1. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    Boring plot?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Dagolas, Dec 7, 2014.

    Hey everyone,

    I'm a bit scared this plot idea I had is too boring. I know the way you write it and such can make something boring not boring (as Cogito will undoubtedly reply to this thread stating that), but sometimes it doesn't really apply (try writing an exciting action-packed thriller novel about binmen), and I was wondering if this is something that could work if it was done right, and if you would read it personally:

    The novel's set in the 2100's. Pollution and other phenomenons have pushed the climates of the world around and the story is set in the cold wasteland of South Africa. It's divided in certain places, some having a poorly working Plutocracy and others have just descended into Anarchy, with different warring groups of pirates, fighting for control. This shift killed most of the animals and plants, only a handful surviving.
    The protagonist is a German Professor of languages, who is comissioned by the South African government to write an account of the history of South Africa of the past 50 years (when a lot of books were lost in the first anarchic insurrections). The protagonist travels around this cold South Africa, going to various locations to learn more about the culture and history.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't really have a plot, I wouldn't say. You've got a premise, and a character, and a setting.

    A plot traditionally follows that old rising action-climax-denoument structure, and I'm not seeing any of that in your summary.

    What obstacles does the professor face? What is the source of conflict?
     
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  3. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    I haven't really determined a conflict, which I supposed is a big factor in it being boring or not. In terms of obstacles he'll be with two other companions who'll help him, and they'll get into various troubles such as surviving in the wild and the pirates in the aforementioned Anarchy-ruled zones (which they'll have to travel to so as to get background).
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, so it sounds like you've got obstacles. I'd say you need to raise the stakes. Why does he need to write this history? What happens if he fails? Is he trying to draw together warring factions by showing them they have things in common? Trying to prove himself to his father before he dies? Trying to... what? Once you have that figured out, you've got your main conflict - his desire to complete the history (for... reasons) vs. all the obstacles in his way. It's often more emotionally satisfying if there's a clear antagonist, like someone who doesn't want him to complete the history. You could keep all the little obstacles you've thought of and include a few more that relate to this main antagonist, and then have the climax be some sort of showdown with the bad guy.

    I mean, this is a pretty populist, genre-based approach to your plot. If you're writing literary fiction or something, maybe you want something more flexible, less traditional. But if you're writing for the mass market? I think a central conflict is hard to avoid.
     
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  5. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    I can't really picture an antagonist who would want to hinder writing down history.

    His goal is success to prove himself and progress as an individual.
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What genre are you thinking this will be? I mean, scifi, obviously, but with a sort of literary approach?

    If you're going for straight-up scifi, I think you need a larger conflict. If it's literary... I guess maybe it could work? I don't know.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that you have a premise and not a plot. It's not about a boring or exciting plot; it's about a lack of a plot.
     
  8. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, some kind of central antagonist is important. Otherwise, it's a lot harder to plot the story. Maybe a deadline, like some kind of disease?

    Our German Languages Professor only has three months to document the history of New Southern Africa. No one else with his qualifications will take on the job, because his predecessor was captured and tortured to death. Will he save the region's last half-century of history from oblivion and make a name for himself, or be murdered before his illness finishes its own campaign?
     
  9. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm seeing plot holes in this premise, not plot...

    1/ Pollution and other phenomena: I can accept that global warming (or perhaps just cyclical climate patterns, such as the "little ice age" of 1350 onwards) has resulted in S.A. becoming cold, but "other phenomena"? Has the tilt of the earth been affected? Orbit around the sun?

    2/ Pirates are generally thieves in boats, not on dry land - then, they're just thieves.

    3/ Why is a Professor of languages being commissioned to write a history? Has there been a pogrom against historians? And is there any relevance in his being German?

    4/ What is the relevance that a lot of books were lost within the last 50 years got to do with the need to write a history of the last 50 years? I would have thought that most of the books that were lost dealt with history prior to the last 50 years.

    5/ If civilization is as dire as you're saying, is a new history really what the government should be focussing upon?
     
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  10. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    I like the set-up. The idea of snow-covered South African setting is interesting. I imagine these pirate groups moving through blizzards, hidden in the snow, ambushing travellers.

    As Shadowfax mentions though, things sound pretty dire. Should the government really be worried about recording their history, when their future is so bleak? Wouldn’t the majority of the surviving population be starving? What’s happening in the rest of the world and what are they doing to help, both in South Africa and at home?

    Also, surely as this climate shift had happened, history would’ve continued to be recorded? The unaffected/non-anarchic countries would still have books about the history of South Africa. Would there really be any need for somebody to travel there, simply to write a history book?

    Personally, I’d consider some other reason for your protagonist to be heading into the South African wastelands, especially when the risk is so high for such little reward.
     

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