1. drewhosick
    Offline

    drewhosick New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    1

    Same Idea Over and Over Gets Tiresome?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by drewhosick, Jan 22, 2014.

    Hi there,

    Working on my novel about a maze where there are traps and obstacles to put it mildly. Think of Jumanji in a maze so to speak. You just never know what you'll face next. To fill a novel it feels like I'd need at least a dozen or more traps and obstacles with everything else that goes into the story. Working on the actual scenes right now as well as synopsis I wrote already I just feel like it's very repetitive with these traps. They might be different(killer bees, a hunter after your head, lava lake, etc...) but in effect they are facing the same death defying stunts over and over again just painted differently. I'm concerned that will get tiresome very quickly. Does it sound like there will be less of a story and more of a plot consisting of people jumping through hoops over and over?
     
  2. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,383
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Probably plus the reader will expect you to one up them. Perhaps take a note from the Hunger Games. ( I've only seen the movie but it's still a good example ) If you take away Katniss' interest in whatshisface ( I forgot his name ) the movie would just be about her running through the woods escaping death exciting but empty. Because she's building a relationship with the boy and learning what matters most to her the story becomes one with a character that grows ( learns something new ) and helps to give the ending impact.

    I'd take a break from the obsticles and start thinking about your characters what are their goals, their interests, how do they grow from the journey. Is there a moment in the story that will be the catalyst for a change? Think of Katniss helping whatshisface.
     
    SusieD.Nym, jannert, VM80 and 3 others like this.
  3. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,915
    Likes Received:
    10,108
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    If I could frame what @peachalulu just said and hang it in the forum, I would. ;)

    It seems like you know how your story will be structured, the plot, but how does any of this talk to me about the characters? What do you want to say about the characters, and at a deeper level, what do you want to say with the characters?
     
  4. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    It's a bit more than the relationship but you have the idea right. You mentioned character growth, that's the theme of the Hunger Games. The rivalry between Gale and Peeta is really just a background issue that is used to add to the Katniss' transformation.

    It's unfortunate that movie formulas mean stories like this have to be about the love triangle when that was absolutely not the story. Katniss is struggling to survive. Caring for her sister, Prim, is the focus of her life after her father was killed by the system (mine explosion) and her mother had a mental breakdown. Katniss is not thinking about either boy. In the end, some very key things about each boy do play an important role in the story and matter in who she ends up with. They tie into the theme of what is really important in life, much more than which guy is sexier or more desirable.

    But in the movies, they skip over the key things in some stories and go for the formula fluff.

    So, tying this rant to the OP, @peachalulu is exactly right, it's the character's stories that matter. Plot hurdles should all be about telling the characters' story, meaningful, otherwise they are just a series of unfortunate events that have little lasting meaning.
     
  5. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,383
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Haha - yeah don't you just love the world of movies for showing you what really matters!
     
  6. Billaferd
    Offline

    Billaferd Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2014
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    4
    When thinking of stories based in a maze, I instantly think of Cube. It used the maze as a catalyst for the group to keep going, but made the group themselves both protagonist and antagonist. It was beautifully done and had a very serious mood to it. It could be a milieu story but the maze would have to be something a bit more unconventional then most standard models of a maze.

    You may also want to check out some video games, Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are both games that are maze like and are able to keep players with them because the maze changes as the players both make progress and gain new abilities. This keeps the scenery fresh and interesting even as the players are backtracking.
     
  7. xanadu
    Offline

    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    407
    Location:
    Cave of Ice
    Worked for Lemony Snicket...:p

    Anyway, personally, the obstacles in and of themselves are not going to interest me. Opposition is only valuable as it relates to the character trying to overcome it. If I don't care about the character, I'm not going to care whether he or she lives or dies, succeeds or fails, wins or loses, or whatever the stakes may be. People are not interchangeable. Obstacles are. Opposition does not have to be life-threatening in order for me to worry about whether the character will come out in one piece. That's the job of characterization. I don't need fire, I need a character to latch onto. Show me the character's struggles, both internal and external, and make me want to know what happens to her or him. I'll turn the page, lava pit or no lava pit.
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  8. Storysmith
    Offline

    Storysmith Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2014
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    23
    I agree with what the others have said about characters and their relationships and growth being important. Also consider pacing - have a "down" period after a long, scary sequence of traps to concentrate on the characters rather than growth. Also, try to vary the traps in ways other than making them deadlier - riddles, or people claiming to be taking the maze who may be lying. The classic gamebook Deathtrap Dungeon should be a gold mine for ideas on this.

    Finally, to make the danger real, I suggest killing off the odd character who apparently has a big part to play in the remaining story, so that the reader believes that the characters might really die. If they're wearing plot armor and we know they won't die, the traps will be tedious, as we wait for the inevitable escape.
     
    jannert and Simpson17866 like this.
  9. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Like abridged audio books, the producer belief the public can't handle more than a set amount of time for a story being read out loud.

    What's unfortunate is the Hunger Games story is so much more than the Gale Peeta thing. I wonder how they are going to portray the ending.
     
  10. drewhosick
    Offline

    drewhosick New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    1
    I planned on that although I might go a step further and take something important away from the Protagonist. I had also thought of bringing back some dangers that appear throughout the book to give it more feel. Of course there's character building in the downtime.

    I've been using Creative Writing for Dummies to help me construct the Synopsis and Outline and maybe that's the reason this story feels so empty. It's a Synopsis, 2 pages long, that mostly describes the story and is a condensed version of the main events like the obstacles. I'm thinking maybe it's because of these pages that I feel so bored by the idea of one obstacle after another. It doesn't describe the emotions or downtime parts as much so it just looks like a grocery list of obstacles. I guess as I write I'll feel better about it. Or hopefully will.

    It's funny how as I write the scene by scene synopsis now, that I am finding more and more threads to the characters stories such as why the protagonist is scared of water(his mother drowned in front of him) and his liking for another character in the maze with them etc...
     
  11. drewhosick
    Offline

    drewhosick New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    1
    I can't remember but what was the trick to them figuring out the Cube? I think I might have inadvertently used an idea too similar in my synopsis to figure out the maze. I need to figure out something different.

    Well luckily, since the maze is virtual reality there are so many possibilities from rock walls to bushy walls at times. Weather can change too, etc...
     
  12. drewhosick
    Offline

    drewhosick New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    1
    Nevermind. Looked it up and it was prime numbers. I had been thinking of using some kind of Binary code but maybe I'll have to rethink it so it's not the same idea at all.
     
  13. Bryan Romer
    Offline

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    891
    Likes Received:
    381
    Make it so there is a cost to the MC in solving each of the traps/puzzles. Physical injury, using up resources such as food, water, ammunition, batteries, whatever. Each following obstacle with automatically become harder and more risky as his resources dwindle. This could be made even more poignant if he knows there will be a "boss" challenge at the end which needs him to hoard all his capabilities. Every thing he uses now, every injury, all the exhaustion, will count when he faces the final challenge.
     
  14. JayG
    Offline

    JayG Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    358
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    The problem is that you're not writing a story. Instead, you're chronicling events. A reader is more interested in why the character must traverse the maze, what tricks they come up with, and how they use them to beat the idea of the maze. If you don't do that, you've provided what amounts to a game. And you're faced with the problems of writing a game. The protagonist faces a problem. S/he wins. The protagonist faces a problem. S/he wins. The protagonist faces a problem. S/he wins. The protagonist faces a problem. S/he wins. The end.

    Why would the reader do anything but skim forward to the point where the character solves the final problem?

    It would help you a great deal to dig into the structure of scenes and stories. In that the local library's fiction writing section can be a great resource.
     
    peachalulu, Simpson17866 and jannert like this.
  15. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,827
    Likes Received:
    7,356
    Location:
    Scotland
    I like what @JayG says, above. He's quite right, in my opinion. It's the WHY that will make this scenario into a story.

    Who put your main character inside the maze? Was it somebody who definitely does NOT want your character to escape? Was it somebody who wants to test your character's mettle for some reason? Did the character enter the maze voluntarily, thinking it would be fun ...and it turns out to be anything but? Is he/she on her own, or are there others with her? Do they have food, water, warm clothing, etc ...or are they completely unprotected?

    What will happen if they don't solve the maze, or don't solve it within a particular time? Is some external event going to change if they don't succeed? Will they die in there? Or be rescued and humiliated? I love @Storysmith's suggestion:
    Most importantly, what kind of person is this main character? Is this person the kind who normally crumbles under pressure, but must find a way to get a grip and solve this huge problem? Are they the kind who normally would enjoy solving this sort of puzzle, but the stakes in this one are particularly high? Maybe they either don't know what's at stake—and maybe discover the horror of it during the 'game'— or resent the pressure? (Think Gurgeh, in Iain M Banks's The Player of Games—or Ender, in Ender's Game.) Is your protagonist somebody who absolutely HATES what is happening, and finds himself/herself so blinded by red rage that they can't even focus on the problem? Will they be able to bottle the rage and enact revenge later on? Will their ability to solve this maze 'save the day,' for somebody? For their country, family, world? Etc etc.

    It's the way this character feels while he/she is inside the maze (and maybe events that are happening at the same time, outside the maze, which COULD become a really important factor) that will drive this story. It would be great if the solution to the maze is clever and intriguing, or maybe inspired by something that happens while it's being solved, but without the emotional kick this will just be a game, not really a story.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2014
    peachalulu and Simpson17866 like this.

Share This Page