1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

How To Make the Plot Advance at All Times

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Philip Overby, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    5,422
    2,422
    313
    Them's fighting words! I'll go get me some popcorn.



    On a serious note; would you mind elaborating? (It's a really slow day at the office)
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,188
    3,509
    413
    Sure. I've read books where the author sidetracks into extraneous issues that don't move the plot itself forward, and does a very nice job with it. In fact, I just finished the first part of Felix Palma's Map of Time, and not only does he break a number of rules (such as by directly addressing the reader, thereby breaking the 'wall' between narrator and reader), he has no problem stopping the story for a moment and digressing into some background information about a character that has nothing to do with the plot per se. It is well done and interesting, so it works.

    Steven Erikson's characters may engage in philosophical discussions that are interesting but don't move the plot forward (in the same way Dostoevsky's characters do this to a much greater extent in a work like The Brothers Karamazov).

    Nabokov's protagonist Humbert Humbert, of Lolita, digresses into various day to day observations unrelated to the plot, or even gets into his philosophy regarding his attraction to young girls.

    There are all kinds of books where the author might engage in writing that doesn't advance the plot, whether to add humor, to paint a striking picture of some scene or location, to engage in philosophical musings, or for whatever other reason.

    Works just fine, as long as the author keeps it interesting.
     
  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    5,422
    2,422
    313
    Cheers for that.
    I'm thinking that this kind of thing that differentiates adult books from YA books (as mentioned in the article in the other thread). Does that make sense or am I catching the wrong train of thought here? I'm thinking YA would be more to the point, sticking to the story and advancing the plot, while a book geared towards adult readers might wander off into irrelevant-land for a while before picking up the trail again.
     
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,188
    3,509
    413
    Hmmm. Maybe, in general, but I'd say not always. Look at Philip Pullman, for example. Or even Kristin Cashore, who writes very well and in a straightforward manner, but who will also digress into more abstract musings of her characters. In any event, it seems to me the old rule of "don't bore the reader" is really the only one you have to worry about :)
     
  5. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    5,422
    2,422
    313
    Now if only I could find readers that enjoy reading what I enjoy writing and this wouldn't be so hard. :p
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,188
    3,509
    413
    I'm sure they are out there. Are there published authors whose work is of similar style to what you enjoy writing?
     
  7. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    5,422
    2,422
    313
    I'm sure there are as well. With the amount of people there are on the internet the issue isn't if there are any, but how to find them. As you hint, finding authors with a similar style is a good start.

    I do think that things like advancing the plot and not boring the reader are important though. They're concepts I want to get a better grasp on and incorporate in my writing. I've been re-reading some of my older short stories lately. I was really happy with them at the time, but having given them some time alone has diminished the "creator's love" for them. I'm discovering that not even I am finding them all that entertaining.
    It's not because of the ideas or the characters, it's just how they're written. I'm really fond of the concepts and ideas, but the presentation is lacking - to say the least. I'm toying with the idea of revising some of them to try and see what would happen, but that's a game for another day I think.

    In the meantime, threads like this are a great help and inspiration.
     
  8. Xitra_Blud

    Xitra_Blud Sage

    210
    43
    28
    For me, before I even consider putting a sentence of my story down on paper, I watch as a movie in my head first. I set up the beginning, middle, and end, what's going to happen what the characters are going to say, everything. I watch several times (maybe weeks to months of watching the same "movie") before I put it down on paper. If it ends up being boring or something doesn't make sense, I mess with it until I feel like it's right. I even imagine a soundtrack and lighting (this may be because I also aspire to be a filmmaker but it works all the same). My suggestion would be, try watching the whole thing first. See how you feel about it in its "movie" format, and don't write it down until the movie is finished and it's ready to go.
     
    Jackarandajam likes this.
  9. Jackarandajam

    Jackarandajam Troubadour

    109
    46
    28
    This is awesome and I'm gonna go do this with my book right now.
     
  10. Ddruid

    Ddruid Minstrel

    72
    14
    8
    Thanks for that Addison. I get it now, I think. It's not just what's happening in the world, but how does external events, big or small, affect the characters' actions and storyline. The effect could be direct or subtle. And personally, I think it's awesome that you used Harry Potter as an example. :D




    Well, now that I think of it, not all times, no. That wouldn't be necessary. But most times would be nice, I guess. Besides, to break the rules you've got to know them first.
     
Loading...

Share This Page