Stuck in plotting hell

Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by cosmic lights, Nov 25, 2018.

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  1. Aled James Taylor

    Aled James Taylor Contributor Contributor

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    I do planning, writing and editing in a chaotic manner. Everything seems to depend on everything else.

    To manage the text, I include section and subsection titles. Then I make a contents table so I can navigate easily. I plan by writing more titles. Then I rearrange the order when editing. The system works for me and is manageable even with a large quantity of text. My contents table for a book spans three to four pages. Continuity is a real issue. It's too easy to change the order of events and end up with a character driving a car before his first driving lesson.
     
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  2. EBohio

    EBohio Member

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    In two years he could have enrolled in a writing course and learned structure and plotting and the class would have told him what they thought of the story...assuming he would make this novel his class project. The bottom line is ...you need an objective point of view from someone other than yourself.

    Of course there is one question that no one has dared to ask the OP what to think about...
    are you a writer? do you have the skill? Everybody has to ask themselves that at one point or another.

    There are many writing instructors that will just come out and tell you whether they think you have it or not. You'll have to be prepared to take their advice to heart.
     
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  3. Spirit of seasons

    Spirit of seasons Active Member

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    If your willing to write and willing to learn there shouldn’t be anything to tell you not to write. It took two attempts to complete my first novel. It’s not impossible, just take it slow and work on it paragraph by paragraph.
     
  4. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    Perhaps you are trying to plan too much of your story? I am a planner too, and I find it's very important to keep the planning organized and simple so you don't get bogged down in the details. I keep a 5 subject spiral notebook. The first section is for generic planning- this is where all of my first ideas go, scribbled in the margins, written all over the page, crossed out and highlighted, just a big hodge-podge of all my initial plans and ideas, for characters, for plot, for names, etc. The other sections are for refining these ideas. I have a "Rough Drafts" section where I write when I don't have a computer nearby. I have a "World Building" section for fleshing out the world, the continents, the countries, etc. I have a "Story Arcs" section where I keep track of my main plot and my subplots, in OUTLINE FORM. Example:
    Sub-Plot A- King Jereth
    I. Background
    A. Jereth
    1. Nephew of current king.
    I. His mother was the king's sister but she died in childbirth.

    And so on and so forth. I find when I just plot the bare bones, the ideas flow fast and furious. Just jotting them down without having to worry about phrasing or description helps me keep things going. I have a "Main Plot" outline, a "Sub-Plot A" outline, a "Sub-Plot B" outline, and a "Plot Link-Up" outline. Bear in mind, I did not start with all of these. I began with just the main plot, then as my story was written, the sub-plots developed, and I created an outline to keep track.
    I also later developed a timeline in my Story Arcs section, when I realized I needed to keep track of when all the events were happening in relation to each other. But I had a fair amount of writing already done before I developed this.
    And finally, I have a "Research" section where I write notes on the various things I've had to research in relation to my plot.
    Other things I later added as they became necessary:
    A "Cast of Characters" in my World Building section, so I could make sure I wasn't re-using names.
    A list of male and female names that were appropriate for my setting.
    A map of my world that I drew.
    A list of all the magical beasts I am using and their abilities and characteristics.

    Maybe if you organize your ideas and plans it will help. And, if you have another idea for a different story- write it in a new notebook, then return to the original idea. You will never make progress if you are always chasing new ideas. There will always be new ideas. The key is to stick with one idea and see it through, then move on to your other ideas.
     
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  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Which probably would have been a complete waste of his time and money, and introduced yet more 'rules' that he doesn't actually need to follow.

    There are indeed many writing instructors who will tell you you haven't got it … most of them are writing instructors because they couldn't hack it as writers, so who cares what they think ?
     
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  6. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Active Member

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    Is a good question and one I've been asking myself constantly since I started writing, and I don't have an answer because I don't know if there is one and two because I don't tend to share my writing. I haven't started writing this novel yet so I can't off anything of that as a sample, but I do have a few chapters of a book I write at fourteen that I could submit on here for some feedback just to see what others say. I know my grammar and punctuation isn't great but that's something that I can improve on with time and learning. Being a good story-teller I don't think is so easy to learn. Having a natural flare for something isn't something that can be taught. Anyone can learn to sing, but not everyone has an outstanding talent for it.
     
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  7. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Member

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    Hello, my friend.

    By you changing over and over your story it gives me the impression, and here I hope to be wrong, you are trying to do the best story. However, keep this in mind, there is no perfect story but a good one. Sometimes on our writing things change, and we should get used to it. It's natural. After all, we writers desire to tell a good story for our readers appreciate and relate with our MCs.

    I think it is good to plan things, but I use that in my research. For example, if a character suffers for a specific trauma, do that research, see the symptoms of that mental illness and cure if you plan for your character to be cured. Keep in mind also is essential to consider which time does your story happens. Is fantasy? Sci-Fi? Steampunk? Cyberpunk? And so on. Because this will influence if that mental illness will be able to be cured, if so which techniques are used? Alchemy? Drugs? Robots? So my advice is to try to use your planning on your research, then write your story. Don't bother if your first draft is terrible, is supposed to you write all your ideas even if they are messy. Then yes rewrite until you think the story makes sense. In doubt post here and we will help you.

    People gave you good resources for you to look, and I will suggest one more book for you to read. John Truby presents The Anatomy of Story. Yes, this gentleman is a screenwriter but believe me, it also works to books. I hope this helps and remember, keep on good work and have fun :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
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  8. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    But I thought you said you'd written a draft and then went backwards to change the plot because of a change in your ending? So how come you're now saying you "haven't started writing" it yet?

    Surely you've got more recent samples to submit to the workshop. And if you don't, then I dare say plotting is certainly not your key problem. I don't see what benefit you would glean from submitting a piece of work from 10 years ago (I'm assuming you're not a teenager. If I'm wrong and you're like, 16, then submitting something that you wrote at 14 might be all right). Your writing should, I hope, have significantly improved from when you were 14. Again, if it hasn't, I dare say plotting really isn't your main problem. Actually writing and improving the basic quality of it are.
     
  9. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Active Member

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    The draft was an in depth plotting draft, not really a manuscript for others, full of notes and a few written scenes.

    I don't tend to keep my writing very often. Hopefully, my work will have improved, but if people tell me I was Okay at writing at 14 and I'm better now, surely that gives me some idea.
     
  10. EBohio

    EBohio Member

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    He doesn't consider his "planning" to be writing. He didn't do a first draft because he keeps changing the "plan".

    I still say if he can afford it, a writing course would be a good idea. A course in writing doesn't make one a writer because I don't think you can "learn" talent. But, it will give him some structure on the process and if he is truly a writer it would be of benefit. He needs structure. The way he is trying to do it just isn't working out for him and he shouldn't go it alone.

    Off topic****** Remember the tv show The Waltons? All John Boy wanted to do was be a writer. When he was a kid he kept journals and the journals showed he had the talent to be a writer. But even he knew he had to go to college to "learn" how to be a writer. He gets written out of the show once he is in college and I don't remember, maybe even graduated. But we know he became a writer because his character is clearly the narrator (in the show and the original novel).
     
  11. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's the point. Firstly, what on earth makes you think you're better than you were at 14 if you barely ever actually write? I don't mean to insult you, but it's like a chef wondering why he can't learn to cook by reading recipes and yet has never picked up a pan and actually cooked something.

    Secondly, the likelihood is - and I'm not trying to insult you - your writing at 14 probably sucked. I know mine did. Most teenagers' works are mediocre at best because they're still learning all sorts of writing devices and just then starting to learn to read critically and evaluate text for voice, intent, context and the likes of which you study in school. That says nothing about talent - simply lack of training.

    At 14, you're still told to use certain devices because you're just learning to use them - you're nowhere near the stage of playing with these devices and breaking from them. I assist in a Year 5 classroom with 9-10 year old kids, and I cringe during English when I see them being told to use "three adjectives in a row" in order to "strengthen" their text, and being told to choose a device from a booklet to apply to some of their sentences in order to make them more "interesting". But that's how you learn - these are new or almost new to them and they haven't use them, ever, not even used them badly before. This is what they need. Do you think their writing is "good" with these devices? Of course not. It certainly is better than what they wrote before, but certainly nowhere near "good" in most cases. But that's ok - they're still learning.

    So if you showed people your writing at 14 and people say it sucked - what does that really show of your skill or talent? Nothing. Except now you'll probably feel even worse for no reason and be sorely discouraged. I would not advise it.

    You sound like, honestly, you suffer from an extreme lack of confidence. How do you hope to ever build confidence if you never actually write? Because deep down, as long as you don't write, you can't fail - but you can't succeed either. Deep down, since you don't ever write, no matter what people say, you'll never believe your story might work and that you could write - because you haven't written. There's no evidence that you could. You don't have to convince me you can write - you have to convince yourself.

    Everyone has to start from somewhere. There's a meme around Facebook I think that says: Masters are just experts at failing. Every chef's burnt a meal. You think I haven't written trash and deleted a gazillion words? You think I improved by magic? You're not gonna get anywhere if you can't take some pain.

    So the only question you gotta ask is: Do you want to write?

    Answer that question, and then act on it.
     
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  12. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Active Member

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    Your absolutely correct there, I know I do put it off. And I'm not insulted, I'm pretty thick skinned and sometimes someone needs a kick. Don't apologise ever for giving people the blunt truth.

    I think I will up load something even to just gain some confidence. Showing anything might help me out in that department.
     
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  13. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Sure, do whatever you think will help you gain confidence. However, rather than showing old work, I'd say write something new and upload that ;)
     
  14. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Active Member

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    I think I'll take your wise advice and thank you :)
     
  15. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Active Member

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    If you don't write you have already failed - but you can lie yourself and some friends/relatives that you could - if you would.

    Create your characters well. Get to know them. Give them some indipendence.

    Outline or not, but write your SFD - Shitty First Draft. Do it as fast as you can. Study your topics every day. Write every day you can. If you can't write, study more.

    Stick to your main idea while writing SFD.

    When you have your SFD you can think how to rewrite it. Until that - stick to your plan.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018 at 6:39 PM
  16. Veltman

    Veltman Member

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    If you find yourself scrapping plot ideas for new ones you like better and ruining your writing, we have something in common. My answer to it is simple: don't change what you're writing to accomodate new plots or different ideas that aren't compatible. Start writing a completely new story and put the other project in the backburner for a while. There's no harm in it. You might find yourself inspired to continue it later, and if you don't, it's fine as well.
     

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