1. CrowOfCalamity
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    CrowOfCalamity Member

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    Vague Ideas But No Plot

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by CrowOfCalamity, Jan 6, 2015.

    I've always been fascinated by the human mind and on two occasions I tried writing a psychological thriller that had to do with sociopaths, I failed both times. I have a new plot that are both influenced by my previous two stories. Here's the concept.

    Treston the protagonist goes through a loss, his best friend died. Through his remaining year at high-school he fell into depression. After senior year was over as soon as he could he enrolled in college. Treston shares room with the second main character, Sebastian.

    Sebastian is a very analytic person, he has no boundaries or shows no sign of empathy towards Treston. I'm trying to create a dynamic within this story. One character having no control over his life and the other having complete control, the problem is I don't know where this goes. I don't a definitive plot and to be quite honest I'm indecisive about this whole concept. My main character has no goals and the same goes for my other main character. I know characters don't need goals, they just need a purpose but if I write this I don't know how to progress the story.
     
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  2. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    I swear I'm not following you around on the forum, this just happened to be something I clicked!

    I think you definitely have something here you can work with. Maybe have each of the characters work off of each other - sort of how talk show hosts keep the jokes running by feeding off of each other. Let the contrasting personalities bounce back, and that can bring the plot with it. It doesn't have to be a plot-driven story, it can be a character-driven one.

    I'm not sure how you want the story to go - with death, terrifying things, or just plain... oddness?

    Perhaps you can start it by writing a dialogue between Sebastian and Treston. Just go where the conversation takes you, and by the end hopefully you'll have figured out their "voices." Maybe once you get a feel for your characters you'll know what dirty deeds they're capable of!
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Wired for Story might be a useful blog and/or book for someone in your situation, @CrowOfCalamity.
     
  4. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your setup sounds like a good dark comedy to me where the story world would constantly reward the person having no control while punishing the person having complete control, ending in a climax where the latter finally gets his "just deserts" only to find afterward that what appeared to be a casual-reward for his behavior was actually yet another random chance.

    But it sounds like you don't want that. If you're looking for a plot, you could consider the contradictions inherent in polar opposite levels of these behaviors that come with a societally-assigned value: the contradiction that is the positives of "no control in life" and the contradiction that is the negatives of "complete control of life."
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
  5. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Arguably, a plot is basically a collection of two types of things that occur at various points in the story:
    • Some character must make a decision, where each option has compelling reasons for it and compelling reasons against it. The reader observes the character making this decision and facing the consequences.
    • Some character must overcome a challenge. The reader observes the character facing this challenge, either succeeding or failing, and facing the consequences.
    Give your characters dreams. Think about what each character envisions as the perfect world, and what each character envisions as the perfect life for himself. Put each one in a situation that is far from ideal. Put something concrete in the way of each character achieving his dream. Maybe put something in the way so that if one character overcomes a challenge, then that makes it impossible for the other character to achieve his dream.
     
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  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problem I'm seeing with this is that I don't believe that depression works like this...the way that you've written this, these are three sequential events that have no relationship and, OK, it's a summary so not fair to judge it for "literary merit", but I find it hard to believe that somebody suffering from depression would be energetic enough to do anything "as soon as he could".

    Also, I think that - depending on how close the two were, the cause of his friend's death would play a part in how upset Treston gets, and whether he has any longer-term trauma (and longer-term trauma could imply something that resounds on an earlier traumatic experience).

    So, I'd re-state this to include a reason for death, and whether his grief is reasonable or excessive (you could even have a guilty secret about/between them). I'd make his enrolment in college something that he just did because that's what his parents wanted (or even have Dad do it for him) and he's either going through the motions, or doing it and resenting them, or, or, or.
     
  7. qp83
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    qp83 Member

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    How about a mystery story?

    1. You have a best friend who died under mysterious circumstances, but was still ruled as accident/suicide by the police.

    2. You have the analytical person who can solve any puzzle. And since he likes to keep things under control, he can't have an out-of-control roommate. So, he's motivated to get him in order, for environmental reasons, if nothing else. And maybe the mystery behind the main character's best friend's death is a puzzle that tickles his mind.

    3. You have the depressed, out-of-control main character who subconsciously is looking for any length of rope that can help him out of his misery. And when his new roommate suggests that there may be another reason for his best friend's death other than the official report, he has to find out the truth.
     
  8. Sharie
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    Sharie Member

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    Did you ever see the movie Bad Influence? Yeah, like that . . .

    ;)
     
  9. CrowOfCalamity
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    CrowOfCalamity Member

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    Nope.
     
  10. CrowOfCalamity
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    CrowOfCalamity Member

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    That actually sounds pretty awesome, thanks.
     
  11. whimsy
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    whimsy New Member

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    I like QP83's suggestions. The first thing that popped into my head after reading your rough idea was, what if one of them is gay and falls for the other? I don't know if you'd want to go there, but the dynamic of a sociopath falling for his forlorn roommate could be very interesting.
     
  12. CrowOfCalamity
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    CrowOfCalamity Member

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    That would be interesting but I'm not that good with romance but then again it's good to get out of my comfort zone.
     
  13. whimsy
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    whimsy New Member

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    There doesn't have to be much in the way of romance if the feelings are unrequited, or if the sociopath is the one who becomes infatuated. It could almost go the way of horror or psychological thriller, the latter of which is (I think) what you're going for. :)
     
  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think I'd come up with some unusual incident that requires the two of them to act together. Some mystery person slides a note under the door that seems to contain a threat. The toilet blocks up. A naked girl bursts into their room, sobbing "Hide me! Hide me!" Anything that throws them both into the same situation that requires action. They'll be forced to communicate. If you can write them tackling this odd incident together, you'll instantly have a notion of what the dynamic is between them, and their relationship will build. Ths incident doesn't have to do with the actual story you write, but it can get things going.
     
  15. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    I think of plot as a function of theme and conflict. The theme you seem to want to explore is control and mental health. So develop conflict around those two themes. Does it draw the roommates closer as the each deal with an external conflict or is the conflict between each other and their incompatible mental health? You've got a lot to work with.

    It might help if you can be more precise about what fascinates you about the human mind. What about the human mind? Its ability to by self deceive, be hypocritical/duplicitous, or something else? The more precise you can get the easier it will be to identify a plot.
     
  16. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do all three of those things happen? Just as they are reeling from the threatening note the toilet blocks, and as they are searching for a plunger the naked girl bursts in. This would probably be my favourite chapter in any book ever.
     
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  17. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    hm... You could have the depressed character be envious of the character in control. Where as the character in control is constantly struggling to keep control, although keeps it hidden so no one is aware of his struggle.(the conflict between the characters would be most prominent here, and I would suggest a strong dislike for one another.) As they come to understand each other(one gaining some empathy that he lacked, the other beginning to see the sacrifice of keeping total control) they realize they are both dealing with different but equally painful scenarios. They can find comfort with each other and become good friends/romance if you must. The mystery idea is a good plot device for achieving this goal, as the investigation reveals things about the depressed character and why it changed him so dramatically.(the controlling char, doing this for his own motives, continues to go out of his way to solve the case, toward the end being motivated after gaining understanding and empathy for out control depressed character because he truly wishes to help him.) If you make them gay than it is a romance and the rest of the story should come from that angle, otherwise, it might be a shorter story ending with the mystery being solved and them becoming good friends, maybe a little adventure to catch the culprit.

    Made some edits here, it's kind of confusing, hope you get it okay :(
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
  18. wardell
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    wardell Member

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    If I was doing the story the readers would think the roommate killed the guys best friend but it turns out someone is framing him and the two work together to find out who and when they do they find out there's more going on then murder something that not only threatens their lives but the lives of every one on campus
     

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