1. Lionslicer
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    Lionslicer New Member

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    Start writing with no plot

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Lionslicer, May 21, 2009.

    I recently starting writing a story, with pretty much no plot, outline, or anything. I just started writing, letting my immagination take me where-ever it wants to go. But I'm feeling that this could be a waste of time, seems like it could just be an endless story of nothing, kind of like if Seinfeld was turned into a book.

    Anyways, is this stupid of me to do if I expect to write a short novel?
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Well, as long as you're writing something, it can't be a bad thing...
    There are some writers who do this kind of thing, just write until some charactes and a story emerge, and while its not how I personally like to work, it certainly can/has produced results. So just stick with it, if nothing else its good practise.

    Although if you're hitting the 10k mark and still don't have anything concrete, maybe you need to reconsider...
     
  3. A2theDre
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    A2theDre Active Member

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    Even if the story goes nowhere, you may get some interesting charaters out of it. And you know what they say, practice makes perfect.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Even small plots can get the story moving. You don't HAVE to know the main plot of the novel from the outset, although I personally would have a difficult time if I didn't have some idea of where the story is going.

    A plot consists of an actor, a goal or objective, a motivation, and an opposition. The actor is the character who takes part in that plot or subplot. The goal may be as simple as to retrieve the mail from the mailbox. The motivation might be that you are waiting for a letter from a friend who is travelling on vacation. The opposition may be that it's raining out, and you're in a lazy mood anyway. The struggle between the motivation and the opposition creates tension, and determines whether the actor achieves the goal.

    You need plots, even small ones, to tell a story. You can have a storyline, consisting of a sequence of events, put plots are what drive the characters though the storyline. Plots will creep in even if you don't plan them, but if you are consciously aware of them, it will be easier for you to direct the story along your chosen path.

    When the opposition comes from the actor, the conflict is internal conflict. Internal conflict is especially effective in developing character.

    So it's ok to start small, but do use plot as you write. However, once you come up with your larger plot, be prepared to scrap some of the aimless activity you wrote before that point.
     
  5. Romendacil
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    Romendacil Member

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    What about a piece of writing with no plot?

    You can actually compose a piece of literature without any usage of the element called plot.

    Technically even Robinson Crusoe doesn't have plot... just a sequence of events. :rolleyes:
     
  6. archer88i
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    archer88i Member

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    The novel I'm working on now started as the cover art for a book I saw at BN about 5 years ago. I have no idea what the book was about. Hopefully mine isn't closely related.

    In short, all stories begin without a plot. But they do take longer to come to fruition if you don't have something to go on.
     
  7. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I wouldn't necessarily agree that Robinson Crusoe is plotless. I would say it falls under the category of Adventure and Survival. It's like zombie movies, there really isn't any more of a plot than survival.

    I do understand what the OP is referring to. I don't outline or come up with the plots first, I develop characters by using the "what ifs." I ask myself "what if I have a character that like this and that...what would be going on in their life, do they have a life, what kind of conflict could I give this person." And from there the plot is decided.

    I also like to ask myself, "Why do I want to tell this character's story? Will it be something someone other than me will want to read about?" and so on.

    For me it is all about the characters. Even if it is an action/adventure, I need to have a character that I can root for, feel for, feel with, and/or imagine myself as them. This means for me as a writer, that I have to write strong characters. Ones that other people will want to relate to, whether it is a character like them, or someone they might imagine wanting to be.

    I don't know, once I have my character then I can have a plot for the character to ride in.

    I would say develop the characters more in your story and then decide what kind of crap you can throw at them. Are you going for drama, tragedy, comedy, romance...? Once you have good characters it is just a matter of decided what their outcome will be. I sometimes don't know this until I am about 10k words into it. If by then I don't have something to work with, I might as well put it in my poo-pile.

    Jenn
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I'd just like to point out that Robinson Crusoe isn't so much a novel (although it is technically the first novel) as it is a travelogue, a popular form of writing at the time, a form which was again borrowed and subverted in Gulliver's Travels. The novel as we know it today took hundreds of years to develop into what we expect it to be today.

    Also, what is a plot if not a series of events? That is the definition of a plot. And since conflict is what drives fiction, there should always be at least one event to form a plot, followed by various other events leading towards its resolution. Some more abstract writers may seem to abandon plot in the traditional sense, but there is still a conflict, still a resolution (or failure to resolve, still constituting plot).
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No. That is trhe definition of a storyline. A plot is defined by the actor, the goal, the motivation, and the opposition. A storyline is driven by its plot or plots. A storyline not connected by its plots comes across as haphazard and pointless.

    To be fair, there have been books written with disjointed plots. A complete absence of plot would be difficult to manage, although I have seen short story scenes posted here without any plot, usually consisting of a static scene description.
     
  10. Anir
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    Anir Senior Member

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    When I set out to write my novel, I thought I had the plot all figured out. I knew exactly what was going to happen in each place, and I knew who was going to do what, and so on and so forth.

    It wasn't until I finished the entire book that I realized that the book had turned into a story that I wasn't happy with at all, so I trashed it and left it for a while, and then I was inspired again and rewrote the entire thing, this time with a bare resemblance of a plot. Same characters, but with a new perspective, and it turned out really well, and I'm very satisfied with it now.

    My point is, I don't think you need to have a rigidly defined plot, or any plot at all, really. Just try and find out where you want to go with the story; how you want it to end, or how you want a conclusion to be reached. You might find that your story turns out amazingly well.
     
  11. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    I would definitely not say it's stupid of you. Sometimes when your imagination gets rolling you just gotta go with it--that's the best! Like being on a magic carpet. I will join Cogito in suggesting that you be open to looking for a plot as you write. I made the mistake of not being open to plotting last time I did Nanowrimo, and now I have 90k of writing with no story to show for it. =\
     
  12. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Same here. It's so funny how far it's come and how much it's changed since the original idea.
     
  13. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    Perhaps you should at least have a theme.
     
  14. shadowblaze83
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    shadowblaze83 Member

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    I say let the creative juices flow. Writing is better than not writing i always say. But as you write, Think of ways to tie everything together. They say, to start with a character or a couple of characters, write some background about them, and then tie it all together. Create conflicts for them, develop their stories thematically, and take your time. There's no rush in writing unless you have a deadline. So for now, who cares if your plot isn't fully developed, you can spend as much time as you like developing it.
     
  15. Life705
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    Life705 Member

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    This is how i've always wrote. I know a lot of people suggest that writing a plot is absolutely essential but I disagree. Keep at it =]
     
  16. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Some good advice about plotline and structure. But I'd like to add this:

    The most freeing experience I've had in learning to write fiction was to discover that many great writers (even some novelists) begin with nothing at all but the words. Freeing, because that's my inclination, as well; and try as I might (and I have tried), I cannot for the life of me write fiction (or poetry) any other way.

    That said, I can and I do work at crafting the story at some point far down the road (once the story reveals itself, and it does at some point), because I'm convinced that my fiction is only a half-fiction if it doesn't have a reader who enjoys reading it.

    That's when all that great advice about plotline and structure becomes important to me, because I do want my reader to feel a sense of having "experienced" a fulfilling story. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't, but that kind of has to do with satisfying my reader after I've satisfied myself. I also don't write for all readers. But it's important to me that I have some. It probably matters a lot how broad an audience you seek.

    In any case, I no longer ever think of the process you describe as a "stupid" way to begin or a waste of time (though I used to wonder about it, just as you are). I write only short fiction, myself (so far). But as an example of a novelist who writes this way, try Murakami (that's what he does), and he's not alone.

    P.S. I'm not sure (just from my own experience) if I'd know I was writing a novel or a short work till the storyline actually materialized.
     
  17. JGraham
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    JGraham Senior Member

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    I do this all the time. Not usually for stories but i have a journal that everyday i write in as someone else. I just start writing and let the words take me wherever. Sometimes it leads me somewhere and a plot will develop, other times it is just an interesting page or two.
     
  18. Lionslicer
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    Lionslicer New Member

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    Well thanks for the help :]
     

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