Need help with figuring out my plot :(

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This topic contains 18 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  timeradrake 3 months ago.

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  • #347046

    enutjubogam
    Participant

    Hi guys! I’ve been working really hard on this story for a long time and I really need anyones help or advice on how I can head this story in a better direction…

    It’s a mix of a narcotic suspense story mixed with sic fi and fantasy

    So basically this is about an MC that is born from two rich parents a South American mother and an American or Italian/European father(I haven’t decided yet with the father) and I was going to have them living together maybe in Colombia, Brazil or Argentina (still haven’t decided this one yet) set first in the near future. the MC still a little boy at the time, loses his father who was sent to war somewhere. Now just living with the mother, but one day the mother is murdered right in front of his eyes by narcotics or cartel hitmen that were sent to raid his home. He would end up as an orphan, vowing to get revenge one day, the religious orphanage treats him poorly so to get rid of him, a military school like organization that likes to recruit special kids like him with no where to go, recruit him in to motivate the boy that they could help him. He’s sent to the US at the military school to train in hopes of getting his revenge on the bad guys someday but is then used by the military as a child and older teen soldier to do their dirty work and abused badly and brainwashed, he eventually escapes and recruited by another military and is told they can help him get his revenge on the bad guys that did this to him. He eventually learns that not only are those cartels responsible but other connections from those in the US who were involved as well from there he eventually goes on missions, gets injured badly tortured then hospitalized, escapes then rescued by scientist with special bionic implants, then gets frozen in time where he ends up 200 years into the future where the ones responsible for all this are still alive and ruining the world and it goes from there.

    I really would appreciate anyones advice that can help me balance this out more because right now I feel like my story is such a mess 🙁

  • #656154

    Anonymous

    At first read, it sounds like a common problem with new(er) writers – they put everything including the kitchen sink into the story. I would first suggest that you make a list – an actual list, mind you – of all the plots/subplots you listed in your post. Then start ranking the list from Very Very Very Important to Meh-story-would-definitely-survive-without-this-even-though-I-really-love-it. The #1 Very Very Very Important should be your main plot. The item(s) at the bottom of your list should be dropped.

    Now you have the basics so you can start organizing your story, from main plot line to where the subplots would best fit in.

  • #656155

    enutjubogam
    Participant

    ostarella wrote:
    > At first read, it sounds like a common problem with new(er) writers – they
    > put everything including the kitchen sink into the story. I would first
    > suggest that you make a list – an actual list, mind you – of all the
    > plots/subplots you listed in your post. Then start ranking the list from
    > Very Very Very Important to
    > Meh-story-would-definitely-survive-without-this-even-though-I-really-love-it.
    > The #1 Very Very Very Important should be your main plot. The item(s) at
    > the bottom of your list should be dropped.
    >
    > Now you have the basics so you can start organizing your story, from main
    > plot line to where the subplots would best fit in.

    Hmm. .. I could try that, but I fear I might be excluding some important details from my story if I have to drop them out. Right now it all feels important. Another theory of mine was to put some of the beginning events or the less important ones later on as flashbacks or have them be explained throughout the story. That way it’s not all crammed together. Would this work? Is the idea of him being a child soldier from a military school too much? Would it be better if it was just a private military that recruits him from the religious orphanage and leave out the military school thing?

    The main story was going to revolve around some sort of super drug that gets expanded into the future by the main bad guys. Does it sound stereotyping if the MC is half South American and there are drugs involved in the plot? Thank you for your help.

  • #656156

    Anonymous

    BlueKnight888 wrote:

    > Hmm. .. I could try that, but I fear I might be excluding some important details from
    > my story if I have to drop them out. Right now it all feels important.

    Well, that’s the kitchen sink theory. The cure for that is the “Kill your babies” theory. Not all this information is actually important – and not all your ideas have to go into this book. Just from reading your original post, I saw at least 2-3 separate stories – you have to decide which one you want to write.

    >
    > The main story was going to revolve around some sort of super drug that gets expanded
    > into the future by the main bad guys.

    Okay, now this is yet another plot popping up (saw no mention of a super drug in the original post). Seriously – decide which story you’re going to write and cut the rest of it. You can always write another book that uses these other ideas.

  • #656157

    margery65w
    Participant

    BlueKnight888 wrote:
    > Hi guys! I’ve been working really hard on this story for a long time and I
    > really need anyones help or advice on how I can head this story in a better
    > direction…….>
    > I really would appreciate anyones advice that can help me balance this out
    > more because right now I feel like my story is such a mess 🙁

    I have to agree with Ostarella on this. I see more than one story.

    Writing down the ideas/events in a phrase on separate cards will help you sort them out easier than reading a lot of text like your OP had.

    So first write a log line. What is the premise/core of the story you will do in one sentence.
    The others you can do later. More is not always better. Keep it all focused and avoid useless complexity.
    If you want to have separate stories going at once that is up to you. Do loglines for each of them.
    But IMHO you should focus on the best one for further development.

    Now look at all the ideas you have, or can come up with to add to them, for the chosen story and cluster them around that premise.
    See what fits well and what can be omitted.

    Then write a short synopsis of the story’s essence in one page. Omit the gory details. Just include what is key.
    You may have plot holes to fill in, or you may need to iterate between the ideas and the final synopsis to make it complete and logical.

    When you have that then you should be ready to use whatever method you like to write the draft.

    As a side issue you may want to identify key characters and sketch out their personae.
    And you need a setting, which can be the one you noted in the OP.
    Decide on a time frame. I would omit that futuristic part, where he comes back 200 years later, for this attempt.
    You have the who why when and where and can figure out the details of the what as you do the first draft or plan them out first as you prefer.

  • #656158

    margery65w
    Participant

    > ostarella wrote: …
    BlueKnight888 wrote:
    > Hmm. .. I could try that, but I fear I might be excluding some important details from
    > my story if I have to drop them out. Right now it all feels important….

    What is important to you may not be important to readers.

    Less is more.
    Don’t obsess about writing an encyclopedia to make sure you got everything mentioned.

    Use your skill as a writer to ensure all important details are included.
    Include enough to show the characters and setting. But dont describe everything. Just enough and the reader will fill in the rest.

  • #656159

    Anonymous

    I agree with the above points, but I’d also say that this plot is stuck in a wash-rinse-repeat cycle as well. He get recruited or sent to something, treated badly, escaped… then got recruited, treated badly, escaped, then…

    I skimmed the plot after the second cycle. To blunt, I got bored.

    There are ways around this, if you can get the character to grow, but then it’s very hard to convince the reader that character growth wouldn’t put a stop to this.

    I won’t tell you that this can’t work, but I *will* tell you that the odds are stacked against you.

  • #656160

    margery65w
    Participant

    RobTheThird wrote:

    > I skimmed the plot after the second cycle. To blunt, I got bored.
    >

    Indeed. The author needs to come up with new problems not repeat the same one over and over.

  • #656161

    enutjubogam
    Participant

    noobienieuw wrote:
    > As a side issue you may want to identify key characters and sketch out their
    > personae.
    > And you need a setting, which can be the one you noted in the OP.
    > Decide on a time frame. I would omit that futuristic part, where he comes back 200
    > years later, for this attempt.
    > You have the who why when and where and can figure out the details of the what as you
    > do the first draft or plan them out first as you prefer.< Thanks guys, I agree with all of you. I think I’ll focus the plot on the MC dealing with this super drug, team scientists and the military and leave the rest of the other parts I mentioned out. Maybe a mention of his backstory of his badly traumatized life as a kid from his parents death from drug lord assassins or hired agents and been sent to a bad orphanage by his evil aunt, uncle, grandparents or whatever, then goes into the military as a soldier and then meets with the team scientist about this super drug. Does that sound a little better? The 200 or 100 future year gap was supposed to be a big plot involving the drug which immobilized him for over a decade by accident like a hibernation effect that bears do. So I’m not sure if I can leave that part out of the story.

  • #656162

    margery65w
    Participant

    BlueKnight888 wrote:
    > noobienieuw wrote:
    >
    > Thanks guys, I agree with all of you. I think I’ll focus the plot on the MC dealing
    > with this super drug, team scientists and the military and leave the rest of the
    > other parts I mentioned out.

    >Maybe a mention of his backstory of his badly
    > traumatized life as a kid from his parents death from drug lord assassins

    Sounds more like something that would work better.

    Work the back story in at times to help explain who he is and his motivation.
    I would not dump it all in a prolog to do that.

    Some other drug issues would avoid the 200 year gap problem.
    IMHO Keeping it all in the current time frame would work better.

  • #656163

    enutjubogam
    Participant

    noobienieuw wrote:
    >> Sounds more like something that would work better.
    >
    > Work the back story in at times to help explain who he is and his motivation.
    > I would not dump it all in a prolog to do that.
    >
    > Some other drug issues would avoid the 200 year gap problem.
    > IMHO Keeping it all in the current time frame would work better.

    thanks, I’ll work on that.

    As far as his motivation goes, which is a better idea to use to write in the backstory at times?

    1. He witnessed the deaths of his parents murdered in his home by drug lord assassins, then gets adopted to a religious school or military baording school that’s a secret military cult, then gets out of their and into a real military organization and then gets used as a drug test guinea pig subject?

    2. Or after the witnessed death of his parents by drug lord assassins in his home he ends up orphaned (religious or not) then when a little older he just ends up joining the military and then gets picked as a guinea pig test for the drug? (they could be that secret cult-like organization doing horrible tests)

    Why is it bad to go 200 year gap in the future? Didn’t this work with Captain America? I mean it was more like a 75 year gap after being frozen but doesn’t that make the story more interesting? I wanted the MC to end up meeting a female character later on in the story and I figured if he ends up in the far future with newer technology world it would leave him more lost and confused and be more of a challenge for him and the female character would be an assassin to go after him but learns he’s really the good guy and them being from two different timelines sounds interesting right?

    If I decided to keep it all in one time frame and no time jump gaps I would keep it all set in the future time period. Maybe that would make it more interesting? A cyberpunkish narcotic drug lord owned society?

  • #656164

    margery65w
    Participant

    BlueKnight888 wrote:
    > noobienieuw wrote:
    > >> Sounds more like something that would work better.
    >
    > As far as his motivation goes, which is a better idea to use to write in the
    > backstory at times?
    > >
    > Why is it bad to go 200 year gap in the future?
    >
    > If I decided to keep it all in one time frame and no time jump gaps I would keep it
    > all set in the future time period. Maybe that would make it more interesting? A
    > cyberpunkish narcotic drug lord owned society?

    Both work for motivation as back story. Just pick one and stick with it.

    It’s just me but the 200 year jump seems harder and less interesting as well as less real.
    What type of story are you doing? Crime, thriller, mystery, scifi, fantasy, or other ??
    Use what fits for your story.

    Putting it all in the future could work too. Just decide what you want to do and be consistent with it.

  • #656165

    enutjubogam
    Participant

    noobienieuw wrote:
    > It’s just me but the 200 year jump seems harder and less interesting as well as less
    > real.
    > What type of story are you doing? Crime, thriller, mystery, scifi, fantasy, or other
    > ??
    > Use what fits for your story.
    >
    > Putting it all in the future could work too. Just decide what you want to do and be
    > consistent with it.

    It’s supposed to be a scifi fantasy thriller with a little romance mixed in.

    If it’s in the future then I could use advanced technology easily right? I thought of going from present to future gap would be interesting having MC and characters in the future both from different worlds.

    I feel like a fictional world about drugs or about a super bionic soldier is unoriginal and been done to death 🙁 this us why it’s so hard to do.

  • #656166

    margery65w
    Participant

    BlueKnight888 wrote:
    > noobienieuw wrote:
    > > It’s just me but the 200 year jump seems harder and less interesting as well as
    >
    >
    > It’s supposed to be a scifi fantasy thriller with a little romance mixed in.
    > I thought of going from present to future gap would be interesting having MC and characters in
    > the future both from different worlds.

    It is your story. Do what you like.
    Just cause I am not into fantasy, and not scifi mixed mixed with other things does not mean it is not good or you need to change.

    I am from the KISS school. Setting it in the future is good. Having it now is good.
    Jumping could work too but IMHO it is better to pick one time frame not have that gap.
    Again, just because I don’t care for it does not mean it is bad nor that you should not do it.

    I would suggest you sketch it out in a little more detail to see how it works before you dive in and just start writing anything.

  • #656167

    Anonymous

    BlueKnight888 wrote:

    > As far as his motivation goes, which is a better idea to use to write in the
    > backstory at times?
    >
    > 1. He witnessed the deaths of his parents murdered in his home by drug lord
    > assassins, then gets adopted to a religious school or military baording school that’s
    > a secret military cult, then gets out of their and into a real military organization
    > and then gets used as a drug test guinea pig subject?
    >
    > 2. Or after the witnessed death of his parents by drug lord assassins in his home he
    > ends up orphaned (religious or not) then when a little older he just ends up joining
    > the military and then gets picked as a guinea pig test for the drug? (they could be
    > that secret cult-like organization doing horrible tests)
    >

    Personally I would go with the second one simply because I’d like to see you get away from all the complex subplots. You don’t want the main plot to get lost explaining all these things that aren’t that important.

    > Why is it bad to go 200 year gap in the future? Didn’t this work with Captain
    > America? I mean it was more like a 75 year gap after being frozen but doesn’t that
    > make the story more interesting? I wanted the MC to end up meeting a female character
    > later on in the story and I figured if he ends up in the far future with newer
    > technology world it would leave him more lost and confused and be more of a challenge
    > for him and the female character would be an assassin to go after him but learns he’s
    > really the good guy and them being from two different timelines sounds interesting
    > right?
    >

    Caveat: I’m not that familiar with SciFi – that said, I also think the 200 years is a bit much. Mainly because there would be so many societal/political changes that it could make his past irrelevant, possibly his very existence. I don’t have a problem with a jump to the future – just not so extreme.

  • #656168

    enutjubogam
    Participant

    ostarella wrote:
    > Personally I would go with the second one simply because I’d like to see you get away
    > from all the complex subplots. You don’t want the main plot to get lost explaining
    > all these things that aren’t that important.
    >
    >
    > Caveat: I’m not that familiar with SciFi – that said, I also think the 200 years is a
    > bit much. Mainly because there would be so many societal/political changes that it
    > could make his past irrelevant, possibly his very existence. I don’t have a problem
    > with a jump to the future – just not so extreme.

    Well all those events would either be put as flashbacks pieces or mentioned throughout the story. I would’ve began with him awakening in the future to a place where he feels unknown to and confused with bad guys from his past still alive with advanced nanotech. But yeah maybe #2 is better

    I think you’re right, 200 years into the future is a bit extreme but didn’t the show Altered Carbon have the MC awaken 300 years into the future?

  • #656169

    margery65w
    Participant

    BlueKnight888 wrote:
    > ostarella wrote:
    > > Personally I would go with the second one simply because I’d like to see you get
    > away
    > > from all the complex subplots. etter
    >
    > I think you’re right, 200 years into the future is a bit extreme but didn’t the show
    > Altered Carbon have the MC awaken 300 years into the future?

    You can certainly do that huge jump if you like it and that is your story.
    So far, the rest of us tend to think it does not help, but we only have a rough blurb for guidance.

    And like Ostarella said, many things would have changed in that time. Better IMHO to immediately jump to the future
    and weave in flashbacks that fit the current world that you build for that future time frame.
    It should be easier to make it all consistent that way and avoid issues like Ostarella noted.

    FWIW take a look at this link:
    http://www.eadeverell.com/wp-content/uploads/EA-Deverell-Plot-Formula-Cheatsheet.pdf
    You may or may not find some useful guidance for finishing up your plot.

  • #656170

    Anonymous

    BlueKnight888 wrote:
    >
    > I think you’re right, 200 years into the future is a bit extreme but didn’t the show
    > Altered Carbon have the MC awaken 300 years into the future?

    No idea. 😕 And really, what others did doesn’t really matter for your story – can you, the author, make this story work if you go out 200 years? Not wanting to repeat myself, but would the character and/or his history still matter to anyone in 200 years? You mentioned an assassin – there has to be something really, really, REALLY dicey about this guy to make him worth killing after 200 years. I’m a bit confused about this “super-drug” – but if that’s a major thing in his life/history, wouldn’t it be more important to the people who did it (or whose ancestors did it) to keep him alive to see all the side effects, etc (ie, continuing the lab rat scenario)?

    And please bear in mind – this is all just opinions, and a bit of devil’s advocate, as well. I do think you’re making this a bit too complicated to start out with; I’d like to see you simplify at the least the first couple of drafts, get the main plot solidified, get to know the characters, etc. Once you’ve got a good solid draft, then you could look at adding in complications, seeing where they actually fit in better, if at all. Start out with just baking a really good cake, then start decorating, as it were.

  • #656171

    timeradrake
    Participant

    It seems to me that instead of writing the story, you’re trying to “make” the story.

    In some ways, writing is like cooking. Get the right ingredients in the right portions, bake, simmer, sautee, and done. Presentation matters, too. And plating.

    But it’s also not. I like salty potatoes. But not salty steak. And bacon is great. But not (for me) in a chocolate shell.

    You don’t just toss something “interesting” in and make good writing.

    As a reader, I expect the story to make sense within itself. I’m a sucker. I have a very compliant suspension of disbelief. But if you tell me one thing, then try to “undo” it because you introduce this massive time jump, I’m going to walk away. If such a jump “breaks” the story, someone like me isn’t going to follow you, the writer, into part 2.

    Don’t worry about what works elsewhere. Worry about your story.

    There’s a saying I like. Don’t recall where it’s from. Paraphrased, it says, “Every ideal is terrible. Until it’s done well.”

    We’re trying to help you with the plot, but, really, it’s the writing of it that’s going to make it good or bad. Even my criticisms can be overcome if you can make readers care about the protagonist as he goes through all this.

    Be prepared. I don’t think the story you describe wants to be written. But you’ll find out for yourself when you get to actually writing it. Not because I or ostarella or anyone else say so.

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