1. abenito206
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    abenito206 New Member

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    Plot Synthesis Help

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by abenito206, Jan 10, 2015.

    Hello everyone. I just signed up today because I suddenly got a spur of the moment idea to write a book. Again. Granted, I only made it about 15 pages in the first book I tried writing and the longest thing I've ever written was about 60-ish pages, I want to try an be a little more careful with this one since I like the plot much more than my past attempts.

    So basically, it takes place in the near future (or potentially an alternate reality, I don't know yet.) where the concept of Virtual Reality was explored in great detail and a solution was eventually created. In it's current state, the technology is only used for video games and is in the form of ingestible Rx pills/capsules that essentially act as hallucinogens for a fully immerse experience. The pills themselves are not illegal since there is no laws against them as they are fairly new and the government has managed to turn a profit with them by taxing them with each purchase. Just like a drug, those under the effects of the VR pills envision their gaming environment and play it, though to others they simply look dopey, pitiful and completely out of it, some people who play the horror games even freaking out in hysterics.

    As it progresses, I'd plan a new Rx pill experiment announced that would introduce a "multiplayer" experience by allowing individuals to 'enter' the minds of others to play together. The MC would sign up for this despite the warnings of those around her and eventually issues with the trials ensue. Whenever death occurs while under the effects of the drug (while normally a normal occurrence), the conscience of the departed are etched into the mind of the "host" individual. (Example: If John, Tim and Ryan all took the Rx pills and both Tim and Ryan went into John's mind. Tim kills Ryan as part of the game, Ryan's conscience would be absorbed by John since they are inside of his mind.) Which would slowly but surely lead to Dissociative Identity Disorder (Also known as Multiple Personality Disorder) and then lead unto a whole new internal psychological struggle.

    As you can probably tell, this is meant to be a relatively dark, distopian like setting (with a tinge of A Brave New World...three cheers for Soma!). While this is the essential summary of my plot, I feel it can be tweaked some. For one, I don't exactly have a notable antagonist to work in -- at least, not a sentient one. You could take the pills to be the antagonist or maybe the people under it's effects though. I also feel as though it may be a bit too complex (or it could just be me). By complex I mean, I would have so much to work with I wouldn't know what to work with and if I were to pick, I'd be picking all the wrong things. And there's also the issue of motivation seeing as the most I've written was almost 30,000 words and those were in many sessions. I would hate to just drop this mid way. Anybody have any good ideas of tackling this?
     
  2. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    I have no advice for staying motivated, but the premise sounds fascinating!

    The antagonist doesn't have to be a person, as you said. I like novels in which the antagonist is within the MC himself or something more abstract, so I don't see that as a problem.

    As for the complexity, I think that could be tackled by keeping everything focused on the MC. Maybe the pills aren't a common widespread thing. If everyone was hallucinating left and right, the world would be a mess with people constantly killing each other by accident or on purpose. Maybe the MC and a small group were selected for a trial, and it's not legal. They don't know what they're getting into, but they start having a harder time separating reality from the game, and suddenly things go horribly wrong when the MC realizes he's killed his friends, and then he thinks he's going crazy when they're inside his head... Things can just start spiraling out of control for the MC. If it were happening all over to everyone, it would not only be more complex to write but also less intense because the multiple personality disorder would become common and not have the same effect on the MC. It seems more intense if the world is going on normally around him, but he's sinking deeper into psychological Hell with no one who understands what's going on.

    Of course that's just my opinion and may be completely off from what you envision. Even if it is happening to society as a whole, you can still keep the focus on the MC and whatever directly affects him to avoid going astray.
     
  3. abenito206
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    abenito206 New Member

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    Valuable input. And thank you for being the only one so far to respond. Don't know why but it seems that my thread isn't very popular in the way of replies. Can't imagine why. :unsure:

    That aside, you and I are essentially on the same page. aside from the pills not being wide spread. Though you raise a valid point about it devaluing the concept by making it a common occurrence and I just may take that advise. As for the new pill trials, I was already planning to make it almost exactly how you described before hand. However, I'd like to note that this "DID" effect would not take place for all those under the effect of the normal pills, but only under the experimental ones for the trials and there'd only be a small pool in the treatment group-- probably like 80 or so -- versus the control group. Of course, that was my vision for the disorder, but again, you are right in having it as a common occurrence making the effect devalued. That was why I was thinking that the Dissociative Identity Disorder should maybe kick in as phases? (ie; Phase 1 = 1-5 deaths inside mind = paranoia + 1 personality vaguely present. Phase 2 = 6-10 deaths inside mind = bipolar symptoms + 1-2 personalities mildly present. Phase 3 = 11-15 deaths inside mind = dementia + 3-5 personalities prominent. etc).

    Also, I was thinking of the 'antagonist' actually just being the MC himself as you had said, though my father had mentioned that maybe putting a twist on the story wouldn't be a bad idea. For instance, the pills being part of a larger picture and meant to be a means to an end of some vague and mysterious person(s). I'm still dubious about that though.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    From my personal experience, I have advice. Stop planing and start writing. Write out the parts you know, put place holders and an outline or notes about what you want in the places you don't know and turn your planning into a very rough draft. Stories evolve better in a draft where you are imagining the story than they work in an outline or plan where you are trying to craft an underdeveloped idea.

    For example, say two characters are talking to each other. In your plan you say X will happen. But as you write it you realize the character would not say that. So you reimagine the scene, change the dialogue and adjust the story line.

    Voilá, you've made progress.
     
  5. domenic.p
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    domenic.p Banned

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    Writing a book is like making a movie. First you need a story. Not just an idea for a story, a well written story. You need the right actors for each part. You have to know what the story is about, and how it will end.
    If I asked you to build a high rise building, a bridge, or a ship...you would first need a complete set of plans. Like a movie...writing a book must be planned out. characters must be crafted. First layout the story with 3 words: Beginning, middle, end. Think the whole story out. make notes. Make a full file on each character. Writing is fun when the writer has a clear picture where the story is going at all times...writers block means, "The writer is trying to make it up as he/she goes along."
     
  6. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    While it's nice to see you back domenic, I could not disagree with you more strongly. I'm glad that your system works for you, but a rigidly defined plan is the surest way to shut my process down, and I'm not the only one who prefers to write on the fly.
     
  7. domenic.p
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    domenic.p Banned

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    Thank you for the welcome back jack. Yes many write on the fly...even some big name writers. The big name guys always know what their story is about before they fly. Looking forward to reading you full book.
     
  8. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Sure! It's in rewrites at the moment, and that's happening as I go to school, but I can send you a (very) unfinished copy if you want.
     
  9. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    I'd say, if you're unsure about certain decisions, just consider the impact different decisions will have on the story. Like the antagonist, for example--having the MC's struggle be the "antagonist" might have a different effect, different plot, different goal, different outcome, etc than if the antagonist is a person or group trying to accomplish something. Play around in your mind with the different ideas or paths you can take and see where they lead, if they make the story better.
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's not an original concept, but definitely a very cool concept that I know I'd read if you wrote the book :)

    Motivation - I'm afraid that's mostly discipline. You either want to write this book or not, and if you don't write it, no one else will and no one will ever read your story. That's be a right shame since your concept sounds awesome. Some people like to set a fixed time everyday for writing, assuming your lifestyle allows it. Others may write in a notebook or on their phone during their commute to and from work, cramming in 5-10min here and there for their creative project. Personally, when I first started writing, I simply told myself: I will write this book.

    That simple little sentence has since etched itself into my brain and my very first novel is still the one book I can't let go off, because in my head I'm still saying, I will finish this. In the end, it's a choice, really.

    As for your plot - well, what do you want to tell with it? I'm not entirely sure you need a human antagonist. The "antag" could easily be whatever's stopping them from leaving the game, or a particular character's personal struggle to get his sanity back, or simply that the MC is warning people not to go for this multi-player version of VR but no one's listening. Anything that works against the MC's goal is basically an antagonistic power. It doesn't have to be human. However, it should be equally easy to create a human antag - someone must be earning bucketloads of cash from this, and whoever this is will want to keep the issues of the pill under wraps, maybe continue to distribute it in the black market even once it's been banned. How can they be stopped? This could potentially turn into a sci-fi mystery thriller - that would be totally awesome btw.

    I do have one question about your current concept though - if, for example, John has absorbed Ryan's conscience when Ryan died in the game - is Ryan still alive in real life? If yes, is his mind fully functional? Is there any memory loss from the game?
     
  11. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the plot is very intriguing! I like the suggestion of your MC having someone in their head, especially is said dead person is aware they are dead and stuck in someone's brain. I think it'd be fun to picture a guy on the street fighting with himself like in Fight Club. lol

    I only have one question. What's your end game? Do you just want the VR to go wrong and show how the world responds? Do you want the MC to try to convince people not to use the VR pills anymore? Or do you want to MC to try to shut down the people who created the pills? I think knowing where you're going will help you with your motivation. You'll look forward to writing the ending.

    As for the process, don't worry about how other people do it too much. Many people, including Stephen King, freewrite, and it works great for them. Other people, like J.K. Rowling, outline, and it works great for them too. No process is more correct than another. Don't try to force yourself to do something that doesn't feel natural.

    I'd say, if your asking for help with the plot, you want to plan. So freewriting probably isn't your thing. So try to get a few things laid out, then see if you feel ready to write. Pick your major events and the ending. If you need more, add more. Add as much as you feel comfortable. Plan every single scene in every chapter if you want. Just do something. Keep your brain on it (even if you never out pencil to paper) every day.

    And remember: writing the first draft is you telling the story to yourself. Don't worry about it being perfect or having the sentence structure correct. It doesn't need to be flashy or exciting. The first draft could be as simple as the bare bones of the story. You can add emotion and detail later. But you can't edit a blank page.


    Good luck!
     
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  12. abenito206
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    abenito206 New Member

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    Well, there's always the option of having 'sub-antagonists' I suppose. The main one being the MC's plight and/or mental distress with the problems of DID as they arise. The lesser ones being individuals and/or groups. But yeah, you are right; it may very well turn into a sci-fi thriller.

    As for your second question, I honestly hadn't really considered that or given it must thought, to be honest. I'd assume Ryan's physical self would die in real life, though his psyche would be preserved in order to create a lasting effect even if those who took the trials actually managed to get out. In a sense, making an 'everyone loses' kind of atmosphere, ya dig?

    Thank you for the thoughts.

    Contrary to what it may seem, I excel at free writing, actually. Everything I have ever written has always been free writing and I've been told I'm pretty good at it. Though, again, I feel as though once I free write to a certain extent, I just loose the initial purpose of the entire writing and just end up stopping because I feel like the quality is plummeting and it becomes stupid. So I thought that this time around I'd try something different and plan it out a bit more so I have an idea of what I should be getting at and having something to look forward to reaching, so to speak.

    As for my end game, it's honestly something I'm wondering myself. Part of the reason why I made this thread. I am and have always been a fan of literature that offers gritty, realistic, and overall blunt archs. Meaning that not everything always has a happy ending or works in favor of the MC and/or his/her companions. I want to capture that. I was thinking the end goal being something along the lines of the MC coming to appreciate reality more? Maybe the gradual spiraling out of control of pill usage/production? I'm not all that sure myself what I want as a resolution.
     
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @abenito206 - if Ryan's physical self dies, then the police/government etc would shut it down pretty fast (the multiplayer VR that is). The idea that the physical self dies but the conscience is somehow alive in another person's mind is really very interesting, I must say. Is Ryan's conscience independent inside John's mind? eg. is Ryan still a separate entity, with his own thoughts, personality, desires, life goals etc? Is he aware he's actually dead and no longer in the VR and he's never gonna wake up? What happens when he does find out he's never gonna wake up? Truth be told, that could easily be a novel all by itself. Imagine, if it's your MC who's been absorbed... I mean, seriously - WHOA! Imagine that as a kinda mid-book twist. Ahhh I'd SO read that.

    Or is it that Ryan's conscience is absorbed so it means Ryan's mind is also dead, but that John has simply absorbed some of Ryan's personality? The second option would be easier to write - but I must say, I'd be oh so fascinated if you wrote the first idea instead... The first sounds way better than this second one. You have an awesome concept so don't settle for easy story solutions/premises.

    I haven't read this book yet, so I don't actually know if it's relevant to you - but have you heard of the book Locked In by John Scalzi?

    Here's the book description from Amazon:

    It sounds a little like what you might be trying to achieve. Like I said, I haven't actually read it, but I've heard Scalzi is supposed to be pretty good at this sci-fi stuff.

    Btw, regarding planning - I am beginning to think there're some books that need to be planned and others not so much. I'm not sure I personally fall neatly into either a planner or panster really. My mind can't wrap around such a large project and plan everything, but at the same time I need things to make sense and I need to know where it's going. Maybe what you need to do is to plan out these details re the absorbed consciences - because it needs to make sense for the whole plot to work, so it's not something you can just make it up as you go, I feel. And for the rest of it, have a few milestones so you know where you're going, and the rest of it, freewrite :) That's what I'm doing for my crruent novel. (no clue if said method would work yet. Time will tell!)
     
  14. abenito206
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    abenito206 New Member

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    The first option is actually what I had in mind. Though, seeing as the trials are taking place via a private/underground (not literally underground) experiment that would be unknown to the government as the trials wouldn't exactly be on the ethical side, even if Ryan's physical self died, I wouldn't reckon the police/government would have much to go on unless some whistle-blowing went on. But that plight you mentioned in the first example you gave:

    That was pretty much exactly what I had in mind for the DID. Ryan would still be his own conscious and sentient entity inside John and would have his own tribulations which would in turn have negative or positive effects on John. In a sense, depending on the people who are the hosts and/or victims, it can be either a symbiotic or parasitic relationship. That, of course, would just be on a basic level of only having one person in John's mind. But imagine if, for example, Ryan, Susan, Herald and Peter all died inside of John's mind? It would be a swampy mess that would inevitably lead to the destruction of one, or two, or all of them. I think there is a lot of potential, personally. But like I said, I'd like to work out some milestones to work for in the writing.

    As for the planning, that is what I am trying to work towards. Usually, I would try to take on writings completely improvising as I went along. That worked for about 20 or so pages before I couldn't anymore. Thus, I felt the need to try and plan out a little more before anything else.
     
  15. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe I'm too interested in action novels... But I think making a "bad guy" would make your story more interesting. Like you've said, you don't really have an end point. At this point in time, you just have a beginning, possibly a middle, but no real resolution.

    Maybe you could have someone (a group, the government) develop the VR as a way to use people, without their knowledge of course. Either to train them to be soldiers or to test their brains for anomalies or strengths or something. Then once people start dying and getting absorbed into other people's consciousness, the group tries to distance themselves from the project, claiming they had nothing to do with it. Then John and Ryan actively try to prove that said group is behind it, they're using people, they're killing people, etc. It could end poorly, of course (having John fail or die), but at least it would give John a mission, something to work towards other than just getting Ryan out of his head.

    Just a thought. :) Might be cliche, but I wanted to share anyway.
     
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Sounds awesome. I do have one more question - who or what decides whose mind the VR is going to take place in? I can't imagine people being too enthusiastic about letting others' minds into their heads - so what motivations do they have for allowing it in the first place? Or is it like a draw of luck? (but if it's just a lottery kinda thing to see whose head you end up in for the game, can't the person pull out?) I have a feeling you'll have to make sure readers understand how this VR thing works. For example, how does taking a pill enable you to enter someone else's mind? Or is this more technologically based? If it's a piece of technology rather than a hallucinogen, then why can't the multiplayer VR experience happen in a computer rather than in someone's mind? (letting it happen in someone's mind is far cooler but you have to somehow explain why people wouldn't use a computer instead, cus they seems the more logical option)

    Btw, this parasitic relationship thing - it reminds me of a book by Stephenie Meyer. I'm pretty sure she wrote a book about some alien lifeform attaching themselves to human brains. Never read it myself. It might be worth checking out though - entirely different genre but still might be interesting to see how someone else did it.
     
  17. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Host is what that book was called. These little alien creatures (in the movie, they look like little balls of fluff) get inserted into a human's ear. The alien then takes control of the human body. The human was aware of what was going on, but couldn't do anything about it. But the book follows one chick who fights the alien tooth and nail the whole time. Maybe just watch the movie? It'll give you an idea of having two people in one person's head.
     
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