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Have you ever doubted your plot?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Chyntiania, Jul 4, 2015.

  1. Chyntiania

    Chyntiania Dreamer

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    So here I am again, with another problem/question

    ...Please bear with me xD



    Okay. So I've been working on this story for a few months now and I've written four chapters so far. I'm quite pleased with my main character, but I've started worrying about my plot (and a little bit about the setting because of the plot)

    I'm worried that the reader won't care about the problem the main character has to face

    Have you ever had this problem? If so, please mention how and how you dealt with the problem!
     
  2. DeathtoTrite

    DeathtoTrite Troubadour

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    Are they not sympathetic enough? Cause I think as long as the character is likable and the problem not trivial, I would like it.
     
  3. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

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    I'm worried that the reader won't care about the problem the main character has to face

    Have your character overcome a flaw to reach a goal.

    When the moment of truth arises, do something to make them vulnerable.

    In the movie Alien, Sigourney Weaver strips down to her underwear right about the moment when we want to scream at her through the movie screen to put on an acid proof suit of armor and load up a laser blasting bazooka or pull a light saber out of her ass.

    Yeah sure, we have a pretty good idea that she will prevail, but it's a nail biting moment none the less and we want her to survive.
     
  4. Spider

    Spider Sage

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    It's a bit difficult to give good advice on how to deal with this problem without knowing any details (on the character, your current plot, the setting). Perhaps you could be a bit more specific? The advice may also vary depending on the nature of the plot: is it internal or external, local or global?

    Are you sure the issue isn't with your character? It could be the way the character is meshing with the problem s/he has to face.

    Is there enough tension or conflict?

    I've most likely had similar worries when writing, but usually if I can pull off my character well enough (that is, make my character relatable, flawed, and engaging) and put the character in a situation or environment that challenges him/her, then my readers will [hopefully] be on board. IMO, it also depends on how to story is written (quality of writing, style, POV, etc.). Plenty of ways to make the reader care regardless of what the plot might be.
     
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I agree with Spider. Without knowing more, it's difficult to give advice. But I can give sympathy!

    I worry about my plot. Specifically I worry that I have constructed an enemy that cannot be defeated. Then I worry that I have given that enemy a weakness that can be justified but which also might be read as contrived. I worry that this is a 120,000 word epic and the whole thing falls apart if I can't pull off that key plot point.

    But I'm resigned to writing the danged thing anyway. Of course all the stuff about sympathetic characters and such apply. But in some ways if the reader likes the characters and the central plot point looks like a contrivance, the whole things falls apart even worse.

    How to fix it? I think what you are asking is how to fix it *before* you write it. I don't think you do. I don't think you can outline your way out of it, you can only write your way through it, being prepared to accept the risk of spending months or years on something that simply might not work.

    Ain't writing fun?
     
  6. srebak

    srebak Troubadour

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    I've had doubts about my plots, mainly because i fear that they may come off as a bit run together. From what i've heard about Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling's work, they obviously knew exactly where their stories were going and in the end; it all added up and didn't feel forced or phoned in
     
  7. evolution_rex

    evolution_rex Inkling

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    Have I ever doubted the plot of any of my stories? It happens literally every time! I'm always realizing inconsistencies and plot holes. One of the most irritating things for me is when I've found a flaw in the core concept. If I change it, then it's no longer what I wanted to do, but if I keep it, then there's a stain on it. It's very discouraging.
     
  8. Chyntiania

    Chyntiania Dreamer

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    Okay, so I'll try to summarize this part of the plot that I'm worried about. There's more to the story, but this is the part that I'm unsure about.

    ------

    The main character is from one of the noble families in the kingdom, and her father has slowly made his way all the way to the top and is now working for the king.
    An alliance is finally formed between her family and the royal family when the MC's sister is going to marry the king's oldest son (in seven days time from when the story starts. The time is running out quickly!)

    The MC doesn't like this idea.

    Her sister is precious to her, not only because she is her sister but also because she is her closest friend.
    The MC has also grown up knowing the prince her sister is going to marry, and she has seen a change in him that worries her.
    Her gut feeling says that he's up to something, and her sister is so madly in love with this prince that she doesn't realize that something is up.

    For the main character this bad feeling grows stronger as the wedding day approaches, and she feels that she has to do something even if she has to do it alone


    So the question is; will the reader care about this at all?
     
  9. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Workable.

    Question: Did the Prince really take a turn for the worse? Or is this mere jitters on the MC's part?

    It works either way.

    Best solution (either way) would be for the MC to witness the Prince 'do something.' Something wrong, or seemingly so, but with little or no evidence to support what she saw.

    This way, if the Prince is bad, she has advance warning (her fears are justified).

    If she misinterpreted what she saw, then the episode still amplifies her jitters.

    Either way, the element of uncertainty, written correctly, should hold the reader.
     
  10. Chyntiania

    Chyntiania Dreamer

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    To answer your question: Yes, the prince has a "masterplan", so the MC is right about that something's up. But she still doesn't know what he's up to, and she has no good evidence and minimal support

    She actually confronts her childhood friend with her suspicions, and he doesn't really take her seriously either, but in the end he says:
    "If something is wrong you'll figure it out"
    and the MC answers that by saying:
    "But what if it's too late when I do?"
     
  11. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Hmmm...

    Given this situation, and that pretty much all royal courts are dens of intrigue, said 'Friend' would have to be downright incompetent or stupid to NOT make at least a superficial check or two on his own. Gets into basic survival at court. 'Yes, it's probably nothing, but I'll still have a word with that weird guy in the kitchen (or wherever) anyhow, because he might have seen something.'
     
  12. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    From what I'm getting, this is a very workable plot. What could make or break this for you is making sure the consequences of the sister marrying the prince and the consequences if/when this master plot goes off are made clear to the reader. If you've done your job and made the readers care for your characters, this is the next thing in line of importance. If the reader doesn't know what's at stake, they don't know what to care about or what to fear.

    Secrets are a double edge sword. Keep them for two long and readers will get board and frustrated. Be sure the secret of the prince's master plan is worth keeping and for how long because a lot of times revealing a secret can gain you more than keeping it. Sometimes you don't even have to reveal it to your characters. You can reveal it only to the readers. This can create tension in seemingly innocuous scenes.
     
  13. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Maester

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    Show the reader how bad/evil the prince is. Make the reader dislike/love to hate the prince and then they will side with your MC. You could even make some of what the prince does be evident to the friend who doesn't comprehend the significance or thinks she can change him. Also make what the prince is doing, his master plan, has a large effect on the kingdom. You would then also need to show some good of the people the prince is going to attack/confront so that the reader would rather not see him win. Hope this helps.
     
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Have you considered the what-ifs? What if the prince really isn't up to anything terribly awful. The sister interferes and ruins the wedding or the relationship. How would that play out?

    What if the prince is up to something and the MC does act too late? What then? Can she save her sister? Or does she have to make a choice between saving the kingdom and saving her sister?

    What if the sister is willing to go along with the prince, out of love? Even to the extent of harming the MC?

    Sometimes the anxiety over the plot comes because I have something I want to happen. I spend all my time trying to figure out how to make that happen. I start sculpting my characters so that can happen. But when I finally start running down all the plot lines, I find that my characters become more interesting if I have B happen instead of A.

    Alas, the only way I'm able to do this is to write the scenarios. It'd be nice if I could just plot them and know which one was right, but no. I've got to spend weeks and months writing dead ends before I get a fit between plot and character. *sigh*

    Great. OP asks for advice and I offer self-pity. Anyway, you might try spinning out alternate scenarios. If nothing else, they can give you insights into red herrings or failed attempts.
     
  15. Chyntiania

    Chyntiania Dreamer

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    Yes, I've considered the different what-ifs and scenarios (much fun to be had!)


    "Sometimes the anxiety over the plot comes because I have something I want to happen. I spend all my time trying to figure out how to make that happen"

    This is exactly what I'm dealing with. This thing with the sister's wedding and the prince and his masterplan is an important plotpoint in the beginning of the story, but there's more to it. The final outcome will be the same.
    The MC will have to leave the kingdom, probably to never return, and search for her sister in a world that is unfamiliar to her. That's the main plot
     
  16. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I want to approach this from a different angle.

    Let's talk about your story structure for a moment...or how things develop & tie together. There are many structural forms you can employ, but for simplicity's sake (and for commonality), I'm going to assume your story is a three act structure. Proponents of the three act structure feel it reaches something deep within our unconscious. The idea of beginning, middle, end. Since you're 4 chapters in, we'll focus on the first act.

    First plot point:
    1. What is your inciting event? (This is the event that sets everything in motion. This is usually driven by the antagonist, even though the reader may not see the antagonist in action yet.)

    2. What is the key event? (The event that draws the protagonist into the plot.)

    3. What life-altering decision does your protagonist make, or how does the protagonist strongly react to the inciting and key events that they can't turn away from? (This must force them irrevocably into action. There's no walking away. There's no going back.)

    In my opinion these are the intial pieces you must work out to develop your plot (from the three act structure standpoint). Everything else in the story begins here. You may even be able to foreshadow the climax within the first act, tying the story together from beginning to end.

    You don't need to outline if you don't want to, but you should spend some time thinking about or writing out your story structure. If you don't know much about different structures, there are myriad books and online resources to help. Thinking about structure, before writing too much, can aid in making a strong plot that resonates.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2015
  17. Chyntiania

    Chyntiania Dreamer

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    I do have these three points you listed in place, and I have several documents where I've added and lined the central plot points.

    I could fill you in on these points, but I don't know if that would be of any interest to any of you. I got the first part of the story sorted out since I have the major plot points and the order in which these will occur. There are still plot holes, so I'll still have to deal with those.

    I'm a big fan of foreshadowing by the way :)
     
  18. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    It's not necessary to answer them here. I was just asking to see if you've thought about structure, the point of no return, and the placement of plot points.

    Until I started listing these events, and their placement, I often has issues with plot.
     
  19. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    I'd just like to second this. Until I figured out story structure, I'd have a jumble of ideas/scenes/events and no real solid idea of how to put it all together into a coherent plot. Once I understood structure, things became easier to assemble, because I could visualize the plot in my head and have it play out.
     
  20. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    That about sums up my current novella...and the previous one. At this point, I have fifteen or eighteen good scenes, but only a rough idea of their placement. Connecting scenes are going to be interesting. Already looking at a do-over of the outline.
     
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