1. Connor Bible
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    Connor Bible New Member

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    Revising a childhood hero of mine.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Connor Bible, May 5, 2012.

    Back in elementary school, I developed a character named Alphaboy. He's stuck with me ever since, and he's one of favorite characters. Something about him brings out my inner idealist. For awhile, I kind of forgot about him, but now, its all coming back to me. I said to myself, "I've changed, and so shall Alphaboy." What is Alphaboy though? Well...

    I don't really have a concrete storyline as of yet, but some encouragement and advice would help. It's set in a dystopian alternate reality where humans and extraterrestrials coexist, but don't really get along (think District 9). Into this framework comes fourteen year-old Ryuhei Ogata, the titular Alphaboy. You see, he's not exactly from around here. He's the heir to a mighty warrior race known as the Alphas. His biological father sent the fertilized ovum that grew into Ryuhei into space in a "wombship". Ryuhei was adopted by a kindly Earth scientist named Junko, and when he discovers this by the time the story begins, he doesn't know what to make of it. In an effort to find himself, he joins the Earth Defense Force (either before or after discovery), acing all of the exams necessary for a kid his age to get on the battlefield without a lick of combat experience. He's assigned to a special unit of teens known as Stardust (The IMF meets the Children from NGE) and... I don't really know what happens next. Something to do with another, evil alien race called the Zentarans. And Heat-style shootouts. Chases. Oh, and Ryu looks like Shinji Ikari. The love interest looks like Asuka, Junko looks like Yui, and I'm starting to get off on a tangent now... I like cheese.

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    Still, waves of nostalgia are shooting through me. This is going to be good, but unfortunately, I'm swamped with other writing projects. Damn. I guess what I'm trying to ask is this: How do I make sense of the mess? It sounds like one of those projects that I'd have to outline and extensively research. The subtle difference in genre may have something to do with it. My current WIP, Redesigning Eva, is a psychological thriller, and is easier to write for me because its so character-driven. Alphaboy is still character-driven, it's just more of an action spy-thriller.
  2. Kesteven
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    Kesteven New Member

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    "How do I make sense of the mess?" is a pretty broad question.

    To begin with I'd suggest that you readjust your focus. If by swamped with projects you just mean you have a lot of ideas you want to expand on, that's great! If you mean you're actually simultaneously trying to develop them all, that's generally not so great. Either way though I'd suggest you consider picking at most the top 2 or 3 and pouring all your energy into them until they're done, mentally shelving the others unless you can incorporate one into a current project.

    If you decide you do want to work on this though, before you cram in too many more anime clichés, you'll probably want to establish the fundamentals. Firstly, theme: try and find a single emotional focus for the project; what kind of idea is your story addressing? Secondly, struggle. Generally any story is about a struggle of some kind. It can either be a struggle between the character and the external obstacles to their goals, some kind of internal struggle such as a crisis of faith, or, more commonly, both. Your synopsis doesn't express any kind of struggle, so essentially there's not yet any actual story. Once you've got the basics down it should become clearer how it all fits together.
  3. Connor Bible
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    Connor Bible New Member

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    If you decide you do want to work on this though, before you cram in too many more anime clichés, you'll probably want to establish the fundamentals. Firstly, theme: try and find a single emotional focus for the project; what kind of idea is your story addressing? Secondly, struggle. Generally any story is about a struggle of some kind. It can either be a struggle between the character and the external obstacles to their goals, some kind of internal struggle such as a crisis of faith, or, more commonly, both. Your synopsis doesn't express any kind of struggle, so essentially there's not yet any actual story. Once you've got the basics down it should become clearer how it all fits together.

    Themes? Well, identity, loyalty, how much it sucks to be a teen soldier, people divided between their wants and reality, nature vs. nurture, truth vs. lies, what it means to be "human", what defines "humanity" in the first place, and the self vs. an ideal. The conflict: Ryuhei's division between his Alpha nature and human upbringing, and hunting down a Zentaran terrorist prince.
  4. Connor Bible
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    Connor Bible New Member

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    Wow, I'm feeling excited about this.
  5. Kesteven
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    Kesteven New Member

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    Excitement is good! I find it's usually the factor with the single highest impact on the quality of my writing. However, getting excited about a new project before finishing the old one also has the single highest impact on my inability to finish anything, so watch out.

    It sounds like you have some ideas about what you want to address, but I'd suggest narrowing your focus. You can address all those themes in the work, but it's usually best to pick one powerful uniting concept that defines the overarching story and the protagonist's inner struggle, and address the rest in subplots. For instance, Fullmetal Alchemist has themes like the horror of war, what it means to be human, the tension between loyalty and conscience, and the destructiveness of pursuing a dream at any cost. But it binds them all together with the broad central theme of 'Equivalent Exchange': the idea that the universe has an underlying fairness and what you get out will be as valuable as what you put in. Of course, the whole point is that this is a convenient lie; actually the universe can be brutally unfair, but despite that, there are still certain kinds of balance worth believing in. It's that single powerful idea that binds everything together and makes the story and characters so compelling.

    It sounds to me like the main shared principle in your themes is identity, so I think 'self vs ideal' is a good candidate for something you could hitch the work around. It's not especially original, but that's not always a problem. A typical story of this kind would centre around the protagonist's struggle to live up to his ideals; he'd begin naively pursuing a goal, then there'd be obstacles to that goal that made him question why he was pursuing it or if it was even possible, and he might come very close to 'falling' and rebelling against the ideal, but eventually he'd find some way to reconnect with it in a more mature, realistic way. Or, in a tragic work, he'd ultimately fail to reconnect and descend into evil and despair until another hero came to end his misery and restart the cycle. All the other themes and conflicts could be presented as stumbling blocks on the way to that central objective of finding an all-encompassing identity that reconciles ideal with reality.

    Of course, that's just a starting point; I find themes develop themselves as you go the same way characters do and eventually evolve beyond anything that can be described directly, so you don't need to worry about pinning it down immediately. And, of course, these are just suggestions, I'm in no way telling you how to write your story.

    By the way, it's best to avoid double-posting. Use the 'edit' button to edit posts you've already made if you have something to add before anyone else has replied.
  6. Connor Bible
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    Connor Bible New Member

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    It's okay, Kesteven.
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Plot Development Magic, As Shaped By Childhood Desires May 31, 2011

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