1. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    And then... ? (stuck !!)

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by joanna, Feb 11, 2012.

    You've just escaped an abusive home and traveled over six hundred miles to find your long lost sister. Your best friend and travel companion has recently died. You get off your bus and are standing on a busy street in a big city in the middle of Chinatown. You have yet to find your sister. You're hungry and worn out, with an angry determination to survive and persevere. You've got about eighty bucks and a Habitat for Humanity bag containing clean underwear and a toothbrush. You are alone. You ...

    I know my character pretty well. I know where the story starts and ends. But I've been stuck at this point, and I don't know what happens next. My character doesn't know either. My character has been frozen, standing on the sidewalk in front of a Chinese restaurant, for two weeks now.

    I need to continue the conflict, the tension, the obstacles... she doesn't know anybody here yet. She's in Boston, and I've been out of the city for some time and am having a hard time bringing myself (and therefore my character) back there mentally.

    What do you do when this happens? Even brainstorming possibilities leaves me stuck. What do you recommend?

    Appreciate any help.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Then your character gets mugged, and goodbye eighty bucks, goodbye underwear and toothbrush.

    When in doubt, make the situation go from bad to worse.
     
  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    good advice from Cogito, I think I would do that too, raise the tension even more. i did something similar in a story of mine, having my main character travelling across the ocean (from europe to the us) to find her dad, and when she arrived the lost part of her luggage where her money and ticket home were located.
    Is this the character you've been talking about before who's also very young? in that case I'd say it would be pretty likely to kind of give up the search for a while, just taking care of the immediate needs like food and a place to sleep, rather than looking for the sister, but it also depends on what kind of person the character is. She could persist in searching and ask someone to help her. is this character used to the life in big cities or has she never been to such a place before? there are so many things to consider in order to know how someone would react. If you could give us some more information about this character it would be easier. or you could just skip that part for now, write about when she actually find the sister (if that is actually what she is meant to do) and write the searching part later, just go on from where you know what will happen and maybe you'll get ideas further ahead.
     
  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or, you could have a big limo pull over and offer her a ride.
     
  5. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Goes in to the restaurant. They're doing an all-you-can-eat for 10 dollars (or whatever) deal. Given her circs, (and perhaps something she would never have done previously), she piles some noodles into her bag... and is pounced upon by aggressive staff. A stranger - male perhaps - attempts to intervene to spare her but his kindness is rudely rebuffed. Perhaps this stranger makes a later appearance. :eek:

    Says something about her, her state of mind etc etc
     
  6. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Just a suggestion, but perhaps she could get mugged, and then have the mugging intervened by someone who could then offer her a place to stay for a while. Being desperate, she considers and accepts. This would get her a possible ally which could help her find her sister.
     
  7. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Or a predatory abuser who will try to force her into drugs or prostitution.

    As Coggy says, bad to worse... ;)
     
  8. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    And then she half-collapses, the weight of her journey finally seeping into her bones, making her feel for all the world as though she is truly alone. She makes her way to a convenience store and buys a mountain dew and two sausage rolls, eating the hottest one first, and then the other when it is only lukewarm. She passes a homeless shelter where food is being given out and she's invited in by a man in full Catholic garb. She talks to him extensively, confessing her sins despite not being Catholic (or perhaps because of it) and the priest invites her to his home, telling her he'll help out.

    He makes her realise the true and invaluable depths of faith, and she manages to find her long lost sister eventually, who has no faith in anyone or anything or in herself, and MC realises how hopeless her life was before finding her long lost sister and she returns to the priest and tells him what she knows of her sister and she's not sure whether she wants to go home so she lives with the priest and has faith in life and does some awesome stuff.

    Also the priest is black and she steals his virginity. Steals it like the thief she is. What a horrible person.
     
  9. Snap228
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    Snap228 Member

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    This was going to be my suggestion. If you character doesn't know what happens next, have someone make the decision for her.
     
  10. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Interesting suggestions so far. My thought was that you know what she wants but why can't she have it? What is holding her back? It could just be bad luck like getting mugged but if you can find something bigger and more determined than bad luck you have a better story.
     
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  11. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    From what the OP has said I got the impression that she's looking for her sister but has absolutely no leads, which imo is a good enough reason to not be finding her. From a narrative perspective it would make sense for the protag to get entrenched in the city, making allies and enemies and overcoming her current poverty somewhat.
     
  12. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    Thank you all very much for the suggestions. I particularly like the bad to worse scenarios.

    She is young, yes, and she's grown up in a small city with high crime rates. She doesn't really know how to find her sister. Also, she's kind of scared of trying -- she knows her sister comes from a well to do family and she herself has grown up poor. She thinks her sister might despise her. (She doesn't state these things explicitly -- it's something implicit in the story.) So, she doesn't find her sister right away. She meets other people, gets into other trouble of some kind.

    Now I have a better idea of what kind of trouble she might get in. She might get mugged. She might meet someone who helps and simultaneously hurts/corrupts her.

    More ideas welcome.
     
  13. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    LOL.

    That is something she would do.
     
  14. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Murphy's Law: anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

    Naturally, it follows that anything she would do, she will do.
     
  15. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a good point, Amy.

    You might want to keep in a mind a distinction:

    Stuff that happens to the character v. stuff that happens because of the character

    Being mugged, for example, says a lot about the environment, perhaps, but not much about her.
    It is not, in itself, a suggestion that has no merit, that can't be successfully worked with..but too much of this sort of thing and the work begins to look unsophisticated (to the point of looking absurd or deliberately comedic)..

    Yeah so then she was mugged, then she came down with cancer, then she found her sister (in the obit column of the local rag) etc etc
     

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