Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Venom., May 25, 2011.
What's the best way that YOU, The writer plot?
With words and some mind thingies.
I suppose I just let my mind wander and pick things up wherever and a plot comes together how it does. I try, as often as I can, to not consciously fix problems in the plot. Then again, I don't have too many since I let them come from something that I think is slightly more subconscious than conscious.
Hmm, well what I do is I write out a summary of what events I plan to have happen. That's how I create plot lines for my stories. Say you want a guy to go to the mall in the story. I'd write "Bob went to the mall" in my summary. And when doing this I usually put in the information of plot twists that the reader won't know of until later. I just do this so it reminds me of how things are supposed to go, that way instead of Bob killing a random guy, maybe he killed JOE, but the reader doesn't know that, but you write it in your plot line that way you don't forget about the twists. I hope I'm explaining this right...well that's how I do it anyway.
Here's a bigger example: You want have in your plot where Jack is going to a hotel, and is meeting someone. When he gets to the room him and the mystery person exchange briefcases. Jack leaves, but when walking to his car he gets shot.
Here's how I'd write all that: Jack drives to a hotel. He goes to the 3rd floor to meet someone. He enters room 342. A mystery man is there who is actually Rick, a bank robber. They switch briefcases. The brief case Rick gets contains codes to all the banks vaults. The one Jack gets is full of some money from Ricks robbery. Jack leaves. Jack get's shot by Rick, who couldn't let Jack live since he thought he might rat him out.
Se how I included extra information that only the writer would know at that time, but would be kept secret from the reader. I hope this helped.
The way I tend to go about creating the plot for a story is to think of some general ideas, not as a story line yet, just things that you want to include. Write all these down wherever, a notepad probably.
Then, when you've collected a load of thoughts about what you want to include start to think about what order they should happen in (you'll probably already have formed some ideas as you made the notes). You will probably have to add some new ideas in and take rubbish ones out at this point.
Then make a basic story line, I usually write it down like a timeline. Once you've done this you're probably ready to make a chapter plan (assuming it's a novel). When I make a chapter plan I add a lot more detail of the events in, like names of characters and sometimes little quotes that I want to include.
The main thing is to keep altering your plan until you're happy with it. A really good plan of your plot makes writing the story much easier.
I hand write my first draft, and it's more of a 80k+ brainstorm, than an actual story. The end is very different than the beginning, and the writing really sucks. By the end of it, though, I know the story I want to write.
Then I leave my notebooks and write out all the main scenes which form the basis of my story (sometimes this changes in the next step as I cut scenes out, add more in, or combine two or more into one) I put these in order, trying to get a good balance of different POVs and action/passive scenes.
Then I analyse the value of each of these scenes. Where does scene x take the story? How does it develop character/plot/etc?
Next, I start my first rewrite, which I do on my computer. I don't look at my first draft except for to read an original chapter before I rewrite it. I base this rewrite almost completely off my plan.
After this rewrite is done, I look at it and decide it is total garbage. I edit it to death, maybe rewrite it again, and decide it's still total garbage, and I'm a terrible writer. I leave it to die.
One or two months later, I reread it, and realise it's not actually as terrible as I thought it was. I just have to tidy up a few things here and there, and it's actually a pretty good story.
Rinse and repeat for the next project.
The way I've bee plotting lately is thinking of a premise and a character and then writing out a brief summary of the important parts like so as example.
Dave goes to the shop.
A robber holds up the store.
The robber enlists the help of Dave to escape.
The robber shoots a hostage.
Dave attempts to manipulate the robber through friendship and aid.
David attempts to smuggle hostages out but is found.
Robber ties up Dave and the hostages and begins killing them off.
Dave fights off the robber and kills him.
Dave leaves the store.
Of course I do it more indepth with more characters and I mindmap plotlines and devices and such.
I find that if I have a basic outline I'm free to mess around with my story to fit my needs but if I divulge away from the objectives I can always use it as a guideline to get back.
I start with a very basic premise, theme or atmosphere that I want the story to revolve around. Then fragments of scenes start to appear in my head -- random things that are somehow linked to the above. I decide which I want to keep, how many of them I can keep within one story, and then I try and arrange them along a dramatic curve. All of this while keeping it really basic and abstract. I'll pile things onto the story and shave other things off, rearrange stuff and see what that could lead to, etc -- basically, playing.
Then begins the long and torturous process of making sense of it all, making it smooth, enhancing character, and so on.
I usually let an idea ferment for some period of time before I put anything down on paper. When I get a beginning, some sort of basic idea of the middle, and the ending, I start to write a basic outline. Very basic. Probably only a dozen or 18 plot points. Then I start writing. Usually about a third or half way through the first draft, I re-visit the plot points to see how off script I wandered. I then re-evaluate and see if I need to change something I've written or redo by plot points. Back to writing, back to plot points, etc. I make up characters, locations, even entire subplots on the fly.
I somewhat use some technique of mine as a help for my plots. My technique is based on improvisation so I only plan my chapter's story very briefly and do most of my writing throuh improvisation. Before I had invented my technique my improvisation was crappy and thus my plots were too. If anyone is interested in my technique, just PM me. I will open a thread about it and give more information about it soon.
Well... a mix of different methods. For awhile, my just machine gun shot me with ideas, however they had no focus. Recently, I've come up with the concept of trying to fuse together many different ideas into a single coherant plot. Not sure if it can work out, but I've got to try.
I usually get the middle or the end idea in my head defined first, and I write down whatever scenes come to mind. I flesh out the beginning, then use my written-down ideas to add to the story.
Write down an idea, bounce questions and other ideas off it. It's that simple
When planning my story I start with a small paragraph about the story. From there I think of my main characters.
From there I extend the plot and then write a rundown of my story. Once I have all that I then start writing.
I started with an idea, then decided the genre the idea is going in, then the specifics of the genre, for example, a boy is swept away to a school because it turns out he can do magic. The genre is high fantasy in a modern world. Then I must decide an overall plot line, for example the boy has to fight against an evil wizard at the end. Now we have a journey, hes got to go from normal boy, to wizard able to defeat an evil wizard by the end of the book.
Then I play connect the dots, while world building at the same time, to do this I have fake conversations in my head, explaining the story to people. I also tell my ideas to my family. As I explain the plot each time it gains something, or I realize something, all the while I am taking notes.
I do however limit my ideas, if an idea doesn't make me think "holy hell that's an amazing idea, this needs to happen" then I generally dismiss it. Anything that feels forced goes out the window as well.
By this point you should have a rough timeline worked out with a nice set of steps ready to be taken, getting to this point can take weeks if not months. Now you are at the writing phase. I just get stuck in at the start, referencing by guide lines so I know what needs to happen roughly at each stage. You will constantly be revising the plot as you write because your characters are coming to life, and so much can change when you realize, "wait up, this character would never do this" and its time to revise what happened, change the character, re-write pages upon pages, swear, give up for a week and play world of warcraft etc.
^^ I really like your technique!!
In the past I've had an idea and wrote it down but nothing that shouts 'read me' so I've always dismissed them.
Now, I'll get an idea from an inspiration that I've or someone else has gone through or from something I have a great deal of interest and passion in.
The one I'm working on mostly at the moment is the latter and to be honest the plot has changed to what I originally planned apart from the climax just a slightly different but important outcome which effects the whole story.
I write a paragraph stating what it's about with a brief outline of the MC, the climax and then an idea for the start and the end. I work out all the inbetween stuff later on. The climax is the only thing I'm always certain on. (atm I'm in two minds for the ending, tragic or happily ever after).
I'll write a page with my character lists and their roles.
For scenes, I imagine it playing in my head like a film and write down what they say and key words for the atmosphere/setting/actions.
I have to agree with Venom, I need to get the core characters fleshed out so I can at least get an idea of how they will go about a certain task.
I'll basically start off with a page for each main character detailing their appearance, their motivations, and their characteristics.
I then go out and flesh out the general plot outline and any subplots that need to occur at the same time. I find it helps to then break these plot points down into a timeline and then separating them out as to where they'll appear in the story (i.e. what chapter)
It starts for me in my head. Scary place, I assure you. I think of a premise. What I want from the stories. Do I want the MC to be goofy, sarcastic? DO I want a love interest? More than one? Love triangle? Age?
Then I start to work out the story. What is happening? Where do we start and end.
Then I start a sort of chapter guide.
I refine that, think of something that changes with each chapter. Then I will sit down and start.
My first draft, I usually just break off into sub chapters. Every time something happens and ends, I start a new one. Then when done, I look it all over, make some notes and start cutting, combining, rearranging.
Eventually, I'm done.
This is actually a very funny question for me because I always let my stories write themselves. I get to see how its going to unfold alot of the time because it just comes to me as i write it.
If I don't have any immediate ideas (which is rare these days), I like to look at books of photographs. Or old National Geographic magazines - great photography in there! I don't read any of the text, I just flip through and look at pictures. Eventually I'll see a picture of a person in some setting or other that just captures my imagination - something about the person or the setting appeals to me, seems to be interesting. Who is this guy? Where is he and why? What kind of life does he lead, and what could happen to him to change his day-to-day routine and embark on some kind of story?
I find that, sometimes, looking at pictures like this allows me to create characters, and once I have a character and the situation he's in, I just imagine what he'd do. I begin writing a first draft, usually without having any idea where it's going, but eventually this character will tell me his story and by the second draft I'll know what I'm writing about.
I don't do this all the time. As I said, I have a bunch of ideas queued up for stories. But I've found that this works pretty often as a trigger for my imagination. If you're stuck, give it a try!
so basically from what you said, a plot is only for you ( the writer) to see?
I come up with a simple idea for a story, the characters, and their pasts. Then the "plot package", as I like to refer to it, goes into my subconscious, where it develops and grows. Eventually, with the influence of lots of media and other things, I just start writing out scenes that I like. Once I get roughly twenty or so of those, I arrange them in a way that works, and give it a logic check.
A logic check is essentially making sure that the story is believable. For example, one particular scene in my story involves one of my MC receiving a very emotionally disturbing text message from the antagonist, but the thing is, the MC has no real friends or family for which to necessitate the presence of a cell phone, so where and why does the MC have the phone? Stuff like that.
Once all that is done, I go through, add any more scenes that I can think of, fix and change things I don't like, come up with a beginning and end, get it all smoothed out and completed, and then make a detailed synopsis of the entire story. I personally go through and plan out each and every chapter, giving a detailed description to each, but that's just me.
Hmm... I've never conciously thought about that... Let me look over some things and see if I can figure it out.
I would try to start out with kind of just, who are my characters?
Someone can tell me if I am wrong if how I judge things, because I am new, but this is how I would feel about it(Mind you, I write romance strictly):
1. I always have to figure out who the main character is. I sleep, I dream, I think, I even sketch...Anything to get an image of who it is I want to write about. It's their story to me and I'm just retelling those events for them. Once that is done, the personality of them follows, I'll even consider talking like them or acting them out in my head. Once I am solid...
2. The next character is also randomized in this fashion, though I do my best to think up someone who complements the main character in some way. If one is dry than the other is funny, if one is dark than the other is light..etc.etc.
3. I come up with the area this takes place in after my characters. As Humans we can exist anywhere, and I find it's more solid for me to get the characters down before the setting. By doing this, as I plan out the setting, I can think up the other characters of my story. Friends, Family, Sage Wisdom Person, etc.etc.
4. I think up how they will meet. Beyond that I kind of play it out based on their emotions and actions through. I have an idea of where I want to go, I have an idea of what the conflict will be, but I don't know specifically what will be said or done by either one until I am writing it. It feels more real if I haven't planned things out all ahead of time 100%
For instance, I may plan that C2 has a secret that C1 doesn't know about, but not how C1 will react to it. Perhaps C1 forgives C2, or maybe they wind up breaking off from each other and C1 falls into the arms of a friend. I've written short stories where C1 and C2, despite what I thought, simply just aren't matching well and I decide to take the story back to Phase 1 and start again.
Forgive my long absence from this site; my keyboard fingers have been.... very... busy.
Unfortunately they haven't been productive, and for this very reason.
I have a problem: my attention span. I can't seem to focus on any one thing before some other awesome thing rears its head.
I'm writing piece of science fiction set in the future of an alternate history where Mars has been terraformed and exists as a state separate from Earth. Political tensions are rising, and I want those tensions to lead to the brink of interplanetary war. I simply cannot decide how I want that war fought, and that's not the half of it.
You can see what I bothered to post of it here.
I simply can't settle on ... anything. Every time I map a plot and flesh it out, I find myself constantly demanding more characters in order to tell the story from new angles, an those angles are always changing.
Which comes first: PLOT or CHARACTERS? For me its the chicken or the egg. Characters must exist in a plot, and a plot must be driven by characters. No matter what I do I always seem to put the cart before the horse. I write, run smack into some new idea, and it demands a character... or requires a different character.
I'm not really sure where to put this post, plot or characters, because the two are so intimately entwined.
I'm very new at all of this but so far I write down the basic storyline from beginning to end so that i know where the story is going, then I start to write.
I fill in all of the details as i write and the story changes a lot as I am writing it. I find that my creativity really kicks in during the actual writing process as things just start to flow a lot more than when I'm doing the plot outline.
If I get stuck I go away and do something else and then when I come back later the problems have usually resolved themselves. So much of writing goes on in the unconscious mind that you need to give it some time to do it's magic.
Separate names with a comma.