1. The Blood Countess
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    The Blood Countess Member

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    When to add more to what you have, and when NOT to.....

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by The Blood Countess, Jun 5, 2012.

    I've been toying with the idea of adding some fantasy elements to my dystopian trilogy. As of right now, it seems as if I could add certain things without altering the plot, and maybe that's because I'm still in the midst of planning.

    It would be fun to give certain abnormal abilities to the minority of my fictional society. This minority has been preyed upon for years and is on the brink of extinction. Think in terms of the Jewish population if Hitler had proceeded with his tyranny, unobstructed by outside forces. This is an analogy of course; the trilogy is not about the Jewish people and Hitler.

    Maybe they can summon demons or curse enemies by work of voodoo. The majority(think Hitler) slanders this behavior[out of fear and jealousy] and so outlaws all of these activities while hunting down people who take part in them.

    I have these choices, but I'm not entirely sure the story would benefit from them...or fall victim to "characters who can get out of any situation you put them in because you gave them so much power".

    How do YOU personally figure out if these additions are beneficial or not to the story?
     
  2. GillySoose
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    GillySoose Member

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    Well, I'd personally think on it and try to evaluate how necessary of a plot device something like these magical powers are, really. Haven't had to deal with something exactly like this for any of my works, but I figure I'd treat it as most major elements in a story. As for making them too powerful, I'd just give them some form of drawbacks and limitations. I mean hey, if they've been hunted to near-extinction then obviously their abilities can be overcome, after all.

    That is, of course, unless I specifically want them to be unstoppable and put some special twist on why they're in such dire straits despite this.
     
  3. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Page count.

    There's already a lot going on and do I really need these extra bits? If I'm creating problems, they need to be resolved. So it's not just a matter of embellishing the characters or worlds.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, that should be WORD count, not page count.

    But no, I would not add such elements to pad the story. It may be worthwhile to some degree to add to the richness of the setting, but if it doesn't contribute to the plot or to character development, it's still fluff.

    Fluff is bad.

    If, on the other hand, some of these elements can reinforce elements of the plot network, then go ahead. For instance, if your story centers on a growing tension between elves and the dwarves, you could also mention how the river sprites are impacted by the dwarves tempering thousands of weapons in the tributaries upstream, and how the mountain gnomes, normally neutral, are closing their borders to the elves.
     
  5. The Blood Countess
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    The Blood Countess Member

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    You guys have valid points. I'm still in the earliest stages of planning(more like brainstorming) to where the story's outcome isn't exactly known. Characters are still in development(as are their abnormal abilities). I'm get the feeling some of these additions will be beneficial, but I'm not entirely sure as of yet. :)
     
  6. Program
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    Program Member

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    When I write, I generally determine if something is important or not based on if it is recurring or not. If I am considering adding something, but then realize it's just because my product is not long enough, I toss that out immediately. However, if it's going to be one of those details that connects with this huge chain I've built up through the whole story, it's definitely going to be in the story.

    I think you can determine if an addition is going to beneficial or not by looking at how important it's going to be. I don't know how I can relate to those "abnormal abilities" you are talking about, so I'll just be making one up. I'm not being very creative right now, so bear with me. Say you have a guy named Bob, and he can read English from left to right (standard). Suppose he has the abnormal ability of being able to read normal English right to left, just as quickly as he reads from left to right. I don't know when this would be useful (maybe he has infiltrated the enemy base but he only has a few seconds to read their secret plans off of a mirror reflection?), but this would be something I consider adding, because his ability relates to the fact that his name is a palindrome. It's an example of "eye-candy" in literature, when you play around with the reader like that, and that can be very effective. If I continue to expand on that playful aspect of the story (e.g. Bob is trapped in a room of mirrors and I add "he looked left to right and right to left, but all he could see was himself."), that can turn out as a really great addition to the story!

    On the other hand, if you gave some random guy named Vladamir the ability to summon demons, it doesn't seem like it can produce any "eye-candy" until you elaborate by adding in more events. But then, the naming of the character Vladamir would have no significance... which can be bad.

    Overall, when you add something, make sure it is, or is going to be, important. In the most well-written stories, everything is important - from the first word, even if it is the word "The," to the last bit of punctuation.
     
  7. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    You mentioned that the majority oppresses and hunts down the minority because of fear and jealousy of their powers - that would suggest that the powers are a significant driving force in your story.
     
  8. Stupid-Face
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    Stupid-Face Member

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    It is always a help in the story to try and give them weaknesses that might cause them to be on the brink of extinction. For example, I have a similar idea, where people with super human abilities are being chased down and stuff, one of the my characters has the ability to heal and take lives but whenever he uses his ability, it affects his health and age. (If he heals someone, he gets wrinkles and becomes ill, while if he takes life from something, he becomes more youthful and more healthy) You need to give some realism in the abilities in order to make the characters believable but strong enough that they can have a journey. I hope that helped.
     

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