1. littlebluelie
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    littlebluelie Member

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    Issues with plot?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by littlebluelie, Jan 8, 2009.

    I can't plot a story. I just sit there and write and it comes to me as I do so. If I plan things ahead, I get flustered and nothing comes out. But without some sort of idea where my story is headed, I end up with no real structure and can lead the reader into some places that aren't vital to the story.

    Does anyone else have this problem and how did you go about fixing it?
     
  2. BitPoet
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    BitPoet Member

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    How about starting with a kind of re-telling of the story? E.g. if you've got an idea for an epic fantasy story, have a character (maybe the old, wise wizard or the loosely involved brother of the main character) tell what happened. This way, you could still get down all the ideas on paper in twenty or thirty pages and then go back, pick the different scenes and conflicts that arise from it, and shape those out into different chapters.

    You're not alone with your problem, writing usually comes a lot easier than plotting, as the latter is tedious work - but it pays out.

    Another important thing is to not put too high expectations on yourself. Developing a good plot isn't done over night. Start with a rough outline (as above), set up premises for your main characters (their goals and the final message that the story transports) as well as for the story itself, then nail down your main conflict and how you want it resolved. Your plot doesn't need to be perfect yet - in fact, it's likely to change a bit here and there. You may even change the main conflict to something different later on, the important point is to leave the story's main premise untouched - otherwise you're suddenly writing a different story.

    Having done that, you've got a good plot skeleton to work with and are all set up to fill all the chapters with life.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Plots develop around conflicts. Find or create the conflict, and you have added an element of plot

    More specifically, a plot consists of an actor, a goal/objective, and a confligt/obstacle. A storyline is merely a sequence of events - plots drive characters from event to event. Some goals will be attained, others will not. Some goals create conflict, particularly incompatibele goals - Bob needs to save for his retirement, Jeff wants Bob's money to make his own life easier.

    Plots are like physics equations - you have forces acting on a body in different directions, resulting in movement.
     
  4. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I don't plot my stories out ahead of time, but that doesn't mean they aren't planned in some way. Since I write very long serials, I have to spend a lot of time mulling over the various things I want to happen in the story. I'll spend years thinking over the plot of the next story in the series while working on the current one.

    Instead of trying to come up with an outline or something, or just writing meanderingly and ending up nowhere or in the wrong place, why not just try thinking over your story and how you want it to go? You can always jot down the most important parts so you don't forget them, but you don't have to plan EVERYTHING out. Just the important stuff, so you don't go off track or lose focus. Maybe you're starting your stories without a clear enough idea of where you want them to go and that's why they go nowhere.

    You might have to find a middle ground between planning things out and just winging it.
     
  5. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Maybe write the story first the way that works for you, and then tear it apart work out the problems and rewrite it?
     
  6. othman
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    othman Member

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    Well in school about six months ago we (my english class) were separated into groups of four and told to think of a rough plot and then that we would write individual pieces (to help those who aren't good at thinking of their own plots). And I loved doing this as although I can think of nice plots I can never quite create them so it was very useful, and I'm sure a lot of people on these forums would help to stimulate/half make some plots for you to do - as in a plot is the skeleton and you do everything else from personality to looks.
     
  7. littlebluelie
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    littlebluelie Member

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    Everyone- Thank you so much for your replies. Now I've got some things to mull over and I think I'll be able to do this. I have a basic idea of where I want to go with the story. I just haven't had that "Aha!" moment where I know it's a story worth writing.

    Cogito- I liked your analogy to physics. It's made me realize that the conflicts I do have in the story are too broad [i.e. the government is corrupt so the main character must help it reform] which is why I get incredibly overwhelmed when I try to pound out the plot. I need make it more specific and easier to wrap my head around.
     
  8. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I would agree with Cognito...

    let's say X is your actor...

    a plot would be that x wants to accomplish, and find an answer for variable A. The conflicts would be the road taken to find the answer for A. So, trying out B,C,D, etc etc would be part of that conflict...

    now to get away from math for a second, you need to figure out a story that has either internal conflict or external...some of the very best combine the two. What I do, is I envision the first scene that happens to Kate and then wait for the ending to come to me...everything between the two you can make up as you go...

    Why? Because once you know how the plot/story starts and how it ends, the middle will come to you much easier as you write.

    Just remember, most everything revolves around your MC...make him or her strong enough to carry the show and the rest will fall into place also.
     
  9. littlebluelie
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    littlebluelie Member

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    I have a beginning and an end. It's the between bits are hard to come up with. It's like a raging river and there's a stone on one bank and a stone on the other, but I need some stones between because as it is, it's physically impossible to jump. And I don't want to drown. So I'm thinking I should break it up, create smaller conflicts that will lead to the next.

    Right now, the easiest part is coming up with the internal conflict. I'm going to take from my own coming of age experience and apply it to my MC. Easy as pie. I think I'm going to have external conflicts help him resolve internal issues, or at least, speed up the process.
     
  10. Hetroclite
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    Hetroclite Member

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    No story is really written beginning to end, as you read them in books. You start by writing down everything you want the story to say & do. Write, in the order you think of them, characters notes, scenes & settings, descriptions,narratives, dialogues, etc. until you run dry of ideas. Then start piecing them together like a puzzle. Write the ending first so you can work the whole story towards that ending. Once your goal is written down you have a solid direction.

    In one how-to-write book, the author suggests to let the story write itself. It doesn't matter if it appears to have no real structure. Just get it all out first then rearrange it later. You'll be re-writing it several times anyway before you even think of publishing it.
     
  11. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I like the analogy. Having small conflicts is good as long as they somehow tie into the over arcing main story.

    If you try to make a bunch of major conflicts that could work against you and make the story tedious.

    Have your MC struggle to learn to fight even though he is a passive person. You could show that in the end he had to fight to protect himself and others but was able to maintain a peace inside.

    The conflict of training him could be an internal struggle with his passive ways, and the people around him who know he is the only one who can stop Antagonist.

    Just make sure that no conflict you put in outshines the main one.
     

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