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Plot generators - cheating or essential??

Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Noya Desherbanté, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. Tesoro

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I had never seen such a thing before, but i dont see it as cheating, the art is what you do with the story/theme, how you create the characters and develope them and the plot, not the theme in itself. In the end there are so many varieties of the same/similar themes out there.
     
  2. Birmingham

    Birmingham Active Member

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    Maybe they're good as sort of a challenge. For example, you know those 48 hour film projects? Each team of filmmakers draws a certain genre, or plot, and then, all of the teams have to have a character with a specific name. I guess that's so they'll be sure these are not films that they made a week before.

    So, anyway, it's a nice drill to sort of limit yourself to a certain genre, certain character, and then see what you can do with those limitations.

    And if by accident you find that you've written a work of art... what's the harm?
     
  3. Elgaisma

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a new novella and a series planned from two attempts with a plot generator need to stay away or I will never stop coming up with novels to write.

    I used the genreless generator.
     
  4. Melzaar the Almighty

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Noya: I thought a long time ago you were saying you were an obsessive plotter, and that was where your writing woes came from? Now you're saying you can't come up with plots without help? :p I'm beginning to think you undersell yourself, or you don't write a thing... One or the other... :p

    I don't think they're a cheat, but they're often pretty zany to the point where I'd find it hard to construct a plot even with much refreshing.

    Really, I'd just see them as a start point, or a single fix, not to be adhered to. And if you're going to use them, you have to write back as well as forwards. If it suggests a twist, go back and set up the twist before you carry on with it. Otherwise it will look like lousy writing, whether they know you used a generator or not. Lazy writers throw in random twists without giving their readers a fair clue. I'm trusting you know what you're doing, but just thought I'd put that out there as an explanation for why I think that using a plot generator too intensely could sabotage your work.
     
  5. Elgaisma

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Noya writes and what she writes is good so it is clearly working for her.
     
  6. ArtWander

    ArtWander Contributing Member

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    To be honest, I don't think that using any form of inspiration should be considered 'cheating'. Although I personally don't use plot generators, as far as I am aware, the plot generator merely gives the writer a base to go off of, and it is up to them to take it and run with it, so to speak.

    The plot generator is not doing the writing, you are. Whatever helps you is fine :)
     
  7. Rainer

    Rainer Member

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    It baffles me as to why anyone would even consider using something that generates ideas for them. How can you possibly be writing your own unique story if you've stolen something from a database spitting out pre-determined words and plots? Pointless, and certainly not 'essential'.
     
  8. S-wo

    S-wo Active Member

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    I don't think it's cheating. I just think it's lazy. You're talking about a search engine that brings up plots for you right?
     
  9. Elgaisma

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am more than capable of coming up with my own plots, but have actually found them a good way to spark an idea, so much so I need to stay away from them. I also do not in anyway see them as lazy, when I come up with my own idea I can write short story in half an hour with kids playing round me. With the plot generator both stories took over an hour and a half.

    Its hardly stealing an idea - all you get is sex, type of character, a theme and a place to start the story - or a couple of sentences of ideas, out of that you still need to write the story. However the twice I have used it I have ended up with an idea for a novella about prideful, mad reverend who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with a mad pirate captain and whole new series of books based round paranormal investigators. Both Iris Harlow and Reverend Allsopp came from a plot generator. The series I will be starting in May and from next month will be serialising the novella on my website.
     
  10. S-wo

    S-wo Active Member

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    You're confusing me. It doesn't sound like a plot generator. It sounds like a theme generator?
     
  11. Melzaar the Almighty

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's the story generator: http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=storygen which gives you a more detailed version, then a couple of others that deal with themes and symbolism, or quick ideas for twists and turns. This one: http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=writechallenge looks pretty complex, and mixed with a character generator could give you a whole story, no imagination, easy. But that's pretty intense use.
     
  12. Elgaisma

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here are examples you get from the ones Mel gave us:

    This is a story about how people miss the obvious. The story is about a traveler who is constantly opposed by an electrician. It starts in a university town in an arctic domain. The story begins with a surrender. An accident in space plays a major role in the story.

    The story takes place ten years into the future. During the story, there is a mysterious death. The story must involve a quiver of arrows at the end. A character is disoriented throughout most of the story.

    The story must have a phoenix in it.

    The story starts during a rainstorm. During the story, a famous person goes missing. The story must involve a jar of jelly at the end.

    The story is set during a workday. The story takes place ten years into the future. The story must have a buffalo in it. The story must involve a flight of stairs in it.

    A character becomes inebriated during the story. During the story, a character makes a meal for themselves.

    The story takes place five years in the past. During the story, there is a breakup in a relationship.

    The story is set in an alley. The story takes place in mid-fall. The story must involve a treasure in it.

    The story takes place a year into in the past. During the story, there is an explosion. During the story, a character discovers someone has been pretending to be them.

    The story must have a fire-spirit at the end. The story must involve a trident in the beginning. During the story, a character misunderstands someone.

    This is what you get from my favourite one:
    Your Main Character is a(n): male

    Your MC's main character trait is their: zeal.

    The Main Symbol in the story is a(n): sheep.

    Theme point is: Gluttony.

    Your story will start at/on/in: a Window.

    This one created my Reverend story for me.
     
  13. Tesoro

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    i cant understand why it would be more cheating than reading an article in a paper and have an idea for a story/theme from that. Or any other form of inspiration that comes from the world around us. I have never started writing a story from one of the ideas that these generators come up with (i only recently found out they existed) but i dont think I would need to either, since i have plenty of ideas on my own. Still, i dont find it cheating. as someone said; its just a guideline, an inspiration, its not doing the writing, we do. two people could use the same idea and write two very different stories out of that.
     
  14. Elgaisma

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sheepish Reverend
    Blackpool Truths
    Gus and Iris

    These are what I came up with as a result of two trips to seventh sanctum - also have plans for a Male beauty pagent - with its winner Torston Lillie - big tall blonde nice butt, construction worker - did really well in the swimsuit section. I only visited out of curiosity and have to say its fun.

    My fourth visit has given me a cross between Star Wars and Pinocchio lol

    As if my historical short story, innuendo ridden sketches and my Covesea Island stories weren't enough lol
     
  15. Cornys

    Cornys Member

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    Only way it would be cheating is if it gives you an entire plot in my opinion. I think it comes back to the idea that the mind is unable to think of anything that it has not seen before, but rather only changes and uses things it has seen before in different ways.

    This little line that it gives you brings things to the surface and then allows you to alter what it has suggested. I've never seen one before now though to be honest with you.

    Only thing that I am likely to ever get involved with is a name generator, because I dislike making up names with a passion because I always end up thinking of people who I know :D
     
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  16. BOH1066

    BOH1066 New Member

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    i just wanted to let you know that this comment was the reason i registered as a member of this online community. i recently had a relatively heated conversation about what place plot and character generators have in the writing process. i couldn't agree more with the sentiments you've expressed here.

    While i do think generators can play a useful role when utilised as a 'practice' exercise. essentially, they serve the same function as any low tech writing prompt but, with the app, one has access to an almost infinite number of possibilities. however, i've come across more than a few people who use them as a crutch when they're unable to resolve a situation or create a character. invariably, the more a person relies on these creators to get 'unstuck', the more difficult it becomes for them to write without using them.

    for what it's worth, i don't think you sounded harsh. i think you argued your points, with which i completely agree, in a frank and honest manner. i don't understand how people can not consider the use of these apps as a type of cheating. if i'm a writer who creates/develops my characters and/or my plotlines based on the results of a third party, algorithmic computer app, then i certainly have no right to claim any work produced in that manner as my own. i've found mad libs to be great way to illustrate my argument. the creator apps i've looked at are quite similar in concept and i know nobody would claim a completed mad lib to be their original work.
     
  17. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    My favorite "generator" is WikiWalking through TVTropes (read one page, click a link to another page, click another link... ). Immersing myself in the 27,000 tools of story construction that they've cataloged so far (plots, characters, settings, lines of dialogue) makes me wonder more vividly which tropes can be combined in new ways.

    I would actually have to say that the most vivid characters I've come up with are the characters where I started with a plot, then filled it in with the kinds of characters who could fit into the plot.

    By the time I've finished the story, it's become about 80% character and 20% plot, but when I'm just starting out it has to be the other way around.
     
  18. big soft moose

    big soft moose Contributing Member

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    5 years :eek:
     
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  19. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    'Sorite. :-D

    As for my 2p (5 years later)

    I wouldn't think of using a plot generator as cheating, but it wouldn't really fit with my personal process. I know my major landmarks from beginning to middle to end of story, so a randomly interposed item just wouldn't be constructive for me.
     
  20. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    ... Oh
     
  21. big soft moose

    big soft moose Contributing Member

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    Yeah i'd agree it wouldn't work for me either ... If others want to use it that's fine, but foe me i need to make those connections myself for my story to work
     
  22. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can see it being a way to kick your imagination into gear - as long as you don't actually feel you should stick with the outcomes. Like, I had someone read Tarot cards for me at a party a few years ago. I totally don't believe in Tarot or much of any other mystical stuff, but it was interesting just as a way to get me thinking about my options, decisions I'd made, etc. Like when you have a tough decision and someone else tells you what you should do and you choose the opposite because having the decision made for you helped you understand what you actually want.
     
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  23. Miller0700

    Miller0700 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't use plot generators. Sure, I use writing generators for coming up with characters names and fictional objects, but the plots generators usually make up some plot that is either mostly nonsensical or something generic ("rescue the princess from the castle").
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2016
  24. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Neither cheating or essential. Everything you experience is fodder for your imagination. If you're writing and looking at the buffet that your mind is providing you, and nothing there is quite right, there's nothing inherently wrong with shopping for fresh ingredients. Just make sure that you do the cooking.
     
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  25. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    [​IMG]
     
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