1. Papery
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    Papery New Member

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    Trying to develop an Alternate Universe plot...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Papery, Jan 14, 2011.

    I was recently struck with a fairly interesting idea that I'm interested in turning into a plot for a novel. I have a sketchy idea of the opening scene and a general direction in which to take the writing, but I'm having trouble with character drives, and I'm trying to be careful not to get stereotypical with this whole adventure-type theme.

    Our central character is a male in his later teens or possibly early twenties. He leads fairly unremarkable life, most likely lower-middle class. He works a job he hates at a shopping mall, more character details and little quirks to be determined. I've not done much to develop him, at this point.

    One day, Joe Blow is doing his food court jockey routine. The lunch hour is passed, business is fairly slow, and he is sent out to sweep up whatever litter the people in line might have left. He turns on auto-pilot and sort of meanders through the busy work, caught up in thought or what have you, and something crunches under his foot. J.B. looks down to see he's stepped on a piece of chalk that's broken into a couple of pieces under his weight. It strikes him as unusual (probably I will think of a better reason), so he picks up the two remaining larger pieces out of the mess and pockets them before sweeping the other shards up.
    As he goes to dump his dustbin in the garbage, there is some ruckus down the food court. Crashes, shouts. Joe Blow turns to look, only to have a woman come hurdling into him, flying out of who knows where. She's dressed strangely (likely something steampunky, yet another feature TBD), older than Joe, and she's shouting at him and trying to reach into his pockets.
    Joe thinks he's being mugged, or something, and fights back, causing yet more of a commotion. Mall security begins to move in on them, and Girl wonder grabs Joe Blow by the collar of his shirt, tearing off through the mall and dragging him with her.
    They undoubtedly alarm people left and right, J.B. scarcely keeping up and probably still trying to get loose of her, still making a scene.

    Girl Wonder finally shoves him into a) a dressing room or b) a janitor's closet or something of the sort, and follows in after him, closing and locking and possibly barricading the door. Joe is freakin' out by this point, and it does not help when Girl Wonder pulls a rather massive old-timey weapon and puts it to his head. She gets handsy again as he quails against the wall, reaches into his pockets and pulls out a piece of chalk. She gets angry about its size, Joe stammers something about stepping on it, but she isn't listening to him for long. Instead, she turns around to draw on the wall beside the door.
    She draws a large rectangle, and inside of that draws four rows of three circles, with one added on the bottom. She numbers twelve of them, and leave the bottom one blank.
    By then, Mall security is pounding on the door, demanding to be let inside, warning them that the door will be broken down and severe penalties shall follow if they don't comply, etcetera. Joe, understandably, would like out of the closet so he doesn't catch any blame, and makes for the door, but Girl Wonder touches one of the numbered circles and the closet/dressing room lurches and begins to descend as though it is an elevator.
    Girl Wonder has drawn a panel of elevator buttons.



    I'm debating whether this elevator system travels planes of existence or simply layers of a multi-level, man-made world that Joe Blow and the contemporaries on his level of said world don't know anything about.

    Either way, what I'm sort of looking at is a fantasy type setting with potential for rich steam- and/or cyber-punk themes going on. Travel by 'elevators' would be an ancient secret, passed down for centuries from teacher to disciple. It would also be severely, uh, illegal. Travel by these means would probably be regulated heavily by a central government/bureaucracy/mafia/what have you. The mineral from which the chalk is made is extremely rare and consequently extremely valuable. It would likely need to be either bought on the black market or stolen.

    I'd really love some feedback on any of this. Suggestions for the central organization and its potential motivations would be loved, as well as thoughts on planar/nonplanar travel.
    Anything to drive a good plot!

    Thanks for your time, guys.
     
  2. vanarie
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    vanarie Senior Member

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    How about the girl is from the Amazon universe of Sexopolis and she is bringing him back to use as a sex slave. Considering that all the men there died from being oversexed. Oh, and she has a horse named Popilliby. But the horse can talk and tries to warn Joe Blow to get out of there. And the women want to auction Joe off to a 5000 lb woman who will force him to clean out her -censored- with a sponge.

    This is halfhearted but not meant to be inflammatory in any way. I'm in a pure Flesh Gordon/Heavy Metal satire mood tonight.
     
  3. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Don't know that it's easy to compel someone along like that. Even a little struggling by JB would make it near impossible for her to proceed. Maybe make the store room right next to the spot where he encounters her. That way she can simply push him in.

    Now, the normal response to "hey - I've got this awesome idea" is "ack! ideas are nothing - toddlers come up with ideas their every waking minute". BUT, you've actually backed it up with some - you know - writing. You've got plenty to get you started. Take a bit of what you wrote here and work it into a few hundred words of pretty prose.

    Good luck. If you get stuck, we're all ears.

    -Frank

    ps: "Time Bandits" immediately comes to mind. Loved that movie.
     
  4. Papery
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    Papery New Member

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    Ha, I'm not terribly worried about the action of dragging him down the hallway at this point. It's just kind of a rough summary of the first major plot point I had in mind. The actual movement will all get worked out, don't you worry!

    Thanks for the advice, Frank. I guess there's really little else I can do than start the first draft. :3


    Vanarie...
    Well, nice of you to try, I guess. Keep, uh, keepin' on.
     
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I think it's cool. I think it's a very unique way to have someone transported to an alternate universe.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has all been done before. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's 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?

    Write it. Work with it. Hammer the characters and their motivations into shape until you can believe in them.

    It's hard to write when you're wringing your hands in indecision. Don't ask for validation. Don't ask for permission.

    Just do it. Make it work.
     
  7. Papery
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    Papery New Member

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    I'm not really looking for validation, and certainly not for permission, but rather for someone who might provide inspiration for some of the above.
    The rest of it was meant more to give potential suggesters something to go off of.

    But thank you.
     
  8. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your idea sounds like lots of fun.

    How about: letting cultural influences "leak" between universes usually leads to disaster, so it's better if they don't know about each other?

    You could have fun describing how the two characters create such disasters by dropping items, inadvertently mentioning scientific, philosophical or religious ideas, and so on.
     
  9. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    The only tiny little thing is that elevators haven't been around for centuries, so that needs a tweek, but otherwise, I like. With alternate world you have tons of creative material.
     

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