1. Cynglen
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    Cynglen Senior Member

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    Not knowing your own plot

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Cynglen, Dec 6, 2012.

    Hi everyone.

    Strange idea I'd like to run by you guys. I've recently begun working on what hopefully will be a worthwhile story some day. The catch is, this story is inspired by a dream of mine. Now, we all know in dreams there are things you can't explain but just seem to happen and don't need to be questioned. From that, is it too much of a leap to have elements in my story that even I don't know how/why they happen?

    Hell, I'll come straight out with it: In my dream, the main character (myself) is killed, and inexplicably resurrected, twice. With each death, I suffered successive amnesia about where I was and who killed me, but when I revived there was very little physical damage leftover. I don't want to try and come up with an explanation of why the character comes back for my story, but I like the idea of absolute mystery around the character and sudden amnesia (via "death") as a catalyst for events in the story.

    Does this sound as crazy to you as I think it does?
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think you will find, probably after a short period of time, that constructing a plot from an actual dream and making a good read out of it is close to impossible. Using that as the idea is one thing, but you'll need to come up with some rational explanations, or else risk the reader tossing it aside. It's okay for a dream to make sense because it's a dream and that's how we rationalize it. A story is another matter.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You've been playing a lot of video games, haven't you? :)

    I'm not sure it's necessary for a writer to completely understand his own plot. Something can be powerful and meaningful without being immediately comprehensible. There's a huge pile of stuff in mythology that is left up to the reader to interpret - no explanation is really given, and none is really necessary.

    In one of the online writing courses I took, I submitted a short story based on a dream I had. Not everything was explained in it. But it got the strongest response any story I wrote for those courses ever got. So go ahead with your story. It might turn out to be surprisingly powerful.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cynglen...
    no, it doesn't sound all that crazy... a character can certainly not know why something is happening for the happening itself to be the basis for a good story... it's been done and worked well in movies [don't ask me for titles, 'cause i recall the movies, but not the titles]... it can also bomb, if not handled well by a good writer...

    so i say go ahead and see what you can do with that idea... just be aware that it's not very original, so it would be a good idea to research how the premise has been dealt with by other novelists and creenwriters...

    ed...
    i wrote a sci-fi thriller screenplay from a dream i had... and the dream was explicit, not irrational in any way, came to me in fully realized scenes that i was able to reproduce in both prose and script form, exactly as dreamt... so, it is possible... and very well may be in this writer/dreamer's case...
     
  5. cmshepard
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    cmshepard Member

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    Some of the best books I have ever read still don't make one bit of sense to me. The same goes with movies.

    The only bit of advice I would throw out there is to tell it from YOUR point of view - you don't know what the heck is going on and you're the teller, why would anyone else need to know? Illustrate only the awesomeness. =-]

    I have a similar idea about the world being mostly destroyed... The mathematics and technicalities of what types of nuclear weaponry would do exactly what I needed them to do were well beyond me... No one could really tell me, either (and I sounded like a terrorist for asking)... My solution was to switch to "my" point of view. There's no communication, anyway, so why should my character know the specifics of what would happen?

    Hope I helped. =-]
     
  6. Chris H
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    Chris H New Member

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    Even if your plot doesn't follow a rational course you still need to know why it is the way it is. From what you're saying it sounds like magic realism, so maybe you should read some Kafka or Milan Kundera to see how they control and describe inexplicability. It can be a very exciting and intriguing way of writing, but you still need a degree of control over it or it risks becoming fathomless.
     
  7. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    To be sincere with you I'm working on such dream-based story and I'm at sticking point everywhere I look.
    It might work in case you pinpoint the main points in your dream and rationally process them, as stated above.
    True, atmosphere is a hell of a factor, it surely did its work in my dream and my perception of it, but if you think it off,
    there's not much left, at least in my case. Ok, it was a brilliant dream and I had fun, didn't understand a bit of it, but
    still loved it, but to make some use of it, I would have to go into psychology and dream interpretation by our
    famous native Freud. It is my strong belief that you have to dispose of some factual knowledge, in order to create
    a good piece of writing that sounds credible. Psychology is great, 'cos you can play with your character and the reader alike.
    You only have to handle it.
     
  8. Tales of Anima
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    Tales of Anima Member

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    First of all, welcome!

    Secondly, I'm reminded of Dustin Hoffman's 'little did he know' speech from "Stranger than Fiction". There is something your character doesn't know (not the amnesia part, but how he keeps resurrecting), and that lack of knowledge drives the plot, I assume. After all, how is this happening to him?
     
  9. Aries Broad
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    Aries Broad New Member

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    I love this idea and I definitely think it's worth playing with to see if you could make it work. You could write it in the first person and still the reader would know more than the MC after each anmesiatic episode. How fun would it be if the MC has three completely different "first impressions" of the same person?

    I will say you would have to come up with an explanation for the resurrections. For the reader, that would be the big question. Already I'm wondering if the MC doesn't know he's really a robot that keeps rebooting or a character in a sim style computer game.

    Good luck!
     
  10. Griplan
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    Griplan Member

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    I'd add a portion to the beginning of the story, to set up a plot, and then have the events of the dream happen.
     
  11. Sam Edge
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    Sam Edge Member

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    Great Idea. Lots of room to play in this one... and think of the time you will save on character histories!!!
     
  12. Phoenix Hikari
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    Phoenix Hikari Contributing Member

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    I don't think it's crazy at all. Agreeing with what the others have said I'd also encourage you to explore the idea more. I'm currently working on a novel that has started as a dream but it has evolved a LOT ever since that dream 3 years ago. What I'm trying to say is that take your dream idea and expand on it, ask yourself why should a person come back to life, close your eyes and try to dream the answer- even if it's day dreaming.
    Dreams are fantastic places to get plot ideas but they usually don't contain everything or are generally flawed, because they are dreams. Yours sound like a very nice idea only if you find ways to make it applicable. There's no need to understand every little detail, after all even in real life we don't always understand everything. Sometimes things happen just for the sake of happening and that would only make your plot more realistically acceptable.
     
  13. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    I have no control over plots in my writing, but I'd suggest finding a reason for events. Maybe there's a bad guy behind all of your character's deaths? I don't plan my plot, the story evolves and creates itself for me, but there are some parts where you will have to think hard before writing to make sure many things connect.

    Major example of story evolution: my character began as a lone warrior/mercenary woman but now she's a common village peasant girl that gets kidnapped. stories can change a LOT if you keep working on them for long enough.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    huh???... then who does all the thinking and writing?... do you only do ghostwriting and add nothing to your client's plot?
     
  15. Zico Cozier
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    Zico Cozier Member

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    You killed Kenny! :rolleyes:
     
  16. CCEO
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    CCEO New Member

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    first thing that came to me was a clone-hive mind...situation. Maybe some clones escaped- living normal lives - but now are being hunted down, and the death of 1 reboots/erases their minds?- and it becomes some sort of survival thriller? or maybe at the end you find out your an alien and must be killed for the betterment of mankind- then you either die or go on to live knowing you're offspring will kill mankind.
     
  17. HuggsX3
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    HuggsX3 New Member

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    I agree that it is difficult. But, I feel that if you just take certain pieces of a dream and add them in with a rational, organized story, it can be done. I have a very hard time writing based off of my dreams because there are often way too many crazy, tragic, and horrifying things going on at once. It's hard to make sense of. So, maybe creating a solid plot and THEN adding details from a dream would be best.
     
  18. patrickgoggles
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    patrickgoggles Member

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    I don't find a problem with it. I generally allow books/movies/ideas a pass on explaining situations like that, if it's what the story is about. Best example I can think of, Groundhog's Day. It is never ever ever explained why he keeps repeating the same day over and over again. I don't really care about the reason. However, that's probably the only pass you're going to get, everything else better make some sort of sense :). I'd suggest taking up Chris H's suggesting on reading some magical realism literature if it makes you uncomfortable about not explaining. Italo Calvino has a story about three people falling through space. Just falling. Naturally it's a love story. It's never explained why they are falling. Doesn't matter.
     

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