1. VioletBlade
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    VioletBlade New Member

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    Plot Development: Revenge

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by VioletBlade, Mar 11, 2012.

    Hi! My current project is (this is kind of a vague description, be wary!) about a young girl (around 17 or so) who was forced to return home to train for the Tribulation Matches. It's dystopian, and she's magical with very coveted all extensive earth powers for which the government has a special interest in her for. Though she is forced to return home after the murder of her mother and betrayal of the boy she loved, and the reality that her world is seriously screwed up, she naturally decides that the situation can be beneficial to her as well as she's been dealing with a lot of anger and intense feelings about the entire thing that happened two years ago.

    My issues so far:
    How far to go with the idea of revenge? Is it enough to power the entire novel (there's obviously other things that happen that doesn't just involve the revenge angle, but in the beginning it's a big part) It's essentially what drives her to win the Tribulation Match and become the Elites 'Champion' so that she can go work for them and bring them down.
    Is that too cliche? (It's okay to give me real feedback, because that's what I can use, even if it might be a little hurtful! Constructive critiscm is what I'm looking for!)
    If so, what can I do to make sure it doesn't go that way?

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    I was also told my Tribulation Matches kind of reminded a reader of the Hunger Games which I want to COMPLETELY avoid, for obvious reasons. The gist is this: The Tribulation Matches are not to punish the magical community, though it does oppress them in a way since only the magical children are required to participate as everyone loves to see a good superpower fight. They are to ease the fears of the regular humans who would otherwise be too afraid of the magical community to allow them to live and would more than likely become vigilante and rise up against them without the Matches. So yes, the Matches are used as a controlling tactic. However, the fear the humans have of the magical community is most definitely faciliatated by the government's propaganda, as well as the "need" for the magical community to participate in the Matches to save themselves. The contestants don't fight to the death, though the magical community is split up into sectors and only compete within their sectors that are spread throughout the country. Occasionally, by "accident" a young person will die, but it doesn't happen frequently enough to cause suspicion among the magical communities. At the end of the Matches, the few winners are granted acceptance into regular society, which means a job within the government and a better life, essentially since the humans will accept them. They still aren't allowed to use their magic for any other purpose than self-defense, survival, or for their services to the Elites even after the Matches though. I'd love some feedback about this idea!

    Thank you to all who can help! :)
  2. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Wait... have you read the Hunger Games? Coz if so, I would strongly advise you to examine the inspiration for your 'tribulation matches' and make sure it isn't an unconscious rip off, because I'm seeing lots of similarities - physcially dangerous competition being used as means of controlling a social underclass perceived as a threat/nuisance, spitting populace into sectors and making champions compete against each other, prize being social acceptance and a better life...

    yep, sounds very similar.
  3. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    The Hunger Games was basically a rip off of Stephen King's Long Walk' and 'Running Man' though, so some people do get away with it. But two people getting away with it in such quick succession is less likely.

    If you're just writing for funsies though, it's kinda irrelevant.
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma New Member Contributor

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    There were others that came before The Hunger Games it has similarities to Battle Royale as well and there are several other similar stories, and computer games with the same basic premise going back through history.

    I'd write it and then read the Hunger Games otherwise the inspiration wouldn't be sub-conscious.

    Revenge has powered many novels. Write a few chapters and see how it goes.
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Feedback on a story concept is useless. Every writer will realize the concept differently, and some will be able to come up with several angles from the same concept.

    There are no cliche story concepts.

    Everything comes down to exactly how it is written. How the characters are developed, the POVs used, the narrative style, and so on. Just write it, and doncha no worry mon.
  6. VioletBlade
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    VioletBlade New Member

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    @Nahkti- that's what worries me. And yes and no to answer your question... I had started this after getting into dystopian fiction but pre-reading the Hunger Games. I have since then read them and hence why that person's comment troubled me so much because I can see similarities that I probably shouldn't. However, I've never read the Stephen King's material. I drew some inspiration from The Lottery.
    Now that I've had some time to think, the idea of making these Matches voluntary to enter came into my head. I still need to think of ways to make the other pieces not resemble it so much since everything you said is spot on what I was worried about. Having the government pretending they aren't lesser but that they are a form of protection I had hoped would shoulder some of the wait. Thanks for the honesty though, I needed to hear it!

    @Cogito- "Everything comes down to exactly how it is written. How the characters are developed, the POVs used, the narrative style, and so on. Just write it, and doncha no worry mon." This is very true! Cliches still worry me though as I've been a part of a fan fiction site for a couple of years and I've seen it done over and over!

    Thanks for all the input guys!
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I was thinking the same thing, but from the opposite angle - that perhaps you HAVEN'T read Hunger Games, and might not be aware of the similarities. This is why it's important to read books that have major similarities to yours, so you can make sure there aren't any purely accidental ripoffs that are too close alike. For example, I'm writing a fantasy series that involves dimensional travel and scary things that come out of the rifts between worlds, so I'm reading the His Dark Materials series to make sure I handle mine in a different enough way.
  8. VioletBlade
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    VioletBlade New Member

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    You're actually right on here-- as I said before, I started the planning in my head for this novel before having even heard of the Hunger Games, but, I did eventually read it (with the hype it's hard not to!), and I was very disallusioned to the fact that there were too many similarities to even count! How does one even go about that, though? Do you Google specific plot ideas from your stories to make sure nobody else has written it? I did that for my other Work in Progress, a tale about a Contemporary Robin Hood, but gave up searching after awhile because I didn't find anything besides the Wiki page for where Robin Hood originated from.
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Just read the book and make sure that the way you handle your storyline and characters are different enough from HG.
  10. VioletBlade
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    VioletBlade New Member

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    Gives me yet another reason to re-read the books before the movie premieres, since it's been awhile. But on that tangent, how do you find books that are similar to yours? I mean, Google searching Contemporary Robin Hood didn't return many results except the beloved Robin Hood (BBC) TV show that I will always hold dear to my heart. (Sorry, got a little off topic there) Do you even have to really worry about it at all unless someone points it out? I'm just scared of having this happen again with anything else I write and being too far in to the writing process to fix it, thankfully something that I did catch this time!
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma New Member Contributor

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    Try Maid Marian and Men in Tights lol Any steal from the rich to give to the poor story is a contemporary Robin Hood the two I mentioned are not contemporary in time but they are in telling. The former is a Children's TV show and parts at least are available on youtube.

    Personally, I wouldn't reread it prior to writing it, your attempts to avoid being the Hunger Games may well mess up your story. The Hunger Games is a variation on Gladiatorial combat and other fight to the death situations in history, movies, stories etc. It is a fairly well known/used story in some Asian cultures - how many martial arts based stories have the same idea ? The last man standing fighting for their life isn't unheard of in modern movies.

    My stories have been influenced by other works. Just taking my main fantasy - the one thing that is often described as being original is the way I handle my birdshifters, but the basic idea came from my favourite childhood cartoon character (the Sorceress) from He-Man. I didn't remember it and didn't realise how much the 1980s He-Man/She-Ra had clearly influenced my fantasy until i watched them again with my children - I have a blonde prince who is precocious, kind, intelligent, lazy and rebellious (Prince Adam in the 1980s cartoon), the planet like Eternia is at the centre of the universe and that position is what makes the magic and science combination - my character discovers how to combine them to make each more powerful, my Gandalf/Yoda ish type character has a lot of Man at Arms in him. The story and world is inspired by them though and whilst I was aware of the influences as I watched the cartoons I wasn't bothered.

    Some of the homages/influences were deliberate, like a Great Skua baddy which came from a documentary on St Kilda and my ogre type race were based off Jo March and their husband by Louisa May Alcott.

    My Queen appears to bear the physical description of Dolly Parton's Jolene although her character is not the same.

    My elf type race seem to have similarities with Twilight which I have never read and the film Avatar which I have never seen. (they are blue and flicker in the right light lol)

    Irish leprachauns influenced my fairies.

    Even with Lord of the Rings - Tolkein was clearly influenced by myths and stories he had read before.

    Some fantasy readers have commented my story structure and large casts have similarities with George RR Martin's work (the stories and world are not similar), but I've never read his work. My inspiration has probably been years of playing RPG computer games ;) with large casts of characters and plenty of subplots, but filtered through one main character.

    Chill out, just write it and your voice, your characters, your setting are what will make it different.
  12. marcuslam
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    marcuslam New Member

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    Like Elgaisma said, when I think of Hunger Games, I think of Battle Royale. Just about every concept out there has been done before. It's about how you execute that initial idea. Have fun :)!
  13. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    This is the set up for the Running Man - entry into the competition is voluntary, but the prize is so sought after, and people's living conditions are so abysmal, that they are willing to risk their lives for it. But as Cogito said, story ideas are rarely original, and are only cliche if that's the way they're written. No one can tell whether your will be unless you write it.
  14. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    OMG, I just remembered this - how could I forget??? I friggin LOVED Maid Marion and her Merry Men - why don't they make shows like that anymore? I really hope it's available on DVD... :D

    But you're right in saying that any 'steal from the rich and give to the poor' story is, in it's basic elements, a Robin Hood trope - http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JustLikeRobinHood

    There actually aren't that many examples listed on that webpage, so this might be a good theme to explore :)
  15. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Battle Royale was pretty funny :D

    I can't believe no one has mentioned The Long Walk - it was published under Stephen King's pseudonym Richard Bachman, and was apparently the first book King ever wrote. It's set in a dystopian society where every year a walking contest is run buy a sort of military despot just called 'the Major'. 100 teenaged boys enter, I think voluntarily, because the prize is whatever you want for life. The aim is basically to keep walking above 4mph - if you drop below 4mph you get a warning. Your third warning is a bullet in the head. The winner is the last one left alive, and the competition lasts as long as it takes to reduce the competitors down to one. It's kinda like an extreme version of touching the truck, I guess :D

    It's very psychological and screwed up, even for Stephen King, but it's a great read :)
  16. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Ok, since you asked for the honest feedback
    This to me is really cliched, almost lazy writing. It is a terribly "seen before" motivation. It would be almost better if she was betrayed by mother and had her boyfriend die, anything, just not this. Also, government interested, coveted all-round powers, it's all a bit "yawn".
    I think you gave a good idea, but you need to go back to the drawing board, make all these details less obvious and less predictable.

    Second thing, if they don't fight to death, how are the matches really controlling them? Usually, if people are to be oppressed, especially all-powerful magical people, they have to be threatened by death. To oppress someone badly, and the only reward for them is to work for the government, well, I can see a revolution starting quickly from there. No, the threat needs to be credible, not sugar coated.
    Good luck!
  17. VioletBlade
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    VioletBlade New Member

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    Yes, love the real feedback, truly I do! And this definitely gave me an idea to spice it up a little, somewhat of a 'secret plot' if you will! She doesn't have all-around powers, though it's true she has complete control over the element of earth, but can't do anything else with the rest. Even more so, her powers only come along every couple generations or so, and there's never been four people that have had all the elemental powers living at the same time, something that's changed with her.

    Also, a very good point. I have thought more extensively about this and have decided to interject not only a physical threat (because some do die, though not many), a mental and social oppression as well, with a creation of a town that has high poverty and is forced to live off the government if they lose the matches. For the mental problem part, I've added in a degenerative disease that is fed by competition and so the magical community needs outlets to feed this disease or it consumes them. Obviously that part needs a lot more developing, but it's a start, and might have a better chance at standing its own ground against things without immediate death, for instance.

    It is really reassuring to know that other people do draw inspirations from other places, though the similarities I still had here worry me to the point where things need to be changed! Even for a more interesting plot line! :)

    Hahaha, my Robyn IS actually a girl, named after the legendary folk tale of Robin Hood. What I meant by contemporary is it's set in present day and the 'rich' she steals from are corrupted Wall-Street like companies. She stumbles onto a grand plot/scheme that's bigger than just sucking money from regular people and obviously tries to stop it. Her 'Merry Misfits' are composed of usually orphaned or foster system kids who were being treated badly and they live as sort of a family. Her best friend is Johanna, or Little Jay, if you will, and she has a fascination with Robyn's name and her gang, even going as far as to call Mariano, one of their contacts, Maid Marion. (Though she hasn't to his face... yet)
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