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  1. GunGrave TZA
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    GunGrave TZA Member

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    Does this plot summary sound emotionally satisfying?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by GunGrave TZA, Jul 5, 2011.

    Hey guys, I'm currently working on my first fully fledged novel that I have tried to develop rather than make up as I go along. However, the 5 page plot summary I currently have is radically different in terms of structure compared to most novels. Yes, there is a clear climax and conclusion, but those are the only real trademark moments in the story.

    As well as that, I didn't really follow any guides on creating a good plot as I wanted to write it as I pleased, so I really went with how I felt the plot should go. Because this is my first novel, and becuase of how hugely different the plot is to most traditional structures, I am quite protective of revealing the contents of it.

    Because of that, I will only post a summary in bullet points. Could you tell me if this sound unique, exciting, unexpected and emotionally satisfying?

    • Post apocolyptic world after nuclear war
    • Man goes to settlement for x reason
    • Quite peaceful with a calm leader
    • Settlement in war with some sort of creatures, saying things like "You'll pay" and "You're no better than us"
    • One creature taken by settlement soldiers, settlement leader beats him excessively violently to the man's surprise, only stops when man physically holds him back
    • Family in settlement disappear, nobody seems to know who they were/care, only their son John is alive
    • Settlement leader has no idea what has happened but suggests creatures kidnapped them, gives man + John 2 hours to find them (thinks they will attack if settlement gate left unlocked for too long)
    • John + man kidnapped by creatures, leader is quite calm and human
    • Explains related to settlement leader in some way, was kicked out because wanted settlement leader to stop a certain completely wrong practise (what that practise is I'll let you decide ;))
    • Explains creatures were just sevrely disfigured humans with skitzophrenia as a result of not being in shelter during the bombings
    • Man + John say family have gone missing, creature leader says they could be experiancing the same thing right now and this is "the last straw"
    • Final battle between creatures and settlement troops, John + man on creatures side, settlement leader seems dictator-like saying he was doing it "for the greater good"
    • John killed, man cornered and makes speech revealing the horrors that were occuring in secret: This convinces troops to drop their weapons and turn them on settlement leader
    • Find the family unharmed
    • Settlement leader spared, after revealing horrors he commited to others in the settlement there is a vote on what to do, he is executed by a small margin of the vote
    • Funeral for John, new settlement made consisting of both creatures and normal people, named "New Eden"

    Again, this is an extremely simplified version of the plot as I don't want to give too much away. But anyway, thoughts?

    Edit: If you think this is too simplified and just comes across as confusing, let me know. If many people find this to be the case, I'll make a new summary that adds a LOT more information.
     
  2. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Okay well, first of all if the story is what you want to write and you've made it the way you're happy with it, there's not much we can add. We can't tell you what to do with your story and normally I don't even read these posts. The reason we can't tell you if it's good, or satisfying, or works, etc. is because it's highly dependent on how you've actually written it. The plot really doesn't mean anything and to be fair, your plot seems pretty normal to me. I don't see anything fantastically new and different about the progression, but maybe you left that part out. We all want to be original, it's what we need to be, but the way you do that is by writing effectively, not by having strange progressions and gimmicks. That's like sending your MS to an agent on pink stationary with rose edging. You'll stand out, but not the way you were hoping.

    Also, you may wish to consider what type of schizophrenia your "creatures" are suffering from. I honestly don't see how it plays no matter what kind it is, but maybe it's more relevant in the story. Either way the different types have very different symptoms and you should consider that.

    Hope this isn't coming across as rude. It's just that we can't tell you if your story is good. We haven't read it.
     
  3. GunGrave TZA
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    GunGrave TZA Member

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    Phew, normal, that's good. :p

    Yes, I spesifically tried to avoid gimmicks. I wanted to try and create something that was serious and belivable and ground it in reality as much as possible, and so there are very few gimmicks. That's why there is the skitzophrenia reasoning for these "creatures" being violent for no reason. I'm thinking about changing the reasoning for it or maybe adding an origin to how it started (I'm thinking something like an underground vault with a faulty filtering system).

    I'm not offended at all that it's not different. In fact, that's a good thing to me as it's not as inapproachable as I thouhgt it would be. And I AM completely happy with how it's going, but it's just in the planning stages. Around the first 2/3 bullet points have actually been written at this stage. So if there are any major story problems that anybody finds that I can't, then I am willing to change it.

    And well, once I can access the Novel section of the forum I am planning to post the Prologue in full. It's essentially a mood-setter for the rest of the novel, so it'll give you a good idea of my writing style. :)
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It sounds like a normal plot. Not very original, but then again, I don't believe there's anything "original" - there're only fresh ways to present unoriginal things. In short, it's all in how you write it. But it certainly sounds like it has all the ingredients to be an intriguing novel. Sounds like the sorta plot I'd like to read anyway (or rather a film I'd watch since I rarely do sci-fi when it comes to books).
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Cue Cogito with his standard "A story concept means nothing ..." post ...

    But that's true. A story is made great or ho-hum by how well it's written. There are thousands, if not millions, of boy-meets-girl romances out there. One of them is Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" - a great work of literature, while many of the rest are standard formula novels, like Harlequin Romances. Utterly forgettable and dull, in other words.

    What separates a brilliant story from a mediocre story is not the plot. For beginners, that seems to be a hard hurdle to get over; beginners usually think it's ALL about the plot. But the same plot could be written by a genius and by a hack, and the genius will produce a great work and the hack will produce trash. So the quality - the interest - of the work is not the plot. It's all in the writing.

    That's why there are dozens of threads in these forums started by newcomers asking "Here's my plot - is it okay?" And the answers are always "We can't answer that question - it's all in the writing."

    So just write it as well as you can. Revise and revise and improve it as much as you can. If you're good enough, you'll create a true work of art.
     
  6. GunGrave TZA
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    GunGrave TZA Member

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    Okay, got it, it's the writing style and not the story that makes a book great, but the story I have came up with is perfectly fine. A good story acts as a solid foundation IMO, however.

    Thanks for the feedback, guys, again I will post the opening sometime soon. :)
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I think the whole "creatures who were former humans but became monsters after a Nuke bomb" is really overdone. I'm not trying to be rude, just honest. Movies like "The Hills have Eyes" just put out the same old plotline so many times it's not even scary anymore. Plus, have you read books like "Hiroshima"? Radiation sickness is horrible and disgusting (skin/eyes melting etc), but isn't going to turn someone into a mutant bloodthirsy monster. When you get radation sickness: 1) you look gross and feel really sick, and 2) you die. That's it.

    I think there's more potential to take a different route, because I like the rest of the story. What if the powers that set off the nuke bomb were also doing human experimentation with DNA splicing to create a new species, or what if the nuke bomb activated some chemical in the air in order to awaken an alien life form that had been dormant on Earth since the beginning of time, but lacked the chemical balance necessary to awaken?

    Just thoughts....
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    (As heralded by the minstrel):

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

    There's no benefit in 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 What is Plot Creation and Development?
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Knew it was coming! :)
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I understand that all plots have been done many times before, and that there's always one more way to do a plot, and do it well. As I see it, this is the "people in power scapegoat people who are different" plot. I'm sure that it can be done well many more times. But because it _has_ been done so many times, I feel that there are more demands on it. For example, you're unlikely to get open-mouthed "How could that possibly happen?" surprise and indignation; you're more likely to get a "Yeah, yeah, corrupt people in power. Next?" reaction. So your story has to offer enough interest and complexity to get along without that surprise and indignation element.

    Some specific concerns:

    - Does schizophrenia really happen as a result of a short-term traumatic experience in adulthood? I think that you may need another cause for the 'creatures', or at least a different mental illness.
    - The name New Eden strikes me as fairly sentimental. I think that you may be facing a more cynical reader than you may expect.
    - I find it a bit unsatisfying that the "creatures" are human. The lesson seems to be, "Well, if they were aliens, of course they'd deserve it, but they're _humans_!"
    - Why is the leader so angry and out of control that he has to be held back from beating one of the creatures? Surely he'd want to cover his "badness" more thoroughly than that. Why does he need to hide the existence of the creatures? A villain shouldn't just be generically "bad"; he needs a reason for his actions.
    - The leader is doing some generic bad thing; the leader is trying to hide the true nature of the creatures. It seems to me that these two facts should be linked.

    I think that the core story is sufficiently simple and basic that it needs some trimmings and twists. For example, we know that tormenting things for being "different" is bad, so maybe we need the leader to have a better motive, one that makes the reader see that there is an actual conflict. Maybe the leader is a genuinely good man, except for one thing where his judgement is fatally "off". It shouldn't be so very easy to see who's good and who's bad. That can work in a movie, where we have actors and directors and stirring background music, but in a novel, I think that the issues need to be messier.

    ChickenFreak
     
  11. GunGrave TZA
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    GunGrave TZA Member

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    Okay Mallory, I agree that it's over-done and radiation isn't really a great excuse for it. Like I said, I was considering to add an origin story involving a vault, so maybe I could include a more scientific reason for them existing i.e. DNA.

    Thanks for the link, Cognito, I'll read that soon.

    Also Chicken, somewhat. The people in the settlement have no idea about what their leader was doing. I wanted it to feel somewhat of a mystery for the first 3 quarters of the novel, then make it a bit of an action-drama in the last quarter.

    -I'm working on the origin for the creatures, I'll probably change it to something more believable.
    -The name as well is a placeholder right now. I like it because I wanted it to be something emotionally dramatic, but I understand if cynical readers would be offended/dislike it.
    -Could you explain that point a bit more, please?
    -Yeah, I'm working on this also. In the full summary he's given a bit more motivation, but he still seems a bit randomly violent towards these creatures.
    -And he is trying to hide the true nature of the creatures, but not to the extent of the other evil thing that he is doing.

    And for the conflict between the creatures and settlers... The best way to explain it without saying anything I want to reveal is that they have two very different answers to the same problem. And to themselves, they are they only right answer. I understand what you mean, with a movie it can work quite well as it's an experiance e.g. Avatar, but with a book you need to make it more morally messy to make it an interesting story.

    Thanks a LOT for the feedback, it's really appreciated guys. :)
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, the story is in part about mistreating the "other" because they're "other". Then you discover that they're _not_ "other", they're human. But wouldn't mistreating them have been wrong even if they weren't human?

    I realize that now I seem to be advocating a simplistic "lesson" in your plot. That's really not what I'm doing, it's just that if the big secret revealed is "They're human! Oh, my God, mistreating them was _wrong_, then!", people might see a flaw in that sequence of logic. It was _already_ wrong.

    ChickenFreak
     

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