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A Plot?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Ashe, Mar 28, 2021.

  1. Ashe

    Ashe Acolyte

    My writing isn't the best, but allow me to start with this..
    The base of my world, or even plot is magically gifted people are shipped to a port town, miles away from inland, or even the main society. Port Myrt, the place they are shipped to, used to be a factory town that manufactured all sorts of things. In the recent 30 years, the place has been transformed into a small town, with about 4,000 non-academy residents. Houses, places to eat, and of course, Xarveri Academy for Gifted Individuals, or more commonly known to humans as Xarveri Boarding Academy.
    Xarveri Academy sits on the outskirts of the small town, about a half a mile from the beach and the harbor. It sits undisturbed, people think it is just a normal boarding academy. The Academy includes three floors of classrooms and club rooms, however, the majority of the club rooms are empty. The Academy also features two stables, an aviary and a kennel. They are filled with magical creatures, ranging from Gryphons to Demon Horses. Winged wolves, and even Unicorns. There are no dragons.. they are seen to be a nuisance..

    The four main characters, Mizuki, Zodiac, Ash, and Rei are accepted into the school during the same year. They were the top of their classes, despite them being far away from each other. During their time at the school, they encounter friends, foes, and challenges.

    Now, where the issue comes in.. I have the base premise, but I don't exactly have a 'Villain' so to speak. I feel it would be boring to have them just fight against themselves. With a little bit of help, I've come up with a murderer that lies hidden in the school.. but i'm not sure how much I like that idea.
    I need a bad guy, something for them to fight against, but i'm just.. stuck. . Any help is greatly appreciated, and even if its not help with the plot itself, I'm always open to suggestions.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. A Pineapple

    A Pineapple Scribe

    Seems a bit like a mash up of Xavier's school for gifted children in x men and hogwarts.

    Why are they all sent to the school and why is the school hidden? May there be some malevolent reason?
    Teachers that are bad guys are pretty easy.
    Maybe there is a reason that this exact spot was chosen for the school, some sort of ancient power or artifact is hidden nearby and someone now wants to seize it.
    Perhaps the threat is external, someone is trying to exert outside influence on the school and enslave/control the magicians within for their own nefarious purposes. Perhaps that starts with the town and works its way to the school.
    How stable is magic in your world? could some spell or potion have gone awry and effected the islands/inhabitants?
    S.T. Ockenner, Vel and Darkfantasy like this.
  3. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    Perhaps a student in the different grade is missing or murdered while in the town. Your characters could solve the crime. You could make it more elaborate by having multiple student go missing or murdered (maybe someone trying to steal their power).
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  4. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    when something is hidden, the biggest concern for those doing the hiding is exposure. If that exposure already happened, then keeping the rest secret becomes paramount.

    This situation: add an 'incident' some years in the past - something that exposed the existence of magic in a public and messy way, like supernatural creatures leveling a shopping mall or some such. Put lots of intrigue and shadowy figures/groups around said incident - government agencies, religious fanatics, other groups of wizards. Likely, there were 'incidents' elsewhere. Desire to avoid a repeat reinforces the need for secrecy.

    Some of the students at your academy were 'touched' by said incident - maybe their powers first awakened there, maybe they had a relative among the casualties or among the investigators. Maybe there was a 'dirty deal' made then with 'payment coming due now' - and said 'payment' is one or another of the students. Of course, the students (and likely most of the faculty) have no real idea what happened then.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  5. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    The simplest approach to finding a villain/antagonist/whatever is to first figure out what the protagonist wants and have the villain be an opposing force against the protagonist getting what they want. The villain may want the same thing, putting them in competition. The villain may want the opposite, putting the protagonist and villain in a tug of war.

    For example, everyone wants the Ark in Raiders of the Lost Ark. In Alien, the protagonist wants to be rid of the alien and the villain wants to take the alien back.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  6. Malik

    Malik Auror

    Tolstoy famously said, "All great literature is one of two stories; someone goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town." Do what you want with that.

    That said, a story contains eight elements: theme, setting, character, plot, conflict, point of view, tone, and style. It sounds like you've got two of them: setting and characters. That's not enough for a story, yet, and this is the hard part about this whole writing thing. You can't just jump in and expect to get anywhere without all eight elements.

    A plot is a good next step, but if you develop your theme (what you want the story to actually say--as opposed to the plot, which is what happens in the story) and your conflict (obstacles set in front of the characters), and maybe play around with POV, tone, and style in some throwaway scenes, sometimes a plot will find its way to you.
  7. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    When brainstorming a villain, think about change.

    Villains are always agents of change—or were. That's two kinds right there. Either the villain is introducing some change into the characters' world, or the villain once introduced change into the world and is now trying to maintain the status quo that came from that old change. The main "good" protagonists are either going to fight against the change this villain brings, or they are going to attempt to be the agents of change themselves fighting against the villain's attempts to maintain the status quo.

    So when trying to determine a particular villain for a particular story, it's also good to think about your characters' desires, goals, hopes, loves, and so forth. This is because the villain is doing something that will threaten those things or impede those things. The change the villain is bringing, or the status quo the villain is trying to preserve, is directly opposed to the positive life goals of the characters. (In a subtle story, the characters may not even realize this for quite some time. Heck, even readers might not realize this for some time. But most genre stories are not so subtle.)

    I myself have often defaulted to the idea of having some murderer be the villain. This is a seemingly easy solution when nothing else is coming to mind. But it may also be too easy, too flimsy. Unless you are specifically wanting a murder mystery, having a murderer who is largely unconnected to the main protagonists as your only villain is likely to be weak sauce.

    In a murder mystery, what is the change the villain is bringing? I'm going to steal a bit from Auden here; read his essay "The Guilty Vicarage" for a better exploration of the murder mystery genre. Essentially, the detective who brings the murderer to justice is restoring "the state of grace." This means a return to a status quo that the murderer upset when the murder was committed. The change a murderer brings in a murder mystery novel is this: he has disrupted the peace, the rule of law, the comfy milieu that is the world of our characters. In a way, he has threatened to overturn the social compact. This is a threat not to be taken lightly.

    However, that's for a murder mystery, a particular genre. If instead you connected the murder to the main characters in some way that is meaningful to them—indeed, that also threatens to upend their own personal aspirations—then you might be able to use a murderer as a villain in a different way. Let's suppose there is an instructor at your characters' school who they all need in some way, whether for love, or for greedy advancement, or for protection, or a variety of reasons, unique to each of your main characters, and this instructor is found murdered at the end of Chapter Three. Now, the change the villain is bringing is disruption to the goals of these characters, or a disruption to the visions each had for their futures. That's a personal disruption, unique to each of the characters since each had different reasons for wanting that instructor to remain alive, and might be a good starting point for your main plot.

    But let's go a step further and say your characters end up working together to find the murderer, and during this investigation they discover something even worse. There are clues suggesting that the murderer is ... what? A fellow student? Another instructor? These might threaten a kind of change similar to that of a murder mystery, i.e., perhaps the school itself is no longer cozy and anyone could be in danger. What if instead, the clues lead to a discovery of an interdimensional portal hidden far beneath the school? Or else, an extraterrestrial landing pad one mile out to sea? Or maybe the kids discover the existence of a secret intelligence agency run by the government, and the slain instructor had once been a member of that agency? You could go so many directions, depending on what you want. But the key point would be to consider the sorts of change each of these scenarios threatens to bring. Plus, your story might benefit most if the ultimate threat was something these different kids felt in common, so that the initial unique concerns each had vis-a-vis that instructor's death almost melt away when this bigger concern, shared by all, comes into focus.

    It doesn't have to be grandiose, with these larger threats; just having a fellow student or another instructor turn out to be the murderer could work as well ultimately. This depends on the kind of story you are wanting to tell.

    The above approach would work if you decide to find a villain that threatens change. But what about a villain that wants to preserve the status quo? This is a bit different. Since I've gone on too long already, I'll just say this. Imagine that Harry's first year at Hogwarts introduced him to Voldemort as the Prime Minister of Magic and Dolores Umbridge as the Headmaster of Hogwarts. Bellatrix Lestrange and Barty Crouch Jr. would be instructors at the school. Fenrir Greyback would be the groundskeeper at Hogwarts. And so forth. Plus, Harry doesn't want to go, but he's forced to go to Hogwarts. Essentially, he's going to have to be the agent of change if he's to have a happy future of any kind. (But these evil characters were the agents of change in the past. It's just that they won, and now they are the status quo.)
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2021
  8. Malise

    Malise Scribe

    I don't know if you want to introduce political external factors within your story, but you can make the "murderous villain" a student-led insurgency group that is plotting to take over the school. Port Myrt with its isolation, stockpile of magical arms, access to beasts of burdens and industrial manufacturing plants, and potential recruitment pool of highly educated and magically talented impressionable young folks, would make a wonderful starter base for budding villains.

    This kind of plot has a basis within events that occur in real life, as many conflicts in the 20th century were kick-started by intellectuals and student activists, making universities essentially the first battlegrounds. If you want the darkest take on this scenario, you can have a situation that's similar to the Walisongo school massacre, wherein religious tensions between the local Muslim and Christian populations caused the deaths of 165 people. A "grey" take on this scenario would be the insurgent group using the capture of the school to negotiate their terms to the government. The lightest take would just be the usual battle school shenanigans, wherein people use fists as a suitable medium for ideological debates, but this time the antagonists has a more thought-out plan to beat up the protag and company for reasons that basically boil down to pride.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2021
  9. ShadeZ

    ShadeZ Maester

    I see what you did there lol. So how intelligent are these chimeras? What is their temperament generally? Could a demon horse be a monster? Generally monsters range from predatory, predatory to humans, to docile shy, to docile. A human predatory monster could easily be the "bad guy"? Is it possible they could be trying to catch wild monsters that attack humans?

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