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  1. Myster82
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    Myster82 New Member

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    Getting from A to B

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Myster82, Oct 4, 2010.

    Hiya,

    I am new to forum and this is my first post.

    I have a story that I'm working on and need help.

    It’s about a man in his mid twenties who moves back to his small hometown to live with his parents after breaking up with his long term girlfriend. He has no job, and his dream of becoming an actor hasn’t worked out. He feels he is stuck in a rut and gone backwards in his life. He was brought up to believe that you are defined by your job, and that it has only been a success if you tick all the boxes (good career, a wife, kids and a big house).

    By the end of the story is discovers that all of this isn’t true, and that life is a journey not a destination. It ends with him deciding to go travelling.

    My question is about the begin. I’m told that a story should start from a state of equilibrium. Then a point early on the protagonist is presented with a problem that changes this and steers the story in a new direction. I’m finding it hard to find the inciting incident or plot point as the story already starts off from a low bit, where his life has already fallen apart.

    I was wondering if anyone else have had this problem, and what you did to overcome it?

    Thanks

    S
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My first story begins with an arguement lol - my advice is to write it. The first draft will allow you to know your characters and story better. The second draft will allow you to decide exactly where to start and then maybe introduce some warmth and humour into it. My advice is always get through the first draft, expect it not be very good, it is the base from which to make your story happen.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Begin your writing as Elgaisma has indicated.

    Where you start writing may well have little to do with where your story actually begins.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't believe in throwaway drafts, but I do believe that you should be preparfed to remove your first beginning. That may seem contradictory, but I do think it is worthwhile to make your best estimation of a good starting point before you waste a bunch of time on setup that you will then need to throw away. But you still need to be prepared to discard the beginning if you didn't choose as well as you wished.

    I would not call a good starting point a point of equilibrium. I would suggest instead beginning at a point of imbalance, at a crisis - large or small. It should be far enough into the story that events will avalanche the characters forward, so they are continually struggling not to be overwhelmed.

    Stories do not truly have a beginning. There is always a history, and you should not trouble the reader with that. As pieces of the past become necessary to reveal, delay a bit longer, and finally leak them to the reader at a time when the reader is yearning to understand. Not one nanojiffy before then.
     
  5. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just say write what comes and feels right; go with your gut. I don't think anybody can tell YOU where your story begins or where it should begin. Sometimes trying to follow a template just gives you a headache and smothers the story. Write the story and worry about rules later.
     
  6. polarboy
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    polarboy Member

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    It sounds like you have a lot of good starting points. Why did he and his girlfriend break up? How did his last job end--and how has he been spending his time since then? Are the break-up and difficulties at work interrelated? Those areas alone are good starting points for your story.

    Or you could start the story with the character moving back with his parents, then reveal the previous year of his life in flashbacks or through conversations with his family.

    Any number of the details of the character's life could serve as an opening to the story--whether you reveal the character's life's journey chronologically or jump back and forth between emotionally connected events.
     
  7. Naiyn
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    Naiyn Contributing Member

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    From this, it looks like you've got all kinds of potential options for a starting point.

    *having to move back in with parents
    *breaking up with girlfriend
    *rejection after rejection for acting gigs
    *being unemployed

    As others have said, just start writing from a point that feels right for your story, and move/change it as the whole thing takes shape.
     
  8. SandraLSC
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    SandraLSC Member

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    Maybe it could start with him opening up yet another rejection letter from an audition or agent (or however that works in acting!). It could also start with the argument that ends the relationship (or if it isn't an argument that ends it, just her telling him or him reading a note she left telling him it was over, etc.) Or as someone else suggested, it could start with him in the middle of unpacking and moving in at his parent's house.
     
  9. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Getting advice is good, but you should know how to filter it according to your needs, or rather what your story needs. Don't get fixated in rules. Do what works for your story. Anyway, 'starting from a state of equilibrium" as a rule is new to me. Your MC starts off being in a miserable situation and ends up being optimistic, I don't think there is anything wrong with it.

    As for inciting incident: loosing his girlfriend, loosing his job, I think you've got enough there to choose from.
     
  10. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know this is not the exact advice you asked for, but reading your synopsis made me imagine the story taking place during his car ride back home. He reflects on everything that has occured to him, and after a long journey, as he's about to make a turn for his parents' house, he hesitates, then decides to drive on...

    But in such a story he should probably also have a reason or two for not even visiting his parents when being one block away.
    Or maybe he picks up a hitchhiking girl along the way... Road movie style. She changes his perspective on life.
     
  11. polarboy
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    polarboy Member

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    That is a really good idea, telling the character's emotional journey and history during the physical ride back home.
     
  12. Beckahrah
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    Beckahrah Member

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    Personally, I like starting things 'in media res...' or 'in the middle of things.' I always thought starting a story with some action gets the audience's attention better. Formulaic books are boring. My book starts out with the protagonist almost getting her head ripped off. See? Already interesting. ;)

    Tell the story how it was meant to be told. Start out at the end and cycle backward, if that's what it takes. He's dying of multiple stab wounds in a shark tank and thinking back on how he got into this mess, etc. It's your story; write it your way! :)
     
  13. mattyb
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    mattyb Member

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    This is my first post too (despite being a member for ages!) so this may be a case of the blind leading the blind but here's my idea anyway.

    How about starting with the main character on-stage. He thinks he's doing well, he feels like the star, surely Hollywood will soon come calling. The show ends, he bows down to take the applause of his public...

    ...and is booed off stage.

    This can lead into HorusEye's idea of the car journey on the way home. You could have car horns blaring at him as he weaves precariously through the traffic, his mind on other matters, causing accidents without even realising it.

    I've only recently started on my first serious piece of writing and had a similar problem. I did something similar to what Beckahrah suggests and started with a scene from the middle (in my case the MC's first night in prison) to grab reader's attention then found a way to move back to the real start of the story.
     
  14. mummymunt
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    mummymunt Member

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    Just the word 'equilibrium' sounds boring to me. Passive. It brings to mind long passages of description - this happened then this happened and I felt like this and I felt like that. Snore.
    Start with some action. If he's heading home because he broke up with his girlfriend, start with them in the middle of their break up. Tears and yelling and begging and slamming doors are much more exciting than "I broke up with my girlfriend." She could call him a failure, tell him she's tired of waiting for him to get his big break, whatever, and you could then very quickly have him back home with his mum and dad, sorting out his life.
    Or you could start it after (or during) yet another botched audition. Start with a catalyst for the massive change he's about to make in his life.
     
  15. omghelp
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    omghelp New Member

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    someone once told me

    a well respected friend of mine simply asked, "what question are you trying to find an answer to?" and, while at first i was incredibly frustrated with her lack of assistance, i began to wonder what it was that i needed to find an answer to.

    a lot of times writers unconsciously write things that their readers find to be symbolic in many ways, when in reality, the author never intended to convey the said symbolism.
    dig deeper.
     

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