Tags:
  1. MightierThanTheSword
    Offline

    MightierThanTheSword Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2008
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Clinton, South Carolina, United States

    My plot intimidates me; I can't write. I'd like help but I'm not sure what to do.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MightierThanTheSword, Dec 28, 2009.

    Okay, I'm not totally sure if this is allowed or if it's in the right forum, but I think it is! So, if it's not, mods, please remove it for me. :love: I truly don't want to cause trouble or break the rules, I'm just not sure about what to do.

    Okay, so - I have this plot/outline/story thing that I've been working on since I was sixteen (I'm twenty now). I didn't know very much about writing then, and I'm still learning. My dream is to get this story completed and written to the very best of my ability. I also would really like to see it in print, but getting the thing written and completed comes before I even think about that part, you know?

    My problem with the story is that even though I've learned a lot about info-dumping and head-hopping and flow and ten billion other things, I don't feel ready yet. I'm a person who relies heavily on outlines, and while I do realize you need to leave some room for spontaneity, I like to have a definite plan/direction in mind before I start writing. I've gotten a spot of critique for it here and there, and some of it was painful, but all of it was invaluable. The story has changed so much since its conception - events, places, and people have all been swapped around. I've been working on it for four years and the fartherest I've ever got in writing it was something like...three chapters? Every time I manage to find a person generous enough to critique it for me, they usually point out that part of the plot is weak. Going back and revising the plot means scrapping the three or four chapters I wrote and starting over.

    Of course, when I was sixteen, I didn't know very much about plotting or what cliches to avoid. I wound up restarting my book several times, and it just got disheartening to never get to any of the great moments I wanted to write, the ones I've been seeing played out in my head for years, the ones that made me want to write the story to begin with (some people will suggest here that I should write the book out of order, but I've tried it and it gets me very confused and mixed-up).

    I decided after restarting the book yet again that what I was doing was never going to work. I felt like I had to make sure the plot was at its strongest, work out the larger picture before adding in the details. I'm not saying the thing has to be 100% completely and neatly outlined, but I need definite landmarks to get me from start to finish. So I plotted and replotted, and cut characters and cliches, and renamed things and moved them around. But I'm still not sure about the whole thing. I feel like maybe I need a second pair of eyes, a fresh point of view. I've been working on it so long and it's so real in my head that it's impossible for me to see it objectively anymore, and the scenes that were so vibrant and powerful in my head when I began are growing bored and outplayed (and they haven't even been written yet).

    It's not a perfect plot. I started with a poor idea and had to do a lot of rearranging to make it work a little better. I still don't know if it ever could. But it's my first real attempt at creating an original story for myself (as opposed to fanfiction), and I love it, and I want to try and do it justice, to save it, if I can. I don't want to start writing again only to realize three chapters down the line that my opening is all wrong and I need to start over; that wears down on my willpower and enthusiasm, and I really don't want to do the same old song and dance over again. I need someone to bounce ideas off of and give me honest, objective feedback on what I'm doing so I know I'm getting it right and I can start writing without having to start over again.

    For most people, the logical thing to do here is give the idea to a friend, family member, or writing/English teacher. I feel like every other writer in the world must be related to someone else who understands the craft, or have a group they meet with at coffee shops or something, but not me. I have very few friends to begin with, and the ones I do have are not interested in writing or don't have time to help me. Most of my family is unfortunately uneducated; many of them didn't even finish high school and aren't into reading for pleasure, and certainly aren't well-versed in the writing craft, and we aren't that close anyway. I'm not in high school anymore, so handing the novel to my English teacher isn't really a valid option, and my professor in college (tech school, really) is also a very busy person and barely even knows who I am. So, that doesn't leave me with any options except to turn to the internet.

    So how do I go about finding someone to help me with my plot? I feel like posting a plot here and going "Is this good?" is discouraged, and I'm reluctant to post the whole outline because a) it's long and b) I'm worried (probably unnecessarily so) it could get stolen. I can't look for a professional editor because I don't have a manuscript yet. So how do I go about finding critique for the plot itself? Do I make a thread here? Is there another site that someone knows of where I could do that sort of thing?

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Any advice you have for me is much appreciated. Again I'm very sorry if this is not allowed or if it's in the wrong forum!
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Critique for a plot is pointless. Critique can help you develop your writing style, but the plot (or storyline, which is probably what you are really referring to) is a framework that you adjust while you write. But a storyline is neither bad nor good, any more than a set of news events is bad or good. It's all a matter of how you tell it, and that's your skill as a writer.

    You'll make lots of mistakes along the way. Ideally, you'll learn from each one, and only make new and more interesting mistakes thereafter. In truth, some mistakes will be harder to escape than others.

    But if it were easy, what would be the point?
     
  3. Clockwork
    Offline

    Clockwork New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2009
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think most writers have been in your position, with a story that has become Your Baby. The one you’ve had in your head for a long time, so long in fact that the pressure of actually writing it becomes a block to the creative process. It sounds like that’s your real problem, and the best outline in the world isn’t going to help with that.

    My advice would be not to worry about your plot for now. As Cognito said, It’s difficult for someone else to critique it on outline alone because ultimately it all comes down to how well you are going to display/communicate that plot through your writing. Once you’ve got something down on paper people can start to offer you perceived plot faults, and although it is disheartening to have to go back and rework big chunks after the fact, I don’t think its as disheartening as never getting your story out at all.

    If writing out of order is too much of a brain boggle for you (as that really can be a help, nothing like skipping to the good bits to get the creative process rolling), there are some other options that might help to limber you up to the task at hand:

    - Take a break from plotting and read some books. The number one tip any professional writer always throws out is: ‘Read a lot. Write a lot.’ Experiencing how someone else crafts a good plotline is the best was to improve your own.

    - Write unrelated short stories or novellas. Just pick a fun topic or scenario and run with it, don’t get attached to them at all; let them be more of a learning exercise than a finished product. I’m talking super powered half vampire popstars here if necessary, just get writing. Working out plot kinks and issues in those may help you when you return to Your Baby.

    - Write one-shots or short stories within the ‘world’ of Your Baby, but not directly related to the events that take place in the main story. Explore a characters background, put one in an interesting situation or maybe just have two characters talk for a couple of pages and see what happens. It doesn’t really matter as long as you follow the rules from point one: Have Fun. No Pressure. Seriously, they can be the most appalling affronts to literature ever created, you won’t have to share them with anyone else if you don’t want to and they just might help you to gain a bit more confidence in the ‘writing’ bit of being a storyteller.

    - (Warning: this final point might be a bit controversial) Write Fanfiction. You mention you have in the past, and sometimes playing with other people’s worlds and characters can help to develop your own skills as a writer, particularly if you are feeling blocked or pressured about your own stuff. Again it can remain in a dusty corner of your hardrive forever more if you so choose – but writing something is always better than writing nothing at all in my opinion, and having a piece of fan work get positive feedback is always a nice ego boost if you do choose to share it (under a secret pen name if required).

    If none of these suit you, I’d try to find a similar alternative, because time away from Your Baby at this point is probably the best thing you can do – four years is a long time to slave over one plot, so it’s not surprising the two of you are starting to fall out.
     
  4. writewizard
    Offline

    writewizard Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Messages:
    840
    Likes Received:
    7

    I don't rely on outlines at all. Well they have their place, I find that launching into the story is the best way for me. I just launch into the story and take off. I know that not everyone writes that way, but perhaps you can try that way.

    Also, if you're saying someone else always finds it weak, listen to their advice but do not be afraid to turn it on its ear if you don't like it. It's your book after all.
     
  5. DragonGrim
    Offline

    DragonGrim Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Messages:
    818
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Iowa
    Have you tried writing without a plot that has already been outlined? All of my best ideas have come to me spontaneously while I’m writing. As you learn more about your characters, you’ll be able to place them in more interesting circumstances.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t have any idea of what your plot is, but all I think a person needs is a general sense of what the story is about and where it is going.

    What if you spent a year coming up with an airtight plot that you think is pretty good, and then, half way through your book, you come up with an ending with a cool twist, and then a new character, and some other things? Did you just waste a year?
     
  6. Irish87
    Offline

    Irish87 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2009
    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    California
    Have you ever tried just writing it? Seriously, have you ever sat down and wrote a few chapters? Just go out and buy some personal confidence and start writing. That's all you have to do. If you don't believe in yourself then you have no right creating stories anyhow, no offense. Writing is a very narcissistic activity, you're essentially assuming your work is so good that other people will feel compelled to spend money on your product and fall madly in love with your highly evolved and modernized mind.

    Then again, perhaps that's just me...

    Bah, it doesn't matter. Just go write something. What are you afraid of? If you write the story wrong it won't file legal charges against you for abuse.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i do help with plotting, when needed, so if it's violence-free and you want some feedback on whether it'll work, or not, drop me a line and i'll take a look at it...
     
  8. Sillraaia
    Offline

    Sillraaia Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    1
    Just write it. Don't get anyone else's opinion on anything until you are done. It sounds to me like you simply rely too heavily in the opinions of others - you cannot let that affect you. The story must first be written before it is judged, and I am sure no matter what story it is, there is always someone who will find something wrong with it.
    Of course the plot is weak - the story isn't finished yet. The plot strengthens and twists AS you write it, because only AS you write it will you find holes or weak points, which you will then need to fill - which is part of the fun.

    The writing of the story is the fun part - don't let anyone talk you out of it, and resist the temptation to get an opinion before you are done. While you are writing it, as you have discovered, you are very vulnerable to everything anyone says, you need only encouragement - until it is done. Once finished to the best of your ability - THEN pass it around. But take each opinion with a grain of salt. As long as you had fun writing it, you can fine tune it later - even years down the track if you like.

    Good luck, and have fun with it! :)
     
  9. bluebell80
    Offline

    bluebell80 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Messages:
    636
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Vermont
    Mightier,

    I can relate to writing and rewriting the same story based on the same plot/storyline over and over again and never feeling satisfied with it.

    I'm not a big one for writing out outlines for my stories, I tend to just hold them in my head, turn them, twist them, and keep thinking about it until I feel I have something to put on paper. I do think I'd probably benefit from writing an outline, but alas I suck at writing outlines and they tend to curb my writing enthusiasm.

    I've been working a story now for a year, over and over in my head, starting again and again changing things and rearranging things and still it never seems right to me. That's the crux of being a perfectionist.

    I've come to the conclusion that you can't beat yourself up for starting and restarting a story that you love and want to tell. It's more a sign of how much you love the story that you want everything to be perfect. Reworking where you start from, events that happen, and characters isn't a bad thing, it's actually a good thing, and shouldn't make you feel discouraged. It just means you are growing as a writer and evolving your style and tastes.

    Try taking your outline and separating it into three sections, beginning/middle/end. Cut out all the subevents and just put one line in each section of the major important event of that section. From there add two lines of how you get to that event. Then start writing. Cutting out all the stuff you've plotted up till now might remove the shackles that you've placed on your story and actually let you write it. The problem is you've overthought it now you are stuck with what you have put on the paper and can't change it. Maybe you're starting too soon in the story, or too late. Maybe your characters aren't quite right for the story and need to be reworked.

    There is the possibility that your story idea just sucks in general. This is also something you have to come to accept as a writer, that some times things you come up with, fall in love with, actually suck as a story. I've had enough of those to know it hurts to admit that a storyline actually sucks and should just be scrapped altogether. But it happens. The thing is most story ideas can be reworked to actually be good, so don't ever throw anything away. Keep everything you write backed up someplace, because you may have a breakthough some day as to how it would work.
     
  10. MightierThanTheSword
    Offline

    MightierThanTheSword Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2008
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Clinton, South Carolina, United States
    Thank you all so much for your replies :love:

    I think that's part of my problem/process. I'm learning a lot and every time I realize I've made a mistake, I have to start over and rework things. It's just disheartening to have to rewrite it so many times before the book is even finished.

    That's it exactly! You've hit the nail on the head here, it is kind of pressuring me...I really want to get it out, get it down, but I'm so worried about doing it True Justice that I'm afraid to start the whole process again lest I get it wrong.

    That's very true :love:

    Those are actually all very good ideas. I actually started writing fanfiction; it was only after I began to put real thought into it that I realized I loved writing so much that it was what I wanted to do with my life. Fanfiction is nice because there aren't as many rules about pacing and plot; you don't have to work as hard to hook your reader because they're fans already, they want to read it. Thank you so much for your advice, it was very helpful. :love:

    Well, I'm a little reluctant to ignore concrit just because I don't like it. I realize I am young and still growing as a writer, so I'm trying to soak up good advice as best as I can! And it really is just me, but I don't work very well without an outline. I forget where I'm going and get on awful tangents.

    I'm not sure, but as I said, I realize i don't need an airtight plot. I need to leave room for surprises just like that. I'm just not sure if the one I have is any good, if it can stand up to being written.

    No, you're right. I have sat down and written it several times, but each time I realize I need to scrap it and start over, and it's very depressing. I was trying to avoid doing that again because the more I do it the less confidence I have as a writer as a whole, and it's just destructive.

    I'm not sure about what level of violence you mean, but I'll PM you. Thank you so much! :love:

    Thank you :love: Those are very encouraging words! This is definitely advice I'm going to take to heart, and seems to be along the lines of what everyone else is saying...I think while I'm writing it I will resist the urge to show it to anyone else, as it seems it's gotten me nowhere so far.

    I am something of a perfectionist when it comes to my creative work...to be honest, it's exhausting sometimes.

    That's what I felt like was happening; I went from a sixteen year old girl who wrote nothing but cliches stringed along together, to a young woman who could maybe do a little better than that.

    I'm not terribly commited to what I have on paper; I've changed it a hundred times. The problem is I can't ever seem to get a storyline down on paper that I'm satisfied with. It just keep changing, and every time it changes, it requires a rewrite. I can't even get past the third chapter...

    I considered that it might not be doable, but I decided awhile back that even if the storyline was too weak for publishing, I was at least going to get the thing written and finished and out of my head so I could work on other things; if nothing else it will be complete and (hopefully) a good learning experience.

    Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply :love: I really do appreciate it, I feel a lot better now and I've got a lot of great advice to work with.
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    any... that is, any physical harm done on purpose, by any sentient being to any living creature...
     

Share This Page