1. InvisibleElephant

    InvisibleElephant New Member

    Aug 18, 2007
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    I'm sort of struggling with a few key points in my book.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by InvisibleElephant, Aug 18, 2007.

    The book is going to be called The Invisible Elephant, hence my username. It's about a married couple whose life slowly falls apart due to their pasts. Just for a better understanding of my question, here's a brief description of the main characters, and then the plot synopsis, then the questions.

    Thomas "Tom" Gray

    One of the two main characters, although the book leans more toward him than his wife. He is a 29-year-old attorney, and was born into an alcoholic family, although he had never drank before in his life. Early on in the book, his father, Joe, is killed by a drunk driver who T-bones in at a highway intersection.

    Seeking to find out who his father really is, he begins spending long hours with his mother and grandmother, both victims of not only Joe's drunken antics, but also Joe's father's. He finds that his grandfather and father were molested and physically and mentally abused by their fathers, and that's why they became alcoholics. He begins distrusting people, but at the same time his wife becomes pregnant, and he is faced with the prospect of bringing a child into his family.

    Elizabeth "Elie" Gray (nee Harper)

    One of the two main characters - although the book leans slightly more toward Tom - she is a stunningly beautiful woman who has become increasingly more uptight and easily worried over the years, incredibly insecure due to her father's alcoholism (both her father and Tom's father were drunks) and abuse of her and her mother early in life. For instance, early on in the book, she nearly breaks down because her garden isn't growing as well as it usually does.

    Tom and her begin having a tough borderline BAD relationship when he discovers that she's been hiding the secrets of his past from him for nearly ten years. However, she becomes pregnant, and they have to shape up before having a kid.

    Quick outline of book

    - Tom and Elizabeth are introduced as characters.

    - We learn more about them.

    - At their anniversary dinner (which takes place the night of the morning in which the story starts), Tom gets a call that his father has died.

    - He wants to know who his father is, so he begins talking to his mother constantly, her telling him stories about their past. She reveals that her husband's father molested him etc. (as I said before) and he becomes distrusting.

    - The man who killed his father is sentenced to life in prison.

    - Elie becomes pregnant.

    - Tom begins receding, rarely talking to Elie, but still loving her.

    (six months go by, in which their relationship stays on the rocks)

    - Tom prosecutes a man who killed his children while drunk. Tom is barely able to finish the trial because it strikes such a chord with him.

    - Tom nearly breaks down that night, worried that he will "infect" his child with his problems. He goes out and becomes drunk himself (despite never have drank before in his life), hitting rock bottom that night.

    - Tom's wife, mom, and grandma have a family meeting with him because they don't think he's an alcoholic but they know he needs help... he has a huge revelation with them because they talk together for hours and he finally realizes that each of them can actually help him with his problems.

    (Two months go by, in which Tom and Elie's relationship heals greatly)

    - Elie has the baby.

    - Two weeks after the baby is born, Tom prosecutes a man who robbed a local bank of 50k. The man said he hid the money but he won't tell where.

    - Elie is shot and killed when a friend of the man's breaks into Tom's house a week after the sentencing, thinking Tom has the money.

    - The man who killed Elie is caught.

    - The night of the funeral, Tom is contemplating suicide, but decides against it for his child. He instead falls into a deep sleep, for it is late at night.

    - He has an extremely vivid dream in which he sees Elie again; they talk for a long while in the spot where they first met (which has become shrouded with fog except for the exact spot) then, after reconciling their problems, she goes back into the fog again, leaving him forever... it's a symbolic way of showing him moving on and finally getting over her while still remembering her in a positive light.


    - I'd like for something else big to happen in the book... what?

    - What sex is their child going to be? I'm leaning toward female, since Tom's female companion has died.

    - Do I write an epilogue, like a ten years later or something? If I do, the child is going to look exactly like his parent, another reason why I'm leaning toward female.

    - What do you think of my story, based on this crappy summary? It's 12 AM and I'm tired so I apologize for any grammatical errors, plus I tried to stick to just major plot points, so I left some stuff out.

    Short summary, huh? Note - I made a lot of the stuff in the middle up just now, because I've only written about thirty pages - the first and last chapter.
  2. InvisibleElephant

    InvisibleElephant New Member

    Aug 18, 2007
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    Oh, and, for your reading pleasure, here's a passage from my book: it's a flashback to when Tom and Elie first meet.

    Tom was walking on a wide, open gravel path. Large black trees grew up to what seemed the top of the sky, lining either side of the road like sentinels watching over travelers. The road, after being rather flat for a stretch, bent upward sharply, becoming much more of a hill than a road, as if it were stretching its back.

    Climbing up what seemed like a mountain made his brow wet with perspiration: early May was not kind. He was trudging slowly but surely up the precipice-like mound; he wondered how cars drove up it, if they did at all. He was using his hands as well; they were becoming rapidly dirty, but the moisture that was oozing out of them kept them from becoming too filthy.

    At last, he reached the top. He doubled over, panting heavily, putting his hands on his knees as he did so. The backpack that was slung over his shoulder just made him breathe harder; more than a few times in the climb it had threatened to slide up and over his head when he had leaned forward too far.

    Swearing under his breath and standing up straight, stretching his back, he noticed that the path had leveled itself off completely, almost unnaturally: it was perfectly flat for as far as he could see. He was in no shape or mood to question an even path to school, however, so he set off. He told himself that he would never walk to school again, half-serious but half-kidding, as he knew he would have to at least a few more time.

    Beginning to set off down the road, he noticed that he could not see anything but the road and more trees in the distance: at this point, he dreaded anything more than a short walk. He checked his watch, hoping he wouldn’t be late – on top of this, he couldn’t stand another detention. With a flick of his wrist, he found that it was just after 7:30. He heaved a sigh of relief: at least he wouldn’t be getting in trouble.

    All of a sudden, he tripped. A large stone, jutting out of the ground, had collided with his shoe while he was checking the time, and had – seemingly joyously – knocked him down onto his stomach. He felt a sharp pain in his ribs, which made him involuntarily twitch as he pushed himself up off the ground. He pulled his shirt up: just beneath his chest sat a large cut, about an inch long but, from the feel of it, rather deep. There was also a tear in his shirt.

    “Dammit,” he sighed, not even having enough energy to curse his bad luck. He was bleeding now, and one or two droplets began their descent down his torso; he became so angry that he reached down and grabbed the stone. Resting it in his hand while looking at it in the way one might look at an incredibly pesky or obnoxious child, he heaved it as hard as he could into the trees.

    He began to scan the road in front of him, hoping that no one had seen his mishap. As he squinted his eyes, wiping the dirt off his pants, he noticed that there was someone on the road. He guessed that they were about three hundred yards away; he could barely make them out. He could tell, however, that it was a woman, and, from the looks of it, had long red or blonde hair.

    She was looking in the opposite direction. Tom was not sure if she had been looking that way since before he had fallen, or if she had looked away at that moment so that he would not feel embarrassed. From the looks of it – the way she was standing – she had been looking down the road for a long time.

    As he moved closer to her, he was suddenly, inexplicably stricken with the fact that, although he had not yet seen her face, she was beautiful. Her hair looked perfect: a bright, flaming red, growing down to her shoulder blades and ending in a soft point in the middle. She held herself extremely well: she looked strong, but delicate; Tom was amazed as he wondered how she achieved this. She was holding two or three large textbooks in her hands, her arms crossed around them, pressing them tightly to her chest as to not let them fall.

    He wanted to go up to her, to say hello to this girl, to hold her hand, to touch her, to merely have her know he existed… but he was too afraid to speak up; he did not even know her name. The closer he got to her, the dryer his mouth became, the harder it would be to finally speak.

    Before he knew it – and before he wanted to be – he was standing five feet behind her. His feet had seemed strangely silent as he had swiftly trotted toward her; he didn’t know whether to be glad or unhappy about this: on one hand, she did not turn to him, but on the other, he would have to actually start a conversation. But he was too scared… besides, he had no problem just standing here, admiring her…

    “Hi,” he involuntarily muttered. He supposed he was thankful that he had not had to speak up deliberately. She slowly turned around to view the person behind her, and when her eyes met his, Tom’s lips parted slightly with surprise.

    She smiled. “Hey!” she cried buoyantly; he just continued staring. He had never seen anyone or anything like her; she was absolutely perfect. She had large, honest green eyes and her smile made him unable to keep from cracking a grin of his own. She was tiny: he wouldn’t guess that she was any taller than 5’ 4”.

    He had only heard her say one word, but he could already tell that there was no kinder person on earth…

    “What’s your name?” she said, biting her lip. Was she attracted to him…? No, it couldn’t be… never a girl like her…

    Tom jumped out of his daze immediately when she spoke again. “Uh,” shaking his head, as if swatting off all thoughts other than her, “Tom. Tom Gray.”

    “Nice to meet you, Tom,” she said, sticking out her hand genially. He took it and gave it a slight shake before releasing it immediately; he was afraid he would faint if he held it too long.

    “I’m Elizabeth. Elizabeth Harper.”

    “That’s a beautiful name… Elizabeth…” she wasn’t sure whether he was calling her by her name or just saying it aloud.

    “Thanks!” she giggled. “But almost nobody calls me Elizabeth.”

    “Well, what do they call you?” Tom said, putting his hands in his pockets. He wasn’t feeling nervous anymore now that they had broken the ice. He was just watching her, admiring her… every word she spoke sounded brilliant…

    “Well, a lot of things. Some people call me Liz, one boy calls me Eliza –”

    Tom felt a surge of anger course through him when he heard that she was talking to another boy.

    “– I hate the name Beth, so no one calls me that… one or two call me Elizabeth still, and my best friends call me Elie.”

    Elie: that one struck a chord with Tom; he had never heard a name more beautiful that it in his life… he recited it over and over again in his head, as if he could not get enough of it.

    “May I call you Elie?” he asked, as if begging a parent for permission to stay out late.

    “Sure,” she said, cocking her head a little, as if to examine him closer. This made Tom very nervous; he swallowed, suddenly aware of how stupid his arms looked dangling by his side; how badly he had combed his hair this morning…

    “How old are you?” he asked.

    “Sixteen,” she said happily. You?”

    “The same.” He was relieved that she was not older than
    he; did he stand a chance with her?

    “So, why are you doing just standing around?”

    “I was waiting for a friend to come by,” she sighed, “but I guess her car couldn’t make it up the hill.” She looked toward where Tom had come from: the memory of it was still fresh in his mind.

    “Yeah,” he laughed, “it’s a tough one. Did… you… climb up it?”

    “Unfortunately… I normally come to school another way but my friend and I had never used this path and we decided to try it out.

    “Yeah, uh, actually, I’ve only come up it once, normally I get a ride to school, I don’t have a car –” he cut himself off and scratched his head… how lame of a date would he be without a car? She surely had one, everyone had one –

    “Neither do I,” she said, sighing again. He sighed as well, but his was not one of disappointment, but of relief. There was a brief silence, in which they both looked at each other. Tom turned away after a moment: he found that he could not look directly into her eyes for very long: it was like staring into a bright light.

    “Do you… want to walk to school with me?” Tom stuttered out.

    “Yeah!” she replied, sounding as if she had never done anything so exciting in her life. He wondered whether this truly made her happy, or if she was just a joyful person. Either was great… could it be both?

    “Well, c’mon, let’s go,” she said, waving her right hand toward her as she dropped her books down to her side. Her hair played around in the wind; it made Tom crazy: he was unable to refrain from watching it.

    “Alright,” he said, as they began walking in the direction of the school, “Elie,” he added heavily, swallowing again. He looked into her eyes once more as they walked; and, inexplicably, as if he was always meant to do it, he grabbed her hand, and entwined his fingers with hers as they walked down the road.
  3. Domoviye

    Domoviye Contributing Member

    Jan 8, 2007
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    Proud Canadian. Currently teaching in Nanjing, Chi
    You don't really need another 'big' thing to happen. If you write it carefully, this should be enough. Trying to cram something in would look like your desperately trying to keep the readers attention. Of course as you write it, you may come up with a few new things to throw in, so don't be afraid to run with new ideas as your writing.

    As for an epilogue, I don't think so. I've never been a fan, and its nice to let the reader use their imagination for what happens in the future.

    Overall it seems alright. Not my type of book, but I wouldn't turn my nose up at it.
  4. Sir Cameron

    Sir Cameron Member

    May 27, 2007
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    - That seems quite enough. Just make sure that the middle doesn't drag. Really good dialogue and pacing will help. Also, what is the secret Elie had? That alone will bring a whole aspect to the story

    - You could do that, or to further Tom's commitment to the baby, you could make him a boy and have Tom commit to stopping the family curse with him. Either way it's symbolic.

    - What would be the point of this? Commonly, epilogues are during more epic and grand stories. (grand being in the sense bigger, not better) Leave the story on that uncertainty level, the audience loves to think about what happens next.

    - Interesting. I'm not a big fan of these books unless they're extremely well written. If you were to publish it, I'd take a gander.

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