1. foxbrains
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    foxbrains Member

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    Where to begin

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by foxbrains, Nov 1, 2007.

    I am sorry if this has been covered in the past, but I have a question.

    When writing a story novel, etc, where does everyone begin? do you start with a character in mind, or a situation, or just an idea that an outline or something is built around?

    lately I just stare at a blank page, fall asleep face down in it, and then see what shape the drool puddle looks like, and hope that breeds inspiration.

    I guess I have been in too good of a mood lately to write.

    So what do others do?

    foxbrains
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I usually have an idea either for the climactic moment of the story or an initial situation. Before I try to develop the full story idea, I start designing my main characters. When I know the characters well enough, I decide where the story begins, and when the characters first show up/ From there, I focus mostly on how the characters respond to what's around them, and take it from there.
     
  3. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    With novels I come up with an idea first. Like fanatical aliens trying to keep every other race in the universe planet bound. Or the Earth is annihilated, but a massive fleet was secretly sent out years ago to act as a second start for the human race and take genocidal revenge.
    From there I think about why this would occur and try to work out the science and history. After I get those down I start working on characters who would set things in motion, and how they could change some of the ideas I have come up with.
    One day I might even write a proper novel, and see how that strategy works out.
     
  4. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've usually started with a philosophical theme and try to argue different sides through the characters and events. The climatic scenes just seem to come more readily afterwards.
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It varies. Some times I've started with ideas for a situation, or a starting event. Sometimes there's been a certain message. Sometimes it even starts with an idea for a character.

    One story I started (but haven't finished, though I will one day) started with an image of a character walking out of the desert. I find that inspiration can come in all sorts of ways, for which I'm very grateful :)
     
  6. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    I just start. Any scene that comes in my mind and helps me feel the character's sentiments, the atmosphere, and eventually the plot.
     
  7. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    I start with the basic conflict and a very rudimentary outline of the overall story arc.

    Then I backtrack to character work -- the relative importance of the character determining how lengthy their sketch is.

    With these two things in place, when I sit down to start writing, it flows fairly easily for me.
     
  8. Lily
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    Lily Member

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    I'll usually be daydreaming and a story comes to mind - or an interesting character. I'll jot down my ideas in a notebook, come home, and begin describing the character or plot on my laptop. From there it usually blossoms into a scene, and then takes off. I think whatever gives you inspiration, whether it be sitting on a mountain or in traffic. I can never tell when inspiration will hit - it's random, wonderful, and sometimes frustrating because I could be in the middle of a math test.
     
  9. Karpi
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    Karpi Member

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    me being an endless bank of ideas, its VERY VERY easy for me to become bored with a story once i think of something cooler.

    so what i really have is an enormous collection of short stories, some finished, some not, and my around 10-page 'chapter 1' (the basis for all events)

    then of course, i write the climax.

    then i try to put them in a chronological order and connect them, and theres my novel!!
     
  10. PaulChernoch
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    PaulChernoch New Member

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    My idea for a novel consisted in three parts: setting, conflict and goal.
    * The setting was to be the afterlife, in a city full of courthouses.
    * The conflict was between people of different religions and political philosophies, which set up their own rival systems of justice to try their enemies and define truth and goodness according to their own tastes.
    * The goal for the hero was three-fold:
    (1) Come back to life
    (2) Failing that, fight the charges against him
    (3) Failing that, flee from justice for as long as he can.

    This statement of my story idea drove my initial research. I wrote nothing for six months. The afterlife setting meant I had to read up on several world religions and their conflicting ideas about the world to come. The judicial nature of the place meant I had to research the law and legal systems - American and several foreign nations so I could have a unique flavor. The coming back to life and communication between dead and living fed into more religious research.

    Once I had the rudiments of a legal system designed, I thought up a backstory for the hero through the lens of the crimes I wanted him charged with.

    Once I thought up the way that people could communicate between the dead and the living, I had my character's minor goals - exploring the city and finding out the secrets to talking to the living.

    Once I had an idea about how the city was governed and protected, I had ideas about how the hero would have to flee from justice, and what he would need to learn to keep ahead of the people chasing him. That introduced a villain.

    Since I wanted the hero to explore much of the city, I needed for him to find a job that would allow him to do that. That introduced coworkers, and a traitor.

    As my world started to come together, when it was time to start writing, I started right after the hero died, and followed him as he arrived in the city, met people and started to snoop around. Then it was just a matter of seeing how he would react to those events for awhile, until he knew enough to make a plan. Then I put up roadblocks keeping him from executing his plan easily.

    A lot of my story came from asking "why" and "why not" questions. Why would he do this? Why would he not do this? Why is it that nobody tries to do X? I then added little tidbits of information that shut down those alternatives to make the path seem inevitable. Never allow your hero to have an easy way out.

    I used to be a management consultant. Once I new the basics of a legal system, I did a feasibility study. What is the human mortality rate? How long do I want characters to stick around the city before being extradited to the final judgment? The answers to these questions yielded a population of a half billion. How big a city would be needed? I studied population densities of real cities. How long would a court proceeding take? How many proceedings would the average person require? From this I knew how many judges and lawyers I would need. From that, the number of courthouses, other staff, etc. I mapped out the city. Every answer lead to new questions. I followed the logic, made decisions as I came to each question, and the world took shape. The bureacracy needed administrators in key roles, so they became characters. etc.

    I thought about what themes I would like to address: justice, mercy, humility, avoiding responsibility, forgiveness. I created institutions to embody these, such as the House of Mourning to address grief, wisdom, mercy and acceptance.

    The fun thing is that once I got started and had something to work with, a steady stream of ideas began to flow. New characters. New obstacles. New themes. At times I would add a new character late - and have to shoehorn them into many chapters, what I call character weaving. Other times, I need a character and start to interview my existing ones to see if any can fill that role. In that way I established unexpected connections between the characters, which colored motiviations and led to more complex scenes thatn I could have planned.

    The most important thing is to just start.

    - Paul
     
  11. LionofPerth
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    LionofPerth Senior Member

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    Generally I start with a dream that I can remember, of seeing something different,or just having some crazy idea that, if you'll pardon the expression, grabs me by the balls, pulls downwards and twists sharply.

    I see my novel as a cartoon of sorts. I try to write what I see, some of the time I get this clear as crystal view of what I want to happen, and other times it's hidden in a fog.

    Research, I don't tend to do, if I need to know something I'll look it up, but, I try to do original things, or use older versions of myths. For example, in Balance I goto more a Nosferatu mythology than a Dracula mythology. For the scifi peice I am writing, straight to the classics, the Anabasis by Xenephon, and have a soldier with an extreme case of survivor's guilt going out to save some children from pirates, or slavers, I'm not sure if I should call them pirates or slavers.
     
  12. krmnky
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    krmnky New Member

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    I personally have always been horrible with plot. I can come with a fantastic character, and I can invent fantasy worlds like nobody's business, but as far as what that characters do and how they interact with the world around them, not so good. I found that what is easiest for me is to not fabricate everything. It is easiest for me to start with a real event, something that actually happened, usually to me.
     
  13. ANT (Bar YOSEF)
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    ANT (Bar YOSEF) Contributing Member

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    Mine seem to be based on true events or modern issues
     
  14. ANT (Bar YOSEF)
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    ANT (Bar YOSEF) Contributing Member

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    A good description is also really good (dats what ppl ahve told me) here's the opening of my story, JUDEA CAPTA.


    A lone tall figure stared into the distance. The streets were rivers of blood beneath his feet. Blood released by thousands of blades. Numerous screams pierced the air like a spear. He then looked up. The great temple, the "House of God", lay on the mountain, consumed by a ferocious fire of crimson and orange. He was sickened by this act of barbarism. How ironic that to put out the fires of rebellion, they started another fire.

    He had fought against Roman oppression for four years- four long years of blood, gore, and sacrifice. His kippah was still stained by the blood of many battles. His gladius, a symbol of his hatred of Rome, was worn by duels with the mighty legions. Barbarians, he thought. What right did they have to occupy the Promised Land given by God? What right did they have sacking Jerusalem- city of King David, home to the House of God? Now it didn’t matter- the Romans had triumphed. As the blazing inferno crackled, the legions descended on the sanctuary like vultures on a rotting corpse, taking away everything they could find in the Temple treasury.
    plz tell me wot u fink!!!
     
  15. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    I usually start with a fient idea of a story. I think "space warfare" or "crazy mosnter battles." From there I come up with a vague situation. After that I create a main character I can really enjoy writing about and then bend the situation around him, or modify it to him inside.

    Most of my stories are driven by conflicts between characters, or conflicts within a character that eventually leads to a bigger more climatic problem down the line. After I get the initial character going, everything just starts falling into place. Add some more characters with their own messed up lives, a villan, some plot twists here and there and bam. Good to go.
     
  16. Scrit
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    Scrit New Member

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    Starting a novel or story

    Assuming you have your idea and a reasonably firm plot-line, I agree. Then fast forward into your plot and start in the thick of things, leaving your reader eager to learn why the things that are happening are in fact happening... etc... :)

    John

    'Don't procrastinate. Remember, tomorrow is promised to no one.'
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with this. Something inspired you to write the novel in the first place. Maybe it was a cool idea for a battle scene, or maybe it was an encounter between two disparate viewpoints. So don't sit on your hands because you don't have the entire tableau of your novel laid out in your head. Go ahead and write the scene, let the characters begin to manifest themselves.

    Maybe the first thing you write will be completely reworked later on, or even discarded entirely. It doesn't matter! The important thing is that you have begun. Hopefully the scene will bring questions to mind that can spark more scenes, or the characters may become clearer to you. Maybe the scene will remind you of something else you'd really rather focus on instead, something with more promise. If you never start, none of this can happen.

    I used to do a lot of photography. The first principle I always kept in mind was "Film is cheap, but opportunities are fleeting." It doesn't matter if you have 35 shots on a 36 shot roll that belong in the trash bucket, but miss that one shot, THE shot, and it may never come again.

    The same is true in writing. Write the scene that inspired you, even if you aren't sure it will go anywhere. If you set it aside until it jells into a full story, it is far more likely to just get forgotten.
     
  18. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    If you come up with an interesting world-idea and a few characters that you have a good grasp of, you can just write what they do consistently and have yourself a book. So come up with an interesting character and put him/her into a situation, then write your way out!

    You could end up with a novel, or maybe a short story. You'll at least have something. :)

    Character-based works are almost always the most rewarding to read and they're the easiest to write well. As long as you know your characters and keep them consistent, you don't have to worry about believability so much and you can just let them live.
     
  19. trailer trash
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    trailer trash Senior Member

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    Where to begin ....

    I guess the most important thing to keep in mind about plotting a story, and or deciding where to begin is that there is no exact place to begin. Only you can make that decision. That does not mean that the traditional elements of story telling should be ignored i.e. Beginning, Middle, and End. Each story, theoretically and not withstanding stream of conscious and other bizarre techniques should have a Beginning, Middle, and End.

    Where you choose to start … well that is totally up to you. Most stories today seldom start chronologically at least in the realm of fiction.

    Elmo
     
  20. CalypsoRising
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    CalypsoRising Member

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    I go to sleep and wake up with a story. When I am writing a story, that is what I dream about. It actually took years for me to train my mind to follow my directions, but it has been worth it.

    Did you need inspiration to write, period, or do you just not know what to write about?
     
  21. Kauffman28
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    Kauffman28 New Member

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    I usually try to recover some of the emotional memories of the past and then put them down on paper. This helps to develop realistic characters.
     

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