1. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    Having A World and Plot but Neither Seem to be Relevant to the Other

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by isaac223, Aug 16, 2016.

    I have a bulk of the necessary parts of the world of my fantasy novel planned out -- primarily the supernatural aspects. While the members of one city does act a certain way because of a part of the supernatural elements, it doesn't feel like all of the things I have written out for the way the city works is totally relevant to the plot at hand. In fact, I have an organization that the MC is apart of, that ends up finding their way into the plot, but is really not relevant, or responsible for much of the primary happenings. In fact, they seem to more exist purely for the sake of character arcs, and this doesn't seem acceptable to me. How exactly would I go about making the world and other elements more relevant to the overarching plot at hand?
     
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  2. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not entirely sure what the difficulty is . . . I get the feeling you're running up against something you feel your plot ought to be doing vis à vis your world, but it's not behaving itself. Maybe you might re-examine the strictures you're imposing on yourself?

    This episode of Writing Excuses might help: http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/02/08/writing-excuses-10-6-the-worldbuilding-revolves-around-me-the-magical-1/ Have a listen.
     
  3. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't. You provided the reader what is needed for the plot and characters. If part of the lore relates to either of these, put it in. If not, leave it out.
     
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  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Play around with this dilemma for a while, and if you haven't done so, actually start writing. By writing, I don't mean an outline or list of character arcs and characteristics. Or details about your world. I mean, actually write some of your story.

    You don't need to start 'at the beginning' but just get a few of your scenes written, then step back and see what you've got. If your characters are strong and you find working with them very satisfying, then start rebuilding the plot so they can flourish.

    It's a mistake to assume that every idea you come up with needs to go into your story. I write about the real world (historical setting) and I can't begin to tell you how many story ideas I've ditched while building my novel. I've discarded entire chapters because they didn't fit. Some ideas work out better than others.

    I strongly urge you to actually write your story. Thinking is one thing. Translating your thoughts into written words throws up lots more possibilities than you'd imagine. And always remember this: until you get published, nothing is set in stone. You can get rid of anything that doesn't work out at any time.
     
  5. SweetOrbMace
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    SweetOrbMace Member

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    I think this is excellent advice. Just start writing. Accept that it won't be perfect and you are likely to have to go back and change things. But just start writing. Put your characters together, interacting and so on. There is something (for me, anyway) about the process of actually WRITING that gets the imagination and creativity going much more than planning.

    For my own WIP I spent too long messing around with characters, setting, background &c., unable to get it all to work. When I did finally just start writing for the sake of writing it all came together remarkably quickly and most of the issues I couldn't work out resolved themselves in the writing of it.

    Once the characters started interacting properly - i.e. conversations, actions, reactions and so on - it was much easier to see how things were going to develop than when I was just planning.

    As @jannert says, yes a lot gets thrown out. But things that got thrown out either deserved to be because they just weren't good enough or were replaced by something better.
     
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  6. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    I never did imagine that going ahead to write some scenarios would help find out what fits and what doesn't. I always imagined it'd be able to made clear simply by looking at detailed descriptions of what I have planned out and going from there. However, I'll do as suggested and attempt to translate my thoughts into written words and see if it helps me as well as it did you both. Thank you for the incredibly helpful advice.
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Did I forget to add that actually writing your story is fun as well? You get to watch your story come to life. What a rush! :)
     
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  8. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    You're talking about a couple different things, I think.

    1.) Not everything you wrote out about a certain city is relevant to the plot.

    2.) the main character is a part of an organization, but that doesn't seem relevant to the plot.

    3.) The character arcs (how the characters are transformed) are set up, but again, don't seem relevant to the plot.

    Maybe if you're more specific, you'll get some ideas from people here. I find it hard to respond because your concerns are more general, and not specified.

    But I think it's very important to fight for this story. MOST stories aren't obvious at first. They DO change a lot as the author thinks about them.

    Here's one example. I wrote a story about a young professional urban lady who quit her job and moved out to the country to start sheep farming. Originally, it was about how she made that transformation and how it became her new life, how difficult yet fulfilling it was. But it didn't end up that way. It became more about her meeting a rather quiet and nondescript man and gradually realizing his value and character, but also it became more and more funny. It ended up being really hysterical. It ended up being a sendup of local politics and a lot of things, and it all fit in just fine.

    Another story I wrote started out as the story of a severely mentally ill, delusional man who played out his delusions in frightening ways. But as I kept thinking about it and laying it out, it became more and more about OTHER peoples' delusions, and his sorting these out. The first story was very dramatic and sensational, but it simply wasn't something I really wanted to write.

    That's where a lot of this comes from, from writing what we think we should write, rather than what we're ready and able to write at that point in time.

    The bottom line was that my early ideas just didn't fit well. When you get an idea that's not a good fit for you to write, you wind up getting 'painted into corners', where you run into logistical issues you can't resolve.

    For example, say there's no real reason for a lot of the stuff in the story. It's just stuff you like writing about, but doesn't really have a good place in the story. It's going to paint you into a corner. You'll wind up with a billion questions you can't resolve.

    To a degree, with writing, you have to work through problems that come up. But if you're TOTALLY painted into a corner (but this just makes no sense at all), then you've got something that requires major revision.

    Let's say, for example, that the city and how it works, is a really intriguing idea. You really like the idea. But if it doesn't fit in with THIS story, maybe it's better off as its own story. Maybe if you think about it long enough, there will be a way to fit it in, but don't torture it too much to get it in there.

    I think a good way to start is to stop thinking of your story as having plot, character arcs, etc.

    Think of it as being one thing.

    Try explaining it to one person, from start to finish, in five minutes or less, and do that verbally. Don't write it down. Do this verbally.

    That's a really good exercise and it can really consolidate your thinking.

    Before you start to write the story, you probably need a very clearly set-out idea of what is going to happen and why.

    Example, the people in City A, are very aggressive, due to long periods of deprivation and being ruled as a colony. They're now absorbed with revenge and paranoia. They've attacked City B, where our hero lives, many times. City B is sheltered and wealthy, full of natural resources City A wants. They have a hard time even understanding how those of City A think, but so far they have been able to anticipate and fight off City A. Our hero has new supernatural powers and he feels that using these, City A can be made to never be a threat again. He's torn between using his supernatural powers to destroy them, or bring the two cities together. After numerous battles, City A's fate is clear. There is no hope of peacefully coexisting. The soldiers of City A have discovered his supernatural gifts, and want to use them to their own advantage. So reluctantly, he starts the final battle, and destroys City A for all time. He faces his own doubts, the internal strife among City B's rulers, and fears of his family of their own destruction. But he prevails.
     
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