1. Brayden Potter
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    Brayden Potter Member

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    Some Feedback On My Story Idea Please.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Brayden Potter, Sep 5, 2013.

    I have an idea for a story that I am just working out how to start. I would like to get some honest feedback on the storyline. Any advice on how to start the story couldn't hurt either.

    The story is going to be about a group of people taking a midnight train out of town. Each chapter I would jump from character to character, giving a bit of back story about each as the story goes on. Partway through the trip, the train buckles and derails off the tracks, killing everyone on board. I would start the next chapter with one of the characters waking up startled, still on the train, which is still safely on the tracks rolling along the tracks. He realises he must've just dozed off and had a nightmare. But then he looks around and all the passengers seem a bit agitated, like they too woke up from a bad dream, and there doesn't seem to be as many passengers as there was before. Then he looks out the window, and there is a strange landscape. It is made up of things that hold some significance to all the people on the train. They are in limbo. The train makes it's way through limbo and into hell. I was planning on having hell set in seven different sections. One for every deadly sin. The train will make a stop at each section, and whoever is guilty of that certain sin, is taken off the train. Then when everybody has been taken off the train, I will cut to each of the characters as they journey through each part of hell. Before the train crashes I was thinking about having a flashback sequence or two for each of the characters to see what they've done. I haven't come up with an ending yet.

    So what do you think? If written well, could that make a good read? Any tips?
     
  2. Sandfire
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    Sandfire Member

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    In my experience, just about anything written well can make a good read.

    The first question that came to my mind was, "What about people who have committed more than one of the deadly sins?" The second question was, "How will he differentiate between the second and sixth?" If you use the list from Proverbs 6, those two seem to amount to about the same thing.

    I would say it's an idea worth experimenting with. Just me, but I would want it to feel real, for things to make sense. If it's all too wishy-washy 'it's like this just because', I would have trouble getting into it.
     
  3. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the great idea~! You don't mind if I borrow it, yeah?
     
  4. Ray West
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    Ray West Member

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    Sounds like it could certainly be an interesting story, so just start! You can always go back and change the beginning if you don't like it, or if you have an idea of how one of the scenes will go (it sounds like you have a good idea of where your story is going), then start by writing that scene, and go back and write the beginning later, when you know better how you want it to go! Good luck!
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    are you intentionally rewriting dante's 'inferno'?

    if so, you should read pournelle and niven's 'inferno' and 'escape from hell'...
     
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  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I suggest adding an additional "passenger" after the crash, who serves as the guide. This is basically Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Goes to Hell, and currently you're without a Willy Wonka.
     
  7. TessaT
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    TessaT Contributing Member

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    I like the idea of the first part, the people on the trains and then being in limbo. The storyline for the second part sort of loses my interest. What's the actual plot? Am I just reading about these people who are being dropped off in hell, and then that's that? You'll have different character's stories being told, but is there anyone that I'll be vested in as a reader? These are things that, as a reader, I'd be concerned about.
    I say give it go, though. You never know where the story may actually lead you.
     
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  8. wolfenburg
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    wolfenburg Member

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    +1 on what 123456789 said.

    I really like your idea, its fresh. Id be careful posting ideas like that online though. Anyways.

    I do have one suggestion. I feel that there should be some sort of question being asked until the very end. By the time we know the train is on its way to hell and the passengers are in fact dead, what else is going to keep us reading besides learning why each passenger is on his way to hell? I feel like my interest level would sort of drop off after that, depending on how its written of course.

    Maybe the bell man hints of a way off the train. Maybe one of the passengers is revived and wakes up in a hospital? Maybe a passenger is there by mistake and makes his way to heaven. I would definitely establish some sort of question or kicker AFTER the we learn that they are on a train to hell.
     
  9. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    There you have it.
     
  10. I. R. Writer.
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    I. R. Writer. New Member

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    An intriguing story idea, but rather than reveal a flashback for each passengers mistake within the first chapter, I would personally wait until each individual have been dropped off at their destination of sin before answering to why that particular sin. I would then have each character receive one chance to rectify their wrongs, and save their condemned souls.
     
  11. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Is there going to be an over-arching plot to join together and give significance to the disparate parts? Will the journey and passengers be part of a larger whole, perhaps moving to a meaningful climax and resolution?
     
  12. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would agree with Tessa - what is the actual plot? Who are we rooting for?

    What if someone on the trains adds 2 and 2, figures out they are all going to their individual hell and try to escape - derail the train, atone for their sins and re-route to Heaven, or at least back to Limbo...
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story concept means nothing. What matters is how you write it: the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's absolutely no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read What is Plot Creation and Development?
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Same response as before.

    Please don't post the same question multiple times.
     
  15. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with 123 and wolfenburg. There has to be a reason to keep reading after we know the train is going to hell. And there has to be a meaningful resolution - an expression of a theme, and a deeper theme than just "if you sin, you go to hell." You have to communicate something powerful, so when the reader finally finishes the book, he's satisfied.
     
  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I have merged your two identical posts into one thread. Please do not start multiple threads on the same topic. If you create a thread and then find that there is a better place for it, just ask a mod to move it.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Ideas:
    1. Once the train is in hell it crashes, everyone escapes the train. Not that it helps much, they are still in hell.
      1. the people on the crashed train overrun the train station, ensuring that no one will ever go to hell again.
    2. someone escapes the train and then escapes hell. Probably by doing something no one thought of before.
    3. someone takes control of the train and takes it...somewhere.

    It occurs to me as a brainstorm that each of the characters is going to have to be a contemptible cur, otherwise why would they be in hell (unless, maybe you can go to hell on a technicality?) This would have to include the MC, who might escape hell. So...maybe the MC is not guilty and finds himself on the train anyway. Maybe it's a bit like ConAir and he's going to hell for killing a man while preventing a rape.

    Also worth looking at, the seven stops for seven vices? I don't like it at all, too cliche. The "seven deadly sins" aren't actually sins in themselves at all, there's nothing in the bible about binge eating. The seven vices are behaviours that will lead people in to sin. While gluttony itself is not a sin, buying food for yourself instead of your children might be.
    I would make up your own laundry list of sins, like Dante did, and divide hell among them. If nothing else school children of the future will be forced to write essays on why Spawn Camping was considered a cardinal sin at the turn of the century.
     
  18. Indivisible
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    Indivisible Member

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    It's a really cool concept man. *thumbs up*

    In my opinion, the hardest part will be after the hell twist, it'll be really hard to engage the reader long after that.

    I agree with 123. and I.R. Writer. If you want my opinions

    1. Add a guide (as 123. suggested as well.), be it a demon disguised as train conductor, or whatever else you like. I think it would be hard for the characters to grasp that they're dead and are in hell and this would be a good way to tackle that. It would be really interesting to see this conductor smugly telling them that they're in hell, while the passengers terrifyingly disagree. It would also be interesting to have this conductor perhaps interact with them when they're taken out, to reveal their sins and their punishment.
    2. Have flashbacks of their crimes or sins during them being taking out of the train, instead of during the train crash (like IR Writer suggested as well). It would be far more powerful during that and it can have a far more visceral affect on the characters and reader when they grasp the full extent where they are and why they are there.
    3. You need a resolution, otherwise what would be the point of continuing after hell; and maybe you don't want one, that's fine too but it's just my opinion. I think maybe if you find a resolution with one of them being forgiven and waking up on a train to heaven. Or perhaps just cutting to the train ride going to heaven, if you want to use that, with maybe on the characters wife/husband being on that train.

    Those are just my opinions and ideas, you're free to use them if you wish.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  19. HarleyQ.
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    HarleyQ. Just a Little Pit Bull (female)

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    Before I talk about how to make things after hell interesting, I need to give you feedback on the religious elements at play.

    I think you need to do research on this concept of yours. I mean a lot of research. Limbo is where unbaptized babies go; you meant purgatory, where you await your trial with God. They could be riding the train through purgatory and not stop to be tried, as their sins are unforgivable. But the seven deadly sins are not unforgivable; they are just sins, like lying, which can be forgiven by God. If you mean unforgivable sins, you mean mortal sins, which cannot be forgiven once you are dead.

    Honestly, I don't want to clog this thread with a super long post about mortal sins. This is my two cents.
     
  20. TessaT
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    TessaT Contributing Member

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    @HarleyQ. , this is also all depending on what 'version' of these things you're speaking. Each religion has their own concept and own rules. As such, I feel that it's completely open as to how the writer actually wants things to be. Because no one actually KNOWS what life is like (if there is such) after you're dead. I do agree the research is a good idea, but simply for research and knowledge's sake.
     
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  21. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    Here is what I would do with your proposed concept:

    Main character boards the midnight train. It was a last resort. He's never ridden a train before (he actually is terrified to ride them for whatever reason), but if he doesn't get to <insert destination> quick to <insert frowned upon activity>, he's really going to get in trouble with his <negative influence>. Part of him realizes that hanging around <negative influence> isn't the best idea. Hell, he probably should have never tried to join a gang to begin with, but the promise of a quick road to <insert vice related to deadly sin of your choice> was just too tempting.

    Upon entering the train, he can immediately tell that all of the other passengers are the exact opposite of pleasant law-abiding citizens. Yes, the six other passengers (each to characterize one of the deadly sins) are in his eyes scum. People he'd never want to be associated with. To make matters worse, this train is creepy as hell because of the <insert quirks about the train and surroundings to make the main character nervous / freaked out> "I'll just sit in the corner here until we get to <destination>. I won't touch, talk to, or even look at anything. He has a seat and things are fine until something goes terribly wrong. Main character and the six other passengers die gruesomely in a train wreck. Next thing he knows, his soul as well as the souls of the six others are bound for hell.

    Break the next part up into six chapters - one for each of the other passengers as the train makes one stop after the other to drop them off into the deepest pit of hell. Of course, as perhaps an announcement can explain, the last stop will be fore <insert deadly sin of your choice related to vice of main character>. As he watches the other passengers depart one by one to meet their punishment, he grows more and more nervous. "Was I really that bad of a guy? I never meant to hurt anybody! Jesus, won't you forgive me or something??"

    Finally it's the last stop. "Time to get off. Time to get off" he hears those words over and over in his head. Then he wakes up - scared shitless as you can imagine. It's just him and the conductor in the train now. Maybe i'll have to think twice about getting involved in this gang business. The conductor leads him off the train.

    "By the way, do you need a few bucks to call a cab or something? One of the other passengers ran off with your wallet while you were dozing off.


    EDIT: Actually if you condensed pre-train wreck into a chapter and then the hell scenes into 2-3 chapters tops, this would turn into a good length for a short story.
     
  22. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    That's not how purgatory works at all.

    In purgatory you do penance for you sins in the knowledge that one day you'll be able to go to heaven. Technically everyone in heaven, hell, and purgatory is waiting for Judgement day, when God himself will personally decide the fate of everyone in heaven, hell, limbo, purgatory, living or dead.
     
  23. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would imagine hell, heaven and purgatory is down to each individual and their own ideas of heaven and hell...
     
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  24. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I'd say for heaven and hell go wild, but Purgatory was created with a very specific purpose. To assuage people that their asshole relatives wheren't in hell, and to extort money from them.

    Though to be correct both purgatory and limbo are no longer canonical. The pope talked to god and was like, "All this afterlife bullshit is fucking confusing."
    And god was like, "First of all, I didn't even come up with any of this, it's all on you"
    So the pope is all, "Fuck it, it's heaven for all the baptized Catholics and the rest fry."

    And God turned to the rest of heaven, where the Jews and Muslims and Hindu and Buddhist, and Baha'is were and said, "Don't tell him, it would just ruin his day."
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  25. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Edit: Purgatory is canon, limbo is not.

    Apparently when the council of theologians ruled against limbo, their was some misconception. Also my Catholic wife is, apparently incorrect, but she's sleeping and can't see me write this.
     

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