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chuckwqn
Posts: 14
Registered: ‎10-23-2007
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How do you come up with a plot?

I have a lot of trouble with this.  How do you come up with something that hasn't been done before, or something that is different?  If you write a murder mystery, how do you come up with the weird murder that could actually happen?  I just have a hard time coming up with things like that.  I'm trying to come up with an idea for a book that isn't the usual murder mystery kind of thing.  I thought it would be a lot of fun to write something more meaningful.  Something like "The Kite Runner", "A Thousand Splendid Sons", or "Shantaram".  Something about a journey through life that has a lot of realistic tragedies and situations that are just heartbreaking, yet interesting enough to hold your attention for 300 pages.  Is there a particular way that you look at things to come up with a story, or do they just pop in your head?

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Oceandweller777
Posts: 162
Registered: ‎08-09-2007
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Re: How do you come up with a plot?

I always look for a hook.  I know I sound like a used car salesman, but all ideas have been done a hundred times over in a hundred different languages.
   I read The Soloist by Mark Salzman.  Its a story about a prodigy cellist who lost his gift because he was perfect.  He almost had a mechanical ear and pitches seemed off for him when for the rest of us it would seem flawless.  Going through his story I was a little reluctant to read it, but when he brought his life into view it seemed to make sense.  Its one of my favorite books, now.
   The hook was that like all of us he saw something wrong where no one else did.
   If you work from the starting point of a plot you get the norm.  You get what everyone else has done. 
  When you add on to it you with your own personal touches that slightly shift it away from what everyone has done you make it remarkable.  You don't have to go to the point of making your detective blind, something Bruce Alexander has done (I highly recommend Blind Justice),  you add to it an open way.  For some writers it works very well. 
    Thats the things about Mystery novels.  Whether they are a park ranger, blind, diabetic or what have you, they break the cliche and start a new cliche.  I'm sure there is a Mystery out there with a pet psychic who learns clues from the animals that people have in their life.
    You just need some small detail that changes the story in a big way.  Anything added to a plot makes it new.  You could take something you've written, added a few new details and it could change the whole story.
    Maybe your main character is gay.  Maybe they're allergic to oranges and someone tries to kill them.  Someone had to know they're allergic so it changes the list of suspects.
    There are a million untold stories.  People feel that they're doing something thats been done a hundred times and they would be right.  But what makes the difference is the point of view of the writer.  Your eyes    make it new.
    When I go to a book store I often look for the sections that have the smallest amount of books.  This is something that I don't recommend, but its like looking at the stock market.  You see whats selling. 
    I am a firm believer in writing because you have a need to write. Yet, checking on the market takes away from whats inside.  Sure you could do it and from a sales standpoint its acceptable and maybe even smart.
The problem isn't that its been done before.  You want to make something fresh and only you can do that with what you know and what you feel.
     (If you made it through that I commend you)
     Before the age of writing stories were told.  The same story was told a hundred times over and only continued to capture the imagination from the skops, the storytellers.  Thats what you are.  Take the overdone and make it your own.  A plot is just a guideline for the story.  Two people meet, they fight, one dies.  Not very interesting.  A man and a woman meet, there is friction and they know each other are going to hamper their plans.  He goes to kill her but finds he can't physically.  She's been poisoning him for a month and he didn't know.  He dies in a fit and she walks away.  The physician can't tell he's been poisoned and rules it natural.  She walks away with a song.
   Same plot, different rules.
~Phill
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Jaelin
Posts: 144
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
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Re: How do you come up with a plot?

I can't say much to add to Oceandweller's post other than Sit and WRITE the book then go back and see what you did  and you might find that you have surprised yourself.  They always say real life is sometimes stranger than fiction.........
 
Good Luck!  I am currently trying to figure my "plot" in my book so I know the feeling.....
 
J
Jessee
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
Inspired Correspondent
Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: How do you come up with a plot?

Plot was covored in the classes they had here "Writing Fiction" and Romance Writing. One thing I remember us doing was looking in newspapers and online news stories and finding ideas we could use.
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dianaprince
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎10-11-2007
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Re: How do you come up with a plot?

   Certain music can be very inspirational for writing plots.   Pretty much, the beginning of every plot is "What if...?", so it is helpful to begin with that phrase in your head.  As for murder mysteries, try to think of why the person was murdered. What, where, when, why and who.
"Adventure is worthwhile in itself" -- Amelia Earhart
May the Force of Fashion Sense be With You!! :smileyvery-happy:
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dianaprince
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎10-11-2007
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Re: How do you come up with a plot?

   I forgot to mention not to force out your plots. If you force the ideas out, rather than letting them simply unfold in your mind, the plot will look... well, forced out.  I usually write the beginning of a book, the first few chapters or so, then simply let it go and write whatever pops into my head (within reason).  The result is feeling as if you're revealing words that were hidden on a page, instead of writing them there.     Still, it is helpful to create a basic overview of your plot before beginning.
    If this post is confusing at all, please let me know.
"Adventure is worthwhile in itself" -- Amelia Earhart
May the Force of Fashion Sense be With You!! :smileyvery-happy: