1. MissBadWolf

    MissBadWolf Senior Member

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    What do you do when you do not have a solid plot?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MissBadWolf, Aug 22, 2019.

    What do you do when you do not have a solid plot? Do you write anyway and hope that the plot comes soon and know there will be a lot of editing once the plot is discovered? or do you try to figure out that darn plot before starting to write?
    I got a vague idea of a plot but nothing too concrete. I am not writing because I am afraid I would write myself into confusion. Or should I go back to writing and hope some of the stuff I write makes sense when I finish figuring out the plot?
     
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  2. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    Everyone is different and I find both methods work. Sometimes talking your idea out with another person can help.
    I prefer to have a firm grasp of where I'm going and the point of the story I'm trying to tell, because I love planning but hate editing. This knowledge comes through doing both. I'm not a great pantser but I can do it if the subject is some I'm very familiar with.
     
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  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I'd do a little brainstorming - what could happen to your characters, what do they want, their goals, what could the hinderances be to keep them from getting those goals and maybe that will give you a clearer idea for a plot. I don't usually start a novel without a descent plot. Short story I'm okay with because I'm only investing 10-30 pages.
    Depending on your genre or lack thereof though, a solid plot isn't always necessary. I love Harriet the Spy but there's no real plot to the novel.
     
  4. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    You make one? I don't write stories that don't go anywhere. I know the beginning, middle and end of every single story before I start. I can't start without it. That might not work for some people, but everyone has to do what produces completed work.
     
  5. StoryForest

    StoryForest Banned

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    I wonder if it has to do with the writer's personal strength. Some writers are better at the act of "writing" while others may be better at "thinking." The "writing" writer may find it easier to start writing first then think later whereas the "thinker" may prefer having a plan first before they start to write. This may not be the most productive way for either types and I also don't mean this rule applies to everyone, I'm just wondering if it’s a factor of one's own strength that determines why some prefer starting with one method vs another.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
  6. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Brainstorming and plotting. Write what you've got on paper, try to figure out what you think is missing, and fill it in with what you want to happen.

    It works kind of like this:
     
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  7. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    I let it sit for a while, to be honest. I have some ideas and half written pages that dont go anywhere that have sat for years. Every so often, i will revist them and reread what i wrote. Sometimes I get a spark of inspiration and come up with a plot. other times i get nothing and leave them there.
     
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  8. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    My writing is extremely character based. I always have a plot idea and it's never solid before I decide to make it solid.

    I use to say and think that in story telling all the problems are in the earlier stage than where they become visible. And by earlier stage I mean mainly writing process more than plot. (Ok... They are interconnected, but I suppose you do understand what I mean.)

    Q: What directs plot?
    A: The desire of protagonist.

    Q: Where does that desire come from?
    A: The wound, trauma, character flaw or something like that builds a need, that need builds wanting and the desire is that wanting + needing combined in a way that let's protagonist to move from his/her indentities (shallow, outer, collective and "mass producted" parts of his/her person) to his/her self/essence/core/soul (the individual, unique areas of his/her person).

    Q: What do you do when you do not have a solid plot?
    A: You forget the plot and everything in it. You go to the motivational base of your protagonist and antagonist. You fix and fill everything there until you have two characters who are obsessively driven to situational conflict of interests.
    Then you go to the moment before that conflict starts to rise. And you see plot rising from these two characters and their motivational bases. And no matter are you discovery writer or outliner, you will have the rough idea of your plot in this moment.
    And then you go forward in a way that suits you.

    (Some dimensions of this in Hero's three journeys -thread which I started in General Writing. But it's possible that it's not there but somewhere else.)
     
  9. Lawless

    Lawless Active Member

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    Just start writing. The ideas will come. And even if you end up writing 2 or 3 chapters and then realizing you should have begun differently, it's not a disastrous loss of time and you will have trained your brain's writing center work better in the future.
     
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  10. Baeraad

    Baeraad Senior Member

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    I always have to know the beginning and end of every story, but the rest I tend to make up as I go. Not to say that always goes well, but plotting out every step never works for me. Things tend to get clearer for me the further I write.
     
  11. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd prefer writing something I am not sure about to not writing, and not only because of the old dictum 'You can't edit a blank page'.

    I write, because as soon as I write things become clear. Or if they don't, the dissatisfaction with the things I've written lets me narrow down what exactly is not clear. Sometimes I think I know what I need to write plotwise, but during writing it falls flat. That's an indication that the plot (or setting or character or what-the-heck) is not what it should be.
     
  12. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I generally make my plot up as I go along, then tidy up any discontinuities on the self edit
     
  13. Night Herald

    Night Herald Malfunctioning clockwork person Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't know what to do with a solid plot if I caught one. I just write, and hopefully something like a plot will start to emerge. Discovery writing is a perfectly legit way to work. But yeah, there is every possibility that you will write yourself into an unholy corner.

    One thing you might do (I can't personally do it, I have to revise as I go) is discovery write a rough draft, then use that as a basis for an outline. It would let you play around and try to let the plot develop organically, without wasting too much time on something that might not work out.
     
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  14. Vellanney

    Vellanney Member

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    I personally just keep writing, because I usually find an end somewhere. Even if that end is just temporary until the following story begins. But I'm a novel type writer. For something smaller, I'd think about what I want the over all goal to be before I even started writing. Why I was writing and what I wanted to accomplish. And if I feel like there's more to tell that space or time doe snot allow, I create an open ending.
     
  15. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Not writing or waiting to write something is not going to make you a writer. You have to write. That's how the whole thing works. If you need a plan, I would do it quickly. But, personally, I just write. I always start my stories with character and story. Make something happen or going on right away. Then every thousand or so words flip the script. Make unexpected turns. I think plots emerge as I write. Sometimes I do wonder what sort of plot I have going on, but I just keep making things happen. The more time you spend with your characters, the more story comes out. My novel is a murder mystery. I have no idea who did it, but I'm not worried about it. I also write short stories, making them up as I write. Sometimes I don't even know what the plot really is until I reach the end. But there's always one there. I think I'm sort of a natural with structure. It probably comes from reading a lot. I think knowing how to structure a story might even be more important than knowing what the plot is. When I write sometimes it feels like I'm on autopilot. I know people work differently, but you have to write. There must be something going on in your story, no?
     
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  16. jackmajor

    jackmajor New Member

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    personally i like to listen to some music and imagine various scenarios plots characters etc until the best ideas for to the surface.
    at least for me
     
  17. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    I recommend watching some videos about drawing/painting and how to compose pictures. The principles are the same, and they all start with rough drawings and several reiterations before proceeding with the main work - really it is all about putting ‘emotions’ down rather than draping your thoughts clumsily on a premade structure.

    ALL plots follow the same structure. If they didn’t they wouldn’t work. The expression of ‘emotional’ content is all that matters and this requires the writer to have some string intuition and/or a solid understanding of how to create mood/feeling in the reader by how the plot moves.

    To reflect a little more on the painting analogy think of a vase of flowers. It is NOT just a case of flowers, but it could be just a case of flowers if the painter merely replicated the image as closely as they could.

    If you cannot write a solid plot is not going to help you become a better writer. If anything I’d suggest that not knowing what to write next and forcing something out is the means of progressing as an artist in general - many professional artists have works on the back-burner for years before managing to bring them together into a cohesive whole.

    Either way I recommend you look into how others cope with other artist processes (dance, music, painting, film, acting, comedy, etc.,.)

    GL
     
  18. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I like that adage: Write without fear; edit without mercy. I call it the Pantser's Credo.

    When you think you've got something—characters, ideas, etc—start writing (after doing some non-written imagining to get atmosphere and character set up inside your head.)

    Don't worry about it.

    After you've written a few scenes, aspects will start to emerge that you might not have expected. Follow these. Sooner or later, you'll know what the story is about and what needs to happen. Yes, you'll end up getting rid of lots of what you've written that doesn't fit—but it's all practice. By recognising what doesn't fit, you'll learn. The only way you can waste writing time is by being too scared to start.

    I don't think you can finish a story without a solid plot, but you can certainly start out that way.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  19. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    I agree with @jannert so much there's not much to add, other than...

    Think about your characters. Know them inside and out. Life--the good things and bad things--happens to people. Your characters are people. And the more interesting they are as people, the more interesting the things are that will happen to them. Kinda works that way in real life, too.
     
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  20. MissBadWolf

    MissBadWolf Senior Member

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    After I finish printing my rough draft I am disconnecting my cord from the internet and doing a 30 day or so no internet challenge to work on writing and stuff.
     
  21. CaffeineCat7

    CaffeineCat7 New Member

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    Yeah, the Internet may be very distracting, especially when you're not sure with your writing. I did the same last five days and I think that I'm going to repeat this.

    Personally, I'm afraid with my still incomplete plot too, but I try to don't let it discourage me and keep away from writing. I do have some clues what will be going on and where it all goes, but I feel that it is away from the final shape. I test my ideas in practice, I look at them from the different angles, I reshape them and I add details that could make it all feel real. I'm at the first/rough draft stage and I think that there is a time to construct it properly.
     

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