1. Acer
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    Acer Member

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    Padding between A and B problem

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Acer, Aug 24, 2010.

    Book 4 of my series and I've run out of ideas... this book has been on hold for what, nearly two years? I've been a little desperate to restart it but it comes back to the same problem- I have a journey, Planet A to Planet B. Of course, I could eliminate this problem by saying, you know, "the journey was long but uneventful and eventually they got there" (maybe not in those words, but you know what I mean) but that'd be too quick in the narrative. Point B is near the end of the story, so I need some significant padding, which probably means I need another secondary plotline, but that's blanking me too... I'd appreciate any thoughts.

    Basically, in short form, the situation is this- Earth was invaded by an alien species in book one. Eventually the enemies of this species came to help us but my main protagonist was captured and subjected to an alien called the Mander, who can link with the nerves etc of its victim and read its mind as though recalling its own memories. After a blackmail situation with the protagonist, it decided to end the problem by legging it.

    In book four, my protagonist, alongside another victim who is an alien, find out that my main antagonist is after this Mander (bearing in mind that the mind of the Mander is a hive of knowledge, about superior technology and about Earth, which the antagonist has a fixation about). The two of them, as well as being the closest to where they think the Mander is as well as not actively being involved in the fighting, decide that they need closure from their experience and want to be present at the death of this creature (and need to get to it before the antagonist).

    I've just been drawing blanks about how to fill the time in inbetween... So far I've got that they need to get over their intense fear of this creature through practicing fighting it in the hologram rooms and the not entirely original "get to the planet and find out he's moved on" scenario.

    I can't help but feel that I should essentially ignore that they are on a spaceship and treat it like one might treat any other place, like a cafe or house, by having some kind of interaction between my characters that would pad out time, but I can't think of anything there either.

    Any advice would be very welcome.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm assum ing from your profile that you haven't sold any books to a publisher.

    That being the case, You really should not be worrying about the fourth book of the series, or a series at all.

    Make sure each of the books you have written so far stand on their own, because that is how you will be selling them. No publisher will sign an unknown author for a multiple book deal.

    If you don't have a story for the series, write something else, or work on refining the existing manuscripts, and begin sending out queries.
     
  3. Acer
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    Acer Member

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    Cognito, it may surprise you to know that not everyone writes in order to be published, I write because I enjoy it, or at least used to. I only ever intended it to be a hobby. I want to write this book for me, not for anyone else.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Whether for fun or for publication, your story ideas should come from within.

    BTW, there is no N in my user name. :)
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why not write the rest of the story and come back to it? Its what I do when I am stuck. Did you ever watch Ulysesses (sp??) or Cities of Gold as a kid? They do the DVDs now and they are about journeys may help.

    I am also writing partly with goal of getting published and partly it doesn't matter if it doesn't. Even if the stories standalone I see the advantage of writing the series before trying to sell them. It gives a seamless run rather than the patched effect the likes of Harry Potter have. I have three books in different stages and its more fun to write that way, I have just removed 30,000 words from book one to allow book two to be even better, book one won't suffer from it. Only I know who my main protagonist is lol:) haven't decided when he gets revealed.
     
  6. Acer
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    Acer Member

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    I thought about doing that, and have done a few times in the past, but this is a big chunk that's missing and I rather suspect, especially judging by the previous three books, that the storyline will mutate as it goes along so I'd end up re-writing the last bit anyway or else making it a little awkward trying to tie the frayed ends together. Then I know I'd still be in the same position. I've tried several things- after failing to progress in this book, I've written a completely unrelated book to the end, started on a few others, edited the first three books but still I come back to this one and so badly want to finish it. My alien universe has a place in my heart above all the other books I've written.

    Edit- and no, haven't seen either of those films. Not even heard of Cities of Gold. Will look them up.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    EDIT Checked your profile you weren't even born when it was on lol My generation has a huge advantage doing journeys we had a whole raft of cartoons based on them.

    Ulysses 31 is what I was after its a cartoon series based on the Odyssey but set in space, the Odyssey may also be useful for ideas. My friend has it on DVD its worth watching just for the theme tune lol:)

    Cities of Gold is set in Peru, but it has a journey in a golden bird as part of it.

    Thundercats travelled between planets as well. We have them on DVD.
     
  8. Acer
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    Acer Member

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    Thanks :)

    I could probably narrow the time frame a little by writing more before they set out, but again would need a new plot in order to justify that...

    Need to get my brain thinking! (If you hear an explosion, you know it's failed ;) )
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    You have actually helped me lol I'd forgotten about the cartoons, I have a journey of my own its only two days but am now sitting here watching Dogtanian:)
     
  10. Tom Gold
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    Acer, why not try to underline the boredom of the journey. Long journeys by road sea or air become boring after a while or at least for a while. Now imagine one in which the outside view (space) doesnt change from one day to the next. If it was me I'd go crazy.

    You could juxtapose their boredom with the pressing need to find the mander asap. Could be very frustrating. Do they argue? Do they end up doing something stupid to alliviate the boredom - may be an ill conceived space walk? What happens when they've seen all the films in the ship's library (or whatever). Being bored IS boring but watching someone else become increasingly frsutrated and bored could be interesting or even amusing. Have you ever seen any old episodes of REd Dwarf - its about four people on a spaceship with nothing to do. Hilarious if a bit dated now.

    Their boredom frustration might provide a nice contrast for the action when they catch up the Mander
     
  11. Acer
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    Acer Member

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    Thanks :D

    I have seen Red Dwarf (never ever watch the US pilot version, trust me, what was seen can never be unseen lol). I'll certainly bear it in mind.
     
  12. Tom Gold
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    Tom Gold Member

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    Happy to have been some help. I'm writing a book myself, well, more of a memoir, in which I made a number of very long journeys through the south west of the US. Its hard to give them space without pushing the word count up too high, but skimming over them will look like - well just skimming over them. Tricky. Didnt know there was an American version of Red Dwarf. It would be like making a British version of Little House on the Prairie!
     
  13. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    I'm not sure if it counts but there was a show called The Darling Buds of May in the UK which was very similar to Little House.

    Anyway, space journeys can be a pain to write. I mostly write naval stuff so I know what it's like to have long, monotonous journeys. They're not as fun as long walks because the scenery just doesn't change! I mostly skip them out, unless I need to use the time to focus on the characters, perhaps through longer conversations.

    There's a bigger question here though - shouldn't you plan your stories well in advance of writing them? If you don't know where you're going, you won't know how to get there!

    Secondly, never just fill-in time - scenes like that always look out of place.

    But if you want to an idea to just fill in space, you can't go wrong with a classic ship malfunction, a crash landing, and a quest to find new parts. Perhaps this evil alien guy has run riot on this new planet too - maybe the locals will be willing to help, or maybe they hate outsiders and kidnap one of the crew. The remaining crew will be feeling a lot of tension because they'll know this evil alien chap is right on their heels!
     
  14. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Couldn't imagine Catherine Zeta Jones playing Laura Ingalls:)
     
  15. Three
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    All sorts of interesting things can occur in a group of people sharing a small area for a long period of time. A murder springs to mind. But of course that begins to feel like an entirely separate novel, which doesn't sound like it's what you're looking for.

    The easiest solution seems to be to finish the novel when they embark, and start the next one when they arrive. It feels perfectly natural, but might not be possible in your situation. The journey happens towards the last half of the book, right?

    Another thing to consider, if you're serious about your sci-fi, unless the planet is Mars, the journey should take at the very very least a couple of years. Is the journey really worth it for the characters if it would take a decade to get there and back? Remember, no such thing as faster than light. (Unless you're using wormholes. Then go nuts. :p )

    If I were you though, I'd just start when they get there and worry about what happened before later. Write what feels right. Explain later. :)
     

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