1. ABMiller86
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    ABMiller86 Member

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    Plot help

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by ABMiller86, Sep 1, 2008.

    I am working on my first novel and have been outlining and character creating everything i can, but i wanted to throw out the general idea i am going in hopes that i can get some feed back about any potential problems (ie writing myself in to a corner, bad characters, anything)

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    The story is about Jack, a man who has left who he was behind after his fiance was killed in a car jacking gone wrong. Blaming himself for her death he drives away leaving everything behind including his name. Eventually his travels bring him to a town called Hope, Texas.

    This is where the novel part will take place and involve...

    Jack has become a shadow of the man he once was; drinking all the time, secluding himself off from everyone except for certain times, and hallucinating someone he knows to be dead... his fiance.

    Most of this town believes that Jack is nothing more than a trouble making drunk with the exceptions of the elderly couple that owns that small cottage that Jack is staying at, a preacher of a church on the out skirts of town, and a waitress at the local diner.

    He spends most of his time in the town lying to the people about who he is and what he is doing there... no two people get the same story. The only person he is honest with is the the priest of the church to even though knowing his name calls him "The Preacher Man" for most of the story. Though he still uses the same alias that he has for everyone else in the town Jack tells the preacher man his story, but never seeking the council of the preacher.

    Jack is usually followed at points in the plot by the image (whether she is something spiritual or in his head will be something left to the readers interpretation) of his dead fiance, usually trying to get him out of the dark hole he has so willingly walked in and move on with his life.

    Somewhere in the story Jack starts to see beyond his own guilt and anger and starts realizing that the same people that have been kind to him have there own problems that he hasnt taken the time to notice as they had done for him.

    Jack finally starts to realize that some times you have to take a step back from your life to truly see the whole picture.

    Jack will go to the grave of his fiance for the first time since her death 365 days ago. The "ghost/hallucination" of her and him will have one final talk before Jack takes the necklace off his neck that held the ring she was going to give him on there wedding day on her tombstone, and finally say good bye.

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    I dont know tell me what you think of the general idea for the plot; i originally had a little girl in the town as well but realized early on that her role was already being filled by a more fitting character the preacher man.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    As Cog will no doubt tell you, an idea doesn't mean much. People have different ideas of what's good and what's bad. Just write to the best of your ability and see what happens.
     
  3. ABMiller86
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    ABMiller86 Member

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    i guess i should have really stated more in that, i have an out line, but not sure how to begin it. My original thought was to have him in the beginning talking to his fiance having the reader not know that she were dead. Only to have another character interrupt his hallucination, allowing the reader to see the situation the way it really is.

    My fear with doing this is that this particular beginning will be too slow for a reader and they will not get to the part where the situation is revealed.
     
  4. MightierThanTheSword
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    MightierThanTheSword Member

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    I'm no pro, so please don't take my advice as concrete rules or anything, okay? This is just my opinion on how to start and a few things to look out for as you're on your way. Like you would with any advice, take what you can from it and throw the rest in the garbage.

    Firstly, props for the idea itself. It sounds very interesting and I would love to read it. Jack sounds like he'll be great for character development, and I could see myself becoming very fond of the supporting characters, who probably have a few trials and tribulations of their own. (Don't forget to develop them too!)

    So, then:

    All beginnings need to have a hook. You want to grab the reader, and give them just enough information to make them want to know more. Avoid info-dumping - their curiosity will be satisfied and they won't stay. Avoid being too mysterious, as well - they won't care enough to do all the 'work' of figuring things out.

    In my humble opinion, an interesting way to start your story would be to show us Jack from someone else's point of view, first. Don't head-hop - this story should be told in Jack's perspective - but perhaps Jack could overhear someone talking about him, or he could be going about his daily business and receive strange looks from his fellow townspeople. Obviously, they are all curious about where Jack came from, and why, right? So involve us, your readers, in that curiosity. Make us want to know his story. (Without head-hopping, that's important. I've done this myself a couple of times and not only is it hard to clean up, it's a hard habit to break and can make the story harder to read in the long run.)

    While Jack is going about his business, he may see his fiance. This may happen in front of another townsperson, or when he's alone. Don't tell us who she is, yet, or whether or not she's real. Feed us a little, and keep us coming back for more. We don't need to learn everything about Jack and his fiance right at the start - show it to us bits and pieces at a time, perhaps in his talks with the preacher.

    The only problems I see are a few loose ends. The town in Texas is called Hope - that's a kind of big name, a name that signifies a theme, maybe. But the story isn't about hope (from what I can see). Either change the theme of the story or change the town's name - it's a loose end, kind of. (Again, this is just my opinion, I might be completely off-base here. That just kind of stuck out to me.)

    Another thing that sticks out is that his fiance did not die, she was killed. The difference is that there was a person behind this death. How does Jack feel about this person? Do they ever get caught, punished? The way I see it the story focuses on Jack and his change due to his fiance's death, and then how he deals with that death to become whole again. Since his fiance was killed, her killer would be a huge factor in that. Depending on what kind of person Jack is, he would have different ways of dealing with this.

    I'm also seeing a lack of conflict/resolution. Jack is finally able to say goodbye to his fiance in the end, yes, but why was he unable to say goodbye to her before? Was it guilt? Fear? What changed him during his stay in Texas that made him realize it was okay to let her go? Those are very important, because the focus of the story seems to be about Jack's personal change. Make sure you put a lot of effort into his character development and how he comes to his own resolution.

    And lastly, don't forget that we have to be able to empathize with Jack. I read a book recently where the main character, the one telling the story from first-person point of view, was bland and uninteresting. The rest of the cast was great, but the narrator kind of took away from that greatness. Make sure Jack is someone we can learn to love - your reader has to be able to feel what he feels, sadness, grief, anger, joy - for the resolution and the storytelling to have any impact at all. The story itself could be something that sticks in the reader's mind for a long time - if you can pull it off correctly - as the above poster said, ideas don't mean too much unless you can decently fill them out, but I think this one has a ton of potential. Just make sure you don't put anything in there that doesn't need to be there - tie up all your loose ends. Leaving stuff open to the reader's imagination is perfectly acceptable, but don't leave us hanging!

    Again, these are only opinions. I'm sorry if I was little long-winded; I don't know it all and certainly don't pretend to. Best of luck with your story, and I hope it turns out well for you.
     
  5. ABMiller86
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    ABMiller86 Member

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    Don't feel bad at all... these were all great ideas and THANK YOU for that idea on the start, cuz it was seriously rattling my brain.

    That was actually an idea i was planning to pursue, using the preacher as an outlet to get the back story across without dumping it on the reader.


    The town name of Hope was merely a working title, but yea i can see the same thing with it being read as part of the theme.


    The killing of his fiance is actually a rather important fact; the idea was that a night that they and another couple that they went out with were going to theater, when walking Emily (his fiance) realized she forgot her coat, she asked Jack for the keys to go get it, and Jack gives her the keys. The group slows down but continues walking until they hear the noise... BOOM! They rush to Emily, and in are in time to only slow down the inevitable.

    Jack will feel guilt and anger for her death, and with the man never caught it adds to Jacks fall into the dark.

    Allowing him to say good bye... well when the story starts whether it is your typical 'selfish' actions, Jack is unable to see beyond his own anger and guilt. It is through the help of this hallucination and the caring of the towns people that he is able to start seeing where he is, which in turn allows him to start changing and realizing why he is so angry. A scene that i had in mind to that really is the turning point; Jack and the hallucination are arguing about why Jack hasnt gone to see her... the scene's pivital moment will be when...
    "You know why your not going... its not that your angry at yourself for my death,"
    "What are you talking about?"
    "You're angry at me!"
    Or something like that.

    I definitely want to make sure i develop those supporting characters as they are all important to the advancement of Jacks tale, and whether or not the hallucination is real is something i really want to leave to the readers own mind.

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    WOW, sorry for my long winded reply, though you have given me alot to think about and i cant thank you enough
     
  6. ABMiller86
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    ABMiller86 Member

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    Ok, looking for some thoughts on this... what if the first chapter is told from the point of view of the dead fiance. My only hang up on this is that it will take away from some of the mystery early on in the story.

    My thoughts were having the reader not aware that the fiance is actually dead till the end of the first chapter, and then switch over to the story being told from Jacks point of view.

    Any thoughts?
     

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