1. Skyes

    Skyes Member

    Nov 2, 2014
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    I don't know where to go from here.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Skyes, Nov 18, 2014.

    I am writing a fantasy novel, and just found out that I have some serious issues:
    First, I picture the scenes perfectly in my head, but when it comes to writing them, I don't know how to write the reason they hapenned.
    For example, I picture an Elven Paladin fighting against a Drow Assassin. Sounds cool, I imagine all the setting, the scenario, the lines, etc. But then I sit to write, and just can't picture WHY they would be fighting? I know this example is very shallow, and anyone can come with an interpretation of that (the drow is an assassin, they are enemies, etc). Another example is that I picture the heroes ariving at a beautiful, fantastic city with many peculiar settings. But, why would they go there? What are they doing there? When I just can't come up with an answer to that question, I simply erase this possibility and erase the city.

    But in my novel, I have gotten to a point where I don't know what to do from point A to point B. I know the scenes and I have the whole novel in my head. But, like every fantasy journey, there is a lot of travelling around. So, right now, they are in point A, and they must reach point B. But I don't know why they would leave. In my head, when they reach point B, something will happen. But they don't really have any reason to leave point A, or even go to point B. I could just place a character and tell them "Go to point B and you will find what you seek". But I have already done that... so it would be really awkward to have characterws constantly telling the heroes what to do or where to go.
    So, to any of you guys who write out there, what is the motivation you see for your characters to keep traveling on a journey?

    In my case, they have a specific goal, but other than that, they just go visiting cities and villages, and dragon caves, talking with other characters that keeps telling them to go to another place in order to make the journey even bigger.
    They already have a goal, but they don't really know how to achieve it. Well, I hope I have made myself clear [​IMG]
    PS: English is not my main language, so sorry for the typos.
    Thanks in advance!
  2. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

    Feb 20, 2014
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    OK. Write down all the questions that you currently have and then let your mind wander over them for a few days. Don't do any writing, read what you already have while thinking about the questions and then in a couple of days, (it might take longer) see if your mind has come up with any answers.

    If not, carry on writing the scenes as they happen in your head. Eventually, the answers will arise, usually, when you least expect them!

    This doesn't work for everyone but if you're stuck, give it a go, it might work for you!

    Don't give up.
    jannert likes this.
  3. NinaW

    NinaW New Member

    Nov 15, 2014
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    I know it may seem obvious, but you need to give them a reason. And if they're already acting under orders then doing that again isn't going be fun to read. Not knowing what their goal is I can only blindly throw suggestions out.

    Maybe they set off because they come across some information that would lead them in that direction. Maybe one of the group does something or gets blamed for something and they have to run and decide to go to B because they think it'll be safe. Perhaps news of some big in world event reaches them and makes them move on, like a King being killed or a neighbouring kingdom invading.

    You need to sit and think about it. People don't just wander aimlessly around a fantasy setting. You said they had a goal in mind. Their journey needs to be steps to achieve that goal. All of the weird side quests that happened in Lord of the Rings happened on the road to a final destination. You need to lay down a trail of breadcrumbs for your characters to follow. This could be made up of anything. Papers in an archive leading to an ancient ruin where they find something that points to a river where a minor God gives them what they need to get the job done but if they'll do a job for him first. That sort of thing. And don't be afraid to have things go wrong, it makes the journey more interesting for the reader.
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  4. Aled James Taylor

    Aled James Taylor Contributor Contributor

    Sep 7, 2013
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    You could have the heroes start out with a clear ultimate destination but they have to travel through several other places on route (The Hobbit is arranged like this.) You could also have them following some false leads. They could be collecting items they need for the overall quest (you could introduce your characters one at a time like this.) Each character could have his own ideas about what the group needs and what to do next.
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  5. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.
    This ^ contradicts this:
    And I'm not sure how you have all those scenes, no story and still think:
    You may not be expressing yourself well here but what I read is a bunch of cool stuff happens in a cool place, but there is no story. You need story.

    Other writers make this same mistake, usually putting all sorts of obstacles for the protagonist to overcome but nowhere does the reader have a reason to care about the character.

    I suggest you go back to the story board, forget about the scenes and decide what the story is you want to tell. Is it a love story, a tragedy, a character finding his soul, a coming of age, the overthrow of evil... Start there (unless you already have this part). Then you need to write the story itself, not just cool scenes with cool stuff happening.
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  6. chicagoliz

    chicagoliz Contributor Contributor

    May 30, 2012
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    I agree with Ginger, but you could also try the opposite track --
    If you've got all those scenes in your head and you're eager to write them go ahead and write them. Write them all. Get them all into the computer while you're excited about them and have them pictured.
    Then go back and figure out your story, and what the journey is you want your characters to take. You will likely find that some of the scenes you've written don't have a place in your story, but that doesn't mean they're wasted. You spent some time with your characters and got to know them and that's always helpful in developing your story.
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  7. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I have the same problem with my novel. The Mc's motivation is unclear. I've written the story several ways changing the motivation but each time I've been rather displeased as it just seems too obvious. I might try it the way I write my short stories - plunge in and write in order to discover my mc's motivation. The only trouble with that is it feels risky and is time consuming.

    Your best bet is too look to your mc & antagonist - you say they have goals but what's the motivation behind the goals? What's the risk? What's the emergency? It's like a man who needs money - everyone needs money the goal needs to be sharpened - what if his wife is sick - that makes the goal have a greater need and what if there's a time constraint? If she doesn't get an operation in two weeks she's dead. Now the pressure is on. He has a goal, he has a motivation and now he must react. If he plans a heist the risk is two fold not just jail but the death of his wife.
    Maybe add something pressing, something risky to their goal. Throw in roadblocks, things to trip them up.
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  8. Howard_B

    Howard_B Active Member

    Jun 25, 2014
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    Dublin, Ireland
    I find the most powerful thing to ask myself about characters and what they do is "Why?"
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  9. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
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    That might be the crux of your problem. You have a story problem, so you walk away from it. The trick to writing is to dig in and SOLVE these story problems. Every single one of them.

    If you don't know why your characters would go to that city, you need to back off and figure out why. Don't walk away from a situation whenever it doesn't make immediate sense to you, and look around for one that does. That's the exact opposite of what you should do. It's simple, really. If your characters need motivation, that's the problem you must solve. You need to dig in and give them motivation. You can look at their pasts and their families for clues, their present relationships for clues, their political environment for clues. Goals. Fears. Any or all of these things can provide motivation. And when you've got several characters you can give them motivations that actually compete against each other, pull them in opposite directions, whatever.

    Just for fun, write out a list of basic motivations (greed, love for a mate, hatred, ambition, mastery of a skill, search for revenge, search for justice, search for peace, etc). Physically cut these apart and put them into a 'hat.' Then write your characters names in a similar fashion and put them into a different 'hat.' Pull out one character and one motivation at a time. And once you're finished giving all of your characters a motivation, you can start forming your story around them. It's a crude method, but it might work. If your Paladin is motivated by mastery of a skill, and your assassin is motivated by love for his mate, you might be able to work out a plot based on their respective personalities. And you're on your way to making a story.

    You can write the scenes as @chicagoliz suggested, and if you do enough of them in enough detail, a picture should emerge. Or you can do what @GingerCoffee suggested and simply step away from the story and THINK about it, rather than writing about it. Both methods can work. But do take some of the intriguing ideas given out in this thread by the contributors, and see if you can apply them to your story.

    Of course what you could also do—if coming up with a plot is not your thing—is develop computer game scenarios, and maybe get somebody to help you develop them into an actual game. The 'cool' locations and odd characters might fit better into a situation like that, where the goal is simply to have a battle, or solve a problem, and move on.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
  10. Karwedsky

    Karwedsky Member

    Apr 28, 2010
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    I've had the same problem. I'll have a vivid scene imagined in my mind that I can easily describe with words, but fitting that vivid scene into the plot of a story can be harder.

    One of the ways I've found to get around this problem is to collect all of the scenes I've envisioned about a story I'm in the process of writing, and write them down in chronological order, from the beginning of the story to the end. Usually I'm missing lots of plot points in-between that lead from one scene to the other, but at least when I put them down on paper and can see where the gaps lie, then I can get a better idea of what areas I need to work on further. Then I just start brainstorming on how I can get from one well-thought-out scene to another until they all connect.
  11. Mike Kobernus

    Mike Kobernus Senior Member

    Oct 23, 2013
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    I don't like this idea of creating a scene, and then looking for justification for it.

    I think you should start with a premise that might plausibly explain their enmity. For example.

    For 1000 years, the XYZ dynasty ruled in peace over the land. Then came the great schism, and war was unleashed. In a last desperate attempt to unite the two factions, the Prince, King or whatever, has called representatives of each faction to the great city to find a way to bring about peace.

    Okay, so there is your back story. Then you can introduce the two characters, who are both convinced of their righteousness. They belong to the two factions, and each hates the other side.

    They meet, on the road, and immediately fight each other. Perhaps a third person comes along. An older, wise person, who counsels them to be moderate in their hate, etc...

    Now they travel together, each keeping an eye on the other, and hand on their sword. Through shared adversity (hunger, storms, bandits, etc) they come to rely on each other.

    By the time they arrive at the city, maybe they are friends. Nothing they would boast about, but they have a grudging respect for each other at least.

    Then something happens to force them apart. They are enemies, after all.

    Various shenanigans ensue, resulting in the two of them having to make a decision, fight each other, or fight for their friendship and their king, and their country.

    Final scene in story. Perhaps it is one-on-one combat, gladiator style. The fighter who lives wins for their faction?

    So one of them wins the fight, and has the other with a sword to his throat. And with his enemy at the tip of his blade, compassion stays his hand, and he refuses to kill. Thus, is the schism finally healed.

    So, with the basic premise, you have a reason for the enmity. You can create scenarios that would plausibly allow them to grow, and you have opportunity for lots of action. In the end, their friendship overcomes their hatred, so it even has a nice moral message (albeit cheesy, etc.)

    But this premise would probably work for a YA.

    Just my 25 cents worth (it was too long a rant for merely 2 cents....)
  12. maskedhero

    maskedhero Active Member

    May 4, 2013
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    Scenes are great, but you need the backbone to all of it...and that, in and of itself, is 90% of the reading. Often set pieces and action sequences can, and should, be written in few words.

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