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December 2, 2012
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Your plot is boring.

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:45 PM
After the last one, it's only fair I rag on plot oriented people, right?

No. The question isn't fairness, it's making you think about your writing. If you're trying to improve, you should be constantly reevaluating anyway, but sometimes people don't know where to start. The point of having a community is to talk about it, so let's do that. Cool. 'K.



I realized it's hard to draw out some aspect of a plot that doesn't intertwine with characters. Us plotheads (plotstarters, really, if you do it properly and end your story by finding a balance) get a little fucked over that way, because it's hard to get advice that explicitly calls out too much time on moving things forward. But there is one thing people who get too wrapped up in plot do horrendously: VOICE.

Okay so I have this awesome story and this guy goes on a journey and like the journey takes him to a wizard but the wizard is actually evil and like HERE'S A TWIST they team up because the guy realises evil is better and then MORE TWIST they meet this ogre girl who wants to eat everyone AND THE LEAST CLICHE PART is they take over the whole world and if you wanna find out who dies you have to read it. INtrigued, right??!

Okay, so when you're querying agents your opener is supposed to be a one-liner that sells them on reading your book. (The rest of the letter helps, but first impressions, dude.) When I see something where the author has just textwalled me with random pieces of plot, all I can think is 'where is your perspective?'

Have you taken the time to step back from your story and, instead of thinking it as a series of things happening, thought about why someone else should read it when there are a trillion other fancy non-cliche plots out there?

Do you respect your writing enough to want to sell it to your audience ('sell' doesn't have to mean omgpublishing)?



I read something where you're pouring it onto me as if I spent as many hours on your work as you did (FYI, I have not) and wonder why, if I'm supposed to be doing you a favor by reading your story instead of a million other stories, you're not trying harder.


Readers are not invested in your writing until you persuade them otherwise.


That's what finally brings me to the point of this: y'all gotta have a VOICE.

Do you know how many unpublished and published writers are out there? A lot. Go to a used bookstore and try not to cringe at the stacks of brand-new looking paperbacks that probably never got a second printing. And try to imagine how many more of those there are. Or, if you couldn't be fucked about publishing, just try to get through all 300 kajillion pages of poetry here. (Finding the best unnoticed stuff is hard. Please suggest DDs.)

So what will make me stay for your writing?

The 'Percy Jackson' series had a mediocre plot that was made a thousand times worse for me because I studied classics and was constantly like THAT IS NOT HOW DEMIGODS WORK. (I can't play 'God of War' either.) Oh, and I wasn't a huge fan of the characters or the teenage love story, which is an audience conflict.



But I read all five and happily admit to liking the first three.

Why?

VOICE.


Riordan is, like, awesome at it. The amount of personality in the books got me hooked and kept me going even though I wasn't even the target audience for it. Pretty badass, right?

Voice is awesome. Voice is probably the reason writing ends up being so subjective. I like my books to be flavored with dark humor; others prefer something more sensitive or upbeat or whatever. This is why knowing your audience matters, but more on that later.

Do NOT try to sell your whole story on your plot. You might have spent hours agonizing over what to do next and how to make sure the reader didn't guess it on page three, but do your readers see that? (-50 points if you equate author commentary with subtext contained in the actual work.)



Homework: figure out wtf 'voice' is in the comments. It's boring when you all agree with me (but I loooove you anyway), and I think it might scare off people who don't, so I'm trying something new. It took me this long, yes.

You can't carry a story on plot alone! Or, MAKE YOUR READERS CARE.

'You' is pretty much always a generic 'you'. Blame English for not having better plural forms. Stop the GIFs with 'Esc.' Pass GO and collect $200.

Dear person behind truebloodgifs.tumblr.com, I salute you. Never get a life.
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:iconselimeia:
Selimeia Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Interesting article.

I totally agree though: The combination of characters and style can make sooo many stories work out that have a horrible plot. I personally am a great fan of the novel "The Wall" by Marlen Haushofer where practically nothing happens, but it's still soooo strong - and truly amazing.
If anyone wants to know what a 'voice' is he should read this book, there it can be seen at its purest. :)
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!

Huh, sounds interesting. What's its premise?
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:iconselimeia:
Selimeia Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
(I just hope I'm answering this correctly, as neither the dictionary nor my own mind could tell me definitely what a 'premise' is - would you mind explaining in the next answer? I mean, my English is pretty good, but not perfect...:blush: )

It's about a woman who finds herself in the mountains, surrounded by an invisible, undestroyable wall. Everything on the other side seems to be dead. She is the only human left.
3 years later, I believe, she starts to write down what happened since then, views on her past, trails of thought, ... Really fascinating.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You got it totally right! It sounds fantastic.

I think of a premise as kind of the one line description that sets up the story, so yours is spot on. For Harry Potter it could be something like a kid has to take on the evil that killed his parents while coming to terms with being a wizard. Not.too in depth, but offers some idea of what to expect.
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:iconselimeia:
Selimeia Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Aaaaah, okay - *adding to vocab memory* - thanks :)

It's really worth a read, though at first, it might seem a little... weird.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Sounds cool :D
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:iconselimeia:
Selimeia Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It is :D

If you get a chance to read it, please tell me what you thought :)
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012   Writer
All I know, learned from years as a journalist for a few newspapers, and years spent writing short fiction for magazines that were all put in print 'back in the day' [meaning when there were more newspapers and lit magazines] = You must begin your work with a good hook. If a writer doesn't know what a "good hook" is, I suggest that writer read more books, short fiction and non-fiction. One can also join an in-person writers' group, a group that has members read their "wip" work aloud. [I held a writers' group like that twice a month for two years. Most had at least one piece published during or soon after it ended.] Back on topic -- then they'll learn that if the first sentence grabs a readers' or listeners' full attention, that's a good hook. A good hook establishes voice immediately and engages readers so they complete the work done, whether it's a classic, new book or article, short story, et. al. That goes for work on dA, too. The "voice" is followed with interest if it's maintained throughout a piece. And yes, I'll suggest more DDs. ;)
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Awesome, thanks for hte insight.

We were even taught to use a good hook for writing essays.
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Writer
You're welcome (:

Yep, a good hook is needed for essays, too.
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