1. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    Plot suggestions - brain picking time

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

    I've been writing a story on and off for the last 7 years. I have a premise and characters, but I am struggling for a plot. I'm posting this here as a hope that someone will say something that plants a seed into my mind from which it can germinate into my story.

    Genre: Fantasy with a real-world basis
    Target Audience: teenagers and adults (a "crossover" novel).

    The Characters:
    Caitlin - a teenage girl who lives with her mother in a small country town. She does not know her father, and has always been lead to believe he wa a good-for-nothing varmint who left before she was born. Once upon a time she pretended he was a prince, or a musician or some sort of hero-figure who left her and her mum not because he didn't want them, but because he lost his memory or was kidnapped. Typical teenage dreams.
    (Caitlin and Julia did have a surname, I've just currently forgotten it).

    Julia - Caitlin's mother. At the moment she's a doctor*, and is very busy at the local hospital meaning she does not spend much quality time with her daughter.

    Mephistopheles - an aye-aye. He's the Familiar of Sebastian LaRoque and has found his way into our world for some currently unspecified reason, although he is probably looking for either Caitlin or Julia.

    Sebastian LaRoque - a magician/sorcerer. He lives outside our world, in a mysterious Otherworld known as Lemuria. When he crosses into our world, he begins to age, but in Lemuria he remains ageless. About 15 years ago he met Julia whilst running an errand on Earth. He is Caitlin's father. Only, she doesn't know it yet...

    The Premise:


    Lemuria - is a ghost of our world as once it was. I have toyed with several ideas as to how it came to be - an alternative dimension in which mankind never evolved, or composed of land "stolen" from Earth back before man had fully explored it (Lemuria was the name given to the hypothetical continent that early explorers went seeking in the southern hemisphere believing it had to match the continents of the northern hemisphere. They found only islands. It also relates somewhat to Madagascar, which in itself is an island lost in time.) In any case, it is populated by animals that are lost to us now - like dodos, haast's eagle, moas, elephant birds and all manner of not-quite-prehistoric beasts. Basically, if it's vanished in the last 500 years, you may well find it here.

    Also, there is magic here.

    The Plot

    Here's where I fall down. Obviously I want Caitlin to be summoned into this world where-in she will have to save it/her father/Earth or something. But every plot I start in on writing either peters out or gets nonsensical. I need something clear and concise and not too cheesy.

    Previous plot ideas have invovled an evil usurper, a long lost twin brother (with a megalomaniac streak), Sebastian being kidnapped and her having to save him... I've even made a few stop/goes with ideas that I can no longer even remember. What ultimately ends up is that Caitlin wanders aimlessly through various environments, talks to a lot of random animals and it all comes across as very contrived. Oh, and I would like a touch of romance too... Not with an orangutan, mind.

    As for the magic thing, because Caitlin was conceived and born in Lemuria she can talk to animals, has her own Familiar and can also learn magic. She lived there until she was about three, then Julia took her back into our world and raised her with no memory of those young days (it just occurred to me that if Sebastian doesn't age in Lemuria, Caitlin shouldn't either. Hrm, methinks I need a bit explanation towards Sebastian's immortality. Something else to ponder, either that or Julia left when she realised she was pregnant and everyone and everything remains in stasis in Lemuria). Her Familiar was left behind, growing bitter and spiteful. Currently her name is Tawny and she's a fossa*.

    For those of you who have read my sample chapter in the "novel" review section - the eagle hunting Mephi is also a Familiar. It belonged to her twin brother (also an evil usurper)*. His name was Lucien. Whether or not I chose to include him in the next plot is yet to be decided. For some reason he was never taken back with his sister.

    So get your thinking caps on!
    Feel free to suggest anything - no matter how vague or outlandish. I'm not necessarily looking to copy the idea, just hoping one will spark something in my own creativity and help me think outside the box I've currently enclosed myself in.

    * subject to change if I get a better idea
     
  2. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I'm posting to remind myself to get back tomorow.

    I just have a quick impression:

    In some types of family therapy it's considered dysfunctional to flip family roles. For instance, parents should talk about each other to their children, as that puts the kid in the role of an adult spouse, thus placing too much pressure on the kid. With that kind of idea in mind, I think it might be nice if dad came to rescue her.

    Also, you mention she has powers. Maybe she's like a magnet force evil forces which are coming to get her because she carries her dad's energy signature. Perhaps said forces think its him, he gets word of it, and wishes to investigate.

    So, you could have the fun to write alternating chapter type book where one chapter is about her experiences and the next about his.
     
  3. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    This idea of mine is random, but...
    an attacking eagle cuts her, and this awakens her to lemuria.
    her father left, but is in lemuria and tracks her energy to feed his dwindling supply of magic.
    the fossa first attacks her, then pities her for leading such a lost life separated from magic, and in time the fossa helps her.
    a lot of things want to eat her for her magical blood. even her father tries to kill her.
    the sorcerer pitied the fossa because it was forlorn, so he doesn't trust the girl at 1st.
     
  4. JohnathanRS
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    JohnathanRS Member

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    Hey I looked up your thread based on your reply to help out. (Plots and Stories are my strong-point.)

    To be honest, there is no such thing as cheesy in the fantasy world. Everything has been done and portrayed in one way or another. Let’s take a look at some of the current big hottest trends for fantasy right now.

    Harry Potter: Magical world existed without Harry knowing and he gets a letter.
    Twillight: Girl meets a vampire and a werewolf and the whole plot is a love triangle?
    Chronicle Of Narnia: Kids get transported through a door to another world? (Come on)

    Just by reading the initial plot idea of how they accomplished this—it seems very stupid or what not at first glance. Yet, as you know, all of these have work wonders. It really doesn’t matter what you decide plot wise in accomplishing this; it’s all about bringing about a sense of realism while you transport people into your fantasy world. That’s all it really is. So how do you accomplish realism while doing that? It’s taking two approaches. Finding a realistic probability, (Another world unknown to us exists like Harry Potter or Chronicles of Narnia?) Or another species that exist unknown to us. (Twillight) Pretty much, when people read fantasies or see it, they want to believe in the impossible.

    As most people will tell you, there is a big fad right now for combining the live aspect of our world with a fantasy world like all of these stories are unlike traditional stuff like LOTR. For the way your chapter read to me, I believe this approach is best adapting with the current hot trend of combining our world with a fantasy one.

    Any of those ideas you listed work to be honest. It’s all about how you write the story.

    Theres like a million plot ways to do this:
    A magical item that she gets sent to her on her birthday?
    She is walking home one day and finds a man that she remembers somehow. She sees him again one day in a town and stalks him, then discovers a magical item? (Multiple different ways you could take this)
    She discovers she has powers one day by a near death accident?

    Or

    Like magical creatures (vampires for example) she has the blood of “whatever” and creatures can sense her. Evil creatures that no one else can see began coming after her, because they sense her presence and her father is forced to intervene?

    Heck, you could even take it another approach on one of your own ideas, instead of Sebastian being kidnapped, you could have her kidnapped. Either by humans or creatures and have him rescue her!
    To the point there are literally a million ideas I could tell you that would work. It seems though to me your problem is not really the joining of the characters, it is the world itself.

    Anyways, when it comes to plot ideas and coming up with stories, I am quite exceptional in this area. However, I lack in the most important part the ability to write the story and change my ideas and plots into a story itself. Where you have this, just gotta use your imagination. =} (You might want to try outlining it seems for your style it would be best)
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do not see why aging is prevented in one magical world but isn't in another. I have read it and you have your plot it is basically how to get Caitlin reunited with her familiar and save her father.

    You can use anything to get her between worlds - I have a character discover a secret door behind a mirror in his bedroom (that he has slept in for over half a century at least).

    How about instead the twin brother isn't evil but comes searching for Caitlin because their father is ill he has been cursed with the one thing that can harm or kill him. Perhaps their father has an evil/bad brother/sister/cousin/rival heir to his fortune that wants Caitlin and her brother out of the way - the only thing that can lift the curse is Caitlin and Tawny reunited.
     
  6. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    you can read "gregor the overlander" by suzanne collins; kid ends up rescuing his long lost dad in magic underground land. :) might be inspiring and it's a good read
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    FYI, "Lemuria" pops up quite a bit in fantasy writing over the years, including a fantasy series written back in the 60s that take place in "Lemuria" (the lost island, I believe). Just passing the info along. No reason whatsoever you can't use it successfully, but you should be aware that readers who have read a lot of fantasy will associate a lot with the name immediately. I thought right away of the lost island and the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Lin Carter, and the band Therion :)
     
  8. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    It's odd that you've been writing something that has no plot for so long. I'd mentioned in thread previously that I write 'gestationally' and that is to say that nothing comes out until I have a reason for the writing to exist...Specifically, a plot. You can have everything else to hang your hat on but no plot means no story.

    You've developed everything but...

    What you may have done is created something you thought was cool such as a concept and characters but now that they exist you don't want to let go of them, you are cornered as to what you can do with a story because they must now fit in to the world you created.

    Story first, then setting and characters and all that.

    What makes for an compelling issue or event that need to be resolved? Point A is the reason the story exists and point B is the point in which it is resolved. Get point A and then point B then start hanging your characters around the story.
     
  9. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    Oh I've had plots - they just haven't quite worked when I've written them out. So I want to try on a new one to see if it fits better.
     
  10. J_Jammer
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    J_Jammer Banned

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    I suggest you use Native Americans. Some ( I really don't know too much) believe in Spirit Animals. Her father disappears onto the stolen island where spirit animals are held captive. Means you can change the island name to something more Native sounding....more unique...apparently the name you chosen is used a lot. Or keep it. I don't know why you picked it...might have more meaning than you shared.

    Plus you can give you the I don't believe thing that made her rude to her father's instance on it being true.

    Traveling between worlds because of an heirloom she was given. Something that has no meaning to her and she stumbles upon it after her father was taken.

    You can use this idea. Don't care. I will never use it.
     
  11. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    I have no doubt that you've had plots. I think my point is that by having everything so well developed other than the plot, you strangle yourself with trying to fit the world and characters you've created in to a plot.
     
  12. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    Yh, you're right, but they're relatively fluid characters and premise. Maybe I should jsut let it go as a failed idea.
     
  13. Knave
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    Knave New Member

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    I don't think you necessarily have to call it a failed idea, but there's no reason you can't put those characters aside for a while into sort of a "character vault". Then if you try creating a plot for a different story, you might find that one or two characters that you've already got stored away would fit with a little tweaking.

    You may not like the idea of splitting up your characters right now, but once you find a plot that one of them fits into, you probably won't mind so much. It doesn't even have to be an actual developed character either. Sometimes just keeping the character concept can work, too, like a girl who doesn't know who her father is.
     
  14. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I still vote for just writing. I keep a blog with my main character. I never outline and start with just characters and for a good portion of the story have no idea where it is going. If I had known my current story before I hit 50K I wouldn't have written it - the thought of it during the rewrite is hurting me seriously lol
     
  15. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I kind of agree with Elgaisma about this. You have characters and a basic setup, so just start writing scenes involving those characters and their world. The scenes don't have to be in any order, and they don't have to even be part of your final story. But they will help you understand your characters and their situations better, and I bet a plot will start coming to you as you write.

    Right now, you are trying to impose a plot on your characters. Don't do that. Just start writing about them, and they will reveal to you their own plot.

    This works. I've done it many times - I hardly ever have a plot already in mind when I start writing a story.
     

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