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  1. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Originality, Concepts, and the Muse

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by B-Gas, Apr 9, 2009.

    Stop posting plot concepts. Please.

    No-one will actually read this- no-one that should, anyway- but I feel this needs to be said.

    When you tell the story, outside of an actual story, it dies. That's how it works. That's how the muse works. It figures out a story that it wants to tell. Once that story is told, that's it. It's done. The muse discards it. That's why so very many promising stories die. They get told. Their authors spoil the endings for themselves. That's why they die.

    It's like making a clay pot. You can't expect a clay pot to hold water when it's still wet. You can't test it that way- not really. It'll melt back into clay, ready to use again to make another pot. But if you keep it to yourself, shape it, put it in the kiln, and glaze it afterwards, you'll find out just how good of a pot it was.

    We can't help you shape a rough idea. Rough ideas don't stand up to examination well, unless they're the very, very core idea, the unbreakable seed from which the story blossoms. "Revenge never works." "Love conquers all." "Suffering leads to fortune." We can work with those. But a basic outline? That's the story! The muse will dump it on the sidelines and- and this is the most important part, the killer of stories- it will start working on the next one. The next one won't be better. It'll be the same. But it'll be shiny and new, and the muse will love it and make you love it. If you don't get the first one into a finished form, you won't improve. I know this for a fact. I've told stories, and lost them, and I'm still working on my first one. I've decided not to tell people. And I've still got it.

    Stop telling unfinished stories. That's the main thing. Again, this will only reach the wrong people, but... well, I just needed to put it down in words.
     
  2. Miswrite
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    Miswrite Member

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    Maybe this would be better suited for a blog rant?

    I completely agree with you, but you can't tell people what to post or not to post, and they will keep doing it if they please.

    People are used to telling specific plots and getting feedback on them. That's why they do this. I personally think that it should be allowed here, instead of 1000 posts on "it's how you write, not what the plot is." Yes, understood, but the original poster wants to know what people think of the plot. It does matter what they think, contrary to some people's saying. We are all potential readers, so what's wrong with asking us for an opinion on a plot? Maybe someone would say, oh that sounds unbelievable, you should edit it. That's feedback, right? Not every post is going to be "I like it" or "This is a ripoff of so and so."

    Keep in mind, I'm on your side here.
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I'm getting tired of seeing people post a 'What do you think of this?' thread.
    It's just hard work for Cog closing them all down; and I sometimes just feel sorry for him.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I don't really close them down. I try instead to redirect their energy into the actual writing.

    Sure, I get frustrated, but it is sort of natural to feel that the story concept is what makes a good story. Certainly a well plenned story concept is easier to write into a good story than one that looks many other, but if a few people get the push that makes them stop worrying about the concept and get into the real work of writing, it's worth having to slap up a template post every couple days.

    I've thought about rewording my template, but I decided that my note of frustration in there may not be such a bad thing after all, if it helps get the point across.
     
  5. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    That's exactly what I feel like saying every time I see that now infamous template post, only perhaps not in such a refined way. :redface:

    Back to the OP, I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. I interpreted that as: When you share a summary of your story, your mind becomes bored with it and moves on. Is that about right? If so, I can't say I agree. I've spent about three years on one story and several months on another, almost constantly pondering what should happen and sharing my ideas with friends I can trust to be objective, and I haven't gotten bored of either of them yet. If anything, I'm getting more into them.
     
  6. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    I don't mean to harsh your rant, but just because it works that way for you, doesn't mean it works that way for everyone. I think it's great that you have found a process that lets your work continue, but that process is yours. Everyone else gets to find theirs too.

    Namaste,
    RR
     
  7. Chaoslogic
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    Chaoslogic Member

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    I stopped discussing my plots and related ideas for this reason. On the other hand, writers groups are very effective for me. I use one-on-one discussions to work out the kinks when writers block is getting in my way. It usually starts with me saying, "Do you have a moment? I need your help with just one thing." Hours later and a degree of monologuing later, I've got a new goldpot of insights.

    On the other hand, summing up a story kills it, in my experience.
     
  8. Emmy
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    Emmy Member

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    OP: I actually needed to read this. I'm experiencing the same damn thing, to the nth degree...because I tried to explain my story to my family, aloud. In my head, it was awesome, wonderful, beautiful and compelling - and I didn't have the whole story down. Now, aloud, it sounds stupid, boring, lame, with a dumb ending. Even my 11 yr old daughter interrupted me and said, "Mom, that's boring."

    I was doing much better when before, someone would ask, "Oh? You're writing a book? What's it about?" And I would reply: "It's bad luck to tell the story before it's finished."

    That was total horsesh*t, though. I just made it up.

    Seems that I was on to something....for me, anyway.
     
  9. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Seems to me you were cheating yourself, actually. It's good to get feedback, but it's also really hard to do, because they might say something as simple (and as un-constructive) as "That's boring". I'm not saying your daughter did not help you, but what I AM saying is, don't let a comment like that deter you from discussing your plot or something like that.

    Maybe find someone who can actually help you with it, instead of shutting the world out from your idea that actually may end up turning into a bestseller in the future.
     
  10. xxtake_controlxx
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    xxtake_controlxx Member

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    I completely agree with the general idea of this thread. I think a lot is lost when you summarize a story that has not yet been written. In my experiences, a summary always whittles away the actual meaning of the work and leaves just the plot. And, in all honesty, most work isn't about the plot, but about how the plot is carried out. You can't explain that well in a summary, which often leads to a summary sounding stupid or boring. I know that when I try to explain a story I'm writing that sounds wonderful and romantic in my head, it always comes out sounding just plain stupid and shallow and I no longer want to write it.

    I think it's more important to get feedback on the plot once the plot is carried out the way you want it to be through your characters and whatnot, because that's when you truly see whether or not the plot was a good idea. This may be a horrid example, but take Cather in the Rye, for instance. I personally think it is a brilliant book (many will disagree with me). But if someone told me they were writing a story about a teenage boy who gets kicked out of school and does a bunch of stupid things before he realizes that all he wants to do is protect children's innocence, I would potentially think that it was a stupid, overdone idea that should not be written about. But once you see the characters and the experiences and the way the realization comes into play, the plot is no longer just "a teenage boy who gets kicked out of school and does a bunch of stupid things before he realizes that all he wants to do is protect children's innocence." It's so much more than that.

    So, in my opinion, don't ask for advice on whether or not the plot is good until after you've written it. I'm not discrediting going to someone for advice to work out kinks in your plot, or to figure out where to go next if you're stuck, because I think that conversation can be invaluable. But, if all you're asking about is whether or not the plot as a whole is interesting - well, don't. Because not only might you find it stupid or boring once you articulate it, but others might as well. And the way you articulate it may not even be close to the way others will read it in the actual story.
     
  11. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    yeah i got to get out of that habit. i tend to write with one mind and then edit with another. changes the story completely at times. I re-write plots and subplots and in the end nothing makes sense.
     
  12. psyence53
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    psyence53 Senior Member

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    I've found this problem. But usually it's over exitement. If I tell my friend my idea, i start blurting out (online) words and more words and I just fizzle out. It's not constructive because I don't get any feedback. I just did post basic ideas on here for any comments to help me write. I have done in the past (then deleted what I posted!) and I have had SOME helpful comments in the past. As long as its not direct and I don't get too passionate. Besides.. My plots are NON EXISTANT. I have no idea where things are going, let alone how it ends. If I had an ending I wouldn't post it. I might give stuff away unintentionally but if I found the perfect ending I would not reveal.

    Just in case xD

    It is a good observation, and I agree, but I also agree that people have different methods. But I also agree everyone is entitled to say what they want and that it's down to others to decide for themselves whether it's relevant to them or not, and whether or not to take the advice or follow what suits.

    I watch Oldboy and my own mind (all of them) make habitual choices to admire the film but NOT go bludgeon someone. Unlike some people who watch a film then decide they should follow suit.

    But i'll save that.... for when I have TIME TO RANT! GO TO BED YOU FOOL (should have been in bed 4 hours ago >.<)
     
  13. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I dunno, I have to disagree with the general consensus here...with the right people, going over the outline of your story can be hugely beneficial. Plenty of times, I've had my friends point out holes in my story, or inconsistencies or other weaknesses in my plots that I probably wouldn't have noticed myself, so i think it definitely helps to tell people the outline of your plot. Furthermore, if you can't give an interesting, accurate and concise outline of your plot, how do you hope to get the book published? You need to tell the publisher what its about without saying something as basic as "its a love story", but you also can't spend any more than a couple of sentences on the synopsis. So yeah, don't be afraid to tell people your plots, and if they fall apart when you do so, its probably nothing as bizarre as "the muse" leaving, its just that your plot wasn't that great to start with. Don't be offended, just fix the problems.
     
  14. psyence53
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    psyence53 Senior Member

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    Very good points Arron.... also, you mentioned one of my biggest writing fears - the dreaded short synopsis. I read blurbs, and the couple liners but... I CAN'T DO IT!! Maybe when i've written something it will be easier to sum up but so far it's proven impossible.
     
  15. Emmy
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    Emmy Member

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    I think the point is not to describe a finished story to a publisher, but an idea for a story to another person who might one day be a reader.

    There's nothing wrong with leaving a little to chance; a "bizarre muse" to you may be another's hope trying to shape itself into something more. It's not bizarre, nor strange, nor "new age" - it's simply a theory, and a very valid one at that: trying to describe an idea before it's fully formed is difficult, and trying to force said idea into words before the right time, can kill the whole idea completely - no matter who your friends are, or how much constructive criticism they can offer.

    It's not taking offense or being able to "fix" a problem. It's entirely about inspiration and the stuff beauty is made of. Inspiration is not boxed into a rational shape; inspiration is fluid and moves continually. If you can't tell someone what your story idea is about - then it's not ready to be told. Viola! Your muse is working, and doesn't want the story to be told. Because you can't tell it without sounding like Rain Man doesn't mean the story blows; it means it's not at a point to be shared yet.

    Don't kill the magic of creation and writing. Let it be.
     
  16. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Why can't beauty be rational? Why can't literature be a very logical and scientific process and still have beauty? Why should we be content to call inspiration a mystical force when it can and should be explained in actual, scientific terms.
    Anyway, getting off-topic, just saying that blaming a malcontent muse for your writing problems seems like a lazy way of getting away with not analysing your own writing style and the problems with it.
     
  17. Emmy
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    Emmy Member

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    My only point, which I will repeat again, is this:

    I think the point is not to describe a finished story to a publisher, but an idea for a story to another person who might one day be a reader.

    Muse or hard cold science - who cares? It's totally within a writer's personal discretion to decide.
     

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