1. xXAlilaXx
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    xXAlilaXx New Member

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    How do you know if an idea isn't going to go anywhere?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by xXAlilaXx, Jul 26, 2013.

    Hello, I'm new!
    With a recent increase in my desire to write a novel, I thought I'd seek out a writing forum instead of relying on slow reply blogs to answer my questions. Also forums allow discussion which the simple answering of a question does not. Anyway.

    How do you know if an idea isn't going to go anywhere? How do you know if its ok to scrap and idea and go work on something else?

    I've been wanting to write a story about a pair of vampires. But I just can't work out even a basic plot. I mean I have the characters and how they met and stuff, but in the way of actual story I've got nothing. I don't want to scrap this and work on something else because I quite liked the characters and if I start on something else I'm concerned I'll just have the same problem and not be able to find a plot... but maybe it's just not going to work? I don't know :|
     
  2. redreversed
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    redreversed Active Member

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    Just try it, no reason not to...
     
  3. Orihalcon
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    Orihalcon Active Member

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    How about letting the plot specifically be about the two characters? If you can actively hook and engage a reader, they'll be very interested in knowing what will happen to and between the characters. With that settled, you can incorporate an overarching plot of sorts, and it doesn't have to be intricate at all. It can be something as simple as coming to terms with the moral dilemmas that follow with their nature, or conflicting moral values that lead to a conflict between the characters. Even with something so simple, you can still make it interesting by including unusual moral values or perhaps showing the perspective of the vampire who holds morals we find the most undesirable.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    First of all, welcome to the forum.

    Start by deciding if your characters are supportive or antagonistic to one another. Put one of them in a crisis - something they desperately want/need to do, with a major impediment standing in the way. If the second character is antagonistic, than that character becomes part of the impediment (or is the impediment); if not, then (s)he becomes either part of the support for overcoming the opposition or else the reason for overcoming the opposition.

    For your MC, decide what attributes (s)he has that will help him/her overcome the crisis and attain success, and what attributes could contribute to failing. The struggle could be with nature, with another person (or group) or within self. Pick one. And decide whether the MC will succeed or fail.

    There is a section on Plot Development, and perusing it might start you thinking on some possibilities, but it really boils down to what I outlined above.

    Don't worry about if any particular idea is "right" or "perfect". Don't worry about it being "cliché". Just go write it.

    Good luck.
     
  5. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    First of all, palindrome, welcome to the forum!
    Now, as to your question: How do you know if it's not going to work? The simple answer is, you don't.
    But that is really far too simple. You have a germ of a story - the two main characters. You even have some backstory - how they met. So, you know where they came from you just aren't sure where they're going or, possibly more importantly, why.
    So let me ask you a few questions.
    1) Why did you come up with these two vamps? Watching too many vampire movies and decided, "Yow! That would be fun. I want to write one of those"? Or was it, "I wish I could get these characters out of my head. I'm going to have to put them on a page"?
    If the answer is the former, just go back to watching your silly vampire movies. you're not ready for writing.
    If, it is the latter ... Sorry. You're stuck. You are going to have to find a way to purge your brain and, for "writerly types" that means, you MUST write them down. Tell their story. Get it all out. And, unfortunately, dat ain't easy.

    Now, assuming you answered affirmatively to the second option above, we move on to question #2:
    2) What is it about these characters that interest/intrigues you?
    3) Why do you care?
    4) Why should WE care?

    5) In a story, as you will read time and again, Something has to happen. Something has to be at stake. There must be some risk of loss of something. That something doesn't have to be of earth shaking magnitude (though that's on the table too) but it has to be of import to one or both of your main characters. Perhaps it's life in a pre-American Civil War type state and they are trying to escape the anti-vampire Klan-hunts and get to safe territory. Maybe it's a vampire Romeo and Juliet. There are endless possibilities. So, question #5: What is the risk/danger?

    6) What obstacles do these two characters face in striving for resolution to their problem?
    7) How do these two characters resolve their problem?

    Answer those questions and you've got your story and it will take you there. You may find, once you get into writing, that your characters have different plans for "their story" and things may change, shift, warp, or get lost along the way. It is important to remember that, regardless how many changes/answers to internal questions take place, you need to make sure that the thread between the beginning and the end remains unbroken. You MUST have a solid, reasonable beginning, a coherent pursuit of goals (middle), and a believable (within the confines of the story) ending that answers the opening issue/question.

    Figure out where your characters are going and why and therein you will find your story.
    Good Luck.
     
  6. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    If you look at the basic plot of many great stories they are quite simple. It is the development of the characters and the other specifics that make them great.
     
  7. Steve Day
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    Steve Day Senior Member

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    Most fiction can be reduced to: Character(s)/Problem/Deadline.

    The Death Star is gonna blow up my home planet. This afternoon.

    I have to turn in this term paper before five o'clock. The car won't start.
    -----------------------------------
    You speak of " a recent increase in my desire to write a novel". Have you written anything before? Shorter work? Novels are marathons, except they are measured in months,not hours.
     
  8. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Brilliant!
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you can't get your idea to 'go anywhere' [= make it to story/novel plot status], then it makes no sense to keep agonizing over it... would make better sense to drop it and come up with something that you can develop into a plot...
     
  10. xXAlilaXx
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    xXAlilaXx New Member

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    Thanks for all the great responses everyone!

    My biggest problem here is, while I'd love to just go ahead and write I tend to burn out, I can only manage very short scenes, and not know what to write next.

    I've written in the past, but never anything of length, never finished anything. But I'm part of the Creative Writing Club at school! :)
    Its just a small group of us (ranging from grade 5? to 12) who meet at lunchtimes every two weeks and the english teacher gives us writing exercises. Its not much time to spend writing but its good because it stops you from not writing at all.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you lose all passion and interest for one idea, and you have no passion or interest in any other, then it's likely that you might be stuck, it happens. In that situation, I give it a break, 2 days or 2 weeks, until I get the desire to write again. Also, planning greatly helps, considering your plot and characters, jotting down the scenes, thinking about the ending and major turning points, to nail down a really clear storyline. This always helps me out of a rut, and if I ever get stuck again, I just go back to it and it always inspires me.

    But if the idea you're working is bores you, and you'd rather clean you house than write it, and there's another story that's constantly on your mind, then leave the first one (never delete, you might find it useful later) and focus on the new story.
     
  12. xXAlilaXx
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    xXAlilaXx New Member

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    Its not that the idea bores me... its more like - "oh I've just finished this scene, I have no idea what comes next" but its not that I don't want to keep writing.

    To put it simply I suppose I could say I have no conflict to from a plot around. I've thought about it, but I haven't come across anything and gone "that's what I want to conflict to be".
    Hmmm maybe I'm just reluctant to do anything because it seems like such a taboo to be writing about vampires since they've been in the public eye recently. I feel like I need to justify it every time I mention it. Bleh.
    Or maybe the only plots that I can think of are MC vs. Big Bad and I don't want to work with that idea/I don't know how to flesh that out into something of full length. What's the motivation for the MC and MC to take down the big bad by themselves, why not let someone else do it?
     
  13. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ok, two mistakes you are making are 1. lack of planning and 2. worrying about what other people will say. With planning, I am a firm believer in constructing the plot and characters quite carefully beforehand. It takes a long, long time to satisfy yourself with the plot and conflicts. For me, I usually take at least 6 months until everything solidifies. Some people prefer to just write, but if that's not working out you should try to plan more.

    With plot solutions, conflicts, always try to think of at least 5 possibilities. Usually the first three will be cliches, easy ways out, and after that, you start to dig deeper. With choosing what to focus on, you need to look at your experiences. What moves you the most? What outrages you? What excites you? These are the themes you'll be naturally pursuing.

    And finally, just tell yourself to stop worrying. A really well written book has a lot less chance of being poo-pooed, so you need to focus on that. And vampires are mythical creatures known around the world for many millennia, I think you are safe to write about them despite the recent popularity of the genre. :)
     
  14. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    You'll know your idea didn't go anywhere the moment it doesn't sell. :)
     
  15. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    Sometimes it helps to think of the very end of the story first. That way you have a goal and every earlier scene in the story must move the reader toward that goal.

    Does your main character die tragically-but-heroically/selflessly? Will it break the tiny, delicate hearts of the readers? Then get the reader to fall in love with the *other* character so we can watch and feel their suffering.

    Also, love triangles with underage girls seems really popular right now, based on "Twilight", "The Host" and "The Hunger Games" :meh:
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ideas don't sell. The idea is only the starting point. If the story flops, execute it differently.

    An idea isn't going anywhere only when you run out of ways to take it. Then you set it aside, and maybe it will serve you better another day.
     
  17. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    And there's your problem. To review part of my previous post:

    _______5) What is the risk/danger?
    _______6) What obstacles do these two characters face in striving for resolution to their problem?
    _______7) How do these two characters resolve their problem?

    This is what you are missing. And this is the most important part of your story. If you don't have the answers to those questions, you don't have a story.
    If your characters have no problem to resolve, they are nothing more than a couple of really boring, run-of-the mill people who just happen to be vampires. And, if they have no vested interest in the ultimate outcome of the problem, then readers will have no vested interest in them! And, if you don't know what that problem is your characters are charged with resolving, then you have no story. So, we then return to my first point in the earlier post.
    Are you just writing because you thought it would 'be fun' to write a vampire story because you have seen too many vampire movies? Then you might want to go back to your movies and leave the writing to the big kids. If, on the other hand, you sincerely want to complete this project, sit down and figure out WHY your vamps are even 'alive'. Why were they put here? There is an issue, large or small, they have to accomplish? What is it? What happens if they do not fulfill their quest? What/who stands in their way?

    I would suggest you figure out those questions before you try to write a bunch of scenes that go nowhere.
     
  18. Thom
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    Thom Member

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    What's great about writing, and being the writer, is that you get to decide what the story is about. And it could be about anything. It could be a large plot or a small plot.
    Basically, they could be saving - or destroying - the world, or just trying to keep one of them from being burned on a pyre.
    If you have your characters all rounded out, there must something in one of their pasts, or in a shared past, that could come forth to threaten them. Or something to repent if they are trying to be good vampires.
    The smallest thing could evolve into an entire storyline.
    Ruminate.
    Write ideas down on a piece of paper.
    See where multiple ideas could cross and meld into a greater whole.
    Maybe it won't be a 200,000 word novel, but a short story of barely a thousand.
    The point it to write and keep writing, and it could evolve all on its own.
     

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