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  1. jumbowumbo
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    jumbowumbo Member

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    No ideas

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by jumbowumbo, Nov 19, 2006.

    I'm starving for a plot. I've spent over two weeks on the fence about my novels story. I've abandoned my first idea (http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=360), only because I coudn't work it out.

    If you guys wouldn't mind, simple, and I mean extremely simple ideas that you guys might recommend for writing a story about would be greatly appreciated. I just need a spark of imagination. I don't know if it helps, but here's my main character outline:

    Trent, 27 years old, and the protagonist, grew up without any religious background. He was raised in a middle to higher class family in Los Angeles. He has always enjoyed reading and learning, but he never set out to do that; it only came as a result of his parents urging him to finish high school. He was always one of the smartest kids, even in the one AP class he took, but his un-enthusiastic demeanor limited his capabilities. He wanted to learn, but not about algebra or health. He often wondered, as many kids did, when A squared plus B squared equals C squared would ever be useful in a real world situation.

    He passed, but barely. He was looking for something that grabbed his interest. Nothing he came across before had lured him into wanting to discover. Trent is extremely laid back, almost passive. He’d never set out to do anything drastic without encouragement or a strong incentive.

    His 5’11 athletic frame never stood out as uniquely strong, but he isn’t weak either. He has light brown hair, green eyes and tanned skin. He is athletic, and played some sports growing up, but subsided from such activities in High School. Beatrice is one of the few individuals that Trent has met where he feels comfortable in confiding his emotions. When Trent does read, which is often, he enjoys fantasy and science-fiction; a means of escaping his own life. He listens to Instrumental music, as he finds the complexities of it intriguing.
     
  2. Zak_Attack
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    Zak_Attack New Member

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    Why not have Trent and Beatrice witness a crime or some other event that plunges them into dramatic circumstances. Seeing as how Trent is very laid back this, to me, seems like a good way of getting him involved in something.

    Another possible idea is create an event that is like a wake up call of sorts for Trent. Something that makes him question the meaning behind his life. Possibly losing a close childhood friend?

    Good Luck
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You need to come up with your own ideas. Find inspiration in the news, or in books or movies you have read, or by conversations you hear around you. When you see a decision point in a TV show, ask yourself what if the character had made a different choice. Maybe it'll be some dream you had last night after indigestion made sleep difficult. Or maybe you heard the words of a somg wrong - what did you thinjk they were singing?

    Exercise your imagination. Write about anything at all, even if you don't know where it will take you. And let it raise questions as you go.
     
  4. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    He has set out to learn, though in a half-assed way. It sounds as if you want to write a college story, concerning the question: what do I want to do in life? I have this opportunity - but what do I make of it?
    Look at Erikson's 7 stages of development, you character seems stuck in his Identity versus Role Confusion Stage, and is trying to move on to.

    WikiPage on Erikson's Stages

    I'm working on these theme in my book to, it's working fairly well.
     
  5. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I agree with Cogito. If you do not have an idea in mind, read news on TV or on paper, listen to people, etc. You may come up with an idea in dreams you have. Then, to make the idea a little more unique, add a "what if" situation to it after you found an idea from TV, conversations, dreams, or any other places. The "What if" will kind of add a unique twist to the idea if you want to be more creative.
     
  6. tubby
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    tubby New Member

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    Trent, presents himself to the hospital in the hope of helping a close relative with severe illness.

    Trents blood group indicates he is unrelated.

    Not even related to his parents.

    Parents totally deny he is not their son

    No record of adoption **You will need some severe research to discover what Trent is required to do to find out who he is.**

    His mother was murdered

    Who was she, why was she murered. Who gained from this crime?

    Lots of potential for a mystery. The research will come in handy and be a great learning tool.

    Afterthought;
    Make a good novel, with light hearted comedic touch. for exampe if his blood group indicated his parents were of Chinese or Eskimo descent.
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your problem may be that you focus on character and background events too much (me too!) but you don't really know WHAT YOUR STORY IS. I suggest your actual story premise was:

    A man is on a quest to find his mother's murderer. It is vital that he discovers his real identity.

    NOTE: Why must he discover who he is? Can't he just accept he is adopted and just move on? And obviously there MUST be a compelling reason why the father lied or thought the man was his son.

    The way you put it in your post above, it sounds like you have the first shock/horror connected only indirectly to the quest to discover the murderer. And why can't he leave it to the police?

    Actually, I would have the story starting with the mother dying (having been left barely alive after the attack) and then the son's blood group proving incompatible--so that the murder and ID problem are together from the off. If the father is able to give blood instead, the man would realise that this means this would be impossible if he was actually his father's son.You also say 'parent' but then that his mother was murdered--so who's this second mother of his?

    Ditch the character sketches, find your story, then set out in one or two sentences.
     
  8. tubby
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    tubby New Member

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    No! he can not do this . . he was not adopted - "Parents totally deny he is not their son"



    The police have had 28 years to notice that his dead mother had a small child that was missing. Maybe because she was an Eskimo had something to do with that . . Maybe 'lack of raw fish starvation'. (Quite common in Southern Texas)

    Sorry madhoca I am going to have to research the local newspaper files to find out any reported bodies of women of childbearing age of Eskimo descent for the period around Trents birth.

    There are always problems to solve when writing stories, The writer can imprint his own style and peculiarities with intersting and well thought out problem solving, this can be what makes writing fun. . . For both reader and writer.

    Note:
    I just did a quick google search of 'lack of raw fish" related deaths In Texas - None have ever been reported. . I am now worried that the cause of death (mother) may have been mis-diagnosed . . Or a cover up.

    ---------- Post added at 04:26 AM ---------- Previous post was at 04:10 AM ----------

    Excellent advise. . Just jump in head first and surprise yourself. . . . find out later where you drifted to.
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you miss my point, tubby.
    The OP says he can't form the main idea of his novel. I'm only saying that he needs to find the main focus of the plot and write it down. Once that's done he can address himself to the questions that will arise from it. If you 'jump in' with no clear idea you will find yourself trashing 25,000 words later. A total waste of time unless you just like setting yourself writing tasks but have no intention of finishing anything.
    I'm not sure how you know jumbowumbo's mind any better than I do, tubby, although of course you are free to throw out suggestions as well. You say "Trents blood group indicates he is unrelated" so it's natural for most people, including Trent, to assume his 'parents' (still don't undersand how he has 2 mothers) are lying or deluded about the relationship.
    Anyway, if this is a novel, why such detailed confirmation in newspapers?
     
  10. tubby
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    tubby New Member

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    No mate, I rarely miss a point - I would have merely ignored it because it suited my purpose.

    In the mid 60's I belonged to a group of young fellows that used to advertise in the local paper as "The Brain stormers" The Idea was if anyone was stuck for something like 'a name for a new boutique' (anything really) For a few beers we would go around and fill the room with whatever idea popped into our heads.

    You wrote "you will find yourself trashing 25,000 words later". . . Maybe. . . But 10,000 of those words might well be salvaged - and as long as you know and understand why the other 15,000 words will never be of any value, nothing is lost.

    You ask "why such detailed confirmation in newspapers? " That was humour.Reading old newspaper articles from around the time of a persons birth can give a writer 'Food for thought'
    The character might well have been born on the same day as Chelsea won the cup . . To me the thought occurs - I wonder if his father was a soccer fan.

    Creating thought processes is a prerequisit to formulating the plot. . My contribution (hopefully) to this thread is to demonstrate how I do it.

    Fiction regularly requires a factual background. . If I were writing a story about a plumber during the Wall street crash . . The first thing I would want is a download of every newspaper I could find for the period just to provide honest background details. .
     
  11. tubby
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    tubby New Member

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    A writers imagination can only go so far - Imagine Flemming writing about James Bonds gun. . If I recall correctly it was something that sounded like a Wather PPK My bet is Flemming did some research down at the local gun shop. . there was no way he would ruin an otherwise good story by naming it a 'Bronson 10mm'.

    My view; is write fiction. . but back it up with the rules of the universe and facts. . Newspapers are indispensable.

    p.s.

    I do not. . I am not convinced even that I know or understand my own mind, at least not untill I have completed the paragraph. . Even this can confuse me. .
     
  12. Falkneon
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    Falkneon New Member

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    Trent goes off to college and is recruited for some crazy job while leading a normal life at school. Idk.
     
  13. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    If you still struggle to devise an idea, try considering the three elements to construct an idea. It worked for me, and it might not work for you. The first thing to keep in mind is to come up with who your main character is. The second thing to do is come up with your main character’s goal, and then determine what the antagonistic force (what prevents the character from reaching his/her goal).

    You might come up with an ordinary idea, such as a man gets lost in the woods or something. That is just part of an idea, in my opinion. The lost man is who the character is, and his goal may be to escape the woods. The bears and skunks plotting to consume him if he escapes may be the antagonistic force. He might learn at the end that the bears and skunks only want to be his friend, and the animals are tired of human beings fearing them.

    To sum this up, the idea may be “A man lost in the woods struggles to escape when he is swarmed by a mass of bears and skunks, who only want to form a relationship with him."

    That is how I try to come up with my ideas, is by underlining who the character is, (the lost man in the woods) what his/her goal is, (to escape the woods), and what the antagonistic force is (his fear that he may be eaten). I know that the man lost in the woods may be a bad example, but it's how I come up with an idea.

    Without these three elements, I cannot find a good idea to keep in mind. Alternatively, many storytellers/screenwriters like you and me construct our ideas differently and some of us just come up with a brilliant idea out of their heads.
     
  14. Morgan
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    Morgan Member

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    Although it's interesting to see the opinions on how to come up with story ideas, I don't think the OP will be likely to read it since the thread was started almost 5 years ago.
     
  15. mugen shiyo
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    mugen shiyo Contributing Member

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    There is literally an infinite number of ways you can take that story. Anything can happen- both realistically and fantastic. It's really up to you. I tend to edge toward fantasy, action, adventure, and horror, but that might not be your thing and you wouldn't be able to elaborate on my ideas...or others.

    Exercise your imagination...certainly sound advice if you want to be a writer.
     

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