1. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    mystery/thrill aspects of plot

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by seta, Aug 17, 2009.

    I'm quickly reaching the conclusion of my first novel. It is a near-future science fiction novel involving the invasion of aliens (so original, right?) but there is a mystery aspect to the plot.

    many things don't quite make sense and the MC eventually figures it out.

    the problem was that I didn't figure it out until the MC did... so my questions is this: How in Zeus's name did I create such a plot that answered itself? Do other writers do this? They set all the pieces in motion and subconscious steer them towards some sort of coherent conclusion?

    It should be noted that Timothy Zahn is my favourite author and his plots usually do this - many parts make no sense until the very end, at which point it seems so blatantly obvious that you feel handicapped for not figuring it out before hand. I'm just wondering if his novels do the same thing to him - that he doesn't actually know the resolution until it's upon him?
     
  2. Rumpole40k
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    Rumpole40k Banned

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    It was your subconscious. It's probably been piecing this plot together for a long time now. Whenever I hit a road block on a piece of writing, I usually do something completely unrelated to the craft and give the ole subconscious a chance to hash it all out.
     
  3. Tall and Weird
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    Tall and Weird New Member

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    I envy you. I really do.

    When I'm writing, everything's fine until I decide to find the ending. And then I keep writing...
     
  4. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most writers I would imagine think up the ending first, then worry about the pieces. It's just that much easier.

    Your method puts quite a bit of pressure on your imagination, be it conscious or subconscious. I'm glad it worked out for you, and you didn't have have to go back and rewrite like half the book.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The more you write, the better you understand the story. With the many hours you spend in that milieu, you understand everything that is taking place better than anyone. That is the wellspring from whence bursts that "Aha!" moment.

    But that isn't the end of it. Now that everything has snapped into place, make SURE you perform a thorough revision pass or two. Your goal now is to poke holes in the plot. You'll probably find some you can drive a truck through. In a sidewise slide. Hopefully, you can find adequate ways o close them, but you MUST make your best effort to break the plot. Otherise, you will meet the bane of your existence - the reader who reads your book 16 times, and posts a big, splash blog about the glaring plot hole (which he only caught on the 16th read). He will blather on about how lame your plotting was to leave such a flaw, although what he is really saying is, "Ain't I clever!"
     
  6. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the different perspectives. I'm worried that I won't be able to do this sort of construction again.

    I was going to ask about the revision process but Cogito already addressed that.

    I remember setting my video camera up to record me talking about my story when I was going through some doldrums. I just let my mind wander and I addressed points one at a time with very vague direction, saying things like "Okay, well something will have to happen that illustrates this relationship growing" or "I need to reveal why event X took place originally,"

    It's like the novel I am writing is a problem that I need to solve. Now I just have to figure out what the original problem was!

    EDIT:
    I've actually reflected on this and I have restructured my next novel - which is distinctly a conspiracy novel of epic proportions (I hope)!
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Just be sure when you rewrite that you drop subtle hints, so when the mystery is revealed, we go, duh!
     
  8. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Cogito and Arch have the right of it

    The great thing about establishing canon is that you can ret-con as much as you want before publishing. Make the most of the time you're afforded by reviewing again and again until it's watertight - or at least as tight as you can manage.

    I honestly don't think that many writers plan the ending and work their way backwards. Forcing yourself towards a specific goal would feel very obligatory and formulaic, but that's just me =P
     
  9. Elistara
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    Elistara Member

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    Isn't this what they do when they plan it all out and structure it before they start writing?

    Personally, I need an idea of where the story is going before I can write anything. As I write, I discover holes which need ironing out, and it really feels like I am steamrolling over the plot as I go along, pushing out all the wrinkles, and filling all the holes. I just need something to be a certain way, and ask myself how it could possibly happen like that.

    So of course, for this last story, my original planned ending would never have worked, because of some other things that happened half way through, so it needed re-working before it even sounded half way feasible. So basically, s*** happened, and there were consequences I could not have foreseen, which made my original ending no longer work. I am quite pleased with the outcomes though, having gotten myself into situations where even I didn't know what was going to happen next.

    It is just a matter of finding reasons for and consequences of the things that happen. Because of this, I am sure you will be able to do it again. Having written a story already, you have shown you are inventive / imaginative enough. :)
    Fun, isn't it?
     

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