1. Cerrus
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    Cerrus Senior Member

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    Plot Extenders?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Cerrus, Aug 7, 2011.

    Ello ol' chaps!

    I have a question about something I call "Plot Extenders". Perhaps there is another name for them but I call them that, but what I define a plot extender as is something put into the plot just to "extend" it. It has not much to do with the story but, to add a few pages. Now to the question. Is this good to do or bad? Here's why I'm asking:

    In my story two of my MC's are going to a small village to investigate, BUT I was thinking rather than to make them appear there at the start of the chapter, have them let's say land their plane quite far away from the village to not be noticed (There going "undercover") and while traveling on foot, come across some bandits. They fight, They Win, then they get to the village.

    So basically it has nothing to do with the story other than that it makes sense to start far away since they're going in undercover, but other than that it's just to extend the plot. If I explained this terribly (Which I probably did) please ask what I made confusing and I'll try to explain it.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's called padding. It is every bit as convincing as wadded up tissues shoved into a bra or a balled up sock in the tighty whiteys.

    It might fool some, but others will be laughing behind your back.
     
  3. Stevedunks
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    Stevedunks New Member

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    Hi there! In my opinion the plot of a story can be stretched as far as possible - as long as the events remain relevant. In your example, if the bandits were from the village and had come to defend it's secrets, this is fine. If the bandits were not from the village, seeking only bounty but had been mentioned and possibly warned about before the journey, this is fine. However if there has been absolutely no reference of bandits and no aftermath that affects the plot, the reader could see this as a pointless addition. These sort of pointless additions can make a solid plot disjointed.

    A good way to pull off an unexpected event would be to include some troublesome aftermath. For example if somebody got injured an became a hindrance to the group.

    Hope I could help!
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If the added material is relevant to the story, that's different. Random encounters are a pretty transparent padding tactic. If, on the other hand, the attacking bandits are in fact agents of the antagonist, then it is an organic part of the story, especially if they complicate matters further by getting word back to the enemy.

    It's one thing to pad a story, quite another to build up the plot network.
     
  5. Stevedunks
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    Stevedunks New Member

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    Cogito has pretty much summed it up, padding techniques are very transparent to readers and also quite unnecessary. If the story can be told in full, relevant detail in 10 pages, why make it 12?

    However, by the way you say 'plot extension', one could assume that you have holes in the plot - it is weak or lacks depth. If this is the case, adding twists, new characters or events can thicken the plot of a weak story.

    The bottom line is to keep everything relevant!
     
  6. Cerrus
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    Cerrus Senior Member

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    Thanks for the tips guys. I think that I could probably make the part in my plot "relevant" to the events in the story. I got the juices flowing again! Once again, thanks!
     
  7. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

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    Yes, i agree with all the other replies - Just pretty much it is fine (and used by myself alot) as long as it blends in or is relevant with the storyline.

    I loved the idea of landing further away to avoid suspicion (also you could make it so thats the nearest landing strip or airport as small villages most likely wouldnt have an airport?)
    Just suggesting.
    :)
     
  8. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    One of the annoying things I find about padding is that it throws the story's pace off.
    One moment the reader is galloping along at a brisk pace and suddenly he comes to a sudden halt and is kept there wishing that the story would resume.

    This can cause the reader to shut the book and put the author on his no-read list. I once read this novel written in an alternating-scene fashion. First chapter earth events, next space events. Each chapter would leave the reader eager to know what came next. But the problem was that what came next was a shift to the other scenario. That's not padding but it can have the same frustrating effect that padding has by changing the story's pace and forcing the reader to wait unnecessarily. Please note that the operative word here is "unnecessarily".

    Actually, everything that is padding isn't done with the intention to pad. Sometimes the writer genuinely feels that including certain scenes is crucial to the story line itself. The writer might justify the padding by saying it gives the character more depth. That might be true. But the question is can the character be given more depth without throwing the pace off or reducing reader interest.

    Is it indeed necessary to have the protagonist cross a desert and live in a cave for several weeks alone and then have him traverse it to get back and board a space freighter? Or can the same thing be done without that extended trip? Does his temporary isolation enhance the plot by introducing factors that will later be of use? Or is the trip to the cave simply an interlude that tones down the drama and tests the reader's patience? All these things have to be considered before we decide whether it is or isn't padding.

    BTW
    The alternating-scene method of chapter progression need not be boring if both scenes are equally interesting. But if one is relatively boring while the other carries the burden of keeping reader attention, then an attention-keeping problem is created. I wound up skipping all the earth scenarios which consisted of boring dialogue and relatively uninteresting events and reading the book's fascinating space parts instead.
     
  9. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I don't see any thing wrong with it IF it helps the story. You may use it to show the reader more about the character through the way the character reacts to the situation. It could also be used to fill in the boring parts so that the reader does not fall asleep. Just be careful not to go off on tangents. Herman Melville use to do this and it drove me nuts when reading them. I would sometimes skip over whole chapters because they have nothing to do with the main story.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bad. The added material should be relevant to the story, or it should add to the story, or, ideally, both. However, it should be one or both without looking too blatantly as if it were created to tie in neatly with the story. It's a delicate balance, but random bandits that have nothing to do with the story are, IMO, a bad thing.
     

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