1. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    Small conflicts and a love story enough to carry the plot?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by jacklondonsghost, Feb 26, 2010.

    Hey guys.

    Well, I'm done with about half the scenes in my YA book (not in any particular order). One of the worries I've had about it since the beginning is that there isn't really a specific problem that needs solving in the book. Most books I've read, especially in the YA genre, have had some kind of "mystery" element that you don't get the answer to until the very end of the book. However, in my plot there doesn't seem to be room for that.

    The story is about two high school boys, Jay and Matt (I've probably posted something along the lines of a plot for this in other threads). They both have conflicts going on in their lives (Matt is flunking school, Jay is losing himself and drinking more and more heavily), however neither of these is the main conflict of the story. The story is mostly about the two of them becoming friends and eventually more.

    Maybe this is a dumb concern, because I personally like the way the story moves along, but I am really worried that people won't be interested in such a character driven story. I'm certainly not super worried about publishing yet because draft #1 isn't even completed yet, but if my story is lacking a key plot element then I really would like to fix that now. Anyone have any thoughts?
     
  2. thinking
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    thinking Member

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    I for one am in favor of character-driven stories. I think most people think that a good book is all abut a good storyline, but I think truly great books are mostly about the characters in them. It's certainly what I'M banking on in my novel.

    Besides, I don't think, from the gist of your plot summary, that there isn't a "specific problem that needs solving in the book." Isn't the "problem" that the two characters have to come to grips with the feelings they have for each other? I think that's a pretty major "problem," don't you?

    As for the issue of "some kind of 'mystery' element that you don't get the answer to until the very end of the book." Isn't the mystery element the book itself? You don't know (unless you peek) how a book will end until you finish it. There is inherent mystery in any book, so I wouldn't go out of your way to try and create more of it. If the reader is interested in the characters, he or she will want to find out what happens to those characters. As long as your characters are "real" people will want to finish the novel!

    I wouldn't sweat it.
     
  3. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    Haha alright. I go through these phases of being extremely unsure about my work, especially after reading a bunch of things by published authors. Thanks for the reassurance. My book just isn't following the standard sorts of storylines I've been seeing, and it had me a little worried.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if it's well-written, anything can work... if not, even the best plot will bomb...
     
  5. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    Your biggest risk with that would be becoming directionless, bored, or the it might get kind of stale writing about just the relationship and characters without any main conflict.
    *Try putting some obstacle that keeps your two characters from getting too close. A big "thing" they must overcome. That could be your central conflict.
     
  6. m5roberts
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    m5roberts Member

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    ^ yeah. i mean, how do their family and friends respond? the other kids at the high school? society itself is often a great source of conflict.
     
  7. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    Yeah, that's what I've been working on lately. Throwing obstacles their way besides just Jay's internal struggles, that is. Matt's mother is already religious, so I think I can easily have her be upset over the situation. Other than that I'm at a loss, really, but I'm working on brainstorming...
     
  8. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well just because they're traits of the characters doesn't mean they can't be used for conflict as well, right? Jay's decent into drinking/ alcoholism (I don't how far your going) could bring about confounding possibilities. He could become a huge influence to the furthering of Matt's failure in school. This, combined with his mother's religious element could create a large conflict in on its self. That's just one road though, of many. Their personal issues could be what really brings them together, and causes them to be inseparable (which is probably what your intention is), in which an outside force would need to be brought in, such as child services taking one of them away. There's a lot of avenues you float on down.

    PM me if you want to bounce ideas off of me. It's my favorite thing in editing haha.

    E. F. Mingo
     
  9. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    Thanks, Mingo, I did send you a PM.

    Right now a lot of the conflict is coming from Jay trying to save face at school, keep his popular friends, and continue dating his girlfriend despite the fact that he doesn't like her much. Since Jay's dad is an alcoholic and borders on abusive, however, the child services thing would be an interesting direction to go in, at least to try something out. Thanks for the ideas :)
     

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