1. Ariella Bear
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    Ariella Bear Member

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    How to deepen a plot?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ariella Bear, Jul 17, 2016.

    I have come up with a general idea of what I want my novel to be, along with some characters. However, I am struggling with deepening the plot and finding the drive behind the characters. I also am not sure I even know what the MC even wants. I have written a couple of paragraphs to get started, but I am stuck.

    A little about my story: Avery is a 15 year old girl who is deemed 'Genetically Safe'. She has been attending a Hunter's school since she was very young (Hunters are trained to hunt, hate and kill/capture Benders (earth, wind, air, and fire)). When Avery turns 16 she discovers that she is not 'Genetically Safe' and is infact a Bender. She goes on the run. And this is where I get stuck.

    I imagine that she hears of a rumored place that is safe for Benders, and she can try to get there. But I still feel like my story is not deep enough. Like there isn't any meaningful or massive underlying plot happening in the background. That Avery and her story are too one dimensional.

    So, what I am asking is how do you deepen your story? How do you go about making the characters and plot more exciting and interesting. I think I have a good idea here, and I could write it well - if only I knew what was happening. Some insight would be much appreciated.

    Thanks :)
     
  2. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I think you could find a lot of depth in Avery having been raised to hate and kill something that she turns out to be. As for what she wants, is it to be safe from hunters as a bender or to renounce bending and go back to being a hunter (even if that's not possible, she could still want it)? Does her position as raised hunter + born bender make her want to unite the two? You should also think about the setting - was there a point benders and non-benders were integrated, what happened to cause the rift, which side was at fault, how were the hunters organized, how are prospective benders identified, what's done with them when they're captured (are they just locked up or are measures taken to try to make them regular humans)?

    There's definitely a lot of room for development here. For me the key is to question every detail - why is anything the way that it is?

    You also probably want to use a different word from 'bender' for obvious reasons. Elementals or something like that.
     
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  3. haider
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    haider Member

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    First you need to find reason why she ran way , and from there you could start interesting story .For example benders are despise , she goes try to find reason why . She could perhaps learn that they did something horrible in past that made population never forget about .By telling stories and lecturing there young about them .She perhaps could try to better the relations between the two group , but end up doing the opposite and spark war.
    Your story sound very board in depth , there is a lot always it could go . Just remember asking question will need to another.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2016
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  4. Ariella Bear
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    Ariella Bear Member

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    There is a lot of food for thought there.
    As for calling them Benders, I will call them something different but for the sake of simplicity I've said Benders haha.
    Thanks izzybot and haider
     
  5. Caveriver
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    Caveriver Active Member

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    Sorry, so.... Divergent meets The Giver meets Maze Runner? For this to work, you are going to need clear, deep seated motives for your characters and a killer plot goal. Beware distopian culture novels. Unfortunately I am afraid they have been done nearly to death.

    I would say your first step would be to decide what you want your characters to accomplish: what goal, once reached, would end the story.
    Then, spend a lot of time figuring out who your characters are. Do background stories or outlines on them. (Something that helps me is even to pick out an actor or actress who visually represents who you think each one is. It helps me visualize mannerisms and speech patterns.) As you gain a better feel for who each one is, you will be able to throw them into situations and see how they react. From there, they will begin to tell the story for you.
     
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  6. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    I would be cautious that the "there's a place where other Benders are safe" thing has been done to death. To add a more specific point onto what BirdsDon'tCry is saying, a LOT of those types of stories (Divergent, Maze Runner, Giver, Logan's Run, Hunger Games, Uglies, etc) revolve around the theme of "there is a safe haven utopia beyond the realm of the dystopian society that they just have to make it to, to find a haven of their peers." I understand that it's hard to not have anything resembling this at all (after all, they do need an objective of where to go), but be careful not to fall into the cookie cutter "make it into the safe haven" trope.
     
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  7. Ariella Bear
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    Ariella Bear Member

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    Thanks, I have since I wrote this thread changed the story line alot. I know what you mean and I agree it has been done to death, almost a little difficult to steer clear hahahah
     
  8. Ariella Bear
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    Ariella Bear Member

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    Love the quote "Yet, death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. The worst thing that can happen to you is allowing yourself to die inside while you’re still alive." - Dr. Travis Bradberry
     
  9. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    Thank you!! I found it on LinkedIn.
     
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  10. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I'd hate to be 'that guy', but creative writing is exactly what you're asking about: not just creating plot, but characters, and then making them interesting to the reader using style and voice. What you're basically asking is 'how do I write?' and that's a complicated thing to answer.
     
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  11. Sal Boxford
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    Sal Boxford Active Member

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    Do other people at the Hunters school learn this too? Could she fly under the radar for a while? Does she need to immediately go on the run looking for a haven?
     
  12. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Ariella,

    I'm a little confused...

    Why is she deemed "Genetically Safe"?

    I assume that "Bender" is adjudged to be a hereditary condition, and one which is undesirable to the point of ethnic cleansing. With our current knowledge of DNA, I would expect the genes causing it to have been identified, so that there should be no way of misidentifying the condition.

    A solution would be that it is not an immutable gene that causes Benderism, but one which need to have been turned on, perhaps at a key point during childhood, for it to take effect; and that "turning on" is achieved through childhood trauma, which the examining body has decided she didn't go through, so she's "Safe". But, unbeknownst to the body, her uncle did something her parents don't know about (maybe nothing more sinister than frightening her with spiders?) which caused the trauma, so she turns into bender-material.
     
  13. Ariella Bear
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    Ariella Bear Member

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    Thank you Shadowfax. I was trying to understand, myself, why she is "Gentically Safe" and then discovered not to be. I did think to have a trigger and that the gene is not hereditary, I also thought there could have been a mix up when she was tested, or someone changed her results when she was tested (eg. a family member).
     
  14. Ariella Bear
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    Ariella Bear Member

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    Something I did not think about - I kinda just jumped into it haha
     
  15. Ariella Bear
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    Ariella Bear Member

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    I know what you mean, and it is okay to be 'that guy' (sometimes that guy is helpful ;)
    Since asking this question and reading the answers from everyone, I think I need to rephrase my original question to: How do you not make a story so cliche? and therefore deepen the plot to express a side of a story no one else has thought of before.
    Anyway, since asking this question I have put this story on the back-burner and moved on another WIP.
     
  16. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    You can do cliche - cliches are used for a reason. The trick is not to make it obviously cliche. For example: Your "there's a safe haven for benders" thing.

    How can you deepen the plot? Develop the world. I started off with a rough concept, wrote a bunch of stuff and got a better idea of what was going on, then I went back and started on world building. It's given me lots more ideas that I've used to develop the plot further - more enemies, more backstory, better motivations, and more action. And I'm still working on it.

    So, for your world, you should ask: Who are the Hunters and the Benders? How do they work, how are they organized, why are they the way they are? What's their history? How does society as a whole view them? What about the society itself - where and when does this story take place? And so on.
     
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  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does it have to be a gene? Could it be a characteristic that isn't so neatly and cleanly detected?
     
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  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    @Ariella Bear - I agree that your story, as told to us in your OP, does lack something. If your main character is just chasing a rumored safe haven, the whole story will be about will she or won't she get there, won't it? So it'll just be about folks chasing HER, right? Very Children of Men.

    Turn something on its head, to make this scenario more gutsy. There is no safe haven. She must deal with what she's discovered about herself. She can try to deny or hide her identity, OR she can stand up and fight for her kind. That would be one way to go. This theme would also resonate with any minority that feels there is no place to hide, and they have to fight the majority in some way in order to be allowed to exist.

    Just brainstorming a bit here. However, @Selbbin is right. You don't want to end up always writing somebody else's story, or feeling you need input from others to come up with your own.

    Try to confront your story problems on your own and work them out. At least you've identified that you have a problem here, and that's a great first step. Now turn what you originally planned to write on its head, or throw something unexpected into the mix. If you're willing to push ideas out of the boxes they're kept in, lots of possibilities will fall out for you to exploit. If you think deeply about what you're writing, the story will automatically grow deeper as well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
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  19. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ask yourself what you're trying to say about the real world.

    started out as just a formulaic action/adventure about a group of traveling heroes on the road breaking into a mad science facility to free the captive test subjects. I did try to spit in the faces of the people who don't think men should be willing to take orders from a woman, but that was about it.

    Then I realized that the woman giving the orders in the group of heroes worked better as a bloodthirsty vigilante serial killer. I've loved the concept of the villain protagonist for as long as I've known about it, but I've always hated it when the narrative - or worse, the reader community - treats the protagonist as being the hero, vigilante serial killers in particular. Killing only bad guys and no innocents is not enough to stop you from being the bad guy, but a lot of people think that fighting monsters is enough to stop yourself from becoming a monster.

    When I realized that my lead "hero" worked better as a villain, I made sure to portray her more along the lines of Light Yagami from Death Note (where the serial killer thinks he's the good guy, but the story itself makes it clear that he's wrong) rather than along the lines of Dexter (certain characters understand that what Dexter was doing was wrong, but the story itself tended to take his side over theirs).

    I later found out that I'd added a bunch of anti-LGBT stereotypes into my story. I could have gone through with that version of the story anyway, to hell with the real people being hurt by those stereotypes in the real world, but I decided I wanted to spit in the faces of the bigots rather than the victims, so I re-wrote a few of my other characters so that my portrayal wouldn't be as damaging.
     
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  20. Ariella Bear
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    Ariella Bear Member

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    That is something I have never specifically thought of. I like that question 'What am I trying to say about the real world?'
    Very interesting.
     
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  21. Ariella Bear
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    Ariella Bear Member

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    Thank you. Great advice and encouragement x
     
  22. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I've always been of the opinion that every written work is saying something about the real world, whether the writer intended it or not and whether the readers notice it or not.
     
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