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  1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Plot: Struggling to survive. Not enough?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by GuardianWynn, Nov 11, 2015.

    I had a interesting idea floating in the back of my head. Mostly my next project after my current projects get more detail in them. A project I am taking on mostly just because I think the style it will need will demand I grow. So I am looking forward to that.

    The thing is, quite a few people think the core concept is lacking in a fairly serious way. I, being one that tries to take the advise of others seriously, have been thinking deeply about this. During said discussions I found myself agreeing but now after some time has past. I am not sure why. In the sense that I am not sure how to fix it, partly because I am not entirely sure it is a problem. I guess I should give some context first.

    This idea takes place in my universe, in the history of most of my stories. A war. World War 3. Which is over a magical revolution. To sum it briefly, between those that think magic is a divine gift that should lead the world, those who think it is a bad thing and want it gone, and those that don't care, but simple want to survive the ensuing battle.

    My lead character sort of fits in the last category. Being a man that is an illegal immagrant to where he lives. He hides in the slums and does what ever work he can to keep food on the plate for himself and his wife. His wife not being an immagrant is drafted into the war. They run away, which leaves them in a worse position money wise. The main struggle of the book is that of a physical one. Working and providing enough for his wife.

    In this sense it is about a character who on paper has nothing. No magic, no money, no tech. Nothing the world values anymore but with sheer effort will latch onto life and endure on the struggles of a revolution that is simply trying to leave him behind.

    People tell me this plot is lacking. As the need being physical gives it no real sense of mystery. He will live, he will win. That is the point, how hard it was for him. The wife and him have a loving marriage. No drama there(Unless you count stuff like the wife attempting suicide so that the husband wont have to drag around her sick body anymore. As she believes he will be fine without her, in the sense that he can work hard enough to live. It is supporting her that is living both of them near starving.). No moments of them cheating or failing out of love. He has no friends to backstab. Then again, the point isn't him becoming dirty to survive. The point is him saying "I will not stop! I will not give up. I will survive!" It isn't supposed to be underhanded.


    So what exactly is this lacking? What does it need that I haven't described?

    Thanks. :D
     
  2. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    It is all in the execution. The more fantastical the story, the less the reader can identify with the theme of survival. Such things are very human and adding aliens, magic and such does not make it more so.
     
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  3. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    It could have enough or not - it all depends on the challenges you throw at him and how he overcomes them. If it's only about getting shelter and food then your plot runs thin. If he's also got to talk his way out of patrols hunting for cannon fodder etc, maybe dodge other desperate people, learn how and where to hid, to run and to fight, then you've got more to work with.

    One of the best books I ever read (until the accursed ending!) was shipwreck by Charles Logan. It's the story of a man crash landed on an alien world and trying to survive with only a shuttle. And it's riveting. Get a copy and read it - but tear out the final chapter!

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, actually the theme of magic is something I plan to downplay. Magic exists and he will fight people with it. But, it is not every chapter. The planned climax, is him killing a highly powerful magical general. Granted, he did so because he stabbed the general in the back.(Not friend. Like stealthly reach his backside.)

    This may be a tricky part. In some ways he is meant to be relatable. He is a underdog, struggling in a world leaving him behind. Over-worked, and under paid. Struggling to live.

    On the other hand. He is a master of physical combat(considered worthless by the world at large) whose love and relationship is damn near fairytale in status, or like Adam's family levels. lol. He also seems to take on way more shit than the average person without breaking. He does break down, but only for a moment before trying harder. None of these seem very retable.

    Thanks. :D To give some context.

    More like he is in the slums of a city that has become more a recharging station for second rate mercinaries in World War 3. He works for some of the successful assassins doing the farm work they don't want too. So, it isn't like struggling to find food or light a fire. More like working for barely enough food, and the struggle of people trying to steal what little he has. All this along with a wife that is sick.
     
  5. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Read your bit about him being a master of physical combat in a world of magic etc. This seems to me to be your way into the character.

    First he is relateable. He has suffering and a lack of respect - that's normal enough.

    But second I'd say go for the physical stuff and ask yourself what does this give him? Not just the ability to survive or fight. But to take pain and work through it. So he can get in a fight, play dead, then get up and surprise his enemy. He can strike from unexpected directions, confusing the uber powerful wizard. He can look down trodden and not be. And also I don't know if you're old enough to remember the show Kung Fu, but one of the things I always loved about it were the snippets of wisdom that kept comming through from his memory of his master.

    You could throw in things from the Art of War and the I Ching as advice were they will be most useful to him.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  6. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not sure what you meant by this line.

    Read your bit about him being a master of physical combat in a world of magic etc. This seems to me to be your way into the character.

    Yeah. I know the concept has things that can work well. The art of war is a good idea I will have to hold on to mainly because he moves to China. lol.

    The core question is the material really lacking for only really diving into physical challenges?

    Someone said it sort of like this. "Struggling to survive leaves no mystery. Make it where he has to backstab a friend or seems like he has to backstab a friend. Give the reader a sense of wonder about what choice he is going to make. In the end we know he is going to win from the start. He is the main character. So if the challenge is just physical there is no sense of wonder and it is just boring."
     
  7. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    I think it sounds like a great idea! However, I suggest you take advantage of the magic in your society. If you don't, it's just a dystopian/post-war story, which is fine, but if you have magic and don't use it, then it is lacking, IMO. For example, what struggles has the MC faced being physically trained rather than magical? Why has he chosen to do this? Is there a hidden downside to the magic/lack thereof? Etc.
     
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  8. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Magic is a born trait. So he can't learn magic.

    And the war in the past. He is in the war. One of the tasks he is going to have to do is become a mercanary or assassin and kill people for money.

    I do plan to use magic a bit. Just, not overwhelmingly so. Like people that pick on him having low level magic and think they are innately better than him because of it. Such as someone trying to steal his food with the logic. "Being non-magical he isn't worth feeding."

    If you mean what past training he had in physical, probably not a lot, nor was it probably especially challenging. He probably just learned the pure basics on martial arts and stealth. His physical power comes from all the work he has done to just survive. If that makes sense?

    But you don't think it needs more? The struggle to survive you think is enough?

    In a sense I already see the climax. Which I see like this. His wife is sick, and pregnat. Without medical attention she will die. War time has everyone broke. No one will see her without money. He has no money and no real way to earn that kind of money. So, he takes a assassin mission no one else can. Against a highly magical general that has been killing people with his mind making him hard to get close too. He takes the job, with nothing but a broken sword, and the desire to live. He is tired, hungry and all around in poor health himself. But he is determined to live and save his wife. So he does it. Using his stealth(no access to magic, means he has no access to magic sensing gear) he sneaks into the home of the target it and kills him.(There will be bumps but I don't know exactly what they are.)

    He then makes it home and earns his happily ever after. Well, one more fake out. In the sense I see the body guard of the bounty board trying to stealth the credit away for money. But the bounty board person defending our MC. As what the MC earned more than money was respect. He said he would survive, that he would prove his worth and faced an impossible fight. And he won. The bounty board person respects that and is mad at the body guard for even thinking about taking it away. Again this is the climax to all the things that push him to the limit. Like that bounty he eventually takes will be on the bounty board in chapter 1. He just didn't take it then. The book pushed him to his limit and at his limit he realized he would rather die trying to live than die in the gutter.
     

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