. Building characters is not of much value if you can't get them to do anything interesting. So what do you do? Either throw them into the fire or fire them! For instance: Here I have three interesting characters. Each one of them is a wonderful, if perhaps quirky, human being full of common human passions and foibles. But they're just sitting around. BORING! Then character one comments on how boring their lives are and character 2 says that's just the way he likes it. But character 3 thinks 1 might be on to something. Maybe we need to find some kind of adventure, he opines.
    "Adventure?" 2 wonders. "Whadda we need adventure for? We've got beer and hockey. What could be better than that?"
    But now 3 is really into the idea of adventure. "You wanna live your whole life on a couch in front of the tv?" he wonders. "There's a whole world out there just waiting to be discovered!"
    "It's already been discovered," 2 reminds him.
    But 1 & 3 gang up on 2 and, the next thing you know, they have moved from watching hockey games on tv to climbing mountains.

    Now, the story is how, exactly, they got from a couch in Mom's basement in front of a 52 in flat screen to the pinnacle of Denali.

    So talk to your characters. Learn about them from them. Find out what makes them tick. Eavesdrop as they talk to one another. Find out who likes whom and who makes whose skin crawl... and why. Don't just be satisfied that you have given birth to these characters. Until you can bring them to life in your mind, they will never be more than 2-dimensional concepts. Then, let them talk, you have given them quality, now breathe life into them. Once you do that, you will have your story. Until you do that, you never will ...

    Good luck.
     
  9. Operaghost
    Offline

    Operaghost Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cogito said it best really, I was going to suggest the “borrowing “ of a plot, now I don’t mean copying the plot exactly, merely using the guidelines as a starting point and using your character building skills to tell the story properly. There was a “myth” around the Classical Hollywood age that there were only seven scripts in existence and studios would work their way through the pile, changing the genre of each script as they went to create a new film, and it is true that you can see this in existence, think about it in essence Jaws is very much a Western, it features a lone character, new to the town (who incidentally like in a western is a sheriff) who is forced to confront an enemy which is creating terror within the community, (in this case the shark) and there are thousands of similar examples, don’t bother with how original the plot may be, use basic outlines and let your characters do the rest.
     
  10. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    True, but there are still high concepts.

    A people that are all born females but turn males at the age of sixteen.

    A man with knives for fingers invades teenagers' dreams and kills them. As a result they die for real.

    A man creates a blue, cat-person avatar so that he can visit a hostile planet.

    An ET stuck on earth just wants to go home. --ET
    Aliens are stuck on earth and just want to go home. -- District 9, hmm.

    A serial killer works for the police and kills serial killers.

    etc.
     
  11. thewordsmith
    Offline

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    Donald Maass once said (And I'm loosely translating, here), Don't let your characters get too comfortable. If they are, your story becomes boring. Throw them in front of a speeding train or put a gun in their face. Make them sweat.
     

Share This Page