1. Black Star
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    Black Star New Member

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    How to make the book interesting.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Black Star, Mar 9, 2014.

    I wrote a short story when I was 15 which was intended as a serious, yet fantasy children's book. I got it printed and gave to friends who all praised it and urged me to do something more with it.

    8 years later I have chosen to re-write it but instead do it as a novel and for an adult audience. However every book I have read has had at least an element of romance within it to keep the story going even when there are dull parts, which my book does not have. I have written what I think is a strong beginning and I have a good idea of where I would like to go with it however I am really struggling to get there.

    My basic plot without giving to much away is: a very spoilt famous musician is feeling lethargic and in a slump. He is no longer enjoying his career and finds it very meaningless. He decides to travel and do some charity work much to his managers disapproval. He gets to one village who have very little in the way of resources, their children are dying very young and the adults are starving. He plants an apple tree the lucky seeds from the tree in his parents garden. The luck part is that the fruit grants wishes and it very quickly gets out of hand and he has to cut down the tree causing all the wishes granted to be reversed which results in a disastrous consequence for one particular woman.

    Would an adult audience even be interested in a story like this? What can I do to move it away from a childs story and into a more adult book?
     
  2. Goldstein
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    Goldstein Member

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    I feel odd calling myself an adult, but...

    When a character is tired of his work and in "a slump," that's typically the focus of the story. His work should be central to the story, or else why mention it, or his lack of interest in it? Unless it was just one of many things he hated in his life; think the main character from the Angelina Jolie-bullet curving movie, "Wanted"...or something.

    So yeah, I feel like adult readers would read the beginning and expect the main character to do charity by, like, singing happy songs or something. Then suddenly he plants a magic tree? That would be jarring for a lot of people.

    I do think that mature audiences can relate to a character who hates/is uninspired by his work. And I think it would make a really interesting story where the main character has a job lots of people fantasy about having (being a knight, wizard, assassin, ect), but he hates it. If you got that route, the job would have to be central to the plot, though.

    Just my two cents.
     
  3. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm reminded of an episode of supernatural. A town had a wishing well that worked. It was targeted at adults, though was towards the sillier end of Supernatural episodes. A lot of the tone depends on the wishes made and the consequences of those wishes.
    So the Supernatural episode had a girl who wished her teddy was a giant talking teddy. She ended up with a very depressed teddy that got drunk, watced porn and tried to commit suicide. So that's what I mean by adult, but silly.

    The flaw in your plot as presented is that it doesn't feel very cohesive. Does the plot in Africa help the musician to figure out how to cope with his disillusionment? Is the story about how he ended up in Africa just backstory? - is it even necessary to start the story before he gets to Africa? Where did the tree seeds come from anyway? Stories tend to work better if the main character has some goal which is present through the majority of the story, rather than just presenting us with a series of independent events.
     
  4. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with @Goldstein and @plothog. I was excited about your plotline until you got to the magic wishing tree part. The parts should relate.

    If the story is be a fantasy, make the magic have something to do with the MC's music. Have there be some magic inherent in the soil or water of the remote village that interacts with his singing or playing so he can work magic with it. Voila! the fields are always fertile. The cows never lose their calves. The adults have food and the young children thrive. Aha, now his life has meaning again! Maybe the locals look on him as a kind of god! (If you go in that direction and your setting is Africa it might be prudent to have your musician be Black.) Does he fall in love with a local woman and what tensions does that create? Does anyone try to force him to use the magic music for evil? Does he work some magic that he thought would be good and it turns out to be very bad indeed? And what happens if or when the outside world finds out what's going on? Is there a boundary or limit to the magic, and does he cross it? What happens when and if the magic runs out?

    Alternatively, if you really like the magic tree idea, develop the part about the tree in the MC's parents' garden and never mind the disillusioned famous musician part. The garden could have been the last vestige of the MC's old-time family property, and now some pushy developer or the government has bought him out. Maybe he tried to do good with the magic fruit in years past in the West, but no one would listen to him (= disillusionment). So he'll take the magic to people who will be more receptive! So he does, and etc., etc.

    The main thing is, it all has to hang together. Surprising your readers is one (good) thing. Thwarting their reasonable expectations is quite another.
     
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  5. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I guess if his success as a musician came from his own wish from his parents tree, then he could be disillusioned because he was getting no sense of achievement. Which could then tie in with taking the power of the tree to people who really needed it. Just a random suggestion on how the two parts of
    the novel could be tied together. There's probably heaps of other ways of doing it.
     
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  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If the consensus here is that you shouldn't write it, would you not write it?

    That's a rhetorical question. But the point is this: if you feel you need to validate your idea on a web site, then maybe you don't have much faith in it in the first place. I would do one of two things. Either sit down and write out - for yourself, not us - a summary of how you think your story might work with an adult audience, and if there's a good way to go, you will find it and write it; or, put it aside and start working on something else, and if your initial idea is really good, it will force itself back into your consciousness and demand to be written.

    Good luck.
     
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  7. Black Star
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    Black Star New Member

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    Thank you everyone for your suggestions. At the same time as I have been telling the MCs story I have been telling the story of how the parents came to get the tree and you are aware that there is something special about it from the beginning of the story. However I think you guys are right it should stay as a children's story! It's a bit far out for an adult audience.
     
  8. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could adapt your story to an adult environment. Instead of a magic apple, have him start up some kind of fund raising campaign in the form of (say) a pyramid scheme. He uses the profits to help the village people, but ultimately he realises that his scheme is hurting other people just as badly or worse and he has to stop it, destroying the village's new found prosperity, and hurting the particular woman who had thrown her support behind him and convinced the village elders to trust him in the first place.
     
  9. Black Star
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    Black Star New Member

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    Yes maybe, I think if I do not include the tree I would rather write something else entirely. The idea for the woman was that she was infertile and wished for a child, so when the tree was destroyed, her child disappeared along with it so the MC grieves with her and helps her deal with the loss, frantically trying to reverse what he has done.
     
  10. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    If that's the way people feel at your job they can always come work for us.
     
  11. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    I would not dismiss the tree, nor that it could be an adult story. Stephen King has successfully made the unbelievable, believable for dozens of years (and almost countless books). I personally like the concept.

    I don't think the disillusioned musician part works in this case. If you need a reason for the guy to travel the world, his wife could leave him, a spouse or family member could die...something more jarring/tragic to send him on a journey like you describe. I'm reading a book now where the MC's wife is killed in the first chapter in a suspicious car crash, and the MC takes a trip through several states as he runs away from the painful memories.

    The back story on the tree would need more development (maybe you have it, but didn't share). Was it always magical? Did it get struck by lightning, and instead of dying suddenly generate magical apples? Lots of ways you could go to explain away the magic. Maybe a talking snake could curse the tree (hey, it worked for another popular book).
     

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