October 10, 2017 at 5:56 pm #47767
I’ve been steadily trying to plan a story that has stayed in my mind for years (quite an accomplishment on its part) and is just roaring to be let out. Could you let me know two things: on a brutally honest scale of 1-very boring to 10-I would stay up all night reading that!!!!, does this interest you? What are some potential pitfalls I should avoid? Then any additional thoughts and brainstorming would be so helpful!
The premise: a girl fights to learn to love life and find true joy, while stranded on top of a super-volcano where sinister blue ravens and giant dragonflies battle for control. (In case you didn’t catch it, the theme is depression and true joy. @aratrea My message is that true joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment can be found, even in the midst of deep depression, if we turn our eyes to what Jesus did for us, allow others to help us, and look beyond ourselves.)
More in depth things:
The super volcano is Yellowstone. Plenty of bad things can happen to my lovely MC there so I’m not worried about making up predicaments.
The MC moves to Yellowstone with her mother, a dancer, who intends to start a dance company in Jackson. Her father died several years back, which contributes to her struggle with depression and is also the main reason her mother must pull up her city roots-the illness and death of her father left them in debt.
I want to use ravens and crows and maybe wolves as a villainous force intending to keep the MC stuck in her depression. I’m having a hard time coming up with motives for them, though. I can only think of making them an elite priesthood/cult that wants to stifle joy. Is that too weird? I’m also concerned about making the villains one-dimensional-any tips?
Any thoughts you have are VASTLY appreciated! Also, you whom I have tagged, if you know some lovelies who would have a good perspective on this, I would be obliged if you would tag them!
@kate-flournoy @dragon-snapper @that_writer_girl_99 @winter-rose @mark-kamibaya @daeus @sierra-ret @anne-of-lothlorien @cindy-greenOctober 10, 2017 at 5:57 pm #47768
Anyone know Sierra’s and Cindy’s tags? I thought I knew them but obviously not.October 10, 2017 at 7:41 pm #47781
- Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
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Brutally honest post
A four. It’s sprawling and epic and boring. It seems like you want to tackle too many things at once. I wouldn’t worry about weirdness. But if you (personally) believe the story is as you described above, then I think it’ll be too big to handle. You can still keep (probably) all those elements, but if you think that’s what the story is about then I don’t think you’re in a good place. As the author, you should be able to focus the theme, main conflict, and premise in simple sentences. The cool animals can still be in the story, but not when you’re trying to solidify and focus on what type of story you’re telling.
My suggestion: don’t do what I said above. You can hone in on your story’s focus later on. Right now, write your sprawling, epic story. Get ideas out and explore every angle of your premise. Focusing it now would limit possibilities. Write it out now. Then, focus on the important stuff later.October 10, 2017 at 7:45 pm #47783
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The first thing that strikes me as I read your summary here is that you’ve focused a lot on symbolism.
That’s a good thing. But it can also be a hindrance. In my experience, when I focus too much on the symbolism of a thing, it comes out one-dimensional as only what it’s supposed to symbolize. The allegory in a symbol is just like any other allegory— too obvious, and it deadens the impact. I’ve had to learn to approach symbols not as representing one thing and nothing else, but as representing one thing above all else.
Something to chew on.
As for the story idea itself, I do like it. Everything from what I see here plays well into the theme, and it looks like you’ve got a good recipe for a unique story here. The one thing that’s giving me a little pause is the fact that so many elements of the story are fantasy, yet it takes place in Yellowstone, which is definitely not fantasy. It feels like an awkward genre-clash in more ways than one. Sometimes you can mix genres. But personally, I think fantasy and slice-of-life fiction are the poorest possible mix of the lot.
I’ll tell you why. Mixing those two saps the strength out of both of them. The strength of slice-of-life fiction is… well… real life. 😛
The strength of fantasy exists solely in its removal from real life, enabling us to explore deep truths about life in a new setting. The two goals don’t mix.
Is there any particular reason your story has to happen in Yellowstone?
I’m going to agree with @mark-kamibaya on a solid four.
October 10, 2017 at 8:45 pm #47791
- This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by Kate Flournoy.
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@bethanysinkyroses I’d agree with what Mark and Kate said. You’ve got a setting, but you don’t have any sort of plot. Predicaments alone are very boring. The predicaments need to build on each other. The outcome of one should lead to another, gradually making things worse and worse.
I also agree that clashing fantasy and slice of life isn’t a good idea. Try to figure out how real animals can powerfully impact your theme. For instance, does the MC find some sort of spiritual identity in tending an injured dragonfly that ravens keep trying to kill. If you can symbolize spiritual forces through ravens and dragonflies, then you can twist the natural world just slightly. Like the ravens’ attacks might seem relentless, intelligent, and intentional. In this case, ravens aren’t so much evil minions as they are an impersonal force controlled by a higher force. You might read Lord Of The Flies for inspiration on this. My example, of course, is a random one and not necessarily good. The point is just to get you thinking about how you can use real animals, not fantasy ones.
I’d also suggest making the girl’s relationship with her mother a large part of the plot.
All in all, this sounds like a hard story to make work, but it’s always possible you could overcome all the problems and write something really good.October 10, 2017 at 9:55 pm #47806
@mark-kamibaya @kate-flournoy @daeus You guys are the best. Thanks. I really needed some brutally honest feedback.
Okay, I was definitely wondering about the genre-mixing. I’ll see what I can do about real animals with intelligent-seeming attacks. (Daeus, I find it creepy that you almost nailed my original idea to a T. Like even that scene you described was what I originally wanted to do. Are you a mind reader or something?)
Kate, I suppose it doesn’t HAVE to happen in Yellowstone, except that the dry/dead/sulfurous element is part of what I want. I also want her to be stuck somewhere she doesn’t want to be. I suppose the moving somewhere else could be enough.
I think, in light of what you guys said, I will switch gears and leave out the fantasy elements. I might even seriously consider changing settings back to the original of a suburban neighborhood. *cries* It’s all for the best, though.
You are right that I’m trying to do too much in one story. This is my first novel and it’s hard for me to gauge it. Daeus, I will for sure take your advice and make the mother-daughter relationship a big part of the story. Hopefully as I plot this out I can trim out the unnecessaries.
But even though it might be hard, I really do need to write this story. I’m a planner though, so for right now I need to at least outline before penning, otherwise I’ll get discouraged way too fast. But in light of what you said, Mark, maybe I will do some bullet point path thingys where I take the story in all these crazy directions and see what rough plot I like best and figure out at least a better focus than what I’ve got now, then write it, then rewrite it.
Since she struggles with depression, I want that inner conflict to be the central focus of the story. Maybe I should think of a inciting event and climax, then think of scenes that build up to that point.
Do you guys have any ideas for a climax?
Maybe she runs away and her mother has to find her? Should I give her siblings and they get lost together? It would force her to come out of herself. In either option the seemingly intelligent raven attacks can hound her (don’t worry, if I go that route I will not overdo the symbolism, Kate-I will probably make it only a symbol to her and have a scene where she is frustrated by the fact that no one else is bothered by the ravens) and she will have to choose life and let her mother help her and learn to have joy transcending her emotions.
I guess I need to stop and write out what needs to happen in her heart and then decide where/how/in what circumstance.
Mmmmmm. I have a LOT of work to do. Unfortunately somebody borrowed my brain and I don’t know when I’ll get it back (read: I have no mental energy/critical thinking power right now.) But as soon as I’ve worked out something of a plot, I promise I will start writing and tweaking.
And maybe I’ll come crying back for help from you guys.
October 11, 2017 at 8:22 am #47902
- This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by bethanysinkyroses.
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@kate-flournoy Haha! I’m a mind reader too now. 😀
@bethanysinkyroses First, I think the Yellowstone setting could work. As far as the plot goes, my suggestion would be to make it a “back and forth” plot. What I mean is, have two distinct spheres for your story: one, the sphere of the MC’s interaction with her mother; the other, the sphere of the MC’s interaction with nature. On the outside, the two separate plots might not seem to be related, but on a spiritual/emotional/mental level, the events in one of the spheres would intimately affect how the MC acts in the other.October 11, 2017 at 9:54 am #47905
@daeus Yes yes yes! That is what I want. Okay…..I can’t wait to start outlining this now!October 11, 2017 at 11:24 am #47907
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@daeus Congratulations. The world could use more of those. 😉October 11, 2017 at 7:43 pm #47993
- Rank: Eccentric Mentor
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@bethanysinkyroses Sounds like you’ve got some solid advice, so I’ve got nothing to say, except that I’m sooooo excited you’re starting your first book! That is awesome! 😀 😀 😀 I wish you all the luck in the world. 🙂 Have fun with this one. You’ll always remember it.
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