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  1. Khuz360
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    Khuz360 New Member

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    My idea for a plot:

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Khuz360, Sep 17, 2010.

    Hello everybody

    This is my first attempt at writing and first post on this quite remarkable site.

    My idea for a plot goes like this.

    It involves a main character who is ex special forces and is 1 of 3 surviving members of a unit that was killed on a mission which was compromised by someone from their own side. He leaves the military and goes off to university to do a degree.

    Whilst at uni he makes new friends one of whom is a spy working for people who know more about the main character than the main character knows about himself. The spy knows nothing about the main character and is tasked with simply watching and reporting to their superiors.

    Along the way he remains in contact with his captain who is another surviving member of his unit and together they are both working together to find out who killed their unit and why.

    I do appreciate this is very cliff notes and lack a considerable amount of detail but I'm not sure what else to include, I would be happy to answer questions to fill in details. I would like some constructive criticism on the plot and its workability.

    Apologies for the length of the post
     
  2. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    It sounds kinda interesting, but if you don't tell it well, it will be boring and predictable, or just plain bad. It's a good starting point, but make it shine.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My advice is get to know your characters and their surroundings. I find that then tells my story for me, I learn the story as my characters interact and tell me.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has all been done before. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read What is Plot Creation and Development?

    Don't write by committee. Develop your story and start writing YOUR story, not a consensus story. You'll make mistakes, but that's what revision passes are for.
     
  5. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    Welcome to the forums! :)


    Up to here is standard, no shining features.

    Now it's a "superspies" kind of world. Careful as in such stories you can't do whatever you want. It has genre limitations.

    That mission seems to take a bit too much time to be able to follow university courses regularly.

    You need:

    - A reason to be at the uni: e.g.: A teacher was involved in the attack.
    - A way of blending: Someone who calls himself Ex-spec-ops should be at least thirty years old.
    - To continue beyond the premise. Don't mistake a novel with a serie's pilot.
     
  6. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Wow thanshin. That's pretty good mabe I should have you pick apart my plot and storyline? :)
     
  7. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Hello *Waves* :)

    Just a few points to consider:

    The military isn't a normal job. Soldiers aren't allowed to just leave and go off to university if they want to. They must wait for the terms of their enlistment to be fulfilled and after their discharge from the military they can go wherever they like. Your one sentence didn't make it clear if that was the case or not, but if it wasn't, you may wish to take that under advisement.

    Any mission will have a debriefing when its over and in the case of a mission that was a total screw up (only 3 survivors would qualify as such a mission), there would not only be the standard debriefing, but most likely a full investigation to determine what went wrong. There would be interviews, checks into the backgrounds of the personnel involved for everything from drug abuse to mental soundness, reviews of the debriefing notes, checks for violations of security protocols (was anyone loose lipped) and possibly even a courts martial if anyone involved was found to be criminally negligent in the deaths of the team members.

    Additionally, unless the soldiers were at the end of their enlistment terms, they would eventually be reassigned to other units, with new commanding officers, new team mates and new mission assignments.

    I offer these points for your consideration as possible plot devices to make your story more plausible, more interesting/entertaining and possibly offer up a few additional realistic resources that your main characters might have access to.

    I don't know all that much about spies, but spy stories are all about cloak and dagger. I'd suggest obscuring the spy's handlers with as much smoke and mirrors as possible. If and when it comes up you might imply that the spy's employers are a private and anonymous corporate entity secretly screening prior military personnel for possible mercenary work in developing countries.

    Later, tiny bits of evidence that the corporate mercenary bit could just be a smoke screen, to conceal what may be a branch of the government investigating the main character as a possible traitor (in connection with the incident that left most of his team dead), may emerge.

    Later still, tiny bits of evidence could come to light that while the spy indeed works for a government agency, the government involved may be foreign (the actual spy may or may not be aware of exactly who he is working for, as it is usually in the best interest for the spy handlers to keep the actual spies (who may be caught and interrogated) from knowing as little "real" information as possible).

    And then again, who is to say that our own government, in a bid for authentic secrecy, wouldn't masquerade as a foreign government, pretending to be our government, hiding behind the guise of a corporate entity, employing a spy, to collect information on the main character.

    Spy novels are famous for plot twists and webs of lies that unfold in the telling. In essence, if your reader is interested, but doesn't quite know what the hell is going on until the last chapter, you've done it right :)

    The actual military will also be investigating to find out what happened, in order to ensure that it doesn't happen again. I'd suggest introducing a few elements of either the main characters working with the military investigation, or their suspecting a cover up and working independently against the government (with elements of the government trying to intimidate them, provide them with false clues or frame them with bogus charges). Such plot elements are almost expected in spy thrillers.

    NEVER apologize for the length of your posts...

    The good Lord knows I tend to ramble on...and on...and on... :)
     
  8. Khuz360
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    Khuz360 New Member

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    Thanks to everyone who has replied so far, keep the responses coming. A lot of excellent points that have been raised some I had thought of for the actual story and others I hadnt which I will adapt to include. I do intend for this story to have more twists and turns than the TV series Lost :).

    What I want to do is ideally write it as a TV series and a series of Novels or is that far too ambitious
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You will never sell a series, as an unknown writer.

    Focus on finishing one book and selling it to a publisher. That will be challenging enough, especially if you continue to depend on others to collect your ideas for you.
     
  10. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nothing is ever too ambitious. :D

    Edit: thanks, Cogito, for the pessimism.

    NOTHING IS EVER TOO AMBITIOUS... IN THE LONG TERM!!!11one

    Though, from your backstory, I'd be so tempted to just write it as a slice of life sitcom/bromance thing with the spy and the main dude hanging out. :p

    THEN make all their dumb misadventures suddenly wildly relevant to the action spy-thriller plot again somehow even though they were about the lamest things guys do when they hang out together. :p

    Well, that's my take on it. :p
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Pessimism has nothing to do with it. You have to understand what publishers will consider.

    Every book must stand on its own. A series, particularly one similar to Lost, will never be worth the risk for a publisher. Lost relied upon adding more and more questions and loose ends, and leavinng thge viewer confused but intrigued.

    That strategy will not sell to a publisher, period. The publisher takes a chance on ONE book from a new author, and even that is a big gamble.

    If you plan to be a writer, you must understand the realities of the business.
     
  12. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know that, but I was just throwing out some positive reassurance, because you never know what might happen, and it's better to write a thing and have it than to take one look at what you're up against and not even bother... 'sides, he didn't even say how the plot played out - just the premise. I think a lot would depend on where it goes, specifically. Not just in how much it twists and turns, but how. Some things sell better than others. Lost was one in a million dumb twistyness that actually sold, but a different order of twistyness might be exactly what someone is looking for.
     
  13. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    It will have to be a lot more complicated than what you have posted thus far. I'm sure you knew that, of course, but right now it's really vague. You should know all the details of the mission before you start writing. It sounds elementary, but I've actually done that--started writing a spy story having no idea what the mission was. You can probably guess what happened next--ran out of stuff to say after page 4. So, you'll need a really developed plot and then well-developed characters to pull it off. Good luck.
     
  14. Khuz360
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    Khuz360 New Member

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    Cogito I'm not someone who has no idea about the realities of the business although I do understand your points. Just for the record I wasnt asking for ideas, I was asking for criticism there is a difference. I have no control over people posting ideas.

    Melzaar thanks for the reassurance and the suggestions but I dont plan to make it a comedy although I do plan to include comedy aspects.

    Jo its a shame you didnt get past 4 pages, I'm sure you will regain your muse and have all the details you need. I do actually have the mission planned out but the detail will be added when I come to write it.
     
  15. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    I advise you not to write such an ambitious story, at least initially. The research would take you years to do properly unless you already have a background in military / covert ops, or have access to people who were actually in those roles. Where research is not done it shows immediately. I spent two weeks just researching the basics of how complaints are dealt with by the police. I read books, leaflets, went to government websites and got input from three serving police officers. My notes amount to around 50 pages, which I will use to write maybe ten sentences in the finished novel. And that's where information is readily available. I can't imagine the task necessary to research such a broad and little documented subject as you have there.

    I suggest if you really want to start out with a complex plot, go with SF or sci-fi. You still need to research like mad and keeping track of consistency can be even worse than with contemporary fiction, but at least you'll be able to get away with more.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Plot summaries are not critiquable, for the reasons I mentioned, and this part of the site is not for critique.

    Since that is your stated purpose for this thread, I am closing it. Please read the site rules.
     
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