1. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    My story is boring!

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by PeterC, Sep 30, 2011.

    The story I'm working on is mostly about the characters, but it does have some action here and there. The problem is that most of my scenes are essentially just meetings between characters. In fact a depressing number of the scenes are actual meetings in conference rooms. While I think the characters are reasonable the work as a whole seems a bit dull. The scenes that are interesting are scenes where things actually happen other than just talk. I suppose that's no surprise. What I need to do is transform some of my talk-only scenes into more action oriented scenes that integrate the talking into a more interesting context. Alas I'm having problems doing that. I realize this is a vague request but I'm wondering if anyone has any advice. Is there a general approach or technique that I should know about that could help me here?

    I feel like I need a bit of plot creation inspiration but so far it's not happening for me.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Croga
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    Croga Member

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    Read The Picture of Dorian Gray, nearly entirely dialogue so if your story is dialogue heavy it's dialogue heavy, forcing action will just give you forced action.
    While there does need to be catalysts and Incidents that drive the story, Dialogue naturally increases the pace, so broken up with description and narration to give us the sensation of good pacing it should be fine. as i said read a book focused on conversation and you will see that it is not boring if done right.
    Secondly I recommend seeing Clerks 1 and 2 and then Glengarry Glen Ross just to fully get how a story can have little to no action and be good, but also in the case of GGGR how drama can be woven in delicately.
    In terms of character based stories we all want to see how the plot affects them and frankly that would mean skipping over filler. If someone says hello once It better be followed by something important dialogue is only used as filler sparsely and is for conveying character development, off screen actions and forwarding the actions,plot and storyline along.
    If its all taking place around the board room, write your dialogue out as a play and if at anytime your get 25 to 30 lines of speech where nothing happens, cut it out completely its not important.
    hopefully this helps.
     
  3. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    "When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand."
    -Raymond Chandler

    ;)

    If that doesn't work... Well, have you considered revising the plot to eliminate that dull dialogue? If you like the concept but find the talking boring and wish there would be more action, my guess would be that something went wrong during the fundamental planning.

    I suggest looking at your story as a whole and trying to figure out how much of that dialogue is absolutely necessary, the cut the rest. Meanwhile you can see how much action you can add without it getting silly.

    If you still have too much dialogue after that, your only choice is to make that dialogue as entertaining as possible. This is best done with interesting characters who have good chemistry while interacting - sometimes listening to two special people talk can be as fun as a thrilling action sequence.
     
  4. echughtai
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    echughtai New Member

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    Maybe you could change the plot a little or put a twist into your story.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Add conflict. In your conference room scenes, add a strong voice in opposition to the general tone, and make sure his or her argument is plausible and compelling enough that the reader is tempted to take that side.

    Make your protagonists fight a losing battle for a while. Force them to work hard to make their point. Let them concede some points and modify their approach accordingly.
     
  6. echughtai
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    echughtai New Member

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    have a change in personality from someone for example have someone who started off being really nice and then gets stressed easily etc and is exhausted all the time. Someone works 24/7 quite literally.
     
  7. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    By meetings in conference rooms, I take it you mean a meeting in progress. Plenty scope there for conflict between strong willed individuals with immobile views and their own personal agendas.

    Good luck!
     
  8. echughtai
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    echughtai New Member

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    Take some ideas of your favourite dramas and soaps with the characters having their own agendas. Like Jac Naylor in Holby City
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Watch 12 Angry Men. The whole thing takes place in one room, just a jury arguing over a case, and it's gripping.

    Or Network. Almost no action at all, really, just a bunch of scenes of meetings of various kinds, but it's one of the best scripts ever.

    There's nothing saying that a story is boring just because it doesn't involve explosions or swordfights or car chases. Characters just talking to each other can be riveting.
     
  10. mugen shiyo
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    mugen shiyo Contributing Member

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    You could go with conflict, but you could also go with comedy or make your character more spirited, his motives more spirited, or put his boring life up against the backdrop of something extraordinary going on around him.

    I would agree that it might be best to think of the idea yourself. If you want to be a writer, you have to have an imagination. Otherwise, you become more of a copy-writer :p No offense.
     
  11. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    Sorry it's taken me a while to respond...

    Thanks for all the suggestions! I will reflect on them in the context of what I'm trying to do and see what I come up with. It's good to know that lots of talking is not necessarily boring. I just need to make sure my characters have conflicts with each other and with themselves. My story takes place on an alien world and most of the characters are aliens. To make this work I've been spending time thinking about their culture and how it would be different than a "typical" human culture, if there even is such a thing. I think if I do this well it could make the interaction between the characters quite interesting. When it works, it works. However, it is challenging for me to get it right as my writing skills are still rather basic.

    Thanks again for the ideas. They are helpful.
     
  12. 'Nevermore'
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    'Nevermore' New Member

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    Here's what I recommend, to build up the story, you need to craft an antagonist or antagonistic force that matches your world and protagonist. Give it a deep background, craft something unique and creative. Splash in inspiration as it comes to you. What I like doing is sketching out the story on a white board, then slowly doodling in ideas, names, creatures, and place that could influence, but not overly change the plot. Well, good luck with your story.
     
  13. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I've run into this exact same problem before... where I've written a story in which, when you broke it down, it was essentially just a bunch of conversations to drive character development. Now, I don't know the nature of your story so I can't provide really any specific ideas, but what I ended up doing a lot in my story was have something else unrelated to the story happening during a lot of the scenes as sort of a sub-plot. My main character liked playing video games (or games in general), so some of the scenes where there was important dialogue to be said... maybe they were talking while playing a game of pool or UNO or maybe the conversation takes place while he's playing multiplayer Call of Duty online. Or perhaps they are at a restaurant and something interesting happens at one of the other tables. One time I had one of the characters messing with the waiter every time he came by. And usually the actual conversation ends up really being like 20 lines of dialogue... which doesn't fill up that much space really... but when you have something else going on as a subplot to that specific chapter it's a way to add more meat to your story.
     
  14. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion agentkirb. I think in my case I can use the alien culture to add interest to scenes that are otherwise just talking. I've been creating background material for my own reference regarding the alien social, political, and religious systems. I'm going for something that is at the same time familiar to the (human) reader and yet also different in ways that are both striking and subtle. This gives me material that I can use to enrich scenes that at first glance sound somewhat uninspired. Some of the cultural details play an important role in the plot so it's necessary to introduce the reader to them somehow anyway.
     

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