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How important should the plot be to the rest of the world?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Jtn46, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. Jtn46

    Jtn46 Dreamer

    Say a man absolutely has to find an artifact. How dire would the consequences be if he doesn't? If he fails, would it be the end of him? His city? His nation? The world? If the world you've made for the story is large, does that mean the ends and the means should also be of greater significance to more individuals within the story?

    Also, does a greater consequence make the story itself darker? Is there less room for humor, a lively world, and light-heartedness?
  2. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror


    Go back a ways in fantasy and you'll find David Eddings' Belgariad and Malloreon, two series set in the same world. The consequences are incredibly high, yet with able characterization, there are frequent episodes of lightheartedness, bantering between the team members, and plenty of humor.
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  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    What really matters is how the characters relate to the plot and how it's told.

    Personally, I believe it's easier to tell a really dark story if you're on the personal level and really get into the head of the character or characters involved. That's when you get to know them and start to understand what they're going through. If you're dealing with world changing events and catastrophes the scope gets so much bigger that it's difficult to relate to on a personal level.

    It's also not as much about the world and the consequences as it is about the struggle of the hero. At the end of a movie, when the climax comes, you're not sitting there worrying about world if the character fails - you worry about whether they will succeed or not, whether all their struggles have been in vain or if they will triumph in the face of adversity.

    But, as with all things, there are always exceptions.
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  4. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    Svrtnsse said what I was going to say. Whether the world survives or dies is to some degree immaterial. What will create the greatest emotional resonance is the success or failure of the characters you've developed and given personalities to. This is particularly obvious in disaster movies--thousands of people may die in the disaster, but it's a happy ending if your lead characters get out alive.

    With that said, I think there may be a way to create investment in a larger society. There are a lot of books about New York that try to portray New York's "character," giving the city itself a personality. If one such book were to portray the possible destruction of New York, the reader might care, because there's a reason to care about something with a character. I think you might be able to do the same for the character of an entirely fictional city, or even a fictional world, although this would be a difficult task.
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  5. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    It all depends on the type of story you're trying to tell. In some ways "End of the World" can be a relative term in story telling. The consequences should match up with the goals of the main character(s). What I mean by that is for example, Betty needs to get an A on her physics exam to get into university. She can study hard or cheat. If she studies hard, she still might not get the A. If she cheats, she can get the A, but if she's caught, she'll get expelled. Let's say she cheats and get's caught. Relatively speaking, it's the end of the world for her.

    In this type of story, there's no need to have consequences like chopping off her hands.

    For your story, why does the man have to find the artifact? The reason for that may lead you to the right consequences.

    If it's to keep it away form someone who intends to use it to conqueror the world? Then the stakes may be world shattering. If it's to use the artifact to save his city from drought, the consequences is the city. If it's to use the artifact to save his mother from sickness, then the consequences is his mother's life.

    Maybe, if you want a big story, it can be all three.

    Remember, there's nothing wrong with small stakes. A kid loses ten cents down a storm drain, for example, may not be big stakes, but it can be earth shattering to the kid, and by extension the reader, if that makes it so the kid doesn't have enough money to buy flowers for his grandmother who's dying in the hospital.

    No. Look at Star Wars. A whole planet gets blown up by the Deathstar and the fate of billions in the galaxy are at stake. Yet, the story is a relatively light one, with humor in bunches.

    Now take my example with the kid and the ten cents. Imagine if he tries to steal flowers for his grandmother and ends up getting run over by a car while he's trying to get away. That's a little darker IMHO and for small stakes, relative to the end of the world.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
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  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I think a plot and its consequences need to fill-the-space, so to speak. If your character is the cheating girl in school, from Penpilot's example, then the story needs to be about all the areas of her life that might be affected by getting caught, or reinforce her motivations for cheating. The plot should touch upon everything in her story.

    If you've created a great big world and your MC gets to see it, then you should have a plot that fills the space of that character's travels. Whether that means the artifact in question should destroy the world . . . well, depending on the details it might or might not help.
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  7. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    Svrtnsse is exactly correct. I'll state his point in another way, however:

    Events have no meaning in and of themselves. If the red army and the blue army fight, what difference does it make who wins? If my POV character is a soldier for the blue army, I can make the reader care about that side by showing the personal stakes for him. Ditto for the red.

    In the same way, fighting to save a loved one or to win a girl's affection or to advance your status are all equally as important as saving the world as long as you show it effectively through your POV character.
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  8. Jtn46

    Jtn46 Dreamer

    Wow, thanks a ton. You guys all helped more than I can tell you.

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