1. MangoesFly
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    MangoesFly New Member

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    Looking for ideas to go along with my medieval story...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MangoesFly, Sep 5, 2016.

    Hello.

    For the past couple of weeks, I have thought up a story that I cannot let go. I love the main plot and characters so far, but I just need a few ideas or even a co-writer to fill in the plot. I have only planned out 3 or so chapters so far, and would love to hear some ideas that can be implemented into the rest of the book, as well as what I have already written. Keep in mind that this is my first book to be written, and it may look bad to some of you who have been writing for maybe years. I am just a very creative person, and only just recently found my passion in writing.

    I'm going to try and summarize what I have planned so far:

    This story is all about a young man named Arbus (this is a placeholder name) who lives in a small village, working as a blacksmith to treat his ill mother and take care of his 11 year old brother. He lives a stressful life as he can barely take care of himself with the low income he makes. This is his ordinary world, until it is interrupted by an army called the Phordor (again, most names are placeholders for now). When working atop a hill away from the village where all of the markets were, Arbus is forced to run down to the village when it is attacked by this army. I'm not going to go too into detail, but after all that happens in the attack, Arbus' mother is left dead along with all of the other villagers and his brother and him were the only to to escape. The two brothers ride horseback for days until they come across another village, and they stay there for only weeks until it is then attacked by the same army. One day when searching for fruit outside of the village, Arbus investigates a convoy full of prisoners and troops (or knights), but is caught and thrown in a wagon. The convoy ends up at his village, and the Phordor attack and eliminate all of that village as well, forcing Arbus to watch all of it go down. However his brother is nowhere to be seen. Arbus and the other prisoners are delivered to the City of Phordor, and thrown in a huge dungeon underground. There, he is left weak and helpless. After a few days in the dungeon, Arbus meats a wise middle-aged man who ends up training him to fight and scale walls. He then learns how to escape the dungeon and steal food from a nearby produce stand in the city without being seen. He does not dare try to escape the city however, because it is heavily guarded much like a giant prison with huge walls. One night when stealing food from this same produce stand, he is caught and chased back into the dungeon, where a massacre happens. The guards didn't know who stole the food because they didn't see Arbus' face, so they start brutally killing everybody. Arbus escapes in time after his mentor helps him, and he leaves him to die (he had no other choice). Fortunately, after all that he had learned in that dungeon, he manages to escape from from the city.

    So that's all I have so far, but I was thinking of turning this medieval story into a fantasy story by implementing dragons or other mythical beasts, to add an additional challenge for Arbus and his later allies. This is my very first draft/plan for the story, so please tell me any and all tips or ideas you may have because I know it's not much.

    Thanks for reading!

    (sorry for any spelling or grammatical errors)

    -Alex
     
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  2. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Okay, so some questions/thoughts I have about your story that may help you develop the plot a little:

    Why is his mother sick?

    Where is his father? I presume dead, but how did he die? Or if not, where did he go and why?

    It might be more plausible for him to be a blacksmith's apprentice, if he is young and makes a low wage. As I understand it, blacksmith masters themselves made a decent living. An apprentice, however, would not.

    Why is Phodor running around attacking everything? What is this army's strategy and reason for burning down villages?

    When they get to the next village, does he join on with another blacksmith to try to make a living? Where do he and his brother stay while there?

    Most villages are overseen by some sort of titled land-owner, whether it be a lord or knight. Is this person aware that all of the villages in the area are being razed by this roving army? What does he intend to do about it?

    The wise-man teaching him to fight and climb walls reminds me of Bruce Wayne's experience in the pit in The Dark Knight Rises. It's also a tad cliche, but still workable, depending on how you do it. What is the man's motive for teaching Arbus these things?

    Why is Phodor keeping all this prisoners instead of just killing them? That's a lot of mouths to feed.

    What is Arbus going to do now that he's out of the prison?

    I don't mean to have you answer all of these to me, but rather to think about them and find answers yourself. Maybe they'll spark an idea that shapes your plot and gives you more to go on. But definitely keep going! All stories start somewhere. You may find that your original ideas morph and change a lot the more you develop your story and characters.
     
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  3. MangoesFly
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    MangoesFly New Member

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    Thank you very much for this...it helps a lot. I guess a skill that I lack is questioning my own story, and I'll definitely start now. At first I planned to make all of this stuff up as I wrote the actually thing and not a plan, but these things are very important.
     
  4. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    You're welcome! One of the best ways to chisel out the story from the brick of marble it starts out as is to question every decision you've made.
    I've had a couple other thoughts to add, so I figured I'd come back.

    You said you want to add some fantastical elements, like dragons and such. Do you intend to have magic be part of this world? If so, it's important to think about what the "price" of magic is. Stories are no fun when magic has no rules and no cost, when everyone can use it willy nilly and it gets them out of every hairy situation - or could. Good magic usually has limits and usually has a price to those who wield it. So if you're going to create a magic system, I suggest thinking about those things.

    As for the mythical beasts, are they going to be a help or a hinderance to Arbus and his crew? Where do they live? Something else to consider is what the cliches of these beasts are. Like, elves are wise and nature-loving, dwarves are miners and live in the ground, dragons breath fire and hoard gold, and such. Think about those cliches and maybe try to find a way to make yours different, so it doesn't read like a Tolkein-spin-off, as so many fantasies are. Does that make sense?
     
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  5. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is phondor a nation, or just an army? Why did they attack the villages? Why do they take prisoners? Why do they keep prisoners instead of just executing or selling them?
     
  6. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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  7. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is this snippet you described the first third? If it is, you seem to have set up a lot of motivation for him to become a ruthless murdering psychopath. That's FINE if it's the story you want to tell, because this is an extremely dark beginning. The way you crush his actions in the beginning, even his attempts to do things like forage for food, sets up the need for him to change into something akin to the enemy army.
     
  8. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    All the real points have already been covered, so I just want to say one thing:

    Fantasy doesn't have to include fantastical elements. Set in a different world? Check. People have technology roughly equivalent to the Middle Ages? Sure. Magic, dragons and other odd creatures? You can get by without them just fine. Only include them if they have a place in the world.
     
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  9. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    1/ Stop apologizing about the names being placeholders! They're the names you've chosen, it's your story, your free to choose or use whatever you like. Having said that, if I see a reason why a name is an issue, I'll tell you. An example might be if two major characters have similar names that might be easily confused. (Although Nigel Tranter's Black Douglas has a sub-plot that revolves around confusion between two characters who are both named Margaret Douglas) Or, I've just finished reading The God of Small Things, and had to spend the whole book reminding myself that Estha is male...because it sounds just like Esther = female.

    2/ My other problem is around a lot of implausibilities in your plot.

     
  10. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have to agree with most of what @Shadowfax has said there, the hill thing stood out to me much more than the rest I must admit but it could be explained away. The rest of the content seemed very cliché, I would like to see how yours would sidestep the norm!
     
  11. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    @Shadowfax - I noticed the hill thing too and found it odd. The craftsmen wouldn't be separated from the rest of the town by working up on an isolated hill. He could be working in a smith at the landowner's estate, which might be constructed on a hill for strategic purposes. But then he might not be so poor, as that would be a more prestigious position than regular ole' blacksmith. Not to mention the landowner would definitely see an army approaching from up there. So if he isn't working for the landowner, I don't see why he'd be up on a hill for work at all.
     
  12. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think maybe everyone is looking into the hill thing a bit much, it could be explained in many ways, he could have another job for example, he could be collecting something or being the dogsbody for whatever reason.
    I don't think this is the issue with what has been written, I think its the large number of clichés and plot being a tad difficult to believe.
     
  13. Bolu Kai
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    Bolu Kai Member

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    Building off @Lyrical (all great points by the way):

    Are you trying to be somewhat historically accurate with your story? Obviously the Phordor are fictional. I guess I'm asking you to ask yourself if you're trying to use medieval times as a general concept and then making up everything else? If you're not trying to be historically accurate you will be required to research the time period. If you aren't trying to be historically accurate, you could make it up but make it make sense. For example, Game of Thrones uses elements from history to fashion its story. I'm pretty sure "The Wall" was based off a Roman wall to keep out barbarians. In addition, You could state why the blacksmith doesn't make much, and why. Maybe he is located in a town with many other blacksmith which changes business operations for every blacksmith. If there is only one blacksmith in town, everyone is going to him. If there are 40, it is less likely that a less known blacksmith will be visited. Blacksmiths in medieval times are probably not being paid a salary like me; a black smith is probably paid per job. One job may pay more than another.

    I do not claim to know historically the depth of a Blacksmith's way of life, these are just guesses and examples. Just think through everything. Just because you know why doesn't mean the reader does. Like Lyrical said, think through it all. Asking questions about your story is the key to making it clear to yourself and readers.
     
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