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  1. sgtpepper
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    sgtpepper New Member

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    Plot help

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by sgtpepper, Jul 2, 2010.

    My idea for a novel revolves around a man confessing to a priest. The entire novel would be written as a flashback as the protagonist recalls his life and sins. I've been having trouble coming up with a reason for him to be confessing. What could he have done that has him paralyzed with guilt? I want him to be a genuinely good person, and therefore have him do somewhat of a justifiable crime. Any ideas? Thanks.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I personally don't see any point in doing the story as a flashback unless what he is confessing is central to the story.

    Obviously, this is not the case.
     
  3. sgtpepper
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    sgtpepper New Member

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    What he's confessing to is central to the story...it is the story.
    Maybe I wasn't clear: the flashback is of the protagonist doing the action that he later confesses to the priest.
    And with all due respect, I wasn't asking if you saw a point to writing it as a flashback.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Except that if you don't know what that motivation is, you don't really have a story.

    What you have is a way you wish to tell a story, and you are seeking a story to fit that manner of telling.

    You are asking other people to give you a story to tell. Do you not see how that is a problem?

    Begin with a story, and THEN decide the best way to tell it.
     
  5. sgtpepper
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    sgtpepper New Member

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    Hence the subject line: "plot help." I am asking for help brainstorming a plot. What's the problem?
    And honestly, who are you to tell someone how to write their book? Every writer has their own styles and strengths. Many authors (who have already published something worth reading) know how they'll format or compose the story before they have a specific plot. I like to start with broad themes--in this case, guilt and moral philosophy--and iron out a plot from those themes. Again, I'm not asking how I should write it, I just was curious for others' opinions on possible reasons for my character to be so guilty.
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Beginning with a particular format is fine, but you still need to come up with your own plot. Asking for reasons a man might be in a confessional is an exercise in futility--there are an almost infinite number of possible answers, and since you haven't really revealed anything about the character (besides that he's "good"), the setting or the specific angle on the themes you are concerned with, there isn't really anything to go on.

    And to be honest, I can't imagine any of the successful authors you mentioned asking random people to give them ideas for a story, especially with such little input themselves. Really, it shouldn't be hard to come up with ideas for this. You have a character, and you have a scenario where he's confessing something. So you know that there's something bad in his past. So work backwards from where you are. Who is his family? Where does he live? What does he do for a living? Start with really basic things and look for opportunities to expand out until you join A to B. Once you have a general idea of what he's hiding, why he's confessing, you might get some helpful responses.
     
  7. theSkaBoss
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    theSkaBoss Member

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    Go to the Bible if this is a Christian confession. Rape, adultery (a good one for story in my opinion,) murder, or oppression of God's people (one I'd be interested in reading) would all be suitable things to drive a person to confession.

    If your character was the confessin' type in the first place, you don't necessarily need to have something so dramatic. Theft (or a chain of such,) serious lying, things like that.
     
  8. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Any number of grave sins could come up. Murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping? Maybe he had partners who talked him into a crime where nobody was supposed to get hurt, but there'd be a payoff(robbery, kidnapping), and then somebody was killed as a result? Now he feels incredibly guilty and is rushing to confession.

    Really, it's up to you what you want. There are lots of possibilities. You might need to narrow down exactly what it is you want him guilty of, and how much of it was a result of his direct doing.
     
  9. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    The problem is that if you have several people helping you along the way, (telling you how to do the plot, characters to introduce, etc,) then they are effectively helping you write the story and if you are published then you would have to mention these people and pay them royalties.

    In your first post you mention that it is just an idea, what you need to do is take that idea and expand on it. You need to ask yourself a lot of questions about the character, why he is confessing, what has he done in the past, you may even need to create a timeline of events to help you work these all out.

    Once you have a chapter or selection written then people on this forum would be more than happy to review it and see if the story is good, the characters are good and it all makes sense. The comments that you get from an honest review will help you more then this thread can.
     
  10. sgtpepper
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    sgtpepper New Member

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    First of all, I never asked about characters to introduce, etc. I asked for reasons my character suffers from this guilt. And even if I got the idea from this forum, I would not have to pay royalties or acknowledge anyone. That's not how copyright law works...you can't patent or own the copyright to a plot idea, only individual characters and published works. I'm not asking anyone to write the logline of my novel, only help brainstorm some ideas of guilt.

    Murder seems to cliche, to be honest. I like the idea of being involved in a crime without the intent of anyone getting killed, only to have someone die. Thanks to those who helped.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No you wouldn't have to acknowledge the sources of your ideas. But neither should you be asking people to come up with your stories for you.
     
  12. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    It's not that hard to come up with an idea for a story; that is what makes a writer great - they can come up with gripping and interesting plots.
     
  13. Tyler
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    Tyler Member

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    you should make it incredibly juicy, don't mess around with the petty sins like rape and murder, make the man a heretic. maybe tell the story of his life, how he doubts God and is chaning, in the end, have him argue with the priest...and if you don't do that, in retrospect, i'd really like to :D
    good luck though
     
  14. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    maybe something really bad that goes against his faith's values completely. like a creepy cult involvement.
     
  15. rybowman
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    rybowman New Member

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    not sure how old your character is or what time period your story takes place in, but maybe he could be confessing for something he did not think was a "sin" at the time he committed it, but over time has come to realize it was wrong. For instance, maybe he was a young Nazi soldier and killed Jews because he was ordered to and believed he was serving Germany. This could definitely haunt a person. This way you could also look at the philosophical aspects of morality and wrong vs. right and maybe even get the reader to sympathize with the MC. I know the Holocaust may be overused, but just an example and just a thought.
     
  16. Encore
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    Encore Member

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    Maybe the MC witnesses a violent murder, the murderer then kidnaps the MC’s teenage stepdaughter and he must exchange his life for hers. But not having formed a bond with the girl he feels that his life is more valuable than hers. His wife, who he loves dearly, is distraught over her daughter’s disappearance, and he begins to feel guilty. He then decides to try and rescue the girl and gets captured, whilst being held captive with his stepdaughter they form the bond that was missing in their relationship. Tragically the stepdaughter is killed when they attempt to escape, and the MC gets away, although terribly upset about her death, he tells no one of the events that took place, not even his wife. Therefore confessing to the priest when he can’t live with the guilt any longer.
     
  17. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're essentially asking us to come up with ideas for the plot, but ok. Ideas are cheap.

    The MC's wife/lover/sister/daughter is about to die in childbirth, and can only be saved if the baby's head is clubbed. The MC is involved in the decision, or perhaps has to make the decision for the woman because she is unconscious. However, killing the child to save the mother would be against the MC's religion, so either way, he would feel terrible guilt.

    The MC knows that someone in prison (or on death row) is innocent. However, he can't go to the police and tell the truth without revealing the real criminal: his spouse/sibling/childhood friend. Knowing that he's letting an innocent take the fall has been nagging on him year after year.

    In his teens, the MC killed his abusive father in order to save his mother/sibling, and covered it up as an accident. It wasn't legally self-defense, but at the time, the MC felt that his father would sooner or later kill his mother/sibling, and that he had no choice. But how could he know for sure? Over time, his doubts have grown.
     
  18. evan_messy
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    evan_messy New Member

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    I like the idea that he witnesses something horrible. Something out of his control, though he still feels immense guilt because of it. Have you ever seen the machinist? A disturbing movie that deals with the effects of overwhelming guilt
     

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