1. Stained Red

    Stained Red Member

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    Is my plot cliche, okay, or throw away? (Characters explained)

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Stained Red, Dec 11, 2016.

    I've been working on building the general (beginning) plot for a book I am super eager to start writing, but my insecurities are getting to me and of course I need second options.

    Plot:

    Three siblings being raised by a single father suddenly have their world turned upside down after their father's mysterious death. Having no other options the siblings are sent to live with their aunt who lives in the house that their father grew up in and who treats the children horribly. The children's lives are miserable but they find solace and happiness amongst each other.

    Things look bleak for the children until they come across a book hidden away in the house. There is a strange symbol on the front and their father's name along with another name that read Victor carved into the back of it. When they originally open it, the pages appear blank, but upon finding a small looking glass they realize that the words could only been seen when the glass was held over the words while light shown through it. There is a letter tied to it addressed to “whoever has found this” with a map of the property.

    In the letter their father had claimed to have discover a strange and mystical world beyond the trees but that this world was not what it seemed. It said that he felt as if his life was in danger and that he feared he would end up like Victor if he ever went back. At the very bottom of the letter he asks whoever found the book to burn it and never look back and that he would have burned it himself, but that he could not bring himself to do it and he prayed that if they didn’t burn it that they would, at the most, put it back into hiding. The children are in shock by their findings, but do not get rid of the book as it begins to have significance to them. There are torn, stained and ripped out pages, cryptic texts and messages, crude drawings, and quotes from their father and Victor within the book. But the most notable quote is on the very first page that says “Do not always believe your eyes because they too can be fooled.”

    The children will eventually go through the book. The fantasy world is on the other side of the trees that line the back of the house, to make it more clear picture them walking into the forest one way and on the other side as they leave the forest is the other world and if they go back through the forest as they came they're back home.


    The Withers Family:

    Sebastian Withers (15): The eldest brother of Matilda and Gregory and son to Jonathan Withers. Sebastian is a very complex individual. He has a very reserved and quiet and has a hard time connecting to others outside of his siblings. He is a bit of a pessimist and is overprotective of Gregory and Matilda and has many times sacrificed his happiness or well being for theirs. He is creative and as an outlet he likes to draw and paint and he has a sketchbook that he has with him at all times that he draws in whenever he feels inspired. He tends to be sarcastic and outspoken and has no problem giving his opinion on things and speaking up for himself and his siblings. But he keeps their torment and suffering a secret because he knows if they go into foster care they will be separated, and who wants a 15 year old anyway.


    Gregory Withers (12): Gregory is Sebastian’s younger brother and second oldest. He is very outgoing and friendly, and is much more trusting of others than Sebastian along with a more positive outlook on the world. He is very goofy and silly and he likes to make fun and crack jokes constantly which helps given their situation. He thinks of himself highly and fancies himself quite the charmer. He is in the midst of going through puberty as well, so that’s fun.


    Matilda Withers (7): Matilda is the sweetest, cutest, and kindest girl you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. But given her age she does not know much about the world and is very naive and gullible. She is although very confident for her age and doesn’t have a problem with questioning her surrounding and those around her.


    Jonathan Withers (39) Deceased: Father of all three children and co-author of the book who died of mysterious circumstances, that was ultimately ruled as a natural death.


    Renee Withers (?) Deceased: Wife to Jonathan and mother to the three children, she died in childbirth while having Matilda.

    Grenadine Withers (42): Eldest sister to Jonathan and legal guardian of the three children. She is a bitter old woman who was never able to truly love herself and who was never able to bare children. She has had four failed marriages and countless miscarriages. She believes that the reason they all failed was because she was never able to have a child. She has always envied her brother's life, his marriage, his children, his happiness. But when the children are made to stay with her, her resentfulness and bitterness cause her to treat the children horribly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  2. DueNorth

    DueNorth Senior Member

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    Sounds fun to me--especially (or maybe 'if') it is a YA book. Plot is important. Now, writing it well, making it suspenseful, and then making the characters relatable is the hard part. Put it on paper, refine it, get some readers, then revise, revise, revise.
     
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  3. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    Seems good to me! I will caution you though: it feels very Chronicles of Narnia. Children sent away to live with a bitter person, stumble upon a secret world while playing.

    I'm not saying this is a bad thing. Narnia it's a widely popular story. Just make sure you have something in this story that really stands out and makes it your own, not a rehash of a different story.

    I'd read it though! :D
     
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  4. Stained Red

    Stained Red Member

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    I actually never read those books, but I did see the movie a REALLY long time ago. But from what I remember from it, it had none of what I described, the only simularity is the children, but they don't just stumble upon the world like the Narnia kids did, they're more guided to and through it from their fathers book/journal. I apprieciate the advise though, but I think what I have stands out pretty well already (;
     
  5. hawls

    hawls Active Member

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    It seems arbitrary that Jonathan couldn't bring himself to burn the book. If he really felt it was that dangerous why didn't he get his horrible sister to burn it for him? If he can write messages to people telling them to burn the book when they find it, then he should have had no problem asking someone to burn it while he was alive.

    I don't see why you need the book at all. If the fantasy world is just beyond a line of trees behind the house, why don't they just g exploring there and stumble into it, and while there they can discover that their father had been there and was well known to the inhabitants. In fact it might be more practical if he hammered a crude wooden sign into the ground saying "DANGER! GO BACK!!" or something, which the kids (being kids) ignore.
     
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  6. David Lee

    David Lee Member

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    The idea sounds very good. Kind of like The Goonies, not saying it is like the story, just the theme. I like. Definitely YA. As @hawls said, something is wrong with that part. It's a draft, and you asked for feedback, so overall I like the idea a lot. Refine it, look at what makes sense, make changes accordingly.

    Edit: Also, I do like the idea of the book, far more interesting than random discovery. However, there should be another reason for it still being around.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
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  7. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    Maybe he did try to destroy it, but he was prevented from doing so?

    Instead of them going through the book, why not have the book include instructions on how to access the other world - like, a specific set of actions they have to undertake, instead of just "walking through the forest" - if that's all it takes, you'd have a lot of missing kids. Say, they have to walk backwards into the forest for 50 paces, turn left, walk around the old oak three times widdershins, etc.
     
  8. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    The problem I'm having with the whole scenario, is that if it's so complicated that an intelligent adult keeps an instruction manual to get to this other world, how would three kids ever manage the task? And another thing, if I had in my possession something so potentially dangerous as could endanger my children's lives, I wouldn't be playing mystery games with it. Also, I'm not keen on stories that use books as portals to a fantasy world. It's been done and done again.
    You seem to have dismissed Renee Withers (the mother) as a viable character, when in fact she could be at the center of the story. Perhaps she's in limbo, perhaps in a secluded meadow it's Matilda who still talks to her. Her older siblings dismiss it and worry that it's time for her to grow up.

    Jonathan would need a strong motive to keep such a dangerous book around, that this fantasy world is where Renee now resides would be reason enough.

    The best ever device for entering a fantasy world was written 150 years ago. There's no explanation or convoluted tale behind it-- a young girl falls down a rabbit hole.
     
  9. Stained Red

    Stained Red Member

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    Jonathan and Victor did not tell anyone about the world and especially not his mean older sister. In he and Victor's minds this was their world and there were many reasons for why they didn't tell anyone. The reason he didn't burn the book was because he and Victor spent most of their childhood (3-4 years) starting at ages 12, creating the book. It just had too many memories attached and the book just meant too much to him, especially after the incident with Victor. He definietly did attempt to many times though.

    I love the idea of implimenting the mother into the story that way. Thank you. I will really play with that idea and see what happens. The book is more for when they do actually get there, it was written by their father and his best friend in their youth and in the beginning they just wanted to keep track of their findings, but then it became more than that. The book does initially give them a vague description as to how to get there and how to get back. Jonathan had no idea that the kids, especially his own, would find the book as he did not expect to die before they became of age and purposely moved far away with Renee and started their family.

    @IHaveNoName There are instuctions into the world C: actually.
     
  10. terobi

    terobi Senior Member

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    It does sound like it borrows heavily from a certain tradition of children's fantasy literature which includes the Narnia books and more recently the likes of The Spiderwick Chronicles. The concept of an old book being a portal to an overlapping realm of magic is something that's especially prevalent in German fantasy traditions, including things like The Neverending Story and Inkheart.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the whether or not it's a "cliché" (I mean, a school for magic and a vampire romance are about as clichéd as it gets, and look how well those have done in recent years), as long as you recognise that it's part of a long tradition, and try to put your own spin on it rather than just retreading old ground.
     
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  11. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    This isn't really a plot yet; it's just the set-up, and, yes, it's a pretty cliche setup (orphans, evil guardian, magic kingdom, etc.) but that doesn't mean it's a bad setup. There have been loads of great stories written that are based on these elements, and there's no reason yours can't be another for the collection!
     
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  12. hawls

    hawls Active Member

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    Jonathan didn't need to tell anyone what the book was. You can only read what's in it through a looking glass after all.

    Also, if the book, and the world it describes is so dangerous why leave it in a place his children are likely to discover it? Speaking of horrendous oversights on Jonathan's part, why did he not assign godparents to his children in the event that he and his wife died? Surely, the death of his wife would have prompted him to consider it. If he dislikes his mean old sister so much why would he not put something in place to make sure she, of all people, didn't end up responsible for the well being of his children?
     
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  13. Stained Red

    Stained Red Member

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    Life happens is all I can say. You can't predict every disaster before it happens or be fully prepared for every possible outcome to life, and not everyone is familiar with the concept of godparents. I had heard of the term, but I had to look it up myself. It's not that Grenadine was the only relative alive to care for them, but she is the wealthiest and in the governments eyes she was must suitble (They dont always look into someone's character). It's all circumstantial. The Withers are from the UK but Jonathan and Renee moved after college to the US where the kids were raised, only after his death are they sent to Grenadine in the UK.

    I'm still thinking of where he tried to hide the book though, maybe in an old borded up room in the house?
     
  14. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Maybe there's something in the magic kingdom that needs to come out - that could be why the book wasn't destroyed, and it could be the plot for this book. A fourth sibling, the mother (maybe it was all a lie about how she died in childbirth - really she was spirited away to the magic world), or some other family-significant prize. Dad wasn't strong enough to get whatever it was out of the magic world, but he couldn't destroy the book and give up all hope of there ever being a rescue...
     
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  15. Stained Red

    Stained Red Member

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    I actually was thinking of having Renee be apart of Victor and Jonathan's discovery. Maybe she was the nosey girl next door that saw too much and they were forced to spill the beans. I was also playing with the idea of having Victor be trapped in the other world and that's why he didn't destroy it. But he was young, and too afraid to go back and rescue him so him and Renee hid the book and never turned back.
     
  16. hawls

    hawls Active Member

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    Spoken like a true young person.

    If you're even a moderately decent person with kids, there probably isn't a minute goes by you're not thinking what might happen to them if you weren't there. And when they've already lost one parent, you, as the last remaining parent, are going to be thinking about it every second.

    Does Grenadine really need to be a horrible person? Maybe she tries to do her best but the kids just aren't used to her, because they don't know her, they've never met her. She's been living in the UK and the kids grew up in America. They've had to move away from their home, their friends, they've lost their parents and now they're living with a relative they've never met in a place they've never been speaking words they've never heard like "teapot" and "crumpets" and "bollocks".

    Hell, maybe when the kids go into the strange world, Grenadine follows after them, trying her damned hardest to protect her brother's kids, her last connection to him, her only family left. She tries to get them to talk to her, to trust her, but they won't. Or Matilda tries but her brothers see it as betrayal and so now she's miserable because she hates being mean to people but also doesn't want to feel guilty about loving a new mother figure.

    If Grenadine is horrible, the drama is obvious and easy.

    But if Grenadine is sympathetic? You have this older sister with a little brother who didn't trust her enough to ask for her help dealing with whatever he found in that strange world. These siblings who grow apart. This woman who tries to have children of her own but they don't survive, and whose husband leaves her because she can't give him an heir and he never loved her, holy shit this poor woman.

    Then out of the blue she has to hear that her little brother died and she will receive custody of his three young children. She tries to make the transition easy for them, tries to make their rooms comfortable and welcoming, but she just doesn't know anything about them so she misses the mark on nearly everything.

    Meanwhile the kids find the book left by their father. They cherish it, even if the warnings he left are scary. They ignore the warnings and get lost in the strange world. Because by pursuing the mystery they feel connected to their father.

    Even the idea of Grenadine discovering that her brother left the book in her care, even secretly, and finding out that it wasn't a lack of trust that strained their relationship, but the burden of keeping his older sister safe...And now she's failed to keep his children safe from that same danger.

    In the end, they all discover the truth about Jonathan, destroy the evil whosits, and come together as a family, and you avoid the inexplicably evil relative trope.
     
  17. terobi

    terobi Senior Member

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    Not to make it seem more like a cliché, but that is literally the plot of Inkheart ;)
     
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  18. Fernando.C

    Fernando.C Contributor Contributor

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    Well I like the set up and the overall concept. Is it cliche in some aspects? Yeah but like @BayView pointed out that doesn't mean you can't tell a great story with it. And I see a lot of potential in this set up, there's a whole lot of interesting things you can do with it. It's all about the execution, how you write your story, the direction in which you take the plot and the characters. You do these right, and you can turn your initial concept into an interesting, well-written, and original story.

    What I'm trying to say is that don't sit around worrying whether or not your story will be good. Write and write and write, see where the story takes you, and then use the critique and feedback you get on the actual story to hone it and revise it and improve it. It's a lot easier to critique a story than it is an outline, and much more helpful to you, too. :)

    Side Note: Completely unrelated, but I've got to comment on it. As a huge vampire lover, I absolutely freaking love your profile picture and name, it's just perfect in every way :D
     
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  19. Stained Red

    Stained Red Member

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    I actually really like that concept, I originally didn't want to make Grenadine bad, but I felt like I had to in a way. Like it would be expected of the audience that this women that has been through so much would be bitter and jealous and mean. I hate to go with your idea because I like to come up wiht my own stuff and blatantly taking someones idea make me feel crumby, but I think the way you explained it, it would work better and feel less predictable and also helps to avoid the evil relative idea. Thank you so much!

    My insecurities and my need for motivaition and positivity from others does hold be back immensly. Maybe I will just start writing and see what happened (; and thank you. Vampires are my guilty pleasure.
     
  20. pamedria

    pamedria Member

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    I really like it. Right up my street... I would read it. Kind of reminded me of a mix of different movies I've seen and liked, but of course different with your twist. I would suggest perhaps adding in a flashback scene, or in a prologue, or even the kids referring to it - something about the father wanting them to find it, or hinting it? So maybe him telling them something strange like one of the kids upset about wearing glasses, and he says something like "One can only see clearly, when one looks through a glass." Then another kid says "but I can see fine?", then the father says "You will understand what I mean one day."

    I think the letter should also have a riddle of sorts, directed at the children. So lets say one child in particular he saw great potential in, who had interest in his work and magical worlds.

    That would depend if the father didn't want the kid to find it or not, I think it would be interesting if he had a job to be done, and that is what killed him. He wants the job finished, and trusts it to his kid? Or is the point that he wouldn't want the kids to find it?

    I like it when novels have little hidden gems like that. I think you have real potential here. I would go ahead and write out a plan, then literally write it out, your plan will change along the way, you will adapt and improve, and no doubt it will change - but definitely start with what you got and just get writing.
     
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  21. Fernando.C

    Fernando.C Contributor Contributor

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    Ugh, I can sympathise. I've dealt with my own insecurities for a long time, still not completely free of 'em but they don't hold me back nowhere nearly as much as they used to. Back when I first started writing, nearly 7 years ago, I wouldn't have dared show my work to anyone, but I kept writing and writing and the more I improved and grew as a writer, the more confident I got in my abilities as a writer and so little by little my insecurities went away, like I said not 100 percent, but enough that they don't hinder me anymore.

    For me their outright pleasures. I'm just obsessed with vampires, dark, dangerous, sexy, and literally bloodthirsty, I mean what's not to love about them? It probably should come as no surprise that my WIP is about vampires :p
     
  22. SoulGalaxyWolf

    SoulGalaxyWolf Active Member

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    I think it's pretty different than normal fantasy books. I think this is a sort of spin-off from the cliche fantasy novels that go into the world. But the series that brings this spin-off ends in a tragedy rather than a succession type thing. You can have other things to make it even more unique, just like it was said above it depends on how you write it and how you come up with your own spin on things.
    You could create your own set of races that aren't elf, orc, or dwarf related. This could stem into a much diverse story because of how different you could make the culture of these races. Include a different type of government besides a monarchy. These sort of things I guess.
     

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