1. Noya Desherbanté
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    Noya Desherbanté Senior Member

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    Plot generators - cheating or essential??

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Noya Desherbanté, Dec 29, 2010.

    I'm stuck with my plot at the moment, and I feel like a great big cheat.

    Generators are a particular little enthusiasm of mine - if you haven't come across one before, visit the Seventh Sanctum. They basically generate random sentences and scenarios to help boost your writing. They can range from simple igniting phrases... or they can concoct a complete plotline for you.

    In your opinion, is this 'cheating'? I find I'm relying on them quite a bit to find out where to go next in my story, and I don't really like it. Story should come from the characters, or so I've been told... it's like my characters are fully formed, but they're standing there saying, 'well, come on! What do we do next?'

    Does anyone have their own favourite generator, or a way they've devised to come up with their next plot point?
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think there is any 'cheating' in writing, unless you take another's work as your own.

    The best and most effective plot generator for me is my imagination. Sometimes it is spurred on by events or things I encounter as I go through life. So, while a generator of plots may not be handy for me...for others, why not.
     
  3. shezrie
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    shezrie New Member

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    I had never seen one of those generators before, but rather liked it.

    I don't see why it would be considered cheating. I just checked it out and it got the creative juices flowing. From the inspiration there I could form and expand on my own ideas. Good for writers block I would think.
     
  4. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    It looks like a good exercise at best, but I don't see it really helping much. If it helps, I hardly consider it cheating. But it doesn't seem to me to be all that useful.
     
  5. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the generator gives you a whole plot then I think I would consider it kind of cheating.
    But if it's just a random line then that's fine because you're just using it so you can spark off an idea of your own.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I can't really see it as cheating no matter how you use it. But essential? No.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think, if your characters are just standing there wondering what to do next, then you're writing about the wrong characters. Plot is what happens when a character wants something, and so is motivated to change his circumstances somehow. If your characters don't want to do that, they're automatically dull characters.

    If they're NOT dull characters and you STILL don't know what they'd do, then they aren't fully formed, and you don't understand them well enough.

    I don't mean to sound harsh, but as a writer, you should be able to put yourself in your character's shoes and say "What would this character do in this situation?" and come up with the answer.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't use plot generators but have had other moments of inspiration when my characters have been meandering or standing there staring at me and used ideas from other places.

    When I needed a character to observe something the birds came from a combination of He-Man and St Kilda documentary. Torchwood gave me the idea about how to pull two threads of a story together. I got the phrase winking out from My Little Ponies (may need to change - now I know where it came from lol) . Inspiration comes from many places and if a plot generator does it for you use it.
     
  9. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    It's not cheating but I think it's weird.

    I can understand if you make your living writing and need a boost to get you started. I can also see it as an interesting writing challenge, like you go to a bar and ask a random person what they would write a book about, then you go an do it. Beyond that, I would think that at the amateur level passion to write a story that's important to you would be the driving force.

    I'd stay away from allowing some program to tell me what to do. If that's the seed, what kind of plant could it produce?
     
  10. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    In my personal opinion, which is by no means final, I wouldn't like to use a generator more than once, or maybe twice per novel. For inspiration they're fine, but for anything more than that they start to create the plot for you.

    I don't use plot generators; I'd feel as if my work wasn't entirely mine.
     
  11. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not cheating. Inessential. Cheap and lazy. Will addle your mind. You can do way better than that. I spent some of the afternoon trawling through the Irish census of 1911. (Truth be told, I also looked at the 1901 census, but not knowing the plural of census - or rather thinking I know the plural, but not being wholly certain and not wishing to risk appearing both wrong and fastidiously erudite at the same time - I'll settle for saying I looked only at the 1911 census). If you want inspiration and plots, it is all there.
     
  12. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    "...Plot generators - cheating or essential??..."

    IMHO, neither.

    Whatever works to tickle your muse into actually putting one word in front of another is a blessing. If that happens to be a "plot generator", then go for it.

    -Frank
     
  13. Darkstar
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    Darkstar Member

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    If you are stuck with part of your plot and the generator generates a few ideas, and you take those ideas and I'm assuming they will be tweaked and changed as you piece your story together, and you do all that work to create a story, I don't consider it cheating.
     
  14. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    I find the ideas generated silly at best, due to the randomness. So essential, no. I only use SeventhSanctum if I'm REALLY stuck on a name for a town or city. Even then I usually don't end up using it.
     
  15. TricksterDizzy
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    TricksterDizzy Member

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    Going back to what someone else said: If the characters aren't letting you know what is going to happen next, then you need to spend some more time with them. Characters define plot, not the other way around.

    One of the things I do when I am stuck is I do little things to get to know my characters better. The plot will come from that. I will plug in some songs (NOT BALLADS, ballads are a plot! Avoid!) that remind me of a character, go one a loooong walk, and bob my head to the music while picturing random images and scenes to go along with the music with the characters doing things.

    about 5% of this is actually used, but that 5% acts as a great starting point, and the other 95% helps you know your character better which aids in setting up plot.

    Then again, when I write I tend to throw notes and outlines out the window. Did that after I wrote 55k words of a novel that stuck to a outline, realized by the character screaming at me that they were significantly different then what I was forcing them to be, and ended up throwing out that 55k word draft and starting all over again. From scratch.

    Generators just give mini outlines, so I try to avoid them like the plague. I can see how they would be useful though, but I would be worried if you are actually sticking to the plot they gave you!
     
  16. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    My favorite plot generator is my mind. I have enough ideas to spend my entire life writing everyday. I can be inspired by the slightest things.

    I would not consider any generators cheating, however. It is merely another tool to get the ideas flowing.
     
  17. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

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    i wouldnt call it cheating, but its an ok way if u r a bit bored or stuck for ideas. wouldnt totally recommend it tho, :)
     
  18. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your brain is a giant organic plot generator, so unless you consider that cheating...:D
     
  19. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    ok I've decided this seems like a fun idea going to write story with one. I used genre-less story and got this:

    Your Main Character is a(n): male

    Your MC's main character trait is their: zeal.

    The Main Symbol in the story is a(n): sheep.

    Theme point is: Gluttony.

    Your story will start at/on/in: a Window.

    Will try right a short story about it hmmm ... is it just me or does this lend itself to horror ?
     
  20. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see it as a parody.

    Little Bob Peep ate his sheep...:D

    If you can write it as horror, go for it.
     
  21. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I was thinking the same thing as I read the OP. You may used it to fuel that initial spark, but not to run the "engine" of the whole novel. Something is wrong if you start using the plot generator every time your characters turn a corner. While you may have a finish draft in the end, it's very likely that what you have written is not "a story", because "a story" is much more than characters performing actions to drive a plot. Every word, sentence, action, sub-plot, plot, setting, description (in short, all the elements of fiction writing) in a story is there for a reason. All these elements and how you use them gives your story a unique Voice, and to you, the writer, it gives a 'writing voice'. These voices that you find in your stories is what will ultimately be known as YOUR WRITINGS/YOUR WORK should you succeed as a writer. So, in my opinion, it's not about cheating or not-- the real question is: when so much is at stake, will you allow some randomly generated plots to dictate you work?
     
  22. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    No idea where it is going lol right now I have a vicar who is third son of an Earl, he has upset the Archbishop, does not like his job. Now he is upsetting his parishoners with his preaching against poaching. It is set sometime in the late 1700s as he is scandalised by the low cut dresses and one lady is wearing a lunardi bonnet. There is a witch and there is a potential love interest. So right now it is historical - could be a horror or a romance. I have also introduced the dead sheep no gluttony yet but have the window at the beginning :)

    Might be fun to try a thread with one and see how many different stories the one generation could come up with :)

    EDIT finished it lol Might try another it was hard work, using my imagination a story of a 1000-2000 words takes about half an hour. This took over an hour for just under 1000 words. So no don't think it is cheating :)
     
  23. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you use a generator for your characters? That could explain why they have no will of their own. You need to *feel* who your characters are for them to spring into life.
     
  24. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think it's cheating. I've never used one before I clicked the link in the OP, but my impression is that it requires quite a bit of writing skill and imagination to turn the blurbs is spits out into anything useful. An example one I got:

    Well...I'd still feel pressed to make this a really great story!
     
  25. UberNoodle
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    UberNoodle Senior Member

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    I find that myths are great for plot ideas. You don't have to stick with them. They can present interesting themes and ideas to play with.
     

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