1. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    How to choose a good plot for your first novel?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by There_She_Goes, Jun 2, 2012.

    Hello!
    So, I'm planning on starting to write my first novel, but I've got a teeny tiny problem... I've got tons of different plots to choose from, but I can't decide which one of them would be suitable for a newcomer to start with. I mean, if I come up with for example a historical novel, does it mean it becomes kind of like a status for me? Like: Oh, that's the author who writes historical drama! (Hehe, I seem to be assuming that my novel would be published, but anyways...) I don't want to get a stigma or anything. What kind of a plot would make a strong start for my future career? What kind of plot would you choose if you were writing your first novel? And of course if you've already had to make that decision, then please do share it with me :D.
     
  2. mVd
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    mVd Member

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    There are no fixed rules for that i believe. You can literally write whatever you want. As for which ones to choose from, think hard and long of which you think would have the most potential and which topic you are most interested in. Like if you love science fiction for example and have a great idea for it, go ahead and do that. That will give you an advantage over the rest of your stories. It all comes down to your preferences.
     
  3. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Slow down... you are way too ahead of yourself. Stigma or not, I'll be thankful if after I publish one person were to tell me that I write in such and such a way.

    Anyway, anything that you write well should be what you should write, doesn't matter if it's your first or your fifth novel. If I were to tell you you should write something like "Harry Porter", it will most likely fail simply because you are not J.K. Rowling. Write whatever you feel like writing now and don't expect it to be publish, but doing so will help you find your style and voice. That fact that you are asking people what you should write means you haven't found your voice and your style yet. So, don't think too much about your writing career, just keep writing.
     
  4. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    I know I'm making a fuss, but writing a novel is such a big project :(! If I start off with some "okay whatever, this feels exciting so I'll go with it" -kind of story, I'll be in trouble. I'd like to choose a secure solution. Something that I'll be happy with all the way through.
     
  5. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    You need to write the story that calls to you the most so you can write to the best of your ability. If you're fortunate enough to get an agent in the future they can deal with the tedious marketing/branding side of things, but to get to that point you've got to pick your favourite story and write :D
     
  6. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    write what you love writing. that's all I can say. There's no guarantee you'll ever get published, so you might as well enjoy what you do.

    find something that feels right for you for example mystery, and stick with it. once your done with one story, you can switch genre. but if you for get published and get popular, i guess people will want more of the same from you. there's a reason why nicholas sparks keeps writing the same book over and over again.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Just write stories, to their natural length. At some point you will realize one of your stories has more to it than will fit in a short story. at that point, set it aside and think about it.

    If you're still excited after a week or two, maybe, just maybe, the story will keep your interest long enough to make a novel of it.

    Don't try to write a novel unless the story has its claws deeply embedded in your soul. The story demands it of you, not the other way around, particularly a first novel.
     
  8. agentkirb
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    I think it's a good thing if you already have a bunch of ideas and you are struggling which one to choose.

    The best thing to do IMO is just pick one and go with it. If you are a new author, realize that you probably aren't going to hit a hole in one on your first swing. But also, realize that after you've written a few short stories/novels you can go back and make your first ones better and perhaps that revision of your first story ends up getting published.
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Write the one you love best. Don't worry about the marketplace at this point. If you write the one you love, you'll likely put your best into it. If you try something else, you might run out of inspiration, get bored, and never finish.

    Worry about selling it after you've written the story you love the best way you can.
     
  10. Luna13
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    Luna13 Active Member

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    It depends what kind of writer you want to be. If you usually write poetry don't make your first published work a novel, if you usually write nonfiction don't make your first published work a fantasy, etc. But besides the obvious like that, just do what you like. Choose the plot that you think you will have most fun with. A writer doesn't have to have all work of the same type. For example, Markus Zusak wrote Underdogs, a series of books about present-day Australian teenage boys, and then The Book Thief, a book about a German girl during World War II. Suzanne Collins wrote a series of present-day fantasies from the point of view of an eleven-year-old boy that was third-person, past tense, and a futuristic series from the point of view of a sixteen-year-old girl that was first-person, present tense.
     
  11. henry ni
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    Experiment around with plenty of different ideas until you find one that you just can't stop thinking about. Last thing you want is to plot the entire story, write the first chapter and find out that its so boring you have to strap yourself onto a chair just to keep going.
     
  12. chicagoliz
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    Ultimately, it's the characters who make up a good story. The plot could sound like the greatest story ever told, but if the characters are flat, unbelievable, boring or undeveloped, no one will care about it. Start working with your characters and see which of your plot ideas seems to fit them best.
     
  13. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you're rushing a little here. I think the best would be to start with the kind of story you prefer to read, your favourite genre as a reader. This because you have read enough of them to have a feeling for how they are constructed without having to think too much about it.
     
  14. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    Write a one sentence summary of each plot idea you have in your head. The harder it is for you to come up with a sentence for a particular idea it's probably because you have thought about that plot more fully and have more ideas about it and it's hard to sum up in one sentence. That's the story I would start with. (A bank robber becomes the hostage, a child has to go on a long adventure to save his sister, robots discover a secret portal to another universe...blah blah blah.)
     
  15. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Outline beforehand. It will help you decide which solution to go with.
     
  16. Abigail
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    Abigail Member

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    I get what you mean by perhaps wanting people to think of you in a certain way if and when you are published, but my advice to you is just to write what you're interested in and what's easiest for you to write. For me, that's romance-related stuff.
     
  17. koal4e
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    I second that, I have been a ghost writer on short stories for others and have written short stories of my own. I have just embarked on my own novel length story and spent a lot of time working out the plot and many characters, the story feels like it will be novel length in as I am now at 8,000 words two weeks in....this doesnt necessarily mean it will end up that way. I simply need to keep the interest in my story and let it run its course in length and see how I get on.

    I suppose having many great plots is wonderful, but until you can put pen to paper and start writing you will never know what is book worthy. You could have the worlds greatest plot but write it poorly so people are not interested, you could have a poor plot that is written so well its over looked and becomes a best seller...as they say "Rome was not built in a day"
     
  18. Pink-Angel-1992
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    As people have said, it's best to write what you really, really want to write. It doesn't matter if you get know for writing one particular type book, because you can always create a pen name for different types. My father mentioned to me before that an author he likes/read has a pen name for differen type of stories, because people don't think he'd be able to write other genres (or something like this - it was a long time ago he told me). Anyways, write the stories of the genres you want and if people come to expect you to write one type of story like Historical, then create a pen name to write fantasy, futuristic or something.
     
  19. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think you can know what is a "secure solution" until you test it - and how do you test it other than by writing it?

    On the other hand, just tell yourself you MUST finish the novel whether you like it or not. It's what I told myself when I started my first ever novel - this mentality worked out for me, am on my rewrite now :) and there have been too many occasions when I wanted to give up because it was too hard. You just don't let yourself - it's always a choice.

    Now as for a first plot - which plot inspires you the most? Which plot do you get excited just thinking about and you're itching to start? There's no point settling for a "secure solution" - a secure solution is not the one you're gonna finish if it's not the one that excites you and gets your heart pounding and keeps you up at night because you wanna keep thinking about the story. The most secure solution is only ever the one you want to write the most, because nothing else other than your sheer drive and passion for the story will ensure that you finish.
     
  20. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Huh?
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I had my doubts about that one too. Seems to me whether or not you are able to sum up a story in one sentence is no measure of the quality or depth of a story premise. But if that's his opinion, he's entitled to it.

    I personally think it says more about the author's ability to be concise, and it's often the poorly conceived story concept that can't be condensed to a single statement. Obviously, such a statement can't cover all the nuances, but that's why it's merely a summary.
     
  22. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I always thought of it as a good thing being able to sum it up in a sentence, like the one sentence summary of the books you can find in the NYTimes best seller list. As you say, it doesn't cover everything but it still serves a purpose I think. Plus I believe it's a good exercise trying to come up with a one or two sentence summary for your book before you try to submit it. And maybe even expand on that in the query letter.
     
  23. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    Yeah, I mean don't write what you think will sell. Write about what you like or what keep you interested otherwise you will only get frustated. Another thing I took some time to learn is that: we suck on the beginning. First drafts usually suck. And that you have write even if it's bad. Try not to get frustated. I had to write the prologue of my current novel a hundred times, and it's co mmon for the story to colapse over and over until you hit jackpot.

    The thing is writing and not giving up.
     
  24. emperorauthor
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    emperorauthor New Member

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    Write the one that you think you can write the best and put most into.
     

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