1. riseva
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    riseva New Member

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    Cliched plot twist?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by riseva, Nov 29, 2008.

    My story begins with a girl on her way to visit a friend at her friend's college. They used to be best friends, but now they're both in college, and haven't talked in a while. As much as she wants to see her friend, our character is a little nervous that after the years apart, they won't have as much to talk about, and depressed at the realization that her friend is following her dreams, while her dreams have kind of fallen apart. Along the way, she starts drinking, to calm her nerves, but she doesn't think she's drinking too much. However, she falls asleep at the wheel, and is lucky to wake up in just enough time to swerve her car back onto the road. Realizing she's in no state to drive, she stops at a roadside motel.

    Once there, she runs into a couple staying there, and they happen to be people from her past. She speaks with them for a while, then tries to go to bed, but can't get to sleep. Instead, she spends too much time thinking about her own broken dreams, regrets from her past, and guilt about some of the bad choices she's made (drinking and driving that night was just the last straw; she's made a series of very bad decisions.) It's not going to be as angsty as it sounds, I promise. As the night goes on, more and more strange things happen (people from her past, coincidences that remind her of things, etc.)

    At the end of the story, it turns out that she didn't actually "wake up just in time." As it turns out, she actually crashed the car and died, and the motel she's staying at is a manifestation of her "personal hell" (having to relive and be reminded of certain things.) My question is: from what I've told you, how predictable is this ending? You may suspect something's up when stranger things start to happen, but is it evident from the beginning, or not? Also, how can I reveal this ending without being too explicit or cliche?
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Remove the word "cliche" from your vocabulary. Don't worry about how often an idea has been used recently. Use the ideas that feel right. If you change something because you think it's "cliche" then you might not have as good a story as you could have.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has been done before. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's no point to asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read this thread about What is Plot Creation and Development?

    (and yes, this is a template post, which should give you an idea of how often this comes up.)

    As Rei said, forget the word cliche except as it pertains to phrases and metaphors. Storylines are not cliche; that's just a high-sounding dismissal of a concept.

    Write it. The writing determines the worth, not the core idea.
     
  4. Sylvester
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    Sylvester Member

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    Every is a cliché

    My cousin and I had a discussion about this just last night.

    I am looking to put an idea I got from a comic years ago into my script. She was wondering if that was considered stealing. My answer was no, because it the same concept, but using a different means to acheive it.

    If you worry about whether its been done before, you would never find anything to write about. You wouldn't be able to "kill" anyone because somebody has already killed Mr. Green in the kitchen with the knife. Aliens have already destroyed the White House.

    Fine, just kill Mr. Green in the front yard with a falling piano. Instead of destroying it, have an alien elected president move him into the White House

    Variations of your story have come up in the Eagle's song "Hotel California" and even in an episode of the old "Night Gallery" with Sonny Bono. There is nothing wrong with using the same concept in your tale. Just put your own spin on it to make it your story.

    As for being predictable, that would depend on how you write it and the number of clues you provide. It'll also depend on who is reading it. Somebody who reads a lot of horror novels might figure it out early, but a lover of romance novels might be taken by surprise by the ending.

    Good luck.
     
  5. Tartuffe James
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    Tartuffe James New Member

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    You're story idea is very interesting. The motel 'personal hell' sounds great. A real challenge to pull off - and all the more fun for it!

    Speaking personally, I really don't like plot-twist novels. They just seem cheap - well not the plot-twist in itself, but rather forming your story around a single plot-twist, if you get me. For one it ruins the re-read value, and if your reader is on to your clever ending early in the story, then the book is as good as over with your entire arsenal being reliant on their being shocked/surprised by the ending's revelation.

    Ignoring the semantics of the word, I understand what you mean when you call it a possible 'cliché' as the whole 'he/she was dead all along' thing has been done to death (no pun intended) and doesn't help but make the story even more predictable, especially in the latter stages when I presume you will begin to drop big hints into the narrative that this is the case. Stories primed with a plot twist are like fireworks to me: if you're lucky you see a very pretty bang, but beyond that no lasting value.

    If this story was my own, I'd be tempted to try something a little different; maybe let it be known that she is dead early on and make the motel more phantasmagoric, confusing the reader with symbolism; maybe even suggest later on that she may actually be alive. Perhaps make the answer to the whole story so subtle that the reader feels a desire to pick the book up again and as a result you've made your narrative the reason for the reader wanting to read your work again and again (not so cheap any more)

    Obviously, there's no copyright or intellectual copyright on the 'he/she was dead all along' idea, so feel free to proceed if you believe you can make it work. And I wish you the best of luck whatever road you choose.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's a movie with that 'motel hell' plot... it may be 'identity'... you can check it out at a video store and see how the concept was handled there... if it's the one i'm thinking about, all the people in the motel were already dead, but had to relive their deaths to be 'released'...

    same concept has been done many times, of course, but it's how you do it that will make your version marketable--or not...
     
  7. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    I think the movie you're referring to, Maia, is Reeker.

    Identity could be something similar, of course. I've never seen it. You could probably do with watching both.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, i've been lucky enough to not have seen that one, sam!
     
  9. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    Nah, it's quite good, actually. I assure you.
     

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