1. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Is this an awkward way to kickstart the plot?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Link the Writer, Jan 8, 2017.

    Here's the basic rundown of Chapter One of my Colonial Mystery:
    -> Amos is working in the tavern, washing dishes.
    -> He tricks Benjamin to do the rest of the work while he sneaks out.
    -> He meets Nathaniel Maywalker and his daughter, Emily. These two are very important characters for this story.
    -> I'm trying to build up for the moment Amos and Emily discovers something (or someone) that kicks the whole plot into gear.

    This is the necessary part I want you all to look at:
    Basically, the entire story kicks off because Amos and Emily both want to go use the restroom. A part of me wonders if this is too awkward/immature (who really wants to read about them taking a crap?) to start the story. A part of me thinks maybe I need to find some other way for them to be out of the tavern.

    Ideas:
    -> Amos actually runs into the antagonist of the story, Dr. Jacques DeFou, and after a brief hostile confrontation, Amos walks outside to sweep the porch and boom, plot begins.
    Problem here is that then I won't be able to introduce the Maywalkers, which is fine. They can just appear a bit later. Still, I would like them to come first as DeFou would have no reason to hang out in what he feels is a rundown tavern fit only for "whores and other invalid scum."

    -> Things proceed as normal, but instead of the outhouse thing, Amos goes outside to sweep. Emily finds herself curious about this little blind orphan tavern boy and wants to watch him work. Then they discover the thing/person that kicks off the plot.
    I do like this idea better, and oh crap I just answered my own question. :p Oh well, I'll just leave this here for you all to see that at one time, I wanted to kick off the plot with Amos taking a crap in the outhouse. That's how first drafts work, I guess. :D Enjoy!!
     
  2. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    It's a damn sight more interesting than the old "she drops a pile of books near him and he helps her pick them up" or "his/her friends dare him/her to ask her/him out during a night of drinking"
    I'd leave it. It's different.
     
  3. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Hmm.. I have Emily watching Amos sweep the porch because she's never seen the blind do chores before and was curious.

    Is that better, or should I keep the whole 'Amos goes to take a crap' thing?
     
  4. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    I think it's incredibly insignificant. I suppose it could set a tone, but I feel like it really doesn't matter which you go with.
    If you want to set up a constant theme of smashing expectations, then he being tasked with taking him to the privy when he's more than capable of it might work better because you're introducing that from the start.
    That said, maybe you're struggling to choose one because you know they're both basically the same.
     
  5. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Unworthy in the eyes of the LORD Contributor

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    The Blue and the Gray miniseries in the 80s had a scene when one of the male characters who was a guest/quartered (don't remember) in the family's house had just come out of the bath after a long stretch in the filth of war. He was basically warming his ass in front of the wood fired stove when the young lady of the house came into the room to comb her hair in the warmth. After they both got properly embarrassed, it served as a chance for them to impart information about the progress of the civil war to each other.

    So yeah, the outhouse idea could work.

    Also, Stacy Keach (Mike Hammer, Papa Titus) played the male character.
     
  6. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    The outhouse idea could be interesting if you handled it right. You can't just have them show up in front of the outhouse and doe a "me? you? me? you?" thing. That is a yawn fest.

    Something needs to happen. It needs to be naughty, or embarrasing, or terrible, or despicable, or fantastic, or amazing. Maybe someone is drowing a kitten in the outhouse. Maybe a kid. Maybe two somebodies are already in the outhouse, but using it for sex instead of toileting. Maybe one of your characters walks in on the other. Maybe the lady is in the outhouse and the gentleman is a klutz (or is run into by a klutz) and knocks the whole outhouse over.

    You gotta have something that's gonna hook your reader, make them stand up, and say "Whaaaaat???"

    If it doesn't shock you, offend you, anger you, or entice you, then it has no business being at the beginning of your novel. The first page is your only shot. Make it dull and you can forget about anyone outside your immediate family (and that's if you have a supportive family) reading on to page two.

    Agents certainly won't.

    Look at your favorite books. How did they start out?

    None of the beginnings you have proposed so far made me interested in the story. I recommend you keep looking. I'm not saying this to hurt your feelings. This is something I have struggled with in my work as well. The beginning of my first book was so bad that I went back and basically rewrote the first 80 pages. It was terrible at the beginning.

    Beginnings are very difficult, but if you stick with it, you'll hook the reader and they'll still be reading at 2AM. And that's what we're all going for. (Unless it's a kid's book. The parents would find you and kill you horribly. )

    Good luck, hope this helps. :)
     
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  7. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    What if they find a child hiding in the outhouse? A deformed child? Maybe that's how the plot starts? Emily and Amos approach the outhouse (maybe not to go to the restroom), but they hear a scream from that direction so after the necessary character building in the sweeping-the-porch scene, the two rush to the outhouse and discover a deformed kid hiding within with someone else nearby shrieking that the devil is in there?
     
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  8. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Even better idea: Amos does need to use the restroom, so he goes out to the outhouse with every intention to pee. He opens the door and is jumped by the deformed person trying to make a getaway.

    Hmm..
     
  9. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    That is better than your other ones. I like the deformed person and the other person shrieding that he/she is the devil
     
  10. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I agree, that does sound hilarious and strange. :p Amos would definitely want to investigate after that little mishap. I wonder though, should that be the only thing that happens? I suppose maybe it should since the stuff I wanted to convey between Amos and Emily is just cheap "Let's feel bad for Amos" fluff. :/ This ain't no time to be showing Amos' tragic, sensitive side. This is time to show Amos with his shit together as he figures out the calamity that involves something straight out of a Monty Python skit. :p

    But seriously, does anyone else not think this is something out of Monty Python? A deformed person in the outhouse, a person shrieking that the person is the devil, etc. Kind of hard to take the book seriously after that, no? :p
     
  11. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Or of it's too awkward to do the outhouse thing, maybe the deformed person is in the same room as Amos and one of his co-workers, but they don't know it yet until he/she speaks.
     
  12. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    The scene you described isn't necessarily funny. It could be tragic. It all depends on how your focal character feels about the hideously deformed person.

    One other point that is absolutely critical: the event that opens your book must be relevant to the story. It can't be interesting for interesting's sake. It has to dovetail seamlessly with the story. It might not be the initiating event that moves us from act 1 to act 2, but it should be something that shoves us into the story the way your older brother would shove you into a freezing pond. (As an only child, I'm speaking hypothetically here.)

    But you get the idea. Relevant and interesting. You gotta punch the reader in the face. Make them bleed. And they'll love you for it.
     
  13. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Damn it, no wonder everyone hates writing the opening pages. :p

    All right, I'll write the first few pages (with the sweeping scene seaming straight into the scream-outhouse scene). If you wanted, you can look at it and tell me what you think of it?
     
  14. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    I would be happy to. You can send it to me in PM.
     
  15. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Aight, will take me a bit to complete though. :D
     
  16. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Woo! Doing some re-writing and things are shaping up wonderfully! :D Can't wait to show you when I'm done!
     
  17. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Bing Bang Boom

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    Amos is blind? Will you be writing from his POV? If so, anything that is "seen" anywhere would have to be explained to him (and us) or perceived non-visually. So if they were to find a deformed child in an outhouse, wouldn't Emily or somebody else have to explain it to him? That could be interesting if done right. Amos would hear a lot of commotion and people could take turns explaining to him what the thing looks like. If we are rooted firmly in Amos's POV, then the reader will have nothing but the explanation of others to understand what Amos is "seeing". In effect, if Amos is blind, then we are too when in his POV.
     
  18. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    He could also feel the person, but I doubt they'll let him. :p

    But yes, everything is from Amos' POV. I'm just about to write that part out (chapter one is almost complete). Basically they hear a scream, Emily rushes to investigate and Amos (using his broom as a cane) goes after her. He hears banging and someone shrieking about the devil, etc. Emily tells the person to calm down and opens the door. She too almost screams, but she fights the impulse. Meanwhile Amos is completely lost, shouting at her to describe to him what's happening.
     
  19. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Bing Bang Boom

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    Interesting. That will certainly save time on your visual description, haha. Do you have some experience with blindness or blind persons? Personally, I would have a very hard time making a blind POV sound believable, because all the usual cues would be removed. And you would have to make the reader feel blind as well, which will be extremely difficult because the sensory threshold of a blind person is difficult to describe in the written medium. I would think you'd need a very strong omniscient voice to counteract Amos's POV, or else you will never be able to write a single word of imagery anywhere. I salute your efforts on this front... best of luck!
     
  20. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I'm half-blind, and went to a school for the deaf and blind, so yah. :p :D
     
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  21. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Chapter One almost complete! They're at the outhouse now.
     
  22. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    @mrieder79 - Sent you the draft via PM.
     
  23. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    got it
     
  24. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    (Eagerly awaits your critique)
     
  25. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Not sure if that snippet you posted is still part of your book, but this line is confusing: "...the last thing I needed was his infamous wrath directed at me. Last guy who did that wounded up with a smashed-in nose and face-first in the frozen snow outside."

    So the last person who directed his wrath at Amos wound up with a broken nose, aka Amos beat the crap out of them?

    I don't know how else I am supposed to understand that sentence, given that "directing wrath at Amos" is the last action mentioned before the clause "last guy who did that" - so I must assume "that" refers to "directing wrath Amos".

    And why would Amos beating the crap out of his boss make Amos more inclined to tell the truth to avoid the trouble??
     
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