1. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,220
    Location:
    Alabama, USA

    Feels like I've ended the story before the climax could begin.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Link the Writer, Feb 10, 2016.

    Here are the basics:

    - A family of serfs runs away from their lord's manor. The Lord hires men to go after them.

    - In the meantime, an assassin order dispatches one of their own to murder this family because it has been learned that they are traitors to the kingdom during a time of war.

    - The assassin MC does the deed and finds out the family has a kid. Has a small crisis of conscience and decides to take the kid somewhere safe. Somehow, somewhere, that gets a mark put on her so now she's on the run from her own group. And the aforesaid bounty hunters.

    The idea is that the lord of the manor just wants his property back, while the assassin group wants the family dead. Problem is, they already got what they wanted. The story opens up to the MC knifing them, so unless they really do mean "kill everyone including any children they have", what they want has already been given to them, my MC just hadn't given them the proof. She just took the kid and took off somewhere else. They don't care about the kid. I could make the fact that her not giving them proof makes her somehow marked for death, but that seems a little extreme doesn't it? Neither the assassin group nor he cares about what the other wants.

    The assassin group wants the MC dead. The lord of the manor wants his property -- the kid -- back. Problem? Well, as I was writing out the ending of the story (as it was the most clear in my mind), it just occurred to me that I may have accidentally ended the story earlier than I had intended. Earlier than the climax.

    Basically, the lord of the manor finally has what he wanted and is currently sailing away back to his manor. The MC is still on the run from her group and while she would've liked to not let the kid go back to the lord of the manor, I feel that a climax revolving her getting the kid back would result in her being back on Square 1: on the run from both groups, or at least one of them with the kid.

    --------
    TL;DR VERSION:
    I feel like I've written myself into a corner. The plot has seemingly ended before the climax could begin, and even then, what would be the climax? Get the kid back? She'd be right back to where she started in the first place! And because neither the lord of the manor, nor the assassin group has any real grudge or reason to fight each other... Maybe I just don't have anything for her to justify fighting anymore. As of now in my manuscript, she's just standing there in a hopeless situation: kid's gone, she's in a hostile city with an assassin order hot on her feet.

    Thoughts? Advice?
     
  2. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,504
    Likes Received:
    1,337
    A serf would be bound to serve his lord. They are constitutionally incapable of treachery.

    If they defied their lord's commands when he said "We're all going to war", he would have been the one to discipline them. If they followed their lord into an act of treachery, he would have been the one responsible.
     
  3. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,220
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    How did I miss that? No wonder none of this makes sense! That was the key thing I was missing. (I'll probably record this in the "That Moment When..." thread. :p)

    Now that you mention it, that might make for a better plot: maybe it's the lord that's committing the treachery, so he's the one marked for death. Well, that changes everything...
     
  4. MelFyre
    Offline

    MelFyre Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    14
    Well and you also have the crisis of your MC making an ethical decision - which is more important to her : her duty to the assassin order or her desire to not murder a child? That crisis point could also play into the climax - will she abandon the order, go I to hiding, fight the order, sacrifice it all for the child or will she turn her back on all the effort she's made up til now ( defying orders for an 'innocent', making the moral stand of saving a life, etc )?

    Because if she gives up the kid then what was the point of her rescuing them in the first place? Where will she go after the book ends of she's right back at the start?

    If the Lord is marked for death and the family is considered property then you will need to resolve why the family was killed ( other than a statement killing maybe? See if you defy us and get the mark of death your entire house/family/holdings/all that you will be 'erased' ) and how the MC ended up with the child
     
  5. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    But why are the assassins after the MC just because she saved the kid, if you say the assassins don't really care about the kid? I'm not too keen on the way you said, "And somehow that gets a mark put on her". "Somehow" isn't really good enough when it's one of the key things driving the entire story.

    What's the purpose of the kid? He seems to be in the story from beginning to end (MC knives the family and ends up with kid, ending with MC handing off the kid back to the Lord). So the kid is there throughout the story - does he just follow your MC like a puppy? Surely he does something? What does he do? Why is he important? What role does he have actively in the story?

    To me, what you described doesn't sound like the ending - it sounds like the middle, the bit where the reader thinks the story is over, the bit the reader knew the story was leading up to all this time, just for you to suddenly turn the tables and to show the reader that this isn't the story at all.
     
    MelFyre likes this.
  6. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,024
    Likes Received:
    1,125
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    I've learned some advice that could possibly help.
    Add a twist!
    As in, don't add something that the reader expects, don't add a logical resolution, but take something so far left field even you don't see it coming.
    Kind of a "How the F did that just happen?" moment and let the story move on from there.
     
    Tesoro likes this.
  7. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,220
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    I hadn't thought of that. Initially the plan was that the serf family committed treason (or more simply, just ran away), but further research indicates that none of this would've been possible -- much less incur the ire of the assassin order who would then send the MC over to deal with them.

    OR, I could simply not have the family be serfs. They could still be marked for treason (say, they were assisting and healing soldiers from the enemy side, that sort of thing), which could send the MC storming over there.

    Buuut then that leaves the problem of the Lord of the Manor. He would have no reason, then, to take special interest in what's going on unless I pulled a ‘Luke, I Am Your Father’ scenario where he's related to one of the people marked for treason. Then he'd likely want to have the kid, but not because the kid's his property, but because of family. Then the story could reveal just what kind of man he is and the MC has to decide if it's really worth leaving the kid in that kind of environment. Play around with the theme of what a family really is.

    Good point. There has to be reason why she's marked for death by her own order. After all, it's the whole reason this story happens in the first place.

    Here's an idea: She went into the mission with another assassin. The other assassin got a bit stab-happy and wanted to murder everyone, including the kid. MC has huge crisis of conscience and kills other assassin and takes the kid with her. The Order (through a means of scrying to keep tabs on members out on missions) sees this and marks her for death.

    The kid, well, initially I had planned for her to be three but that may be a bit too young for the story I want to tell. If I age the kid to, say, six or seven, then I could definitely see the kid being more than just a puppy-like character to be carried and petted every now and then.

    Though I'm afraid to admit it, it might be looking like this is one of those ‘MCs saddled with a kid develops an emotional bond and at the end, chooses to help the kid over everything else’ storyline. :/ Still, the point of the kid is to showcase the setting of the story, to lighten the mood and give the MC some background as she compares her own childhood to that of the child's.

    The kid is very useful in the overall quest, doing things that help out the MC, etc. She doesn't just sit there and be cute/act comical.

    That might help. Maybe lull the readers into thinking, “OK, this is the part where the MC totally appoints herself the guardian and caretaker of the kid...” and slap them across the face with a big-ass twist. :D
     
    Mckk and MelFyre like this.
  8. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,024
    Likes Received:
    1,125
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    @Link the Writer
    I think I read on that subject on Brent Week's blog in his "tips for writers" or something post that he adds to continually.
    Might find some inspiration from him there.
     
  9. MelFyre
    Offline

    MelFyre Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    14
    You say the kid is useful throughout or becomes so . . . what if the MC take the kid 'under her wing' and brings her into the order? Using some fancy footwork pretends she saved the kid from death Because he kid did something to show potential for that way of life.

    Even could be setup for an apprentice-ship style relationship . . . and after time the kid's first official lead mission is to get the Lord?
     
    zoupskim likes this.
  10. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,053
    Location:
    Denver
    Serfs are not property, that's not how feudalism works. They rent the land they till under their lord, but leaving him, or finding another job isn't "treason".
     
    Tesoro likes this.
  11. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,024
    Likes Received:
    1,125
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    @Jack Asher
    I was thinking the same thing.
    I wasn't entirely sure on the terminology but I thought serfs were just basically subjects living off someone else's land.
    Didn't say anything but that could be a gaping logic-hole if not addressed >.>

    I guess it could be easily resolved by having them steal or suspected of something bad enough to gain the ire of the baron?
    And maybe tie it into the story so it comes back as a thing even at the end to resolve the OPs climax issue?
     
  12. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,957
    Likes Received:
    5,486
    Random possibilities that may or may not be relevant:

    The father of the family has some irreplaceable skill/skill-related secret.

    Kid knows it too .

    Father is property because the lord trumped up a criminal accusation against him, so he's a prisoner. The lord was going to force him to reveal the secret .

    The assassin is related to them and got in on the assassination in order to save them. But she was just one of the party, so she mostly failed.

    That leaves out why the assassins want the family dead, but it's a reason for both lord and assassin mc to want the kid alive.

    Oh. Maybe the assassination is related to the trumped up crime--someone wants revenge on the father for a crime that was actually committed by someone else.
     
  13. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,220
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    From what I've research thus far:

    Serfs are bound to the land, and to their liege lord. They and their children are part of the land, they belong to that land regardless of who is living in the manor. They have certain rights such as testifying in court or carving out a chunk of the lord's land for their own use provided they pay some taxes in exchange for owning that part of the land.

    You can bind yourself to serfdom if you were really desperate enough to do so, and so long as the contract lasts, you and your descendants will be serfs.

    However, I wasn't aware that serfs could just walk off and find other jobs. While it wouldn't make it treasonous, of course, surely the lord of the manor would say something if his serfs just walked off his land. Wouldn't he want to hire people to get them back? Originally, I had the kid's family run away from the lord because they cheesed him off and he wanted to get them back. He hires his men to go chase them down (no accusing them of treason, though.)

    Ah, I'm beginning to get an idea...

    New Scenario:
    What if the family of the kid -- serfs -- had some irreplaceable skills, but the father/mother/both managed to cheese off the lord well enough that they have to flee. Enraged, the baron made up some horrible crime the father/mother committed (ie, maybe poisoned the lord's kids when really they didn't.) Men are hired to bring the family back to the lord. A fight breaks out, the parents die.

    Meanwhile, the MC was investigating the baron for allegations of treason when she saw his men enter the house. She enters as well and kills them. She finds the kid and takes her. The lord hears of this and is very angry indeed.

    ---

    OK, just out of curiosity, could a lord accuse a serf of treason (even if they can't be capable of treason) or is that not possible? Would the assassins just look at him like he's crazy if he does that? I'm just saying that if he drummed up treason charges, even when the serfs didn't do anything, that could be an excuse to have the assassins go after one of the family members. When they all flee to save themselves, the lord sends men to go get them back. So the family would have the assassins and lord after them.

    Then enter assassin MC and comrade. They knife the family, the comrade goes stab-happy and wants to kill the kid. MC kills comrade. Through scrying, her order declares her dead to them and now she's on the run from her group and the lord's men with the kid in hands.
     
  14. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Instead of just looking at the mechanics, what is your story about? Is it about the MC (assassin?) who is conflicted and changes? Is it about the politics of this kingdom? Is it about serfs under the thumb of the rich lord? Is it about competition between the assassins and the bounty hunters, maybe a substitute for a conflict between the landowner and the king?

    You need to know what your story is about in order to know where to take the plot.
     
    Tesoro likes this.
  15. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,220
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Primarily, it's about the MC assassin. It explores how she comes to grips with her chaotic and unpleasant childhood, her questioning her prior decisions to join the assassin order and learning to make decisions for herself and deciding the right side she should be fighting under. It explores the relationship between serfs and their lords, how this kid's family wanted to be free from this one so they fled, after they cheesed him off enough for him to trump up some treason charges against them (he's not exactly sane and rational.)

    So the conflicts are basically:
    Assassin MC vs. Herself
    Assassin MC vs. Her Group vs. Bounty Hunters
    Her Group vs. Bounty Hunters
     
  16. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    I like the overall story line here. You have good material for the MC's conflicts and the story is interesting.

    I don't see the bounty hunters vs assassins very clearly. I think you need to develop that conflict further.

    I think if you work on that, having the lord get the kid back and the MC going after the kid again would work. As it is (in my opinion) you don't have a resolution to the assassins vs the bounty hunters because the relationship isn't developed.
     
  17. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,220
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    That's how it is in my manuscript now. The lord finally got the kid back and is taking her home. The assassin MC is now at a crossroads between going after the kid, running away to hide forever, or taking the fight to both groups at the same time.

    Perhaps the resolution is that she knows that the kid's parent was framed for a crime he/she didn't even do, so the MC decides to try and set that straight with her own group by proving that the kid's parent did not commit the treason the lord said they did.
     
  18. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,957
    Likes Received:
    5,486
    Apparently I'm the soap opera type, because I really want the kid to be her adopted-out child. (And for her to know it, and for that to be her motivation.)
     
    Tesoro likes this.
  19. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,220
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    I could see the reaction of the MC's companion* now:

    MC's Companion
    "So wait, you gave birth to this girl, gave her up to some serf...left to become an assassin...then came back to get this girl after her other parents died -- and she thinks they're her parents -- and now we're on the run from an assassin order and bounty hunters who want us either dead or brought to justice for basically stealing property? Have I got this right?"

    MC
    "Yeah..."

    MC's Companion
    <blinks> "I'm going to go to that pub over there and get plastered on whiskey. Hopefully that'll open up some air-room in my brain to process what you just said. " <storms off>

    Kid
    I'm confused.

    :p

    * It's not the one she kills in the start of the story, she meets a new one a bit later.
     
    Tesoro likes this.
  20. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    When you say "own group" I see that conflicting with her changed self, they are assassins, she developed a conscience. How does she still feel kinship with the assassins and why do they have a conflict with the bounty hunters? It's not fleshed out from your description.
     
  21. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,220
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    I get it now.

    I suppose with the former, that's part of her conflict. The assassin order had been her family for as long as she remembered, and now, because of her actions, they've discarded her, marked her for death so she's trying to figure out just what in the hell is she going to do; trying to come to grips with what just happened -- how could the order cast her aside so easily.

    For the assassins fighting the bounty hunters? That's the thing, I'm not feeling any conflict between them -- in fact, if anything else, they'd both be working together to get the MC and the kid. So...I'm just gonna go ahead and drop that particular conflict. They're not fighting each other.
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  22. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,220
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Know what I just realized now? The opening is completely off-kilt. Seriously. It opens up to the MC and her companion going to knife the family, they do until companion finds the kid and goes, “Welp, I'm supposed to be evil, so DIE KID!!” and MC kills companion, then has the balls to tell the kid, “Hey, come with me for reasons only I know, and for whom I was willing to turn against an order I've considered a family for nearly a decade by slaughtering my companion here. Uh, I hope you didn't mind all the screaming you no doubt heard, um, your parents are...sleeping. Yeah, just sleeping...” (dialogue all paraphrased) And after a moment's hesitation, the kid stupidly decides that yes, yes it's in fact a good idea to go with the grownup who just invaded her home and knifed a bunch of people including aforesaid companion.

    <sighs> I'm just gonna go ahead and take the bare-bone basics of the story and rework it entirely so it makes sense.

    But I thank you all for your wonderful advices. :) I'll take them to heart as I re-work this. :) Thank you all very, very much.
     

Share This Page