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Thread: Plot-in 2016 (NaNoWriMo)

  1. #1
    Read faster, Auntie Sage! AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Plot-in 2016 (NaNoWriMo)

    My head's not quite in the game yet, so this thread is a little late.

    Need help plotting your NaNo novel? Need an idea? Need to hone an idea? Need characters? Need names? Need world building? Need knowledge about a subject you want to include? Need to hash out what person and tense your novel should be?

    Ask it here and see if we can help you!
    Summer's Cruel Warmth, Winter's Gentle Chill (Jack Frost story): Editing
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    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
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  2. #2
    Oh look, here I am CSPayne's Avatar
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    Hello there,
    My son is doing NaNoWriMo too and I'm wondering how I can help him write of space and aliens without sounding too cliché. He has several great ideas but his frame of reference is smaller than my own so his ideas are what he's seen in the movies, etc.
    Are there any novels/authors in that genre you can think of that might help him not write a cliché space novel?
    He's 13 and I'm not trying to write this for him. I'm doing my own and I want him to do this on his own and win!
    Thanks in advance for any ideas or references.
    -Co.

    "Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing." -Wernher von Braun

  3. #3
    Making Einstein cry since 1994 Maggie Maxwell's Avatar
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    Honestly, I'd say just let him write it how he wants, even if it ends up cliche as heck. He's 13. Probably every single one of us wrote the worst kinds of cliches at that age and loved it, no matter how much we read. The important thing is that he has fun and rocks the word count. But as far as recommendations, I don't see any reason not to get him into the greats now, like Asimov, Douglas Adams, HG Wells, Clarke. Asimov has a bunch of amazing short stories that could help ease him in.
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    Indecisive Noodle KateSmash's Avatar
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    Adding to the scifi recs - Scalzi is just the right touch of zany for a 13 year old. You might also want to nudge him toward some non-fiction. Death by Blackhole by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Packing for Mars by Mary Roach are accessible. Roach does touch on a lot of gross, be warned. But what 13 year old doesn't love a little gross?

    ---

    I'm still entirely stuck for ideas. I have a half-formed premise that seems like a good lead, but the protagonist and the world and everything else is just kind of blank. And it's making me want to pull my hair.

    Ok so, the idea -- A small town healer gets roped into tracking down her treasure hunter mother. Action, adventure, yadda yadda yadda.

    And that's all I've got.

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    Read faster, Auntie Sage! AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSPayne View Post
    Hello there,
    My son is doing NaNoWriMo too and I'm wondering how I can help him write of space and aliens without sounding too cliché. He has several great ideas but his frame of reference is smaller than my own so his ideas are what he's seen in the movies, etc.
    Are there any novels/authors in that genre you can think of that might help him not write a cliché space novel?
    He's 13 and I'm not trying to write this for him. I'm doing my own and I want him to do this on his own and win!
    Thanks in advance for any ideas or references.
    I'm also doing space and aliens (maybe. Aliens might actually be humans that broke away from Earth ages ago), and at 36 am still worried about cliches

    Tell us a little about his ideas, and let's see if we can help him enhance them. Better yet, have him join AW and tell us about them himself


    Quote Originally Posted by KateSmash View Post
    I'm still entirely stuck for ideas. I have a half-formed premise that seems like a good lead, but the protagonist and the world and everything else is just kind of blank. And it's making me want to pull my hair.

    Ok so, the idea -- A small town healer gets roped into tracking down her treasure hunter mother. Action, adventure, yadda yadda yadda.

    And that's all I've got.
    So I like to plot-in with questions (or post-its, but that doesn't work so well online). So, is she a healer through magic or a small-town doctor? What's the catalyst for searching for her mom?
    Summer's Cruel Warmth, Winter's Gentle Chill (Jack Frost story): Editing
    (query here, soundtrack on Spotify)

    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  6. #6
    Indecisive Noodle KateSmash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    So I like to plot-in with questions (or post-its, but that doesn't work so well online). So, is she a healer through magic or a small-town doctor? What's the catalyst for searching for her mom?
    A little bit of magic, a little bit apothecary. (It's safe to assume I'm always going the fantasy route). The only thing I could think of was the empire/kingdom/whatever pretty much says "find your missing mother or else you're going to have to fulfill her service to crown/country/whatever" with the subtext being that poor healer girl/lady (still dunno if to go YA or adult - it can go either way) will be conscripted into some distant, never-ending war. And thus has a path similar to the first half of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade of following old journals and whatnot to track down the mom she doesn't particularly even like.

    But world, MC personality (beyond not having much of relationship with her mother), what Momma was even hunting down or why her bosses need her so bad - it's all blank. I think I need to sit down with a bottle of wine and not think too hard about it for a few evenings.

  7. #7
    Making Einstein cry since 1994 Maggie Maxwell's Avatar
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    Hm... okay, personality. She's a healer, so you have a few ways to go there. Is she the kind to have an excellent bedside manner, kind and gentle, or is she the kind that razzes on people for being dumb, ranting about the war and the various stupid things people have done to get hurt? If she's in a small town, she knows everyone. Is she good at negotiating, trading pain medication for fresh-picked apples, or does she prefer to get paid in what passes for cash? Is she a classic hobbit-type, the homebody who likes the safety and security of her home, or is she a Bilbo, resisting the urge to run out and be like her mother because of societal expectations and that the people in town need her?
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    Read faster, Auntie Sage! AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    If she's a teen, then she's either brilliant to be the town healer or still in training with some mentor person, and I think her personality would be different based on which of those routes she is.
    Summer's Cruel Warmth, Winter's Gentle Chill (Jack Frost story): Editing
    (query here, soundtrack on Spotify)

    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  9. #9
    Read faster, Auntie Sage! AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    For mine, I'm looking for ideas on how entertainment will work in the far future, when humans have smoothly colonized space. My MCs are musicians, with some kind of regular "show" that they put out to humans across the stars...somehow. One of them, Max, has been a music star since he was a child, when his parents got him involved in it (before his shows were sidelined by a war, where he met the POV character who became his bestie and made his show a real production after the war was over). There's cybernetics involved in this world, so I'm considering that humans have some sort of implant to receive entertainment directly into their brains, stored away like a DVR until they can enjoy it? Would we expect unscripted shows to dominate or something scripted, Max traveling the planets and producing his show (with music) from place to place or Max and (?--I also need names) putting together an actual scripted show from their studio on X planet? I don't know. I'm just looking for ideas on what kind of entertainment you think might exist in the far future and how it might be received once we've spread out through space.

    Also I need names.
    Summer's Cruel Warmth, Winter's Gentle Chill (Jack Frost story): Editing
    (query here, soundtrack on Spotify)

    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  10. #10
    Making Einstein cry since 1994 Maggie Maxwell's Avatar
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    In the far future... I would see something like Youtube or Vine being the source of celebrity, where any average Joe on any planet can get themselves and their antics out to the universe. Like Youtube + Crowdfunding x100.
    The insane who believe they are sane are crazy. The sane who know they are insane are writers.

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  11. #11
    Read faster, Auntie Sage! AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    I think that's sort of what I've been visualizing, but haven't been able to define for myself. Like Max has his own, immensely popular YouTube show that he and not-Phil put out. The shows might be short to make up for two teens putting together a show on a regular basis, but that might be part of the attraction, if attention spans have shortened even more.
    Summer's Cruel Warmth, Winter's Gentle Chill (Jack Frost story): Editing
    (query here, soundtrack on Spotify)

    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  12. #12
    Indecisive Noodle KateSmash's Avatar
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    Yeah, I have a lot of macro things to decide (like category and whatnot) until I can really start focusing in on specific areas needing help. Hooray for the outer edges of hurricanes and wine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    There's cybernetics involved in this world, so I'm considering that humans have some sort of implant to receive entertainment directly into their brains, stored away like a DVR until they can enjoy it? Would we expect unscripted shows to dominate or something scripted, Max traveling the planets and producing his show (with music) from place to place or Max and (?--I also need names) putting together an actual scripted show from their studio on X planet? I don't know. I'm just looking for ideas on what kind of entertainment you think might exist in the far future and how it might be received once we've spread out through space.

    Also I need names.
    Honestly I see tastes in entertainment being as vast and varied as it is now. With all the regional shifts in popularity and cultural shenanigans and whatnot. So the reality vs scripted (although "reality shows" are scripted lol) comes down to your personal preference. If anime/manga is to be believed *cough* it's not uncommon for musical acts to also have variety/talk/sketch comedy shows. Maybe Max and company could have travel documentary type show around their touring schedule. Kind of like all those globe-trotting food shows but with music. They go hang out with fans, explain the local culture (through music maybe), etc. Or not.

    Delivery of the show again is something so wide open. I think the biggest trouble you'll run into is accounting for the time it takes for the signal to reach across thousands of light years simultaneously-ish. It's something that just isn't possible to acheive in reality. (Er ... so far as we know.) So you're going to have to have some consistent plot device. The easiest way most sf writers do instant communication is the ansible. Which works pretty well since I don't think you're aiming for hard science. The less you try to explain things and just roll with it (without breaking your own rules) the better.

    If it's a matter of what people will watch tv on - that's again a matter of what suits you and the story. Cybernetics are one way, certainly. Since they're already built into the story world, might as well use them. Are such implants/upgrades universal though? How would people without cybernetics watch things? Things to consider.

    As far as names - I like generators (at least as a starting point) and this place has a gen for just about everything.
    Last edited by KateSmash; 10-07-2016 at 11:02 PM.

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW Matt T.'s Avatar
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    I'll probably be asking for help with my potential NaNo story in this thread once my brain is feeling less fried and I've actually had some time to develop it. Right now, I have two rough ideas for chapters and loose ideas for the protagonists and then my knowledge of the story drops off a cliff haha.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    For mine, I'm looking for ideas on how entertainment will work in the far future, when humans have smoothly colonized space. My MCs are musicians, with some kind of regular "show" that they put out to humans across the stars...somehow. One of them, Max, has been a music star since he was a child, when his parents got him involved in it (before his shows were sidelined by a war, where he met the POV character who became his bestie and made his show a real production after the war was over). There's cybernetics involved in this world, so I'm considering that humans have some sort of implant to receive entertainment directly into their brains, stored away like a DVR until they can enjoy it? Would we expect unscripted shows to dominate or something scripted, Max traveling the planets and producing his show (with music) from place to place or Max and (?--I also need names) putting together an actual scripted show from their studio on X planet? I don't know. I'm just looking for ideas on what kind of entertainment you think might exist in the far future and how it might be received once we've spread out through space.

    Also I need names.
    It's a common enough idea, but I believe that receiving entertainment will eventually be handled by implants. So instead of listening to music, you'll either have some kind of implant in your brain allowing you to store, receive, and manage music nearly instantaneously. It depends on how said implants are managed (whether they can be manipulated by thought, or still have to be interacted with in the physical world) but it would be far more convenient than relying on headphones and smartphones/music players as we do today. Same goes for television, movies, music videos, etc, as those could be managed by implants as well.

    In a less advanced future society, those things might not be managed by implants, and more by advanced cybernetics and wearable technology. So instead of having music and television pumped into your brain, you might have a headset like Google Glass that sits in front of your eyes and projects images (and potentially music if it had a aural component) for you whenever you want. It won't beat having things streamed straight into your brain, but it's similar enough.

    As far as the actual entertainment itself, I think things will remain largely the same as today until fully-realized virtual reality enters the picture. Although genres will evolve, similar to how rock has twisted through everything from hair metal to metalcore and post-hardcore over the last several decades, we'll still listen to bands and solo artists. As far as scripted and unscripted goes, I see a similar split to today, where there is a large market for both, as I don't see one usurping the other. We already have an immense variety in genres of entertainment, with everything from lighthearted comedies to dark fantasy epics and surrealism existing in modern times, so I don't see that changing much either.

    The thing that changes everything though is virtual reality. Modern virtual reality is in its infancy and is little more than a more advanced video-game, but it has the potential to destroy scripted entertainment once it reaches a sufficient level. The level of immersion it would bring to movies, television, and even stuff like music videos or potentially unscripted programs would be unprecedented, and would have considerable effects on human society. Imagine being able to live out your favorite movie or feel like you're in the same room as your favorite singer or reality star.

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    crazy spec fic writer L M Ashton's Avatar
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    If you're going to go the implant route, you can make it multi-sensory. Sounds, visuals, smells, tastes, and touch all coming through at the same time. Then it could be so stimulating that it could be sensory overload for some people. And... I think I might use this myself...

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    phoenix blazing Parametric's Avatar
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    I'm working through an excessively complicated plot with multiple viewpoints set in a post-supernatural-invasion UK city. If there's any trouble in the city, the supernaturals will just orbitally bombard it into a smoking crater. Half of the viewpoint characters are desperately trying to repress the civilian population enough to appease their supernatural bosses, and the other half are equally set on igniting a popular rebellion. (I might have watched the New Caprica episodes of Battlestar Galactica a bit too often.)

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    Indecisive Noodle KateSmash's Avatar
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    If there's an arc of BSG to pull inspiration on, that'd be the one, Para!

    ---

    Indecisive noodle (hooray self deprecation!) back again for help. I've thrown out the healer treasure hunting idea for now. It clearly needs more marination time. Instead I think I'm going to tackle the idea I spent all of last October prepping for before just sort of letting nano not happen last year. It also happens to be a total reconstruction of 2012's nano ...

    Anyway, the details. It's a world where magic is deadly (malevolent spirits, possession, so on and so forth) and there's a special sect of warriors trained up from youth to basically one on one babysit/jail the magic users. Our heroine is one of these people, on the cusp of "graduating" to have her lifelong mage ward. She's incredibly dedicated to her order and her duty - largely because she's the product of a taboo relationship between mage and keeper. She wants not only to prove herself but redeem her fallen hero mother by proxy (dad is believed to be dead). There's a lot of backstory I'm gonna skip, because it gets pretty twisty.

    BUT, young heroine, as dutiful as she is, is having her own secret love affair with a mage. That mage happens to be the grandson of a man that nearly resurrected the big daddy of all spirits 20-ish years ago. So they've bonded through pariah-hood. Mage boyfriend doesn't take it as well though, and is something of a revolutionary himself. And when our heroine gets paired off and mage boyfriend left to twist in the wind (likely to be put away in a special facility for the extremely dangerous), he sets out to finish what his grandfather started. Which causes those aforementioned malevolent spirits to terrorize the innocent people and puts his own mind and body at risk.

    So heroine chases after him - to stop him, to keep him from becoming a feral shell of wild magic, to keep her order from slaughtering him - and ends up tangled in the deep corruption of her own order and the lies of history.

    The stakes are there. The twists are there. I've got pages and pages of backstory worked out - both the true history of the world and the revisionist one told by the order. Shoot, I've got rough maps of major locations and a loose outline. So what's the problem?

    Young heroine is boring to write. Next to characters like her mage boyfriend (full of idealistic fire, doing the wrong things for the right reasons), her mage friend (anxious, precious, whip-smart and clever), and the main antagonist (smooth and terrifying, doing the right things for the wrong reasons) young heroine falls flat. She feels like emotionally stunted action girl YA protagonist #275 except without the brown hair and petite frame.

    I need to find a way to give her some zest so she doesn't get woefully lost in her own story. And something to make her enjoyable to write as things are primarily from her POV. I need to find the layers beyond her own sense of duty and touch of shame. Like I know there's conviction there, but there's got to be something else about her to unearth so that she pops into three dimensionality instead of two.

    (If you read all that ramble, thank you!)
    Last edited by KateSmash; 10-15-2016 at 05:28 AM.

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    Read faster, Auntie Sage! AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    I could make up a NaNo version of the Voice Game, Kate. Would that help?

    I don't remember if you were around for the old VG, before Shady and I took over it and then moved to another website (2010...probably not before we took over), but the format was a lot like the "How Well Do You Know Your..." games, but everything was asked and answered in your character's voice, and a lot of time it developed that voice, plus motivations, emotions, and even storyline. The characters ended up playing off each other a lot, asking probing questions based on the previous answers, but in a way only that character would think to ask. We could give it a try.
    Summer's Cruel Warmth, Winter's Gentle Chill (Jack Frost story): Editing
    (query here, soundtrack on Spotify)

    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  18. #18
    Indecisive Noodle KateSmash's Avatar
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    I signed up in 2010, but I think I mostly lurked for a year or two. I don't seem to remember a voice game. But it sounds like good fun and could help more than just me over the next two weeks. Go for it!

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW GeneBWell's Avatar
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    Need some help!
    My novel is based around kids who cook in a competition together with magical talking animal companions with special cooking-related abilities. The problem I'm running into is how little impact the animals have on the plot. I really want the whole 'cooking together with your magical monster buddy' to be the selling point of the story but instead the plot (as I've figured it out) is mostly about the main girl trying to choose between winning the competition and using the competition to make a point. I can't figure out how to tie her wants and stakes up with the animals! She starts with an animal companion who she's really close to and part of the story is her gaining another animal companion but if I'm being honest with myself I could cut all the animals from the plot completely without losing almost any coherence.

    I'm thinking at this point that I might need to completely scrap everything I've planned out for the plot and re-think the whole thing from square one, but I don't know how to shift the focus away from the internal struggle of the MC in the competition and make it more about her interactions with the animals. I need to figure this out before next month or I doubt I'll be able to make it past the first chapter! Halp, please!
    Last edited by GeneBWell; 10-17-2016 at 11:46 PM.

  20. #20
    Making Einstein cry since 1994 Maggie Maxwell's Avatar
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    The animals don't necessarily need to be plot-relevant if they're worldbuilding-relevant. The webcomic Never Satisfied has all magic users have talking animal sidekicks. So far, they haven't been relevant besides extra characters, but it's worldbuilding. If the best chefs get animal companions, or people get animal companions related to their talents, or if the people running the competition use the animal companions to attract a younger audience, that's all perfectly acceptable. I say leave them in and just go with your gut for NaNo. You may find out later how they tie into the plot.
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    Keep being awesome! Gribba's Avatar
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    I have decided, the fantasy story, I am not doing that one, now I have 2, I need to choose one... help...

    I find it hard to choose, as one is a story about how vaccinations were used to trigger ability's in people and after the revolution there is a new and different system in place. And how it divides people but also that in the future the people are being born without any powers as the vaccinations were destroyed. People without powers are disappearing and the MC gets involved in the fight for justice.

    The other story is, set in this world, where the MC is working at a mental asylums were the patients all have this one thing in common, they all have been seeing/talking to and living with their dead relative for years.
    Two of the patients start confiding in the MC and she then begins to see things and starts to figure out what is actually happening.
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    deceives Tocotin's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, I like the first story. I'm all for people without powers and whoever fights on their side
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  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW Matt T.'s Avatar
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    Gribba, personally I like the sound of the first story best. Sounds like you could take that premise in a lot of interesting sci-fi/superhero-flavored directions!

  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW Matt T.'s Avatar
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    I've been frantically outlining my story lately, and while I'm happy with it overall, I have some areas that are causing me grief. Before I launch into them, here's my basic premise, copy-pasted from the synopsis thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt T. View Post
    Even the few friends that sixteen-year-old Charlotte Gaines has made over her last three years at her remote boarding school wouldn’t describe her as a particularly nice person to be around. Bitter and cynical, she spends her days and nights acquiring and selling everything from foodstuffs to alcohol and condoms to her classmates—anything to keep her busy until the end of high school, when she fully expects her life to collapse and for her to fall back into the depression and impotent anger that defined her life after the death of her brother years ago.

    However, Charlotte finds an even more compelling distraction from the past when she meets a withdrawn violin prodigy named Elliott. In the process of saving him from a group of their less savory fellow students, she sees that his upper body is covered in scars.

    Suspecting bullying or abuse, Charlotte finds herself increasingly preoccupied with the highly intelligent, but frustratingly optimistic Elliott, who ignores his present problems and keeps himself focused on an ideal future studying music. Even as his troubled relationship with his parents and her long history of antagonizing other students and breaking school rules comes back to haunt them, the two form an unsteady friendship. However, as their lives begin to crumble both from trauma in their pasts and their mistakes in the present, Charlotte becomes more and more convinced of her belief that both love and happiness are temporary, and life doesn’t get better.
    I'm probably going to run into more as I keep writing, but here are the two ones driving me insane today:

    -I'm struggling to figure out where Elliott's scars exactly come from. Back when I first imagined this, I defaulted to physical abuse from his parents, but that idea presents problems. To give a bit of backstory, one of the parents is a failed violinist (I'm thinking the mom, but it could be the dad), and at least for much of his life, they had an unhealthy obsession with pushing him to succeed where they couldn't. Elliott's skills capped out at some point, so they largely view him as a disappointment in the present and have given up on him, but pushing him to succeed and hone his craft early in life could give them a motive to abuse him.

    The issue is that I can't think of a single remotely believable means of abuse that would actually leave the kind of scars I'm thinking of (scars likely from something edged or sharp, running up his arms and covering his chest and perhaps a bit of his neck), and the scars are already playing a moderate role in the story. Plus, although he wears long-sleeves and undershirts in the present to cover it up, the parents would have to be idiots to physically harm a young child in that way because someone would notice the wounds/scars sooner or later. I considered some kind of accident, perhaps connected to the parents and his violin-playing, but I have no idea what form that would take.

    -Elliott's character arc is much muddier than Charlotte's is at the moment. Part of what I found compelling about the pair of them is that they're exact opposites in some crucial ways. Elliott begins the story living with his eyes on the future and his dreams of studying music, ignoring the fact that is life is passing away in front of him and that he's fundamentally not happy in the present. Charlotte no longer even pays attention to the future or cares what will happen, instead living a frequently self-destructive life that is defined by her inability to move past the death of her brother (she's essentially suffering from complicated grief, where her feelings of loss and anger have remained years after the fact). In other words, neither of them are living their lives firmly in the present, with Charlotte obsessed with the past and how it informs her own nihilistic philosophy, while Elliott waits for a better future that never quite comes.

    I don't know exactly what to have Elliott doing in the second half of the story though. In all the sections I've outlined so far, Charlotte wrestles with her own grief, her self-destructive and antagonistic tendencies, and later on her feelings for Elliott. She cares for him almost as a replacement for her brother at first, but becomes increasingly troubled by romantic feelings, as she believes that both romantic and platonic relationships--and especially high school ones--are largely pointless because they fade away and you're always left alone in the end. All that lends itself to her making choices and developing as a character, both in good and bad ways, but Elliott is proving trickier.

    In the first half, he's learning with Charlotte and her friends essentially how to loosen up a bit, stand up for himself and others, and live more in the present instead of the future (I should note at this point that this I will keep this from turning into a stereotypical manic pixie dream girl story if it kills me), but once that's over, I don't know where to take his character next. I thought about having him swing to the opposite end of the spectrum and become self-destructive in some way, perhaps confirming Charlotte's belief that she drags other people around her down and is a bad influence, but I don't know.
    Last edited by Matt T.; 10-23-2016 at 03:18 AM.

  25. #25
    Keep being awesome! Gribba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tocotin View Post
    For what it's worth, I like the first story. I'm all for people without powers and whoever fights on their side
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt T. View Post
    Gribba, personally I like the sound of the first story best. Sounds like you could take that premise in a lot of interesting sci-fi/superhero-flavored directions!
    Thanks...
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