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    My First Crack At A Novel

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Show, Sep 30, 2008.

    Ok, this is my first crack at a novel. I got the basic plot outline figured out. I'm having trouble figuring out how to fill the large gaps in the story.

    In severely condensed format:

    Five years ago, David Delgado got into a car accident while driving drunk. This accident killed his son, Stephen. After his wife left him, he is put in a mental hospital after kidnapping a boy he believed to be his dead son. Since he never saw the body, he is unconvinced of the death.

    Flashforward to the present: We meet main characrers Joey, Robby, and Tory. Joey and Robby are orphans who have come to be like brothers to each other. Joey coached Robby and helped him win the state's Mathematics Bee. When this story is covered on the news, David sees it and becomes convinced that Robby is his son. He breaks out of the institution and goes to get his son and make Restitution for not being there.(Restitution being the novel's tenative title)

    After a violent confrontation, the 3 main protagonists flee in Joey's car. The majority of the novel is basically a thriller with David chasing the three of them, and killing anybody who gets in his way.

    The novel climaxes when the three run out of gas in the city and David chases them to an abandoned building. After throwing Tory down the stairs, he corners Joey and Robby in an abandoned room on the top floor of the building. Tory gets up and ascends the stairs to the top slowly. Robby gives up running and decides to let David be his father so nobody else will get hurt. He convinces David to let Joey live and be a part of his life.

    As Tory slowly ascends the stairs, we see the conversation between Joey/Robby and David. David starts talking strangely and it's at this point we learn that he is a very big pesimist who wishes to provide his son a better life in a better place, not this life. Before Joey and Robby can do anything, he shoved them through the large window in the room to their deaths before behing shot dead by Tory himself.

    Tory is devestated by the death of his friends but a wise police officer encourages him to become his friends' legacy and help others in their names.

    Ok, so that's my basic plotline. But I'm having trouble filling in the inbetween of the beginning and the end. I got a few random scenarios drawn out but not enough to create the whole story.

    So, how is the idea so far and does anybody have any tips for getting passed this blockage I have with creating the rest of the story?
     
  2. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    It seems like you have an outline, now you have to fill it in.

    For instance, you have Dad and son talking about nice stuff, or perhaps an argument, before the accident. That establishes character. Then the accident and the dramatic change in dad.

    He's obviously in denial. What does he think and say to people? Who concludes he's crazy? What does he say to staff at the institution? How does he get out.

    For the boys, what do they have to say about being chased. Is it real or unreal to them? They have to survive on the road, what are their ideas. What are their resources. Do their plans always work. Are they scared, ready to fight, or a combo?

    What I'm saying is that the character's reflections on their situation is how you fill in the spaces.
     
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Break it down into scenes. For each scene, choose a point of view (POV) and stick to it. Write the scene from that POV, and expand it out so the reader feels he or she s there. (It's a good idea tostick to a small number of POVs throughout the novel).

    It may well be too short even then. Introduce complications that keep the characters from proceeding directly to their goals. These strugg;les will also help define your character to the reader.

    That should give you a start.
     
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    Seeing as the main focus on the novel is in the present, I don't want the past to be too long so I'm trying to keep David's past from getting dragged so I can focus more on the current stories.

    David doesn't say anything to people. While in the institution, he only says his son's name and "I'm Sorry" on occasional. He basically doesn't snap out of this until he sees that new story.

    I'd probably say it's a combo. My problem is that I can't really think of much that isn't total filler for the road. I got a few close call scenarios planned but none that really advance the plot. It's mainly just for edge-of-seat action. I just want to keep the story fairly interesting throughout.

    I really can't think of too many realistic resources for the boys. Im thinking that immediately, they run to Tory's girlfriend's house to try to hide. This is of course after they lose David the first time. This would be where'd they'd learn who he is while looking on the net. I could probably make this segment last a few chapters. Beyond that, I got nothing. Eventually they'd have to leave and from there until another "calmdown" scene about the center of the story, I got little.

    From that calm scene to the climax in the city, I only got Joey crashing the car throw an abandoned wooded shed while on the run from David.(Nothing really important to the plot but I think the scene would be pretty cool.) I don't want the novel to feel short and chopy but also not dragging either. So Im trying to think of ways to keep the middle chapters interesting and for some reason, I'm blocking on that.

    As for switching, POVs, that's a decent idea. Although the story is primarily told from the POV of the 3 main protagonists simultaneously, with the antagonist's POV being focused on every now and then as well. Neither 1 is really the "Main" character.

    Like I said, I got ideas for suspenceful scenarios, but they seem to be little more than filler. And I'd want this to be more than that.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's not generally wise to try to write from a group POV. At any one time, the scene should be from a sibgle consciousness (which may be a virtual consciousness, not actually participating in the scene).

    It is possible to shift POV within a scene, but it is a delicate matter, and it can easily blow up in your face.
     
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    Virtual conscious eh? It's a though.

    Don't get me wrong, there are scenes clearly from the POV of one character. Such as David's breakout chapter, clearly from his POV.

    It just seems the general "chase" scenes and some of the other scenes are from at least 2 POV simultaneously. Possibly it is a bad habit to break but it seems to be how things are turning out.

    Due to the story being fairly suspenceful, I find the POV changes quite often and sometimes quite rapidly to keep up with the pace of the story. Perhaps unwise, but it's how it's turning out as I write. Even the slower "breather" scenes seem to be simultaneously from the POV of 2 people. Such as a conversation between Joey and Robby basically exchanges POV between the two as each speaks. It's probably something I need to work on, getting the POV a bit more focused, cause it seems the 3 mains seemt to either frequently alternate within a scene or it's from all of their POV at once.
     
  7. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    I think what you're calling "filler" would be the most interesting part of the story. Wouldn't you like to know what it's like to be in this situation? If you role play it in your mind how would you act?
     
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    That's a very good point. What I mean by filler is that it's all alike. A little too much alike and doesn't really change the plot. In most scenarios, no main plot is forwarded and many scenarios are basically the same thing repackaged. And I realize that I can only get away with so many car chases that lead to a couple explosions and maybe a bridge collapse before I have to do something else, know what I mean?

    And as for how I'd act, I'd probably get killed early on. So not exactly gonna help me to really think of ME in that situation if I want the characters to at least survive until the story's climax.(Which in this case, I do.)

    Like I said, I got a scenario where the protagonists' car crashes through a shed while being chased by David's [car]. A few others as I mentioned, but they are all starting to sound alike to me, which if why I called them "filler". A few could be fine but I realize that the audience isn't dumb and they're not going to let me get away with having 10 insane scenarios that are basically the same and do little more than stall the plot. And I don't want that.
     
  9. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    Sure there's lots of car chases and explosions in movies, and that makes them boring. However, I believe that's because they aren't fleshed out and felt by the reader or viewer.

    I mentioned somewhere the Japanese novel Battle Royale. On the surface it's a stupid story about students forced to hunt each other in a government sponsored game. But, the characters and emotions are so well done, that it makes the story really great. In reality, the story is about the school system and the forced competition in society.

    I think that you're trivializing what it would be like to be in the situation in your story as well. While working for the prison system I actually met rapists whose MO was to find women driving on the highway, chase them down or follow the, force them to withdraw ATM money, take them back to their apartment, get the roommate, and etc. There was one victim who faught back and I would have paid to talk to her. She risked death to save her roommate and she got the guy arrested.

    If that was in a movie many would call it boring, but I'm sure that if the people in question told you their story, your mouth would hang.


    Question:

    If you can't imagine surviving this, how will you write about it?

    All writers are either writing about aspects of themselves or have interviewed enough people to repeat accounts through a character.
     
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    You make a lot of great ppints. And I'm sure I could probably muster more than a few very suspenceful moments. However, I don't want that to be all that there is between the pillars I've set up and right now.

    I have a very wild imagination. I usually just think of a scenario and start writing. Now realistically, I was saying, I wouldn't survive. But my characters aren't exact reflections of me. My brain is just weird in that it creates these people.

    I realize that it's probably very frightening to be in such a situation. And I don't wish to trivialize the terror of the suspenceful moments. I just don't want the viewer/reader to feel like they just saw this exact scene earlier in the movie. I don't want the entire movie to be just the protagonists running from the antagonist until they can't run anymore. And I'm having trouble planning out other paths that'd be believable within the context of the story while still believably leading to the ultimate climax I've set up for the film.

    Now while I have decided to extend a certain part of the story, I feel that will only get me so many chapters before I have to think of something else.

    But you have been very helpful so far. Thank you for that.
     

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