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  1. radkovelli
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    radkovelli Member

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    Is it bad to have no distinct plot?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by radkovelli, Jan 29, 2016.

    Every time I try to add a solid plot to my story, I find that I lose passion with it. Last I tried, I spent a year and got half of it finished before realizing that it wasn't my story any longer. It just felt very forced.

    When I think about what I want my book to be, it doesn't have any distinct plot. It's essentially about my main character's twisted family/life that make him kill himself.

    While that is the general idea, there isn't a reoccurring thing that travels through each chapter. For example, the book isn't about him planning how he'll do it or gathering what he needs to do this.

    I guess the best way to describe what I have would be to call it a memoir, though it's entirely fiction.

    If the characters are captivating, is it bad to have a book that just revolves around their lives instead of one specific event with rising action, climax, falling action, etc.?

    Any tips on how to tighten up such a broad plot?

    Thank you. :)
     
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  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Some general fiction novels don't have strong plots. The only thing this hurts is readability not really whether or not your book will be published. It's harder to finish a book without a plot or get into a book without a clear plot unless you've really got interesting characters.
     
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  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends on the kind of story you want to write, I guess. Of course you have all the freedom to write your story however you find suitable. But if there's not much happening, I guess the risk is readers will put it away before the finish it. As with pretty much all questions like this though, it all boils down to how you do it. Like we discussed in another thread, some stories can be about pretty much nothing, but the character's inner world and thoughts and reflections on the outer world are so interesting that you want to follow them regardless.
     
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My first thought is Memoirs of a Geisha which is one of my favourite books. It's about Sayuri's life, not one event or even a series of events, but her whole life.

    Just from what you've said, I'd read your book and it certainly sounds like it has a plot to me.
     
  5. Robert Musil
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    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    A lot of literary fiction is what's called "character-driven", which sounds exactly like what you're describing. It focuses more on the internal lives of the characters than external events that affect them.

    Here's a (very) quick primer I found, but just google "character driven vs plot driven" for more.

    http://www.dorrancepublishing.com/blog/character-driven-v-plot-driven-writing-whats-difference/#.VqvKEkrR-1s
     
  6. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    Perks of Being a Wallflower had not distinct plot and that was an amazing book. I think you can get away with it but you have to really work on the character relationships and character grown or demise throughout the book.
     
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  7. MichaelP
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    MichaelP Active Member

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    A very common misconception is that you need conflict (which is really what plot is, when you think about it) in fiction. All you actually need is tension. Conflict is the most common way of creating tension, but it's not the only way.

    The short story The Lottery doesn't have any conflict, but the reader keeps reading because of tension. In ancient China, a common torture method was to blindfold a man and release a drop of water onto his forehead once every set interval of time. There was no conflict, but the tension of waiting for that next drop would drive the prisoner mad.

    Ultimately, it's about keeping the reader interested. The way to do that is to write a really intersting sentence, followed by anothe, and another, all the way to the end.
     
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  8. Sileas
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    Sileas Member

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    Read dis:

    http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/experimental.shtml

    I'm in exactly the same situation, Rad. The only real difference is that I just write for fun, with no intention of publishing. But I come up with characters that I find interesting and just follow them around. "Real life" has no plot, but that doesn't mean it's not interesting. Forcing a plot into existence----just, yup, know precisely how you feel. If you really had to, I s'pose you could get help in the plot forum but.... other route is to perhaps go experimental.
     
  9. MichaelP
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    MichaelP Active Member

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    My philosophy is that the ultimate purpose of plot is epiphany. The epiphany can occur for the protagonist, another character(s), or even the reader. The purpose of conflict is to make this change happen; change requires catalyst.

    You only need as much plot (i.e., conflict) as is necessary to enact the desired change. More than that is extraneous. This is why a 3,000-word short story about, say, a guy who drives to his childhood town with the goal of "reliving his childhood," only to get slapped in the face by a reality check, will absolutely keep the reader interested if done right, while throwing random "obstacles" in said character's way (that have no purpose other than conflict for conflict's sake) is silly at best and boring at worst.
     
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  10. radkovelli
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    radkovelli Member

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    @peachalulu Thank you, I agree. I'm definitely going to work on making the characters as interesting as possible for that reason.

    @Tesoro You're right about that, a story without much going on certainly is hard to read. My characters are all a little crazy, so I'm hoping their internal worlds can make the story interesting.

    @Tenderiser Thanks so much! I'm going to have a look at Memoirs of a Geisha now, maybe seeing how the author handles that story can help me a bit.

    @Robert Musil I've heard of character-driven fiction, though I've never looked into it until now. The article you attached helped a lot, so thank you.

    @AASmith I agree completely, that's a good example.

    @MichaelP You bring up a lot of good points. Tension does seem much more important, as it keeps a reader on the edge of their seat, wanting to turn the page and read on. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that adding in unnecessary obstacles is a waste. My story does involve epiphanies as well as tension, so you've given me hope that it'll be okay without a plot. Thank you!

    @Sileas I totally agree with what you've said about real life. When we think about our own lives, surely there are stories to tell. However, I wouldn't say these stories about my life have a plot. Doesn't make them any less interesting, though. I've bookmarked the article you added about the experimental route. Definitely seems like something I'd try! Thank you.
     

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