1. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    How cheesy is this?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by doggiedude, Mar 18, 2016.

    One of my MC's is going from a journey of being a violent asshole (as a youth) to an adult trying to redeem himself. He's living with a lot of guilt over his earlier actions. Most of which the reader gets to experience as the book progresses. I was thinking of having him ending up teaching at a school for orphans. Then it struck me as sounding a bit silly. I like the idea of having him ending up saving kids in some way, it plays well with the theme of the book but the whole orphan thing seems overdone.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. AdDIct
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    AdDIct Active Member

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    in my opinion the only way the plot can be cheesy if it's poorly executed. There's only so many plots in the world and the way a story is unique is by the approach and the characters. If that's all done well then the ending will be fine.
     
  3. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    Like AdDIct said, it could be cheesy or not depending on how you write it. I also think it depends on the character's journey. You need to figure out what happens to him on his journey before you figure out where he ends up. I think what makes a lot of plots cheesy is when it seems really contrived, like the author decided how the story should end and then forced it there even though it didn't make sense anymore. So as long as you figure out his journey before figuring out where he ends up, I think it won't be cheesy no matter where that ending is.
     
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  4. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    They don't have to be orphans. In fact, it probably wouldn't make any sense, since they got rid of orphanages in favor of the foster care system in the US in the 80's. Make them at-risk youth, or an inner-city school, or something like that. There are tons of stories about the MC who was a former gangbanger/convict/general bad person who chose to turn his/her life around, get clean, and try to prevent other kids from following the same path. I'll third AdDict here: it's all in how you tell the story.
     
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  5. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Well ... this is taking place about a thousand years in the future and they aren't in North America but I get your meaning.
    In this story's case there's a lot of mass death going on so I'm picturing a lot of orphans as a result. How they end being cared for or not cared for is up for creative variances. I could easily picture a Charles Dickens London type situation with lots of homeless kids wandering the streets begging but then again maybe they are being cared for.
     
  6. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    I don't think it's cheesy at all! Sounds pretty touching, even. It's not weird for someone to chase their dreams or do something that makes them feel good, especially if it's because they feel the need to compensate for their past actions. That's just something people do.

    Does it tie into the story, or is it merely an epilogue? I can see it working better as an epilogue from how I'm picturing it.
     
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  7. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    Yeah, sorry. I realized that myself after the fact. :p

    Why not do both? There are likely a lot of kids without parents/parental figures; surely not all of them could be (or would want to be) taken under the fosterage (is that a word?) of a caregiver. Maybe part of the MC's goal, or something he incidentally accomplishes along the way, would be to find those "lost children" and get them help. By the end of the story, he's become at peace with himself, the number of street kids (and the attendant crime) is drastically reduced, and there's a new generation who's willing to avoid making the mistakes of the previous one (assuming that's what led to this situation in the first place). Wins all around.
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, in my opinion it sounds a liiittle too much, and too unlikely for your mc. He can still be a better person without becoming someone 360 degrees the opposite of who he used to be, and stay plausible. But that of course depends on exactly how "fantastic" you want your story to be.
     
  9. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Well, how do you know how different he is? How much detail do you really think you know about the details?
     
  10. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It could make sense for him to help disadvantaged kids from whatever background he came from. (So if he was an orphan himself - orphans would make sense.)

    There are examples in real life of people who regret the choices they made as youths and want to help children like them from making the same bad choices.
    Former drug users helping in rehab centers etc.
    Maybe if he can help set younger versions of himself on better paths, he can vicariously alleviate some of his own regrets. That seems a realistic motivation for such a character.
     
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  11. BruceA
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    BruceA Senior Member Supporter

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    Write the story and the character will probably tell you where he ends up. He probably will end up doing a few interesting jobs before the end...
     
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  12. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    To give you a better idea where he came from ... In his teenage years he got involved with a group that today would be labeled "Terrorist" but it was more like the very active protest groups of the 60's.
    As the years progressed the group morphed itself into a real terrorist group. He was involved with something that allowed him to watch people dying from his actions.
    That's when the change occurs.

    Oh ... the original group was formed as a protest against a world government that they felt wasn't giving their race/culture a fair representation in government. So his whole beginning was an effort to save his culture. To me that seemed to lead well into him helping education the children of his group.
     
  13. King_Horror
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    King_Horror Member

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    I believe that a character trying to redeem him/herself is something that isn't done enough. Like it has already been said, there are no more orphanages, there is foster care. I also second that if it's written well, it cannot and will not be cheesy.

    I find it intriguing that when your MC sees just how violent this protest group is, he/she tries to change. I simply must ask; how violent are they? What is their culture? And why is the gov't not recognizing them? If you illustrate that in your story, then I assure you it shall be great.
     
  14. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is a harsh arc, but that is what makes it fun. :D The arc isn't a problem in theory, the problem is if you show that arc correctly.

    I actually wrote a story and posted it on here(it is the crappy version though. I didn't update it because the updated version was 12k) that was about a character with the same arc. So, no it doesn't sound silly at all. I mean, sometimes an outside POV helps. So, does it sound awkward when I frame it in my characters case?

    She was almost murdered by her abusive parents. She ran away from home and joined a terrorist group. For her duration there she was very cocky, and powerful. Eventually she left as she felt she was done with the wanting to watch the world burn phase of her youth. Unsure what to do, she became a highschool teacher as a means to help others not fall. Does that sound so silly?

    The short story on here had her be a high school teacher that saw a student get involved in gang activity and she was torn because she knew how that would end. So she was torn against helping a youth vs picking up her old sword. She had dropped the sword for 7 years. She was scared of who she might become if she even touched it again. To add drama, turns out the child was acting out because of his dead father to whom the MC killed 15 year prior. This ultimately gets her to draw her sword to save him. And the story is meant to speak to the struggle that it is for her to do that. So, does that sound silly? Because while our stories are different, the key arc seems the same. Right?
     
  15. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Yea ... they do sound close. That's sort of what I was worried about, using something overdone.
    I decided to directly address the issue in the story by having the character's girlfriend make fun of him for trying to hard to redeem himself.


    Jalil said, “Actually, I was wondering earlier if it would be possible to build a school just for the orphanage in town. There are so many of them and they really could use the help.”

    Havva laughed, ”Orphans? Really? I think you might be trying too hard.”

    He grimaced and said “Just trying to find something… I don’t know. Something to give back. Make amends.”

    Havva said, “I know you are. I appreciate it but you can’t be saved all at once. It’s going to take time.”

    They both sipped at their drinks and watched the pedestrians walking by the little shop for awhile.
     
  16. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    I actually find that more cheesy, to be honest. First, it's like you're apologizing for your plot line, and second, you're telling rather than showing. I think it would be better if some opportunity came up where someone needed help and he offered too, which the reader will know that's not something he would normally do and they can infer that it's because he wants to make amends. This conversation seems kind of forced. Then again I don't know your characters and haven't read your story so I could be wrong.
     
  17. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well. I don't get it. These are two different issues.

    It sounded like you were asking originally, is it too cheesy for a bad seed to become a school teacher and try and redeem himself. To which my answer is no, and I quoted that I had a character with a similar set up.

    But now your concern is originality?

    Personally. I don't worry about that. For a few reasons. One. How many books are released every year? Way too much stock to worry about being different than all of them. Two, it isn't similarities that define them, but differences. Like my girl. She never felt remorse or regret. She isn't repenting. Nor is she under the assumption she even needs to repent. She actually considers the idea of repenting stupid. She sees it more as a way for a person to try and forgive themselves, not an actual balance of scale. And it undermines the idea of good to do it for a reason other than its own sake. Or that is what she believes.

    She stopped fighting because she no longer wanted to fight. The anger of her youth was gone. She became a school teacher because she liked the idea of helping kids. She was afraid of picking up her sword because she liked her life and was afraid it would re-spark her oldself. Even when she is standing next to the child whose father she murdered. She didn't think. "Crap, I shouldn't have murdered him." Nope, she did it for a reason and she wasn't sorry for that. She helped the kid because she thought he deserved it. Granted, a small part of her did feel guilty that she knew her actions directly caused his suffering, but regret? Nope.

    I mean, that is huge isn't it? These two are not that similar whenn you dive into that.

    So, thinking of it like cooking. We don't ask cooks to invent new ingredients. If oranges were being over used, you wouldn't not use an orange in the dish "Orange Chicken" right?

    If being unique is important to you. You should focus on stories that aren't popular at the moment. Which is fair. There is an appeal to being unique. But things like redemption or revenge. They are our cooking tools. Don't avoid oranges just because they are over used currently. That is the fastest way to ruin a meal. I mean, do you like the idea of an orangeless orange chicken? <wink>
     

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