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Author Topic: Plot help?  (Read 975 times)
Andraia
Swab

Canada Canada



« on: October 04, 2014, 10:54:32 pm »

Hey!

I've decided to do a steampunk YA. I'm pretty stumped on the plot though. I want to do a retelling of the Titanic, but not have that as the focal point. It's mainly about a girl (Rosealie) who has her brother kidnapped and blames the company that he worked at (Maxwell & Leo). That company is the same one that laid off her father and now they're struggling with keeping the illusion that they still have money. She blames the company for her families money problems and for the kidnapping of her brother. She also wants to restore her family's name (which I have no idea how she's going to do yet). So there are the three goals in order of importance.

1. Rescue her brother.
2. Get revenge on Maxwell & Leo
3. Restore her family's name.

I was going to have Rosealie and Leo aboard The Ship of Dreams, but I'm unsure why. I was thinking the ship was going to go to a man/company/place called the Dreamcatcher, but they're obviously not going to get there, so I'm unsure what part the Dreamcatcher plays.
I was thinking Maxwell & Leo uses child labour to manufacture the dreams, but I'm not 100% sure what I want to do with that. I'm not sure what the dreams do since it makes it feel like it's more of a fantasy than a steampunk story. I had it before that they were the leading producer in coal and used children to produce it. With either idea though, I'm not exactly sure how she's going to take down the company, or "get revenge".
Leo was given the company by his father, who he hates, and he also hates the company. But his sister was also kidnapped along with others (like Rose's brother), as a shakedown/blackmail sort of thing? Once again, I'm not 100% why. Because he wants to abolish child labour probably. I already have some parts written out, but I've been struggling with the heart of the plot.

If you have any advice or anything, I'd really appreciate it!
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Never mind the Cogs
Snr. Officer
****
England England


Chin Chin !


« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2014, 11:36:11 pm »

change it round a bit, SO SHE NEEDS TO GET EVEN WITH HER BROTHER, HIS GAMBLING DEBTS HAVE RUINED THE FAMILY, AND SHE HAS A LONG LOST RELATIVE WHO OWNS AND BEQUEATHS THE COMPANY TO HER, IT SPECIALIZES IN MINING FOR DREAMS, these are ROBBED FROM YOUNG CHILDREN WHILE THEY SLEEP.....

that any easier?
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If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing at all would ever get done!
Andraia
Swab

Canada Canada



« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2014, 12:15:05 am »

I was thinking the father had gambling debts, or had a mistress/other family. Although I do like the idea of it taking the dreams from the children, rather than the children processing the dreams! Thank you!
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Never mind the Cogs
Snr. Officer
****
England England


Chin Chin !


« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2014, 09:43:10 am »

the fathers' dreams were stolen when he was a child and that's where the problems started,....

the dream mining process could be similar to the lightning capture sequence in Stardust, meanwhile you have got to have pirates in there somewhere.....
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Antonus Fudge
Gunner
**
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2014, 05:12:13 pm »

I have to say I really like the sound of this. The dreamcatcher, the rest of it really sounds neat. Don't worry too much about the details of the plot - you will find out much of it as you go and it's quite exciting to write that way. Just write on. Get it down. You can always change some later. Just make sure you keep your characters believable and appealing (even the bad guys), keep tabs on your writing style, and manage plot threads! Good luck.
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~ * ~
Andraia
Swab

Canada Canada



« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2014, 02:19:58 am »

I have to say I really like the sound of this. The dreamcatcher, the rest of it really sounds neat. Don't worry too much about the details of the plot - you will find out much of it as you go and it's quite exciting to write that way. Just write on. Get it down. You can always change some later. Just make sure you keep your characters believable and appealing (even the bad guys), keep tabs on your writing style, and manage plot threads! Good luck.

Thanks! I'm really wanting to just write. It's typically how I've always written. I wanna work a little more on the bad guys, since I know more about the MCs and the good guys and pretty much nothing about the bad guys. But I think once I get that down, I'll just jump in and see where I go. I can't stress out too much. It's just not working for me as a writer.
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Andraia
Swab

Canada Canada



« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2014, 05:22:32 am »

the fathers' dreams were stolen when he was a child and that's where the problems started,....

the dream mining process could be similar to the lightning capture sequence in Stardust, meanwhile you have got to have pirates in there somewhere.....

Sorry! I didn't see your reply! Yes, there will be pirates! I was thinking they were the ones who caused The Ship of Dreams to crash. Whether to try to kill them or just destroy/capture the dreams for themselves is unknown to me for now.
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pakled
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United States United States


Minions Local 305, at your thervice!


« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2014, 09:01:52 pm »

you could throw in a subplot about using the captured dreams as blackmail. Or that they actually sell the dreams to willing customers. Just a throwaway idea...
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V.S. Velde
Deck Hand
*
Canada Canada


bluecaldera
WWW
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2014, 11:09:04 pm »

Hey!

I've decided to do a steampunk YA. I'm pretty stumped on the plot though. I want to do a retelling of the Titanic, but not have that as the focal point. It's mainly about a girl (Rosealie) who has her brother kidnapped and blames the company that he worked at (Maxwell & Leo). That company is the same one that laid off her father and now they're struggling with keeping the illusion that they still have money. She blames the company for her families money problems and for the kidnapping of her brother. She also wants to restore her family's name (which I have no idea how she's going to do yet). So there are the three goals in order of importance.

1. Rescue her brother.
2. Get revenge on Maxwell & Leo
3. Restore her family's name.

I was going to have Rosealie and Leo aboard The Ship of Dreams, but I'm unsure why. I was thinking the ship was going to go to a man/company/place called the Dreamcatcher, but they're obviously not going to get there, so I'm unsure what part the Dreamcatcher plays.
I was thinking Maxwell & Leo uses child labour to manufacture the dreams, but I'm not 100% sure what I want to do with that. I'm not sure what the dreams do since it makes it feel like it's more of a fantasy than a steampunk story. I had it before that they were the leading producer in coal and used children to produce it. With either idea though, I'm not exactly sure how she's going to take down the company, or "get revenge".
Leo was given the company by his father, who he hates, and he also hates the company. But his sister was also kidnapped along with others (like Rose's brother), as a shakedown/blackmail sort of thing? Once again, I'm not 100% why. Because he wants to abolish child labour probably. I already have some parts written out, but I've been struggling with the heart of the plot.

If you have any advice or anything, I'd really appreciate it!

Regarding the dreams aspect of it, be aware that the unofficially-steampunk movie City of Lost Children deals with someone kidnapping children to harvest their dreams, and a man trying to rescue his little brother from those kidnappers. Which isn't to say that you can't do something very cool and original with the ideas you've expressed here, but it might be good for you to be familiar with CoLC so you aren't inadvertently doing similar things.

As for general plot advice: My first step (after you've got a general set of ideas you want to work on) is to really get an understanding of my main characters, and developing the plot from the character outward. Know exactly what Rosealie's flaws are (and give her real, substantive flaws, not soft flaws like caring too much about her family, or being too clever for her own good), and give her challenges and choices that directly address these flaws. Don't make her the perfect person to handle the adversity she's given; make the adversity (and the villains) the perfect challenges to push and test who she is.

The goals you've listed are all good, but consider putting them into conflict: make it so that the goals of rescue and revenge are mutually exclusive, for example, so that she needs to weigh one against the other. Or give her one goal at the beginning, and then contrast that with an emerging need that is more important than the goal. (ie. Goal is revenge; need is to protect family.)
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Andraia
Swab

Canada Canada



« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2014, 03:31:58 am »

Regarding the dreams aspect of it, be aware that the unofficially-steampunk movie City of Lost Children deals with someone kidnapping children to harvest their dreams, and a man trying to rescue his little brother from those kidnappers. Which isn't to say that you can't do something very cool and original with the ideas you've expressed here, but it might be good for you to be familiar with CoLC so you aren't inadvertently doing similar things.

As for general plot advice: My first step (after you've got a general set of ideas you want to work on) is to really get an understanding of my main characters, and developing the plot from the character outward. Know exactly what Rosealie's flaws are (and give her real, substantive flaws, not soft flaws like caring too much about her family, or being too clever for her own good), and give her challenges and choices that directly address these flaws. Don't make her the perfect person to handle the adversity she's given; make the adversity (and the villains) the perfect challenges to push and test who she is.

The goals you've listed are all good, but consider putting them into conflict: make it so that the goals of rescue and revenge are mutually exclusive, for example, so that she needs to weigh one against the other. Or give her one goal at the beginning, and then contrast that with an emerging need that is more important than the goal. (ie. Goal is revenge; need is to protect family.)

Oh my! Thanks for the heads up! I didn't even know this was THAT close to anything out there. Is it a book? I'd love to read it, I'll google it! I was only thinking of having the dreams so it'd relate to the Ship of Dreams (what they called the Titanic), because that seemed more interesting to me than having an exact replica of the Titanic but just changed around to fit steampunk.

I've been working on Rosealie's character. Trying to figure out who she is and why she hates the people/things she does and why she acts the way she does (she's not very nice). I do need to work on my villains. Trying to mirror them to who she is, but a more intense version. People who are past the point of no return.

So, kind of like having her struggle with which is more important? Desires vs needs? Something like she should save her brother, but she really really wants to destroy the company? Kinda like how you should be studying for the exam, but something more interesting is happening that's calling you away?

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V.S. Velde
Deck Hand
*
Canada Canada


bluecaldera
WWW
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2014, 06:50:53 pm »

As far as I know, City of Lost Children is only a movie, and wasn't based on a book or anything. It's nearly 20 years old now and I'm not sure where you'd easily (and legally) find a copy of it, given the state of video stores these days. I don't think it's on netflix or similar services. (Although maybe check your library system...).

Sounds like you're on exactly the right track with developing your protagonists and villains! Making your villains a more intense mirror of her is a great approach, because in struggling against them and trying to understand them she'll have revelations about herself as well, and better understand who she needs to be to achieve her needs, or understands how to use those common flaws to manipulate her opponent. (As a simple example, if her flaw is that she lets anger dictate her actions, show her making this error early in the book with serious consequences, show her struggling with this through the story, and then finally have her gain control of her anger and manipulate her opponent into making a mistake through his own anger.)

In terms of goals vs. needs, you're right: it's what she should do vs. what she wants. Just make sure that your reader wants what your character wants too... if she wants to destroy the company, make sure you make the reader passionate about that mission too, so it feels like a real choice if she can't get both that and rescue her brother. If you want, your hero can still get her desires too: after making the choice to rescue her brother the opportunity to also get revenge presents itself. That's all entirely a matter of deciding what's right for the story you're writing.

(Of course, all of this requires the caveat that there are a lot of different, perfectly valid approaches to coming up with a plot. Writing from character outward works best for me so any suggestions I give are usually from that perspective.)
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Andraia
Swab

Canada Canada



« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2014, 09:37:12 pm »

As far as I know, City of Lost Children is only a movie, and wasn't based on a book or anything. It's nearly 20 years old now and I'm not sure where you'd easily (and legally) find a copy of it, given the state of video stores these days. I don't think it's on netflix or similar services. (Although maybe check your library system...).

Oh! No wonder I haven't heard of it! I'll look around for it! I never thought of checking my library! I forget they have movies.

Quote
Sounds like you're on exactly the right track with developing your protagonists and villains! Making your villains a more intense mirror of her is a great approach, because in struggling against them and trying to understand them she'll have revelations about herself as well, and better understand who she needs to be to achieve her needs, or understands how to use those common flaws to manipulate her opponent. (As a simple example, if her flaw is that she lets anger dictate her actions, show her making this error early in the book with serious consequences, show her struggling with this through the story, and then finally have her gain control of her anger and manipulate her opponent into making a mistake through his own anger.)

Okay! That makes sense. Thanks!

Quote
In terms of goals vs. needs, you're right: it's what she should do vs. what she wants. Just make sure that your reader wants what your character wants too... if she wants to destroy the company, make sure you make the reader passionate about that mission too, so it feels like a real choice if she can't get both that and rescue her brother. If you want, your hero can still get her desires too: after making the choice to rescue her brother the opportunity to also get revenge presents itself. That's all entirely a matter of deciding what's right for the story you're writing.

(Of course, all of this requires the caveat that there are a lot of different, perfectly valid approaches to coming up with a plot. Writing from character outward works best for me so any suggestions I give are usually from that perspective.)

I've never outlined before, and that's why I'm struggling so much. I'm a pantser, so everything sort of comes into order. It's a huge mess, but it's all in there somewhere, usually hahahaha. I'll try different combinations of wants and desires and which one she gets and which one she doesn't to see which combination is best. Once again, thanks so much!
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Antonus Fudge
Gunner
**
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2014, 01:08:50 pm »


I've been working on Rosealie's character. Trying to figure out who she is and why she hates the people/things she does and why she acts the way she does (she's not very nice). I do need to work on my villains. Trying to mirror them to who she is, but a more intense version. People who are past the point of no return.

So, kind of like having her struggle with which is more important? Desires vs needs? Something like she should save her brother, but she really really wants to destroy the company? Kinda like how you should be studying for the exam, but something more interesting is happening that's calling you away?




You have to make her real. Handily Marcel Proust came up with a list of questions you can ask your character. Conduct an interview with her - it's alot of fun!

Here is Proust’s Questionnaire (http://thewritepractice.com/proust-questionnaire/)

    What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    What is your greatest fear?
    What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
    What is the trait you most deplore in others?
    Which living person do you most admire?
    What is your greatest extravagance?
    What is your current state of mind?
    What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
    On what occasion do you lie?
    What do you most dislike about your appearance?
    Which living person do you most despise?
    What is the quality you most like in a man?
    What is the quality you most like in a woman?
    Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    What or who is the greatest love of your life?
    When and where were you happiest?
    Which talent would you most like to have?
    If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
    What do you consider your greatest achievement?
    If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
    Where would you most like to live?
    What is your most treasured possession?
    What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
    What is your favorite occupation?
    What is your most marked characteristic?
    What do you most value in your friends?
    Who are your favorite writers?
    Who is your hero of fiction?
    Which historical figure do you most identify with?
    Who are your heroes in real life?
    What are your favorite names?
    What is it that you most dislike?
    What is your greatest regret?
    How would you like to die?
    What is your motto?

One of my characters, a troubled but brilliant youth who aligns himself with the bad guys after they promise him the riches and fame he so desperately craves, thought this interview was such a load of nonsense that he walked out; bizarrely the questions continued to came. Most of his answers were vitriolic and highly unpleasant. I wish I hadn't interviewed him.

The persons in, eg. what living persons do you most admire - I used other characters for living persons, not actual real people. I might try that, but I don't wish to taint my world with the quotidien Smiley
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Inflatable Friend
Zeppelin Admiral
******
Italy Italy



« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2014, 10:47:25 am »

Hmm..

I'll add more at a later date, just sitting about in a waiting room ATM and thought I'd use the time wisely.

Perhaps a different way to use the Dreamcatcher character would be to subtly build him up as some kind of grand illusionist, one who can take dreams and desires and turn them into a shared reality.

He could then turn out to be little more than an early pioneering cinematographer (perhaps in the style of Georges Méliès) which while disappointing for not being the grand worker of magic she'd hoped for could still open up new paths for attacking the company..
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Never mind the Cogs
Snr. Officer
****
England England


Chin Chin !


« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2014, 12:45:24 am »

OR GETTING BACK TO THE PIRATES....
we could be talking about the piracy of dreams .....
... and so would such a pirate roll his rrrrrr's and walk round with a brightly coloured avian perched on his shoulder....
or the dream could be similar to Mr Grays picture only in reverse..........
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Andraia
Swab

Canada Canada



« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2014, 08:56:59 am »

Hmm..

I'll add more at a later date, just sitting about in a waiting room ATM and thought I'd use the time wisely.

Perhaps a different way to use the Dreamcatcher character would be to subtly build him up as some kind of grand illusionist, one who can take dreams and desires and turn them into a shared reality.

He could then turn out to be little more than an early pioneering cinematographer (perhaps in the style of Georges Méliès) which while disappointing for not being the grand worker of magic she'd hoped for could still open up new paths for attacking the company..

That reminds me of the movie "Oz The Great and Powerful". I like it! I'll have to look into who Georges Méliès and explore that avenue! Thank you!
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Andraia
Swab

Canada Canada



« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2014, 08:59:38 am »

OR GETTING BACK TO THE PIRATES....
we could be talking about the piracy of dreams .....
... and so would such a pirate roll his rrrrrr's and walk round with a brightly coloured avian perched on his shoulder....
or the dream could be similar to Mr Grays picture only in reverse..........

Thank goodness you replied! I almost forgot about Stardust! I need to search that right now! Ha, I'm not sure if they're going to be that sort of pirate. Although I do like pirates... Hmmmm.
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Andraia
Swab

Canada Canada



« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2014, 09:01:10 am »

You have to make her real. Handily Marcel Proust came up with a list of questions you can ask your character. Conduct an interview with her - it's alot of fun!

Here is Proust’s Questionnaire (http://thewritepractice.com/proust-questionnaire/)

    What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    What is your greatest fear?
    What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
    What is the trait you most deplore in others?
    Which living person do you most admire?
    What is your greatest extravagance?
    What is your current state of mind?
    What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
    On what occasion do you lie?
    What do you most dislike about your appearance?
    Which living person do you most despise?
    What is the quality you most like in a man?
    What is the quality you most like in a woman?
    Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
    What or who is the greatest love of your life?
    When and where were you happiest?
    Which talent would you most like to have?
    If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
    What do you consider your greatest achievement?
    If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
    Where would you most like to live?
    What is your most treasured possession?
    What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
    What is your favorite occupation?
    What is your most marked characteristic?
    What do you most value in your friends?
    Who are your favorite writers?
    Who is your hero of fiction?
    Which historical figure do you most identify with?
    Who are your heroes in real life?
    What are your favorite names?
    What is it that you most dislike?
    What is your greatest regret?
    How would you like to die?
    What is your motto?

One of my characters, a troubled but brilliant youth who aligns himself with the bad guys after they promise him the riches and fame he so desperately craves, thought this interview was such a load of nonsense that he walked out; bizarrely the questions continued to came. Most of his answers were vitriolic and highly unpleasant. I wish I hadn't interviewed him.

The persons in, eg. what living persons do you most admire - I used other characters for living persons, not actual real people. I might try that, but I don't wish to taint my world with the quotidien Smiley



I'll try this out! Thank you so much! It'll help me get to know my characters better. Even some of the minor ones that seem very 2 dimensional.
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