1. harbourman
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    harbourman New Member

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    Plot Advice

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by harbourman, May 29, 2012.

    Hi All,
    Just joined today. Currently working on a story and would like some advise/direction:

    Maturation plot based on a young waitress (18-20 y/o) in a hickville Diner. Man comes in with 6 year old boy, leaves 74 dollars in loose bills on the counter....and his son. Boy spends rest of day waiting for the man to return. Diner closes and owner/cook tells the boy to wait outside on the bench. Our heroine returns to the diner later that night (maybe for a secret affair with some married customer, maybe to rob the place with her rotten boyfriend etc.) and sees the boy is still on the bench.
    She ends up taking him back to her place. Obviously the maturation process is in her interaction with the boy, yet she is just a child herself who also was abandoned. Ultimately, while she has temporairily "saved him" in the end it is really he who has saved her. (really need to struggle to keep this from being to cliche)

    I'm wrestling with who is the hero; the boy or the girl, or both. Also looking for how many side characters/ sub plots I should use: Is her Brother the new town deputy whose conflicted between duty and family? Abusive boyfriend who is jealous of this new object that "threatens" his dominance?

    Thinking about a Mechanics Garage attached to the Diner. Boy endears himself to the 'help' around the Diner. Perhaps boy works in garage casue he's handy around tools despite his age (dad may have been a mechanic) and befriends some "bad-a**" motorcycle types who end up coming to save the day at a crucial moment,pucnhing out said rotten boyfriend?

    Any help, especially in areas where I can show contrast from waitress going from childish self-absorbed, misguided youth to wanting to be better, not just for boy, but becasue she knows she has it in her etc.

    Harbs
     
  2. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    as for which one should be the main character or POV Character, ask yourself which one has the most to lose in this scene. This should help you decide.

    as for subplots, remember that subplots must affect the main plot and vice versa.
    but I guess you can use as many sub-character you can handle and make the reader care about.
     
  3. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    At first I was thinking "uh-oh" this is like Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood (or the books).

    I like this premise and I think they could both easily be the "hero," and should be, I think. I mean if the kid is for her own maturation and makes her "grow up" then I think it makes sense.

    My one thing that I would worry about is that you're going to have to find a very convincing way to explain why she doesn't just turn him in to the police? I mean, if I found a kid my first instinct wouldn't be, let me bring him home (unless that was the last resort). It could simply be that she lives in Hicksville and the police don't have the man power to do something with him, so they ask her to take care of him until they can get social services here. And then once you figure that out, why doesn't social services take him?
     
  4. harbourman
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    harbourman New Member

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    Good point. I've been toying with the idea that maybe the kid won't speak, or can't? She brings him home in order to bring him back the next day and wait for his dad? Maybe she came from a foster home herself and would never subject someone to that (but that would show too much maturity at a time when she's supposed to be child-like herself.) Maybe her boyfriend want to keep him for a ramsom, etc and won't let her tell the police...but that takes it in a direction I don't it to go in. I want it to remain about their relationship, and her transformation. Hmmm. Great advice, I'll think through that question.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    To be honest, you're asking us to choose what story you will write. That's YOUR job. Ours is to read it when it's finished, and judge how well you wrote it.
     
  6. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    Honestly, I don't personally feel the OP was fishing for their story ideas. I think they were brainstorming or wanting affirmation of what he/she already thought or had. If I gave them "The diner chick should adopt the kid and everything happens there..." that would be different.

    Sometimes I find people too quick to shoot down brainstorming opportunities.
     
  7. Mark F
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    Mark F New Member

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    What if our young heroine is slightly older, maybe 22, and had lost a child 6 or 7 years ago due to an abusive boyfriend. She never got over the loss of the child and sees this boy as a way of filling that void. She can't go to the police as the old boyfriend grew up into a deputy who runs the town for a drunk sheriff. Maybe she intends to go to the big city to turn the boy over to the authorities, but she enjoys the company of the boy and procrastinates. She's lonely. Being an orphan, she has no family to speak. And no male within 30 miles will date her as the bully deputy still holds a flame for her and makes no bones about how possessive he feels avery Friday night at the local watering hole after a bottle of cheap whiskey finds its way down his throat.

    Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, the boy becomes a fixture around the diner/garage that is run by an older man that treats the heroine as the daughter he never had. The diner owner is so interested in making his "daughter" happy that he gives in each time she asks for more time with the boy.

    A few side plots with the new in town mechanic, maybe a potential love interest for the heroine, father figure for the boy...it all comes to a head when the deputy has seen enough and pulls his gun. Yada Yada.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Really?
    This sounds to me like he is asking for advice on which way to turn the plot.

    And writers don't brainstorm their stories. At most, they may bounce ideas off a friend if they are stuck on a minor point, but on the whole, they use their own imaginations.

    Corporate project teams brainstorm to come up with the best solution to a problem. There is no best way to take a story. There is the way you choose to take it, and then you explore and expose the ramifications. It's a process or creation and artistry, not a group effort.

    A quest for affirmation is an expression of insecurity.

    These habits, seeking a consensus for a storyline, and looking for approval before plunging into the writing, are unhealthy for the writing process, and that is why I consistently push back against them. We do the writer no favors by indulging them.
     
  9. newlywriter
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    newlywriter New Member

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    i suggest drafting in both directions to see what works best
     
  10. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    I find writing a solitary endeavour, but sometimes I need to bounce things off of people to think it through. I don't think that's a bad thing...
     
  11. harbourman
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    harbourman New Member

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    Wow. Thought this was a "Plot Development Thread"...guess I misunderstood that one. And that last line seems a bit virulent...just sayin'. For what it's worth, Cogito, I'm not a professional writer. I'm just working through ideas and feeding my creative process...not sure you can really tell me how I fuel my creative process is either 'right' or 'wrong'. I had breakfast in a diner the other morning and came up with this story, found this board and posted. Writer's don't brainstorm their ideas? I'm sure you meant You don't brainstorm your ideas, as I doubt you were attempting to speak for all writers past, present and future. I personally believe that many an idea was bantered about by Hemingway , Pound and Joyce as they slugged back coctails on a muggy afternoon.

    For what it's worth, I actually see your point. I suppose I could go off and write it, only to then have you give the exact same commentary you would now... due only to having met your internal criteria. I was just saving some time, but you're right. It's my story, and you can't have it! Last point before I spend any more time on this ridiculous subject: I am in corporate America- maybe that's my problem. This is an escape for me. An attempt (granted, perhaps a feeble one) to pump some life blood into a creative self that has been beaten and starved nearly to death fiscal year after fiscal year, forecast call after forecast call, until there is nothing left but a bad back and a paycheck for the occupied, but utterly vacant house. Oooopps, did I write that out loud? At any rate Cogito, I hear you. Possibly this isn't the right forum for what I'm looking for. It's just a whole lot cheaper then moving to Paris.

    For the folks that responded, thank you. Awesome ideas. My solution to the why does she keep him lies in the fact that when she brings him home out of the cold she sees the scars on his back, and recognizes them from her own troubled past. Love the idea of mixing the deputy and the rotten drunk BF.
     
  12. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    There you hit the nail on the head. Cogito may be insecure to think brainstorming is a bad idea or may be feels it makes him less of a writer? I don't know. Regardless, as you point out, many of the greats definitely brainstormed ideas. As I said, writing is solitary and sometimes you need to bounce ideas around.
     
  13. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I can kind of see Cogito's point in that it's best for a writer to choose their own way and not rely on other people. However, I don't really see the harm in talking about it. I've certainly created my own threads with a similar premise. And usually talking about it helps in the way that someone might think of a positive/negative aspect to one of the plot ideas that the OP didn't think about and that might make you rethink your choice. I think it's annoying for someone to go "I have a vague idea for a plot, help me make it work"... but if you sort of have your own ideas and you just want to talk about them with others it doesn't seem like a bad idea to me.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The purpose is to discuss strategies and techniques for plot development, not hash out every individual plot idea.

    Techniques are reusable.
     
  15. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Look, unless we actually write out the story for the OP, it's still up to him to write the thing. And I know from experience that no matter how great an idea is, if it doesn't click with you, you can't write it.

    Back on topic:

    I think your biggest challenge will be explaining why he doesn't end up in social services. Understaffed police force and no foster homes around seem like a good explanation. Another thought is to have the kid be related to her instead of a stranger - kinship foster carers tend to be preferred, and it's quite plausible, when a child is dumped with kin, for social services to assign foster care of the child to those kin. (It happened to my parents.)
     
  16. Jud
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    Jud Member

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    I think you have a great idea for a novel here, harbourman. It's refreshing to see an idea on here that isn't about vampires, werewolves and/or zombies :)

    As for the question that a couple of posters have highlighted (why doesn't she just hand him over to the authorities) how about this: She tries to do this only to have the boy fearing his fate when he realises where he's being taken. He breaks away from her and runs off, only to return later because he has nowhere else to go. The girl then takes pity on him and promises him she won't try and 'hand him over' to the authorities again?
     
  17. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    I don't know, When I think of business development I think of brainstorming. When I think of property development I think of brainstorming. When I think of building development I think of brainstorming. The description even says discuss ideas. We aren't written the book for someone, but if they need help brainstorming, I'd say Plot Development would be the place to get suggestions. Otherwise we'd just be talking about foreshadowing and Deus ex machina all day. zzzzzzz.

    On that note, the cops would have to be called if a 6-year old boy was left alone at a diner. The cooks/owner would not kick out a child that young. Nor would a child that young stay quietly waiting at a diner so long without asking someone where his daddy is at or start crying. Even if this was justified some how, you are talking about a 6 year old boy sitting outside at night after closing hours. The restuarant closes but staff sticks around for another hour or so cleaning up and doing prep for tomorrow. If the waitress was going to return later that night after business hours and after everyone left, you are talking about have this 6-year old boy sitting on a bench for at least 2 hours after they kicked him out. I'd say work on getting the 6-year-old boy's and the waitress' relationship established in a more plausible way before you worry about who the hero is. Having a kid is a lot of responsibility, what motivates her to kidnap the child instead of going to the police with the missing child?
     
  18. harbourman
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    harbourman New Member

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    not sure I agree. current PC major city thought process is call cops etc. not sure that in the sticks they aren't still more "slow" to pull the pc card. if the kid says i'm waiting, he'll be back. or makes up some excuse then i think a preocupied short order cook could really care less, and almost be happy not to get involved. This kid's backroung could involve a whole life of making excuses for his dad, and getting by on his own. i think that's not a stretch at all, and in fact many kids from disfunctional families can fool the majority of athorities/ strangers if they needed to do it often. classic children of adult acholohics/gamblers. that's actually a great angle gambling...
     
  19. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    Truth that. I suppose the child growing up in that kind of enviroment, even at six years old, would have some kind of street smart skills and could insist his father is coming, knowing he is probably off gambling or something. Likewise, the chef could have some illegal operation or have some kind of criminal background so he wants to keep off the radar. The cook could have a conversation with another late night employee as they are leaving talking about just that.

    "Well, you can't just leave him here." other employee
    "I'm fine, I promise. My dad is probably just at the casino. He'll come back eventually." boy
    "You see, he's fine. There is no need to call the cops, lets go." chef
    "If you say so," employee, "there is a payphone next door at the gas station. Here's a few quarters if you need to call someone to come and get you."
    blah blah blah
     

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