1. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Plotting advice

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Justin Rocket 2, Jun 7, 2015.

    I can't plot. It is the albatross around my neck. I've tried for years to learn how (particularly since I became disabled in 2012). I've read a ton of books on writing and bought several software applications. I learned MBPI, the Enneagram, the Fool's journey, etc. and ran into a brick wall. I'd give my left nut to share in writing a story with somebody who would handle the plot issues.
    What's your magic that helps you plot?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I plan. (sorry, panters)

    I always have three major points mapped out, and the last one almost always comes to me first.

    plot.png

    1) The Result is where I want the story to finish. It's the payoff, the goal, the lesson, the change etc. It's also the voice for what I want to say with the story which is something I've decided long before any ideas come to me. Again, I almost always have this before I have anything else.

    2) The Turn is where things go wrong, the unexpected event or obstacle comes in, something smacks the actors off the rail that was so triumphantly taking them to their obvious, righteous destination. This is often where I admit the faults in the thing I want to say, where I concede (through the story) that nothing is simple and that my thing may not be everyone's thing and that it may well be just a me thing. This is where my actors get knocked of their smarmy high horses taking the Fuck-You high road. This is where my baddie shows humanity. This is where the whore is saintly and the saint engages in a right good rogering... preferably on stage, two bits a show.

    3) The Beginning is only just that. It's something I tend to work my way back towards. It has many forms and guises over time. Many different scenes that stay in the story were at one time "the beginning", but no, they were just contenders. [ETA: This is the least stable of the three points, regardless of what I say in the next paragraph. Sorry for the contradiction.]

    This is how I plot. By keeping these three points very firm and stable, I reduce the miasma of things that can happen to a manageable number of logical ways to get from one to the next. Again, I know that for some writers I have just described how to never let me get a story written, you control freak mo-fo, but this is what works for me. :)
     
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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you tried plotting backward? It's what I usually do when I'm writing a more complicated story and need to make sure all the threads end up in the right place... like, I know that characters X, Y, and Z have to be in place A by the climax of the story, and then I track back for each character, figuring out how they get there.

    Alternatively, have you tried writing something really, really simple and then building up? Write a few vignettes, just plotless scenes from someone's life. Then try to figure out what might have happened before or after that scene to get the characters to that place. When you're good at that level of plotting, add another few layers.

    Also try to write the simplest story structure you can, at least to start with. One MC, with one goal, overcoming a series of obstacles of increasing intensity. No side plots, no secondary characters, none of that cool stuff until you can manage the simple story. And then once you're good at that, let yourself get more complex.

    Plotting is a skill. It's not realistic to think you're going to be good at it right from the start. And lots of people who think they're naturals at it probably aren't.
     
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  4. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Curiously, this is how you map out a training plan for an athlete looking to peak for a race. Start at the (end) goal and work backwards to the current (start) point in time, working out along the way the training they need to do and any events that will help them achieve their end goal.
     
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  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's also a good way of mapping out how to teach a course in school. Figure out what the kids need to be able to do by the end, and then work out how to help them get there.

    I think it's a useful approach to a lot of things, but it doesn't seem to be one that comes intuitively. We've got that "first things first" mentality, but often that's counter-productive.
     
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  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    *warm fuzzy in the enjoyment of agreement* :bigoops:
     
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  7. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    This is really pertinent for me. My story book is boring as batshit in the traditional sense of story. I know what I want to construct and have a little twist at the end to lead into a sequel / book #2, and little bits and pieces of potential tension in the interim, but... But as a book it's ... just ... dunno more like a manual than a story.

    To really get a Turn to happen, to mean anything, to have any sort of impact at all, I realise now what I must do.

    Viva la planners!!
     
  8. Wrizzy
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    Wrizzy Member

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    I'm here to see if I can gather some help, too. I commiserate with you!

    I did try having someone plot for me, and that killed each and every story.

    This is one of the reasons I joined the site. Not for critique necessarily, but more for help figuring out how to get a freaking story finished!

    I'll finish reading the posts, and see what I can gather. Thanks for starting this thread, Justin!:)
     
  9. Wrizzy
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    Wrizzy Member

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    Haha. Yes, this is why I struggle with planning. Pantsing, I can write a scene that makes me bawl and emotionally wiped for days (not that anyone else is crying over it, though, heh).

    When I plot, it feels and sounds cheesy, contrived, and boring. Why can't I marry the two!? Why!

    If I was a plotter, I think I would also start from end to beginning. It makes sense to me. The problem is, though, if I know where I want things to be resolved at, without having tasted the scenes where the characters have had some realistic struggle with the conflict, the ending never sticks. And, again, its cheesy, contrived, and boring. My endings have no emotional resonance until I've moved my characters through the pain and anguish. That being said, I have little to no endings even accomplished. And this has been going on for at least ten years!!:dead:

    But, that's another issue that I will have to bring up in another thread.

    Are there any pantsers out there that have tricks to mesh some plotting into the mix?:confused: Maybe I will have to do some thread research here on the site.
     
  10. Wrizzy
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    Wrizzy Member

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