1. CharlestsWhitfield
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    CharlestsWhitfield Member

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    How to Develop a Good Plot

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by CharlestsWhitfield, Feb 26, 2014.

    I've been stuck in this same situation for awhile now. I really do want to write, but all I have are fragments of scenes in my head. Every time I sit down and try to come up with a coherent plot outline I immediately hit a dead end. I'm stuck with the same fragments I had going into my writing session. I know the type of story I want to tell, I just don't know how to tell it.

    What are your solutions to this problem? Have any of you experienced writers block? How did you get past it?
     
  2. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Okay, this is purely MY opinion on fiction writing, and not something that is universally accepted.

    The 'scenes' you've thought up are largely irrelevant unless you can fit them in to the following. To find the plot you only need three things. You need your rules, your characters, and their goals.

    The rules are your setting. They establish what can and cannot be done. Time frame, technology, location, situation, etc. Is there magic or not? What are the weapons available? Is anyone trapped?

    The characters are the main drivers of the action. Characters are pretty obvious.

    The goals are what the characters are trying to achieve.

    Your plot, is HOW your characters try to achieve their goals within the confines of your rules. With those three things in place you can do almost anything, as long as you stick within your rules. It keeps you in line and stops you from drifting.

    And in the end, a good plot is simply one that has a satisfying journey and conclusion.

    Vague and not very useful, I know, but it's late and my sig explains the rest.

    PS, try roleplaying.
     
  3. Maxitoutwriter
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    Maxitoutwriter Member

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    Don't think of a "Good" plot think of a plot and build it up from there into something that you find interesting. It's always harder to get started when you're a perfectionist. Save that for when you're polishing it up.
     
  4. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    You say you know the type of story you want to tell. Why don't you tell us about that.
     
  5. Maru Taka
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    Maru Taka New Member

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    Not sure what you describe to be writer's block.
    I can relate to the fact of hitting a dead end. That happened to me more than once with different kind of stories. The problem there was that I was too focused on what I already had built up in my mind. I had to look at it from a different perspective. "Think out of the box", as the say.
    But the more you try to come up with something new, the more you're driven back into that same dead end.

    If that's the case do something different for a while. Get your mind focused on other activities, and "forget" about your story. Your subconscious will do the work for you.
    It might take a while, but in my case sooner or later some great idea just pops up in my head ...
    And in most of these cases I never saw it coming. The idea just seemed to come out of nowhere.
    The problem is that you're actually blocking ideas without even realizing it, as you're so focused on those other ideas that always lead to this dead end.

    Let it rest for a while, and your inspiration will be revived.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    My guess (aka an uninformed first impression opinion) is that you are looking for a good plot but you don't have a story in mind that you want to tell.

    What is the thing you want your readers to get from your story? A fun read? An intriguing mystery? What is it in the books that you enjoy which makes them enjoyable to you?

    I wanted a protagonist that represented the female character I don't see often enough in popular books. There were things I wanted to show in the story which are occurring in society. I started with that story in mind and built the plot around it.

    That doesn't mean every writer needs a social message. I love a good mystery. Only you know what story you want to write. But try starting with the story and letting the plot grow around it instead of just trying to write a good plot.
     
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  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Think of it like a road map on a vacation trip. Your events or scene fragments...set them out...what order would they be in, how far apart are they and their relationship to the overall trip (story). How would you get from point (fragment scene) A to Point (fragment scene) B? What would have to happen? Sketch that out. Then how would you get from B to C, sketch that out. C to D?

    Do you know where the story should start and how you want it to end? Maybe some of your fragments scenes will have to be worked around, maybe some saved for another story...or short story.

    My first novel published came to me while I was driving home. I was thinking about two books I'd recently re-read. World War (In the Balance) and The Guns of Avalon. The first novel is about an alien invasion during WW II, and there is a technology difference, obviously. The Guns of Avalon is a fantasy setting where gunpowder doesn't work, but the main character figures out a powder that functions just like it. So guns work. My mind was wandering and I wondered what would happen if a WW II era aircraft encountered a dragon in aerial combat? That was my scene fragment.

    From there I devised a world where such an encounter could take place, then the plot for the story came next, set to an overarching struggle in the background, and then the characters were developed to bring the story to life.

    In other words from the initial fragment, I had to decide on the beginning and end of the first novel, once the world was developed, and some major events (or scene fragments). Then I had to string them together into a coherent form with the characters to do the leg work, so to speak.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I concluded not too long ago that my problem with plots is that I demand that they be too intricate. I read a lot of murder mysteries, so I want a detailed interlocked Swiss watch of a plot.

    But when I read the occasional non-mystery book, they often don't have anything that my mystery-sodden brain would call a plot. They have gentle ambling events with, hopefully, interesting characters.

    I have, in my mind, a possible book with gentle ambling events and some characters that I really like, and I'm fighting to get myself to write the thing. But my mind keeps trying to rebel and stash a dead body somewhere in the landscape.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    :D
     
  10. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    I suffer from this. Why do my stories look so epic in my head, but when I began to write it, it just falls a bit flat in exeuction. You imagining fragments of your story for your ideal plot is the problem, as it is my problem as well.

    So here's what you're gonna do. Save those fragments but write an outline of the entire story, start to finish. You don't need to go into detail but you need to write down the major plot points. And make sure those fragments are consistent with the plot. If you're forcing them in, your story isn't going to be good. And you got to watch out for your own characters. Make sure those fragments make sense with the characters you're writing.
     
  11. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe... use those fragmented scene flashes for short stories instead of forcing them into large-scale over-plotty narratives that you still don't know how to construct? :)

    No, really, I find a load of good short story ideas wasted just because unexperienced writers think they should start writing a best-selling epic trilogy the moment they learn the alphabet. I always think of musicians who need decades of practice to master certain techniques so they could even think about performing certain pieces. Imagine a 14 year-old piano student who wants to play a Boulez piece tommorow! Not gonna happen... So is true for 99% of would-be writers who start with megalomanic ideas (personally, when I was 14 I planned out not 3, but 7 novels in an epic circle before I finished the very first chapter of the very first story!) Now, some may say: "Just because it didn't work for you or anyone else, it doesn't mean I can't do it!" Fair enough :)
     
  12. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    Think of key events. In my experience, most people already know certain things they want to happen. Maybe you want your MC to have a big fight with the bad guy? Maybe your MC's brother gets eaten by a giant hedgehog? Try and think of a few events, and list them in order. All that remains is to fill in the gaps.

    Now, this is a lot easier said than done, but it's always best to make a start. Think about it logically, first. Say your characters are in one city, and the giant hedgehogs are in a certain forest. Those characters have to get to that forest, obviously, but when, how and why would they go there?

    Chances are your first idea won't be that good, but just roll with it, and write it in. Once you've got this first draft of your story, you'll more easily be able to see what works and what doesn't work, and chances are you may have a flash of inspiration during, or shortly after, you've finished writing. This tends to happen when you're in a writing mood, as opposed to when you're just lounging around watching telly or whatever. I just finished writing the closing scene for my second novel. A few days later, I realised a far better it could (and should!) be written. So, I'll edit that it when I come to it. That's the way the cookie crumbles!
     
  13. Fizpok
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    Fizpok Member

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    Look at the original Star Wars. A young hero. A friend of his, who would shoot first - think never.
    A teacher of his, who has WISDOM, but cannot teach things a friend does.
    A girl that a hero and a friend love, obviously, she turns to be hero's sister.
    A bad Imperor.
    A second bad guy, who is hero's father.
    A hairy sidekick.
    etc.
    This is a standard structure, and when done right, it works by itself, you place that team in the situation - any situation - and they do the rest of the job.
     
  14. Wowzie
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    Wowzie Member

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    It's often easier to see the picture after you've made the frame. I like to start with an inciting incident and a resolution.

    Those fragments you probably like because they're emotive. You want to hit them while building drama around your main conflict.

    The climax is the last thing you write. It happens when you reach a point where the main conflict can no longer be avoided.
     
  15. Glen Snow
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    Glen Snow Member

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    Three options:
    Jackson Pollock the hell out of it. Take your keyboard or pen now just throw words. Don't think to much just follow your muse. Once you've written a fair amount step back and look at it, like on of those magic images with the hidden picture. The basis of your plot should be there, in a sense. Take it, build on it.

    Option two:
    Completely flesh out your main character. Give your MC a complete history, strengths, weaknesses, quirks, mannerisms, The Works. Make this figment of you imagination seem so much like a living breathing human that the IRS wants it to pay taxes. Now throw that character right into the middle of a scene. Write like someone ripped the first third of your book out. After a fashion you can go back and write the beginning. This allows you a little freedom when kicking off the actual beginning of the book and a point to work towards.

    Lastly:
    The most common and my preferred method. Is the complete outline. I prefer to write outlines of my characters first, as their motivation and personalities are what's going to kick the plot off.

    Other little tidbits and such for writes block:
    Stop trying so hard. If you're anything like me sometimes your brain just likes to be an ass. Stop trying to think about how to advance the plot, your brain may get tired of playing it's little game and let inspiration strike.
    Listen to music. Sometimes music can inspire whole ideas and new ways of thinking. I've been playing around with a historical-fiction novel idea about the Visigoths and the sack of Rome, inspired by the song Devour by Shinedown.
     
  16. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I start with fragments as well. Usually turning points, but not always.

    I then have to think of what leads to what, why and how. Create an outline, cut out what doesn't move the story forward and then outline again.
     
  17. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    Outline the plot. Figure out what are you trying to say, what are you writing about? What is the point are you trying to prove?

    These points help the writer figure out how to make a plot, and usually makes for something awesome. I think all the feedback thus far has been quite great!

    Outline ---> Characters

    Then outline the characters.

    Hmm. Lets see what you need to. Figure out what is stopping you. Take a break, make a short story. Thats my advice.
     

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