View Full Version : Concept or plot?
February 6th, 2003, 08:55 AM
When working up a story, do you find yourself basing it on a concept, or a plot? A couple of times, I've started working on a story because I think, for example "telling a story from a orc's point of view" would be cool. Of course, the concept is a bit more fleshed out then that- but then I come up with a plot to accommodate this. At times, I've found my plot then to be a strained..
I think concept over plot is apparent in many of the summer blockbuster movies. Sometimes it works, often times it doesn't, which is why I wonder if I'm approaching it the wrong way.
February 6th, 2003, 12:53 PM
Have you seen The Matrix pcarney. That is one of the best films ever made and it was based on a concept...an idea. The plot was formed around the concept. However, the plot is just as engaging and exciting as the concept. There is no problem with starting a book on a concept as long as you make the plot as equally important.
February 6th, 2003, 04:26 PM
I definetely find that I come up with a concept before the plot. I devise an entire world in all its intricacies and I think of a cool idea that I would like to see made real. Then I think of a situation, plot, characters, and so on.
The only problem with this style of writing, for me anyhow, is that the characters aren't clearly defined until I'm a little ways into the story. Then, based on what I've written and what works for the idea I've got churning in my head, I create real, fleshed out characters.
I find my mind makes some weird connections between character and plot without me thinking about it. I've come up with a lot of really cool things that I did not originally plan to have happen. It just... works.
February 6th, 2003, 10:15 PM
A fragment of a plot comes to me and I expand it until I have a general outline, but concept sometimes plays a part.
February 6th, 2003, 11:51 PM
I think for the most part, concept comes first, but plot follows closely behind. You can't really have one without the other and still have a successful story.
February 7th, 2003, 05:38 PM
Finding a concept or even just a few words is more important than finding a plot. For instance the story I'm working on features a race that in Human terms are called "Crossblade" I built my entire story on this one word. It sounds brave, noble almost knightly so I developed a race that could go along with these descriptions and tried to figure out how they could interact with Humans. I wrote a first draft (80,000 words) which was quite bad but it was good for me because it helped improve my skill and I found out what elements worked and what didn't. I began again and got about half way through it (120,000 words) when I decided I didn't like how it was going and started again. This is when I made my most important decision. I had originally planned for three long novels but one night playing basketball alone (great for relaxing and thinking) I decided to merge all three together into one huge novel. All this work out of one word. Concept is most certainly the most important element in coming up with everything else.
February 10th, 2003, 10:55 AM
I would have to disagree and me thinks that Stewart's example is as much proof of this as of his own idea. Concept is good to get you started yes. A word, an idea, a picture can spark good things, but unless you have some idea of how you want to treat it, then it's not going to go anywhere. A good story has a strong concept and an equally strong plot. Both are equally important IMO.
I have a concept that has tried three times to make it onto paper. The first time failed within about 10 pages or less because I had already written myself into a corner. The 2nd time failed at about the 100 page mark partially because my computer ate the document and partially because I was at that point, nearly 80% done, and the villain wasn't even introduced yet, not to mention that somewhere along the lines, the concept had been forgotten.
This third time seems to be the charm though. I'm at the 175 page mark, have all of the elements that I had before, but the plot actually drives the story here and I'm still going strong toward a good conclusion. Now, when I come back to this story in another 6 months I might decide it wasn't that great, but until then I'm stoked.
February 11th, 2003, 07:24 AM
It seems to me that concept is more important in genre fiction then in 'mainstream'- especially in sf/f. The Matrix is a great example of this- its a incredible movie, due to its concept, but it has plot holes you can drive a truck through. However, plot is still very important- especially in fiction, where you can't wow your audience with CGI and such.
February 17th, 2003, 05:03 PM
I think in the initial stages concept usually comes first, it might be a single idea I have about any aspect of the story but when i start working on it plot tends to take, as somebody else said, concept is important but without a plot it's not really much use is it?
February 19th, 2003, 03:19 PM
90% of the time I start with the concept.
The plot usually flows aroung with this initial idea. I would struggle a lot keeping the storyline original if I tried to plan a storyline without the concept, it would become just another rambling set of encounters for my characters. Whereas with the concept bubbling away, shaping my characters actions/reactions I feel it gives the tale much more depth. (e.g. my favourite peice of work at the mo' is a tale about a bunch of characters who happen to be on the losing side of an invasion. Not totally original but it is giving me the opportunity to play with a lot of emotions that I'd rarely used in my stories. The initial concept was What exactly constitutes heroism?. Through this story I'm still trying to find the answer:) ).
I usually have a good idea of how I want my story to grow......having the initial concept to shape the story is essential IMO.
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