1. Sketchy Nelson
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    Sketchy Nelson New Member

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    Plot Dilemma

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Sketchy Nelson, Feb 1, 2015.

    Aloha Bookworms.

    So, I'm taking up the challenge of writing a book - and I have a foundation idea, but keep stumbling on the same problem in the plot.

    Here's a brief summary of my book:
    • Book type: Love/ghost/adventure story
    • World: Set in Yorkshire, England
    • Characters: Mischievous youth
    • Main plot: Boy meets girl. They fall in love during their daily shenanigans and the girl dies - but she sticks around as a ghost.
    And this is where I meet a plot block. I need a purpose for the girl to stick around as a ghost. The idea is for her to stay with her companion, and he thinks he's going crazy... but I need some kind of ideas for her need to stay and a climax.

    Any help/advice you can offer would be a great help.

    Regards, Sketchy. :)
     
  2. Some_Bloke
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    Some_Bloke Active Member

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    In the majority of stories ghosts stick around as they have unfinished business. The girl's unfinished business would obviously relate to the boy due to their love.

    Maybe she wants to protect him or something? Or her love is what's keeping her from moving on?
     
  3. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    You make writing a book sound like the ice bucket challenge, as if it's something you've undertaken for a bet, or to prove your manhood or something, and you're setting about it as if its an essay.

    The first thing you need is a story to tell. What you've got here is some plot parameters.
     
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  4. RachHP
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    RachHP Contributing Member

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    I agree with @Shadowfax but, with the hope you're just trying not to over-reveal your plot, I'll answer regardless

    Maybe she hangs around because she died for him (ie he was destined to be killed by whatever killed her) and by haunting him she realigns the cosmic balance by driving him mad/making him kill himself/distracting him so he falls down a well and dies.

    Alternatively, she stays because young love is sickeningly cloying and through spending more time with him they soon learn that their relationship would never have worked because they're fundamentally incompatible and so the dude move's on, marries someone else and she kills off his partner in revenge, or finds peace knowing they would never work and then moves on during his wedding ceremony/something else cheesy.

    x
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    it honestly sounds like you just want us to do the hard work for you. Sorry, not gonna happen.
     
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  6. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    I dont think you have a plot issue. You've got a theme issue. What's the point of the story?
     
  7. Poziga
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    Poziga Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with @Mckk , you need to develop your own plot. I doubt Tolkien, Martin, Dickens, Hemingway etc. asked their acquaintances to help them with the plot or story.
    You can ask us if the story/plot sounds ok, if we think there's something missing or if there's something strange to it. But creating the plot and story - that's your job. :)
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi @Sketchy Nelson, welcome to the forum.

    Stories that are only about plot typically lack depth and have little chance of being interesting.

    I recommend Lisa Cron's Wired for Story to give you an idea how depth of character, their inner and outer goals, drives the plot.

    What is the story you want to tell? You'll find the answer to the questions you ask. If I suggested she stays around to solve her murder (common ghost trope), you could write that story and it would probably be boring because there would be no story there about these characters that you were telling the reader.

    You need the story first, the plot will follow.
     
  9. Sketchy Nelson
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    Sketchy Nelson New Member

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    Hi guys/girls/bookworms - thanks for all the feedback. You've all helped.

    @Shadowfax - This is a kind of Ice Bucket Challenge for me. I didn't get a good education, so writing a book is just like sticking my face into headache inducing, ice cold water - but I will prove, to myself and maybe other people that even without an education, having a passion for something will help you to achieve.

    @Mckk @Poziga - I don't expect anyone to do the work for me and I would never compare myself to Tolkien, Martin, Dickens or Hemingway and I understand your point. I asked for help in the wrong way.
    What I should have asked is "How do you build a climax in a story?" - rather than asking to be given a climax.
    I'm not the brightest bulb in the box and there's no shame in asking other bulbs for a little light - but I do apologise for asking in the wrong way.

    @Some_Bloke @Dunning Kruger @GingerCoffee and those tagged above:
    Thanks for the advice/tough love and questions.
    I didn't know what the point of the story was before, but being asked made me think about it - and now I know.
    It gave me a fresh idea for the purpose of the ghost character too.

    I hope you don't feel like I was trying to take advantage of the forum/users.
    I truly want the story to be my own - I'm just not too smart when it comes to writing or asking the right questions.

    Thanks guys :)
     
  10. domenic.p
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    domenic.p Banned

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    A good way to start a story is ask the question; "What if?"
     
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  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Sketchy Nelson - thanks for the clarification, and in my opinion, by asking questions, you're showing yourself to be already smarter than a lot of people. You can't learn if you never ask, so I wouldn't feel shame in asking questions, even silly questions. Hey, I once asked my friend what on earth K2 was :D and thanks to that (and feeling a little embarrassed that I didn't know), I now know it's the second tallest mountain in the world! And once upon a time, I thought Prague was a country... (I live there now, so now I know it's not hahaha)

    As for how to build a climax, hmmm, that's a very broad question. What a climax is is essentially that the stakes (what your character has to lose) builds up in intensity and there comes a point when your character can basically have it all or lose it all. Think of Harry Potter - the final climax was the fight was Lord Vordemort, because losing or winning that fight decides everything. Or the romance Fault in Our Stars, the climax was probably when it was found out that one of the love interests (I won't give away who) finds out that the cancer has come back and this time, it's terminal.

    What you may want to know specifically might be "How to structure a story" - because it's knowing how to build things up, make the readers invested in the characters and their cause, and knowing what's at stake that allows for a climax at all.

    Think of it this way. What if I told you: Jim's gonna lose his children.

    Okay, why should it matter that Jim's gonna lose his kids?

    Jim's a father of two little girls, aged 3 and 6. Jim's single-handedly raised them since his wife left him.

    Ah, now you're thinking: he probably cares for his children and is probably a good father, considering his dedication. You start to care more.

    Now what if I told you, the mother's an abusive alcoholic and she wants the children back.

    Now you're thinking: being forced back into the care of an abusive mother - especially with the knowledge that the father's perfectly loving and good - is terrible. There's now an active force that could do the children harm and so the threat becomes more concrete. What on earth can Jim do? The mother's busy building a case that Jim's an unfit father and that she's clean of alcohol, fooling the courts even though it's not true.

    Jim doesn't show for court - think up a good, interesting reason for this - and the authorities are getting suspicious and the case for the mother is getting stronger. Custody is given to the mother finally and Jim doesn't hand over the kids. He runs away with them - it's now treated as a kidnapping. This is probably the mid-point climax before the final one. You see, Jim's situation is only getting worse and worse.

    And then the final climax: Jim is arrested and the kids returned to the mother. You've been running away with the father and children trio all the way through the book hoping he'd find a way out, find a way to protect his kids and keep them. But now everything's gone wrong. Everything that was at stake - Jim's happiness, the children's happiness and wellbeing, the entire fight for the kids - is lost.

    But Jim has a trusted friend who's a lawyer (obviously, this will have to be weaved into the story throughout, rather than just inserted at the end - likely he would be mentioned at the beginning of the book, and may have come in slightly after the midpoint) and the lawyer comes to Jim's aid. The tables turn, the mother's found out for all the lies she's told, and evidence the mother put together against Jim turns out to have been fabricated and/or presented out of context. The custodial order is overturned, and Jim gets sole custody. The story has resolved itself, the threat neutralised, so the story's finished. (assuming you want a happy ending)

    So, in essence:

    1. Introduce the characters
    2. Show us what they're like, show us they're human. Make us care about them by including elements that people can generally relate to. Example: kid fails his exam and is in tears because he's terrified of what his parents will say. We can all relate to that. Another example: a single mother who's stressed and exhausted from looking after her three children and the bills need to be paid - most of us, even without being a parent, can relate to this.
    3. Introduce the goal - what does your character want? What task does your character need to do, whether they chose it willingly or not? What does your character gain by accomplishing this? More importantly, what will your character lose if they don't make it? Here you also introduce the stakes.
    4. What or who is preventing your character from achieving their goal? What is this antagonist's goal?
    5. What does your character do to overcome the obstacles?
    6. What does your antag do to oppose your character?
    7. What happens that completely turns the tables and makes the situation way worse than before? This is usually something unexpected. For example, the hero thinks if he gets this drug, his wife would be cured, and so he does and gives her the drug but instead of curing her, something even worse happens instead - probably worse than simply dying.
    8. Again, what does your character and your antag do?
    9. Final climax where it's make or break - either your character will lose everything or gain everything. Story resolution here. Think the Harry Potter battling Vordemort example. Without Vordemort, there's no more threat, thus story's over.

    All right I've rambled on and on and I don't even know if my advice is any good. Part of me wants to delete it cus I'm convinced it's bad hahahaha. But ah well, I'll post it anyway just in case it helps :D
     
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  12. Sketchy Nelson
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    Sketchy Nelson New Member

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    @Mckk - This is amazing help! It's exactly the kind of thing that I need.
    These are the kind of questions that I struggle to think of. In my head I think I focus too much on the visuals of a story, rather than the action, or the grit that makes the story.

    I should be building a story instead of focusing on one particular element and expecting the rest to follow.

    You're a genius. :D
     
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  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    No probs, happy to help :D

    Another thing you could do - read a lot, and find some books you love. Then reread the ones you loved and analyse them, break them down and work out how it engaged you, how it's structured etc. You can learn a lot from reading good novels, starting with the ones that meant the most to you :)
     
  14. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    I also suggest you read a book or two on writing. An easy one is "Techniques for the Selling Writer" by Dwight Swain. It lays out a number of basic concepts about plot, conflict, character development etc. Its an easy read and nice primer for a novice writer. I read it after seeing someone else on this forum recommend it. There are other ones as well that I am now forgetting. But just pick one and review it. It will help with some of the basic questions so that you can focus your questions on execution rather than understanding the general concepts.
     

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