1. ohr_drakonis

    ohr_drakonis Member

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    How can I improve my plot?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by ohr_drakonis, Jun 20, 2022.

    Hi fellow writers,

    I'm looking for some guidance and direction as far as my plot goes. How can I improve it?

    Outline of my book:

    There exists on another planet in the universe a fantasy world known as 'The Color Realms'. On this planet there exists primarily seven Realms, a Realm for each of the six colors (orange, red, blue, green, violet, yellow), and an additional one for the 'Realm of the Light' in the center. Every morning the inhabitants of the Color Realms lift a colored crystal to the sun, and colored light shines through towards a prism in the central Realm of the Light. All the different Colors combine and fuse as one utilizing the Prism, and form one shaft of pure white light up towards an even higher Realm and plane of existence.

    The purpose of this Light is to provide all positive emotions - hope, joy, optimism, etc. - to humans back on Earth. But the Light must be in balance. Now, each of the Color Realms gains power from choices that mortals make back on Earth. For example, when a human chooses to wear orange one day, the orange Realm will expand slightly, and the orange Queen's power will be bolstered. And the same with all the Colors.

    The first book in this planned series centers on a conflict between King Vallidius Blue and King Yionaffe Green. Vallidius wishes to overflow the Earth with Blue, chop down the trees, warm the environment, and create a Blue ocean-covered world. Whereas Yionaffe wants to use the blue waters of the seas to plant new green forests in the Sahara and elsewhere.

    A human boy and girl, Ohr and Iris, are sent to the Color Realms to fight in the battle between Green and Blue, and kill the Kings themselves if they must.


    Here's a brief outline of the chapters I have written already, prologue through five, with links to the Google Drive files (permissions are set to allow comments for anyone with link):

    Prologue - introduce the wise mentor character who lives on the planet that contains the Color Realms, introduce the fantasy world. The wise mentor, Teltibane, senses that there is an imbalance in the Colors, and sends to the Bookmakers; they will fashion a book that will go to a library (the humans will be transported to that library and take the book which will transport them to the

    (Link deleted by mod)

    Chapter one - introduce the main human characters, Ohr and Iris, introduce Emfanisi academy, a school for gifted youth that they attend.

    (Link deleted by mod)

    Chapter two - introduce the antagonist, Vallidius Blue the King of the fantasy world, and his plan for Blue domination of the Earth.

    (Link deleted by mod)

    Chapter three - focus back on the humans, they are transported to a library where they obtain a book, and then to a fantasy world where they merge in bliss before splitting back apart and landing in darkness.

    (Link deleted by mod)


    Chapter four - describe an invasion of the Green Realm by the forces of Blue, and the taking of three great trees that will be used for magic against Green in the upcoming war.

    (Link deleted by mod)

    Chapter five - begins with a poem, focus is back on Ohr and Iris, Ohr has amnesia, forgets who they are, and runs from her. She brings him back to sanity by singing to him, but he still doesn't trust her fully. Iris discovers an ability to do magic, and Ohr gains a gi and a katana, transformed from the book he got in chapter three.

    (Link deleted by mod)



    This is where I'm up to. I think I would like to alternate chapters between the human characters and the fantasy characters, I kind of like that approach. So chapter six would focus back on the fantasy world, maybe on Teltibane, the mentor, again..... I'm not sure. The basic idea is that Ohr and Iris fight their way to meet Teltibane in part one of Book 1, and in part 2 train under Teltibane to fight the evil Blue and Green Kings. In the end they will perhaps be split up, with Iris taking on King Green alone, then getting captured by Blue and Ohr will defeat King Blue and save her.

    They return from the Color Realms with avian creatures that live atop trees, and attack any who try to chop down the tree they are perched on (umlenzi). They bring these creatures to the Amazon, thereby helping to preserve it and defend it from those who would destroy it.

    Almost forgot to mention, Green is victorious in the war between the Realms of Green and Blue, and manages to change the sky of Earth to Green. That is where things stand in the end of Book 1. Book 2 would be about two other Colors, with two other main human characters.


    What do you think of this plan? Is there anything you would do differently? I'm looking for ideas that I hadn't thought of, maybe even a change in direction if you have one...


    I also have a sub-plot where Vallidius Blue tries to assassinate the head of a French fashion house because she wants to make the color blue out of style and the color green in for the summer season. But by mistake his assassins assassinate her assistant, who is our main character's Aunt. And this is a catalyst for our main character, Ohr, to choose to join the struggle against Vallidius Blue (initially he's apathetic towards joining a war that he doesn't consider his).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2022
  2. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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    The difference between a good plan and a bad one is more in the execution than it is the idea. I always suggest that you should start writing and see where it takes you. The biggest problem is that people are often afraid to abandon an idea when it doesn't work. Maybe they just don't want to have to go back and start over. I don't know. Or they have a subplot that starts to creep into the main story and they can't let it go because it's really really good. And to be fair, it probably is really really good. It just doesn't fit!
     
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  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    No external links, please. All critique pieces must be posted in the workshop with the usual guidelines and restrictions.
     
  4. FlyingGuppy

    FlyingGuppy Member

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    It's telling that your heroes aren't introduced until the fourth paragraph of the background blurb. I appreciate they're introduced in chapter one of the story itself, but you've placed far more emphasis on world-building than the characterisation and talents of your heroes. The world-building stuff is great, but it's not your story. Your story is how the heroes struggle to accomplish their goals.

    So as for a quick and simple improvement to your plot... figure out where the internal conflict lies between your heroes and their objective. If they're saving the world, is it reluctantly? (Perhaps they don't think the world is worth saving.) If they have to commit regicide, perhaps they actually love the monarchy. Maybe they actually hate magic, or have absolutely zero talent, but are forced to use super-advanced dangerous spells that they constantly get wrong. Maybe they're super-noble and coerced into conducting this roguish mission, and are totally unequipped for the seedy underworld they're entering.

    Introducing an aspect like this will create a vast amount of tension and drama right out the gate, and you may find it's where the meat of the story actually lies. Then, how do your heroes slowly develop to overcome this internal conflict?
     
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  5. altra

    altra Banned

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    Wow only three reply posts on this one and one of them is just to invoke rules and regulations!
    Hey this could be the next Maze Runner or Hunger Games in 10 years, you just never really know.
    I like a lot of what FlyingGuppy had to say above to be honest. People can post and leave you feeling worse off than where you started.
    But there is a lot of really useful stuff that you can apply in what he said in his reply.

    I would say one more thing. Now this helps ME, but everybody is going to be different so it may or may not work for you.
    Create the characters first and foremost. Get some strong opinions and feelings about a bunch of characters, even some of the bit ones.

    THEN, drop them into this world you have created. Go from there.
    What is Star Wars, Harry Potter, James Bond? Beyond all the technology and movie tricks, they are movies about characters and people.
     
  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, rules are so unfair.
     
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  7. ohr_drakonis

    ohr_drakonis Member

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    Ha, I really hope so ;)

    Thanks for encouragement!
     
  8. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    You should probably order them as: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. At least to spare the nerves of any obsessive-compulsive readers. (Seeing them listed randomly like that actually threw me for a bit of a loop.)

    So, is this a symbiotic relationship? They need us because we unknowingly influence their societies and we need them if we want to keep feeling good about stuff? So if they stop sending the light, we all get depressed and their kingdoms fall to ruin?

    You should probably add some mythological explanation to how this arrangement came to be. Also, I would have the Color Realms be in some other dimension that is metaphysically linked to Earth/humanity, rather than it literally being a planet in our universe. Otherwise it raises the question as to why we would have such a profound mystical connection to some distant alien world, and particularly why their reality would be directly affected by our conditions.

    Generally, you wouldn't specify that a fantasy setting is an actual physical location in our reality unless you have a very good reason to establish that. Mainly because it makes things more complicated than they need to be.

    Well, in that case, the Blue Realm should already be the most powerful faction by far: Blue is the most popular color in the world, and as well as the predominant color of Earth itself what with the sky and seas. (Since that apparently influences the Color Realms as well, given the motivations of the antagonists.)

    So, that would be a major issue if the Realms are supposed to be balanced. Vallidius should already be top dog.

    Why, though? Like, what are their motivations? Do they just want to become more powerful? And if Vallidus's plan involves wrecking havoc on Earth's entire biosphere - and by extension humanity - does that mean our well-being is not actually relevant to them?

    So, what's up with the whole light ritual? Why are they even concerned with sending us positive emotions?

    More to the point, it sounds like they can actually affect the local reality of Earth (turning the sky green) meaning they can directly manipulate the resources they rely on for their own power. That's sort of like a wizard casting a spell that lets him cast more powerful spells.

    Though, the obvious right choice here would be to side with Yionaffe. We could definitely use a lot more trees right around now, and de-desertifying the Sahara sounds like a great idea. And if he wants to do this by moving water around, that would also make droughts much less of a problem worldwide.

    So, why would they want to stop him? Sure, he turns the sky green, which would definitely take some getting used to, but at least it's not very harmful. Especially compared to drowning everyone.

    Over-all, it does sound like an interesting concept. I'm kinda getting some Micheal Ende type vibes. Still, it feels like we're missing a lot of important context here.

    See, you're doing this thing were you are trying to describe your big idea as a series of events and plot points. It's a lot of details strung together, resulting in a lot of words to read but fairly little substance. It makes sense to you because you already have a vision for it all in your head, but for the rest of us it's difficult to get a concise idea of what exactly you're going for, especially when it's incomplete.

    May I suggest you take a step back, have a wider look at the story you want to tell, and try to boil it down to the really important stuff:

    -What is your story about? What's the theme? What message are you trying to convey?
    -What type of story is it? What are you going for in terms of tone and style?
    -Who are your characters and what are their motivations? What do they want, and what do they need?
    -What's the main conflict? I don't mean the literal war, rather what is the core issue that causes things to happen?
    -What is the over-all basic gist of the plot, if you had to summarize it in just a few sentences?

    At least for now, less is more: The concise and simple you can put it, the easier it is for us to understand and offer advice.
     
  9. evild4ve

    evild4ve Senior Member

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    I'd suggest to do a reductive precis of the story and see if it's still a story by the end. From the OP, it might look like this:-

    =====

    King Vallidius has a power struggle with King Yionaffe
    Ohr and Iris, are sent to resolve it (including by killing the kings)

    The mentor Teltibane has a magic book made that can teleport people
    [good name]

    Chapter 1 - Ohr+Iris fight their way to meet Teltibane
    Chapter 2 - Ohr+Iris train under Teltibane to fight Green+Blue
    Chapter 3 - Ohr+Iris get teleported. They experience being merged and de-merged
    Chapter 4 - Green's powerstruggling gets him some magic trees
    Chapter 5 - Ohr forgets Iris and runs away from her. Iris sings to him and makes him remember. Ohr gets magic weapons.

    Going forward...
    O+I split up
    I fights Green but is captured by Blue
    O beats blue and saves I

    And they save the Amazon rainforest

    In a subplot...

    Blue tries to assassinate the head of a fashion house for his powerstruggling
    The assassins fridge her assistant by mistake, motivating O

    =====

    What follows might be very unfair, because the OP may have left out all the structurally-useful information, or it might have been in the web links.

    But also it might not be there to begin with. It's common for new fantasy writers to do everything possible to avoid writing a story, because at first the objective is to hide our own character behind a make-believe world (e.g. following trauma), rather than to reveal characters we create.

    I ask myself: who is my favourite character? Whose story do I want to follow?
    But as it seems from the OP, the story isn't talking about them enough to answer.

    On this precis, there are probably 4 major characters (Green+Blue+Ohr+Iris) plus a minor character (Teltibane) - but there is no apparent motive for why they do the things they do, and in general none of the plot points connect up.

    Making characters into kings or queens is often a way of railroading them and avoiding writing natural motive. Why would we want to read about two pretend people having a scrap (Green+Blue) rather than two real ones (Putin+Zelensky)? "No-one cares what happened in Elfland." The news wins every time unless we have the draw of character-writing. We can show Green's thoughts and feelings, where Putin's can only be guessed at.

    On this structure, Ohr and Iris might even be redundant - if they don't reveal anything about the characters of the two kings.

    I'd tentatively suggest for the OP to go back to basics and plot the story using simple character arcs. Ignore all the storyworld clutter and colours - just figure out the structure of the story and then tell that story. I find the advice on Google and Youtube on "how to write a story" very prescriptive, but something like it must always be done.
     
  10. Mogador

    Mogador Senior Member

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    You know that tired old bit of writing advice, which says, "Are you writing about the most interesting moment in your character/world's life/existance? If not, why not?"

    Well when I read your overview I thought, what's all this about green and blue? They both sound quite nice and wholesome, in a way, more oceans or forests. What about red or orange?* Fire, scorched earth, deserts, the Earth becoming another desolate Mars just to boost the power of some crazy inter-dimensional Queen.

    So my first thought is that the most compelling story in that world is that the first book should be about green and blue** teaming up to help suppress red/orange, putting aside their differences. Then if you get to a second book you could tackle the alliance breaking down.

    I know that's not that helpful, to suggest a total change to the antagonists of the plot. However it is hard to critique a plan rather than a plot. That's all that has come to me. By all means disregard it.

    * Oughtn't red and orange be one colour world? I don't see how they can have meaningfully different means to achieving dominance.

    ** I also suggest you don't need more than three colour worlds, red green and blue. That sounds like a lot to be working with, unless the other colour worlds are subordinate to one of the Big Three.

    ________
    EDIT:
    In this case our human characters are literally going on a Hero's Journey, it seems. So picking the most prescriptive possible structure, with its gifts from the goddess, its crossing the thresh-hold, its trials, death-and-rebirth, vanquishing and returning to normality etc really might be a good place to start. Try slotting your plot in and justifying deviations where it doesn't fit. You can't break the rules without knowing them...
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2022
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