1. Hans
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    Hans New Member

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    Need help advancing the plot

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Hans, Jan 14, 2011.

    Hello everyone. I'm new to the forums, as well to novel writing. It's a new project that I'm interested in and I hope that you can help me move it along.

    My main challenge seems to be that I will sit down and write a scene that simply does not advance the plot. It'll be decently written, fairly entertaining, and develop the MC, but nothing much more. They're really more like separate vignettes about the MC's life than anything else.

    My novel is about Jesús Hernandez, the narrator and protagonist. He is a second generation Mexican-American immigrant living in Arlington, Texas. Not satisfied with the present circumstances he lives in, his ambition, work ethic, competitiveness, and individualistic nature leads him to get him into the college of his dreams, Duke. But Duke turns out to be not as great as it originally seemed, and he struggles to fit into a world where is different ethnically, socioeconomically, and intellectually.

    The plot is driven mainly by a love interest as a freshman in college, a girl he pursues while trying to navigate a world very foreign to him. However, I want to include details of his family history, his childhood history, and his high school experience as well.

    What is your advice? I was considering a nonlinear narrative, where it begins with Jesús at the beginning at college, and him revealing different aspects of his background. What do you do? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
     
  2. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Just write! See where it takes you. If you finish your first draft, you are doing better than lots of people who want to write a story.
     
  3. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    It sounds like you have a good idea of where you want to take the book, but no roadmap to get there. What you may want to do is come up with an outline. Some writers do no outlining at all, others outline in such detail that all they have to do is flesh out that outline and the book is complete. There are, of course, many levels in between.

    I start by jotting down, in just a few words, the main events that I know have to take place to get the book from Hi! to Bye! That may only be three or four events to begin with. I'll write those on a blank sheet of paper (in pencil) spaced out with plenty of room in between. Then, over time, those events will start to trigger other events, some bigger some smaller, in my imagination. I'll write those down roughly where I think they should go and connect them with a line to the event before and after it. This becomes a sort of 'cloud diagram' for the book, giving me direction and a few landmarks to follow.

    This map changes once I actually start writing (I like to take the occasional scenic turn-off, and sometimes there are unforseen detours), but the map is always there if I get lost. For my current novel I only mapped out a rough route for the first third of the trip. When I get to that point I may have to fill it in for the rest of the book, or I might recognize the territory and be able to drive by the seat of my pants.

    This is what works for me. Good luck with your book.
     
  4. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I second this. Just write and get everything out. Once your first draft is done, then you can begin the editing process and cut things out as needed. This scene you are uncertain about may end up fitting in perfectly.
     
  5. Hans
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    Hans New Member

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    Terry D, you seem to hit the nail right on the head. I tried to create a fairly rigid outline to follow, only to find out that when I began to actually write, I immediately deviated from the outline! It just seems that I need my ideas on paper, but allow myself the freedom to move things around if "unforseen detours" pop up. Then, I can do what Ellipse and SashaMerideth suggest (and what I REALLY want to do), which is to write!

    Thank you, this helps a whole lot.
     
  6. Holden
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    Holden Senior Member

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    A way to bring forth his memories and experiences is dialogue. Jesus could be speaking to a professor of his, or a friend, a mentor, etc. What is seemingly a basic conversation could flower into a vivid description of his past and how it reflects him in the present.
     

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