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  1. Tigress
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    Tigress Member

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    Somtimes, the simpler the better

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Tigress, Feb 27, 2010.

    I thought I'd take a moment to share a breakthrough I had regarding the plot of the fantasy novel I'm writing in the hopes it might help others who are struggling with coming up with a solid plot.

    I started out knowing I wanted an elf/human love interest to be a key element of the story (ie if they hadn't fallen in love they were doomed to fail) but I didn't want it to be just a love story. My original idea was to have them meet after joining forces to fight some mystical evil. All well and good, but their relationship would have little bearing on the outcome of that conflict so I came up with the idea of adding a second mundane conflict that would result in a human/elf war in which case, their love for each other would play a key role in restoring peace.

    Sounded great! I had the plot and the novel was off and running. But, six chapters into the book and not one mention of the mundane conflict having surfaced yet, I realized this complex plot idea was going to turn my novel into an epic saga that I'd never be able to sell (since first time authors rarely get published if their work is much more than 100k words in length).

    So I went back to the drawing board. I reviewed what I had written, paying special attention to some plot elements that had shown up unexpectedly and now I have a simple but believable plot where elven lands need to be protected because they are home to some powerful things the bad guys want. The elves can't do it alone so the human/elf protagonists will have to convince the humans to assist the elves or risk the destruction of their entire world.

    Anywho, the bottom line is, simple plots are not bad things and do not have to be boring in their simplicity. So, if you're struggling with your plot line, trying looking at a less complex approach -- it just might work better than you think. :)
     
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  2. whiskeyjameson
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    whiskeyjameson Senior Member

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    Glad to hear you've seemed to figure it out. =) I agree with you on the idea of a 'simple' plot, though sometimes I feel like what I have will not carry me far enough into the story and I have to toss in those conflicts. Complex plots are alright just as long as it is explained well to me and doesn't leave my head spinning lol.
     
  3. Spuddfluff
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    Spuddfluff Member

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    I don't see what you mean by a complex plot. All plots are simple, reading age is based upon the language and grammar used in a book, although admittedly books aimed at younger readers will have a simpler plot.

    Stephen Kings "Misery" has a simpler plot than the first Harry Potter book, but I would never even compare the two books and I doubt many people in the world would say "Misery" was a "worse" book.

    I agree with what you said but, you have sold yourself down the river so you could get sold. Why not write your epic saga if it's what you wanted, who said that the simpler plot would make your book better?

    If you have to divide the books up into less than 100k words and sell the sequels as longer books after you are published. I don't think you should sell out your artistic integrity for publishers.
     
  4. whiskeyjameson
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    whiskeyjameson Senior Member

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    So there are no such things as a complex plot but there are things as 'simpler' plots as you have said? So if simple is the medium and you can say there are simpler than simple plots then on the other end couldn't you say something above a simple plot could be complex? You have me confused here.

    While I agree that you should write what you want to that doesn't mean you can't soften things out if that, in the end, is what you want.
     
  5. Spuddfluff
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    Spuddfluff Member

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    Well in reality all plots are simple just "Person A goes to place A and talks to Person B", normally if you wrote out a "complex" plot it would just be longer, no more complex.

    So if you realise all plots are relatively simple then none are particularly complex or simple, only minutely so.

    And it's fine to simplify a plot if you WANT to, but changing it because you want to be published rather than writing the best story you can is not something I would really condone.
     
  6. whiskeyjameson
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    whiskeyjameson Senior Member

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    By definition something that is complex is the whole item made up of intricate, mutually related parts. So if you have a bunch of scenes intricately (and isn't this the author's job? To weave pieces of a story together so that it makes sense in the end?) strung together then the whole could be described as 'complex'. Complexity doesn't need to be described by how confusing it is.

    I'll agree to disagree.
     
  7. Tigress
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    Tigress Member

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    By complex, I meant my original idea involved two antagonists with two completely separate agendas (at least on the surface). Great idea for a sequel maybe, but it was just too much "stuff" to try to fit in one novel, I was discovering.

    So, I blew one of them off, for this book. :)
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Strictly speaking, that's a stoyline, not a plot. And I cannot agree with your assessment.

    A storyline is a chronology of events. A plot consists of an actor, a goal or objective, a motivation, and an opposition. The motivation is the force that drives the actor toward the goal. The opposition is the force that acts to prevent the actor's progress toward the goal.

    A storyline tells you what happens. Plots tell you why.

    An opposition often, but not always, also consists of a plot. If the actor of the opposition is the same as the actor of the first plot, it is known as an internal conflict, otherwise it is an external conflict. Oppositions may also be static obstacles. If the actor is climbing a mountain, the goal is the point on the mountain he wishes to climb to, and the static opposition is the difficulty of the climb.

    A storyline typically consists of a principal plot and a quantity of subplots. Sometimes the plots are from a series of intermediate goals, other times plots can run in parallel. Different characters may ave different objectives and motivations, and experience different oppositions.

    Both storylines and plots can focus on only the major components, or can be as detailed as needed. A simple storyline is one in which the major plots are small in number and connected in a relatively simple way. A complex storyline is one with a large number of interrelated major plots.
     
  9. pinelopikappa
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    pinelopikappa Senior Member

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    Great post
     
  10. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have always heard/believed:

    Story is what happens.
    Plot is why it matters.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have to quibble with this somewhat.

    Story is what happens.
    Plot is why it happened.
    Theme is why it matters.

    The theme is a higher level description that delivers a point. Some examples:

    The Wizard of Oz: What you seek is already within you.
    Star Wars: A New Hope: A farm boy commits to a higher purpose, and learns he really can make a difference.
    West Side Story/Romeo and Juliet: Young lovers try to cross lines of cultural hatred, and the tragedy arising from that hate belatedly makes everyone wiser.
     

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