1. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    Novel Without an Idea?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by daturaonfire, May 31, 2009.

    By idea, I mean like "A man looks for his missing sister." I ask because the stories I write lack that--it's just about the characters' lives. I try to write around an idea and my story implodes, for some reason. What are your thoughts on novels that are character-driven? Has anyone here tried writing a novel this way?
     
  2. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    I don't think it's that uncommon. It actually sounds somewhat like a soap... The character cast is the most important part. If you make realistic characters they will inevitably have conflicts. All people have conflict in their lives. As long as there is conflict there's a story to tell. Sounds fine to me. It's not usually my cup of tea, but it can be interesting. Think of shows like Desperate Housewives. I think most of the effort goes into creating characters and filling out the details of their lives and relationships. The stories just expand from there.

    Maybe I don't understand what you mean. But some people are mainly just interested in stories they can directly relate to - the ordinary lives of every day people can be more significant and compelling for being believable.
     
  3. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    Even ordinary characters need motivations, conflict and goals. Without these vehicles there is no compelling reason for the character to get up in the morning.

    I think its fine to be character-based, but don't forget the elements of good story telling.
     
  4. Unsavory
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    Unsavory Active Member

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    I'm immediately reminded of the movie Marley and Me. (Never read the book.)

    There was no plot whatsoever. It was just about a guy's family and his disobedient dog.

    ...Now here is where I'm supposed to say that it worked out great, but I actually hated it. I hated the fact that there was no story and as such, I doubt I could enjoy anything entirely based on character. But then again, some people really dig that kind of thing.
     
  5. psyence53
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    psyence53 Senior Member

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    All my ideas tend to be character driven. None of them ever get written (does that say something about the ideas or about me?)

    I can never determine a plot or sequence of events. It's only ever like, this character is suicidal, but can't do it... that character has been abused and is blamed by her own mother... it's only ever a situation. The character's life. Nothing eventful (funny that, life is torment but has nothing eventful...)

    But I guess you're not alone, but I don't know if it's a good or bad thing. Apparently there are plenty of good character driven novels and films but i can't pinpoint them.
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think they need to have some common thread, some detail that ties many of the events together. It can be concrete or abstract. Tales of a Fourth grade nothing doesn't have an overall plot, but it has things that tie all the events together, like the way the narrator relates to his younger brother, and things that happen around his pet turtle.
     
  7. Magnet-Rose
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    Magnet-Rose New Member

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    You know, I think it really depends on the length of the story. For short stories character sketches, introspection and just daily lives can be very interesting and tell us something about life itself. I think when you go further than that then you do have to have some unifying idea behind everything. Maybe you have five characters who seemingly have nothing in common until they all have a great disaster befall them, showing how different people respond to tragedy can reveal a sort of unifier.

    Something I would suggest you watch, if you haven't already, is the movie Crash. It connects a bunch of people who originally didn't have any connection at all. I'm told the movie Babel is like that too, but I haven't seen it yet.
     
  8. psyence53
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    psyence53 Senior Member

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    I love the movie Crash. One of my favourites. Along with Magnolia. And the book Long Way Down by Nick Hornby is a good example of this. So far my ideas include a couple of main character's i'm torn between. I.e. Should it be from his POV or hers? (Not necessarily first person) but reading Deborah Moggach opened me up to switching. But i don't know whether to do one part then the other, or alternate. Arg, I just wish I could get on with it. If I did something, I might get some ideas. In fact, sod it, I'm going to have a look at my notes now and see if anything happens haha xD
     
  9. writing_rel
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    writing_rel New Member

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    My Bits

    With any type of story they tend to fall into two categories, Character driven or plot driven...Usually in a plot driven story (kind of like Lord of the Rings) the main character is rather flat (not in a negative way) but this because the focus is not his life or anything.

    With a character driven story like yours, it's all about the development of your character from one thing to another. My advice is to just make sure your character is changed by the end of your story because of the things he/she does and what happens to him/her.
    And remember to lead the reader through the story arc, with the turning point and realization, the unravelling and such. This doesn't have to be actions outside of the character, it can happen within them, too.

    Good luck with your story!
     

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