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What kind of dinosaur do you think I should make Magnolia?

  1. Hypsilophodon

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  2. Deinonychus

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  3. Some other kind (please add suggestions)

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  1. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Will this premise work?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Rick n Morty, May 10, 2016.

    Sorry about not posting for a while. I was upset over the Zootopia incident. Anyways...

    This is a somewhat old idea I've had for approximately half a year. I'm quite proud of it, but after the Zootopia incident, I'm scared to share it with anyone for fear of it being too cliché or too similar to another story.

    If it is cliché or similar to another idea, can you please give me tips on how to make it more original?

    Anyways, here's the basic premise. It's pretty complicated, so sorry for the length.

    ----

    The protagonist is a dinosaur-loving twelve year-old named Alex and his Papillon dog Poncho. Alex's uncle Walter is an inventor who has built both a laser to destroy meteorites and a time machine. Walter is afraid to test it out the latter though, for fear of altering the present.

    However, Walter's sidekick, an intelligent talking African grey parrot named Cletus has just read a dinosaur book talking about how dinosaurs used to be the dominant species on Earth, but are now reduced to just birds. Cletus then sees both the laser and the time machine and gets an idea.

    Alex and Poncho catch Cletus in the act of stealing the time machine and laser and manage to sneak onboard the vehicle after the bird. They end up in the Late Cretaceous, right before the infamous meteor hits. But Cletus destroys the meteor with the laser, resulting in a time warp and all three characters getting sent back to the present.

    Alex wakes up to see that dinosaurs have become sapient and taken over the world. Alex also finds that, since humanity has never evolved, he's become a monkey and Poncho is now a wolf. Cletus has become an oviraptor and is ruling the world as a tyrant.

    Alex and Poncho discover some freedom fighter dinosaurs, and befriend a deinonychus girl named Magnolia, who is about Alex's age. She is willing to help him set the world back to normal. So the three go on a journey to find a wacky deinocheirus scientist named Professor Quill, who knows a lot about physics and time travel theories, to see if he knows what to do. Along the way, they encounter primate versions of Alex's friends from school.

    Cletus hears about the plan to stop him, however, so he sends a group of military pterosaurs, led by a German-accented quetzalcoatlus named General Azdark, to stop them.

    ----

    It's a very strange idea, and I had to make up a lot of crazy time travel rules to make it work. I also had to take some artistic license with paleontology. (Some of the dinosaurs featured went extinct long before the Cretaceous mass extinction, for example.)

    I also tried to subvert the “plant-eating dinosaurs are good and meat-eating dinosaurs are bad” trope. Dinosaurs in Cletus's army include sauropods, ceratopsians, and ankylosaurs, while one of the freedom fighters is a deinonychus who acts as a surrogate brother to Magnolia.

    So, if my idea is flawed or cliché or anything, can you give me any kind of constructive criticism to make it LESS flawed or cliché? Little hurts me more than destructive criticism. (“This work is bad and you should feel bad! Throw this crap in the garbage and go kill yourself!”)
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
  2. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I think it's pretty hard/wrong to judge a synopsis like this as flawed/cliche. Nearly every story could be compared negatively to others if presented so briefly.

    Basically I'm giving the same trite answer most 'Is my plot idea good?' threads get, which is 'It could be, depending on how you write it'. There have been other stories about timelines where humans never evolved as the dominant lifeform, and some are better than others. It's a broad enough idea that you can still make it original, interesting and 'your own'. It sounds like you've already got some unique characters and you're being mindful to avoid cliched tropes like 'Carnivores are evil', so I say get writing and do it justice!

    Specific comments:
    • I particularly like the contrast of Poncho as a papillon vs a wolf.
    • It seems contrived that Walter has made a laser specifically for destroying meteorites. Cletus will seem a more effective tyrant if he's smart enough to repurpose a laser designed for something else.
    • I personally find crows a bit played out, but plenty of other people must still love reading about them (and I wouldn't consider them full-blown cliche - I still like them). If you're aiming to stand out you could try a different bird. The obvious choice (in terms of intelligence comparable to corvids) would be a parrot (and from experience, parrots are definitely bad guys ;)). I'm surprised that I haven't come across as many parrots in fiction (other than on pirates shoulders). Might just be me though - maybe everyone else is sick to death of parrots. But then, there are plenty of different parrots... what kind of complexes could a male princess parrot have? Just spitballing.
    • Similarly, if you're really concerned about originality, there are heaps of more obscure dinosaur species that are just as interesting as Deinonychus, Troodon, Oviraptor, etc. But you may not want to avoid familiarity entirely, and whatever you choose, their effectiveness as characters will outrank their species.
    If I remember your Zootopia thread correctly, I don't think the consensus was that it was an outright terrible idea; just that it wouldn't be one with great timing (with Zootopia being current). To use other current movies as examples, there are currently two blockbusters out that basically involve 'Two superheroes are butting heads with each other! And they're both good guys! Mercy me, what is the world coming to?' Arguably, the Marvel take completely outshines the DC one, but had there been more of a gap between them, fewer comparisons would have been drawn and perhaps the DC film would have been appreciated more for not being in Marvel's shadow. Also bear in mind that concepts like originality and cliche are entirely subjective.

    I do think you need to have more faith in your ideas if you've been entirely put off by responses you've had on here. You're the only one who understands the full scope of your vision, so you need to judge the feedback you're getting in light of that. There are always going to be criticisms because you can never make everyone happy, but no artist would ever bear fruit if they let detractors get the better of them in the early stages. Not that I'm saying you should ignore feedback - just that you need to critique your critiques! If a negative comment makes no sense, then ignore it. If negative comments DO make sense though, take them on board and be confident that you're making logical decisions based on them. That's the whole point of criticism - it's not something you should get upset about.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Thanks! Glad you like the idea.

    Yeah, I would like to include some more obscure dinosaur species in the story. For instance, I had an idea for a constantly drunk Deinocheirus as a minor character.
     
  4. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was obsessed with dinosaurs as a child. My very first attempt at writing (I was like 10 or so) was about a time machine. I like your idea, I do not recall the Zootipia thread but like Sifunkle pointed out you have to have faith in your ideas. Good Luck with it.
     
  5. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I'd question why Magnolia is willing to wipe out her entire species/civilization (even with a tyrannical leader) - maybe acknowledge different timelines and just have Alex and Poncho trying to get back to their own, agreeing to take Cletus with them to help out the freedom fighter dinos? Crows as evil or at least dark portents is a bit played out, imo, though I'm biased because I think they're really cool birds with an undeserved bad reputation - I like the idea of having him be a parrot instead. African Greys are also super smart and capable of speech if you want to go that route. Anyway, it sounds like a fun idea.
     
  6. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Sifunkle pointed that out, and I did come up with the idea of Cletus being an African gray parrot instead of a crow. I made his dinosaur form a Troodon due to them having the same "smartest dinosaur" reputation as crows do, but I think if I make his bird form a parrot, I'll make his dinosaur form an Oviraptor due to them having a similar bill as parrots.

    If I make Cletus an Oviraptor, I think I'll make the professor a Deinocheirus. I made him an Oviraptor because that's what came to mind when I thought of wacky professor dinosaurs, but Deinocheirus is just as odd-looking as Oviraptor, plus it'll be fun to get that dinosaur into the public mind.
     
  7. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Anyways, the reason I was so anxious about posting this was because of the similarities to other works. For instance...

    Help! I'm a Fish
    Boy and friend(s) are turned into animals, and try to escape from evil dictator animal. Both also involve a wacky professor. (Though the professor in HiaF is a marine biologist, while this one is an expert on time travel and quantum physics. I'm also trying to come up with with a different name for the professor, since Quill sounds too similar to MacKrill.)

    The Cutie Re-Mark (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)
    Villain goes back in time and stops a certain event from happening while protagonist and sidekick try to stop them, and end up in a bad present.

    Lawnmower Dog (Rick and Morty)
    Animal learns how his powerful ancestors were reduced into what he is now, and is inspired to take over because of this. (In the R&M episode, it was wolves to dogs. Here, it's dinosaurs to birds.)

    The Good Dinosaur
    Alternate timeline where dinosaurs become sapient and form a society instead of going extinct. (To be fair, that's a really generic idea, and I plan on exploiting this premise more than that film did.)

    The Wizard of Oz
    Kid and dog go into new world and make new friends while trying to find a "wizard" to help the kid get back home. Meanwhile, a dictator sends flying minions after our heroes. (To be fair, that movie is referenced all the time in pop culture, so it probably won't be too much of a big deal to make a homage to it.)

    Anyways, people were telling me to put some less familiar dinosaurs in the film, but I think it's nice to portray old dinosaurs in a new way. For instance, how many times have you seen a Deinonychus as a good guy (specifically, an older brother figure)? Or an Oviraptor/Deinocheirus (depending on whichever I decide to use) as a wacky mad scientist? Or a Hypsilophodon as a major character?

    There's some minor and necessary errors. Besides the anachronism mentioned above, the work implies that modern birds evolved directly from Troodon/Oviraptor, and didn't evolve until after the Cretaceous extinction.

    Other than that, I plan on making the dinosaurs themselves pretty accurate other than the anthropomorphism. For instance, they'll all be feathered properly, even the species we don't usually picture with feathers. (Magnolia will be covered with fuzz similar to that of Tianyulong, and the ceratopsians will have quills running down their back.)

    Pterosaurs are rarely portrayed accurately, but the ones in mine will walk on all fours, be covered in pycnofibres, and won't grasp things in their talons like eagles.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
  8. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Alright, here's something else I'd like suggestions on: what kind of dinosaur should I make Magnolia?

    I originally considered a Hypsilophodon, because you rarely see those dinosaurs as major characters, especially as action girls. But then I realized that I'm trying to subvert the "predators are mean" trope with dinosaurs, so I'm considering making her a young Deinonychus instead. (Especially since one of my other characters was a Deinonychus who acted as an older brother figure to her; maybe I'll make him her biological brother.)

    Or maybe some other dinosaur (or prehistoric creature in general) would fit a tad better. What do you guys think? Maybe I'll start a poll.
     
  9. hawls
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    hawls Active Member

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    There's something I don't understand.

    Alex and Poncho and Cletus go back in time using the time machine. Within the time machine they themselves remain unaffected by that passing time, safe within the time machine.

    There, in the past, they destroy the meteor that would have wiped out the dinosaurs. Which causes a time warp. I don't understand this time warp.

    Alex become a monkey because humanity never evolves. Yet, presumably, he's sentient and has the same mental capacity he had as a human. He also has all the memories of being a human. Why does the time warp not affect him mentally? Why does it only affect his physical appearance? Why does it affect him in any way at all? If he was flung back through time with all his memories intact then why should his body change? Surely the time warp is a tunnel through space and time inside which everything remains unaffected by what goes on outside of it.

    If you really want Poncho to become a wolf and Cletus to become a dinosaur, just send Alex back through time on his own. Let him shoot the meteor, the blast knocks the time machine, creates a time warp that sends him back into the new future he's created. He remains a human but because he's the only human, he is pursued by the new dinosaur overlords.
     
  10. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Like I said, I had to invent a bunch of crazy time travel rules to make the story work and be more interesting, so even though the characters change physically, they still have their memories.

    Also, it's not Alex who destroys the meteor, it's Cletus. Alex and Poncho see Cletus sneaking aboard, so they try to stop him for fear of him messing with time.
     
  11. hawls
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    hawls Active Member

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    I didn't say Alex destroys the meteor.

    I was suggesting you make Alex destroy the meteor. That way you don't have to make all these 'crazy time travel rules' just to make the story work. I don't think implementing my suggestion makes your story less interesting. The idea of going back in time to destroy the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs so they continue to be the most dominant species on he planet is inherently interesting on its own. You don't need to over complicate matters.
     
  12. Joe Portes
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    Joe Portes New Member

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    I think this is a really cute idea and I would actually love seeing this movie.... but that's just it: I think it works really well as animation, but I'm not sure about reading it in text. Is that a problem? I'm not sure if you were intending this to be a screen play or a novel or what. Also, what is the target audience? Is it for children or like a Pixar movie in which the perceived audience is children but really adults get just as much enjoyment out of the film.

    Story-wise: don't get too hung up on being cliche. It is impossible to be wholly original. You are always going to find similar stories. What's important is your writing and the characters. You do run into a lot of time travel rules as you mention being aware of and that's not a problem because all sorts of stories take liberties with "time travel logic" (as if there is a thing).

    And I, like Izzybot, am hung up on why Magnolia is willing to wipe out her species. Also, that's pretty dark. If it is for children, do you want the story to end with all the characters they just grew to love being wiped out? Here's a thought: does time travel even have to be part of the story? Can't it just be a story where dinosaurs inhabit the Earth because there was never a meteor extinction and the "bad guy" is a different species trying to destroy all the dinosaurs? You could start the story where the time machine lands then go back to show why the Earth is inhabitated by dinosaurs or skip that all together because your audience will probably already understand that.
     
  13. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Yep. I picture it as a film more as a book.

    Like you said, Pixar-style demographic.

    I thought the idea of our protagonists changing species due to a time warp would be interesting.

    Someone already suggested the idea of different timelines, which I decided to do instead. We get a bittersweet ending where Alex has to go back to his timeline, but it reveals that most of the sapient dinosaurs we saw in the other ones are still alive.
     
  14. Joe Portes
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    Joe Portes New Member

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    Ahhh, I see now. Having most of them still alive gives us a nice happy ending. I think it is a really strong idea overall. I think it is just about the execution. You could sit around all day drawing parallels to other works and getting hung up on it, but really it's the characters and the little specefics that makes stories stand out. Think of how many times the basic premise of Romeo and Juliet has been told? Hell, think of how many times it's been told just in the very specefic sub-genre of Dance/Romance movies (that I may have just made up a sub-genre for) like Save the Last Dance or Step Up or basically any story about forbidden love because of different races, classes, rival families, etc etc. There's a new Romeo and Juliet movie every few months it feels like. There's also lots of animated dinosaur movies. And time travel movies. And animated movies with talking animals. And movies with lasers. And evil crows. But you're the one writing the movie with all those things combined and told from your unique point-of-view so if it's good enough, who cares how similar it is? Plus, it's parallel thinking, it's not like you stole the idea.
     
  15. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Alright, here are some new characters I came up with recently.

    Remember when I said that General Azdark had an army of military pterosaurs helping him to try to catch Alex and Poncho. Well, I decided a whole army might not be as fun, so I decided to give him three other henchmen who work with him. Like how Azdark has a German accent, I decided to give each of them their own foreign accents to differentiate them a bit (though I'm a bit worried about falling into stereotypes). Here they are:

    • Captain ??? (haven't come up with a good name yet): A British-accented Pteranodon, who's sort of the clever crafty one while Azdark is the bossy one.
    • Sergeant Senshi: A Japanese-accented female Ornithocheirus who sort of fills the role of the (mostly) silent warrior type.
    • Private Bobo: A Latino-accented Tapejara who is dimwitted and cheerful, being more interested in fruit recipes and Samba music than the military.
    My original idea were that the pterosaurs had German, British, Japanese, and Russian accents, since all four of those nations were enemies of America at one point. But I couldn't figure out whether the Japanese or Russian accents would be more fitting for the Ornithocheirus or Tapejara, so I decided to make the Tapejara Latino, since Tapejara is a Brazilian pterosaur.

    Once again, really sorry if you think I'm falling into ethnic stereotyping. If you want me to change it, please tell me.

    Another character I came up with is a friendly Megalodon shark who helps Alex, Poncho, and Magnolia get to the island where the professor lives, since the shark is friends with the professor. During this scene, the pterosaurs attack with the help of a Lioplurodon/Mosasaur (haven't figured out which species would work better) who acts as a military sub, and this marine reptile gets into a fight with the Megalodon.

    The leader of the dinosaur freedom fighters is a wise Einosaurus (an interesting ceratopsian with a forward-facing nasal horn), and one of the freedom fighters is a grouchy Spinosaurus who thinks Alex and Poncho are spies.

    I also came up with the idea of Cletus having a Tyrannosaurus rex who lives beneath his throne room and acts as a Rancor for him, eating prisoners who Cletus drops below. This T. rex is just as sapient as the other dinosaurs, and apologizes to his victims before he eats them. And yes, he's the one who defeats Cletus during the climax.

    A really minor character is an Anurognathus whom Alex and Magnolia rescue, thinking he's a prisoner of Cletus, before he turns out to be a spy who exposes the hideout of the dinosaur freedom fighters.

    Alright, now that I've mentioned this stuff, I need some more help; this time with characterization.

    I'm scared that all of my characters fall into basic archetypes and don't have much beyond that.

    Alex: Adventurous kid hero.
    Poncho: Loyal, protective, and faithful dog sidekick.
    Magnolia: Action girl who defrosts throughout the course of the story. Also, she lost her parents and just has her older brother to care for here.
    Cletus: Snarky and humorous dictator who can be quite sadistic when he needs to.
    General Azdark: Military henchman of the main villain who acts as his dragon and is all bossy to HIS henchmen.
    Captain ???: Smart and serious henchman.
    Sergeant Senshi: Fierce and mostly silent female fighter.
    Private Bobo: Dimwitted minion with an F in evil who's more interested in mundane activities than working for the bad guy.
    Megalodon: Big scary monster who turns out to not be so big and scary after all.
    Dinosaur professor: Wacky, absent-minded professor. (However, I've never seen this character archetype used for quantum physics professors.)
    Magnolia's brother: Protective older brother who doesn't want anything to happen to his sister after they lost their parents.
    Einosaurus: Wise guy who has a minor role in the story and is the leader of the freedom fighters.
    Spinosaurus: Grouchy good guy who thinks protagonist is a spy.
    Uncle Walter: Wise scientist who has a minor role in the beginning and end.

    Anyways, does anyone have any suggestions on how to make these characters more interesting and less generic? Original character types are hard to come up with in this day and age.

    I made a thread asking for suggestions on how to make Alex develop (that no one replied to), and I later decided that maybe at the beginning he just sees dinosaurs as mindless and vicious movie monsters, then he meets Magnolia, learns how losing her parents affected her and her brother, and starts to see dinosaurs as more than movie monsters. Hell, maybe he could be a tad scared of her when he first meets her, due to her being a dromeosaur and all.

    I already mentioned the idea on that thread of Magnolia starting out prideful and stubborn, jumping into action and always wanting to be the one who saves the day. Then when she learns how to defeat Cletus and restore Alex and Poncho's timeline, she decides to step aside and let Alex be a hero while she goes to rescue her brother and the other freedom fighters after Cletus captures them.

    So, what do you guys think? Any suggestions? (Don't be afraid to make your replies really lengthy, like mine!)
     
  16. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is for a children's story, yes? I love it.
     
  17. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    I picture it as a cartoony, 2D-animated Don Bluth-style film.

    What do you think of the new stuff I just posted?
     

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