1. ToBeInspired

    ToBeInspired Senior Member

    Jul 16, 2013
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    Creating Plots

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by ToBeInspired, May 12, 2016.

    Question is at bottom

    When I pan out a story it's kind of an entire process. Let's imagine it's the same as creating a golden statuette. First you have to find the rare unprocessed ore, refine it, then sculpt it. I get bursts of inspiration, and at the time I feel it's the greatest story ever, I later realize that it has to be worked on until it can become more usable.

    For instance I'll start off with the idea that I potentially want a series. My next thought is that I want the series to not have the hindrance of being stuck to a particular linear plot. If I focused on a specific period in time, on our current adaption of the planet, and was historically accurate... I would be limited. If I was to adapt a more sci-fiction aspect and open up myself to this galaxy (John Carter in a sense), I would still be limited by the knowledge of what is known. If I bypass this solar system and open myself up to the entire universe the only limitation is my imagination. Any form of planet can be imaged and any life form as well.

    My first thought was that I simply wanted more options to branch out for a later date. I took this idea and worked with, feeding off the books I had been reading at the time, but ultimately it all sorted blended into a the realm of nonsense (black holes to negate the need to justify time lapses, omniscient being(s) to explain everything i.e. most religions, humanity on the brink of being well played out, etc.). It took almost two years of throwing out an incredible different variety of ideas until one just... made a lot of sense.

    At the same time I was able to come up with another potentially marketable book series. The only problem I'm facing with that one is whether to make it more serious or humorous. I think I'm going to try both and see which one comes off more to more liking... but that's another story.

    I know EXACTLY what my plot outline is now, but the problem I'm facing is how to decide on the other factors? How many characters should I encompass? What difficulties should I give my main and supporting characters? How much should I give in dividends towards their achievement(s)? How do I appropriate a well corresponding ratio between success and failure between a series? Should the first book be a cliffhanger of potential repercussions or a heartfelt ending designed to cling to those heartstrings?

    I have a general outline of how I want the story to play out, which includes a beginning and a series end.

    I could start off with the M.C. developing at a younger age or skip a few years and use a back-shadowing moment to explain what could have previously taken 1-3 books. If I started at a younger age I would have to encompass other characters that would go past the traditional supporting role, though could later be taken out entirely. How does everyone feel about that? Eliminating a character that was presented a larger role simply to fill a gap needed to bring attention to the development of another character? I'm leaning towards going the younger age route and placing my M.C. in a specific timeline that can be "shortened" due to special circumstances. Age is not as reflective in this story as potentially that of others, after all. It's more a story of reflecting a personal commitment and growth into a tangible reward. Few things I need to iron out, but I'm not too worried about it.

    I'm sure I can figure all of this eventually out by myself, but I was mainly just ranting and letting my own juices start flowing.

    My real question is... when faced with alternate plot lines how do you decide which should be used and which should be eliminated? What makes you decide... this is what my story should be like. This is the problems my characters should face. This is the ending I envisioned.
    RahnyJae likes this.
  2. RahnyJae

    RahnyJae Member

    Mar 10, 2016
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    Detroit, MI
    "...but ultimately it all sorted blended into a the realm of nonsense (black holes to negate the need to justify time lapses, omniscient being(s) to explain everything i.e. most religions, humanity on the brink of being well played out, etc.). It took almost two years of throwing out an incredible different variety of ideas until one just... made a lot of sense."

    I did the same thing with this one story a while back. I wrote over 300 pages for one set of characters in part one (which consisted of four other sets of characters) of a trilogy and as I went along, the plot was constantly changing and the world getting bigger; three different governments in one country, multiple dimensions, genetically engineered witches, secret organizations planning a multi dimension take over, a rebel group broken into two factions, werewolf witches...a mess. As I was doing this and getting frustrated time to time, I would stop and think 'am I spinning out of control and wasting time on something unnecessarily complicated/convoluted OR am I just being scared/lazy to do the extra work to tell this super layered multi-main character multi-genre tale?' ...Over a year later, when I had finally finished the 300+ pages rough draft of only one part of this mega tale (littered with inconsistencies due to plot changes as I went along) and still had other docs dedicated to other groups of characters and full of future notes and all this crazy stuff, I decided 'yes b, you're wasting time and this is a clutterbomb.'

    I have a habit of chasing moments to the detriment of a cohesive tale. Like if I day dream something happening between characters that makes me feel something good or bad or 'ohh snap!', if the characters don't have much to do with each other, I'll spend way too much time trying shifting the plot in their direction just to get this moment. Or if I really love an element of a genre but it's not fitting in with everything I had already laid out, I'll spend way too much time trying to squeeze it in there. 7.5 times out of 10, the story will end going nowhere slow in a hundred different directions. The only good thing about it is that once I break up the hodgepodge of ideas, I end up with a lot of new story ideas to be individually fleshed out later.

    Because I know I have this habit, whenever I get that feeling again that I'm "daydreaming on paper" (what I officially coined it after that 300+ disaster), I remind myself of the K.I.S.S. rule. Keep It Simple Stupid. Now recently, while following that rule with a new WIP I felt like the story was too simple because I couldn't feel a connection to my characters. They felt like paper puppets to me. For some reason, somehow I got in my head long ago that in order for my characters to feel fully realized they have to be doing a lot and in order for the world to feel fully realized it has to have a lot going on. It can't just be a small town, it has to also be a cover for a secret government base and everyone's a werewolf spy. lol Don't know where on earth I picked that up, but feeling this way when going into every new story with a good simple idea and a theme to explore has not done me many favors. Don't get me wrong, sometimes adding big twists and turns that put the plot on its head and takes it somewhere completely different than where I initially thought does work out, it's not always a fail. I just have to be brutally honest with myself on when that kind of development is actually working with (not against) my original idea and when I'm just being a stubborn brat and not wanting to let go of something that looks cool in my head but isn't offering much else and subsequently making the rest of a what could be a good story held hostage to it. It's tough to know for sure before giving something a try what's going to work and what isn't, so sometimes you do end up having to let the imagination spin out of control and then chop away to reveal the real story you want to tell.

    I added to the K.I.S.S. rule "like you mean it" to remind myself that while super fun to play with, a story doesn't need tons of twists, turns, genre bells and whistles to be full and meaningful. I try to keep in mind the heart of what I have to say or what it is I want to make myself feel/think about (do I want to laugh, cry, contemplate) and how to get the characters to live something that will evoke those things in them and myself. Sometimes that can look like a small town drama and other times it can look like demon kings and dragon princesses running a secret organization to make everyone zombies. :p
    IHaveNoName likes this.

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