November 28th, 2012, 09:05 AM
What is each one after in this story? And what stands in the way?
I'd highly recommend Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Plot. Short, only costs $3 (AU) for the ebook version, BEST $3 I've ever spent as far as plot stuff goes. It's a book dedicated to plot, but in saying that, it has a lot on character because the two, in the best fiction, affect one another. First and foremost, fiction is about people doing things, being active instead of passive (or passive until they can't be any more) and how events conspire against them, and how they overcome said events. It's Protagonist vs Antagonist. Plain and simple. Who is the protagonist? Who is the antagonist? What's they fight about? Of course by antagonist, you could have a force of nature. There are a few Man Vs... battles: Man vs Man, Man vs Society/Law/Chaos, Man vs Inner Nature (Self), Man vs Mother Nature, Man vs God, Man vs Alien/Monster (although that's where all monster and alien attack movies come from, and they're rarely brilliant). And so on. I think I covered all of them. The key word there is VESUS, because without conflict, you don't have a story. You have a protagonist who gets everything they want and who isn't challenged by anything, and thus they don't grow or change.
I hope that helps.
November 29th, 2012, 04:05 PM
I think it depends what kind of plot you're going for. If you want a really traditionally-structured tight plot, you need to start by addressing some specific key elements; your protagonist's character arc, their objective, and a central question. That will tell you about the subject/nature of your narrative. You've already established that the catalyst for the Squire's experiences is the knight trying to do something. Personally I wouldn't hinge the plot on something as wide-sweeping as politics, espionage, etc. Those elements will develop and emerge naturally within the world anyway; the Lord-Priest conflict in a medieval setting is just begging for all of that ugly mess.
What if it's something really personal? What if the knight's parentage is brought into question, and he has to head on a "quest" to "prove" he's noble. That's your catalyst, but in the process the Squire is forced to question whether people should be valued more by their character or their birth? Suddenly the squire is the knight's superior, because the squire's parentage is without question (let's say that Lord who's fighting with the priest is the squire's father...)...
Your story becomes an exploration of a pretty important social issue.
Now, I obviously know very little about these characters, so I have no idea if this idea is even remotely compatible, but I've got the bare bones of a story there just from the scrap you gave me, and I'm confident I could come up with dozens more. It's a question of deciding what the point is. What are you trying to say? What themes do you want to explore? And above all, my advice is to make the plot personal and intimate. Leave the grandiose clash of power to the background; the world the characters move through. If you want your story to be powerful it needs to be deeply embedded in the intimate needs and wants of your characters.
November 30th, 2012, 10:26 AM
Thanks to all of you for your thought-provoking contributions. KatG and Gumboot: your suggestions have been the most fruitful in terms of generating progress. Noumenon, Fung Koo, & al.: thanks for making me see that there are more efficient ways to write a decent plot.
Thanks to KatG for encouraging me to not get hung up on specifics & try a more organic approach (one which resembles planting & tending a fruit tree: you give it some roots - characters in this case - & lots of depth for them to grow under the surface, in harmony with the pruning & training going on above, eventually resulting in exquisite blossoms which ripen... hey don't snigger, I like a metaphor/epic simile now and then).
I'm a particular fan of keeping things human-sized (Gumboot). In fact, my feelings are so rampant on this that I'm going to start another thread...
[Also a PSA: I recently became a little too busy to devote much attention to my project, but I'll probably return to it over Christmas.]
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