1. Alexa C. Morgan
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    Alexa C. Morgan Member

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    Stuck,cliche love triangle, or just sub-plot, can't decide...help?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Alexa C. Morgan, Sep 3, 2014.

    Good Evening fellow writers.

    I am so fresh here that I'm not even sure if I should dare to ask for your help. But I will, because nothing else worked. I tried alcohol, long walks, chocolate, more alcohol, sticking my head under water, watching re-runs of Benedict Cumberbatch and still, nothing but 2 unflattering, uninspired plot options.

    Right. Whining aside, please bear with this DARN LONG plot options!

    A journalist, Alex, is asked by his publisher to write a book with contemporary social/political connotations (in order to get published). He picks "emigration" for personal reasons (comes from a family of Welsh emigrants).

    He finds a woman Lina, a permanent resident coming from Romania, and through a suite of interviews, correspondence and such, she tells him her life story.

    *** Important note, her life story IS the main subject of the book. But because I didn’t want it to be just a narrative about her perspective on living as an emigrant in US which in itself, is pretty tumultuous, nor that I wanted to keep it in simple first person, I came up with a subplot.

    Alex and Lina form a bond, a relationship, drawn to each other despite the one (so far) antagonist’s efforts opposing any " tête-à-tête " between our protagonists, because obviously she (Alex’s fiancé) is jealous.

    I established that Alex is a coward, overall spineless individual that has pretty much wasted his life. He is desperate at this point to “prove” his worth, to himself, his fiancé (the antagonist no1.) and to his estranged brother Billy (perhaps, antagonist 2) with whom he always had a profound rivalry. Through Lina’s influence, he progresses and evolves as a character. The plot (so far) goes like this:

    (…Lina’s story etc…) then, Lina drags Alex to an event where accidentally, he gets arrested. He appeals to Barbara, but instead, it is Lina that contacts his only living relative, his uncle, who happen to host Billy for a visit. Billy is the opposite of Alex in a way, leading an adventurous and humanitarian life, dedicated to others and has also acquired some wealth. Alex gets out and gets back with his fiancé, blaming Lina for his time in 12 hours jail. Lina goes on with making a documentary, and corresponds back and forth with Alex continuing her story and relating her observations about the “American dream” which is the subject of her movie, and pretty much, the subject of Alex’s book. They meet once again, in Las Vegas where they have a very intense affair. He chickens out and returns home and rekindles his wedding prospect.

    Lina is devastated, even more so that she finds out she is pregnant with Alex. She tries to continue the relationship but he is shuts her down, and so she decides to have an abortion.

    Meanwhile, his uncle dies, but the time they spend together before his death helps Alex have a change of heart (too late ) Lina is marrying her long friend and cameraman in order to be able to bring to United States her 3 year old son, that has been raised by her mother, back in Romania.

    When the book is finalized, they meet again, after a year or so, and she has her son with her. Alex finds out that she divorced the cameraman and that now she was free, but Lina is stone cold refusing any kind of romantic involvement with him. They part, and when everything seems lost, he finds she “missed her train” (yeah, I am a big fan of Tolstoi, sue me) and it ends there, we do not know really if they get back together or not.

    OR

    Billy and Lina meet (because of the Alex's arrest) and instantly and profoundly, connect. Billy(mainly) just to spite Alex, distracts Lina and convinces her to follow her own “American Dream” instead of just being the subject of his brother’s book (helping him realize his goals etc). He sponsors the production of the documentary and meets with Lina couple of times while she is travelling/filming.

    Alex, cowardly, despite his obvious feelings for her, decides to stay put with his fiancé. Billy knows of Lina’s feelings and Alex’s as well, and plots to have those two on irreconcilable terms. He marries Lina in Vegas and so she gets her son over, but when she gets pregnant with him (as well that Alex and Lina still have a strong friendship connection, Alex breaking up his wedding prospects because he realizes he is in love with Lina) he abandons both and leaves for his adventures in Africa etc. Alex pursues Lina once her divorce is pronounced, but she considers that all bridges have been burnt and there was too much damage. Same ending.

    Which one of those options you consider is the better one? Hah. Probably, neither. I am of course, open to other suggestions if you are so kindly inclined!
    I thank you in advance, and once again, sorry for the long long plot description.
     
  2. CastleEra
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    CastleEra Member

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    Honestly? Why have this subplot at all? I understand wanting to flesh out your book by including something else to keep the narrative flowing. But if the point of the book is about her as an emigrant, then how does this love-triangle help that? A sub-plot should still click into the main plot and help the main plot, not hinder it. If the focus is on her life and her story, than this romantic sub-plot will not only pull away from the importance of her story; but may negate it all together. If she's had a hard life in this country, why make it worse with lost love and broken hearts? This may a very interesting look into her character if it was something she talks about referring to her past. How growing up she was suckered into a relationship with a man who promised love, but only left her broken and used.

    I think Alex and Lina would be more interesting and Lina's story more impact-full if they didn't get romantically involved. That's just me though.
     
  3. Alexa C. Morgan
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    Alexa C. Morgan Member

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    Thank you for your valuable input :) Of course I thought about that but here is my explanation. ALex / Billy are part of her life in the United States. I basically am writing an autobiography- trying my best to mix elements of the past within different tenses (present,future) with different characters so that I would not use the boring " and then I went there,,,and that happen..and I met blablabla and fell in love with blabla bla and he said blablabla". I though, a romantic interest (of real past existing romantic interests, part of her life and part of her struggle to reach the American dream) might carry the narration in a more active way. "If she's had a hard life in this country, why make it worse with lost love and broken hearts?" Because my main character is a woman that came here through marrying a man, then marrying another then another, and so forth had multiple relations all trying to find "the one" which she did eventually, as well as she grew up - from being a co-dependent (on her relationship) to understanding the idea of freedom, individuality and standing on her own. Hope that make sense?
     
  4. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    It seemed fine to me until these elements which don't seem to fit got in the way
    - Alex's uncle, why bother?
    - Lina's documentary...what? I thought Alex's book was the focus
    - Alex's brother, maybe he's relevant but I'm not seeing a strong reason for him to exist in this story other than to fill gaps.

    And now I see the last part of the post above. The whole story is actually about Lina not Alex. Now I see where the confusion comes in. So I'm wondering why Alex is the MC?
     
  5. Alexa C. Morgan
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    Alexa C. Morgan Member

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    Hello,Good pointers, thank you.
    -Alex's uncle would /could be just to explain and or deepen Alex's character. I agree, it is not essential.
    -Lina's documentary is part of her "American Dream" she is a photographer,filmaker. She postponed (gave up) for being domestic and for sustaining the dreams of the men she had relationships with. With or without Billy supporting her movie production, she is doing it, because is also a good way of describing the different regions/cities/sub cultures and differences she witnessed while travelling in US. Alex's book was HIS focus, his dream. Hers is to make a movie, AND bring her son to United States - so to accomplish something on her own, be independent.
    -Billy's input might be that she finally uses a man to achieve what she wanted instead of the inverse. It could as well be, that she uses Alex for the same reasons instead of Billy (mainly to bring her son back) and then dumps him once the goal is achieved? Quid pro quo? Alex has his book, she made a movie and has her son back, but there is a heartbreak (for alex) in the end?
    -Alex is not the MC, is the main narrator. There is also an omniscient narrator, that explains the characters thoughts. Is intertwined with Lina's first person when she tells the stories to Alex, Alex's narration talking about Lina's events (she went there and did that and told me she didn't like it f.ex).
    I am trying to stay away from just one POV. Or just one narrator. I wrote the first time using mostly first person narrative, with few present dialogue and few present action. After re-reading it and having some beta readers, they all said it was quite boring, maybe because the genre (is hard to read biographies and be entertained, unless you like reading biographies ). I couldn't have Lina have flashbacks about past events ALL the time, because frankly, I do not myself, recall them in detail, just vaguely. So a chronological time line from when she arrived and what happen, didn't work out. So of course, my dilemma is how to keep the story centered on her, but still not have it put people to sleep?
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2014
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't buy the love triangle thing. Stick with the first version where there's no Billy involved.

    Btw, just a heads up, it's fiancée - with 2 Es. Fiancé with one E is for men. Like waiter and waitress - fiancé and fiancée.
     
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  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've highlighted the things you said that have struck me.

    First - if Alex is the main narrator, then why do you need an omniscient narrator to explain character thoughts? Seems utterly redundant. So I'd hear Alex's thoughts and then the omniscient narrator would once more tell me Alex's thoughts? Rather - why don't you simply have 2 first person POVs alternating - Alex first and then Lina and then back, etc? The omniscient narrator sounds like you're just muddying the waters for no other reason than the fact that you don't seem to know how to actually tell this story.

    You say you can't have Lina having flashbacks all the time. I agree with you. But if these flashbacks were so important to the story - and there are going to be SO many flashbacks in the first place - have you ever considered perhaps you're telling the wrong story? Maybe the real story rests in the past and THAT's what you need to tell. Eg. tell the story at the time of Lina experiencing all of this.

    How to do it without sending people to sleep - well, do what I suggested above. Tell the story in real time rather than having anyone looking at the past at all. Show me Lina's reaction and hurt right here, right now - not in the aftermath 10 years down the line when she's already grown numb to it. Emigration is a hugely interesting topic and there's a world of literature precisely on cultural clashes and ideals and expectations of the foreign country and prejudices and all the rest of it - they're not boring, rather they're studied at universities and considered classics because they tell of something that's very true and real and personal for a lot of people. I myself am an emigrant, so I know some of these things, albeit it wasn't the US I moved to and it wasn't due to poverty. Nonetheless, your topic is one that would greatly interest me because I have personal experiences where I can probably relate on some level. Why you think that's boring - and just how you managed to make it dull - is surprising to me.
     
  8. Alexa C. Morgan
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    Alexa C. Morgan Member

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    Thanks for your input. There is no better way to actually explain since I am not yet familiar with writing terms and hence I pasted here below some fragments so that you can see how it goes (the narratives) This is second re-write as I said, and to me at least, sounds less monotonous.

    It is in the human nature to covet the forbidden fruit, the want to own what we cannot or no longer have. It was when she exhausted her "antiquated odd junk", sold bit by bit, abandoned behind each time they would move residences, that she begun to understand its value.
    When everybody around her struggle to get out of “plain normality” into “being different” she grasped the privileged experiences she had an outstanding lifestyle, worth mourning.
    Things, men or places, there was the leitmotif of her life, the subconscious endless chase after what she felt she was denied to have.
    Perhaps, as a young adult, her quest to get to one of the almost impossible places to get to, America, carried out of the same subconscious impulse. The idea excited her. Like most of parental advice you dismiss just because you must act your rebellious independence, such were her mom's rants and bitter judgments about how horrible of a place United States was.
    She was lullabied with stories about her family’s misfortunes, caused by "those lying Americans", with the opposite of the effect her mother was expecting. Instead of pushing Lina’s thoughts away from America, it made her want to know more.
    “My grandfather used to excuse the one decision that changed our lives forever", she told me, staring outside the window opening towards the walled in city garden.
    I'm not sure it was our destiny, as he said, or plain stupidity, but the consequences of his choice had severe results. In his position, as a cultural attaché working for the American embassy during and after the war, he was one imagines, aware of the situation; while others might have been caught pants down, he was one of the few that was told about the alliance's plans not intervene when the Russians occupied Romania. (...)
    (...)
    Lina paused her narrative flow to adjust the thermostat in the room; it was so hot that Alex felt like ripping all his clothes off and sticking his head in the refrigerator. But he did none of that, thanking her for saving him from an imminent heat stroke. Once the temperature regulated she continued:
    “Grand Papa died soon after his release, in mysterious circumstances. Alone, hand on the door handle, no autopsy conducted, no explanation given. The other present at his funeral aside his grief-stricken daughter, was his faithful Cutza, the German Shepard dog he had as companion the few years he spent outside the gulag as a free man. (...)
    (...)For me it was a break of welcomed peace and unsuspected, fun times. For her, I guess it was an outlet to speak her repression. Alone, isolated, I understood, to whom did she have to spill her secrets and stories? I was the man with the task and she started to trust me, which made me feel like a priest moonlighting as a bartender. “Even that is what I want, being someone's confidante requires a level of intimacy I am not used to, I need to keep my head clear and impartial…” (...)
    (...)
    First impression of New York? The wave of people. Lots of them, rushing towards or coming from, colorful migratory bird like, flying by me in variegated attire, chirping in many different languages.
    We get invited to sit and wait into a large open room with glass dividers. Everyone seems busy. Some are quarreling with one of the agents, the lonesome interpreter was pointing at something important, and several Muslim women covered in Burkas were swaying standing, like moving black stone sculptures".
    "You were anxious?"
    "Hell yes, I was! I don't even know why, I was chewing on my nails as if they were made of toffee. It wasn't the same as traveling alone to Paris or Rio, when I had the oblivious courage of my immature age to counter doubts or fears. I think it was different because I had something or rather someone important to loose. "
    "I think we all get a bit nervous travelling to uncharted territory…"
    "Yes, in circumstances out of one’s knowledge or control, is human nature, but it was more than that - it was scary - something that you, a citizen, cannot experience. For you is about returning home, while us, the newcomers, we fret like an uninvited house guest, unsure if we will be allowed to spend the night". (...)
    (...)
    Alex grabs his laptop and her stuff and they make their way through the dim lit corridors to the elevator, descending in a comfortable silence, as if doing their laundry together in the middle of the night was routine. Once her garments have been set onto the gentle fluff cycle, she continues her tale.
    "After our break in the big apple, we landed in Raleigh, North Carolina, my husband's hometown. On the little airport field, a loud animated group of people, looking as if they were out of the 1960's issue of the big and tall catalog, were holding "welcome to America" signs.
    I recognized Jay, the gentle giant, James's traveling companion and best man at our wedding. Some I did not know, like Jeff and his wife, a converted lesbian, that wasn’t hard to be confused with her good jolly looking husband. Both wearing matching hand dyed T-shirts and roughed up jeans, had the same haircut, minus Jeff's bushy beard that I found was groomed in the eventuality they ran out of Santa impersonators.
    At once, both went onto hugging me, with the opposite effect, as I felt ill at ease and out of place. But they carried on, with a deep "Yo, yo, true dat yo, what's up nigger" greeting, followed by a weird knuckle – fist - palm knee combination of hand gestures. I was confused, yet they insisted in coaching me for about 5 minutes, that it was "The norm” greeting of the region. They made me repeat it which I did, over and over, un-suspicious. (...)
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
  9. Alexa C. Morgan
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    Alexa C. Morgan Member

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    My bad. :) Noted.
     
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  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think you are verging on breaking forum rules lol. We have a Workshop here and I suggest you post it there - that's where people post their stuff if they want it to be critiqued. I agree with you that I think we can only give further, better advice after having seen your writing. Cut into snippets like this makes it hard to read and hard to analyse, and like I say, this is the wrong place for it anyway - it should be in the workshop, and it should be a full, continuous scene.

    To post in the Workshop, you need to have been a member for 2 weeks at least, posted 20 posts, and made 2 constructive critiques in the Workshop. Once you fulfill those requirements, you'll be able to post.

    Look forward to seeing your work in the Workshop :)
     
  11. Alexa C. Morgan
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    Alexa C. Morgan Member

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    :
    Excuse my noobness. I'll remove my post. Thanks.
     
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  12. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    First option looks really good!
     
  13. Alexa C. Morgan
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    Alexa C. Morgan Member

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    Im trying to delete the post i dont know how. I read the FAQ and the forum rules I do not see where I exactly am verging on breaking the rules, but regardless, I agree,I should take it down. If you are so kind to indicate how do I take it down I would much appreciate it. Thank you
     
  14. Alexa C. Morgan
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    Alexa C. Morgan Member

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    Thanks :)
     
  15. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's just you've added quite a chunk of your own work and well, in the end, you want to know what's not working, right? So that's a critique it actually needs. Basically when it's quite a chunk of your own work, the Workshop is best. If it were just a paragraph or two, then you'd be fine posting that just about anywhere - I've done that myself in the Word Mechanics subforum. Anyway I'm not 100% sure you have broken any rules, just to me it looks like you're verging upon it. I could be wrong. Ask a mod if you're not sure and go with whatever the mod says :)

    Anyway, I think you just "edit" your own post, delete whatever you wanna delete, and save it. If I remember correctly, there's probably a delete option once you get into editing mode.
     
  16. Alexa C. Morgan
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    Alexa C. Morgan Member

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    I tried it appears you can edit only for a certain time but not retroactively after you posted. Oh well, I made the effort... :)
     
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  17. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think then that's probably a bug on the forum lol.
     

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