1. LemonDrop
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    LemonDrop New Member

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    Need help starting and finishing a story

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by LemonDrop, Jan 17, 2012.

    For the past few years I have been starting stories, trashing them, and then starting anew. This process has been repeating itself for the past couple of years and I have nothing to show for it, save for a couple of vague character outlines. My main problem is that I can't tell what the problem is. One of my constant worries is what supernatural creature to use because I have my heart set on an urban fantasy series. It is what I love to read, write, and enjoy. And all I know is that my protagonist, who is a girl, is one of these supernatural creatures. I have never wanted to use a vampire. I've never been a fan of vampires and she doesn't strike me as a vampire type of character. I like werewolves, but every time I get into werewolf pack structure, things fall apart. I can't see where her story will go and I can't figure out why a werewolf girl would be thrown into the midst of some villain's scheme. Recently, after I watched an anime called Angel Beats, I began to think about maybe making her part of a secret society of guardian angels whose existence and purpose has been debated amongst its ranks because not even the angels are sure of the existence of God and their goal. But I don't know where to go from there. I don't want someone to write my story for me at all, but is there anyplace online I can look for some kind of outline that helps shape ideas and make them into a fleshed out storyline that can hopefully become a series? I really want to start something and finish it this time.
     
  2. Holo
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    Holo Senior Member

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    It looks like you are having the same exact problem I used to have. For a really long time I could not for the life of me decide if I wanted to write about werewolves or not. There is a lot that goes into them after all. Questions such as how are they made, are they immortal, is their change physical or magical, are the packs organized, how are they organized, are common and can be difficult to answer. From what it sounds like, you have three big issues to tackle. The first is conflict. What helps me is to understand my antagonists first and figure out what their goal is. Then I figure out how this has a stack in my heroes's life and why they would actively go up against said antagonist. So what is the conflict of your story? This goes hand in hand with the goal of your protagonist. It can't just be save the world from evil villain because I am a hero. The hero must be personally involved. For example, Harry Potter took a stand against Voldemort not only in self-defense and because people told him Voldemort was evil, but because his loved ones were dying to protect a status quo that Harry wanted to uphold and he wanted to make sure his parents did not die in vain.
    Your second thing to tackle is this idea that whatever supernatural creature you use is going to significantly alter your plot. Yes, a vampire hero will be different than a werewolf hero who will be different from a witch or wizard. But your plot should not revolve around what type of supernatural creature your main character is. Look through a list of supernatural creatures you like. Don't consider things such as recent use or popularity. Pick your favorite and then go with it.
    The third issue is world building. One thing that halted me for the longest time with my story was that I couldn't decide if humans knew about the werewolves or not. Those were two different worlds and thus two different stories I was deciding between.
    So, all in all, what you want to do first is create a world and setting. Figure out every last detail that is not character oriented. So by doing this, you will decide what kind of world your protagonist was brought into and where they will most likely fit in the scheme of things. Next, you should create your villain. What do they want and how do they plan to get it? With my villains, I basically write them as protagonists for a while. Their wants and needs should make sense. They don't have to be good for everyone, but they should make sense considering the villain's backstory. But their means of achieving their goals should be questionable. For example, Darth Vader did not think "I am evil and I like it". He honestly thought that the Jedi were corrupt and that he was fixing the galaxy.
    After you finish that, then you can properly create your protagonist. It should become clear why your protagonist fights or stands against the villain. Details like if they are in a pack or not will come then as well. Consider the reality of the different situations. If the werewolf is in a pack, they will most likely live with the pack in a familial setting with an alpha that leads them. In that case, most of the pack members would have to have a substantial amount of money to afford to help support the pack. If the werewolf is alone, but hangs out with a bunch of other werewolves, they will not need a pack structure.

    I don't know of any websites that can help with the problem you are having. Ultimately, it comes down to you choosing a path and sticking with it. No one can tell you what to write about. But your idea about the angel organization does sound intriguing. Try fleshing it out some and see where it goes. Good luck!
     
  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    The 20,000-40,000 word range is the part where it's easiest to get stuck in limbo, at least for me. It'll help you to determine specifically where in your stories you falter, then make it a conscious goal to work past that.

    You do want an outline. Outlines help. Not a stringent, overly-neat one (unless that works for you), but something to keep you on track. Maybe the climax event of each chapter, and the bare essentials of what you need to progress the story. Also, get the setting fully fleshed out. Not in infodumps in the manuscript mind you, but have it fully fleshed out in your head. I had to redo an entire novel because the rules of the alternative universe weren't clear.

    There's also nothing wrong about having to start over. It's normal, not a failure. But try to get past the 50K mark before doing so. If you fail in one way, just move forward and focus on getting other parts right. This way you'll have a substantial, finished or almost finished book to work with in the redo, not just re-starting the same thing over and over and never finishing.
     

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