1. skuld
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    skuld Member

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    Having trouble fleshing out idea

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by skuld, Jan 6, 2016.

    Greetings all,

    I have decided to return to my series of stories all centered around my (fictional) high school. The latest is going to be a sort of revenge story that goes something like this:

    Alexandra ("Alex") is a shy musical prodigy harboring a secret crush on one of the most popular boys in the school. Kristen is a sports star trying to come to terms with her inner lesbian. And Sara is the class valedictorian who dreams of getting into Harvard. Each of them has been hurt during the course of the past 3 years by another girl, Queen-B Josette. Josette is spoiled, shallow, self-centered and - being the daughter of the school board president - untouchable. Now it's their senior year and Alex, Kristen and Sara's last chance to "take down" Josette before graduation.

    That's as far as I've gotten so far. Still having trouble working out the details.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. LostThePlot
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    Ask yourself how they end up banding together. I think that'll be what really gets you moving. Maybe something bad happens to them all together, or perhaps one of them is actually crazy and seeks out other people to aid her own revenge; that'll guide the whole rest of the piece I think.

    It's traditional for vengeance in these stories to be kinda karmic with the avengers using the targets hubris to make sure everyone laughs at her but don't feel like you have to go down that route. Have one of them snap and f*** her up with acid out of no-where.
     
  3. Ippo
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    Ippo Member

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    Yeah:
    Why are the three main characters complex and the villain super fake. Doesn't sound authentic to me.
    Yeah, sure, we wanna hate the villain so make him/her despicable but try to keep it real. If you're going deeper into the main character's lives you should do the same with the villain imo
     
  4. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hm. Here's some fleshing, rake what you will:

    They could all form spectacular ideas to embarrass the villain throughout most of the story, perhaps even argue among themselves what's fitting and such. For example, one girl wants to shower her with pig's blood, another is hoping to start a smear campaign on social media, and the third keeps noncommittally trying to steer the group towards murder: "Or... y'know... we could hijack Tommy's car and drive towards her really fast. I mean, like, just to scare her, obviously."

    Then end it with each of the girls not following through with any of the plans, because they've realized that it's better just to let some things go and focus on the real issues of their lives:).
     
  5. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've found that verbally bouncing ideas around is really helpful if you have real life people willing to engage with you on that level. It can be hard to find such souls in the real world, but recently I did this with two friends who have completely different perspectives. It was perfect.
     
  6. AMTaylor
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    AMTaylor New Member

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    I would ask what is bringing the group together? Were they friends in grade school and somehow Josette is holding a secret over them all and now that they are in high school they are no longer friends? Think on how they get revenge without making it obvious that they are working together. Even better they get revenge individually and discover that all they've done collectively impacts the Queen-B in a major way.
     
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  7. Aster
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    Not the greatest message is it.

    This girl is being mean to me. So I'm going to get together with a bunch of other girls and totally humiliate her and cause her serious lasting psychological trauma.

    Because that's the mature thing to do.

    Why not, for once, your protagonists band together and be SUPER DUPER NICE to the antagonist. Then it's revealed that Josette has severe trust issues and is actually dealing with a lot of rough family shit, and she gradually comes to see that Alex, Kristen and Sara as people she can depend on and confide in.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that the villain needs some depth. Depth doesn't make a person good; an evil person can have depth, too.
     
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  9. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or why not focus on Josette's resulting psychological trauma, like in The Butterfly Effect
     
  10. Aster
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    Because Alex, Kristen and Sara are, presumably, the good guys we're supposed to love during the series. For this instalment in the series to be about Josette's psychological trauma resulting from a sickening prank the three of them pulled on her in her final year at school seems like a drastic change in tone and direction.

    If Alex, Kristen and Sara are supposed to be nice, decent people for young girls to aspire to, making them get their revenge on Josette, especially without the girls suffering any sort of backlash, is a horrible message.
     
  11. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    God, I hate the series and sequel mentality!
     
  12. LostThePlot
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    If you're genuinely going for something so saccharine then it'd be traditional for the girls to band together, go spy on their target and discover that she's way more miserable at home than they could ever make her. From there they might just give up and be sad for her, or they might get caught watching something bad happen to their target and sharing that might make them friends and solve all their problems. Now that's not super original but it does hand out the 'correct' moral; that bullies only hurt you because they are unhappy themselves. That's certainly not my memory of bullies but that's the lesson that a lot of media like to teach.
     
  13. Aster
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    Because?
    It's not like book series and sequels are a new phenomenon in the literary scene.

    I wasn't suggesting that the message be that bullies only hurt you because they are unhappy themselves. Sometimes kids are just horrible people. But that doesn't mean they deserve to be traumatized.

    I was suggesting that hurting someone because they hurt you is a terrible message to send to kids. But just accepting or ignoring the bully is terrible advice too.

    @skuld you could research bullying and see what the best course of action would be for your protagonists to take. What kind of action are schools taking to tackle the problem. What advice is there for kids who are being bullied. I'm certain there are some very good resources out there.
     
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  14. Bandag
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    Yet another angle would be that as the book goes on, you find out that when the MCs were 'hurt' by Josette, they were actually being total assholes at the time.

    For example: Kristen's beef might be that Josette called her out at a party for being a lesbian, humiliating her in front of the cool kids. What the reader doesn't know is that Kristen was caught by Josette red handed taking advantage of a drunken teammate at the time.
     
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  15. skuld
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    skuld Member

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    You're right, I haven't thought as much about Josette so far. I've been working on giving that character a bit more depth. It's a fine line between presenting an unlikeable character and being over the top about it.
     
  16. Ippo
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    well make her unlikeable. There are some people who are such scumbags that their good sides are barely noticeable. But even so the characters need more depth. Is she hateful? Sick? Sadistic? Sad? Ego-manic?
    There's always more than meets the eye and I don't mean to drag you down but it would benefit your characters if you would implement that principle on them.
     
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  17. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    What I would possibly do with Josette:

    - Her current parents are not her biological parents, the board president is actually the brother of her true father that left for whatever reason. Her true mom died when giving birth to Josette.
    - Josette's foster parents haven't told the truth to Josette, but maybe she found out the truth when they moved to different house? This gives Josette humane feel, there is deep pain that makes her be what she is.

    Note that this backstory also makes lot of sense regarding her foster parents spoiling her and going easy on her. She got what she always wanted, because the foster parents couldn't simply maintain the basic rules of raising a child. She haven't learnt important lessons of life. By going this route, not only you make Josette (the villain) look more interesting and have more depth, but also the school board president gains new side to him as well.
     
  18. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd have to disagree...a foster-child (especially one that got foisted on you, as your departed brother's child sounds like - incidentally, if brother has gone walkabouts, leaving mom alone, why would the child not go to mom's family?) has got less of a hook into your heart and is less likely to get spoilt. But being bullied at home (and feeling sorry for herself for losing her parents) could be why she's a bitch at school...
     
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  19. IlaridaArch
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    Well true yes. It's all about the family tree and does this idea suit that, I don't know. But in the end, it's fiction so you can always write it to seem sensible. Just need to find the means for it.

    What I have read/seen/witnessed - especially teens who have it hard at home, have higher chance to be the bully/the bitch. They take their own grief to someone else, so giving Josette something bad outside the school is good way to set it up.
     
  20. skuld
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    skuld Member

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    Yeah, I thought about giving Josette some kind of trouble at home to provide some insight about why she's such a bitch at school - altho the insight wouldn't be revealed until closer to the end (initially all you see at the beginning is the bitchy behavior) - but I'm leery about the going into the adoption/foster child direction because I really have no knowledge about that. Maybe something else.

    As for the three MCs, I was thinking about what some of the comments above were saying - about taking revenge not being a positive message etc. What if the MCs initially fantasize about revenge but then things happen (e.g. Sara gets accepted to Harvard, Kirsten gets an athletic scholarship, Alexandra wins a prestigious music competition) and they decide it's not worth it to jeopardize their own successes?
     
  21. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or . . . You could have them seeming to get their revenge, and Josette is duly humiliated, but they're found out and it jeopardizes or destroys their own plans and dreams. Oh, boy, what happens then?
     
  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Alternatively, the whole revenge thing could just be a side thread to the main plot, or a trigger for it. (Like Cordelia's accidentally triggering a vengeance demon, in Buffy.). On its own, it doesn't feel like quite enough.
     
  23. Aster
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    So they only reason they don't harm Josette is because they might jeopardize their own chances at a future? Their motivations are purely selfish?

    They should decide NOT to hurt Josette because they are NOT TOTAL DICKS.
    They're good people and good people don't hurt other people or go out of their way to make them suffer.

    Unless that's what I'm not getting. Maybe your protagonists are just horrible people. Maybe they've been bullied so much they become evil and unleash horror on the school and the whole thing is a terrible tragedy and left on a real downer like Romeo and Juliet.
     
  24. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Yes, yes, yes!
    I mean, you don't have to turn her into a protagonist, she can stay nasty. But if the girls do bully her back, they should learn it was a bad thing to do or stop halfway through planning. And I think pain or spoiling is probably the best way to give her motivation because they're understandable. Or maybe she was born poor so is very materialistic and ambitious to climb up from that. Also, give her generally a list of personality traits. Likes? Dislikes? Strengths? Weakness? Internal conflicts?(optional) Habits? Mannerisms? Background?
     
  25. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Another thought: If you want enthusiasm about a revenge scenario, it could start out with them wanting vengeance against the girl for mean-girl reasons, and then they could team up with said girl for serious revenge against someone more thoroughly evil, like a murderer or other seriously sadistic criminal. That's still not exactly an after-school special with a moral, but as a reader I could like it a lot more than sadistic revenge for high school girl reasons. (And I say that as someone who was one of the most tormented girls in my junior high school class--I'm not minimizing the evils of high school.)
     
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