1. Sage Dufraine
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    Sage Dufraine Member

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    Need a deeper plot

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Sage Dufraine, May 29, 2011.

    Hi everyone!
    I need some help with the novel that I’ve been wanting to write for ages. The main character is going to be based off a character I role played in an online game I used to be addicted to, so I have no issues with the character really. The world is going to be fantasy based, so think DnD, dragons, elves, wizards etc. I'll be making up my own rules for the world and I don’t think I’ll have much of an issue with that.

    My problem is this… I don’t have a main underlying theme. I don’t really want the main theme to be based on any shallow events; i.e. I don’t want the whole plot to revolve around some journey to find X from the mountains to the east, or whatever. The best books I have read (in my opinion) are ones that have these sorts of plots, yes, but there is some deeper underlying theme in addition to the surface plot, if that makes sense? E.g. Some inner struggle the main character is having that evolves throughout the story and throughout the surface events. That is what I’m lacking at this point and I’m finding it hard to start without it.

    It may be a little hard to come up with ideas if you don’t know much about the main character, but I was hoping if people had some general ideas it might help me to come with my own or modify your ideas or something.

    There are two characters I may use (I’m still trying to decide who would be more fun to write about), and here’s a rough outline of both of them:

    Character 1 (The one I’m leaning towards): I won’t say what her race is, as I don’t want the focus to be on that. I haven’t decided on her history for the story yet, but personality-wise, she is evil, and her way of thinking is very primal and animalistic. She is very independent and generally hates everyone. I have considered having her underlying theme some inner desire for a sense of belonging within a family of some sort, but she generally thinks that needing others is a sign of weakness.

    Character 2: Also female (though I might make her male, not sure). She’s an avariel (A winged elf), who is very kind, friendly etc but also very self centred and selfish. Her race was a bit of a mix, and so she generally feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere. Because of this, people are able to manipulate her by using her desire to fit in, i.e. Evil beings are able to pull her down and make her do naughty things! So her main theme I guess would revolve around this, and perhaps a struggle with resisting evil forces etc.

    It may sound like I know what I want already, but I really don’t! Haha. I can’t seem to settle on these plots yet so I was hoping for either, more ideas, or some elaboration on the ones above. I can't see to get beyond the surface with them.

    Thanks a lot!
     
  2. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Okay, you're right in thinking good stories have strong themes. The problem with this one is that it sounds... very generic. I can't do this for you, as I'm sure Cognito will say later. What I can do is perhaps try to point you in a direction to help you.
    First off, you need to make the world different from the average fantasy fair. A LOT different. If that means transforming the world into something very bizarre and different, all the better. If that means drenching the world in a tub of darkness, all the better. If that means making a villain that is barely different from the hero, all the better. The point is, make it UNIQUE!
     
  3. Sage Dufraine
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    Sage Dufraine Member

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    Yeah, I definitely want something unique, which is why I said I'd like to design the world myself. Do I have any great unique ideas for that yet? Not at all!! Haha. I was focusing on trying to get this underlying theme first, but maybe I should plan the world out a little more first. And that is the other problem I have, I really have no idea where to start with planning and writing a novel; it's all very overwhelming.

    And yeah, I agree, so far the characters are pretty generic too, which is also why I'm still trying to work them out a little more. I think the first one I mentioned is less generic in personality than the other. She's a pretty complicated character and would be hard to describe here. I wanted to post part of what I've already written for her in the short story section, but it doesn't allow me to post anything for some reason? Not sure why.
     
  4. Sage Dufraine
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    Sage Dufraine Member

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    Oh, I know why I can't post in there yet! :) I'm too new still. (It pays to read ALL the rules)
     
  5. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Yeah, something to keep in mind. But anyway, you need to know the characters much better than you currently seem to. All their motivations, how they became what they are currently, and so on.

    As for the world, a good piece of advice for generic worlds is this. Get one element, and turn it completely on its head. Integrate that in, and the next you know, you'll have a beautiful new setting. If not completely unique yet, repeat process until it is. There is your lesson in setting cooking.
     
  6. CesiumLifeJacket
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    CesiumLifeJacket Member

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    Since you're looking for a theme, let me provide service by dumping a pile of interesting/popular themes upon you. See if that gives you any ideas.

    destructive/constructive nature of the Will to Power
    ephemeral nature of happiness
    desire to belong (what you're looking at right now)
    relative nature of knowledge
    fall from grace
    descent into madness
    meaning/meaninglessness of life
    search for truth
    addiction/obsession
    significance/nature of interpersonal bonds (familial/romantic/etc.)
    relative nature of morality
    absolute nature of morality (If you're a blockhead)
    human suffering
    beauty of nature
    nature of beauty
    helplessness against nature

    .....
    I have no idea if that was even remotely helpful, but there you go.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Try writing a draft without worrying about theme. Theme will sneak in somewhere without your being aware of it, probably. Go over the draft and see if anything sticks out for you that suggests a theme, then expand upon that in the next draft.

    In most cases (so I've read!) fiction is generally shallow in the first draft and becomes deeper in the succeeding drafts, when the writer becomes aware of what he's really writing about. So don't pressure yourself for theme too early - write a draft and think about theme later.
     
  8. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    A theme slipped into mine without my knowing. I wrote two of my main characters with absentee fathers, and that is now all nicely connecting with the plot and driving the characters and motivations and interaction. But I never planned for that.
     
  9. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    Whatever you do don't focus on the character too much or you'll end up with a Mary Sue. Which you basically will when you take a RPG character out of context. As for the theme - perhps start with the characters (as they are the major part of your planning so far). Try to find out their motivations - what do they want. This is the single most important aspect for you book. The characters do of course have conscious and subconscious wants and you can mix the too - but basically make a way for them to achieve their goals.

    Think does the character want, fame, gold, money, power, love. Then how they will get it, who will be in their way etc Although this sounds traditional, something you didn't work - then mix in the other characters, and their motivations. Now things get difficult because you have to find a way of interlocking all the plots together. etc

    Good Luck and tell us what you're planning :)
     
  10. Sage Dufraine
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    Sage Dufraine Member

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    Thanks for the responses, guys!

    CesiumLifeJacket: I find a lot of those are pretty cliche, but they have given me things to think about and given me a few new ideas for my other characters, so thanks!

    minstrel and Jonp: That's a good idea! I think I'll try to write a bit with what I already have and see what comes to me as a go in terms of plot specifics. My problem is always in starting, so I was hoping that some plot planning might help, but alas! Haha.

    darkhaloangel: Thanks, and I agree; I'll try to flesh out the other characters some more and see what comes to me through that.

    And thanks for the tips on world creation, Killer300, that's helped quite a bit and got me thinking. I'll see what I can come up with! Might post any new ideas up here too to see if my idea of unique is actually unique to other people :)
     
  11. ena18
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    ena18 Member

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    You can pretty much use any theme in the book in fantasies and all the above posters are right, your theme should match your characters!

    As for cliche themes, I don't see a problem with a cliched theme as long as it's executed well and the story is exciting.

    For example, you'll find a lot of fantasy novels where racial prejudice is a recurring theme (dwarves/elves/humans are treated differently). Usually, this leads to whoever the dominant race is (usually humans) to realize the error of their ways and treat everyone equally.

    I prefer to go down a darker route, so for instance, if humans regard themselves higher than elves/dwarves, the elves/dwarves show more hatred and violence towards humans, leading to a civil war where humans realize too late that they were the cause for their own destruction.

    Long story short, get to know your characters first, maybe even outline your plot so you know where your story's going, then you'll find themes that naturally fit into a given scenario.
     
  12. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have to agree with this advice, like, tenfold. It came about that after I began the piece I started recently, I realised, "This piece is really about identity." Or something pretentious like that. :)

    I'll be honest... setting out to give a story a theme is pretty pretentious. If it gets a theme on its own just through consequence, fine, but setting out toward it is a little bit odd. Write stories for the sake of stories. C:
     

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