1. Dylan_Anderson
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    Dylan_Anderson New Member

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    I have almost everything except the plot!!!

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Dylan_Anderson, Sep 17, 2012.

    I had a vague idea for a story about a year ago while listening to some music. Since then I've let it sit at the back of my head while I worked on other things but has since started to form a slightly more vivid picture in my head. I'm quite exceited about the concept but I'm missing a plot.

    To give a quick overview of the idea: It's set in Smalltown, Anywhere USA (Twin Peaks-esque strangeness). The main character comes to town either for a purpose or just passing through and something grabs his attention enough to keep him there for a while...

    I have an a strong image of the town and a whole cast of characters who live there. But no plot! I have a vague idea of my main character but nothing set in stone as I find my main characters develope as I build the plot so I'm stuck in limbo.

    All I know is the main character is an outsider to the town and is staying there for the duration of the story... for some reason. Just don't know what or why!

    I know that the usual response to these posts is "You have to write it for yourself, we can't do it for you" which I totally get, but I was hoping you guys and gals might be able to throw some good ideas out and help get my mental juices flowing!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Please read What is Plot Creation and Development?. It soumds like what you are looking for is a storyline, not a plot, but in either case, your first step is to define the objective for your main character.

    And yes, this is something you have to come up with for yourself. What you are looking for should come BEFORE deciding upon the setting or characters.

    This is like saying you have a set of tires and and a parking space, all you are missing is the car.
     
  3. marktx
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    marktx Contributing Member

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    One exercise that might be helpful for you would be to start with a short story. Bring your character into town, let him or her interact with some of the other characters, and let some problems unfold in the process.

    The resulting short story may not even end up in your novel, but it may help you to get a clearer sense of how your main character thinks, what is going on in his or her head, and the resulting problems that unfold might give you some ideas for a larger storyline.

    Good luck and keep writing!
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with marktx. It's a method I use a lot. Write something - anything - involving your characters and their setting. It lets you get to know them better and does wonders for generating plot ideas. What you write when doing this exercise does not have to fit into your actual story, but it might. It will, however, make you an expert in your world and your characters, and may make you fall in love with them a little more. When that happens, even the smallest idea can turn into a rich and deep novel.

    Good luck!
     
  5. DoctorNovel
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    DoctorNovel Member

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    I am actually in the same boat and it is probably the most confusing and fustrating feelings!
    Word of advice? try to figure out who your characters are and (like the others said) their main motives, also try to figure out where you exactly want to take your characters..(do they die? married? move away? have kids? etc..) that could help develop a plot

    hope a helped keep brain storming!
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Pick a character and decide on something that (s)he would want to try to do. Then figure out who would want to stop him/her and why. Conflict ensues. That's the essense of your story.

    If you have trouble with that, then sit back and try to figure out why you find these people interesting - what they are trying to do with their lives. Then go back to step one.

    It is a common technique of beginning writers to write "to see where it goes." I wrote my entire first novel that way. It's a very good exercise. Good luck.
     
  7. Hettyblue
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    Hettyblue Member

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    I agree with Ed - you need to start writing - get to know the characters and see where they take you. You may be surprised!
     
  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Brainstorm - like the others said. Start giving your town precise details - I love Twin Peaks - but the town
    wasn't anywhere. It had a distinct setting - the woods, the logging mill, the high school with the heartbeat
    stripe around the walls, a house with a sinister fan at the top of the stairs and it was
    filled with distinct characters - can't get more distinct than the log lady or
    Cooper. Once you start adding details they'll trigger ideas, conflicts, problems.
    Problems will help to define a plot.
    If you want to pull everyone together to be involved in one core idea - you have
    to brainstorm. What could spark the attention of people from mixed backgrounds?
    a mystery - murder or something more complicated - the stranger resembles
    someone involved in a tragedy over twenty or so years ago. A tragedy -
    a missing person , a fire , an accident. The possibility of a disaster -
    rabies, a plant closing, an outbreak, a company setting up a factory
    near by.
     
  9. Dylan_Anderson
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    Dylan_Anderson New Member

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    Thank you peachalulu! That's all stuff I'm doing without a lot of success at the moment but there was something you mentioned in that post that's got the grey matter going and triggered an idea!!!

    I need to go away and think things through, let the idea grow, but I believe you've just given me the inspiration I needed to solve my problem!

    Having said that everybody, please keep the good advice coming! :)
     
  10. Michele
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    Michele New Member

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    I like marktx's idea about the short story. You don't have to invest a lot of time, and once your inspiration strikes, it doesn't even have to fit with the real story. If you really can't find your MC yet, write the short story about two or more of the secondary characters. Make up some small conflict (an argument breaks out at the grocery store over the last gallon of 2% milk--he had it first but she has a baby at home...whose baby? how did they get there? Is there a storm forestalling deliveries of milk? Was there a nuclear accident like in Japan that rendered any new milk undrinkable?) to get them started and see where it takes you. Since they are your secondary characters, your vested interest is less and you will be more willing to let them do what they want, which will hopefully work around to bringing your MC into focus.
     
  11. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    The biggest thing you need to do is establish what's going to be your character arc. Where is your MC now and where will he/she be in the ending, which sounds confusing to an extent so I'll break it down.

    Your MC, you say is in the town, which means he/she's got a personality idea, and morals, ect, At some point in time, there'll come a moment that transforms your character, which is where the big problem he/she faces that needs to be solved. The tension then comes from what he/she faces in conflict (either external of internal) that keeps him/her from reaching the goal. Once he/she's solved their problem who are they afterwards? Along that journey they change in some way, which keeps the readers attention as much as the action does.

    While it sounds very similar, and some people would say it's the plot itself, a character arc is something completely different from plotting because it can run front and center or it can be something subtle. A character arc can cover one book, or multiple books as your MC learns and grows. Your character arc, though, will mean more to your reader because it'll allow him or her to relate and take part in the journey that your MC has.
     
  12. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I disagree. There is no required order to come up with the components of a story - you just need to have all of them once you're writing the story.

    And I share your pain, OP. I have plenty of great settings and characters with no plot to put them through, such as my witch cat-shapeshifters feared by the surrounding medieval culture, or my cocky ghost who likes to taunt people by faking being alive and starting fights (then they try to push her and she's intangible, and she laughs at them).
     
  13. epi_mac
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    epi_mac New Member

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    Maybe have the town going through something big at the time....a local election, a drought, post-tornado clean-up, missing persons case...something that gives the setting a bit more interest. I've done this before too, you create the backdrop first, then try and fit a story into it. Good luck!

    epi-mac
     
  14. littleshoe
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    littleshoe Member

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    I believe you (already) have your plot.

    There is contrast between the main character and the town:
    Contrast helps to understand (like arguments).
    Contrast helps to point out something. (Anything: family structure, gossip, language style, buildings...)

    In Tween Peeks, strangeness helped to add mystery... I don't think it's your case. Try some mysticism (vague speculation : a belief without sound basis b : a theory postulating the possibility of direct and intuitive acquisition of ineffable knowledge or power).
     
  15. AlexinDelhi
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    AlexinDelhi Member

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    I think story is born, it is never created. A story is not a story unless you have yourself into it. Its flow is natural, not planned. Let me give you one example; I was having a heated argument with someone when an idea suddenly struck me. I liked it, kept thinking about it. What if I turn this idea into a story, the thought excited me. I had no beginning, no middle, no plot in my mind. I had nothing but the idea, like you have. I sat down and started writing. Starting a story is not easy, neither ending it. I thought of many possible situations to make the beginning and finally decided on one which I felt would be easier to go with. It was like sometimes when you start a car it acts up, you turn the ignition key off/on several times and suddenly the engines roars to life. So that was how the beginning happened and since then I have been going on and on meeting new ideas on my way. First I wrote a rough draft to the length of the story and then I sat down to add more meat to it. I have already written 7,500 words and I still have a long way to go. You got an idea, its your child. Its up to you how you want this child of yours to grow up. Writing is an intoxicating business and it requires lots of energy. If you wish to be an aspiring writer, read as much as you possibly can. The more you read, the more ideas you will develop, the more ideas you will develop the more you write. Write for yourself, never for others. You got an idea-a man, a location. I close my eyes and think about it. The man has to have a background and the background in itself will give you the reason why he came to the town, what brought him there. There could be number of reasons: he came there searching for something-may be a missing child or love of his life, he came there to escape something-a failed marriage or the law of the land, he came there to achieve something-search for a job or to start a business. So there could be any number of reasons and it depends what kind of character you have in mind. His reason to be there in that town is your plot. As far as ending is concerned, it sometimes is the most difficult part of the story writing business but once you have your heart and soul into it I don't think you would have any difficulty writing the end too. Basic thing is the involvement of your mind, soul and body; the passion and the intensity, living the story, the location, the characters, everything, experiencing the pain and joy, feeling the madness, the adrenalin rush to be there where you want your story to be. You have a story or you don't. I see you have, so get into it, live it, breathe it, feel it, sense it, see it and stop not until you have finished it. Best of luck. Write a rough draft, don't worry about whether its bad or good, just write anything you like centred around your idea, come back here for the feedback. You can't write a story on borrowed ideas, borrowed plots, borrowed endings. Its not yours then and what is not yours will not be interesting. (my apologies for grammatical errors, corrections welcomed)
     
  16. TheTrain
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    TheTrain Member

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    Well, I can suggest something. :-D In any good story, you need a main threat of course, but there's also some personal things the protagonist goes through. In addition to other side plots, there's the side plot that the main character deals with inside him/herself, their pain. This always connects the reader to the character on an emotional level. It's hard to describe, but it can be a morals thing, or a family member that died and it changed them (someone close like a spouse or child, but that's been done so much). This also plays a part in the character's...well...character, it's part of who they are and helps people to identify them. It's even better if this pain they have helps them in the main plot somehow.

    For the main plot itself, I don't have any advice other than it needs to feel like this is legitimately something the characters would care about. In other words, it needs to be strong enough that the protagonist wouldn't just ignore it and leave. It also needs to be something that the reader is interested in, something that grabs their attention and makes them want to keep turning pages to find out how it ends. Also, if the protagonist's pain is part of the reason why they're pursuing the main plot, that really adds to the strength of the story. It's best to tie in lots of different things into the plot, but keep them seperate at the same time.

    Hope this helps! ^^
     

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