1. hauntedHarlequinn
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    hauntedHarlequinn New Member

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    Alright, I'm out of ideas. Internet I need help.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by hauntedHarlequinn, Mar 13, 2014.

    I have a really really really stupid writing dilemma.

    Okay, let me start at the beginning.

    I am a writer. I love to create. To share my creations, I sometimes use some unusual... storytelling formats, I suppose, that are beyond just written text in a book. I like to make my stories interactive on some level. Much of it is shaped by audience responses, and they can even ask questions of the characters and "talk" to them to help develop their stories. Over the past few years, I've built up a whole massive cast of developed characters that all live simultaneously in this world. The way it's worked out is that everyone is a main character and a background character at the same time.

    In this universe, I have a town I've been working with. I've found the best way to explain the said town and it's role in this story is to compare it to a town you'd find in a video-game RPG. You stroll in, and are surrounded by a billion cardboard-cutout NPCs at once. There are shops, there is a town layout, landmarks, and sometimes local lore. It's somewhat like that, only waaaay more elaborate. Every "building" you'd find is detailed and has a purpose. Every single "NPC" in this town is their own, fully developed character, each with their own lives and motifs and backstories and plotlines. And there is a lot of them. As in, last I checked, we were over one-hundred collective, individual fictional people who live in this town and have their own complex story going. All. At. Once.

    Now, lets get back to the dilemma.

    Most of the time the different arks that emerge are only between a set number of characters. Every once in a while, there'll be some sort of event that impacts the running "stories" of everyone (or at least a large number) in this town. Recently, I've decided to initiate a new plotline that covers... potentially the whole town. And what is this plotline, you ask?

    Someone died.

    Keep in mind that there are no background characters for this universe. I actually chose to kill off a well-established, known character that, previously, had been living in this town and was friends with a lot of people and lived an active life. Dead. Just like that. This particular character was young, and a fan favorite too, so the reveal got quite the reaction from my audience. The character was murdered, and not only that, but had their body strung up on display in the town center with no obvious killer so everyone knew about it as soon as it was discovered.

    A group of investigators has formed and they're looking in to the murder of this character. As the plot progresses, they discover that this murderer is actually a serial killer, meaning that characters. keep. dying. one. by. one. The center of this plot revolves around uncovering the identity of the killer, and my audience is very motivated to solve it! (Which I'm very, very excited about!) Thus, eeeevery single one of my five-kajillion characters are suspects.

    Since this story is interactive, my amazing audience has played a major role in collecting evidence for the case. A multitude of theories have surfaced pointing to a whole bunch of different suspects as the killer. Now, since it's my job to make this story, well, a story, I've had to adapt the plotline based on the audience's investigation so that the pacing isn't terrible. My audience is apparently smart as hell, so to make it work this killer has wound up being a lot more elusive and powerful than I originally anticipated. I've wound up adapting, and adapting, and adapting, and adapting, and adapting, and adapting my story to fit the running timeline so that they have something fun to work with, trying to keep my overall endgame in mind.

    So I'm sitting there, without pants at two in the morning, reading all these complex theories people have put forward on the identity of the killer and possible motives, and coming to the inevitable conclusion that my fans are all better writers than I am.

    They don't know what's going on.

    And now I don't know what's going on.

    I've wound up changing things around so much that my original secret evil plotting no longer makes very much sense anymore. I've had to change around the direction of the ark multiple times so that it's still challenging and fun for my audience, but I've wound up just as lost as they are in the process. I can't go back at retcon past events to fit my planning, because it's unfair for my audience if I change around their source material on the spot (and they'll know whatever I change is important). I'm terrified of leaving behind plotholes, so I have to make sure everything that's happened connects somehow and can be explained. I can't discuss it with my usual writing buddies, because they're some of the main ones writing these theories and I want them to have the fun of finding out for themselves too. I'm not too confident with the reveal I've been building up to this whole time, because I feel like it's too obvious in context and won't have as big an impact. I've thought about just dropping my original plot and picking up a theory like, "WHOOPS, YOU GOT ME, THIS HAS BEEN MY PLAN THIS WHOLE TIME WHAT A SMART AUDIENCE YOU ARE", but you have to remember that whatever the outcome of this plot is it affects three-billion other stories that are going on at the same time, and I'm not sure if I can handle the outcomes of those theories in conjunction with other things I want to happen. I want to keep up the illusion that I'm some kind of mastermind plot expert and that I have this entire story line under control so my audience doesn't feel cheated, so I can't come out and say "Yeah guys I have no clue what's going on anymore." At this point, I'm running mainly on Schrodinger's plot points, that one Hemingway quote that goes: 'What matters is the Journey not the End' or something, and a whooole lotta bullshitting.

    And thus lies my dilemma.

    Help?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi, welcome to the forum. It's a tad hard to parse your post. Is this a role-play piece? Crowd-sourced? Just how are 'they' interacting with 'you'?
     
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  3. hauntedHarlequinn
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    hauntedHarlequinn New Member

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    Why thank you!

    Sorry, I only just realized I was a bit unclear about that. It's... Kinda both, actually. People have characters who go through and interact, mostly exploring the town as I relay information about what's going on around them. Think, like, a Dungeons and Dragons-esque system. However, the vast majority of the theorizing and evaluation of what is presented to them is discussed outside of game. In a sense, there's two main groups; One for roleplaying the info out, the other being 'the crowd' which reads up on it and talks it over.

    Much of what is discussed between sessions, when the crowd is active, impacts how the 'role players' are going to go about the next session. There's also a disproportion of power among me and the players, so its a lot closer to a crowd-driven story than a text-by-text even roleplay.

    Does that clarify anything?
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Yeah. Clean your questions up a bit (i.e. thin/trim the post) and post a new thread in this sub-forum:

    http://www.writingforums.org/role-play-discussion/

    See what happens. :)
     
  5. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    Whoa! In what sense do readers "talk" to characters and ask them questions? Do they receive answers? How??
    At this point I stopped reading your post. You aren't making a lick of sense.

     
  6. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't fully understand the circumstances you've got here, but it sounds like you shouldn't have been reading your 'audiences' guesses in the first place, and you should have set up who the killer was before you killed off this character.

    But that's hindsight...

    Have someone confess to the murder. Ever watch a cheap TV murder mystery? Halfway through the show, someone will say: "I did it! I fed Tim to the sharks!" You're like: "Yeah right, that's too easy and they haven't even filled their prime time spot. The murderer is usually the character who is designed to look the most innocent, because it's more gratifying when it's who you least expect; "Omigosh, the vicar? Really?"

    Since people are used to this, play on it. Have other characters doubt the guilt of the confessor, and try to prove his/her innocence and solve the crime. Your audience will go wild with speculation: "Why did he confess?"
    "He obviously didn't do it"
    "Who's he covering for?"

    No one will be making theories about that character. They back off, and you get a chance to work in.

    In the end, key characters will be closing in on possible suspects only to find that it was the confessor all along.

    I think it might ease up your problem.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2014
  7. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    Am I the only one who didn't understand OP?
     
  8. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    No
     
  9. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    Brilliant, I'm not the insane one.
     
  10. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    I have a different nominee for that honor. o_O
     
  11. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    You called?
     
  12. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    Wait your turn. There are seriously ill people ahead of you.
     

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