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  1. tuore
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    tuore New Member

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    I have a plot - but is it too cliché?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by tuore, Jun 21, 2011.

    I have a basic plot ready for my project. It's large and ambitious, so if I ever get around to actually finish/publish this, it will definitely be a series of books, probably 3 to 5 books.

    So, it goes like this:

    The continent has been living in peace for a long time. In the north live the Dwarves, who are the most unstable of the factions. They have been oppressing the marsh-people (horribly deformed creatures living in the swamps to the northwest) and they are suffering from internal trouble, mainly the lack of mining activity.
    In the central parts of the continent live the Humans. These current rulers of the continent live in harmony with their neighbours, have fertile land and thus very thriving economy. They are faring well.
    To the south live the Ruined Elves. They were ruling the entire continent centuries ago, but have been declining since. Their once-famous magical powers have crumbled and they are a shadow of their former self. They fare relatively well, thanks to support from the Humans.

    These three factions together form the Triple Kingdoms, an alliance formed to support the prosperity of the nations within it. The main theme of the plot are mountains: The Humans rule from the Marble Castle, the largest castle on the largest mountain.
    The dwarves rule from Gateguard, the second largest mountain. The city is almost entirely carved inside the mountain, although some structures are visible from the outside (such as the entrance).
    The Ruined Elves' king rules from Valasurin (which, according to a translator, means "Divine", a reference to their old supremacy - all the names can/will likely be changed, though). Their mountain is in the southern tip of the continent, surrounded by hills and forests.

    The actual book starts with a prologue, where the Dwarven king is inspecting the mining operations on a medium-sized, frozen island to the northeast of the continent. There he encounters the "bad guy" of the story. The bad guy is of a race I have yet to create, and he along with his followers hunt down the king and kill him. The bad guy seizes the largest mountain on that island and proclaims himself the fourth King. The prologue ends here.

    Then the focus is switched to a dwarven nobleman, who experiences the troubles that rise up when a new king should take the throne and the dissent caused by the rumours of a new king. The troubleful events lead to a full civil war between the ruling Ironguards and an opposing faction. This nobleman supports the Ironguards and fights against the rebels, but eventually Gateguard is lost and this nobleman is forced to flee with his family to the Human realm.

    In the human realm he seeks his way to the king to warn him about the northerners. The King sens a small fellowship to negotiate with the new rulers of Gateguard. The dwarf meets the king's archer who he becomes friends with. They observe as the new rulers of Gateguard seize the power. Meanwhile, one of the last Elven scholars is sent to the Marble Castle by the Elven king to speak with the Humans about the situation in the north. Eventually he comes across the dwarf and the human and together they set off towards Gateguard. On the way they meet another Dwarven nobleman, the first one's friend, who provides them with valuable information. They continue their journey.

    Meanwhile the bad guy has incited the Marsh-people to rise up against their oppressors, the dwarves. With the aid of the Marsh-people, the bad people invade the Dwarven realm. Our fellowship encounters the Marsh people in the central areas of the country, and the dwarven nobleman's friend is killed in the fight. He vows to return to Gateguard and save his people from the evil forces. It becomes a race towards Gateguard.
    They cannot reach Gateguard in time and the bad guys seize it. They are now a huge threat (as they have a large proportion of the northern areas of the continent), so the fellowship flees towards the coast to escape by boat. They head towards the Human realm, but as they meet enemies near the coasts, they have to continue their journey further south. Eventually they arrive on the Elven island, Emerald Hold.

    I have not planned further. But the plot involves the death of several main characters (in crucial positions of the story), political intrigue between the Elves, Humans and the remaining Dwarven resistance. The Humans eventually cripple as well, but the Ruined Elves regain their will to fight (as they do not share a physical border with the "evil people", they do not spend as much resources on fighting) and in the end their excellent ships bring the fellowship to the island where the Fourth King rules from. In the final battle, the Human makes the ultimate sacrifice and kills the king and dies as well. The Dwarf returns home and is proclaimed the new king.



    Wow, that was a long post. What do you people think, is it cliché in any way? I want to be unique, and I don't remember reading a story like this (all is peaceful at first, then slowly things start to disintegrate, failed attempts to salvage everything, oppressed and poor people grow stronger, strong grow weaker).

    Also, I need a title for the series. I could just write it all down and figure it out then, but I somehow find it easier to write when I can give proper names to maps, the writings and other related things I create. At first I thought "The Struggle of Mountains", but that sounds way too cliché. I would love the mountain theme to be in, though.
    I'll probably call the first book "The Fourth King" or something along those lines, but the series needs a name. Suggestions are welcome.
     
  2. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    Short answer, yes it is very cliche.

    See the problem lies not only with the human/dwarf/elf allegence. Which is a staple part of many fantasy novels (The most obvious being LOTR) - but the casual racism. Why is one race evil just because they are another race? If they were fighting for political reasons that would make more sense. Also the marsh people are deformed? So are they human, human or elf? Or are they merely a race of people that others don't like the look of, but are actually perfectly evolved to their environment.

    I also think you've hit a snag because the story starts and finishes in the same way - the kingdoms remain the same. No new boundaries or territories? Perhaps look up some historical race wars? Or other conflicts and see how they ended up - I think you'll find not so neat.

    There is a lot of moving around here (road trip style storyline) so you'll need lots of side storyline to keep the journey interesting, think Geroge R R Martin's Game of Thrones . The story line is amazingly complex despite it being a powerstruggle and it isn't straight forwards - new boundaries are constantly being drawn.

    Anyway. It does sound cliche from the summary, but don't let that put you off. The proof is often in the pudding. From the summary I can't see the heart of your characters, and their psychological motivations.

    Oh and also, I always though different races in books were supposed to represent different facets of the human psyche? Just a thought.

    Good Luck.
     
  3. Suadade
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    Suadade Senior Member

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    Just a quick thought, doesn't this belong in the Plot Creation subforum?
     
  4. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    I'm sorry -- what was that?
     
  5. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    I get mixed up with all these like minded fantasy writers - why don't you fill me in? Game of thrones maybe?

    Terrible novel anyways. But thanks for being helpful instead of a jerk anyways.
     
  6. tuore
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    tuore New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback!

    There are territorial changes - as I said, the evil people capture the dwarven capital. Their country is basically divided by the Marsh-people (who are like humans or dwarves, but are so misshapen that no clear definition can be given), the bad people and the dwarves loyal to the old king.

    And now that I think about it, I feel like I've made a big world and the small fellowship is too... small. It's a big world with lots of stuff going on, I feel like the fellowship I made up doesn't do justice to it. I could give motives - I could make the bad guy be an heir to the dwarven throne who was never given his crown due to some reason and now wants revenge. So he gathers supporters to stand against the dwarven king, who he sees illegitimate.

    I did think of something like that before - an usurper has claimed the throne and someone wants it back, but at the same time brings risks (in this case the Marsh-people). But such a plot feels too much like A Song of Ice and Fire, which is, as you said, just a struggle between different houses.

    Hmm. Back to designing.
     
  7. thesims
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    thesims Member

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    I was a bit confused while reading your summary, because it's a lot of information at once. However I like the concept and I think the series would be good if written properly. George RR Martin's work has been mentioned, you might want to take a look at it because his world is amazingly detailed and alive.

    So yeah, I think you're on the right path.

    Just make sure your universe doesn't feel too static (I think you've got that covered with invasions and all) and try to flesh out the races. It's unlikely that ALL dwarves live on that one mountain, for example, so I think you should create subspecies to make the world a bit more intricate and believable.

    I'd avoid the vindictive heir to the throne bit - THAT is cliché'd.

    thesims

    P.S. I'd love to read the prologue! :p

    P.S.P.S. Did someone say that A Game of Thrones was a terrible book? BLASPHEMY!
     
  8. tuore
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    tuore New Member

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    To clear out a few misconceptions, here's an early draft for a possible map. As you can see, all the dwarves do not live on the same mountain, but in a vast realm ruled by Gateguard, the capital and biggest city.

    [​IMG]

    I will adjust the map, definitely split the nations to regions and so on. With the general locations and the signs on the map, you should be able to find out what the nations are. Ironcliff is the name of the "bad" peoples' capital.

    Thank you for your feedback, I'll try to make the continent more lively. A good way could be to create several groups of people in different places, tell their local story and later tie them together.

    But one thing I'll definitely do - I'll read the rest of the ASOIAF books. I have to admit that I have only read Game of Thrones - I preordered a box set containing the first 5 books a few days ago. It's released on the 23rd and I should receive it in about a week after that.
     
  9. thesims
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    thesims Member

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    That's a sweet map, did you make it yourself or use software?
     
  10. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    I was going to ask that exact same question. I need, quite badly, to make a map for my book, but I am terrible at drawing.

    Edit: As for the story, I think a lot of people will see elves, dwarves, humans and immediately be drawn to LOTR comparisons, and it may be difficult to get past that. If you changed them out for other races, say, ones which you made up yourself, it would go along way towards setting your story apart. It would also involve a lot more planning and work, but it would allow you to write your own rules for them and people can't go in with preconceived notions.
     
  11. tuore
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    tuore New Member

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    Made it myself using Photoshop. The mountains, forests and hills are made with free brushes I found online.
     
  12. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    Whoa där. Didn't mean to sound like a jerk. Only snarky. The line between the two is sadly often overlooked.
     
  13. Ashrynn
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    Ashrynn Active Member

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    I read Dwarf, Humans, Elves, Fellowship

    Cliche

    SO MAKE IT UNIQUE DAMMIT!

    How about instead the villian is someone integrated in the Elves. He corrupts the leadership and convinces the Elves that they are greater than the Barbaric Dwarves or the young Humans who constantly wage wars on each other for more power.

    The Elves, convinced of their own supremacy, have begun an onslaught against the Dwarves and Humans, taking their territory and forcing the lesser beings to accept the Elves as their leaders. Forcing them to live as workers or servants the Dwarves and Humans form an Alliance with a small faction of Elves who were able to flee their homelands after being sentenced to death for speaking out against the Elven Tyranny!

    Or somethin' like that Yo!

    Prolly still Cliche
     
  14. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    Why don't you lose the dwarves and elves, then and create your own species. You can also redesign the climate/world that they're living in. I mean, Dune ended up being a bit interesting just because setting was atypical. The beings that lived there were also. What if your country was polar, for example? How would that change the way you set up your kingdoms, main characters and their properties. (Oh, wait. That's kind of like Narnia...)
     
  15. tuore
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    tuore New Member

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    Interesting idea. I'll start by creating the "bad race" and if it turns out to be not too difficult, then I'll create other species as well.

    For the world part - I would like to have all kinds of elements in, though. As the story involves a lot of traveling, it would be nice to describe the surroundings a bit more than "there was more sand".
     
  16. thesims
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    thesims Member

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  17. tuore
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    tuore New Member

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    Heh, I've been using that tutorial for ages. I pretty much remember every step, but for this particular map I wanted a hand drawn map.
     
  18. tuore
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    tuore New Member

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    I have made some more progress, and I now have five different races planned out. I also remade the map. I made up the names for the races by looking at different language translators, combining them and adding some unique elements. So I present you:


    The Gažki: Short, dark-skinned creatures with little to no hair and few but sharp teeth. Little is known of these creatures due to their inhospitality and remote location. They have no place in foreign politics because of their isolationism and lack of a proper leader.
    Culture is aggressive and these creatures have adapted to the ice and tundra in the northern parts of the continent where they live in.

    The Dandèrel: Very tall, light-skinned men with dark but not very long hair. The Dandèrel live in Dandèrum, the realm to the south. That has given them the nickname "Southern giants".
    Their culture is very defensive and often focused on arts, architecture and trade instead of military production and warmongering.

    The Kendar: This race is the most common of all the races. It features medium to tall height, blonde to brown hair but not black. Closest to regular humans. The Kendar are the most powerful people on the continent and they rule from the very center of it.
    Their culture features greediness, ambition and aggression, although not to the same extent as the Gažki.

    The Ûdichi: These dark-haired people inhabit the mountainous areas in the western parts of the continent. Their main source of income is mining, seafare and glass. Ûdichi glass made from the sand of the Great Desert is said to be the best in the entire world.
    Their realm's northern border is not clearly defined, as they oppress the simple Nagh-Erê living there while trying to colonise their lands. Ûdichi settlements can be found as far as on the shores of the Crystal Lake in the Dark Marshes.

    The Nagh-Erê: These small, crooked creatures live in underground houses around the large marshes in the northwestern areas of the continent. They are threatened by the Ûdichi, who are trying to colonise their lands and enslave the native population. Little is known of these creatures as well, but it is known that they share some similarities with the Gažki due to similar environment.
    The Nagh-Erê have no representation in international politics and are considered to be only a trade partner. The Crystal Lake is known for its pearls and other valuables, which are the main source of income and the only justification for the nation's existence.

    How do these sound like?

    Also, thanks to thesims' post, I decided to remake the map in a different style. I'm not yet sure which one I'll use.
    http://img233.imageshack.us/img233/9205/fantasymap2.jpg
     
  19. afrodite7
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    afrodite7 Senior Member

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    -unfortionately,its straight up cliche.won't work unless....change the time period (present or near future) and you might be able to get away with it.also the casual racism thing? used and its no good.also,judging by this i'm asuming everyone is the same ethnicity (humans)too and also there's that good vs evil thing again.try throwing in black and gray morality instead of good vs evil.it sounds VERY cliche ,but if done correctly ,it can be used. at least give it a unique title.

    i do like the bit of diversity you nhave but still,i say make it modernized,it'll stand out.
     
  20. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    Ah! Why? Why would you go ahead and be racist? It reeks of shallowness and the inability to recognise people as individuals rather than lables. It just doesn't sound good. I don't think you've understood what a lot of other writers were doing with their different races.

    For instance Lord of the Rings was written by Tolkien after the first world war - where many different nationalities fought side by side - thus he was looking to explore the camaradery between them. Nowadays we are less blunt in our racial distinctions, so why not bring your story up to date? After all where nowadays are people seperated by race? Go anywhere and you'll see differnt people from different places, and of different races mixing.

    You're pigeon hole-ing far to much.

    It's all very well making a map and planning what people look like, but this isn't Lego or Sims, this is story telling, and you need characters that are people to propel the story.
     
  21. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    I do like the progress that you're making on the different species you are creating. So far so good! However, I agree that it's important not to generalize about "bad" or "good" species. Most wars begin due to miscommunication, disrespect of boundary lines, territorial disputes, fighting over magical objects based on territory in which they were found and original ownership rights...
    Perhaps before you decide whether a species is "good" or "bad," you should decide what is the catalyst for the war with the realization that both sides may have legitimate claims. Maybe a member becomes a POW and then learns the culture/ways of the other side. (Oh, wait, that kind of sounds like Avatar...)
     
  22. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    And, yes, your map rocks!!
     
  23. tuore
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    tuore New Member

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    I tried to get rid of the black/white morality in the races post and abandoned the idea of creating a purely bad race. I think it opens up rather interesting plots/twists:

    1. The Gažki organizing their realm to intervene in foreign matters.
    2. Other kingdoms disagreeing with the Ûdichi colonisation of the Nagh-Erê, possibly leading to war or worldwide economic troubles when they stop trading.
    3. The Kendars being reluctant to give up their power to other races.
    4. Global events causing harm to the Dandèrel culture, possibly leading to a coup or a civil war.

    Of my races none is truly bad and none is truly good. Also, there are a few places on the map that could easily create disputes, such as some islands.
     
  24. tuore
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    tuore New Member

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    Also, another idea I had in mind was based on the computer game Crusader Kings. It's basically all about dynasty management, and often I have played games in it that would have been excellent in a story form. However, I fear that it's too close to ASOIAF to have different lords and counts struggling to become the king.
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has all been done before. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read What is Plot Creation and Development?
     

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