1. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    What is the most you've ever changed a plot? (and sample synopsis, long post)

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Alesia, Oct 21, 2013.

    As I've been crossing the country by car, I've been seeing so many things that seem to be taking my long established story in a totally different direction.

    In the beginning, this was supposed to be a post-apocalyptic America story, but now I'm wanting to shift it back to modern times where the characters will have access to cell phones, cars, computers, and other modern technology. So as it sits at this period of time the whole scope of the story has completely changed from the MC having a massive conflict in a P/A war to being a more simplistic romance/general fiction.

    Anyway, I'm interested to know how this new point of view shakes out from the eyes of others

    MC, Alesia (AJ) Connor is a 29 year old USMC vet who has just returned to the USA after a long tour in Afghanistan or Iraq (haven't decided yet.) She's had alot of problems growing up from a religious tyrant mother, to problems with her sexuality (lesbian leaning bi-sexual) to her father and brothers death, among many other things, therefore she has never really been a very happy person and the war only made it worse. When the narrative starts she has just arrived at Los Angeles airport with her discharge papers, and not a whole lot more to look forward to. Over the course of the story, she starts heading east and basically chronicles her adventures and conflicts in various places across America (she is hitchhiking/walking/etc..)

    Along the way (circumstances/location TBD) she meets a 23 year old girl with whom she strikes up a friendship and they begin to travel together (or MC stays in that particular town, that is undecided.) As the story progresses they slowly fall in love and begin a more serious relationship. It's through this new found relationship that the MC learns how to be more comfortable with herself and her life/parents/sexuality/and so on...

    In short, the story of how a frowning person learns how smile again.

    So, have you ever been in a situation like this where the story goes in a completely different direction from what you've already written/established? The characters stay roughly the same, but the whole plot starts over almost from scratch?
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
  2. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is there a definitive goal/reason for Alesia to head east in the first place? I'm just curious; not saying that there should or shouldn't be. :)

    I've never totally changed a plot, but one thing I did with a novel was change the protagonist and keep the core story. I realized that one of my side-characters was far more interesting and had more depth.
     
  3. Caesari
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    Caesari Member

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    My novel has evolved from a shoot'em'up "saving America" plotline to a much simpler story of redemption that is character driven. It has gone from action packed and fast paced to subtle and poignant (at least I hope it is! :p)

    Now, instead of having my MC seeking redemption by stopping a terrorism plot, it is him making amends with the son of the man he killed many years before. So I think that is a radical shift! But, looking at it, I am glad that is the direction I am going.
     
  4. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Not really. That's part of who she is in a way: an individual with no real goals or aspirations beyond the present. I suppose you could say her reason for heading east is to try and find a goal in life.
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It sounds to me like your story doesn't require a post-apocalyptic setting after all, but a more modern-day, maybe more immediately-relevant one. That's good work, to recognise this shift and go with it.

    Your subconscious brain is nearly always a better judge of story value than your conscious one, I reckon. I'd say go with your instincts. You can always write a post-apocalyptic story at a later date!
     
  6. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Experiment, try the non P/A setting. Ask yourself why did you want it to be P/A in the first place? 'cause it's likely to sell right now? It could very well be your story works better as general fiction, especially if you feel like you have more input now, stemming from your own travels.

    As for her heading east... I think I'd still give her a reason to do that. Maybe it could be something as simple as her wanting to get away from the West Coast 'cause her ├╝ber-religious parents/family are there? (I don't know if they are).

    Oops, pressed 'Post' a bit too early. I was supposed to add that T.Trian and I have also changed our WIPs really drastically midway. Our main project, Solus, was actually finished at one point, and then we just turned the whole plot around. So, yeah, go for it if you have that gut feeling that this might just work better...
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  7. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    One of my stories went from a Human Lone Survivor surviving on an uncharted planet to an extraterrestrial protagonist at conflict with human invaders.
    Some stories evolve so far ahead. This is because I notice a lot of plotholes which involve major re-writes and re-imaginings.
     
  8. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    There's just so much that's going on in my head that wouldn't work in the P/A realm. For example, I had a scene partially written up that takes place in the city of Las Vegas where the MC and her partner were in a bar/lounge/whatever wearing slinky cocktail dresses and high heels, make-up, hair done, etc... Things that don't exist in a bombed out world. I also wanted her to have access to the internet and cell phones as well as modern medical technology among other things.

    As far a family, she was originally from California, but I was never quite sure on where. I had about three possibles ranging from Sacramento to L.A., to Somewhere along the coast like San Luis Obispo/Pismo Beach. She has a sister in the Las Vegas area and not much in the way of family beyond that. She may be from CA, but that doesn't mean her mother couldn't have moved.

    Reasons for moving east? I can't think of any as of yet. When I left home the first time at 19, I had no real "reason" or goal for going, I just kind of did. Same with the second, third, fourth, and so on... If anyone has any ideas though, I'm open to hearing them.
     
  9. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    A possible reason that popped into my head on the road somewhere between Texarkana and Little Rock was this:

    The narrative opens 5 years after MC arrives home from her tour as a U.S. military medic during the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts (roughly present day 2013.) In the gap between then and now she has been working as an emergency room M.D. (possibly at a hospital in the greater L.A. area.)

    Now this is where the idea gets a bit sketchy because I don't know much about how these things work.

    One night in the ER, she makes a mistake which leads to the death of a patient. As a result she is brought before the hospital/medical higher ups and her medical license is either suspended indefinitely or revoked along with her hospital privileges.

    Beyond that my brain is being stupid. I'm thinking this could breed her going on this trip as a form of "running away" maybe. You know, that point where someone just says to hell with all of it and takes off. Jeez, this is almost starting to evolve into a whole new book lol.
     
  10. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    I changed my MC, which thus changed my whole plot. She went from "Melanie" a shy, studious girl into "Melody" a rough-around-the-edges, but sweet, punk. This changed my male MC too, thus making an entirely different, but better IMO story.

    *realized you asked if the characters stayed the same, but the plot changed* :oops:
     
  11. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    It's no big deal lol. I'm considering changing her name to Allison Connor because I wanted to keep the name Alesia aside for a different story.
     
  12. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Connor fits well with a post-aolpocalyptic setting :D

    I'm currently butchering a story I've published a year ago, taking the characters and initial situation and shifting the premise to somewhere else. Basically, it was/is a sort-of-a twisted fantasy with a couple of historical figures unknowingly time-traveling to far future yadda yadda and ends suddenly with a comical twist. Now I'm thinking: this has been overdone and I want a more serious, satyrical tone, with contemporary public figures doing idiotic stuff in a post-society future. I hope to make it work :)
     
  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I've changed elements of the plot, but not the entire plot. But if I did, then I expect the characters would have to change to a certain degree, since the events that shape their lives (and characters) would change. How could they not?
     
  14. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    To a certain degree, they're specific details would change, but the concept of their motives and feelings remains the same.

    Pre-apocalypse Alesia is guilty because she prescribed the wrong drug and caused the death of a patient. She leaves without a word, too ashamed to admit her mistake.

    Post-apocalypse Alesia is guilty because she got lost on a medicine raid, then finally found her way home with nothing to show for it. She learns that a child died because she couldn't get the medicine. Alesia heads east alone, unable to face the people she failed.

    A not-so-perfect example, but the idea is the elements of the characters can stay the same when the content changes. In my opinion, they're easily the same character.
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Elements, yes. But people in real life are in part shaped by their experiences. Completely changing the plot changes the experiences of your characters, and so I would assume that your characters would be subtly different because of it.

    For example, some writers when they are stuck in a piece of writing will skip ahead and write some later chapter. But when they come back to the point at which they had been stuck and write their way forward, they find that when they get to that later chapter there are changes that have to be made in it, because the characters have followed a slightly different arc from what had originally been intended. I have definitely had that experience, and I know of other writers who have mentioned it as well.

    As I mentioned in another current thread, I do not lock myself into specific character profiles ahead of time specifically because of this.
     
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I had to smile when I saw your thread. Has it changed indeed! Yeah, my characters stayed the same - all of my characters stayed the same throughout, and the most consistent of whom was my villain, Shadow Walker. But the plot?

    Original idea: inspired by Baldur's Gate when my game character was I'Ma T'Ree :D he.he.he. I'm not even kidding. After my game crashed, I renamed him to Heinrich, because I realised I loved the game. The idea went as follows.

    Heinrich was created by an evil wizard as a weapon of mass destruction and sealed to be awakened at the proper time. The Priests of Light came and ambushed the wizard, killing him before he could awaken his "weapon". When the priests failed to destroy the weapon, they hid it away in the Caves of Despair, where mourning souls dwell and fill the caves with tears. At an unspecified time for an unspecified reason (lol), Heinrich awakes and finds his way out of the caves, which leads out into the human world. He stumbles across a kind-hearted family who takes him in, and everyone assumes he has amnesia, since he has no name and no past to speak of, and the family named him Heinrich.

    The story starts when the five High Priests, each ruling an element (fire, air, water, earth and thunder) came to his workplace and attempts to kill him. The priests are battling my villain Shadow Walker and fears that SW would get at Heinrich and use him, so the priests want to destroy Heinrich to keep him from falling into the wrong hands. Heinrich makes a run for it and is saved by a woman by the name of Eleanor. During this time, Shadow Walker is watching Heinrich, waiting for the right time to take him and use him for himself. Here's when a new character emerged - Pandora, one of Shadow Walker's minions sent to gain Heinrich's trust. Then, at some unspecified point, the priests catch up with Heinrich and they battle it out. For some unspecified reason, the priests finally realise that they could have Heinrich as an ally instead. For yet another unspecified reason, he was gonna help them, until Eleanor dies of an unspecified cause, and he blames the priests. Now Shadow Walker waltzes in, and Heinrich sides with him to avenge Eleanor.

    So that's my original idea, when I was 19. Seven years later...

    My first completed manuscript went as follows:

    Will is a blacksmith's assistant who mysteriously acquires the power to conjure the wind, and now the High Priests want him as an ally, and Shadow Walker wants him too. Meanwhile a mysterious white tree invades Will's dreams and speaks in cryptic riddles :D Shadow Walker kidnaps Arlia, the girl sent by the High Priests to retrieve Will, and Will goes after Arlia into the Underworld. There he accidentally merges the Underworld with the human world, and discovers the clue to defeating Shadow Walker, and goes off to see the white tree, which is found in another realm, and there safeguards his soul. Now he goes back to the human world, talks to the Lord of the Underworld, and exchanges his soul for Shadow Walker's, allowing the soulless Shadow Walker to die and thereby breaking his power over the realms and the demons. Will dies, but then he's found to be alive in that other realm where the white tree is, because he'd entrusted his soul to the tree's protection.

    Yeah none of it makes much sense. I know.

    My current rewrite:

    When Will stumbles upon a dying dryad, he is gifted with the dryad's spirit, allowing him to conjure the wind and heal. A dryad's spirit, however, was not meant to inhabit a human body, and the power transforms Will into something else - something that is half-human and half-dryad, whose power belongs to neither. As the war between mankind and Shadow Walker rages, both parties want to get hold of Will: one, as a weapon in the war and, the other, as one with the power to merge the realms and thereby rid Shadow Walker and his army of ghosts of the hell that they're trapped in. By joining the realms, Will could also ease his own guilt over Rasiah's death and hope to offer his friend a second chance in death. Meanwhile, Shadow Walker's troops advance and Sulthraska, where Will's companions are, has been occupied.

    And I haven't finished writing and haven't a clue where it's going. The mysterious tree is still in the rewritten version but it's rather different. I've wasted some 300k words by now and really hope this latest rewrite will be my last. Of course I'll have to rewrite in terms of editing, but I mean I hope this is the last time my plot changes. I've rewritten the damn thing from scratch 3 times now.
     
  17. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    True, it's very difficult to strongly map a character ahead of time. I think as long as we stick to a vague outline and watch for consistencies, things usually turn out:). I was just giving an example for if there was something very specific, like a motivation, that the writer really wanted to keep in their story.
     
  18. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    That's kind of funny since that's almost how AJ Connor started life. My fourth courier in Fallout: New Vegas was simply "Alesia" (if you're familiar with the game she was face 10 with ginger hair in Wendy the welder style.) That's how her physical appearance came about which then became my avatar.

    Anyway, her story started out as a simple FO:NV fanfic involving the courier and Amata Almodovar from FO:3 romantically hooking up, then slowly morphed into my own P/A setting where she was given the middle name Jeanne and last name Connor (hence the nickname AJ.) After that I started creating a monster as more and more background stories on her started flooding into my head one after the other. That's partially why I kept the name Aimee for her love interest (modified from Amata :D)

    Then I went on a two week trip driving across America from L.A. to east TN and the whole game changed again with all the experiences/people I met combined with my experiences bumming around the US three other times. Suddenly the P/A setting vanishes and the modern world takes over and almost the whole story changes.

    Except for much of who AJ is at the core which is:

    1.) She was born in California
    2.) Her mother was an overbearing religious fanatic
    3.) She is Bi-sexual, but for the most part lesbian
    4.) Her father and twin brother died (two events which really changed her outlook on life)
    5.) She was in the military at one point
    6.) She is a doctor/medic
    7.) She has been plagued constantly by addiction/alcoholism much of her adult life

    Now, where she will go in the modern world is anyone's guess, but the character does essentially stay the same as Okon says - it's just her motives (and possibly first name) that have changed.
     
  19. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I changed my story, War Beast, a lot of times. During elementary, it was called The Play Dogs, about the humans races turning into dogs and fighting against alien invaders. In middle school, I changed the story where the dogs live on an island, which got hit by a meteor that turned the animals there into humanoid beings, and they fight different enemies. Next I changed them into hybrid super soldiers and bounty hunters who were genetically engineered. Then finally, I decided to make the story into a future sword and sorcery, which is similar to my first idea, except the humans transformed into different animal beasts by a magical comet. My characters are now mercenary warriors helping their clan survive by accepting different jobs that takes them on different thrilling adventures. I then called that series, War Beast. Thank god I shall never change ever again.
     
  20. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I think my biggest plot change was the complete reboot of another series called DW Force. It was a series I made directly after the American debut of Inuyasha on adult swim. Of course it had demons, lots of them, Actually DW Force meant Demon Warriors Force so yea. But in my head I created an episode a day for over 6 years. I was 17 when I finally realized the plot had not only grown old and stale but the characters were just moving in circles with no room to develop. Takkon, the main character, was just the archetypical Goku, ENORMOUS POWER, loving wife and family (thankfully he wasn't as bad a father... only two of his four kids died but at least one became the King of Hell) who lead a large team against increasingly strong global and even reality level threats. And that was a large cast of well over 200.

    Recently I decided to pick it right back up and start from scratch. Everyone's origins were completely wiped and redone. The entire 6 year history was hard to say goodbye to but it had to be done. I plan on bringing more focus on Takkon as well as the other characters who're gonna make a definite return but now with the new grasps I have on character and plot development and writing in general I won't have to use existing plots as a crutch as I used to.

    Takkon went from a goofy buffoon who finds a magic sword and uses it protect humans against demons like him to a more serious, angry character who absolutely hates humans because they hate him. He is forced into serving as their protector after his death at the hands of Judge Alistar, the Judge of all souls who die, for stealing his old magic sword he buried in the Demon realm before becoming a higher being. This gives Takkon an enormous room to grow as a character, maybe he'll learn to love humans. Maybe he'll start hating demons. Is he going to find contentment in his servitude?
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
  21. Smitty91
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    Smitty91 Member

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    I'm constantly changing the plotline to "Screams of Silence, Cries Unheard." I have changed the title to "Silent Screams" and will once again attempt to rewrite the story when I feel I am ready, or at least once I've developed a proper plot for it.
     
  22. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This isn't the biggest, but it was by far the fastest and easiest big change we ever did with KaTrian. It was for an older piece where four people end up on the run from the law as well as from organized crime. In one scene, they are contemplating their options and in the old version, one character said "well, at least we have money." Then we decided they had it too easy since one of them was from a rich family. We wanted more adversity and realism by adding monetary problems too, so we changed that one line to "well, we need money." Oddly enough, nothing else in the whole scene needed to be changed. It was a pretty quick fix although it led to quite a few changes for the rest of the story.
     

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